Panna Maria, Texas: The First Polish Settlement in America

Panna Maria, the first Polish Settlement in AmericaMany know that the largest settling of Poles outside of Poland is in Chicago, Illinois. What few know is that the first Polish settlement in America was in Texas, south of San Antonio, in a place called Panna Maria.

There were Poles in Texas before Panna Maria. There were Poles in the failed French colony of Champ D’Asile, near present day Liberty, Texas. Polish veterans of the failed revolt of 1831, joined the Texan army during the Texas Revolution. Several Poles fought under Fannin at Goliad in 1836, suffering execution by the Mexicans, along with most of the rest of Texans who had surrendered. A survivor mentions the Texas artillery was commanded by “tall fine-looking Poles”. There were Poles in Sam Houston’s Army that defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, winning independence for Texas. Frederick Lemsky, was one of the musicians who played “Come to the Bower” as the Texas Army charged the Mexicans at San Jacinto. Felix Wardzinski, was present at the capture of General Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator. But these individuals, like those elsewhere in America were acting alone.