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Almost any Biega, anywhere in the world, is a descendent of one of the farmers of that name that lived in the village of Dębna, in south-east Poland, at the end of the 18th century.

     In August 2009, with the assistance of the parish priest, Father Piotr Babijczuk I reviewed all the registers in the church at Mrzygłód. These books contain the  records of all births and marriages in the parish for the period 1800 to about 1860. In the1800s the Mrzygłód parish included the following villages - Dębna, Dobra, Liszna, Tyrawa Solna, and of course Mrzygłód itself. After 1860 the local government civil registry office took over the recording. Earlier records seem to have disappeared, but obviously existed at one time, because Father Joseph Michalkowski of Mrzygld, wrote a manuscript in 1912 (exists only in Polish), in which, in the "Dodatek", he lists the name Biega among those that appeared in church records as early as the 16th. century.

     The records are in Latin and contain considerable detail. They are mostly quite legible, although it was difficult to reconcile some of the names, frequently misspelled, and first names translated from Polish to Latin. Against most names the house number is recorded. It should be noted that house numbers are assigned in order of the house being built. Today, 200 years later the house numbers exist at the original location, although the actual building may have been reconstructed several times. From these records it is clear that in the early 1800s a dozen branches of the Biega family were resident in Dębna. Some of them were undoubtedly brothers, others just cousins. In Dębna, in the early 1800s, Biegas lived in the houses with the following numbers:  1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 14, 21, 23, 24, 30, 36, 41. Biega families started settling in the town of Mrzygłód around 1830 and lived in houses: 9, 12, 48.
     The information from all the birth records and marriage records have been collected together by family in a new tabulation. Click here to review them. Note that there is no follow up for many of the children, and no listing of children for many couples.

    There are several reasons for lack of later information for many of the children, or the whole family:
  1. The child may have died. In those days more than 20% of children never reached adulthood.
  2. The person, or the whole family, moved from Mrzygłód parish.
  3. No children are listed that were born after about 1860, as the register was transferred to the civil authorities after that date.
  4. Marriages of most daughters were not searched in the registers, for lack of time.
Marriages not recorded in the parish register, because they occurred before registering commenced, or because they were recordeed in another parish (usually that of the bride, where the wedding took place) were deduced from information provided in birth records of their children.

     In this sixty year period 50 weddings were celebrated, and 96 Biega children were born in this parish. Clearly there was no opportunity for so many young Biegas in this impoverished region. That is why so many moved away seeking their fortune elsewhere. In 1772, in the first partition of the Polish Commonwealth between Russia, Prussia and Austria, all of southern Poland had been occupied by Austria. The Austrian named this province Galizien (in Polish Galicja). Many young men fought for freedom, but with the third partition of Poland in 1795, Napoleon battling against Poland's oppressors seemed like a ray of hope. Thousands volunteered to fight in Napoleon's Polish legions on fronts in Italy, Spain, Santo Domingo and finally the fateful drive towards Moscow. Perhaps this is how some Biega families came to believe that they are of Italian, French, Hispanic or even Russian origin. Later in the 1800s, many joined or were conscripted into the Austrian army, and fought in Italy and the Balkans. Other young men sought opportunity in education, like Józef's son Jan (#130 in the list). Others worked in the new industries developing in Sanok, around Kraków and Lwów (todays's Lviv). Finally as the 1800s neared their end, the new promised land became America. As the Ellis Island records and U.S. census records document, most Biegas in America came from Galicia and specifically Dębna and Sanok.

     For those who want to find the missing links in their genealogy trees, the first appproach is the Civil Registry Office in Sanok: Urząd Stanu Cywilnego, Rynek 16, 38-500 Sanok. However most of the older records have been transferred to the state archives: Archiwum Panstwowe w Rzeszowie - Oddział Sanok, Rynek 10, 38-500 Sanok.

     Several members of the Biega families became priests. For example:
Henryk Marian Biega, the oldest surviving son of Jan Biega, who was chaplain of the Benedictine Sisters convent in Przemyśl. From 1887 onwards he was, in addition, professor of theology at the Przemysl Seminary.
Jan Biega, possibly son of Stanisław Biega (#140 in the tabulation), who was parish priest in Zabrze, east of Sanok, 18691876. Later he was parish priest in Stojance, near Sadowa Wisnia, (currently Sudowa Wysznia between Przemyśl and Lwów), where he died and is buried.
Another Father Biega, no further information available, is recorded as being a member of the committee for building the Grunwald monument in Mrzygłód in 1910.

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   The Mrzygłód church will be celebrating its 600th anniversary soon. The parish is now so small that external support is badly needed for necessary renovations. In North America please contact webmaster with offers. Elsewhere contact the parish priest

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Last updated: October, 2011.