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Germany, Silesia

Lower Silesia                Upper Silesia

Map of the plebiscite areas - Upper Silesia


germany1920.jpg (120489 bytes)

The Silesian Piasts encouraged German colonization of their lands, the larger part of which became thoroughly Germanized, and in the early 14th cent. the Silesian princes accepted the king of Bohemia as their suzerain and thus became mediate princes of the Holy Roman Empire. During the Hussite Wars of the 15th cent. Silesia, with Moravia, was temporarily detached from the Bohemian crown and was ruled by Hungary. In 1490, however, both Silesia and Moravia reverted to Bohemia, with which they passed to the house of Hapsburg in 1526.

Hapsburg Rule
Hapsburg rule and increasing Germanization loosened Silesia's historic ties with Poland. However, the ducal title, along with several fiefs, remained with the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty until the extinction of the line in 1675. The margraviate of Jägerndorf was purchased in 1523 by a cadet branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty of Brandenburg, which later also claimed inheritance to other Silesian fiefs. Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg, moreover, concluded (1537) an alliance with the Piast duke, by which Brandenburg would inherit the Piast principalities if the Piast dynasty became extinct. This treaty was declared invalid by King Ferdinand I of Bohemia (later Emperor Ferdinand I). In 1621, John George of Jägerndorf, brother of the elector of Brandenburg, lost his fief for having supported Frederick the Winter King.

The Thirty Years War (1618–48) brought untold misery to Silesia under successive Saxon, imperial, and Swedish occupation. It reverted to Austrian control at the Peace of Westphalia (1648). In 1675, on the death of the last Piast, Austria incorporated the Piast territories into the Bohemian crown domain. The Counter Reformation had by then made great progress in Silesia, although Lutheranism was tolerated in Breslau (Wrocław) and certain other districts.

It was on the very shaky dynastic grounds indicated above that Frederick II of Prussia, as heir of the house of Brandenburg, claimed a portion of Silesia in 1740 from Maria Theresa, who had just assumed the succession to Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary. His claim and his offer to assist Maria Theresa in the impending War of the Austrian Succession were rejected by the queen while Prussian troops were already invading Silesia. The Silesian Wars (1740–42 and 1744–45) were part of the general War of the Austrian Succession. By the Treaty of Berlin (1742), Maria Theresa ceded all of Silesia except Teschen and present Czech Silesia to Prussia; this cession was ratified by the Treaty of Dresden (1745). In the Seven Years War, Prussia retained Silesia.

Modern Silesia
During the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th cent. textile weaving and coal mining developed rapidly in Silesia, but industrialization brought great social tension. The Silesian weavers became dependent on entrepreneurs who farmed out work; working conditions and unemployment became intolerable, and discontent ran high. Most coal mining was in the hands of private industry, under which miners were often mistreated. Landholding conditions also were iniquitous, most of the land being held by owners of large estates. The resulting tensions assumed an ethnic character, since the upper and middle classes were predominantly German, while a large percentage of the workers were Polish. Though these conditions were gradually improved, Silesia even in the 20th cent. remained, despite its great productivity, a relatively backward area.

After World War I the Treaty of Versailles (1919) provided for a plebiscite to determine if Upper Silesia was to remain German or to pass to Poland. The results of the plebiscite (1921) were favorable to Germany except in the easternmost part of Upper Silesia, where the Polish population predominated. After an armed rising of the Poles (1922) the League of Nations accepted a partition of the territory; the larger part of the industrial district, including Katowice, passed to Poland. The contested city and district of Teschen were partitioned in 1920 between Poland and Czechoslovakia (to the satisfaction of neither) by the conference of ambassadors. The political division of the Silesian industrial district was carried out so arbitrarily that the boundaries often cut through mines; some workers slept in one country and worked in another. As a result of the Munich Pact of 1938 most of Czech Silesia was partitioned between Germany and Poland, and after the German conquest of Poland in 1939 all Polish Silesia was annexed to Germany.

