Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maigai near Krakiai / Vieksniai / Mazekiai in Telsiai County

In I posted the record and exerpt of which showed where my great-grandmother, Martha Zvingis nee Balvocius was from, a hamlet called Maigai near a town called Krakiai.   Apparently they used the church at Vieksniai as well. 

Maigai literally means stalks of corn in Lithuanian - Maigai, -ц, sm. pi. haulm; haum; dry stalks of corn, etc. ; litter straw. From an old Lithuanian dictionary I have. Maigai may also be named Maygai, Baibeliai, Užežeriškiai, Andriuškos graves, Balvocius cemetary, Gieršaudžiai (Giersawdzie), or considered part of Krakiai, Vieksniai now.

North-North-East of Vieksniai and East-South-East of Mazekiai. Be a neat place to visit one day.

Interesting to note Maigai is so close to Šiauliai County. My grandparents told stories of the farm in Šiauliai, located on the Latvian border. Apparently the barn was actually Latvia.  Apparentlyly there was a root cell by the river under the house where they would hide from the Russians. The gypsies who they allowed to camp on the land would let them know the Russians were coming. But that's another story.  Siauliai is very close to Maigai.

I found a page detailing Maigai at , along with info on the Balvocius cemetary at  . I've posted the translations below. I took the liberty of 'bolding' names that are in my family documents. I also posted some pics I liberated from the website and saved in case they disappear. Enjoy...

General information
Municipality: Mažeikiai county
Coordinates: 56º16'60" north width and 22º28'00" east length
Area: 443,5 ha
Altitude: 87 m
Population: 0 (2001

The MAIGAI village is a part of Mažeikių municipality, the north-east of the neighbouring village of Krakiai. Surface area 572 ha.

1 Description of territory
2 History
3 Population
4 Tradition
5 Etymology
6 Literature
7 Sources

Description of territory

The total Maigai rural wall length makes 12.2 km. The north border (length of 1.5 km) and the west border (3.6 km) are adjacent to the national forest The south border adjacent to Miliai village ( 2.6 km) and in the east the border adjoining national forest ( 1.3 km) and the village Pluogai (3.2 km). The distance between the remote northern and southern point is 3.4 km, between the east and west - 2.6 km . 1970 there were 10 forests. West of the village surrounded by Maigai Ubagynas forest, from the north – the Maigai forest.

The Baibelis inlet flows by rural western edge of the lake Maigai (area of 1.1 ha) . The Baibelis' left tributary called Barzdupis is flowing from Bārzdiņš wetland and Saltiniu bogs ( it makes 2.6 km length of the village ). In the southwest corner of the lake Maigai the stream Kutuvis (length 4.7 km) flows to Venta River, which as well has an inlet Surupis streaming from the national forest.

By the central part of Maigai village goes Maigai Road ( length 3.4 km). North side of Maigai reaches Mazeikiai - Siauliai railway track. In the east part of the village, paralel to the national forest, goes the old Viekšnių - Laižuvos Road with a branch to Maigai (that part of the road called Ilgšilis ) . In 1988 another main road was paved from Krakiai village, through the national forest joining the Maigai Road.

In 1966 Maigai village had 33 homesteads, in 1976 - 14, in 1984 - only 2. The area by the stream Baibelis, going along the railway, was called Baibeliai (historically belonged to Krakiai village), The area by Maigai lake was called Užežeriškiai (the name is no longer used). Near the lake in the woods is a tiny cemetery called Andriuškos graves (or Maigai graves); by the stream Baibelis - Balvočiaus cemetery (or Maigai graves) . Maigai village had their own cowshed. Before 1979, the shed was used for keeping the cattle, later on as a barn.


The first so far known written document mentioning the Maigai village („siolo Maygie“) is the 1661 Viekšniai ward inventory. It specifies the names of the five peasants. The same names are found in the 1665 inventory. Given that in one household could be 5-7 people, this village might have had the total of 25-35 people. The residents were paying cinsin (land rent) for their hay meadows speckled as 39 hundredths of a tray for 8 “margai” of the land (1 “margas”- appr. 0.5 ha). On the border of the village Maigai there was a land (užusienis/užežis ) belonging to the blacksmith John Armolaitis. He owned 3.4 wallachs of meadows and forest land and paid for it by 2.30 of a tray. By the year 1665 the total Maigai village consisted of 1/3 -1/4 populated wallachs. Adopted wallachs made 1.1/2 of the land and empty wallachs – 3.3/4. 1/6th. The mandatory tax imposed on a congested wallachs was 3.56 of a tray, on adopted – 2.48 of a tray. In total the rural residents were paying 6.29.6 of 1/3 trays. Near to the village were some empty hay meadows, the size of 1 wallach and 29.10 “margai” and the swampy forest land the size of 10.01.12 wallach size.

