Village History

Short History of Village Chereshnitsa

This is an oral history of the village as remembered by George Bellio. George has a prodigious memory. The history has been handed down from parent to child for many generations. Some of the facts and numbers are from other sources (named).

Some time during the Ottoman Occupation, six families were uprooted from their homes located in the Pelister Planina “mountain” near Bitola and a village by the name of Magarevo. They had been complaining to the local Ottoman bureaucrat (Osman Beg) in Bitola, (then known as Monastir), that this was not a good place for them. He suggested that he knew of a village called Fotinishcha (Fotini) near Lake Kostur. He told them that there was plenty of good pasture land and water for their livestock.

Once they settled in Fotinishcha, they realized that it was on a Turkish army route. This did not go well with them, so they moved a few miles northwest near the village of Kondorbi. They named the new village Toplitsata. Over time they dispersed, some went up the river to Ponash and built their huts, while others went close to Lapkata and Cheima and eventually formed a village that we call Dolnoto Selo. Here they built a small church. Many years later they decided that this was still too close to the Turks, and moved again to the present village and called it Chereshnitsa. Apparently there were many cherry trees in the area. The name Chereshnitsa may be loosely translated as “Cherryville”. In the years 1840 to 1844 they built the present church of St. Nicholas.

According to Turkish statistics, in 1878 there were 640 people in the village of Chereshnitsa.

According to Greek statistics, the population of Chereshnitsa was as follows:

1913     660 people
1920     343
1928     328
1940     397
1951      87
1961     147
1971      57
1981      46
1991      39

According to Wikipedia, on August 30, 1903, during the insurrection against the Turkish Empire, 80 houses of Chereshnitsa were burned down by the Turks. Only four (4) houses were not burned. These were the Dzonoff, Mangoff, Lialkin, and Schklifoff houses. The church and school were unharmed. Although the 80 houses were burned, the basic structures survived.

The following Chereshnitseni were killed during the insurrection:

Damian Suloff 50 years old
Petre Popoff 53 years old
Damian Boshkoff 59 years old
Hristo Boshkoff 35 years old
Sido Poiarmoff 60 years old
Fillo Rozoff 63 years old
Dine Glavcheff 81 years old
Mitre Bapchorliata 73 years old
Sya Bapchorova 50 years old
Risa Fianova 28 years old

Many women that were captured by the Turks were made to dance naked in the village.

During the German/Italian occupation in 1941-1942, a guerrilla group, called the Komitet, was formed by the Axis powers and organized by a Bulgarian army officer named Kalchev. On August 21, 1944, the Village Chereshnitsa along with the village Prekopana were taken over by the Partisans. During the fighting, a Russian soldier who was on the Partisan side was killed. Also a woman, Fana Ristovska from the village, and Yorgi Dzonoff, Miteto Baroff, and Koleto Kiroff were killed. Five of the Komitet members were captured and executed in the village of Pozdivishcha. After they were judged and sentenced to be killed, the five joined together and yelled “Da zivee Bulgaria. Bulgaria ke dobie”. This may be translated as “Long live Bulgaria. Bulgaria will win”. These five were – the brothers Pando and Yorgi Nedelkoff, Miteto Pliastoff, Tometo Pizarkoff and Leko Kiroff. Leko Kiroff was a domazet in Chereshnitsa married to Tinka Popova.

For more on the history of Chreshnitsa during this time period, see “Night Time Comes To A Village” by Pando Pappas (in this website).

In looking at the population statistics, three time periods have been devastating for the village. The first one caused by the 1903 insurrection, the second one caused by WW1, and the third one by the Greek civil war. The latter one is probably the most devastating. In addition, many Chereshnitseni left the village for economic reasons after both world wars.