Church ceiling board
From Panna Maria, the first Polish community in Texas
Panna Maria, Texas, is home to the oldest Polish parish in the United States. The Immaculate Conception Church was built in 1856. After a lightning strike destroyed the original church building a year later, the community built the present church in 1877.
Polish families began immigrating to Texas in 1854 at the suggestion of Father Leopold Moczygemba. Father Leopold had come to Texas in 1852 to minister to German speaking Catholics living in Texas and encouraged his four brothers and their families to join him. They did in 1854, bringing along 96 additional families. Father Leopold arranged for them to purchase land 60 miles southeast of San Antonio in Karnes County. After an arduous sea voyage and overland trek, they arrived at their new home on Christmas Eve. To mark the occasion, they celebrated mass under a grand oak tree. The tree still stands outside the church in Panna Maria today.
Courtesy Panna Maria Historical Society, Panna Maria
Time Period: 1866 - 1936
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