One sentence may summarize the economic condition of many -at ancestors:
“The Government of Suwalki is economically the most behindhand of all the Kingdom of Poland; it is purely agricultural, subject to a great amount of emigration, and inhabited mostly by Lithuanians.” 1
The population was lower than average. 2 In 1913 Suwalki consisted of 4,756.4 square miles, and about 137.3 inhabitants per square mile or 652,641 people, the smallest section of the total population of the Kingdom. In 1893 there were even fewer people: 611,000 inhabitants in Suwalki or about 7% of the entire Kingdom. From 1893 and 1913 the population of the Government of Suwalki decreased 6.7 %. 3
Birth Rates in Suwalki
Protestants had the highest birthrate in 1897 and 1910. 4 The social position of the Protestants in the Kingdom, where they were mostly manufacturers, merchants, overseers and wealthy peasants with greater opportunities for increasing their incomes, had some influence and raised the birth rate. 5 This higher economic status would probably not be true of many of the –at families as the registers record their occupations as “farm-workers” and “homeworkers,” one of the lower social classes. Employers of these families may have been the “wealthy peasants,” but it is also likely that because the population was 52.2 % Lithuanian, their employers might also have been Lithuanian.
Civilian and Military Population
The population of the Kingdom of Poland in 1897 included 4,712,090 men of whom 239,309 were soldiers. The proportion of men to women was affected by two factors:
• The army stationed in the country increased the proportion of men to women.
• Thousands of young men were sent as soldiers to the farthest parts of Russia.
In Suwalki the ratio of civilian men was 102.7 women to 100 men, the lowest in the Kingdom. Not only did the Government of Suwalki have a very low birth rate, it also had the smallest proportion of children from 0 to 9 years, i. e. 26% of the total population.
1 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 226.
2 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 180.
3 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 751.
4 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 284.
5 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 285.