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History of Tluste/Tovste from a Ukrainian Perspective



By Jaroslav Pawlyk

The second edition, dedicated to the 9th anniversary
of the Independence of Ukraine

Chortkiv town, 2000

Cover of J. Pawlyk's  "History of Tovste"


  The original Ukrainian version of the “History of Tovste” was written by Mr. Jaroslav Pawlyk, director of the Tovste museum (pictured here). All of the views and opinions expressed therein are those of the author, reflecting a predominantly patriotic Ukrainian perspective. The following abridged translation was prepared by Zoya Danylovych, and edited by Douglas Hykle. It is important to note that it is a summary, and not a literal translation, of the original text. Much of the content is treated in more depth elsewhere on this website.

Whereas information sources were appropriately cited in the Ukrainian version, bibliographic references have not been mentioned systematically in this English language summary. Annex 1 gives a description of numerous photographs found in the original version. It is hoped that a full translation of the “History of Tovste” can be prepared at some point in the future, resources permitting. Any assistance in this regard would be much appreciated.  


by Mykhailo Hnydyuk

After the collapse of empires following the Second World War, there appeared more than 150 independent countries. Their formation envisaged measures connected with the self-identification of the population, and the formation of a national idea and state ideology, which was impossible without learning the peoples’ past, its ethnographic genesis, and identification of its place in the history of mankind’s development.

With regard to Ukrainians, who used to be territorially separated and were colonially dependent on their neighbours, their knowledge of the history of Ukraine was always associated with national consciousness. That is why it was prohibited to know our history. The one who knew it became a patriot. Those who were patriots knew the history of Ukraine. Our enemies were aware of this. In the most difficult times of repression, and physical and spiritual genocide, books on history were the most popular and in demand. Like the Bible for Christian people, “History of Rus-Ukraine” by Myhaylo Hrushevskyy remained the main book (Genesis) for Ukrainians. Not all the people have read it, but everybody knew about it. In most cases, excerpts of the most important historical events, dates, and names were passed on by word of mouth. It was enough for ordinary village boys to hear about Kruty and Bazar to imagine the tragedy of the Ukrainian nation, which was driven into a corner, from where the only possible exit involved sacrificial and non-compromised struggle.

Strangers were well aware what national memory meant to Ukrainians. For easier assimilation of the people, they started to ruin temples and historic monuments, to burn books, and to destroy the graves of our national heroes. The occupiers did everything possible to turn us into a dumb herd, without a memory. The minister of Eastern territories of Hitler’s Germany, Alfred Rozenberg, wrote this in his cynical revelation: “Take away the past of the nation and its second generation will not know who they are”. They have not taken it away. They have not succeeded. We held out against it. We remained Ukrainians, and have not lost the genetically inherited inclination to a life in an independent state.

And now, living in that independent state, in spite of material hardships and shortage of money, Ukrainian historiography – like a volcano – produces newer and newer editions. All that written in the past was concealed, under the locks of the KGB archives, and only that which has been preserved by our Diaspora became accessible to everyone.

My Motherland is a wonderful land,
where I saw the sunlight for the first time,
where my parents and brother taught me
Ukrainian prayers…

R. Zavadovych  

My Land: Nowadays and the Past

TOVSTE is a former medieval historic town. In accordance with the Soviet administrative-territorial division, Tovste was classified as a town-like “settlement” as of 1940. In the period from 1939 to1941 and from 1944 to 1962, it was a district centre of Ternopil region. On 4 December 1996, Tovste joined the league of historic towns of Ukraine.

Tovste is located near the middle part of the Dniester river, in the southwestern part of Podillya. It is situated on the Dupla river, which runs into the Seret river. Its land has much natural wealth: fertile soil, mineral springs, construction materials and many other assets. The population of Tovste amounted to 4,100 people on 1 January 1998.

Tovste is an ancient settlement. The springs from Dupla river supplied the first settlements with healthy water. Since the time of Tripilska culture, our ancestors have been living here. Flint implements of labour, fragments of plates and dishes and so on were found here in the Soviet and post-Soviet time, all of which are kept at the museum of Tovste. There is reason to believe that there was Tripilsk settlement on the territory of Tovste in the 4th-3rd centuries BC. However, this period of time has not been studied by local scientists.

On 19 September 1995, the south-Ternopil expedition under the leadership of Vasyl Oliynyk started excavations in Tovste. The goal of this excavation was to study the history of habitation of the central part of the town. The excavations took place near Hnila Bach. The area of excavation was 24 square meters, and many ancient things were excavated there. The oldest ones – fragments of ceramic pots – date back to the 9th century BC. (Information about this excavation was published in “Kolos” newspaper No. 22 (6803) on 25 May 1996.)

At that time (9th-8th century BC) inhabitants of Western Podillya began to build different fortifications (Lysychnyky, Kryvche and many others) because of threats from the east. People living in Tovste were engaged mostly in cultivation of land and cattle-breeding. In addition to that they were engaged in fishing and hunting.

So, beginning with Scythian period, things was found in Tovste that illustrate every day life activities of local people. Special attention should be paid to the Sarmat’s grave, which was discovered on the grounds of Tovste vocational training school No. 22. It was found on 7 July 1977 at a depth of 1.80 meters. Near the skeleton of a young woman the excavator dug out a bronze brooch, a round bronze mirror and several dozen amber beads. Almost all these things, except the skeleton, were retrieved by a teacher of arts of the above school and they disappeared. The skeleton was sent to the regional museum of Ternopil. Some beads and a small flint plate were found by me, the author of this book. They are being kept until now at the village museum of Tovste.

From ancient history it is known that ethnic Sarmats, like Scythians, belong to the group of Iranian-speaking languages. It was proved in many historical documents. Books by Herodot, who described their likeness; and books by the Roman poet Publiy Ovidiy who visited the old Ukrainian land called Podnistrovya (located in the Dniester area) characterize different tribes of that time. The author does not see any difference between them. Some scientists consider those tribes to be ancestors of Slavic people – Ukrainians, Russians, etc.  

Slavs, Ants – Ukrs

Ancient Ukrainians (Ukrs) were called “Ants” by the Byzantine people: this means “brother” or “ally”. They prayed to the God of Kindness and Life for the whole year. There was the Main God – Father – and his grandsons: Gods of winter, spring, summer and autumn. So, their pagan religion paid tribute to each season and each month of the year. They put up idols all over and prayed to them.

Ants-Ukrs cremated bodies of the dead people and later buried them in urns or in graves. One such grave was found in Tovste in 1970 during the construction of a boiler-room on the grounds of a kindergarten. There, bones and pots for food made of clay were found, representing Chernyakhiv culture and traditions of the time. These pots are kept at Tovste museum.

During the 1995 excavations conducted in Tovste things were found which are of great interest. They refer mostly to the Chernyakhivska culture. (See Soviet encyclopaedia, volume 4, page 448). Archaeological and literary sources of Byzantine authors (Yordan, Prokopiy, and others) connect Chernyakhivska culture with Ants-Ukrs, who inhabited almost all Ukraine, between the Dnieper and the Dniester rivers. “Ants are representatives of those tribes who created ethnographic integrity which is now called Ukrainians…”(according to M. Hrushevskyy, Ukrainian scientist)

Excavations carried out in the centre of Tovste show that Ants-Ukrs constructed their houses from clay, made plates and dishes themselves, cultivated the land, and were engaged in livestock breeding.

At that time Tovste had commercial relations with many countries, including Rome. This was proved by the Roman coins found on the right bank of Dupla river by Volodymyr Herish, a resident of Tovste. The coins are being preserved at the museum. A Roman lamp was also found, and it is kept at the Lviv historical museum.

Did our ancestors have a state? Yes. M. Braychevskyy, a scientist, after making analyses of many different materials – manuscripts, and archaeological and anthropological materials – came to the conclusion that different tribal groups were united into the Ants state, which was called Troyan. Troyan was the country of Ants; it was the first sovereign state of our ancestors, from the end of the fourth (376) to the beginning of seventh century. This state existed until the beginning of the seventh century. It was destroyed by Avars in 602. Volyn managed to exist 25 years more. It was a powerful state, predecessor of the famous Kiev-Rus state.  