After World War II the pre-1938 boundaries were restored, but all formerly Prussian Silesia E of the Lusatian Neisse was placed under Polish administration (a small section of Lower Silesia W of the Neisse was incorporated with the East German state of Saxony). The Allies also allowed the expulsion (in an “orderly and humane” manner) of the German population from Czech Silesia, Polish Silesia, and Polish-administered Silesia. The mass expulsion of Germans was, perforce, neither orderly nor humane; moreover, although the transfer of territories to Polish administration was made subject to revision in a final peace treaty with Germany, the Polish government treated all Silesia as integral Polish territory. West Germany finally relinquished all claims to the area under the terms of a nonaggression pact with Poland in 1972. With the unification of East and West Germany in 1990, German leaders attempted once again to allay the fears of its neighbors, particularly Poland, by declaring the stability of the borders determined at the end of World War II.


1561 / 1685

SILESIA (Note: North at the Bottom; South at the Top)

WEST PORTION OF SILESIA (Lower Silesia: From Sagan Westward - (Note: North at the Bottom; South at the Top))



East west



1645 map of Upper Lusatia



  WEST PORTION OF SILESIA (Lower Silesia: From Sagan Westward)



[Source: ]



Note: Golitz (Lower Silesia)
is situated just to the west
of this map,  i.e west of Naumburg



silesialargeold.jpg (1287299 bytes)       GermanyLargeOld-S.jpg (704343 bytes)

Silesia /*

Silesia / Bohemia / 
Saxony - *

WEST PORTION OF SILESIA (Lower Silesia: From Sagan Westward)

[* - ]

[+ ]



(Lower Silesia: From Sagan Westward)

(Gorlitz to Breslau)

[Source: ]





Silesia1803.jpg (227293 bytes)

Silesia / Saxony / 
Prussia - 1803

[* - ]

[+ ]

1815 - 1918


Poland 1815-1918: Poland was divided among Austria, Prussia, and Russia.



Province of 
Lower Silesia - 

LowerSilesia1850.gif (11108 bytes)

Lower Silesia - Coat of Arms

Lower Silesia (Niederschlesien), to the northwest, includes the valley of the upper Oder, where potatoes, grain, and sugar beets are grown.
Upper Silesia (Oberschlesien), to the southeast, is a heavily industrialized area with extensive iron, coal, and other mineral deposits.



Rothenburg/O.L.-Lodenau. Atlas von Schlesien, Kr. Rothen...

[NOTE: O.L. = Oberlausitz = Upper Lusatia]

Beschreibung: Rothenburg/O.L.-Lodenau. Atlas von Schlesien, Kr. Rothenburg, Verlag von C. Flemming/Glogau, um 1850
Foto: Rapp, Günter
Aufnahme-Nr.: df_rp-c_0990021
Datensatz-Nr.: obj 70505131




Silesia1871.jpg (106496 bytes)      



Silesia / Saxony / 
Prussia - 1871

Silesia / Prussia - 1871+


[* - ]

[+ ]


"Description: A map of Germany in 1872, showing the extent of Prussia, the German states which joined Prussia to make the German Empire, and Alsace and Lorraine territories taken from France in 1871 ..."


Where Rothenburg, Steinbach and Lodenau were previously in Silesia - for example in 1871 -  apparently here - in 1872 as later for certain -  they are now in Saxony






schlesien - regierung zu liegnitz / Silesia - Government of Liegnitz

Kreis-Physici und Kreis-Wundärzte - Physici county and district surgeons

Rothenburg -- Krause

[Handbuch Über Den Königlich Preussischen Hof Und Staat Für Das Jahr 1875. (Berlin, 1874),  p. 493 - ]



c. 1900

The pink line is the present border between Poland and Germany. Polish and German names of cities are provided. Please note Rothenburg.


... In 1900 the province of Schlesien had the following districts and Kreise (counties):

Regierungsbezirk (district) of Breslau with 24 Kreise (counties):

Breslau-Stadt, Breslau-Land, Brieg, Frankenstein, Glatz, Gr. Wartenberg, Guhrau, Habelschwerdt, Militsch, Münsterberg, Namslau, Neumarkt, Neurode, Nimpgtsch, Ohlau, Oels, Reichenbach, Schweidnitz, Steinau, Strehlen, Striegau, Trebnitz, Waldenburg, Wohlau.

