Franciszek and Katarzyna Lyssy
by John and Kathy Korus Beard
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Franciszek and Katarzyna Lyssy and nine children, ranging in age from a toddler of two to an adult of twenty-one, left the village of Pruskow in Upper Silesia Poland on a journey to the New World which was measured in months and thousands of miles. This tremendous undertaking began when an arrangement was made with travel agent Julius Schüler for passage of the family to Galveston, Texas. Written in German, the 1856 Schüler Agency List describes the Lyssy family as Franz, 50, hausler (farm worker who owned a cottage), Catharina frotexasm the family of Krull (Kroll), 42, Johann, 21, Jacob, 18, Catharia, 15, Woitek, 8, Johanna, 7, twins Thomas and Joseph, 4, Franz, 2, and Franciska, 20. Because some of the sacramental records of their parish of Wniebowzięcia were destroyed during World War II, the information on this 1856 list constitutes the only known European documentation linking the Lyssy family to Silesia Poland.
Within a year of the arrival of the family in Texas, daughter Franciska Lyssy married Joseph Kolodziej. The marriage was recorded September 16, 1857, in San Antonio at the San Fernando Cathedral (entry #87). The couple had three children baptized in Panna Maria, but Franciska passed away only ten years after her arrival in Texas (Burial Records, Immaculate Conception of the BVM, Panna Maria, LDS Microfilm #0025335, entry #1).
The spelling of the family surname in Texas records is both Lysy and Lyssy, but Frank is almost always the given name used for the father. On December 27, 1859, Frank purchased ten and one-half acres of land in Panna Maria from Father Leopold Moczygemba for $45 (Karnes County Deeds, Vol. C, p. 311). The Karnes County tax rolls for both 1859 and 1860 list the property owned by Frank Lyssy as fifteen head of cattle worth $90 and oxen worth $30, and in both years Frank paid $1.00 poll tax and $1.30 combined state and county tax (p. 11, #13 and p. 13, #49).
The Frank Lyssy family appears in the 1860 U. S. Federal Population Census as residents of Panna Maria. When the census taker visited their home on July 28 of that year, Franciska was the only child not still part of the household. Frank was listed as a laborer with a personal value of $800, and sons John and Jacob were enumerated as farmhands. Woitek had become known as Albert.
During the Civil War, sons Jacob and Albert must have caused their parents great concern. To begin with, the two young men were drafted into the 24th Texas Cavalry of the Confederacy. Later, Jacob joined the 31st Texas Cavalry, and Albert, the 6th Texas Infantry. Jacob remained in the Confederate army, but Albert was captured at the Battle of Arkansas Post in January, 1863, and was among those prisoners allowed to join Union regiments. Albert served as a Union private for a year in the 16th Illinois Cavalry before being captured by the Confederates and held as a prisoner of war for almost a year. At the time of his capture, Albert was shot in the hip and arm; his injuries were not properly cared for while he was a captive, so after the war he was unable to return to his former occupation as a carpenter (The First Polish Americans: Silesian Settlements in Texas, T. Lindsay Baker, pps. 72-74).
The cattle brand of Frank Lyssy (see left) is depicted as a letter “J” beside an open numeral “6” on page 77 of the 1865 Jackson and Long publication, The Texas Stock Directory.
By the time the 1870 census was taken, Frank was enumerated as a farmer. His sons John and Jacob were also farmers, but son Albert was described as a teamster. The record shows that the family was now living in Helena, the original county seat of Karnes County. When the census taker visited the Lyssy household again ten years later, Frank and his wife, now called Kate, were living with the family of their son Thomas and his wife Agnes. Frank was still listed as a farmer, whereas Thomas was described as a blacksmith and his brother Frank, a stock herder.
The Lyssy children are listed below with their birthdates, the names of their spouses, and the dates of their marriages. The birthdates are calculated from the ages noted on the Schüler Agency List. LDS Microfilm #0025335 contains the Panna Maria marriage records of John (entry #19), Catharina (entry #23), Thomas (first entry), and Frank (p. 10, first entry), whose record of marriage to the widow of his brother was accompanied by a dispensation from Rome. Volume B of the Karnes County Marriage Records contains the dates for the marriages of Jacob (p. 3), Albert (p. 86), and Anna (p. 51), and Volume 1 contains the date for Joseph (p. 9). The marriage record of Franciska is listed above.
|Child||Birth (all circa)||Spouse||Marriage Date|
|Johann (John)||1835||Franciska Mzyk||22 January 1861|
|Franciska||1836||Joseph Kolodziej||16 September 1857|
|Jacob||1838||Eve Stigall (Szczygiol)||11 January 1866|
|Catharina||1841||Anton Skloss (Sklorz)||4 February 1862|
|Woitek (Albert)||1848||Petronella Keller||16 July 1872|
|Johanna (Anna)||1849||Frank Mzyk||7 February 1871|
|Thomas||1852||Agnes Czerner||17 November 1874|
|Joseph||1852||Mary Moczygemba||23 January 1877|
|Franz (Frank)||1854||Agnes Czerner||2 September 1884|
After a long life, Frank Lyssy passed away on October 5, 1880. He was buried in the Panna Maria Cemetery (Immaculate Conception of the BVM Burial Records, p. 12, fourth entry), and his tombstone is inscribed in Polish. Kate lived seventeen years after the death of her husband Frank; she passed away on November 6, 1897, at the age of 84, and was buried in the Panna Maria Cemetery (Immaculate Conception of the BVM Burial Records, p. 28, sixth entry). Her tombstone, like her husband’s, is inscribed in Polish and bears the name Katazina.
Reference: The family of Frank Lyssy is listed in the “Ravaged by War” section (p. 240) of Silesian Profiles II: Polish Immigration to Texas 1850s – 1870s.
Note: The in-law families of Frank Lyssy who have been profiled in Silesian Profiles (red book) are Czerner, Kolodziej, Moczygemba, and Sklorz (Skloss) and in Silesian Profiles II (blue book) are Keller and Mzyk.