Slavic Tribes of Naddnistrovya and formation of social relations in Kiev state

There existed unions of Eastern-Slavic tribes in the sixth to seventh centuries. These ancient states collapsed for many reasons, and only large settlements remained. The state of Polyany existed for the longest time in Kiev (Kyiv). Ant’s prince Kyy and his brothers founded a dynasty of Kyiv princes – Kyivychs.

In 882, Prince Oleg from Novgorod (of Russia) attacked Kyiv, killed Ascold and Dir (the last representatives of Kuivychs dynasty) and – together with Ryurik, who was a prince of Novgorod – founded the Ryrikovich dynasty, which ran Kyiv state from the 9th to 15th centuries. Prince Volodymyr the Great returned all ethnic land in the west as a result of his campaigns.

(Not translated: poems about bravery of Ukrainians in the above campaigns)

During the excavations in Tovste, objects were found that showed development of crafts in the 12th-13th centuries. Mostly these were fragments of plates and dishes. The most interesting thing was a fragment of red amphora decorated with horizontal lines. Such amphoras were produced in Byzantium and Crimea. They were used for transportation of wine and food oil. Therefore, this fragment shows that Tovste in former times had commercial contacts with other countries located close to the Black Sea.

The biggest population density was near the Seret river, but Tatar-Mongols invaders captured this land and murdered many people.  

About the Name “Tovste”

There is no written information about the name of our town. Most probably it was named after someone. So, who was Tovstyy? From history it is known that the Halyts boyar, Vyacheslav Tovstyy, was a well-known person. He was a military man, diplomat, and served under Prince Roman Mstislavych. After Roman’s death in 1205, the senior boyar Tovstyy spent some time in Hungary with minor sons of the Prince of Halyts-Volyn Kingdom – Danyl and Vasyl. Vaycheslav took part in creation of Halyts chronicles. The information provided by him concerning different military events in which he participated (various documents) was all included in the chronicle.

Some villages in Ternopil region were named after him. Most probably he as an owner of those villages and the land decided to name them in his honour. Tovste was mentioned for the first time in old chronicles in 1414. It was mentioned for the first time as “Tluste” in 1449. After the death of prince O. Vitovt (1430), when Poles captured western Podillya, Tovste was renamed into Tluste and the Dupla river was renamed as Dupa river. Only when Polish domination was over, did the local people rename the river as Tupa.

Translator’s note: Tovste in Ukrainian means: heavy, stout, fat. In Polish language this sounds like “Tluste”, so they simply translated the word from Ukrainian into Polish.  

Defensive Castle In Tovste

The former castle in Tovste dates back to the 15th century. A famous Polish historian Tomash Kunzek described it in his works. Until now there is no information about those who built this castle in Tovste. At that time, the territory of Podillya was under Lithuanian and Polish domination. It was an extremely difficult time for our people.

Natalya Polonska-Vasylenko, in her book “History of Ukraine”, writes “… when Tatars routed the Polish army of Prince Vitovt, he decided to build fortresses above the Dniester river and the Dnieper river. Ten to twelve thousand people took part in the construction of this castle. Prince Vitovt encouraged boyars to serve in the army, and for this he presented them with land.”

At the end of the 15th century, and beginning of the 16th, living conditions deteriorated. It was the beginning of constant wars of Poland and Lithuania with Turks and Tatars. In 1497 the army of Polish King Yan Olbraht was routed in the Bucovinian woods. Turk and Moldavian rulers stormed into Galitsia up to its western borders, destroying everything. A peace treaty was signed with Moldavia in 1499. Galitsia became independent from Poland; and Moldavia became a vassal of Turkey.

All of this exhausted Ukraine. Thousands of Ukrainians were killed in the battles and in captivity. Tatars took young, strong men and women and sold them as serfs at special markets. People of Ukraine understood that they had to save their nation, and only they could do that.

In former times, when there were many foreign invasions, battles and enemy attacks, local people of Podillya could find shelter in old castles. Jan Zubrzycki, in his book on the history of Tovste, states that one could find the largest number of castles in Podillya alone. The castles were so dense, from one to another, that when danger was imminent it was possible for warning signals to be issued. One such fortification was located in Tovste, and it played an important role as a protective buffer for Yaslivets and Czerwonogrod.

In 1996, a cannon ball was found on the grounds of Tovste vocational training school No. 22, by Mykhaylo Sapizhak, an employee of this school, and resident of Tovste. Almost at the same time, Bohdan Holyk, also a resident of Tovste, found another cannon in the field. These cannon balls are kept at the Tovste museum.

Jan Zubrzycki, a well-known architect, builder and restorer of many buildings, having studied the historic monuments in Tovste – in particular, the castle-fort – came to the conclusion that it was built in the 16th century. Then, the main entrance or gate to the ‘yard’ was situated close to the modern-day cathedral. Unfortunately the gate and walls of this ancient monument of Tovste were badly ruined by the Russians during World War I, in 1915.

The fortification of Tovste had a triangular shape (126m x 168m x 214m). It was built on a mound, surrounded by water on three sides (to the east by a lake formed by the Dupla river, Hnylyy stream to the southwest, and impassable swamps).

The castle of Tovste consisted of four forts. Only one fort, the first one, is preserved to this day. Located in Tserkovna Str., it is presently used as a cinema, named after I. Franko. The second fort was rebuilt at the turn of the 20th century and it was used as a synagogue. The Nazis destroyed it in 1943.

The lower part of the third fort was preserved, and was used as a basement for a palace built by a Polish feudal lord Mr. Slonetskiy. This palace, located in Ukrainska Str. No. 107, is considered to be a monument of architecture.

The fourth fort was located to the right of the main entrance to Tovste, mentioned above. Constructed in a rectangular shape, it was rebuilt several times. The roof was destroyed during the protective battles of the 18th century, when it was turned into a monastery. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was transformed into a Roman-Catholic cathedral. The first floor was destroyed in March 1944. The Bolsheviks later rebuilt it, in 1949, as a “House of Culture.”

In 1993, during installation of natural gas piping, a tunnel was discovered leading from the former fort (the one that later became a synagogue) to the fort where now the cinema is located.

Recently it became known that in the 16th century Cossack’s Hetman, Mykhaylo Khmelnytskyy, had a homestead in Tovste. He once lived in Tovste castle, and he probably reconstructed and enlarged it after enemy attacks. From other sources, it is known that he was engaged in military campaigns. Mykhaylo Khmelnytskyy came from the well-known rich boyar family of Venzhyk Khmelnytskyy. This fact is confirmed by the coat-of-arms. He was married to Anastasiya, who was a daughter of Cossack Hetman Fedir Bohdan. The couple had only one son, Zinoviy Khmelnytsyy, who was given another name at christening – Bohdan.

Mykhaylo Khmelnytskyy was turned out of the town because of a crime of unknown description. Most probably this happened because he was an organizer of a peasants’ uprising, the first one of which took place in 1591. At the time, Ukrainian peasants were fighting against Polish landlords in Kyiv, Podillya, and Volyn.

Mykhaylo Khmelnytskyy had to move from Tovste to Chygyryn town, and he lost his former Tovste homestead. He managed to become a highly respected and rich person in this new place. In 1620 Mykhaylo and his son Bohdan took part in the battle of Poles against Turkish-Tatar troops in Moldavia. The Polish army was defeated. Bohdan was taken a prisoner and was sent to Turkey, where he was held in captivity for a long time. His father remained alive and until now no one knows what happened to him or where he is buried.  

Khmelnychyna (Khmelnytsk Province)

Under the leadership of Bohdan Khmelnytskyy, Ukrainians fought a war against the Poles for the independence of Ukraine (1648-1654). Tovste town was one of the seven principal cities engaged in this war. In 1648 they destroyed the castle belonging to the Polish landlord by the name of Danilovych.. For a short time Ukraine was free but soon, in 1649, Polish troops came back and occupied Podillya. They almost completely destroyed the town of Tovste. In that year of 1649, 195 buildings in Tovste were destroyed, according to B. Hrabovetskyy .

