In 2005, the Texas Historical Commission designated the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman-Catholic Church Cemetery of St. Hedwig, Texas an Historic Texas Cemetery. The following narrative was included as part of the application for historic designation to the Texas Historical Commission.
Traveling from their homeland in Upper Silesia, the first group of Polish colonists to settle in East Bexar County began arriving in Texas in December 1854.1 In 1856 they bought land from C. G. Napier who divided his farm in the John Springer Survey or Bexar County Survey Number 31.2 Its location on the Martinez Creek watershed, gave the community its first name, “Martinez”(not to be confused with the modern east Bexar county community of Martinez). The first group of settlers included fewer than twenty families. In 1857 the settlers completed construction of a mission church, built of logs, on the land of Ludwig (Zajac) Zaiontz.3 Within a few years, additional Polish settlers moved into the area and cleared land for farms in the sparsely settled area.
From the beginning, the spiritual needs of these immigrants were served by circuit riding priests from the church at the Polish community of Panna Maria in Karnes County.4 Records for the church reflect the itinerant nature of the clergy that attended to the community. From 1856 to 1861 the marriages and baptisms of Polish settlers were frequently recorded at St. Mary’s and San Fernando churches in San Antonio. Often the Polish settlers traveled to the established churches in San Antonio to receive the sacraments.5
While scheduled services by the circuit riding priests and visits to the churches in San Antonio allowed for planning of marriages and baptisms, burials required more immediate action. Perhaps for that reason many of the earliest burials for the community went unrecorded. Most of these unrecorded burials are a part of oral traditions passed down by families6; only a few records exist for Polish settlers who were buried in consecrated cemeteries in San Antonio7.