Druskininkai Ratnycia ancient settlement
Today‘s Ratnycia is a part of Druskininkai city. But very few people of Ratnycia would call themselves the people of Druskininkai, at least because they are used to call themselves this way. In the recent past it was not only an autonomous settlement, but also the administrative centre of the surroundings that united the villages located nearby the resort.
According to the old people, the name of Ratnycia derives from the old Pagan rituals, as though the oaths or the places of the Pagan rituals were called so. It is also believed that the name of Ratnycia could also originate from the occupation of the local people who were wheelwrights – craftsmen who build or repair wooden wheels (wheel in Lithuanian is called ratas). A man named Sixnis, the local of Ratnycia, was mentioned in the documents of Merkine town of the 17th century among the oldest residents of the town. He probably engaged in the production of leathers (leather in Lithuanian is called šikšna) and in the maintenance of the travelling carriages. There was also another town dweller – the younger son of Latas. He married a girl, who was the only daughter to her parents. She lived on the bank of a streamlet near the church that was always crowded with people. He started making wheels here and really loved this craft. For this, reason the young family soon became wealthy, had built a large house for themselves next to the church. They hanged a large wheel on the gate in order the customers could quickly and readily find the wheelwright. And wrote “Ratnycia” on that wheel. Ever since, the people call that place around the church Ratnycia.
The old people remember that Ratnycia town was formerly a larger settlement. And you can never know if the residents of the villages of the region would had been so united if there was no Roman Catholic church, parish and the school supported by the church in the town… But worshiping or the church matters were not the only things that united the local people. They had also a chance to meet each other on Sundays in the market and during the fairs organised in the occasion of the feasts of Saint Michael and the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary.
The records about all events that took place in the old church were made in the old parish registers. These records include the issue of the writ of tax collection to the towns people, the calculation of voloks given into the possession of someone or information about an individual quit-rent. Individual taxes were also paid by the town‘s people – the innkeepers paid a tax for the sale of vodka and beer, and Matyasz Szybay – an individual tax for hay harvest. Severe plague, that ravaged this region in the 17th century, is also described somewhere. Many kind-hearted people of Ratnycia succumbed then to this merciless disease…
Various surnames were also mentioned in the parish registers. The interesting fact is that the surnames of the people of Ratnycia, who live in this part of Druskininkai city today, are the same surnames as were the surnames of the people who lived here in the past: Šikšnelis, Kalpokas, Janulevičius, Smaliukas… There is no doubt that the parish registers contain information about the ancestors of the families that currently reside in Ratnycia.