In their journey to the American West Poles were following Germans who settled in this area in 1840-es.Both groups came from the same reasons, to improve the economical situation and also to gain a political freedom from Prussian dictatorship.
The history of German colonization is also very interesting. Here it is described briefly:
"The German colonization was initiated by the Adelsverein - "The Society of Noblemen". This organization was started by 21 Nobleman from Germany who were hoping to establish German State in America. Texas was a convenient place to choose since in that time Texas was still a free country, not united with the USA. They set money fund to help immigrants to settle in the new area. Adelsverein promised that "it would provide transportation to Texas, 320 acres of land per family (or 160 acres for each single, adult male), a good log house, financing of all settlement, livestock, and planting expenses for the first year, and a complete system of utilities such as gins, mills, hospitals, churches, and (ominously enough), orphanages and asylums within the colonies established."
Although the purchasing of the land did not go that smoothly since the Adelsverein (Verein) first purchased the rights to a colonization grant of a Frenchman that expired. Later the gentlemen from Verein entered intopartnership with German Texan named Fisher. As the history showed Fisher was a fraud and he did not only purchased the rights for a land what he was claiming but he also collected all the money from the Verein (for land grant and preparing the way for immigrants) to his own pocket. In spite of this misfortune the Verein was able to send safely people to Galveston and to Central Texas in wagon and carts.
Father Leopold Moczygemba was among the priests who were volunteering in early 1850-es to work among newly settled Germans in Texas. He was impressed by an economic progress of German immigrants in parish in New Braunfels where he was assigned therefore he was sending letters home encouraging his family, their friends and acquaintances from Upper Silesia to immigrate to America.
Four of the Moczygemba brothers and additional 96 families sold their property in Silesia and sailed from Bremen to Galveston. They arrived in December 3rd of 1864. Majority of them proceeded to San Antonio on foot, some in boots other barefoot, about 200 miles, to meet with father Moczygemba. The group diminished in number since some people died on the way, some was infected with yellow fever, others settled on the route in Galveston, Victoria or Yorktown.
Read the continuation of the Panna Maria interesting history in the article: Panna Maria - Difficult First Years . Read more articles about Polish immigration / emigration - history and distribution of Polonia around the world. Check also Polish Texans - the history and genealogy website.
"Panna Maria, an Image of Polish Texans", by Joseph Jaworski