Bystřička, lying in the district of Vsetín on the tributary called Bystřička too, became widely known mainly thanks to the dam built between 1908-1912. Until that time it was only a village of the former lordship of Vsetín with no particular importance. It is thus understandable that the existing sources of information about the village history are not very rich. The same applies to specialized literature where Bystřička is mentioned usually because of the dam or very briefly in terms of ethnical research. From the existing publications we may mention the brochure of the Vsetín historian and the director of the state district archives in Vsetín PhDr. Ladislav Baletka. The brochure was dedicated to Bystřička’s neighbouring village Růžka, from which Bystřička separated in the middle of the 17th century. It is also dedicated to the Vsetín chateau. The publication called Okres Vsetínský refers to Bystřička in several parts too. We can learn more from the unpublished works stored in Vsetín archives: the Czech translation of the Fernando Chronicle and both chronicles of Bystřička (municipal and scholastic). Let’s also mention the notes to the history of Bystřička taken by the historians Kobliha and Válek. It should be noted that Bystřička was a part of Vsetín’s large estate before 1848. Its materials are stored in the Provincial archives in Opava. There are many records of the large estate, one of them is called Narovnání všech dědin Panství Vsetínského dne 25. června 1700 – a key source for the duties and rights of the people in serfdom.
The area of today’s Bystřička was surprisingly settled long ago in prehistoric times and the Middle Ages although the settlement was not continual. A bastion and some remains of pottery from the 1st century BC were found on the Klenov hill rising up the valley of today’s dam. This used to be one of the settlements of the Lusatian culture, not unique in the region of Vsetín. The same applies to the members of the Púchov culture who came to Klenov in the 1st century AD. Then there is a huge gap in any news concerning settlement. The situation changes with the so called Great Colonization. At the top of Klenov called Zámčiska today a fortress was built. It is impossible to reconstruct it because the part of the rock that it stood on collapsed into the valley in the 19th century. This fortress is usually associated with the Freundsberg castle that we already know from 1308. Together with Vsetín’s large estate it belonged to the templars.
The publication of Jiří Kohoutek The Castles of the Southeastern Moravia, from which we extracted some information and some illustrations of the assumed look and localization of the castle, brings a more detailed note about the Freundsberg castle.
There are no direct written sources about the existence of Freundsberg, only too unrelated accounts from the turning of the14th century. There is a document from 1297 that says that Protiva from Doubravice gave some houses and lands acquired from the king and lying on both banks of the river Bečva (“Beyc”) to the master of templars Ekko. The contents of another document from 1308 are definitely more important and more interesting. According to this document Vok from Kravaře confirms that he received the rent of the town Vsetín with Freundsberg castle for 31 years from Ekko. After the dissolution of the Order of the Templars the castle started to decay. Any attempts to establish a settlement on Klenov were not successful and it is not possible to say when exactly the castle perished. There is evidence of a violent perish by fire. Archeologists found a collection of ceramics and arrow tips for cross-bows here.
Thus Klenov became the most celebrated place with many folk rumours in the region. Some of them are recorded in Jan Kobzáň’s book O zbojníkoch a o pokladoch. The hill with its altitude of 678 m, formed of a huge sandstone rock, is one of the view points of the country.
The existence of the villages Svojanov and Konvice is closely connected with the history of Bystřička. These were founded in the 14th century, about the time when Růžďka was founded, first mentioned in 1505. Svojanov used to be in the place of today’s railway station Bystřička and the Baslů crossing but the village probably declined before 1500. Konvice unlike Svojanov did not belong to the Vsetín lordship but it lay on the right bank of Bystřička brook (probably somewhere where it is called “Na Konvici” today) and it was most likely flooded by one of the floods that the brook was known for until the construction of the dam and also after it, as it was evident in 1997.
Until 1848 Bystřička was part of the Vsetín estate and as its part it was also run. It was not a very profitable part of the estate, originally not even an independent village. It came into existence in the middle of the 17th century by separation of several manor houses from Růžďka, the fourth biggest village in the estate. The first reference of the village is in the Vsetín’s registry office in 1647 (“Bystřička pod Roušťkou”). Long after this Bystřička is still not independent but considered a part of Růžďka.
The relationship between the two villages is obvious from the numbers of the registry office from 1666 where Bystřička had numbers 17. 25. and Růžďka 1. 16. and 26. 40. Bystřička had 112 inhabitants in 1666, Růžďka 275. Another comparison is possible in 1834: Bystřička had 37 houses and 280 inhabitants while Růžďka had 200 houses and 1431 inhabitants. Concerning the ecclesiastic management, Bystřička has always belonged to Růžďka’s Catholic parish. Bystřička is first mentioned as an independent village in the fiscal books from 1787.
The land of the Vsetín lordship was both rustic and demesne’s, the estate holders in this area were called “panšťáři”. As for the house tenure there were 9 small farmers, 4 farm houses and no farm lands. The farm house holders were not noted in the land register. While the small farms were traditionally burdened with labour for 104 days a year (2 days a week), the farm house holders laboured only 12 days.
