Jacob and Johanna Dworaczyk Make a New Home in Texas
by John and Kathy Korus Beard
Jacob Dworaczyk was a häusler, a farmworker who owned a cottage, from the village of Osiecko in Silesia, Poland, when he, his wife Johanna, and two children secured passage to America in 1856 with the Schüler Agency. The family was listed as Jacob “Dworatzik,” age 42; Johanna Lyssy, age 23; Jacob, age 5; and Anton, an infant; they were entries 128 though 131 on the Schüler Agency List. Jacob would have been born about 1814, Johanna about 1833, and their sons about 1851 and 1856, respectively. The sacramental records of their parish, Wniebowzięcia NMP, were destroyed during World War II, so the Schüler Agency List provides the only known Polish documentation of the family. The nineteen-year age difference between Jacob and Johanna raises the possibility that Jacob may have been married previously, but no record has been found to prove such an event.
The first record of the Dworaczyk family in the New World is from Karnes County, Texas. On the 1857 tax assessment, “Yoccow Dworeasyk” had personal property worth $95, including two head of cattle valued at $30 and oxen and wagon valued at $65. He paid 96 cents combined state and county tax plus 75 cents poll tax (p. 13, thirty-first entry).
A child named Valentin was born on February 11, 1859, and baptized two days later at Panna Maria. The baptism record from Immaculate Conception of the BVM listed the parents as Santiago Dworaczyk and Juana Lysy (LDS Microfilm #0025335, entry #81). No further information has been found about Valentin Dworaczyk.
At the end of July in 1860 when the census taker visited Panna Maria in Karnes County, he recorded “Jac Varatchek,” age 45, a laborer from Poland with personal estate valued at $400; Joana, age 30; Jacob, age 10; and Anton, age 4 (p. 153, dwelling 1124, family 1067). Very soon thereafter, Jacob and Johanna welcomed a daughter whom they named Maria. She was baptized on August 2 at Immaculate Conception of the BVM (entry #121).
In 1862, tax records show that Jacob “Voracick” owned a horse or mule valued at $15, thirteen head of cattle valued at $78, and $45 worth of miscellaneous property. He paid $2.48 state and county tax and $1.50 poll tax (Karnes County Tax, Polander Roll, second page, twenty-first entry).
A son was born to Jacob and Johanna on September 23, 1862; baby Michael was baptized two days later at Immaculate Conception of the BVM (entry #204). Another son Andrew was born on November 29, 1864. He received the sacrament of Baptism the following year on February 26 at Panna Maria (fourth entry). Three years later, a baby boy Carl was born on leap day, February 29, 1868, and baptized the following day at Immaculate Conception of the BVM (entry #324). The Dworaczyk family suffered the loss of this child less than eight months later; Carl died on October 16, 1868, and was buried the next day in the Panna Maria Cemetery (Immaculate Conception of the BVM Burial Records, LDS Microfilm #0025335, p. 4, entry #14).
The rocket-shaped design (see left) is the cattle brand shown for “Jakob Dworatzek” on page 77 of the 1865 Jackson and Long publication, The Texas Stock Directory. Deed records show that Jacob “Dworatzek” and wife “Joanna” purchased 206 acres on the west bank of Cibolo Creek about 350 yards from the mouth of Arroyo de los Defuntos on January 4, 1869. The property was purchased from fellow Silesian, Johan Pawlik, also a resident of Karnes County, for $309 (Karnes County Deeds, Volume B, p. 132).
