Hand-painted welcome sign welcoming visitors to town
Panna Maria (Polish for Virgin Mary) is a small unincorporated community in Karnes County, Texas, United States. It is the oldest Polish settlement in the United States.
A Franciscan missionary, Father Leopold Moczygemba, started recruiting Upper Silesians in 1852, when Silesia was part of the Kingdom of Prussia. The immigrants began arriving at Indianola in early December 1854. With carts to haul them inland being scarce, the immigrants walked to their land grants near San Antonio and the town was settled on Christmas Eve, 1854.
The town's identity as an insular Polish enclave was sealed by four factors:
- Bypassed by the railroads
- Union in sympathy (Settlers were also unionist and were occasionally massacred in Texas during this period)
- Polish Resurrectionist priests arrived from Europe
- A sisterhood of Polish teaching nuns was established