ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH CEMETERY

Wadsworth, Texas
 

 

 

FM 521 & CR 233

284825.69N      955713.63W

 

 

St. Francisville For Kids



 


ST. FRANCISVILLE
By Kathleen Tatum
 

Southwest of Wadsworth on FM 521 stands a little picturesque church and graveyard- so dear to many, but unknown to most of the residents of Matagorda County It is situated in what was known as the "Polish Village," for most of its earlier inhabitants came from Poland and settled in this community.

 

Most early communities were centered around the church and St. Francisville was no exception. The early Polish pioneers' love for religion was so great that, before the church at St. Francisville was built, they had visiting priests from Liberty, Victoria, and Galveston to hold services in Mrs. Frank Seerden's home.

 

Mary Jadwig Petrucha came to America as a nursemaid, arriving at the port of Galveston January 21, 1852. Later, she came to Wild Cow Island near

Matagorda, where her brother, Heinrich Petrucha, and Frank Seerden had a brick yard. She married Frank Seerden July 13, 1857.

 

A Mr Adamska brought most of the Polish people to Matagorda County from Lagiewvnik, District of Lublinitz, Prussia. By 1859 other families such as Joseph Petrucha, his wife, and two small children had come, followed by the Butter, Sygudas, Gawenda (Gavender), and Bomk (Bunk) families. Many descendants of these original families live in Matagorda County today and in the area of St. Francis Church.

 

The families built their first church in 1895, but by 1896 a hurricane had blown it down. The men of the church rebuilt it that same year, and today the church stands almost as it looked in 1895 The altar had to be cut down to fit into the rebuilt church in 1896. St.

Francis is still used today for special occasions and a mass is said once a year on All Souls Day Once the mass was over and all graves had been blessed, the participants paid their respects to their dead relatives. This done, the church would remain quiet until All Souls Day the next year, when the families return to St. Francis Church in "The Polish Village."

 

In 1965 St. Francis Catholic Church was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark.

 

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, pages 402-403
 



 

ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH

1895. FIRST EURO-AMERICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN COUNTY. LAND A GIFT OF MRS. FRANK SEERDEN AND MR. AND MRS. LAWRENCE BUTTER. IN POLISH VILLAGE.

REBUILT FOLLOWING 1896 HURRICANE DESTRUCTION.

RECORDED TEXAS HISTORICAL LANDMARK--1965

LATER RESEARCH SHOWED ORIGINAL LAND DONORS WERE MRS. FRANK SEERDEN AND HER NEPHEW ZEFLICK Z BUTTER.

Marker inscription typed by
Faye Cunningham


ST. FRANCIS CEMETERY

A Polish Cemetery

 

The St. Francis Church and Cemetery is situated southwest of Wadsworth, Texas, on FM 521 in an area originally known as the "Polish Village." Many of the early settlers in this section of Matagorda County came from Lagiewvnik, District of Lublinitz, Prussia.

The St. Francisville residents' love for religion was so great that they requested visiting priests from Houston, Victoria, Liberty, and Galveston to hold services at the home of Mrs. Frank Seerden (Mary Jadwiga Petrucha Seerden).


Mrs. Frank Seerden, a native of Linz, Prussia, gave 1.55 acres of land for a church and cemetery. The deed dated December 21, 1895, was recorded in the Matagorda County Deed Records Volume 3, Page 506-507. Various citizens were appointed to take up collections for the materials and construction of the first church.

    
The first church was built in 1895 by contractors from Hitchcock, Texas. Mrs. Seerden ordered an altar from England and had it shipped to Liberty, Texas. From Liberty, the altar was brought by wagon to St. Francisville. This first church was  destroyed by a storm in 1896. The men of the community rebuilt the church that same year. The second church was not as tall as the first, and the altar had to be shortened six inches.


The first burials in St. Francis Cemetery were in 1899. Barbara Herreth Petrucha, originally from Vienna, Austria, died August 25, 1899. Maria Petrucha Butter, sister of Mary Petrucha Seerden, died October 6, 1899, and was the second person buried in the cemetery.