Bohdan Khmelnytskyy was preparing for another campaign against Moldova to force its governor, by the name of Lupul, to fulfil the conditions of an agreement signed in 1650. The Polish government decided not to permit this, and sent a 20,000-man army to Podillya under the leadership of M. Kalynovskyy. In 1652 the Polish army was routed.

There was another famous battle near Kamyanets-Podilskiy, in Zhvanets town, where Bohdan Khmelnytskyy was victorious over Polish troops headed by Yan Kazimir. During the excavations in Tovste, many fragments of plates and dishes, Cossack’s pipes, etc. were found, representative of that period of battle.  

A Ruin

At that time, Ukraine was divided into three parts: Polish – on the right bank of the Dnieper river, Moscow part – on the left bank of the Dnieper river, and the Turkish part in the south. All Cossacks armies depended on foreign support. Petro Doroshenko (1666-1676), for one, co-operated with the Turks. In 1672 his Cossack’s army joined a huge Turkish-Tatar army, which possessed Podillya. On 18 October 1672, the so-called Buchtskyy agreement between Poland and Turkey was signed, according to which the southern part of Ukraine and Podillya came under domination of the Turks, who were to administer these areas for 11 years (1672- 1683). At that time new administrative divisions were introduced, the centre of one of them being Chortkiv. This included Tovste, which was under Chortkiv supervision. The Turks were very cruel and murdered many local people. In Tovste, there is a Turkish monument to the Turkish Pasha who was killed there

In different parts of Ukraine there were many uprisings against foreign domination. When the Turks left Ukraine, reconstruction work began. People began to reconstruct and restore their towns and villages, and they built new Christian churches. Many Ukrainians who left this land at the time of Turkish occupation began to return to their native towns.

In order to induce Ukrainians to accept roman-catholicism, a Roman-Catholic parish was founded in Tovste in 1717.

There was also very intensive Jewish migration to Tovste in the 18th century. At first Jews settled in the cities, and then they began to live in the villages as well. The first time they were mentioned as inhabitants in our land was 1641, according to Siredzhyk (1994).

A famous Jewish rabbi Baal-Shem-Tov (1700-1760), was born in Okopy (Ternopil province), and lived and worked in Tovste. He was the founder of Khassidism. “Khassid”means “pious”. The principal ideal for the followers of this religion is a correct way of living, honest belief, and love of God. Khassidism, from the 1840s onward, quickly spread among Jewish people in Halychyna, and later on in Poland, Byelorussia, Hungary and other countries. Now this religion exists in many countries of the world, where Jewish people live.  

Austro-Hungarian Occupation of the Land

After the first partition of Poland in 1772, Halychyna (Halyts Kingdom) was occupied by Austria. At that time the economic situation of our land was very bad. The system of education was very poor, because Poles did not want to have educated people – not only among the peasants, but also among the clergy. The Austrian Government, under the leadership of Maria Teresa, introduced many reforms to improve the situation. The greatest attention was paid to protect Ukrainian culture and religion. In 1774, in Vienna, a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic theological school was founded, which was called “Barberium”. In Lviv, the first public schools were opened, for which the teachers were trained at Lviv University and other educational institutions. The first textbooks were printed in Lviv. At the beginning of the 19th century, the era of Ukrainian renaissance began. Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priests played a great role in the cultural and national activities of the area, especially during the 42-year rein of the archbishop Mykhaylo Levytskyy (1816-1858).

According to the weekly annex to the newspaper “Lwowskiej gazety”, the educational institutions in Halychyna and Bucovyna were as follows: 1 university, 1 technical academy, 4 theological institutions, 4 philosophic institutions, 13 high schools, 10 specialized schools, 43 schools of general education (main ones), 2195 ordinary schools, 42 schools for girls, 781 schools of level 2, and two kindergartens.

The first public school of Tovste was opened in 1852. This is confirmed by documents kept at Lviv State Archive of Ukraine in one paper-file called “The school of Tluste” (1818-1853). These consist mostly of letters written in German and in Polish by the Tovste community asking for a school to be opened in town. In the above paper-file, documents were found concerning “the allocation of money to open and support a new school in Tovste”, dating back to the year 1853.

In another document of 1852 – a report on the number of main and ordinary schools – it states that in Tluste there was one ordinary, so-called “trivial” school. The documentation indicates that the schoolchildren around that time numbered between 35 and 43.

In 1868 great changes took place in the administrative division of Lviv and in school reform. Real and trivial schools became public schools (4-5-6-7 years of study). In Zalischyky after the 1868 reform, the public school became a 7-class school. In Tovste, the school was a 6- class institution, while in the villages there were mostly 4-class schools.

During the years of Austrian domination, the school in Tovste was located in two buildings: in the main building and former house of Baron Hirsh, and also in the small houses of teachers and in the community centre.

Besides the school of general education, there was one more state school “Reitshule” with a large hippodrome. This fact is confirmed by the map of Tovste of the second half of the 19th century (State archive of Ternopil region, file 146, case No. 177).

The population of Tovste, according to the central Lviv archive database (file 19, case 124, pages 1-24, 57) was as follows: there lived 163 families in 1785; 174 families in 1870; and in 1900: 3671 persons.

According to the church census, 4,482 persons were living in Tovste in the year 1900.

(Editor’s note: more comprehensive census figures are given elsewhere on this website.)  

Construction of the Stone Road and Railway

According to the Polish mass-media published in Lviv in the 1850s, the so-called “King’s road” was built on the territory of our land, from Chortkiv to Tluste and Skala, in 1854. In 1856, the construction of a stone road was realised, from Buchach to Tluste and from Solone (close to Tluste) to Zalischyky.

A document found at the Tovste residence of Mr. Vasyl Sadovskiy in December 1996 states that construction of the railway in Tovste began in 1897 and was completed in 1901. Austrian engineers from Vienna made the plan of this construction (of the local Chortkiv-Zalischyky railroad) in October 1895. The document indicates whose land was expropriated for the construction: that of Pavlo Rymarchuk, hat of Mykhaylo Hewko and Xenia Shtykh, and State land in conformity with the agreement dated 30 September 1900.

Besides land from Tovste, land belonging to different villages – namely Rozhanivka, Korolivka, Solone, Vorvulynets, Torske, Berestka and Yakubivka – was also used.  

Telephonization of Tovste

Fourteen years after the invention of the telephone by the Boston teacher Bell (1876), there appeared a telephone at the Tluste central post-office. We learn of this from the dictionary of geographic terms of the Polish kingdom, which was published in Warsaw in 1892. Old people from Tovste say that this building of the post-office with the telephone existed until 1901. It is preserved to this day, and is located in Kovalivka Str., close to Torgovytsya Str. (confirmed by Tovste resident, Mykola Hrabovetskiy, born in 1916, education – 7 classes). When they started to deliver post by trains, a new post office building was built in what is now Ukrainska Str., however it was destroyed by bombs during World War II, in 1944.  

On the Eve of World War I

In the book “Chortkiv Region”, published by diaspora in 1974, there appear reminiscences about Tovste written by doctor of law, Lonhyn Horbachevskyy (pages 755-868), who lived in Tovste from 1902-1922. He worked at the library of Tovste “Prosvita”, which was located in the community centre (presently the museum). He systematized the books in the library. He was also conductor of an amateur group, and he organized a chorus, the first concert of which took place in 1911.

Horbachevskyy tells about prominent people who visited Tovste. One of them was Hnat Hotkevych, who was an engineer by profession, but besides this he was a well-known bandurist (bandura player). He visited many towns and villages with his concerts, including Tovste. His concert was a real sensation, because local people had not heard the bandura. Later, Hotkevych visited the Carpathian area, Hutsul land, and he came back to Tovste in 1910.

Lonhyn Horbachevskyy also tells about the theatre of Mykola Sadovskyy. The author underlined the fact of improving of national consciousness in Halychyna on the eve of World War I (June 1914). The theatre later moved to Chortkiv.

Materials kept in Lviv archive tell more about the Tovste library / reading-room: “Prosvita” (“Enlightenment”) -- Fond 348, description No.1. The following persons were among the founders of this library: Pavlo Chuzhak, Andriy Smityukh, Onufriy Bodnar, Dmytro Kushayuk and many others.

According to these records, the library had 189 books on 5 April 1903, and kept such newspapers as “Svoboda” (“Freedom”), “Haidamaky”, and “Zorya”. One finds also interesting announcements, for example invitations to people to take part in the meetings, etc.  

Construction of Churches, Architecture

An old wooden church existed in Tovste from 1730 to 1912. This is confirmed by a photograph on which there was an inscription: “A view of church in Tluste, built in 1730”. Prior to that, there was a church built in 1700, according to Siredzhyuk (1994). A monument of history and architecture, the church of 1730 was demolished in 1912 and a new white stone church was built in its place, designed in Ukrainian baroque style by the architect Jan Zubrzysky.

Papers kept in the church archive state that construction of the modern Greek-Catholic church began in 1912 and was completed only in 1939. The first stone was laid by Vasyl Badlyuk. A church committee was created to supervise the construction, headed by Teodosi Kurpiak from 1912-1914, and later by Anton Navolski (1932-1939). Active construction of the church lasted for nine years. Construction was stopped in the difficult years of World War I and in the post-war period. After the death of Jan Zubrzycky, Mr. Stanislavskyy headed the construction cooperative from 1935-1939.  


There was once a large, triangular-shaped market in Tluste. The town hall was situated in the middle of that triangle. In the middle of the 19th century, Austrians built the Chortkiv-Zalischyky stone road, which ran through the market (1858 map of Tluste, file 146, case 177). In the western part of the market, a two-story house was preserved, bearing a plate with the old number of the house (No.75) on Ukrainska street. So, it is written Rynek (Market), 25. About 40 buildings were built in the market area alone. This is confirmed by the map of Tovste of 1858.  

Social-Economic State

In eastern Halychyna all of the land was concentrated in the hands of rich landlords. In 1902, there were about 3,100 landlords. In Tovste, at the beginning of the 20th century, the property of Count Poninskyy was transferred to Countess Lubomirska, who owned 1702 ha of land. Besides that much land belonged to Count Makovetskyy, who was the supervisor of the Greek- and Roman-Catholic churches in Tovste.

Landlords had political and economic advantages, while the status and life of peasants was on an opposite pole. Many worked for the landlords, held very small plots of land, and lived in poverty. (Altogether, the peasants of Tovste had over 1200 morgs of arable land and about 100 morgs of meadows and gardens.)

Many of them immigrated to Canada, United States and other countries. From 1890 to 1913, 700-800,000 moved to different countries; 150 people emigrated from Tovste. Among those who left for Canada there were Anna and Petro Chajko. Their four children: Michael (b.1895), Christina (b.1901), William (b.1902), and Mary (born in Canada, 1912) had 13 grandchildren. One of them is William Gordon Hykle (Chajko) (b.1923) who visited Tovste in 1998 with his wife Marion Aileen Palmer (b.1926) and their son Douglas Hykle. The great-grandchild of Petro and Anna, Douglas Hykle was born on in Saskatchewan province. He and his father have researched their family roots. In 1999, Douglas Hykle came again to Tovste to study life and social conditions of his relatives, some of whom are still living in Tovste. He made a very impressive genealogical tree of the Chajkos, who are residing now both in Canada and Tovste, a copy of which is kept at the local museum of Tovste.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a rapid growth of social activities of Ukrainian peasants. Its economic foundation was made possible by the growth of Ukrainian co-operation. There were 93 co-operative unions in Eastern Halychyna. The centre of co-operation was in Lviv, where in 1912 there were 5,577 co-operative societies, which had a general balance of 50,5 million crowns. The societies embraced practically all the villages and towns (Kondratyuk: “History of Ukraine, 1914”, Ternopil, 1994, page 115).

The above-mentioned facts certify that this was the beginning of social-economic renaissance of the land, and of Tovste, prior to World War I. Tovste had a very favourable geographic situation, as it stood on the trade route that connected Lviv and Bucovyna, and was at the centre of western Podillya. Many craftsmen used to come here and settle (History of towns and villages of Ukraine, Ternopil region, 1973, page 262).  

* * ** End of Part I * ** *

Moscow Occupation

In the second half of 1914, residents of Tovste could see Russian soldiers for the first time. People had a great interest to observe them, and what kind of people they were. Local people were frightened of the Russians, and expected them to be cruel – to murder Ukrainians, especially Jews, many of whom fled to Vienna. Local people decided to put icons in the windows so that Russians could see that they were not Jewish.

Soon infantry regiments and artillery filled the streets, but not for very long. The Austrian army had to withdraw and very soon Tovste came under Moscow occupation. The Russians appointed their own government representative, a policeman by name of Senokosov.

Senokosov had to take care of the civil population of Tovste. At the beginning there was no constant Russian army presence, but then the soldiers began to stay in the town and nearby villages. Senokosov most probably was of Ukrainian nationality and he spoke very good Ukrainian.

The new occupation power fixed an exchange rate of two Austrian crowns for one Russian rouble. To obtain consumer goods people had to have a special pass to cross the Russian border (the Zbruch river). Only by crossing the border and going to Kamenets-Podilskyy could people could buy something nice. Kamenets-Podilskyy was the biggest town at that time.

In Tovste, the occupying force was quite correct in comparison with the rest of Halychyna where all national life was under terrible pressure and all cultural institutions were closed. Many representatives of the intelligensia were sent to Siberia, including the archbishop Sheptytskyy.

The Russian occupiers forced Jews to work to maintain order and to keep the town clean, but very soon, thanks to bribing, the Jews began to co-operate with the Russians. Russians were constantly searching for vodka, because the Tsar had prohibited drinking of vodka at the beginning of World War I.

Some time in the winter of 1914-1915, the Austrians managed to drive out Russian (Moskals) from Halychyna. The front was on the Dniester river, close to Zalischyky, Dzvynyach, Ivane-Zolote, Ustechko and so on. A “wild division” was sent there, containing seven regiments of Caucasian nations: Georgians, etc. The commandant of this division was a great Prince Mykhaylo, a brother of Tsar Mykola the Second. He occupied the best house in Tovste, belonging to Baron Hirsh, and used the house as the headquarters of the division. (Today there is a monument to Bohdan Khmelnytskyy standing on that place.) The division consisted of volunteers, and discipline was very poor: they were reputed to have murdered local Jews.

Within the summer of 1915 the front line was further along, on the Dniester river. Austrians used bacteriological weapons there, which killed first the soldiers and then people in villages and towns along the Dniester river. Many soldiers sick with cholera were brought to Tovste hospital, which was located close to the railway station. Those sick soldiers usually died within several hours. They were buried in a separate “Cholera cemetery”, which was established in the Jewish neighbourhood. Soon many local people were infected, and a sanitary service was organised. People were afraid to leave their houses, for fear of being infected. The houses with sick people were marked with a lime cross. Mostly Jewish people were infected. During the occupation there was only one doctor in Tovste – a Pole by name Gilnrayen. He was a very good doctor and was taking care of all the sick, but he too was infected and died. Russian doctors did their best to save him, but in vain. After his death the epidemic somehow stopped as if he, by his death, blocked its way.

By that time the situation on the front had changed in favour of Austrian and Germany. Their troops forced the Russians to leave this land. In September 1915 the Russians left Tovste temporarily. They returned in June 1916 and stayed in the town through July 1917. Austro-Hungarian domination in Halychyna lasted until October 1918.  

November Events

The first day of November 1918 became a very significant date for all western Ukrainian lands. The Habsburg monarchy collapsed as a result of an uprising. In Lviv, a Ukrainian state was declared. Ancient Lviv was the centre of all the events. Ukrainian divisions of the Austrian army under the leadership of Colonel Vitovskyy (1400 soldiers in all) disarmed the Austro-Hungarian garrison there and captured strategic points in the city. Ukrainian national flags were put on the building of city hall and the Governor’s house.