The 1728 year inventory record shows only two names of the villagers. The names are different than in the previous inventory. These people may have arrived in the beginning of eighteenth century after the North War or after the plague of 1708-1711. By that time the local residents were not enslaved into serfdom, and therefore they were paying their cinsin for the land to the Viekšniai landlord estate. In 1738 such fee was 85 zloty (Polish currency - translators note) and 24 pennies of the entire Maigai village. In addition, the local men were obligated to pay the yearly tax for the so called “Traušio field” - total of 3 zloty and 24 pennies.

The 1775 inventory states that the Maigai village consisted of 10 households paying total tax of 405 cinsin. A collective mandatory tribute in the form of harvest was also required to be paid by Maigai village. Every household once a year had to bring to Viekšniai estate the following tribute: a wagon of hay (9 shipments in total), two “purai” (the unit of measurement; 1 “puras” equals to about 82 kg-translator's note) of each rye and barley, also 7 “purai” of oats; besides that, every household in the village had to work for Viekšniai estate for 41 days each year. In 1789 there were already 11 households, the entire village paying a fee of 779.45 zloty. At that time Maigai village was a part of Ašvėnai county (until the middle of 17th century). The county ranger was Mykolas Šaltys, sled master at the time was Jonas Jurjonas and the famous gardener Jonas Ulmis. The village of Maigai in the 1661 and 1665 year inventories was also recorded by name Gieršaudžiai (Giersawdzie).

Up until the twentieth century the village of Maigai belonged to the Viekšniai estate. By 1895, the land records show the total amount of Maigai land as 974.54 tithings (tithing is land measurement unit, 1 tithing equals 1,0925 ha – translator's note). 143.99 tithings were arable land, 1.00 – unbroken soil, 220.35 - meadows, 303.10 - pastures, 194.84 – forests, 20,60 homestead land, 9,15 – roads, 59, 76- swamps, 3.97 - rivers, 1.27 - ditches, 0.87 other bodies of water, and the rest 16.08 tithing recorded as “other lands”. According to the Kaunas' Lustration commission 1870 plan, there were 634.4 tithings of land and 45 farms in Maigai.

In 1928 12 12, the land grading committee of Mažeikiai district with J. Petraitis as the Ministry of Agriculture inspector, J.Ūzas , V.Lupeika as the committee members, and A.Kiudulas as the secretary, confirmed the Maigai rural land grading protocol as following: total 671.59 ha of land, of which 660.07 ha owned by farmers. The total area of the arable land amounted to 425.13 ha, meadows – 35.06 ha , pastures - 129.57 ha, forests – 56.65 ha, peatlands – 7.10 ha, and other - 6.46 ha. 9 farms (out of 36) had more than 32 ha of land.

In January 1919 was elected the Council of the village of Maigai, composed of rural workers, poor peasants and farm labourers. The Council took over the village leadership (translator's note: later it was called “Soviet government” what literary means “the government of councils”). In 1929 Maigai already had their own riflemen team and the collection point for milk.

On 1931-03-10 the local Maigai's Peasant–people reps company was suspended and in 1932 was established the Maigai branch of Viekšniai Young Lithuanians party. The elementary school in Maigai was opened and functioning during the years 1921-1975. Also there was the Milk skimming point in 1930-1942 and the readers club from 1949-06-01 to 1957 06 01. On 1948-11-25 instead of Maigai village was founded “Juliaus Janonio” kolkhoz. In 1950-1960 there was also established the collective work team No 1, called “Lenino keliu.”

The population

In 1866 in the village of Maigai were 184 residents (89 men, 95 women), in 1902 - 246, in 1923 . - 255 (38 households), on 1942-05-27 - 200 (38 farms), in 1959 . - 222, in 1979 . - 28 (11 men , 17 women). According to the 1942-05-27 Global Lithuanian general territory census, in the village of Maigai were 92 men and 108 women; 48 had secondary school education, 38 graduated from elementary school, 8 persons were studying in the state universities, 47 were illiterate and 40 persons could either read or write only. The Maigai population records were done by the elementary school teacher Viktorija Čerbaitė.

