Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Panna Maria - First Polish Permanent Settlement in America

We visited Panna Maria, situated about fifty-five miles south of San Antonio, during our first Texas trip. Actually, it was a surprise gift from my husband - he took me there to show me the oldest Polish settlement in Texas, established in 1854 by Father Leopold Moczygemba and about one hundred families from Polish Silesia.

Panna Maria means Virgin Mary in Polish.

Panna Maria - Virgin Mary

Nowadays, the settlement is quite a tiny place with the Panna Maria Historical Society & Visitors' Center - housed in the old Pilarczyk Store (built in 1875).

An elderly lady, a descendant of the first settlers welcomed us there. To my delight, she spoke Polish - though actually it was a kind of mixture of a Silesian dialect and American English. That was why we had some difficulties in understanding each other but we managed to communicate anyway. The Visitors' Center is also a souvenir store.

The lady showed us to St. Joseph School Museum which is also the oldest Polish school building in the States. Inside the museum we could see many items which belonged to the first Polish settlers, also the ones brought by them from 19th century Poland.

We also visited Panna Maria Immaculate Conception Church, built in 1855.

The church, struck and destroyed by the lightning in 1875, was restored (works finished in 1877) and enlarged later (1937).

Panna Maria is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places as the oldest permanent Polish settlement in America. I am so glad my husband took me there!

Panna Maria website: http://www.pannamariatexas.com


  1. How thoughtful of your husband! I have heard of Polish settlers in Jamestown, but never of those in Texas. Super interesting!