Regierungsbezirk (district) of Oppeln with 20 Kreise (counties):

Beuthen-Stadt, Beuthen-Land, Falkenberg, Gr.Strehlitz, Grottkau, Kattowitz, Kosel, Kreuzburg, Leobschütz, Lublinitz, Neisse, Neustadt, Oppeln, Pless, Ratibor, Rosenberg, Rybnitz, Tarnowitz, Tost-Gleiwitz, Zabrze.

Regierungsbezirk (district) of Liegnitz with 21 Kreise (counties):

Bolkenhain, Bunzlau, Freystadt, Glogau, Goldberg-Hainau, Görlitz-Stadt, Görlitz-Land, Grünberg, Hirschberg, Hoyerswerda, Jauer, Landeshut, Lauban, Liegnitz-Stadt, Liegnitz-Land, Löwenberg, Lueben, Rothenburg, Sagan, Schönau, Sprottau.


What about the remaining Silesian areas outside Prussia?

Österreichisch-Schlesien (Austrian-Silesia) remained with Austria after the Breslau peace treaty of 1742 with Prussia as an Austrian
duchy and crownland.

In 1890 it comprised the following districts:

Städte (cities) of Troppau, Bielitz, Friedek.

Bezirkshauptmannschaften (land districts) of Bielitz, Freistadt, Freiwaldau, Freudenthal, Jägerndorf, Teschen, Troppau.


What were the court districts in Schlesien before 1900?


The highest Silesian court was the Oberlandesgericht in Breslau with records deposited at the Wroclaw archives today.

The lower courts (Landgerichte) and lowest courts (Amtsgerichte) were

Landgericht Beuthen with (5) Amtsgerichte:

Beuthen, Kattowitz, Königshütte, Myslowitz, Tarnowitz.

Landgericht Breslau with (5) Amtsgerichte:

Breslau, Kanth, Neumarkt, Winzig, Wohlau.

Landgericht Brieg with (6) Amtsgerichte:

Brieg, Grottkau, Löwen, Ohlau, Strehlen, Wansen.

Landgericht Glatz with (11) Amtsgerichte:

Frankenstein, Glatz, Habelschwerdt, Landeck, Lewin, Mittelwalde, Münsterberg, Neurode, Reichenstein, Reinerz, Wünschelburg.

Landgericht Gleiwitz, with (6) Amtsgerichte:

Gleiwitz, Nikolai, Peiskretscham, Pless, Tost, Zabrze.

Landgericht Glogau with (15) Amtsgerichte:

Beuthen, Carolath, Freistadt, Glogau, Grünberg, Guhrau, Halbau, Herrnstadt, Kontopp, Neusalz,Polkwitz, Priebus, Sagan, Sprottau, Steinau.

Landgericht Görlitz with (10) Amtsgerichte:

Görlitz, Hoyerswerda, Lauban, Marklissa, Muskau, Niesky, Reichenbach, Rothenburg, Ruhland,Seidenberg.

Landgericht Hirschberg with (12) Amtsgerichte:

Bolkenhain, Friedeberg, Greifenberg, Hermsdorf, Hirschberg, Lähn, Landeshut, Liebau, Löwenberg, Schmiedeberg, Schömberg, Schönau.

Landgericht Liegnitz with (8) Amtsgerichte:

Bunzlau, Goldberg, Haynau, Jauer, Liegnitz, Lüben, Naumburg, Parchwitz.

Landgericht Neisse with (8) Amtsgerichte:

Falkenberg, Friedland, Neisse, Neustadt, Oberglogau, Ottmachau, Patschkau, Ziegenhals

Landgericht Öls with (10) Amtsgerichte:

Bernstadt, Festenberg, Gr.Wartenberg, Militsch, Namslau, Neumittelwalde, Öls, Prausnitz, Trachenberg, Trebnitz.

Landgericht Oppeln with (14) Amtsgerichte:

Gr. Strehlitz, Guttentag, Karlsruh, Konstadt, Krappitz, Kreuzburg, Kupp, Landsberg, Leschitz, Lublinitz, Oppeln, Pitschen, Rosenberg, Ujest.