From 1948-05 to 1949-03 the following 13 families (51 people) were deported from Maigai: Stasys and Emilija Rimkai ( 4 people), Antanas and Cecilija Dargiai (3), Barbara Dargienė (3), Antanas and Uršula Švažai (2), Pranas and Ona Andriuškos (5), Antanas and Barbora Ligeikos (7), Pranas and Liucija Petrošiai (4), Jonas and Barbora Liaučiai (3), Anastasija Butienė (2), Ludvikas and Emilija Čiapai (8 ), Pranas and Apolonija Butai (4), Antanina Mikaitė (3), Mamertas and Monika Pociai (3). Earlier, another 5 Maigai residents were incriminated as the political criminals and deported to Siberia, namely: Edvardas Buta, Alfonsas Buta, Juozas Buta, Jonas Šimkus ir Antanas Spalys. The following 4 children were born in Siberia to the families from Maigai: Augustinas Petrošius (1948, the next day after arrival), Povilas Peleckis, Danutė Butaitė (1957) and Jonas Čiapas. 5 people died in Siberia: Ona Andriuškienė (1957), Paulina Rušinaitė-Andriuškienė (1956), Antanas Spalys (killed in a coal mine), Antanas Ligeikis (1950) and Augustinas Ligeikis (1948). Pranas Petrošius ir Mamertas Pocius, previously the residents of Maigai, started their own families and stayed to live in Russia after their exile was over or their military service was completed. After the exile, 53 people returned back to Lithuania. In 1996, 27 of those, who returned, were still alive. Bronislovas Jucius with his wife and two young children escaped the deportation, by running away to hide and leaving behind his 40 ha farm. Šarkus with his family moved to Germany.

  In the northern side of the railway were 12 farmers, mainly small land owners, who had up to 5-10 ha of land. Only three farmers - Pranas Balvočius , Stasys Rimkus and Pranas Tupikas had over 20-22 ha. The smaller farmers: Antanas Balvočius, Juozas Šiuryla, Pranas Ruginis, Leonas Petrikas, Stanislovas Tupika, Antanas Bakys, Bendekitas Galakauskas, Jonas Andreika, Juoazapas Rimkus. By the railway crossing was a tiny cottage of Strazdelis. In the southern side of the railway lived few larger farmers who had 30-40 ha of the land. The names of the farmers: Domas Jucius, Pranas Virkutis, Antanas Dargis, Antanas Ligeikis, Pranas Petrošius, Pranas Andriuška, Antanas Švažas, Šarkis, Antanas Baltutis, Jonas Liaučius, and another man by the name Antanas Dargis. In order to differentiate those two sharing the same first and the last names, people used to call one of them “Mašinierius” (the machinist) and the other “Paežerės" (the man from the lakeside).

  The following are smaller farmers, who had 10-20 ha of the land: Feliksas Kontutis, Mamertas Pocius, Leonas Sidabras, Adomas Keršis, Simonas Knabikas, Antanas Šimkus, Juozas Gelžinis, Antanas Sedalis, Kazimieras Janušas, Leonas Šemeta. After the WW2 there appeared few more houmesteads in Maigai, when some people got married or bought the property: Alfonsas Kunsmonas, Zigmas Keršis, Robertas Strazdinis, Ignacas Žulpa, Augustinas Kontutis, Pranas Kryžius, Juozas Turauskas, Albinas Andrulis, Klemensas Girta, Albinas Žiberskis, Zigmas Daukšas. New people arrived to live in Maigai, some of them being returned from Siberia, others moved in from the neighbouring villages. The names of the new residents: Stasys Strazdauskas, Adolfas Stonkus, Jonas Mikulskis, Antanas Ignotas, Albertas Liutkus, Jonas Šimkus, Adomas Ramonas, Antanas Butnorius, Pranas Ancis and Vanda Gelžinienė. One way or another the following people have lived in Maigai for a few years in the after-war period: Elzė Kinčinienė, Domas Rimkus, Kazimieras Norkus, Juozas Titenis, Bronius Liupšys, Pranas Šetkus, Albertas Šulcas, Benisevičius, Antanina Mikaitė, Antanas Spalys, Jonas Pundzius.

By the year 1996, in the village of Maigai was left only one household with the residents Tadas Ruginis (born 1905) and Barbora Ruginytė (born 1912). Other members of Ruginiai family - Ieva, Petronėlė, Kazimiera Ruginiai – were deceased, and their married sister Veronika Norkienė was living far away. The farms of J.Liaučius and Sidabras were separated by the Maigai forest and now belonged to the village of Plūgai. The farm of Jonas Perminas now was a part of the village of Krakiai.

  All the homesteads of Maigai were encircled with the large trees, mostly oaks, maples, lindens, chestnuts, evergreens. By every house there were old, fruit-rich orchards. Most of the village's houses faced east. There were only two houses facing north. They were owned by Antanas Dargis („Paežerės”) and Antanas Sedalis.

