The oldest preserved records mentioning Ostrów village, located in eastern borderlands of the Polish Kingdom, trace back to the late 12th century. It was not later than the first section of the 16th century that a wooden church was built here, by which a Catholic parish was established in 1442. In January 1548, King Sigismund I the Old (Pol. Zygmunt Stary) granted Ostrów city rights under Magdeburg Law as well as a privilege to organize weekly Saturday fairs and to toll a road from Lublin to Parczew.

In 1589, the town, which was part of the royal property, received another privilege to organize three fairs each year. Over the course of the 16th century, the economy and population of Ostrów, and of the whole region, were booming. In the latter half of the century, in addition to Roman Catholics, also Jews, followed by Rusyns, started to settle down in this town[1.1]. In effect, Ostrów, next to Lublin, Parczew, Łuków and Kazimierz nad Wisłą (Kazimierz Dolny), was one of the most important and most populated center in the entire province.

The second half of the 17th century brought a gradual collapse of the town, which was burnt by a military unit of Polish troops under Rittmeister Moszkowski[1.2].

Although towards the end of the 17th century and in the early 18th century Ostrów lost is economic imoprtance, still commercial trade and crafts (furriery,, tailoring, shoemaking, baking, brewery) were flourishing here thanks to charters given to local Jews by Polish kings. In 1660, Ostrów was almost totally consumed by fire; the town, when it was being reconstructed, was once again plundered and ruined during the Great Northern War, in the early 1720s.

In 1864, Ostrow was deprived of city rights and was downgraded to the rank of a provincial trade settlement, which was overlooked during construction works of a rail route in the late 19th century. During World War I, Ostrów was devastated in the wake of a barrage laid down by a German artylery. After regaining independence on February 4th, 1919, Ostrów was once again granted city rights.

During the 1920 Polish-Bolshevik war, the environs of the town were the scene of ferocious battles, which resulted in a destruction of the town and the outflow of many locals. In 1928, Ostrów, reviving from war damage, significantly suffered from a fire. Shorty before the outbreak of World War II, Ostrów was a hometown to 2,992 Catholics, which made 59.9% of the entire population of the center; 1,994 Jews (36.6%), 45 Orthodox (0.9%) and three Greek-Catholics (0.06%).

 

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] R. Szczygieł, Ostrów Lubelski w XVI wieku. Lokacja miasta na prawie niemieckim, in: R. Szczygieł (ed.) Dzieje Ostrowa Lubelskiego, Ostrów Lubelski 1998, p. 68
  • [1.2] S. Kuszyk, Historia Ostrowa od połowy XVII wieku do 1939 roku, in: R. Szczygieł (ed.) ibidem, pp. 24-25; source: R. Kuwałek, Żydzi w Ostrowie Lubelskim