BIECZ: a city in Gorlice county [powiat], 38 degrees 11' north latitude, 49 degrees 9' east longitude from Ferro. The city was in the voivodship of Krakow, with a postal station on the road from Jaslo to Grybowa, some 19 kilometers from Jaslo.
It has 383 houses, 1,204 men, 1,246 women: total of 2,450 inhabitants; of whom 1,878 are Roman Catholic, 284 Jews. It is the site of a military outpost of the Imperial Kingdom. A pharmacy, doctor's office, post office and telegraph office. There is a Latin-Rite parish in the town; a parish church in beautiful Gothic style, built in 1326. In the early times it was administered by the bishop of Krakow, now by the government of the Imperial Kingdom, It has a 4-grade public school, and a pauper's fund for the poor established by Polish Queen Jadwiga in 1373 to help the town's poor inhabitants. The town had assets of 61,187 Rhemish Zloties and decreased in the year 1877 to 3, 553 Rhemish Zloties.
Biecz lies in the hills of the Ropa River, near the southern governmental highway from the Karpathians. Most of the poor people worked as peasant farmers, and some as weavers. Biecz, one of the oldest cities, at one time had a castle surrounded by a brick wall.
In 1294, the Czech King Waclaw gave it to the bishopric of Krakow, but King Lokietek, as a result of the almost successful Hungarian invasion, took it back from Bishop Muszkacki in 1311 and included it in his own kingdom.
Here in 1400, a representative of King Jagiello met with a representative of Cylijski family and announced the engagement of King Jagiello and Anna, countess of Cylijska, granddaughter of Kazimierz the Great.
In the 16th century Biecz was located on the main Hungarian road, and became a center of goods and trade from passing German settlers, and was given the name "little Krakow". The surrounding hills were the hiding place of many outlaws, and in 1614 according to legend, 120 were executed in Biecz. This made a need to appoint convicted prisoners to carry out the sentences of the court and because of this the city became known throughout all Poland, setting an example and liberating the executioners.
Now only fragments of the old castle and surrounding wall remain as ruins in the city. Some of the old splendor is still evident in the old Gothic style homes, magnificent town hall with its old tower, parish church and Reformation monastery, founded in 1630 by Mikolaj Ligeza. The third church of St. Barbara has been abandoned.
Biecz is historically the place of the Marcin Kromer family, secretary to three kings and the Warnimski bishopric seat. His well maintained house stands with its vaulted round shaped bell tower, sculptures in stone carved chambers which in 1512 Kromer had collected from around the world. In the parish church may be found his portrait and plaque, dedicated in his memory by his descendants.
The church also decorated the alabastor tomb of Mikolaj Ligeza, city mayor. For a long time Biecz was the ruling seat of Grodno area. Biecz has an area of 2,483 morgs.
In the Echard diary it is written that the inhabitants make salt from the waters of the Ropa River and from the river's foam they gather sulfur. Near Biecz are the beautiful Grodno forest (spruce trees), Grodno meadows, Strzeszynska Mountain and Krolewska well. Doctor Anton Kotowicz works in the area around Biecz, making observations in the field of fenology and animal husbandry; also plant life around Biecz.
Source: Slownik Geograficzny translated by Michael Kurtin. (This information was published between 1880 and 1902 and gives a view of this locality during that time frame). Photographs by James A. Derheim, European Focus Photography.