Polish Roman Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Grand Island, NE

The Diocese of Grand Island was formed in 1912 at Kearney, NE but moved to Grand Island in 1917. The Polish Catholic churches were identified based primarily on The Polish-American Parish published in 1963 by the Orchard Lake Schools, Henry P. Mucha, editor. Let's look at each parish in turn.

The west most Polish parish in the Grand Island diocese is St. John the Baptist in Crawford, NE. I would question if this was truly a Polish parish. The only Polish sounding name in the cemetery was Marshalek. I included this parish only because the above source lists it.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Choynice, Howard County, NE was founded in 1883. Choynice is suggestive of Chojnice, a city in northern Poland. Other sources list this place as Paplin (suggestive of Pelplin?) in Poland. The following source gives a little background and is primarily a cemetery index for the parish. The source says the parish closed in 1987. Prior to then, it had been a mission of St. Francis Church in Ashton, NE. A map of Paplin from 1900 shows the cemetery and the church. An alphabetical cemetery listing can be found at Find A Grave. The listing of cemetery names suggests that Galician immigrants settled here as well as those from northern Poland.

The parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka was established in a community that came to be called Boleszyn. Boleszyn was in Eureka Township, Valley County, NE. It was presumably named after one of a few same named places in Poland. The founding date of the church is believed to be about 1886. The church in Boleszyn was destroyed by a tornado in 1900. A new St. Stanislaus was built but never had a resident pastor and remained a mission of St. Mary Church in Elyria, NE. The Boleszyn church closed in 1970. See the following source. Find A Grave has entries for the cemetery in Boleszyn, NE. A couple of entries stood out to me-- Gregory Baran and his wife Kathryn nee Kaczka. This couple was married in Jodłowa, Galicia. Gregory's obituary mentioned that he had been in Arkansas. He may have been a resident of Marche, AR where other Jodłowa residents settled.

St. Mary Church in Elyria, NE was begun in 1900 by some parishioners from Boleszyn, NE who wanted to relocate the church after the Boleszyn structure was destroyed by a tornado. St. Mary's closed in 1982. It's records are at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Ord, NE. Here is a source for this information.

St. Anthony of Padua Church in Farwell, NE has its origin in a nearby settlement called Posen after Poznań in Poland. Sources say the land was subject to flooding and therefore not satisfactory. A land company in the area had land nearby to sell and offered to move structures to new land (on higher ground) when purchased. This included moving the church as well. The relocated Posen became Farwell , derived from farewell (as in goodbye). Locally, the name, Posen, continued to be used until the 1950s. Some modern sources say the original Posen was northwest of Farwell. That seems to be consistent with a platted area called West Posen northwest of Farwell. West Posen is in the floodplain of a creek consistent with claims of flooding. Satellite imagery doesn't show any structures there consistent with them perhaps having been moved. But a plat map from 1900 shows the Posen site in section 13 of Township 14N, 12 W, southwest of Farwell. The church, cemetery and other church property were also in section 13. This map was created within the living memory of the pioneers and so I would tend to trust it more than the modern source. West Posen was shown on a different map of the same series in 1900. If it was built at all, flooding would have been a problem. Plats of towns are often made before the town is inhabited. My conjecture is that West Posen was platted but never inhabited or its inhabitants learned that they should move to higher ground. One source also boasts that St. Anthony is the oldest Polish catholic church west of the Mississippi. Try telling that to the folks in Panna Maria, Texas! They go on to say the church was established in 1887. There were other Polish communities in Nebraska that had churches by then. The church in Posen was likely established in 1877. Its cemetery had its first burial in 1878. The lesson here is evaluate sources carefully. Many repeat the same misinformation.

Cemeteries in Valley County, NE are mapped making locating them easier to find. The Polish ones are also on the map below.

Like other maps of this series, you can zoom in or out and change to satellite view or map view.