  The infamous Maigai blacksmith was Antanas Sedalis, called by nickname “kalvis Sedalis” (the blacksmith Sedalis). He was also shoeing horses. “Kalvis Sedalis” had a brother named Pranas. After the Antanas Sedalis died, Antanas Kuodys took his place as a village blacksmith. Juozas Rimkus was a village taylor. The ladies' dressmakers were Rožė Knabikienė, Eugenija Rušinaitė, Apolonija Butaitė. The village church choristers Pranas Ruginis, Antanas Balvočius (died 1958), Čiapienė, Feliksas Kontutis, Pranas Andriuška, were the same as before the war. The new church chanters were Augustinas Kontutis, Zuzana Kontutytė, Cecilija Balvočiutė, Ona Keršytė, Emilija Keršytė-Daukšienė, Barbora Balvočiutė. Tha village coffin-makers were Albinas Andrulis, Simonas Skabeikis (from the village of Bimbalynas), Liudvikas Čiapas. The infamous Maigai musicians for parties and weddings were Antanas Balvočius (played accordion), Pranas Balvočius (violin), Antanas Dargis (played accordion; he is the father of the modern band „Sekmadienis” leader named also Antanas Dargis), Alfonsas Andruška, Robertas Strazdinis (drummer), Augustinas Andriuška, Algirdas Andrulis, Antanas Šimkus, Juozas Stonkus. The singers of Maigai were sisters Balvočiutės, Apolonija Butaitė, Zosė Pociutė, sisters Stasė and Monika Galakauskaitės, Mamertas Pocius, Pranas Dargis.

The collective village picnics with singing, dancing and partying, called “gegužinė” (there is no translation for this term of Lithuanian ethnology - translators note) were held at the barns, especially at the Pranas Tupikas, Pranas Balvočius, Virkutis places by that time. Another popular place in Maigai for these parties was in the Balvočius' oak-wood. 

On 1960-09-19 in Maigai was born Apolinaras Stonkus, the famous Lithuanian educator, politician, the head of the Mažeikiai Department of Education.

The traditions

  Around the years 1955 to 1959 there was a tradition in the northern part of Maigai to sing the Calvary hymns during the Lent (the Christian fasting period before Easter-translator's note).

The residents of the village used to gather together for singing at every neighbour's house on Friday and Sunday nights during the Lent. For some these gatherings were like singing lessons, and overall the collective singing was a very popular way to spend time together. People didn't have a tradition to have a meal together on these evenings, other than some apples or a plate of cookies. People gathered for singing the church hymns and litanies not only in the funerals, but also at every other occasion, like various Christian celebrations (Ascension Day, Holy Cross days, Easter etc.). The Christian celebration related singing was taking place at the cemeteries – Andriuška's graves and Balvočius' cemetery. Men, women and youth were coming for singing in cemeteries upon the sounds of the drum, heard all over the village and even farther. All the neighbours used to gather together for singing hymns and litanies when a priest was called for the last confession of the terminally ill person.

The village of Maigai was mentioned in the following publications:
Spisok mirovych učastkov i volosteij Kovienskoij province. Kovno , 1872 , p.94 ; Slownik Geograficzny Królestwo Polskiego i innych KRAJOWA Slavonic .
Warszawa , 1884 , vol. V , p.919 ; Spisok nasielionnych cities Kovienskoij province. Kovner , 1892 , p.156 ; Alfavitnyj spisok nasielionnych cities Kovienskoij province.
Kovner , 1903 , p.406 ; Lithuania inhabited space. The publication in 1923 of the Lithuanian population .
Census data . Kaunas , 1925 , p.151 ; Lithuanian SSR administrative - territorial division . V. , 1959 , p.244 , 796 ; Lithuanian SSR, the administrative- territorial division Guide . V. , 1976, II, Vol. , P.167 .

  Etimology of the name - Maigai – plural form of the lake named Maigas.

The Maigai cemetery

The Maigai cemetery, or Balvočius' graves, is located by the Baibelis stream, 0.15 km north of the railway Mažeikiai – Kaišiadorys. By the northern side of Maigai the stream of Barzdupis is flowing down and at the site of Balvočius' graves it falls into Baibelis. The village road surrounds the Graves on it's western and southern sides, and to the east there are stretching the big areas of cultivated fields. The cemetery is situated mostly in the valley with a small incline towards the stream. The total area of cemetery makes 0.06ha, perimeter - 108m, including 45m of the ditch embankment. The form of the Graves is of irregular rectangular, 30m long and 17m wide, covered with isolated trees, especially with birch trees. There also is one old linden growing, two spruce and few willows in the cemetery.

The history

According to the Viekšniai estate land records in 1856, the Maigai cemetery was of 0.11 tithings (land measurement) of the total area. On 1980-06-21, as per the Land records, the Maigai cemetery (or Balvočius' graves) had three crosses and one wooden crucifix (built in 1891). On 1996-11-04 the Mažeikiai district inspector for cultural heritage Povilas Šverebas took a picture of the crucifix, which was already mostly disintegrated; the parts of the cemetery chapel were fallen to ruins too. Two cement crosses were built in 1909 (on the grave of the founder J.Balvočius) and in 1959 (A.Balvočienė). A wooden cross was about 6m height.
Weather link to Maigai with GPS Coords - 
Special thanks to auksetoronto on for the translation.

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