Many towns followed Lviv’s example and soon Ternopil and other towns became Ukrainian, with national flags on the town halls. In Tovste local authorities were created: a commissariat, court, taxation department and so on. At the head of Tovste commissariat was a lawyer – an officer of the former Austrian army – Lonhyn Horbachevskyy, who had returned to Tovste from Kherson at the beginning of November 1918.

In conformity with the Chortkiv District Military Command under commandant Orobko, the Tovste Commissariat started mobilization of a Ukrainian army. Men from 18 to 35 years old were mobilized. About 800 men were acknowledged fit for military service and they were sent to Chortkiv. Among them there were many former soldiers of the Austrian army, who had returned home. In January 1919 Lonhyn Horbachevskyy was sent to Lviv. Mr. Vasyl Baranyk replaced him, becoming district commissar.

The mayor of the town at that time was Yuriy Badlo (1855-1925). In 1918-1919 there was a community council in Tovste. It controlled the work of governmental bodies and ensured the security of local people.

This land – Naddnistrovya (above the Dniester river) was an arena of severe battles of different armies. Agricultural fields were destroyed. There was shortage of food. During 1918-1919, there were serious financial difficulties leading to shortage of arms, clothes, medications etc. That is why Ukrainians could not achieve victory over their enemies, the Poles, who had great support from abroad.

The Ukrainian army managed still to obtain several victories, especially in summer 1919 during the battles in the triangle formed by the Zbruch river – Dniester – Husyatyn – Chortkiv – Tluste – Zalishchyky. These were brilliant victories, but the Ukrainian army, exhausted by the Poles, had to leave Tovste in the middle of July 1919. Poland annexed the western Ukrainian lands, and the Ukrainian liberating army had to cease its existence.  

Polish “Pacification”

Having captured Galician lands, Poles began a cruel repression which they officially called “pacification”. The main aim of such pacification was to find out “uncertain” suspected persons, especially those who participated in the Ukrainian bodies of power, as well as participants of the Ukrainian-Polish war. For example, the mother of Lonhyn Horbachevskyy suffered considerably: many times policemen visited her house in Tovste, searched it, and robbed the woman.

As the result of such inspections, the cultural and material assets of the Ukrainian people were destroyed. The interior of “Prosvita” library was destroyed, and the books were cut to pieces. At the same time another part of a punitive group murdered local people: they were called to their office, undressed and beaten. Poles hated embroidered shirts and tore them to pieces.

Arrests were the highlight of pacification. They arrested, for example, Olexa Shevchuk (1888-1929) in 1919, mocked him and threw him into prison as a criminal because he was a member of Tovste community council. His relative bribed the authorities and he was released from the prison, but he could not live and work as he used to before. Terrible conditions were created for him. So, he had to abandon his wife and children (the smallest girl Olya was 8 days old) and immigrate. Vasyl Smutylo and many others followed him.

The pacification caused opposition among the Ukrainian population. The Ukrainian Nationalists Organisation (UNO) played a very active role in this respect. Many well-known people were the members of this organisation. In the second half of the 1930s, Pavlo Skaletskyy (1911-1944) became the leader of the Tovste branch of UNO.

UNO remained a very active force fighting with Polish occupiers, who blocked development of Ukrainian intellegensia and education. In the second half of the 1920s all Ukrainian schools became bilingual, but almost all the disciplines were taught in Polish. It is well known from history that there was a struggle for Ukrainian schooling. There were several uprisings against the Polish language based on the theme: “We want to speak Ukrainian and to learn Ukrainian history!” Ukrainians refused to learn Polish songs and dances.

In Tovste there was just one public school, a Polish one, while there were several private Jewish schools, kindergartens and libraries. According to the documents, on 1 December 1925 there were 11 teachers and 469 children at the public Tovste school (Szkoly Powszehne Rzeczypopolity Polskiej. Warsaw, 1927. p. 671).

(Not translated: a verse on how Ukrainian children were humiliated by Polish teachers.)

With Tovste’s church of St. Mykola having been destroyed (in order to make way for the new Greek-Catholic cathedral), by 1927 townspeople were praying in a small chapel. In 1930, Anton Navolskyy, a bishop and great patriot of Ukraine, arrived in Tluste. He managed to unite people and undertook to realise the completion of Tovste cathedral, whose construction had started in 1912. The young priest Navolskyy managed to find money for the work, which was completed in 1939 and became a pride not just of Tovste but also the entire Podillya.

Tovste community members were mostly land-deprived people who were engaged in commerce and crafts activity. Just a few Ukrainians were employed in the Polish occupation administration – at the schools, post-office, court, etc. Consequently, Ukrainians had to create their own social-economic and cultural infrastructure of the land. In Tovste, there were established a branch of the co-operation union, shops, a dairy factory, a youth society “Lug”, “Union of Ukrainian women”, “Prosvita” library, and newspapers such as “Our flag”, “New times”, etc.

In 1938-1939 Ukrainians from Tovste paid special attention to the events in Zakarpattya (Transcarpathian land), because a new independent state was forming there at that time. Hungarian fascists wanted to occupy that land. In response to that, there were many demonstrations and strikes held in support of the new state. In Tovste such a meeting took place in March 1939. Many young people wanted to help the new state and go to Zakarpattya but, in the second half of March 1939, Carpathian Ukraine ceased its existence. This was the beginning of World War II.  

Soviet “Liberation”

Soviet rule was established on 17 August 1939. Some things were done to strengthen Ukrainization and the system of education, but from the very first days of study at the Soviet schools it was prohibited to study religion. A new Leninist-Stalinist ideology was introduced, and communist party members were sent to Tovste from eastern parts of Ukraine: 7 teachers, 3 doctors, etc. A district hospital was opened in the town. Industrial and commercial enterprises were nationalized, having previously been controlled mostly by Poles and Jews.

A part of local rural people gladly received the Bolsheviks, because the latter promised to distribute Polish land among poor peasants. When this land distributed, however, some months later people had to return it and join the collective farms. The first collective farm was opened in Tovste in 1940. Stefan Tymus was appointed its chairman.

Besides that, all the co-operatives were liquidated, all political parties were cancelled, and “Prosvita” organisation/library was prohibited. The communists burned books from the library, and only some books survived. Local people changed their opinion with regard to the Soviet power, since they were disappointed by it.

In January 1940, Tovste lost its status of a town, which it had held since 1548. The Soviets designated it as something like a “settlement”, and it became a district centre of Ternopil region.

In February 1940 the local underground organisation of young Ukrainian nationalists, UNO, was formed. It embraced 15 towns and villages, including Tovste. Mr. Mykola Kruts was the leader of this organisation. He was born in 1919 in Vorvulynsi village, joined UNO in 1944, and was killed in a battle with Bolsheviks in 1945.

The Tovste district Ukrainian Nationalists Organisation was very well organized and disciplined. Its conspiracy was so good that none of its members was exposed by the Bolsheviks. There were six members in each organisation’s cell. From Tovste, there were the following members: Lev Bodnar, Maria Bodnar, Eugene Dobrivny, Roman Motychko, Dadey Smutylo and Olga Smutylo.

Ukrainian political leaders were arrested by the KGB, and were shot and murdered in prisons without court procedures. The following 20 persons, born in Tovste, suffered this fate:

Hrynko Badlo, Demytro Bodnar, Vasil Bodnar, Semen Bojko, Ivan Chajko, [Volodimir: Editor’s correction] Chajko, Myhailo Dsyon, Bohdan Goy, Ivan Hewko, Gregory Horbal, Trokhym Horodynsky, Demytro Khmoyn, Maria Khomyn, Mykola Khomyn, Orest Khomyn, Ivan Kowalchuk, Bohdan Luchak, Pavlo Szuturma, Josef Trakalo, and Volodimir Trakalo.

To avoid arrest many members of UNO had to leave secretly and go abroad. The Soviets were planning to arrange mass deportation of Ukrainians, but these plans were ruined by a rapid decisive attack of the German army.

At the beginning of July 1941, while Soviet troops were retreating to the east, some train cars containing arms were blown up at the railway station of Tluste. On the place of that explosion, a pit 18-19 meters deep was created, its bottom covered with water. The explosion was very close to the railway station building, within 50 meters. The walls of the station survived, but nothing else. The buildings located nearby were destroyed by the subsequent fire or the shock wave. To this day, we admire the solidity of this building and compare it to a soldier whom bullets do not reach. (The railway station building was built in 1895-1900; information about the building is kept in the central archive of Vienna, 1895).  

Fascist Occupation

Rural and urban people of Ukraine greeted the Germans, in 1941, not as occupiers but as liberators, with hopes, joy and flowers, bread and salt. The author of western historiography Mr. Cooper wrote that German soldiers were met everywhere like heroes (M. Cooper, The Nazi War Against Soviet Partisans 1941-1944 No. 4: Stein, and Day, 1979, p.19), because Ukrainians and other peoples of the USSR, oppressed by the Soviets, wanted to become free, to have nothing to do with the Soviet regime, Stalinist tyranny, collective farms, and to restore religion.

Just at the beginning of the war, the underground organisations in Tovste restored their activities. They closed and destroyed the collective farms. A very important factor that had a great influence upon people and formed anti-Soviet ideology was the activity of the NKVD (KGB) – its repression and mass killing of prisoners before and during the war. The Nazis used theses facts. They put on display the murdered people as an evidence of KGB crimes.

To maintain order in Tovste, the German occupation power created town councils. At the beginning, the council was headed by Mr. Mykola Roslytskyy (July-December 1941), then by Oleksandr Sos (January-March 1942) and many others. A branch of Ukrainian police, the Tovste “Sich”organisation was created, and had over 150 riflemen. Its head, Grygoriy Tymus, was born in Tovste in 1912. The organisation was liquidated by the Fascists in 1941.

Germans began to introduce the order of a “New Europe”. A Jewish council and Jewish police were founded. Policemen bearing the Star of David on their uniform were on duty at nighttime. They guarded the Jewish ghetto that was located in Tovste (close to the watermill), and in Holovchyntsi, Rozhanivka and Svydova villages. The policemen collected money to buy food for the ghetto prisoners – cheese, bread, milk, meat, onions and even vodka.

During the German occupation, stars were placed on the doors of houses where the Jews lived; this way the entire Jewish population was controlled and all of them were sent to Ghetto (according to Vasyl Trakalo, “Colony”, Ternopil, 1998, p. 349). Mass executions of Jews began. About 5,000 Jewish people were shot – not just local Jews, but also those who were brought from Chortkiv, Zalishchyky, Kolomyya, and Horodenka. (History of towns and villages of Ukrainian SSR, Ternopil region, 1973, p. 266).

Rural people had to pay very high taxes on grain, milk, pigs, etc. It was forbidden to use the watermills. Those who did not obey were punished, beaten or robbed. In such conditions a national identity and everything connected with that was not timely.

The head of UNO, Mr. Oleksandr Sos, was arrested and sent to Chortkiv prison; he was released in May 1942. The Nazis shot many Ukrainian people, especially Ukrainian nationalists. They are buried in a common grave close to Yagolnytsya village. Such terror of the civilian population caused protest against the occupation regime. In 1943, detachments of Ukrainian rebels were created in Tovste and almost all the villages located nearby. In Tovste, such detachments were organized by Pavlo Skaletskyy (1911-1944). He was killed in a battle with Polish agents of the Nazi Gestapo. The Germans did not allow a funeral to be arranged, but it took place anyway. Hundreds of people from different villages came to see him off.  

* * ** End of Part II * ** *

Second Soviet “Liberation”

On 24 March 1944, a Soviet detachment of partisans attacked a Nazi military column. They were supported by Soviet tanks and aviation, which penetrated from Kamyanets-Podilskyy. The battle lasted for several hours. Over 1,000 Nazi trucks with arms and food were destroyed by bombs, and all the drivers were killed. Other battles lasted for 20 days longer. Only after the attack of Zhukov’s army did Tovste come under Soviet domination again, on 13 April 1944. During this Soviet “liberation”, many houses were ruined and burnt down. Just after the “liberation”, the district party committee was restored in Tovste.

At the beginning of May 1944, 530 men were mobilized to the Soviet army. Almost half of them were killed at the front during World War II. At the same time, the Ukrainian Liberation Army was formed. The following persons from Tovste joined this army:

Vasyl Badlo (1920-1946), Stefan Buts (1926-1944), Mykola Chajko (1909-1946), Volodimir Chajko (1925-1946), Evgen Dobriviny (1924-1946), Stefan Kowalchuk (1910-1944), Myhailo Kyrylyshym (1911-1944), Roman Lozinsky (1927-1947), Vasyl Maydenyk (1922-1944), Roman Motychko (1920-1945), Petro Obodiac (1921-1946), Olga Smutylo (1925-1945), Tadey Smutylo (1923-1945), Olexander Sos (1900-1945), Levko Szuturma (1926-1947), and Anna Tymus (1916-1946).

Until the second half of July 1944, Tovste was in the front zone. That is why the whole population of the town was evacuated to Chortkiv, Borshchiv and Zalishchyky districts (over the Seret river).

An example of an evacuation certificate reads as follows:

Executive Committee of Tluste District Town Hall of Ternopil Region
14/V 1944
No. 98
Tluste town

The present certificate is issued to DYAKIV, Volodymyr Mykhaylovych, Head of District Education Board, to certify that he and his family are not subject to evacuation and that he may remain in the town to protect a school and the classrooms.

The original of the present certificate is kept at the village museum of Tovste. It was preserved and forwarded to the museum in 1994 by the daughter of the above person, by name of Lesya, who now resides in Ternopil.

After returning from evacuation in July 1944, local residents began to clean the streets, and to rebuild the houses. The war did great harm to the economy of Ukraine and to the agriculture. In Tovste, 609 rural houses were burnt to ashes. The Nazis took away 549 horses, 1299 cows, 550 pigs, 580 sheep and goats, and 19,272 poultry. The area of arable land decreased by 28 percent.

In spite of all that, great preparatory work was done for the coming academic year. Schoolchildren tried to help the adults. The doors of Tovste secondary school were opened on 1 September 1944. Its principal, Mr. Volodymyr Dyakiv has been running the school since 1941. The first principal’s name was Oliynyk.

The Tovste youth organisation, UNO, restored its activities in December 1944. The new cast of this organisation, each of whom took an oath, were as follows: Orysya Bilowus, Volodimir Bilowus, Emilia Bizar, Stefan Frydrak, Zinoviy Klepcio, and Bohdan Obodiak.

In these post-war years people had to pay very high taxes to the state. Farmers had to fulfil the plan to supply meat, milk, and grain to the state. In spite of all these high taxes, local people supported Ukrainian rebels.

Many young Ukrainian men, who were mobilized from Tovste and neighbouring villages to the Soviet army and then called to the front, managed to escape and join the Ukrainian army. Among them was Tadey Smutylo from Tovste. Against them, in spring 1944 in the Ternopil area there were concentrated three teams of KGB troops numbering 3,057 individuals, gradually increasing up to the year 1953. This military force was fighting constantly with Ukrainian underground organisations. The Soviets arrested and prosecuted their families. Because of this many people tried to move to different places of Ukraine or even to leave abroad. The rest of the people, those who remained, underwent Soviet political re-education.  

Stalin Regime (1945 - 1953)

World War II caused great damage to the Ukrainian economy. People were robbed. Women had to work both at home and in the fields because their husbands began to return home only in autumn 1945 after the war with Japan. Many former landlords’ fields were cultivated by German machines, but it was impossible to cultivate the entire land. In the post-war years, the Soviets arranged 28 agricultural communities, but much land that belonged to the rich landlords was not cultivated.

The Soviets organized special groups that fought illiteracy of local people.