The family had moved from Panna Maria to the Helena area of Karnes County by the time the census taker visited them on September 10, 1870. They were recorded as “J Dworatetk,” age 60, a farmer from Prussia with real estate worth $200 and personal estate valued at $300; Anna, age 38; Jacob, age 20; Anton, age 14; Mary, age 10; Mike, age 8; and Andy, age 6 (pp. 31-32, dwelling 11, family 11). Although Jacob had already entered his brand in The Texas Stock Directory five years earlier, he also registered his brand at the courthouse in Helena on October 31, 1870 (Karnes County Marks and Brands, Volume 1, p. 199, #560). The 1870 tax assessment for Karnes County lists Jacob “Dworatzik” with 200 acres of land valued at $250, one horse at $25, 25 cattle at $100, and personal property at $82. His combined ad valorem and county tax was $2.25, and he owed no poll tax (owner 105).
Agatha Anna’s baptism in Panna Maria was recorded as February 5, 1870, although the baptism records both before and after hers show 1871 (entry #388). The joy of the new birth was followed by tragedy on April 21, 1871, when son Jacob Dworaczyk died. The young man was buried in the Panna Maria Cemetery the following day (p. 6, entry #24). On September 20, 1871, the elder Jacob registered to vote at age 59 in Karnes County (book in Old Helena courthouse).
In 1873, the family of Jacob Dworaczyk was one of about 40 families that founded the parish of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Cestohowa, five miles north of their former parish of Panna Maria. The first church in Cestohowa was dedicated on February 10, 1878 (The First Polish Colonies of America in Texas, Rev. Edward J. Dworaczyk, San Antonio, Texas: The Naylor Company, 1936, pp. 126-130).
Four of their children were enumerated in Karnes County with Jacob, age 70, and Johanna, age 49, on the 1880 census: Mary, age 19; Mike, age 16; Andrew, age 14; and Agatha, age 9 (p. 9, dwelling 72, family 77). Jacob was listed as a farmer and his sons as farm laborers. Youngest child Agatha was attending school. Son Anton was enumerated as a farmer in nearby Wilson County (p. 28, dwelling 249, family 257). Jacob bought 200 acres of land on the east bank of Cibolo Creek for Anton on October 21, 1880 (Karnes County Probate Records, Volume 3, p. 22, #144 and Wilson County Deeds, Volume H, p. 516). The 1880 agricultural census revealed the progress and success of the Jacob Dworaczyk family. During 1879, they sold 22 head of cattle, slaughtered 2 head, and planted 10 acres of Indian corn and 7 acres of cotton. By June 12, 1880, they owned 17 acres of improved land and 187 acres of woodland, 4 milch cows and 15 head of other cattle, 3 horses, 3 swine, and 12 poultry. The total farm value was $429 (Productions of Agriculture, Karnes County, Texas, 1880, p. 8, line 4).
In 1881, Jacob and Johanna celebrated the marriage of son Anton who had left Silesia in 1856 as an infant. Anton Dworaczyk wed Mary Szczepanik, daughter of neighbors, Laurence and Mary Szczepanik, in Cestohowa on February 15. The groom was 25 years old, and the bride was 20 years old (Nativity of the BVM Marriage Records, LDS Microfilm #0024960, p. 259, first entry). Five years later, the Dworaczyk family celebrated a second marriage in Cestohowa when son Michael married Mary Gabrysch, daughter of Gervas Gabrysch and Josepha Zuber, on October 25, 1886 (p. 269, third entry). Jacob and Johanna’s youngest child Agatha married Paul Pollok, son of Martin Pollok and Mary Pawlik, on November 21, 1894, in Cestohowa (p. 287, second entry). Son Andrew was a witness at the marriage of his older sister Maria. She married Stanislaus Lewandowski, son of Anton and Magdalene Lewandowski, in Panna Maria on May 19, 1896. Stanislaus was from Cleto, and Maria was from Cestohowa (Immaculate Conception of the BVM Marriage Records, LDS Microfilm #0025335, p. 28, first entry).
