ST.
FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH

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.
 

 

Copyright 2004 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

This page was created
Jan. 14, 2005
This page was updated
Jan. 14, 2005
   

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