The Ukrainian nationalist army was constantly fighting with the Soviets, and on 6 January 1946 over 20 Soviet party officials were killed. Many Ukrainian patriots were also killed at that time. The Bolsheviks brought the bodies of the deceased to Tovste, and often threw them down from the third floor of a partly ruined house located in front of the KGB office. Relatives took risks and tried to bury them, usually in the 1915 “cholera cemetery”, located close to the Jewish quarter. Mass arrests and forcible expulsion of people to different places began. Many people in Tovste were arrested and were sent to Siberia, where many of them died.

Among those arrested in 1945 were: Semen Berezovsky (b. 1909), Melania Bilowus (b. 1916), Maria Bodnar (1920-1963), Mykhelina Horbal (b. 1920), Stefan Smutylo (b. 1896) and Petra Trakalo (1912-1950).

Among those murdered in prison, between 1940 and 1954 were: C. Andruzhyshin (b. 1914), B. Dusyak (b. 1918), M. Falko (b. 1912), I. Falko (b. 1918), B. Humenytsky (b. 1920), C. Krasiy (b. 1892), Josyp (Josef) Lototsky (1923-1946), Teodozich Luchak (1910-1946), C. Malakhovsky (b. 1921), Roman Mendyk (1925-1946), Irena Trakalo (1921-1948), Volodimir Trakalo (b. 1924) and Bohdan Obodiak (1930-1946).  

Liquidation of the Greek-Catholic Church

After the death of Andriy Sheptytskyy, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic church, on 1 November 1944, the KGB with the consent of Stalin began to liquidate the Greek-Catholic church in Ukraine. Many Catholic priests were arrested and imprisoned, and sent to concentration camps. According to the resolutions of party bodies in Lviv on 8-10 March 1946, decisions of the Brest Union were cancelled and the Greek-Catholic Church became subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church. Greek-Catholic priests were sent to Siberia. In Tovste, the Greek-Catholic church continued to function secretly through underground activities. Anton Navolskyy, the priest, was allowed to conduct mass for some time, but in the 1950s he was relieved of his duties. Even in the underground he was always a real patriot of Tovste, Ukraine, and his religion.  


In spring 1945, 150,981 Ukrainians arrived to Ternopil region from Zakerzon Ukraine, which was occupied by Poland in 1944; at the same time 226,867 Poles were evacuated. The above-mentioned Ukrainians, who arrived from Lemkiv and Jaroslav regions to the Ternopil area received the following:

Houses – 32,201
Administrative buildings – 40,895
Land – 98,690 hectares
Arable land – 11,510 hectares

3,1 millions of Polish currency was exchanged for Soviet roubles. In the second half of 1946, these people obtained 10 million roubles of credit (Ternopil archive, file 1, description 5, volume 210 pp. 22-23). Within the year of 1945, almost all the houses that had formerly belonged to Poles were given to the immigrants (56 families in Tovste town, and 34 families in Tovste village).  

Collectivization of Agriculture

In 1946, in Ternopil region, some small collective farms embraced 15-20 farms. In 1947, in Tovste district, collective farms were organized, embracing from 40 to 60 homesteads. In Tovste itself, two collective farms were founded: one named after T. Shevchenko and another one named after Chapaev. It is reported in old documents that there were 25 collective farms and 77 teams in Tovste district in 1950. Eight agronomists and seven livestock experts worked for these collective farms.  

Electrification, Installation of Telephones and Radio

In conformance with the first five-year plan, an inter-collective farms’ hydro power station was built, but it is stated in the documentation that there was not enough energy, or experts in this field, etc.

In 1948-1950, telephones were installed in the villages of Ternopil district. In 1950, a wireless radio system was installed. In that year, the number of radios was 2,000 pieces, of which 500 were in Tovste district. A radio station was located in Tovste and another one in Nyrkiv village.  

Tovste Publishing Houses

The first state publishing house in Tovste was founded during the war. In autumn 1944, it published a district newspaper “Bolsheviks’ Way”, and later “To Communism Victory”. The publishing house was located in Lenin Str. (now Ukrainska no. 74).

From the second half of 1948 to May 1951 an underground publishing house was operating in Tovste village, in Holovna Str. (now Chumatska Str.), where the Motychko family lived. Orysya Motychko, a daughter, was working at the state publishing house and at the same time at the underground one. Her father gave his consent to use his house for the underground publishing house. This was the only one that printed leaflets addressing the populace, such as: “How Stalin authorities murder Ukrainian collective-farmers”, etc. Magazines such as “For Independence”, “Underground Word” etc. were also published. This literature was priceless. It was sent to Kiev, Vinnitsa, Zaporizhya, Kamyanets-Podilskyy and further on to the whole of Ukraine. This underground publishing house was headed by Myroslav Huk, Vasyl Melnyk, and Vasyl Vintoniv. They did tremendous work for the future of Ukraine, and died as heroes in 1951. Special thanks are extended to the Motychko family for their patriotism, and especially to Orysya, for her bravery.  

Gradual De-Stalinization, Reforms Trial

The Soviet economy had very poor agriculture up to 1953. That is why, after Stalin’s death, Khrushchov tried to improve the situation and life in the villages. Very bad productivity of agriculture caused food shortage in the cities and villages, especially in the villages, where peasants produced bread. The Soviets decided to introduce some reforms to the economy, but neither the reforms nor different experiments improved the state of agriculture as it had been planned. (They tried to grow large quantities of corn everywhere in Ukraine, as in the United States.) Also, Khrushchov wanted to unite collective farms and make big amalgamations. It did not bring positive results and very soon these big amalgamations split. In Tovste, there was an agricultural amalgamation called “Druzhba” (“Friendship”), but it was divided into two collective farms in 1983.

The Soviets had a very limited quantity of agricultural machinery in the 1940s when collectivization was initiated. That is why they started to create machinery stations in each collective farm. This machinery had to cultivate the collective farms fields. There was such a machinery station in Tovste and 114 people were employed there.

Industrial production in Tovste began in the first half of the 1960s. In 1963 a metal processing factory was opened, and by 1972 over 400 people were employed there. The factory manufactured metal and plastic items. Reconstruction of this factory began 1981 and was completed in 1988. A gypsum plant was built in Tovste in 1957.

In the mid-1950s an old brick factory was restored. Then a new brick factory was built, producing bricks of very high quality. A milk-processing factory was opened in 1960, and construction of a new bakery began in 1977.  

Education, Culture

In 1957 a new secondary school was built in Tovste. Prior to that, the pupils studied in several small buildings. In 1967 an additional school building was constructed for 300 students: the school had a nice sports complex, a shooting gallery, a hostel, and a library with almost 10 thousand books. From 1948 to 1973 about 1,300 students graduated from Tovste secondary school. Soon, in Ukrainska Str., a third school building was constructed. In 1998 there were 729 students and 66 teachers at Tovste school.

An agricultural vocational training school was opened. Studies began on 1 August 1963, with 180 students. The vocational training school was reconstructed and enlarged. In 1977 a new hostel was built for the students of this school.

Tovste musical school was founded in September 1973 as a branch of Zalischyky musical school, but since January 1974 it has operated as a state musical school. From 1960 to 1970 amateur art was rapidly developing. There were many amateur groups, including chorus, drama, and dance groups. A flute ensemble of Tovste became very popular, and toured throughout Ukraine.

At that time residents of Tovste began to read a great deal. Almost half of them attended two libraries of Tovste. Local people subscribed to many newspapers and magazines.  

Health Protection

Information about Tovste hospital No. 2 is kept in the local museum. The first hospital was opened in 1939 (25 beds), and it operated until 1941. A new hospital with 20 beds was opened in 1944. Over time, the capacity of the hospital gradually increased: 1947: 25 beds; 1949: 35 beds; 1950: 50 beds; 1960: 75 beds; 1977: 100 beds; 1980: 150 beds; 1984: 175 beds; and 1985: 190 beds. The number of beds was increasing because in 1980 a new hospital building was built. (Branch hospitals were also opened in many villages of Tovste district, such as in Ustechko, and Popivtsi.) In 1988 gas piping was installed, and now in winter a constant warm temperature is always maintained at the hospital.

