American Polonia from Greater Poland – Chappell Hill, Texas
According to Dr. Jim Mazurkiwicz, a descendant of Polish settlers in Texas, professor at the Texas A&M University in College Station, an activist and revitalizer of the Polish language among American Polonia: the first Poles from the Brazos Valley came to Texas in the 1830s, with the vast majority coming to Texas from Greater Poland after the Civil War beginning in the 1860’s and also from Kujawy – in search of economic and religious freedom. This group is known as “for bread” emigration, they came to the USA in 1867. Until the late 1800s, the first Poles from the Brazos Valley attended Catholic churches previously founded by Catholic German immigrants. The oldest Polish parishes founded in the Brazos Valley are: New Wawerly (1867), Anderson (1867) and Brenham (1870). A little earlier, also in Texas, the oldest Polish parish in the entire United States was established: Panna Maria (December 24, 1854). Many immigrants from Chappell Hill and Brenham came from Poznań or around the villages of Pobiedziska, Węglewo, Sławno, Dabrówka Kościelna, Kłęcko, Imielmo, Dziekanowice, Dębnica, Kiszkowo, Łubowo and Waliszewo. There were also families from around Bydgoszcz, such as Kcynia (Kujawsko-Pomorskie), Szubin (Kujawsko-Pomorskie) and Smogulec Wieś (Greater Poland). Also Jacewo near Inowrocław and a village north of Toruń. That group came from 1870 to 1890 to Chappell Hill and Brenham in Washington County, Texas. The first documented Polish child born in Chappell Hill was Marcin Piwonka on May 1, 1854.
In this section, we present selected materials collected during the meeting in Chappell Hiill, Texas, where Katarzyna Klessa and Maciej Karpiński (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań) came on October 27, 2019 at the invitation of Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz to document speech and music of the Polonia in Washington County – “Texas Birthplace” (to listen to the music – go to Success Stories section).
During the meeting, we recorded a conversation in Polish by the descendants of Polish settlers from Greater Poland: Piotr (Pete) and Paulina Mazurkiewicz, Anna Jóżwiak and Blanch Jóżwiak Kołajajak (from Polish: Kołodziejczak). We are extremely grateful to our interlocutors and other meeting participants. We wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz for his invitation, moderating the conversation, organizing the meeting, as well as for a lot of inspiration. We also thank Stephanie Ddughdhnemimnier for hosting us at the Chappell Hill Historical Society Museum, and Wojtek Klessa for his technical support during the recordings.
The photo below depicts the participants of the meeting:
We invite you to listen to fascinating stories about the past and present times in the life of the Polish community in the area of Chappell Hill, Texas. The partiipants of the conversation are: Piotr (Pete) and Paulina Mazurkiewicz, Annie Jóżwiak and Blanche Kołajaczak. Moderator: Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz. The topics of the conversations are: Polish roots, land, language learning, school; the farm, pantry and wine; weddings and funerals; home-made food (especially about Polish sausages), Christmas and Easter.