Klaipeda District Tourism Information Center

Monument for the Border Service Captain Ipolitas Davidovičius Melechas

In the 19th c., Gargždai manor ended up with the Ronne baron family. The estate was administered by Anelė Ronne-Mielžinskienė. The locals refer to this place as Anieliškė to this day. High on the bank there is a monument with a barely legible inscription, stating that ‘Captain Davidovič, aged 45, was killed there by smugglers on the night of 7 January 1870. The monument was built by his wife and colleagues.’ There is data that this person was a Muslim and, likely, of Tatar descent. The death of Ipolitas Davidovičius Melechas and the monument, dedicated to him, is related to the events of 7 January 1870 (20 January, based on the currently-used Gregorian calendar), when twenty mounted Russian guards ambushed a convoy of 17 smuggler sledges. The armed shootout resulted in the deaths of the Captain Melechas himself and another border guard. The grave is located along the oldest road, connecting Lithuania with Klaipėda region, which belonged to East Prussia at the time. As indicated in the early 17th c. map by Narūnavvičius-Naronskis, that road used to connect Dovilai, Kuliai, the old bridge over Minija river, and then continue onwards to Vėžaičiai and Maciuičiai.

The monument for the border service captain is a significant representation of the 19th c., when Lithuania was occupied by the tsarist Russian Empire, reflecting the historical topicalities of the border area and, possibly, closely-related to the phenomenon of book smuggling, which emerged in the period of the Lithuanian press ban of 1864-1904. Very likely, the Lithuanian smugglers that participated in the shootout, included a large number of book smugglers.

The koordinates of the object: 55.7081515, 21.4163131