Lucas Moy, a Silesian Immigrant
by Mary Ann Moczygemba Watson
Envisioning a better life for his family, Lucas Moy contracted with travel agent, Julius Heinrich Schüler, on February 28, 1856, for passage to America. Lucas was from the village of Zębowice in Upper Silesia. On the Schüler Agency List, Lucas declared in 1856 that he was 37 years old, determining his birth year circa 1819, and that he was a häusler by occupation [farm worker who owned a cottage]. His wife was documented as Maria Skorupa, and her age was listed as 34. The sacramental records for their parish were destroyed during World War II, so their birth dates cannot be confirmed.
Though documentation is not available, the wedding of Lucas Moy and Maria Skorupa was probably celebrated around 1850. One known child was born in Silesia to this union and later cleared for travel to America with his parents: Walek, age 4 [born circa 1852]. They were listed as passengers numbered 157, 158, and 159, who departed Bremen, Germany, on April 1, 1856, bound for Galveston, Texas.
The Moy family became active in their church community soon after their arrival in Panna Maria. The name of Lucas Moy appeared in early January of 1857, as a baptism sponsor for a son born to Adalbert Kniejski and Josefa Jendrzej.
After the Moy family had been settled in Texas for about a year, Maria gave birth to a son, Francis, who was baptized on September 13, 1857, the day after he was born (Immaculate Conception of the BVM Catholic Church, entry #28).
As early as 1859, Lucas appeared in the tax records of Karnes County. His miscellaneous property was listed as two head of cattle valued at $12 and a hog at $6. The 1860 census enumerated the Lucas Moy family in Karnes County with personal property valued at $400. Their sons Walek, with his Americanized name Valentin, and Frank were listed with their parents. The following year their third son was born. Błazej [Blaise] was baptized on February 10, 1861, in Panna Maria (entry #157).
Establishing himself as a farmer with livestock, Lucas registered his cattle brand [see left], boldly depicting his initials (The Texas Stock Directory, Jackson and Long, 1865, p. 73). In 1867, Lucas Moy and six other men bought 1000 acres of land on the Cibolo Creek. The predominantly Silesian group paid $1500 for the tract. In addition to Lucas, those listed in the deed were John Czamber, Anton Korzekwa, John Kotara, John Lyssy, Frank Mzyk, and Laurence Winn (Karnes County Deeds, Book A, pp. 214-216, dated: 12 April 1867). The group did not formally divide the land for fourteen years, by which time some of the original purchasers had passed away.
Moving toward a new decade, Lucas Moy appeared in open court in Karnes County on November 22, 1869, and declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States. According to the 1870 US Federal Census, Lucas, his wife, and their three sons were visited by the census enumerator, and their real estate value was listed as $420 and personal property placed at $125. Lucas exercised his right as a United States citizen and registered to vote on September 18, 1871 (entry #366, p. 11, Old Helena Courthouse Records, Karnes County, Texas).
Though the Moy family prospered in their Texas life, Lucas endured a great loss when his wife died at the age of 50. Maria Skorupa Moy was buried in the Panna Maria cemetery on November 5, 1871 (p. 6, entry #28) having lived only 15 years in their new country.
The year of 1872 marked a happy occasion for this family when Valentin Moy married Maria Szczygiel on June 4 in their parish church in Panna Maria (entry #68). Their wedding witnesses were Laurence Wiatrek and Jacob Lyssy. It is possible that the bride, Maria, was the infant on the Schüler Agency List who departed for America with her family at the same time as her future husband. [Joseph Sczygiol, his wife, Marianna Kowolik, and their two children, Eva, 12 years old, and Maria, only 2 months old. The Sczygiol family’s residence in Poland was Kadłub Wolny in the parish of Zębowice.]
In addition to the Lucas Moy property, the 1876 Karnes County Tax Rolls reflected that the family had 14 head of cattle and 8 goats (Przygoda, p. 50). The year of 1878 marked another celebration when Francis Moy married Elisabeth Kotara, the daughter of John and Agatha Kotara, on November 19. This marriage took place in the Nativity of the BVM Catholic Church in Cestohowa (p. 257, entry #2).
Tragedy struck the Moy family again when the youngest son, Blaise, died on October 4, 1880, at only 19 years of age. The requiem Mass was held at the Catholic Church in Cestohowa (p. 343, entry #15). The cause of death for this young person was not listed in the sacramental records.
Lucas was again documented as a farmer in the 1880 US Federal Census of Karnes County where he lived until his death. At the approximate age of 72 years, Lucas Moy passed away on March 27, 1891. His funeral Mass was offered the next day in the Nativity of the BVM Catholic Church, and he was buried in the Cestohowa parish cemetery (p. 353, third entry – age 70 in the burial record does not agree with the Schüler Agency List). Sadly, Lucas was not laid to rest beside his beloved wife who had been buried in the Panna Maria cemetery 20 years earlier.
Spelling Variations: Moy, Mai, Moj
- Lucas Moy’s family is listed in the “Ravaged by War” section (p. 241) of Silesian Profiles II: Polish Immigration to Texas 1850s-1870s.
- The in-law families of Lucas Moy who have been documented in the Silesian Profiles books are: Kotara (Vol. II) and Szczygiel/Sczygiol in the “Ravaged by War” section (p. 239, Vol. II).