In 1930, Zefflick Butter, a nephew of Mary Jadwiga Seerden,  donated an acre to the church and cemetery to bring it to its current size. The 2.55 acres are enclosed with a chain link fence.


In 1965 St. Francis Catholic Church was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark. The marker reads:

 

St. Francis Catholic Church, 1895. First Euro-American Roman Catholic Church in county. Land a gift of Mrs. Frank Seerden and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Butter. In Polish Village. Rebuilt following 1896 hurricane destruction.

 

A correction was added to the marker in 1985:

 

Later research showed original land donors were Mrs. Frank Seerden and her nephew, Zeflick "Z" Butter.

 

Seven statues were damaged by a 1995 storm. Kathleen Henigan Tatum, a great-granddaughter of Mary Petrucha Seerden, had them repaired.


The last burials in St. Francis Cemetery were Henry Murray Seerden in 1996 and Kathleen Henigan Tatum on April 25, 1997.


A mass is held once a year on All Souls Day in St. Francis Church. This special event includes the blessing of all graves with the participants praying for deceased relatives and friends.


As evident by the names on the markers, most of the individuals buried in the St. Francis Cemetery are descendants of the early Polish settlers. Their love for religion is reflected in the crosses which adorn the top of the church, the altar, and almost every marker in the cemetery. They also loved the land, many being farmers and ranchers. The marker of John A. Butter shows a Brahma bull and reads "Cattleman of the Year 1972" The back of Ludwig Zernicek's marker has a country scene with trees in the background and a cow, calf, and tractor in the foreground.


The cemetery grounds are maintained by family members living in the community.
 

 


The actual inscriptions on the markers are shown in bold print.
The additional comments are from the files of Kathleen Tatum.
 

 


Directions: Traveling south on Highway 60 from Wadsworth, turn right on to FM 521. The church and cemetery will be visible from the road on the right a short distance down 521.
 


56              Armatta, Ida C., Oct 14, 1904 - Nov 15, 1970

Daughter of Tom & Julia Pawelek Petrucha; Wife of John M. Armatta

 

55              Armatta, John M., Nov 11, 1899 - Mar 29, 1985

Husband of Ida C. Armatta

 

 1               Baby

                            A Mexican baby whose name is unknown. A white cross marks the grave near

                            the fence on the southwest side of the church.

 

51              Blair, Baby (no marker)

Infant of Glen & Mary Petrucha Blair

 

                  Bruce, Marguerite Henigan Crabb, 1916 - 1997

 

50              Bunk, Henery (Andreas), Jul 1822 - Aug 5, 1912

 

44              Butter, Flora, May 4, 1861 - Dec 16, 1933

Daughter of John & Ellen Gola Adamski; Wife of Frank Lawrence Butter

                   Butter, Francis, June 6, 1932 - Sept. 25, 2005
                                  
 Husband of Lothell Butter

 

52              Butter, Frank Lawrence, Jr.

Sep 22, 1885 - Oct 22, 1966

Son of Frank Lawrence & Flora Adamski Butter

Husband of Katie M. Ryman Butter


43              Butter, Frank Lawrence, Oct 1, 1855 - Dec 2, 1933

                                   Born in Skrzylowitz, Poland

Son of Lawrence & Maria Petrucha Butter; Husband of Flora Adamski Butter

 

38              Butter, George, Jun 15, 1898 - Jan 13, 1971

Son of Frank Lawrence & Flora Adamski Butter

 

45              Butter, John Adamski, Dec 5, 1900 - Aug 14, 1983

Cattleman of the Year 1972

Son of Frank Lawrence & Flora Adamski Butter

 

53              Butter, Katie Margaret, Dec 7, 1897 - Jul 10, 1965

Daughter of Peter & Annie Petrucha Ryman; Wife of Frank Lawrence Butter, Jr.