Landgericht Ratibor with (10) Amtsgerichte:

Bauerwitz, Gnadenfeld, Hultschin, Katscher, Kosel, Leobschütz, Loslau, Ratibor, Rybnik, Sohrau.

Landgericht Schweidnitz with (10) Amtsgerichte:

Freiburg, Friedland bei Waldenburg, Gottesberg, Nieder-Wüstegiersdorf, Nimptsch, Reichenbach, Schweidnitz, Striegau, Waldenburg, Zobten.

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1905 administrative map of Silesia, showing Lower Silesia in green,_Kingdom_of_Prussia,_1905,_Administrative_Map.png



Prussian Silesia, the largest province of Prussia, has an area of 15,557 square miles, and is traversed in its entire length by the River Oder. In 1905 the province had 4,942,612 inhabitants, of whom 2,765,394 were Catholics, 2,120,361 Lutherans, and 46,845 Jews; 72.3 per cent were Germans and nearly 25 per cent Poles. Agriculture is in a flourishing condition, 66 per cent of the area being under cultivation; the mining of iron, lead, and coal is largely carried on, and the manufacturing industry is considerable; among the articles manufactured are hardware, glass, china, linen, cotton and woollen goods.

In the earliest period Silesia was inhabited by Germans, the tribes being the Lygii and the Silingii. When during the migrations these peoples emigrated about the year 400 towards the West, the territory was lost to the Germanic races, and for about eight hundred years the region was Slavonic. The sole memorial of the Silingii is the retention of the name Silesia; the Slavs called Mount Zobten near Breslau "Slenz" (Silingis), and the Gau surrounding Mount Zobten they called Pagus Silensi or Slenzane, Slenza, Silesia. The region belonged politically at times to Poland and at times to Bohemia. Christianity came to it from Bohemia and Moravia. The apostles of these two countries, Cyril and Methodius (from 863), are indirectly also the apostles of Silesia. Until nearly the year 1000 Silesia had no bishop of its own. The right bank of the Oder belonged to the Diocese of Posen which was established in 968 and was suffragan of Magdeburg; the left bank belonged to the Diocese of Prague, that was established in 973 and was suffragan of Mainz. The Emperor Otto III transferred the part on the left bank of the Oder to the Diocese of Meissen in 995. In 999 Silesia was conquered by the Poles. Duke Boleslaw Chrobry (the Brave) of Poland now founded the Diocese of Breslau; in the year 1000 this diocese was made suffragan of the new Archdiocese of Gnesen that was established by Otto III. In 1163, at the command of the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Silesia was given dukes of its own who belonged to the family of the Piasts. With these rulers began the connection with Germany and German civilization. Lower Silesia was governed by Boleslaw the Long, the companion-in-arms of the emperor. His successor was Henry the Bearded (1201-38), the husband of St. Hedwig. From about 1210 Henry began to bring German colonists into his territory and to permit them to found German villages and cities. Bishop Laurence of Breslau followed his example in the district under the control of his see, the castellany of Ottmachau. The monasteries did much to aid the colonization and the Germanic tendencies, especially the Cistercians of the monastery of Leubus. These established no less than sixty-five new German villages and materially promoted agriculture and gardening, mechanical arts, mining, and navigation of the Oder. In the reign of Henry II (1238-41), the son of St. Hedwig Silesia and its western civilization were threatened by the Tatars. Henry met them in battle at Wahlstatt near Liegnitz and there died the death of a hero; his courageous resistance forced the barbarians to withdraw. Consequently 9 April, 1241, is one of the great days of Silesian history.