In 1990, 242 persons were employed at the hospital: 30 doctors, 98 nurses, and 114 others. It is planned to use mineral springs, found on the territory of Tovste, for treatment. Such water is useful for stomach diseases, kidney and liver problems and some other diseases.  

Creation of Historical Museum In Tovste

In 1965-66, Mykhailo Zolotyy, principal and teacher of history at Tovste secondary school, created the so-called “corner of history”, which rapidly grew. As 150 exhibits were collected, he decided to dedicate two classrooms, in a separate small building, to be used as a museum for these exhibits. It was in this small house that Tovste’s museum was opened, under director Jaroslav Pawlyk. In 1973 it was decided to transfer the museum to a new building, the former landlord’s palace.

Unfortunately, in 1989, some officials from Tovste, ignoring the current law on protection of monuments of history and culture, destroyed one wall of the museum, in violation of the law, and the exhibits were transferred to the collective farm shed. They began to use the former museum as a dwelling house for collective farmers, and some families began to live there.

However, local people forced the district authorities to allocate the former Young Pioneers’ House for the museum, in which there was a community centre. “Litiy” plant and “Druzhba” collective farm donated money for capital repair of the building. A local artist, Stefan Dolynchuk, decorated the first two rooms of the museum; while the rest of the rooms were decorated by local craftsmen under Jaroslav Pawlyk’s supervision.

By the decision of Zalischyky District Board no. 143, dated 20 July 1990 the historical museum in Tovste was formally inaugurated. On 29 December 1992, the Ternopil regional culture board on conferred the honourable title “Peoples’ museum” to the Tovste museum.  


When the last empire collapsed, all oppressed nations began to build a new, independent life. Ukrainian people were very happy, as it looked like at long last they had obtained freedom. They hoped that the mother tongue, the economy, and culture would develop and flourish. We wanted to build our own State, a new family and to live happily. Seven years have passed since that time but “yesterday” people – people from the past – are still running the State, and a new State inherits all bad that the communist system had.

In Tovste we also have rather many such people. There are those who hated Ukrainian patriots, who were against a free Ukraine. They have robbed the country and sold everything possible: industrial enterprises, monuments of history, vehicles, etc. The Tovste local administration, headed by Tetyana Makara together with some officials, privatised a monument of history and architecture, the fort of Tovste castle (Ukrainska Str.107), the historic square, and the military cemetery of 1915.

We have to sound the alarm and to stop such actions.

And still, the spring of our nation has come. We are independent! Now everything depends just on us. People who had started a new life must reach whatever it wants.

God bless us!  

Annex: List of photographs from original Ukrainian publication

Page 20/21
Coats-of-Arms of Tovste (partial translation):  

(1) Coat-of-arms of the Khmelnytskyys – Hetman (leader) of Ukrainian registered Cossacks (1534-1569). There was a dynasty of the Khmelnytskyys: Mykhaylo, Bohdan, Yuriy and many others.

(2) “Pylyava” coat-of-arms, the owner of Tovste. This is confirmed by the ancient coins that were found in Tovste.

(3) Coat-of-arms of the Slonetskyys, the owners of Tovste during the first half of the 19th century. This coat-of-arms was discovered by Mr.Jaroslav Pawlyk on 24 March 1982 in Lviv.

(4) The coat-of-arms of Tovste, from the year 1995. Its design was made by Jaroslav Pawlyk and an artist, I. Lototskyy. The coat-of-arms depicts the gateway to the old 16th century castle of Tovste. On top there is a cross from Khmelnytskyy’s coat-of-arms (16-17th centuries). Two lines at the bottom represent the two names of Tovste: Tovste-town and Tovste-village.

Page 22
Objects found in Tovste during the 1995 excavation

Page 25  
(1) Tovste panorama 1939. In the centre, one can observe the catholic church and on the right is a synagogue, former fort of 16th century Tovste castle. Photo taken in 1941 and donated by Oresta Trakalo-Hordig; (2) Monument of 18th century architecture. Photo by I. Pochekay.

Page 37
Photocopy of map of Tovste (Tluste) in 1858 – central part of the town: File 146, case 2, p.177

Page 38
Photocopy of map of Tovste (Tluste) in: File 146, case 3, p. 543. Editor’s note: this is an error caused by the misfiling, in Ternopil archive, of a map from another village of the same name.

Page 39 
(1) A view of church in Tluste, built in 1730;  (2) Railway station of Tovste

Page 49
Arrival in Tluste of great Count Mihailo Romanov, commandant of the Caucuses “Wild Division”, brother of Czar Nicolaus II. Photo taken in 1914 and preserved by the Gogol family

Page 49
Vasyl Smutylo (1890-1952), commander of Ukrainian army; during Polish domination he had to immigrate to Canada, where he died

Page 59
Ukrainian Greek-Catholic church, St. Mykhailo church, constructed from 1912-1939 with donations of local people, designed by the architect Jan Zubzhytskyy

Page 60
A map of Tovste town and village, and its outskirts (1930s)

Page 61
A fragment of the map “Ternopil region” 1940-1941, which included Tluste district. The map was preserved by Stepanian Pawlyk

Page 61
Photo taken in 1948: St. Anne Roman-Catholic church in the centre; and on the left – the ruins of Tovste castle. The first floor, which had survived, was destroyed by Bolsheviks in 1948-1949

Page 62 (1) Celebration of “Prosvita” organisation (1928); (2) String orchestra of Tovste “Prosvita” organisation (1930s)

Page 70
Anton Navolskyy (1894-1965) – an active public man from Tovste (1930-1946)

Page 71
(1) Pavlo Skaletskyy (1911-1944), a leader of the local UNO organization; (2) Tluste school children together with A. Navolskyy and their tutor E. Kotelnytskyy (1943)

Page 84
A house of 1870 in Tluste village, a typical house of the area

Page 85
(1) Vasyl Melnyk a worker of the underground publishing house, who was arrested and killed by KGB agents in May 1951. (2) Orysya Motychko worked for both publishing houses – the official state one and the underground one

Page 89
Buildings of Tovste vocational training school No. 22

Page 90
In the classroom of the vocational training school

Page 91
(1) Mykhailo Zolotyy (1927-1992), principal of Tovste secondary school from 1966 to 1980. Merited worker of culture of Ukraine. (2) School No. 2 of Tovste

Page 92
Baal Shem Tov – “Besht” (1700 –1760); rabbi Izrael of Tovste synagogue (1734-?), healer, wonder rabbi, founder of Hassidic religion

Page 93
A dwelling house of Tovste, Ukrainska Str 84, belonging to Pavlo Benzara (1921-1947). It housed the state bank from 1948-1983 (names of various managers are listed)

Page 94
(1) Volodymyr Kucher (1885-1970) – scientist, physicist; (2) Opening ceremony of the first building of Tovste district hospital, 1980

Page 105
A song about Tovste – Words by Danyl Onyshchuk, music by Vasyl Hnatyuk

Page 110
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Andriy, built in 1991-1995 with donations of local people

Page 111
(1) Vasyl Trakalo – a writer; (2) Bohdan Hlova – director of agro-industrial machinery station; patron of art

Page 112
Lev Bodnar, born in Tovste in 1923, public man of Ukrainian diaspora in the United States; patron of art

Page 113
Evgen Roslytskyy, born in Tovste in 1927, literary critic, translator, editor of “Ridnoshkilnyk” magazine in Toronto, president of Ukrainian-Canadian Congress

Page 114
Mykola Markov, director of Tovste plastic goods manufacturing factory; patron of art

Page 115
(1) Danylo Onyshchuk, Director of Tovste secondary school, head of the Congress of Ukrainian Intelligentsia (2) Volodymyr Bagna – a poet

Page 116
Jaroslav Pawlyk (left), with a founder of Tovste People’s Museum, Mykhailo Hnydyuk – a doctor, publicist, and author of the foreword to this book