                  Butter, Lothell, Living
                                   Wife of Francis Butter
 

42              Butter, Marie Petrucha, Jan 2, 1827 - Oct 6, 1899

Wife of Lawrence Butter

 

39              Butter, Wylie J., Jan 12, 1887 - Sep 13, 1961

Son of Frank Lawrence & Flora Adamski Butter

 

40              Butter, Zefflick, Nov 2, 1865 - Nov 15, 1938

Born in Skrzydlowitz, Poland; Son of Lawrence & Maria Petrucha Butter

                  Crabb, James Shepard, 1941 - 20

11              Culver, Baby Girl, Feb 2, 1939

Daughter of John Franklin & Antonio Richie Culver

 

47              Culver, David Seerden, Jun 26, 1906 - Apr 26, 1972

Son of John A. & Catherine Seerden Culver

Husband of Tasie Petrucha Culver

 

 7               Culver, Frank M., Aug 23, 1899 - Sep 23, 1939

Son of John A. & Catherine Seerden Culver

 

 9               Culver, John Franklin, Apr 8, 1885 - Jun 17, 1945

Son of John A. & Catherine Seerden Culver

Husband of Antonio Richie Culver

 

37              Culver, Katie A., Mar 3, 1896 - Dec 16, 1977

                                              Daughter of Frank L. Butter, Sr. & Flora Adamski Butter

Wife of George David Culver

 

10              Culver, Marie Antonio, Aug 3, 1895 - Feb 5, 1939

                                             Daughter of John Henry Richie, Sr. & Victoria Brennan Richie

                                            Wife of John Franklin Culver

 

                   Culver, T. Joseph, January 3, 1937 - April 7, 2009

                                   Son of John Franklin Culver & Maria Antonio Rihcie Culver 

 

46              Culver, Tasie Anastasia P., Sep 14, 1911 -

Daughter of Tom & Julia Pawelek Petrucha

Wife of David Seerden Culver


54              Drennan, Mary Frances, May 12, 1911 - Sep 8, 1977

Daughter of Sam & Rose Sherrer Dickinson

Wife of Henry Drennan

 

26              Gavender, Edward Carl, Mar 10, 1912 - May 29, 1912

Son of Alex Martin & Annie Bunk Gavender

 

27              Gavender, Frances Eva, Oct 17, 1914 - Mar 23, 1918

Daughter of Alex Martin & Annie Bunk Gavender

 

59              Gola, Ida Magdalene, Jan 12, 1902 - Jan 8, 1904

Daughter of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola

 

69              Gola, John, Feb 8, 1886 - May 17, 1959

Son of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola

 

73              Gola, Joseph, Oct 23, 1899 - Jan 31, 1976

Son of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola

 

70              Gola, Lawrence, Aug 10, 1887 - Dec 2, 1960

Son of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola

 

78              Gola, Louis, Sep 9, 1891 - May 6, 1987

W. W. I Vet

Son of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola; Husband of Louise Foerster Gola

 

79              Gola, Louise Foerster, Sep 9, 1906 - Aug 26, 1984

Wife of Louis Gola

 

61              Gola, Ludwig, Aug 15, 1850 - Apr 17, 1917

Husband of Mary Petrucha Gola

 

62              Gola, Mary, May 1861 - Mar 15, 1922, Age 61 yrs

Daughter of Joseph & Caroline Casmah Petrucha; Wife of Ludwig Gola

 

74              Gola, Willie, Nov 22, 1903 - Nov 20, 1981

                             Son of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola

 

 5               Hale, Bland, Dec 17, 1911 - Mar 8, 1965

Son of Frank & Maggie Gault Hale; Husband of Leona Seerden Hale

 

 6               Hale, Leona, Living

Daughter of John Joseph & Mattie Mae Ryman Seerden

Wife of Bland Hale

 

68              Halik, Katie, Mar 10, 1889 - May 21, 1919

Daughter of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola; Wife of John Halick

 

30              Henigan, Claude James, Feb 16, 1888 - Oct 30, 1967

Son of John & Maggie Anderson Henigan

Husband of Jadwiga Doss Henigan

 