The small farm holders were duty bound to a small farm only as a whole. One small farm in Bystřička was usually in the possession of 24 settlers who shared labour duties according to their ownership (1/2 or 1/6). These settlers changed through the times and only partly they were the heirs to the previous owner and there were various squabbles among them. One of the problems was the fact that the one who was the first on the land roll used to pay the taxes and dues and he had to claim substitutes from the neighbours. The apple of discord was also the allocation of the property for maintenance. They could divide the arable land mechanically but it was more difficult to divide meadows that had different qualities. The lords were not interested in these matters, of course, it was up to the settlers to agree. This usually happened without geometers and any written record so it was easy to forget what was settled. The later image of Wallachians filling the pockets of lawyers may have its origin in the disputes caused by this system. Sometimes, for the sake of justice in dividing the allotment, the settlers took turns once every 1 or 2 years so that nobody could complain about his land. Further disintegration of land tenement took place and in 1824 there were 36 small farm holders plus 9 small holders and 1 farm labourer.
The nobility enjoyed also other privileges, not only the labouring of the people in serfdom. They had a pre-emptive right for meat, lard and wax, without any discount though. If the nobility did not want to buy the serfs could sell to anyone else.
The relationship between the nobility and the owners of sawmills was very interesting. The nobility was supposed to assign a certain part of the lumber to particular mills every year. This was done so that there were no unnecessary competitor fights. When there was no work or when the mill was decayed the nobility promised to cut down rent or even forgive it. There were 8 mills in Růžďka in 1657 but 3 of them were actually in Bystřička (2 sawmills and 1 flourmill).
The nobility also treated serfs with many “graces”. It was mainly picking up fire wood (in the feudal woods) but only for one’s own use. The wood could not be sold though. Leaves for sheep could be picked up too or fir sprouts in winter. Timber wood was for free too with permission.
It was similar with the production of shingles – only for one’s own use, it was tolerated when a serf asked his neigbour to help in case he was not very skillful. Serfs were also entitled to salt ration which was handed out at the manor house.
Salaries were paid out on holidays (St. George, St. Wenceslas, St. Jane and at Christmas). Besides these regular salaries (mainly from the rent, sale of cattle and for labour) serfs had to pay for meadows and clearings that they maintained, this was the most expensive thing. Also oat crops, beekeeping and keeping livestock were taxed. Judging by the repetitive modifying of the payments the dues were too high and they were not kept. The village was poor from the beginning and originally there were only 9 small farmers and a few farm houses. Until 1848 Bystřička was as well as Růžďka a part of the Vsetín estate.
Even after its separation Bystřička remained connected with Růžďka. The railway station in Bystřička was called Růžďka until 1946 and the post-office called Růžďka 13 years longer. As noted before, in church administration Bystřička has been a part of Růžďka until today.
At the beginnig of the 20th century (1907-1912) a dam was built, which was an important change that left its mark on the life of the village. The reservoir, originally made for supplying water to the canal Dunaj Odra Labe, became the destination of unheard-of numbers of visitors.
In 1921 there were 73 houses and 482 inhabitants in the village, in 1930 there were 87 houses and 525 inhabitants. In 1924 there were five pubs (one of them with a shop and a tobacconist’s), a blacksmith, a joiner, a bricklayer, a butcher, a slipper maker, three tailors, two dressmakers, two carpenters, two tobacconist’s, two barrows, a steam saw-mill and a water saw-mill. The major part of the economically active people represented small holders. Most of them did not cultivate an area bigger than one hectare. Three biggest owners cultivated a land of almost 80 hectares all together in 1925. Wheat was grown the most, cows were bred and potatoes were especially important, those had everyone for his own use. Apples were exported beyond the borders of the village but local farmers had problems with providing their own market. Tens of people worked as wage labourers. They either worked on the Baťa saw-mill or on repairing the local road or the dam, they also worked on the railway construction, in the hat factory in Valašské Meziříčí, or they commuted to Ostrava and Frýdek. Part-time jobs like picking up mushrooms and cutting of rabbit skins were welcome. There were traditional journeys to Haná where men and women (mainly the younger ones) helped with seasonal farm works. Although they had to live and board there the salary was better than at home.
While the people of Bystřička have never built a church they were prompt in the construction of school. In the beginning the school was in the farm house of one of the citizens but because the number of children attending school was almost 100 at the end of the 19th century the school had to be moved elsewhere. In 1884 a building that is used until today was put up. It underwent a great reconstruction in 1910-1912 that the local headmaster Jan Rous put through against the resistance of the vicar of Růžďka and the mayor. The school became one of the best-built schools in the district. Today it has a gym, a school canteen and a school nursery and it is a part of the elementary school in Růžďka.
The costly reconstruction of the school was made easy by the construction of the dam that brought tax benefits to the village. The works on the dam took place between 1908-1912 with the help of workers from Austria, Germany, Italy and France. The dam serves as a protection against floods and the originally agricultural region was turned into a recreational one. The dam became most popular mainly during the thirties. Tourism brought new opportunities to earn money. A surprise for local conservative people represented the “foreign and indecent elements” like tramps. The tourism development was slowed down by insufficient sanitary conditions in the village, unsatisfactory communications and by slow electrification (finished after 1945). The electrification was held off by decentralization as the village consisted of two parts.
In the period of the First Republic a much-frequented library and a voluntary fire brigade were founded. First petrol engines (in agriculture) and first radios appeared and bicycles became popular. One of the innovations is the use of bricks in new buildings and using tiles instead of traditional shingles. There were only gravity water pipes in this period.