The German colonization was vigorously carried on and towards the end of the thirteenth century Lower Silesia was mainly German, while in Upper Silesia the Slavs were in the majority. Among the contemporaries of St. Hedwig (d. 1243) were the Blessed Ceslaus and St. Hyacinth, both natives of Upper Silesia. They entered the Dominican Order in Italy and then became missionaries. Ceslaus labored in Breslau, where his order in 1226 obtained the Church of St. Adalbert; he died in 1242. Hyacinth, who among other labors also preached in Upper Silesia, died in 1257 at Cracow. A third native saint of Silesia was a relative of Hyacinth, Bronislawa, who became a Premonstratensian in 1217 and passed forty years in the practice of severe penances. Besides the monastery of Leubus the Cistercians had monasteries also at Kamenz (1248) Heinrichau (1228), Rauden (1252), Himmelwitz (1280), and Grussau (1292). The wealthiest convent was the Abbey of Trebnitz for Cistercian nuns founded by St. Hedwig who was buried there. Celebrated monasteries of the Augustinians were the one on the Sande at Breslau, which was founded at Gorkau about 1146 and was transferred to Breslau about 1148, and that at Sagan, established in 1217 at Naumburg on the Bober and transferred to Sagan in 1284. There were also a large number of houses belonging to the Premonstratensians, Franciscans, and orders of knights, as the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of the Cross, Knights Templar. Up to the middle of the fourteenth century forty-five monasteries for men and fourteen for women had been established. The ruling family, the Piasts, repeatedly divided their inheritance so that in the fourteenth century Silesia contained no less than eighteen principalities. This made it all the easier for the Bishop of Breslau as Prince of Neisse and Duke of Grottkau to become the most important of the ruling princes. Silesia came under the suzerainty of the kings of Bohemia in 1327-29. As Bohemia was controlled by Germany the change was more favorable for colonization than if it had fallen to Poland. Silesia suffered terribly during the Hussite Wars (1420-37). The Hussites repeatedly undertook marauding expeditions, and hardly any city except Breslau escaped the havoc they wrought. About forty cities were laid in ashes. The clergy were burnt or put to death in other ways; the nobility grew poor; the peasants became serfs; the fields lay uncultivated; the "golden" Diocese of Breslau became a diocese of "filth". In 1469 Silesia came under the suzerainty of Hungary. However, as in 1526 Hungary, with Silesia, and Bohemia became at the same time possessions of the Habsburgs, from this time the province was once more regarded as a dependency of Bohemia.

The Reformation made rapid progress in Silesia. For the causes of this see THE PRINCE-BISHOPRIC OF BRESLAU. In the same article also the course of the Reformation and that of the counter-Reformation are fully treated. A large share of the credit for the restoration and firm establishment of Catholicism is due to the Jesuits, who during the years 1622-98 established in Silesia nine large colleges, each with a gymnasium, four residences, and two missions, and brought under their control all the higher schools of the country. This control endured, as Frederick the Great continued his protection of the Jesuits, even after the suppression of the order, up to 1800. In the seventeenth century Silesia obtained great renown through the two Silesian schools of poetry, the chief of these poets being Martin Opitz, Friedrich von Logau, and Andreas Gryphius. In 1702 the Jesuit college at Breslau was changed into the Leopoldine University (see BRESLAU, UNIVERSITY OF). At the close of the three Silesian wars (1740-2, 1744-5, 1756-63) the greater part of Silesia belonged to Prussia. By this change Catholicism lost the privileged position which it had regained in the counter-Reformation, even though Frederick the Great did not impair the possessions of the Church, as happened later (1810-40). In 1815 the Congress of Vienna enlarged Silesia by the addition of about half of Lausitz (Lusatia). During the decade of the forties the sect of "German Catholics" developed from Silesia as the starting-point; this sect was founded at Laurahutte in Upper Silesia by the ex-chaplain, John Ronge. Finally a brief mention should here be made of the enormous economic development of the province in the last fifty years, especially in the mining of coal, the mining and working of metals, and the manufacture of chemicals and machines. In Upper Silesia especially manufactures have advanced with American rapidity. Ecclesiastically the entire province belongs to the Prince Bishopric of Breslau with the following exceptions: the commissariat of Katscher, which consists of the Archipresbyterates of Katscher, Hultschin, and Leobschutz with 44 parishes and 130,944 Catholics, and belongs to the Archdiocese of Olmutz; the county of Glatz, which has 51 parishes and 146,673 Catholics, and belongs to the Archdiocese of Prague


