The market settlement of Chodel was probably established around the mid-15th century. In 1517, by virtue of the privilege issued by king Zygmunt Stary, a town was founded (on Magdeburg Law) on the site of the settlement[1.1].
Located some distance from trade routes, near competitive prosperous places such as Opole, Urzędów and Bełżyce, Chodel had been developing as a local trading and agricultural center whose inhabitants were, in most part, farmers and craftsmen. In 1570, the contemporary owners of the town, Stanisław, Kacper and Bernard Maciejowski, issued a document banning the Jewish settlement in Chodel and its outskirts[1.2].
In the early 17th century, the Chodel territory came into the possession of the Jesuit College in Lublin. In 1616, near the town, the Jesuits erected a chapel where the painting of the Madonna di Loretto (Polish Matka Boska Loretańska) was kept. Considered miraculous, the painting attracted masses of pilgrims, which had a positive effect upon Chodel’s economic growth. The favorable development of the town was brought to an end by the outbreak of a plague in 1629 which claimed lives of half the town’s population.
In the second half of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th centuries, Chodel suffered from a few Swedish and Moscow invasions; a great fire from 1770 consumed 31 houses, an inn and the court. When the Jesuit Order was dissolved in 1733, the Commission of National Education (Polish Komisja Edukacji Narodowej) took over all of its possessions, and then divided it between private owners. In 1814, a fire again destroyed Chodel which was at that time a depressed agricultural center, while in 1824, upon the motion of the Commission of Lublin Province (Polish Komisja Województwa Lubelskiego), it lost its town privileges, which it regained in 1838. Then, in 1870, as a result of post-January-Uprising repressions, it lost them again. In the second half of the 19th century, frequent changes of owners and clashes between the court and the townspeople led to the economic stagnation in Chodel. Most of the residents made a living by farming, though the town had also a few craftsmen who provided their services.
As stated in the 1860 sources, the town had a cattle slaughterhouse, a Jewish butcher’s shop, one general store, an elementary school, a Jewish house of prayer and a court wayside inn situated right next to the market place. The permit to hold six fairs a year, which was granted to Chodel in 1870, contributed to economic prosperity. Despite the cholera epidemic in 1892 and consecutive fires in 1882, 1892 and 1897, Chodel was growing as a center of horse and swine trade. Toward the end of the 19th century, there were over a dozen grocery stores, two tanneries and a brickyard here. The Christian population of the town included mostly farmers, cattle and swine traders and craftsmen, while the Jewish population craftsmen and traders[1.3].
During World War I, the town was plundered and almost entirely destroyed, which hindered its growth in the period between the wars. In 1925, by virtue of the Agricultural Reform Act a parceling of the land started, whereas in 1934, part of the territories, which were in debt, went into the possession of the Landowner’s Credit Union (Polish Towarzystwo Kredytowe Ziemskie). Three tanneries, a few meat shops and butcher’s shops, as well as a cart enterprise operated in the town in the interwar period.
During World War II, 30% of the town was destroyed and there was a considerable decrease in the number of its inhabitants.[1.4].
- [1.1] Older sources mention the year 1440 as the year of the establishment of the town, but this version is not very probable.
- [1.2] Historii Chodla część pierwsza, "Chodel - Historia i okolice", http://chodel.com/index.htm [dostęp 21.03.2020].
- [1.3] Historii Chodla część trzecia, "Chodel - Historia i okolice", http://chodel.com/index.htm [dostęp 21.03.2020].
- [1.4] Historii Chodla część czwarta i chyba ostatnia, "Chodel - Historia i okolice", http://chodel.com/index.htm [dostęp 21.03.2020].