31              Henigan, Jadwiga C. Doss, Sep 30, 1886 - Jul 13, 1966

Daughter of William W. & Annie Seerden Doss

Wife of Claude James Henigan

 

72              Herreth, Francis, Sep 2, 1845 - Mar 21, 1922

Age 76 yrs. Born in Vienna, Austria

Husband of Katherine Bleskachek Herreth

 

23              Laird, Bertha, Jun 17, 1900 - Apr 2, 1979

Daughter of Henry M. & Mary Boyd Seerden; Wife of Eric R. Laird

 

24              Laird, Eric Ray, Nov 22, 1893 - Aug 18, 1966

Husband of Bertha Seerden Laird

Military Footstone:

Eric Ray Laird

Texas

PVT HQ CO 14  144 Infantry

World War I

Nov 22, 1893  Aug 18, 1966

 

15              McCaskill, Mary J., Jan 28, 1893 - Dec 30, 1984

 Born in Kansas

                                               Daughter of John H. Richie, Sr. & Victoria Brennan Richie

Wife of William Theo McCaskill

 

25              McQueen, Mary Ellen Covington Seerden

Aug 22, 1914 - Jul 5, 1984

First wife of Henry Murray Seerden

 

76              Middendorpp, Anna Marie, Jan 14, 1843 - May 9, 1932

Wife of John Henry Middendorpp

 

77              Middendorpp, John  (No marker)

Oct 22, 1880 - Apr 09, 1960

Son of John Henry & Anna Marie Middendorpp

 

75              Middendorpp, John Henry, 1834 - 1902

Husband of Anna Marie Middendorpp

 

71              Petrucha, Barbara, Apr 7, 1879 - Aug 25, 1899

Daughter of Francis & Katherine Bleskachek Herreth

Wife of Tom Petrucha

 

67              Petrucha, Caroline Casmah, Nov 4, 1830 - Sep 24, 1908

Born in Warsaw, Poland; Wife of Joseph Petrucha

 

58              Petrucha, Connie Ramos, 1937 -

Wife of Tom J. Petrucha

 

66              Petrucha, Joseph, Mar 19, 1823 - May 24, 1909

Son of Henry Martin Petrucha

Husband of Carolina Casmah Petrucha

 

49              Petrucha, Julia M. Pawelek, Feb 16, 1874 - Jul 2, 1963

Wife of Tom Petrucha

 

48              Petrucha, Tom, Dec 24, 1857 - Nov 14, 1944

Son of Joseph & Caroline Casmah Petrucha

Husband of Julia M. Pawelek Petrucha

 

57              Petrucha, Tom Joseph, May 27, 1909 - Apr 12, 1990

Son of Tom & Julia M. Pawelek Petrucha

Husband of Connie Ramos Petrucha (last wife)

 

65              Popek, John David, Jul 13, 1985 - May 26, 1986

Son of David & Susan Armatta Popek

 

14              Richie, John Henry, Jr., 1897 - Jun 17, 1939

                                     Son of John Henry Richie, Sr. & Victoria Brennan Richie

 

12              Richie, John Henry, Sr., 1863 - Sep 14, 1927

Son of Andrew & Mary Shaw Richie

Husband of Victoria Brennan Richie

 

13              Richie, Victoria B., Feb 20, 1867 - Sep 4, 1949

Daughter of Michall & Ellen O'Riley Brennan

Wife of John Henry Richie, Sr.

 

 4               Ryman, Agnes Ellen Butter, Jan 24, 1891 - Mar 7, 1981

Daughter of Frank L. & Flora Adamski Butter

Wife of Samuel Carol Ryman

 

 2               Ryman, Harvey Venson, May 23, 1922 - Apr 5, 1942

Son of Samuel Carol & Agnes Butter Ryman

 

 3               Ryman, Samuel Carol, Oct 18, 1883 - Oct 2, 1965

Son of Peter & Annie Petrucha Ryman

Husband of Agnes Butter Ryman

 

80              Schulte, Baby, ca 1912  (no marker)

The grave is about 20 feet north of the church.