After living half of his life in Texas, Jacob Dworaczyk passed away on February 7, 1897, at his home in Karnes County near Cestohowa. As stated by his son-in-law, Paul Pollok, “He was about 83 years old when he died…has five children they are all grown…” At the time of his death, Jacob owned 206 acres of property plus cattle and horses, a total value of $1000. Jacob’s will, dated September 2, 1896, stated that his half of the land, stock, and personal property was to go to son-in-law, Paul Pollock. Daughter, Mary Lewandowski, was to receive $100. John Brysch was appointed executor (Karnes County Probate Records, Volume 3, pp. 18-23, #144, November 4, 1897).
Jacob’s widow Johanna was living with the family of their older daughter Maria in Karnes County at the time of the 1900 census (stamped p. 247B, dwelling 349, family 350). Growing old brought many problems for Johanna. During the May term, 1906, the Karnes County Probate Court had to decide the fate of Johanna, described as Annie Dworaczyk, a widow about age 70. Son-in-law, Stanik Lewandowski, applied to be the guardian of Johanna on May 9, 1906, because she was thought to be “…of unsound mind, not capable of taking care of herself and without any lawful guardian.” Affidavits were filed that stated she had been of unsound mind for 25 years and had been cared for by her husband Jacob until he died ten years before; then Paul Pollock cared for her for two years, and Stanik Lewandowski cared for her eight years. She had been blind for four years, and continuous nurse care was needed. Stanik Lewandowski was approved as her guardian (Karnes County Probate Records, Volume 4, pp. 511-513, #270, May 9, 1906 and May 28, 1906). By the end of August the following year, a jury of six men decided that Annie was not of unsound mind (Karnes County Probate Records, Volume 4, p. 614, August 27, 1907).
Johanna continued to be enumerated with the family of her daughter Maria in the 1910 census (p. 19B, dwelling 328, family 331). The suffering Johanna had to endure in her old age ended on March 27, 1912. She was buried in the Cestohowa Cemetery the next day, and the headstones of both Johanna and Jacob were inscribed in Polish (Nativity of the BVM Burial Records, LDS Microfilm #0024960, p. 5, second entry). Johanna had lived the majority of her 80 years in her adopted country.
The following chart summarizes both the happy and sad events in the lives of the Jacob and Johanna Dworaczyk family:
|Jacob||circa 1851||21 Apr 1871||Panna Maria|
|Anton||circa 1856||Mary Szczepanik||15 Feb 1881||26 Oct 1935||Kosciusko|
|Valentin||1859||Not on 1860 census|
|Maria||1860||Stanislaus Lewandowski||19 May 1896||8 Feb 1921||Cestohowa|
|Michael||1862||Mary Gabrysch||25 Oct 1886||4 Feb 1940||Falls City|
|Andrew||1864||5 Jan 1941||Falls City|
|Carl||1868||16 Oct 1868||Panna Maria|
|Agatha Anna||circa 1871||Paul Pollok||21 Nov 1894||19 Jul 1916||Falls City|
• Civil marriage information was found in Karnes County Marriages: Anton in Book 1, p. 63, second entry; Maria in Book 1, p. 386, first entry; Michael in Book 1, p. 146, first entry; and Agatha in Book 1, p. 328, first entry.
• Death and burial information was found on the Texas Certificate of Death of the following: Anton #49406, Maria #5660, Michael #9809, and Andrew #3723. Catholic church burial records were found in the following locations: Anton in Kosciusko in Chancery Film VS 82, p. 5, entry #VI; Maria in Cestohowa in LDS Film #0024960 on p. 22, fourth entry; and Michael, Andrew and Agatha in Falls City in Chancery Film VS 92 (Michael on p. 14, entry #7; Andrew on p. 15, entry #2; and Agatha on p. 2, entry #5).
• The family of Jacob Dworaczyk is listed in the “Ravaged by War” section (p. 240) of Silesian Profiles II: Polish Immigration to Texas 1850s – 1870s.
• The in-law families of Jacob Dworaczyk who have been fully profiled in the Silesian Profiles books are: Gabrysch [Vol. I] and Pollok and Szczepanik [Vol. II].