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Institute of Texan Cultures' Texans Series
Many people from Poland left in search of better living conditions. Between the late 1700s and the beginning of World War I in 1914, Poland was conquered and taken over by powerful neighboring countries. The land was divided and the people of Poland had little political freedom. In 1854, sickness and flooding caused many people to look for new places to call home.
The first Polish colony in the United States was in Texas. Polish immigrants settled at a place they called Panna Maria in 1854. Panna Maria is on the San Antonio River, about 50 miles from San Antonio. Although some Polish individuals came to Texas as early as 1818, it was not until the 1850s that Polish families began to come in large numbers.
A Catholic missionary named Father Leopold Moczygemba lived in the San Antonio area and encouraged families to move to Texas. He helped to start the town of Panna Maria and within one year, the colony was home to over 800 Polish families. From Panna Maria, some Polish families moved to other parts of Texas and helped to settle towns such as Chappel Hill, Polonia and Bryan.
Handbook of Texas
- PolesThis article highlights how the Polish people settled in Texas and the contributions they made to the state.
- Austin Polish SocietyThe Austin Polish Society was established in 2005 dedicated to furthering knowledge of Polish culture, traditions, history, language, arts, current affairs, and local events.
- The Father Leopold Moczygemba FoundationThis organization wants to advance the following causes:
To strengthen and deepen the relationship between Texas and Silesia.
To serve as a unifying instrument for the many individuals and families who find their roots in Silesia and foster among them an appreciation of their rich culture.
To document the history of immigration from Silesia to Texas.
To organize and sponsor cultural exchange between Texas and Silesia.
To initiate contact between educational and cultural institutions of Texas and Silesia.
To provide scholarship funding for those interested in promoting the cause of the Foundation.
- Panna Maria, TexasPanna Maria, Texas is the oldest permanent Polish settlement in the United States.
- Polish American Council of TexasThis organization's mission is:
1. To further knowledge of Polish culture, traditions, history, language, arts, current affairs, and statewide events in Texas.
2. To facilitate networking among Polish interest groups in Texas.
- Polish Genealogical Society of TexasThe Polish Genealogical Society of Texas is dedicated to dissemination and sharing of information in assisting members research their Polish ancestors. The society also promotes research and publication of the history of Poles in Texas. Through public speaking engagements and civic functions, PGST members educate others on Polish history and culture.
- Polish Heritage Center at Panna Maria, TexasThe Polish Heritage Center celebrates the first Polish settlement in the United States, Panna Maria, Texas, and the ancestors of these settlers and the many parishes, communities, families and descendants who branched out, settled, and welcomed additional Polish communities in Texas.
- Houston Polish FestivalThis festival is held in May. It highlights the culture of the Polish people.
- Polish Festival DaysHeld in Bremond, this festival highlights Polish culture.
- Polish Harvest FestivalBased on the centuries old Polish tradition of Dozynki, an end of harvest jubilee celebration, the Polish Harvest Festival here in Houston is an experience unlike anything else. This festival combines traditional elements with modern fun to bring a memorable event of amazing food, drink, and entertainment.