Austrian Silesia is that part of Silesia which remained an Austrian possession after 1763. It is a crownland with an area of 1987 square miles and a population of 727,000 persons. Of its population 84.73 per cent are Catholics; 14 per cent are Protestants; 44.69 per cent are Germans; 33.31 per cent Poles; 22.05 per cent Czechs. As in Prussian Silesia, agriculture, mining, and manufactures are in a very flourishing condition. The districts of Teschen and Neisse belong to the Prince Bishopric of Breslau, those of Troppau and Jagerndorf to the Archdiocese of Olmutz.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York - KLEMENS LÖFFLER Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor


WEST PORTION OF SILESIA (Lower Silesia: From Sagan Westward to Saxony: Bischofswerda and Dresden)

Rothenburg / Freiwaldau



Please note: Lodenau / Rothenburg / Steinbach / Freiwaldau (Frei-waldau)


German Silesia. German Silesia is bounded by Brandenburg, Posen, Russian Poland, Galicia, Austrian Silesia, Moravia, Bohemia and the kingdom and province of Saxony. Besides the bulk of the old duchy of Silesia, it comprises the countship of Glatz, a fragment of the Neumark, and part of Upper Lusatia, taken from the kingdom of Saxony in 1815. The province, which has an area of 15,576 sq. m. and is the largest in Prussia, is divided into three governmental districts, those of Liegnitz and Breslau comprising lower Silesia, and of Oppeln taking in the greater part of mountainous Silesia.


P = Protestant Parishes and Churches

R = Surrounding Civil Offices

Meyers Geographical and Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire (or Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs, 1912





1920 - 1947



Rothenburg / Freiwaldau


Red: Annexed by Poland in 1945

Grey: Annexed by Soviet Union in 1945


Historic Silesia, superimposed on modern international borders

The Region of Silesia,_Germany_Genealogy

POST 1945


1864 Versus 2001 German Borders and Loss of Silesia


Overlay of Poland 2001 on 1864 Europe Map


This site is in German

This site is in German

schlesienkarteMap.gif (62687 bytes)

Silesia is divided in 3 administrative regions ( Regierungsbezirk):

These administrative regions consist of the following administrative districts:

  • Liegnitz
    • Urban districts: Görlitz, Liegnitz
    • Rural districts: Bolkenhain, Bunzlau, Freystadt, Glogau, Goldberg-Haynau, Görlitz, Grünberg, Hirschberg, Hoyerswerda, Jauer, Landeshut, Lauban, Liegnitz , Löwenberg, Lüben, Rothenburg, Sagan, Schönau, Sprottau
  • Breslau
    • Urban districts: Breslau, Brieg und Schweidnitz
    • Rural districts: Breslau, Brieg, Frankenstein, Glatz, Groß Wartenberg, Guhrau, Habelschwerdt, Militsch, Münsterberg, Namslau, Neumarkt, Neurode, Nimptsch, Öls, Ohlau, Reichenbach, Schweidnitz, Steinau, Strehlen, Striegau, Trebnitz, Waldenburg, Wohlau
  • Oppeln
    • Urban districts: Beuthen, Gleiwitz, Kattowitz, Königshütte, Oppeln, Ratibor
    • Rural districts: Beuthen, Cosel, Falkenberg, Gleiwitz, Groß Strehlitz, Grottkau, Hindenburg, Kattowitz, Königshütte, Kreuzburg, Leobschütz, Lublinitz, Neisse, Neustadt, Oppeln, Pleß, Ratibor, Rosenberg, Rybnik, Tarnowitz

[ ]



  • The Province of Lower Silesia (German: Provinz Niederschlesien) was a province of the Free State of Prussia from 1919 to 1945. Between 1938 and 1941 it was reunited with Upper Silesia as the Province of Silesia. The capital of Lower Silesia was Breslau (now Wrocław in Poland). The province was further divided into two administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke), Breslau and Liegnitz. The region of Lower Silesia now lies mainly in Poland, but with parts in the German Free State of Saxony (the Görlitz, Rothenburg/Oberlausitz and Hoyerswerda areas) and a small part in the federal state of Brandenburg.

21st Century

Please note Rothenburg.





Steinbach/Lodenau/Rothenburg/Bischofswerda/Dresden - Germay

Note: Steinbach, Lodenau, and Rothenburg are today located in Saxony

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Myers Gazette


Myers Gazette