Nov 18 2014
Outlaw...As Martin arrived at the middle of the bridge Scarborough assured him that he would have safe passage. The two then proceeded toward El Paso and the meeting with Beulah. As they reached the American side, two men, hidden in a patch of sunflowers, stood with guns in hand. Martin jerked his pistol and was hit by eight slugs. His last words were reported to be, “Boys, I think you’ve killed me.” Beulah and John Wesley Hardin were the only mourners present when Martin was buried in Concordia Cemetery in El Paso. A few months later John Wesley Hardin joined him in eternity a couple of graves away. Hardin, it is believed, was killed by the very lawmen with whom he had failed to divide Martin’s bankroll...
 
An old Polish proverb warns parents “teach your children when they are young or they will teach you when you are old.” Respect of parents and authority was the common cloth that wrapped the community of St. Hedwig in tradition and security.The community whispered about its “wild boys” and wondered why they had chosen the “other path”. Some believed that the hard times and violent circumstances after “The Civil War” may have been the catalyst if not the root cause for their violent behavior. Others believed the wild boys, for whatever reason, were just “mean as hell.”(1)
 
St. Hedwig, Texas March 19, 1912
 

A single church bell marked cadence as the congregation followed a shoulder-borne casket to the cemetery. Pallbearers matched steps behind an angelic-faced altar boy carrying a large crucifix. The entire village gathered to honor the life of one of its founding pioneers; an original immigrant who came from Silesia in 1855.

The gaping grave disappeared from view as the casket was gently lowered onto support planks. The pallbearers struggled to step away and avoid the mound of fresh earth. With heads bowed, they formed a line at one end of the casket. The congregation closed ranks around their mourning neighbors. 

Thin wisps of smoke rose from a censer, filling the morning air with the sweet and solemn scent of incense. The priest removed the asperger from its bucket and with water blessed last Holy Saturday, sprinkled the casket and congregation, commending the deceased to an eternal rest. A single cold drop landed on the cheek of a small boy standing next to his father, startling him from his daydream. His attention fell on a solitary figure, an old man standing alone at the edge of the congregation, he seemed so very sad. 

As the priest invoked the ancient Latin prayers, sobs were heard from the mourners. The congregation drew nearer. The priest directed his attention to the mourners and in a soft voice spoke the Polish to say, “Your beloved rests in the arms of our Jesus and his Mother Mary”. Gently, he drew a pinch of the freshly dug earth and placed it on the casket, “remember, we are dust and to dust we will return”. With a sign of the cross he blessed the congregation, turned and walked toward the church. 

As each villager walked by, another bit of the precious earth was placed on the casket. Condolences had already been offered, but each would touch the mourners’ hands, or pat their shoulder, another would just nod sympathetically in their direction. As the last to pass the casket concluded their ritual and joined the irregular line of villagers heading in the direction of the church, the sad old man stepped forward. Bending over, he picked up a large clod of earth. His eyes were ablaze. He slammed the clod against the casket and shouted, “Take that you beast!” Such was the memory of Aemilian Kosub who, as a boy, witnessed Valentine Mroz saying good-bye to Barbara, who had been his wife for over 30 years. (2) 

 
For Barbara and Valentine Mroz the promise of a new life in frontier Texas was filled with disappointment and sorrow. Their marriage of over thirty years ended in a bitter divorce in 1898. (3) Their sons were well known to law enforcement and the courts. (4) Barbara and Valentine’s second child, Martin, the eldest son, left the confines of Bexar county to seek his fortune as a cowboy and outlaw. 
 
His exploits became the source of legend. His controversial death in El Paso involving John Wesley Hardin, the notorious killer, is often the subject of “old west” writers. Their sons Frank and Thomas fled Texas for Colorado, Wyoming and Oregon, seeking the remnants of Martin’s fortune (5). Alexander remained in Bexar County, where he was convicted of seduction. To his credit, Alexander would later become a respected member of the church and community.