Dydwiże/Didvyziai was a Spurgat “home” for two generations. The family of Anna Ber/Berz Spurgat also lived here. Johann and Anna were married here in 1865. Anna died here in 1874. 5 sons were born here. It is also the:
Manor where Johann Spurgat and his parents lived.
Manor where Anna Ber/Berz and her parents lived.
Home of Johann Spurgat and Anna Ber (Berz) family from 1865 to 1881.
Birthplace of Adolf Spurgat (1870) and Josof Spurgat (1877).
Birthplace of three other Spurgat brothers and half-brothers: Johann Wilhelm (1867), August (1875), and Matthias (1881; died 1884).
Earlier Vilius had said that the museum in Sudava/Didvyziai was located in a building of Didvyziai manor; the curator of the museum and a local guide familiar with the area will be able to help us find the nearby places. He had also written, “She is advised to concentrate on Lutheran history of the area.”
As a long time teacher in Sudava, the next village west of Dydwiże/Didvyziai, our local guide knew many people, including one of the deputy directors of the Dydvyziu socialines globos Namai, the Didvyžių social care home, formerly the Dydwize Manor, which has been used for “social care” from 1933 to the present time. She had applied to the authorities and received special permission to allow us on the grounds of this property, now the home of over 286 adults with disabilities.
Vilius parked his car in a spot especially reserved for us, and we were immediately greeted by the director of the home and two deputy directors. Soon we were surrounded by curious adults who were wondering about these visitors.
We learned that, a Polish noble, Leonas Geistaras, had purchased this property in 1808 and that around the middle of the 19th century the Geistaras family started to construct the manor buildings, including those which we saw: the manor house (greatly modified), a barn, a well, living quarters for workers, a brewery, and a refrigeration house.
Around 1920 when Lithuania became an independent country, the manor became the property of the Lithuanian state. About 1928 the manor was established as a place for social care and was no longer linked to the owner.
A Brief History of the Dydwize (Geistaru) Manor from internet Sources
In the 18th century when the Geistaru family owned the mansion, people called the manor and the village Geistaru.The Skriaudupio stream ran near the estate. An 1808 shows the name of this location as Dydwize in Polish. (In my examination of the records I never saw the name Geistaru so I think that Dydwize/Didvyžiai was most commonly used). In the 20th century the Lithuanian Didvyžiai was used.
The property continued as a manor until Lithuania became an independent country. In the 1923 general Lithuanian census, Didvyžių parish and manor had a total of 174 people, 152 of whom lived in the village (bažnytkaimyje) and 22 on the estate.
Although we saw many remnants of the Geistaru Manor, we neither saw nor were we directed to the village. All we saw was the red brick church described below.
Didvyžių St. Pope Leo II Church
The St. Pope Leo II church stands in Didvyžiai village, 5 km north of the railway station for Vilkaviškis in Big Szelwy, the home of Anna Raudonat and the birthplace of her daughter, Berta Spurgat in 1908 which we would visit the next day. By 1850 the Didvyžių (Geistaru) manor chapel had a permanent priest. In 1885 the Lord of the manor, Leon Geištaras, decided that the chapel was out of date and he had the present brick church built. The church is rectangular, one tower with a lower apse. The churchyard fence enclosed other wooden structures. In 1944 the building was degraded when holes were punched in the wall. Russian soldiers looted and burned the wooden part of the church, leaving only the high altar. The church was rebuilt in 1945.
In retrospect, of all the villages or manors that we saw, this was by far the most complete, probably because of its ownership by the Lithuanian government and its long standing use as a social care facility.
If our Family History Tour had only included this particular stop, I would have been satisfied. However, getting permission was the key to our visit. Had we only wanted to make a quick half day stop, most likely our local guide would not have gone through the trouble of making these special arrangements. We would have spent our limited half day with Vilius driving and with her showing us the remnants of the surrounding villages. How satisfying it is to know that my grandparents had nine children, all who lived to be 80 to 98 years old. They had twenty grandchildren and today there are thirty seven great grandchildren, 57 great great grandchildren, and as of 2010 seven great great great grandchildren.