Nov 18 2014
The impact of the American Civil War on Martinez was immediate and profound. The Silesians were surrounded by zealous secessionists, men who immediately joined the fight. One of the reasons these Silesians chose to leave their country were the draconian requirements for military service placed on their men by the Prussians. Civil War conscription threatened to tear apart the newly arrived families. Many of the reluctant Silesians were conscripted into service and wore the Confederate gray in a fight they did not see as theirs. From fewer than 20 families, 19 men served during the War. 
 
Several elite Confederate units were organized in the area. Among them the Mustang Greys who fought under Hood's Texas Brigade and who General Robert E. Lee called his "shock troops". Many of these men and boys were maimed and kill on the battlefield from Cold Harbor to Appomattox. 
 
Immediately after the Civil War, the Silesians invited African freedmen to their community. The Haywood families, formerly owned by R. W. Brahan and his wife Martha Haywood Brahan, bought a tract of land adjacent to the Mihalski family near the center of the community. Lafayette, Hannibal and Tecumseh (remembered as Com' see) Haywood taught cotton culture to the Silesians. The freedmen and the Silesians often brought in the celebrated "first bale" ginned in Bexar County. 
 
During the days of Jim Crow, this relationship based on tolerance and necessity earned St. Hedwig the scorn of their neighbors. They called St. Hedwig the “community of freedmen both black and white.” St. Hedwig merchants and tradesmen served a large trade area of freedmen who were unwelcome in surrounding communities. 
 
Shortly after the men returned from the Civil War, the community coalesced around the building of a new church in 1868 and a school in 1872.
 1905 Church
They used native sandstone from the area for building blocks and mortar made from soft limestone hauled from the quarries in San Antonio. It is at this time that the community took the name St. Hedwig; the church was named “Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. The church would be dramatically enlarged in 1900 and again in 1924.
St Hedwig School