the religious and political climate unbearable in their native
state of Silesia, Poland in the mid 1800’s, a number of families
decided to follow in the footsteps of Fr. Leopold Moczygemba by
immigrating to Texas. While the majority of them went to Panna
Maria, thirteen families decided to settle in the area
called Martinez, (now St. Hedwig), in 1855. These families
included: Adam and Mariana Pierdola, Martin and Frances Pierdola,
Joseph Mihalski, Florentine Tudyk, Mikolaj and Franciszka Tudyk,
Jacob Zaiontz, Thomas Krawietz, Anton Kosub, Frank Kosub, Martin
Cibis, Valentine and Frances Aniol, Paul and Franciszka
Kaczmarek, and Walter and Cecelia Stanush. Among their
neighbors, these first Polish settlers were especially fortunate
to have encountered Joseph N. Dorstin, a Polish immigrant who
was instrumental in helping them to overcome some of the
hardships. He assisted them with land transaction and deed
recording. Although the language barriers complicated the
settling process, they didn’t hesitate in getting log homes with
thatched roofs built and crops planted.
these families had been joined by others from Poland. After
creating shelter for their families, they built a mission church
from logs on the land of Ludwig Zaiontz, less than a mile
northwest of the present church.
dedicated to the Blessed Mother under the title of her
On December 2, 1857, the first baptism, that of Francis Pierdola, was administered and recorded by Father J. Przysiecki.
Previous baptisms were recorded at St. Mary’s and San Fernando
Cathedral in San Antonio.
community continued to grow and the name of the town was changed
from “Martinez” to
in honor of the Patroness of Silesia in Poland.
Reverend Felix Zwiardowski,
first, in 1867, to record St. Hedwig as the name for the parish.
This energetic and brilliant newly ordained priest was truly the
champion of St. Hedwig’s development and growth.
On April 25,
leadership, the cornerstone was set for the new/present/church,
the property donated by Martin Pierdola, Joseph Mihalski, Anton
Tudyk and Thomas Krawitz. The talents, efforts and time of
every family were utilized in hauling stones in horse-drawn wagons from a quarry in Blanco in constructing
the 76’ long, 30’ wide, and 30’ high building, and in feeding
the crew of workers. Shortly after the completion of the
church, the cemetery was consecrated.
construction was completed on a school to serve the children of
the area. The Immaculate Conception Sisters, (the Blue Nuns),
Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, and Felician Sisters
taught the classes. By 1880, the community served a large area
with businesses, a justice of the peace court, a deputy sheriff,
a post office, and a new road to San Antonio. Its identity was
well established. The cornerstone of St. Hedwig’s community life
was their faith and their parish which they placed under the
protection of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The
school was closed in 1968. The building is still used as
classrooms for CCD students.
the parish had increased to 200 families. To accommodate the
growth, the church was enlarged to 45’ wide and 124’ in length.
In 1910, the steeple was added. The bells that still ring the
Angelus hours today were “sponsored” by various families: Strzelczyk,
Zymunt, Kaczmarek,and Kalka. By 1914, there were 1,448
Catholics recorded. A last addition was made in 1924 when the
church was enlarged to accommodate the 250 families by adding
the two sacristies and a room behind the sanctuary that was a
library which is being used now as a chapel of the Divine Mercy