Lithuania (/ˌlɪθjuˈeɪniə/ (listen); Lithuanian: Lietuva [lʲɪɛtʊˈvɐ]), officially the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe.[a] It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania shares land borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Russia to the southwest.[b] It has a maritime border with Sweden to the west on the Baltic Sea. Lithuania covers an area of 65,300 km2 (25,200 sq mi), with a population of 2.8 million. Its capital and largest city is Vilnius; other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians belong to the ethno-linguistic group of the Balts and speak Lithuanian, one of only a few living Baltic languages.
For millennia the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, becoming king and founding the Kingdom of Lithuania on 6 July 1253. In the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe; present-day Lithuania, Belarus, most of Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were all lands of the Grand Duchy. The Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were in a de facto personal union from 1386 with the marriage of the Polish queen Hedwig and Lithuania’s Grand Duke Jogaila, who was crowned King jure uxoris Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland. The Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania was established by the Union of Lublin in July 1569. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighboring countries dismantled it in 1772–1795, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania’s territory. As World War I ended, Lithuania’s Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, founding the modern Republic of Lithuania. In World War II, Lithuania was occupied first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. Towards the end of the war in 1944, when the Germans were retreating, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. Lithuanian armed resistance to the Soviet occupation lasted until the early 1950s. On 11 March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania passed the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, becoming the first Soviet republic to proclaim its independence.
Notes from Pilvingiai and Nedzinge researcher, Justina Petrauskaite:
“Both villages are rather small with the population of about 200-250 people in each. And it seemed to me that they all knew each other. When I went to the local shop in Nedzingė and asked who could help me with my research, the shop assistant and the other lady who was shopping at that time both immediately said that I must go to see Albertas. One of them called Albertas’s wife and the other gave me his address. And then I told Albertas that I am looking for any Mazaliauskas family members living around, he jumped in my car and showed me the way to Pilvingiai directly to the house of Juozas Mazaliauskas. On the way Albertas told me that back in the day he was a history teacher of Juozas’s son in school.
Both villages are very clean. I would say about 50-70 homesteads in each. They all have an orchid and flower beds around houses and a garden of vegetables, sometimes small greenhouses for tomatoes and cucumbers nearby. I even saw beehives in a few places.
Lithuania and Poland have a lot in common history wise. It used to be the Commonwealth from 1569 until 1795, thus many people, especially the nobility, spoke Polish back in the day. It says that a man named Adam Kijuc is buried here, he was a chronicler from Trakai town, an honest and decent man, died in 1855 at the age of 72.
I gave my number to Juozas Mazaliauskas and asked him to call me if he finds something more that could be interesting for you. I also have his phone number and I think I could call him if you would like to ask him something more, but the problem is that Juozas and his sister have read all of the names of Mazaliauskas you sent me but unfortunately could not recall anything. It was just too long ago. They said that most probably you and they are related somehow because all of the Mazaliauskas from Pilvingiai were related back in the day but they don’t know how. While showing me the Mazaliauskas tombstones in the cemetery they kept referring to some of them as „their family“ and to some others as „distant“.”
I have just returned from my trip to Nedzinge and Pilvingiai. It was nice weather today; I took many photos for you and did some video recordings, some of them with narration thus, please, watch them with sound switched on.
I first stopped at Nedzinge village. It is a small village with the 19th century church in the centre. Some of the former priests were buried in the churchyard. There are some wooden crosses next to the church and a statue of Virgin Mary. Just outside of the churchyard is a monument to the freedom fighters of Lithuania, a small information board about Nedzinge with a bit of information in English as well (please, find a photo of it) and a shop. I went to the shop and asked the shop assistant about a priest and where to find him. She told me that Nedzinge does not have a priest who lives here permanently. The village is very small, thus the priest from a bigger town Perloja comes to Nedzinge just for service. She gave me his name and mobile number: priest Ąžuolas +37061316586. She told me that the priest is about 50 years old and does not speak English. I asked if there was a local person who could help me and she sent me to the history teacher named Albertas.
Albertas was very helpful, he confirmed that the priest does not speak English neither does he. Albertas told me that Vadenai village no longer exists and offered to lead me to Pilvingiai where he knew the Mazaliauskas family lives.
We drove to Pilvingiai (it is just 5 minutes away from Nedzinge) and stopped at Juozas Mazaliauskas house. Juozas Mazaliauskas lives with his wife, he is about 60 – 65 years old. I introduced myself and asked him if he knew something about relatives in the USA. He told me that his grandfather went to Argentina, left his grandmother with his father who was just a baby then in Pilvingiai and never came back but he knows nothing about relatives in the USA. Juozas then called his sister Aldona who lives nearby and all three of us drove to Pilvingiai cemetery. The cemetery is not big, I would say about 200-300 people buried there, about 100 separate burial sites. Albertas and Aldona showed me all the graves of Mazaliauskas’ family. There are 10 separate gravesites of the Mazaliauskas. I took photos of all of them for you. They told me that there used to be many Mazaliauskas families in Pilvingiai. They all were related – cousins, second cousins and so on. Today it is only them who still live in Pilvingiai and their uncle who is 93 years old but unfortunately, he has problems with his memory and ability to recognise people.
The most interesting grave, probably the oldest one on the site, said: MAZALIAUSKAM VINCUI IR VARONIKAI NUO ANŪKO ZURLIO VIKTORO. Meaning: “to Mazaliauskas Vincas (it is short for Vincentas) and Varonika (Veronika) from their grandchild Viktoras Zurlys“. The tombstone had only this inscription; there were no dates. I looked at the papers Aiste sent me and saw that Vincentas (Vincas) and Veronika (Varonika) might be the couple you are looking for – parents of Julius Molesky. Might it be so?
Albertas and Aldona told me that they don’t know how exactly they were related to Vincentas and Veronika Mazaliauskai. Aldona told me that she once knew the man who built this tombstone and left his name on it – Viktoras Zurlys. He passed away a long time ago but they know a relative of his and have his phone number. Thus, we called mr. Algis Zurlys. His phone number is +37069880242. Unfortunately, Algis Zurlys said that he knows nothing about the tombstone his relative Viktoras Zurlys built for his grandparents Vincas and Varonika. I asked him if he speaks English, but he said that no.
Juozas Mazaliauskas and his sister Aldona were really willing to help me more but they knew nothing more. They told me that a long time ago about one third of Nedzinge were the Mazaliauskas’ families. With some of them they kept contact, with some of them did not. I gave my phone number to Juozas, he promised to call me if he finds something that could be interesting for you. Juozas’s phone number is +370 61115310. But he does not speak English or use email.