                            Originally buried in the main cemetery, the Priest requested

                            the baby be reburied at its present location as the infant had

                            not been baptized.

 

20              Seerden, Catherine Clara, Oct 14, 1908 - Jul 23, 1916

Daughter of Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden

 

21              Seerden, Henry Martin, Nov 22, 1871 - Jun 24, 1958

Son of Frank & Mary Jadwiga Petrucha Seerden

Husband of Mary Boyd Seerden

 

16              Seerden, Henry Murray, Sep 4, 1906 - Apr 23, 1996

Son of Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden

Husband of Betty Mason Seerden

 

17              Seerden, Lawrence O'Connell, Feb 5, 1911 - Oct 5, 1970

Son of Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden

Husband of Geraldine Schultz Seerden

 

18              Seerden, Mary Cecelia, Nov 19, 1917 - Nov 22, 1917

Daughter of Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden

 

34              Seerden, Mary Genevieve, Aug 29, 1909 - Feb 5, 1910

                                   Daughter of William Valentine Seerden & Pauline Waschka Seerden

 

22              Seerden, Mary Sophia Boyd, Aug 7, 1876 - Jan 9, 1950

Wife of Henry Martin Seerden

 

36              Seerden, Pauline Agnes, Sep 1, 1878 - May 24, 1958

Daughter of Andrew & Rosa Gola Waschka

Wife of William Valentine Seerden

 

19              Seerden, Walter Earl, Aug 13, 1915 - Aug 18, 1915

Son of Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden

 

35              Seerden, William Valentine, Apr 11, 1878 - Jun 30, 1953

Son of Frank & Mary Jadwiga Petrucha Seerden

Husband of Pauline Waschka Seerden

 

63              Sherrer, Elizabeth, Nov 17, 1868 - Mar 4, 1949

Daughter of Joseph & Caroline Casmah Petrucha

Wife of Seraphine Sherrer

 

60              Sherrer, Emma, Mar 15, 1899 - 1901

Daughter of Seraphine & Elizabeth Petrucha Sherrer

                  Sherrer, Kenneth Lee, 1925 - 1994, Son and Father

 

 

64              Sherrer, Thomas Lee, Oct 30, 1893 - Jun 6, 1973

Son of Seraphine & Elizabeth Petrucha Sherrer

Husband of Effie Dickinson Sherrer

Military Headstone:

Thomas Lee Sherrer

Texas

PVT  US Army

World War I

Oct 30, 1893 - Jun 6, 1973

 

28              Tatum, A. J., Apr 5, 1919 - Mar 16, 1978

Born in Pineland, Texas

Son of James Buford & Sarah Nettie Bowen Tatum

Husband of Kathleen Henigan Tatum

Military Footstone:

A. J. Tatum

PFC  US Army

World War II

1919 - 1978


29              Tatum, Kathleen R., Jan 20, 1921 - Apr 25, 1997

Daughter of Claude James & Jadwiga Doss Henigan; Wife of A. J. Tatum

 

32              Waschka, Felix Albert, Jul 28, 1870 - Dec 2, 1940

Died in Galveston, Texas; Son of Andrew & Rosa Gola Waschka

 

33              Waschka, Rosy Gola, Jul 23, 1833 - Jul 26, 1921

Wife of Andrew Waschka

 

41              Wheeler, Baby

Infant of Benjamin Henry & Mattie Butter Wheeler

 

8A              Zernicek, Lillian Culver, Living

Wife of Ludwig Joseph Zernicek; Married May 8, 1948

 

 8               Zernicek, Ludwig Joseph, Jan 20, 1925 - Jan 15, 1991

Son of  Joseph & Mary Zernicek; Husband of Lilian Culver Zernicek

Married May 8, 1948

Military Footstone:

Ludwig J. Zernicek

PFC  US Army

World War II

Jan 20, 1925 - Jan 15, 1991

                  
                   Armatta, Betty Ann, Nov. 5, 1936 - Nov 12, 2013
 

 

Copyright 2004 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Created
Jan. 17, 2005
Updated
Jul. 12, 2008
   

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