Book-Smuggler, Lithuanian Army Officer, and Deportee: Story of Kumečiai-Dovydaičiai Family
This exhibition stand tells a story of one Lithuanian family during periods of national revival, re-establishment of the State, and Lithuania’s occupations.
Various moments from Kumečiai-Dovydaičiai family’s life were captured in photographs. These pictures reflect not only the fate of Kumečiai-Dovydaičiai but also illustrate similar fortunes of many more Lithuanian families during the period from the late 19th century to the 20th century. The content of the exhibition was provided by librarian Rita Reda Dovydaitytė-Dagienė, the inheritor of family’s archive. Jonas Kumetis, book-smuggler, was her grandfather, Pijus Dovydaitis, Lithuanian Army officer and deportee, was her father, and Julija Kumetytė-Dovydaitienė, activist, was her mother.
Jonas Kumetis (1850-1924) was long-serving organist and choir leader at Veliuona church, folklore collector, and book-smuggler at the time of Lithuanian press ban. He was persecuted by the authorities of the Russian Empire for his documentation of Lithuanian folk songs. With his second wife Juzeta Safrončikaitė-Kumetienė (1880-1943) he had three daughters, Julija (mentioned below), Aniceta, and Adelė.
Pijus Dovydaitis (1898-1983) was Lithuanian army volunteer, participant of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence (1918-1920). In 1928 he married Julija Kumetytė, daughter of Jonas Kumetis. In 1941 he was arrested as political prisoner, jailed at Gorky (nowadays - Nizhny Novgorod) city prison, and sentenced to 10 years at Unzhensk forced labour camp. After finishing his sentence he was deported to "home for invalids" at Kemerovo Oblast Izhmorky District. He was allowed to return to Lithuania only in 1954. With his wife Julija Kumetytė-Dovydaitiene he had two daughters, Asta and Rita Reda.
Dovydaičiai is an old family of Suvalkija region farmers, coming from Runkiai village, Višakio Rūda volost, Marijampolė County. Known history of the family reaches the early 19th century. Motiejus Dovydaitis, father of Dovydaičiai family, and Marijona Bunkartaitė-Dovydaitienė, mother of the family, brought up seven children, Pranas (the signatory of the 1918 Act of Independence of Lithuania), Juozas, Antanas, Pijus (mentioned above), Vincas, Magdalena, Jonas, and Jurgis.
Julija Kumetytė-Dovydaitienė (1903-1973) was singer at the choir "Daina", active member of Lithuanian Grand Duchess Birutė Officers Families’ Women’s Union. Until 1933 economic crisis she worked at post office. After the World War II while trying to survive she sold families’ assets and shipped food as well as various other items for her husband in labour camp. In 1948 she was forced to hide in order to avoid being deported herself. The property of her family was expropriated by the Soviet authorities.
Renata Perlibaitė, Senior Museum Specialist at the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania