St. Francis


Wadsworth, Texas


FM 521 & CR 233

284825.69N      955713.63W





St. Francisville For Kids


By Kathleen Tatum

Southwest of Wadsworth on FM 521 stands a little picturesque church and graveyard- so dear to many, but unknown to most of the residents of Matagorda County It is situated in what was known as the "Polish Village," for most of its earlier inhabitants came from Poland and settled in this community.


Most early communities were centered around the church and St. Francisville was no exception. The early Polish pioneers' love for religion was so great that, before the church at St. Francisville was built, they had visiting priests from Liberty, Victoria, and Galveston to hold services in Mrs. Frank Seerden's home.


Mary Jadwig Petrucha came to America as a nursemaid, arriving at the port of Galveston January 21, 1852. Later, she came to Wild Cow Island near

Matagorda, where her brother, Heinrich Petrucha, and Frank Seerden had a brick yard. She married Frank Seerden July 13, 1857.


A Mr. Adamska brought most of the Polish people to Matagorda County from Lagiewvnik, District of Lublinitz, Prussia. By 1859 other families such as Joseph Petrucha, his wife, and two small children had come, followed by the Butter, Sygudas, Gawenda (Gavender), and Bomk (Bunk) families. Many descendants of these original families live in Matagorda County today and in the area of St. Francis Church.


The families built their first church in 1895, but by 1896 a hurricane had blown it down. The men of the church rebuilt it that same year, and today the church stands almost as it looked in 1895 The altar had to be cut down to fit into the rebuilt church in 1896. St.

Francis is still used today for special occasions and a mass is said once a year on All Souls Day Once the mass was over and all graves had been blessed, the participants paid their respects to their dead relatives. This done, the church would remain quiet until All Souls Day the next year, when the families return to St. Francis Church in "The Polish Village."


In 1965 St. Francis Catholic Church was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark.


Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, pages 402-403







Marker inscription typed by
Faye Cunningham


A Polish Cemetery


The St. Francis Church and Cemetery is situated southwest of Wadsworth, Texas, on FM 521 in an area originally known as the "Polish Village." Many of the early settlers in this section of Matagorda County came from Lagiewvnik, District of Lublinitz, Prussia.

The St. Francisville residents' love for religion was so great that they requested visiting priests from Houston, Victoria, Liberty, and Galveston to hold services at the home of Mrs. Frank Seerden (Mary Jadwiga Petrucha Seerden).

Mrs. Frank Seerden, a native of Linz, Prussia, gave 1.55 acres of land for a church and cemetery. The deed dated December 21, 1895, was recorded in the Matagorda County Deed Records Volume 3, Page 506-507. Various citizens were appointed to take up collections for the materials and construction of the first church.

The first church was built in 1895 by contractors from Hitchcock, Texas. Mrs. Seerden ordered an altar from England and had it shipped to Liberty, Texas. From Liberty, the altar was brought by wagon to St. Francisville. This first church was  destroyed by a storm in 1896. The men of the community rebuilt the church that same year. The second church was not as tall as the first, and the altar had to be shortened six inches.

The first burials in St. Francis Cemetery were in 1899. Barbara Herreth Petrucha, originally from Vienna, Austria, died August 25, 1899. Maria Petrucha Butter, sister of Mary Petrucha Seerden, died October 6, 1899, and was the second person buried in the cemetery.

In 1930, Zefflick Butter, a nephew of Mary Jadwiga Seerden,  donated an acre to the church and cemetery to bring it to its current size. The 2.55 acres are enclosed with a chain link fence.

In 1965 St. Francis Catholic Church was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark. The marker reads:


St. Francis Catholic Church, 1895. First Euro-American Roman Catholic Church in county. Land a gift of Mrs. Frank Seerden and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Butter. In Polish Village. Rebuilt following 1896 hurricane destruction.


A correction was added to the marker in 1985:


Later research showed original land donors were Mrs. Frank Seerden and her nephew, Zeflick "Z" Butter.


Seven statues were damaged by a 1995 storm. Kathleen Henigan Tatum, a great-granddaughter of Mary Petrucha Seerden, had them repaired.

A mass is held once a year on All Souls Day in St. Francis Church. This special event includes the blessing of all graves with the participants praying for deceased relatives and friends.

As evident by the names on the markers, most of the individuals buried in the St. Francis Cemetery are descendants of the early Polish settlers. Their love for religion is reflected in the crosses which adorn the top of the church, the altar, and almost every marker in the cemetery. They also loved the land, many being farmers and ranchers. The marker of John A. Butter shows a Brahma bull and reads "Cattleman of the Year 1972" The back of Ludwig Zernicek's marker has a country scene with trees in the background and a cow, calf, and tractor in the foreground.

The cemetery grounds are maintained by family members living in the community.


List of Burials

Obituaries & Marker Pictures

A - C          D - M          P - R          S - Z


Directions: Traveling south on Highway 60 from Wadsworth, turn right on to FM 521. The church and cemetery will be visible from the road on the right a short distance down 521.




_____, Baby [A Mexican baby whose name is unknown. A white cross marks the grave near the fence on the southwest side of the church.]

    PIC   001

Armatta, Betty Ann

05 Nov 1936 12 Nov 2013      

Armatta, Ida C. (w/o John M. Armatta) (d/o Tom & Julia Pawelek Petrucha)

14 Oct 1904 15 Nov 1970 PIC   056

Armatta, John M. (h/o Ida C. Armatta)

11 Nov 1899 29 Mar 1985 PIC   055

Armatta, Matthew Kelly (s/o John Martin Armatta and Ida Catherine Petrucha)

09 Jan 1943 08 Feb 2002 PIC    

Armatta, Sidney H.

21 Oct 1932 08 Mar 2016   V  

Blair, Baby (i/o Glen & Mary Petrucha Blair)


Bruce, Marguerite Henigan Crabb (w/o 1 G. W. Crabb; 2 Frank Russell Bruce)

1916 1997 PIC    

Bunk, Henery "Andreas"

Jul 1822 05 Aug 1912 PIC   050

Butter, Flora (w/o Frank Lawrence Butter) (d/o John & Ellen Gola Adamski)

04 May 1861 16 Dec 1933 PIC   044

Butter, Francis Ray (h/o Lothell Marie Culver Butter)

06 Jun 1932 25 Sep 2005 PIC    

Butter, Frank Lawrence Sr. (h/o Flora Adamski Butter) (s/o Lawrence & Maria Petrucha Butter) (Born in Skrzylowitz, Poland)

01 Oct 1855 02 Dec 1933 PIC   043

Butter, Frank Lawrence, Jr. (h/o Katie M. Ryman Butter) (s/o Frank Lawrence & Flora Adamski Butter)

22 Sep 1885 22 Oct 1966 PIC   052

Butter, George

15 Jun 1898 13 Jan 1971 PIC   038

Butter, John Adamski (s/o Frank Lawrence & Flora Adamski Butter)

05 Dec 1900 14 Aug 1983 PIC   045

Butter, Katie Margaret (w/o Frank Lawrence Butter, Jr.) (d/o Peter & Annie Petrucha Ryman_

07 Dec 1897 10 Jul 1965 PIC   053

Butter, Lothell Marie Culver (w/o Francis Butter)

07 Oct 1933 02 Aug 2009 PIC    

Butter, Marie Petrucha (w/o Lawrence Butter)

02 Jan 1827 06 Oct 1899 PIC   042

Butter, Wylie J. (s/o Frank Lawrence & Flora Adamski Butter)

12 Jan 1887 13 Sep 1961 PIC   039

Butter, Zefflick (s/o Lawrence & Maria Petrucha Butter) (Born in Skrzydlowitz, Poland)

02 Nov 1865 15 Nov 1938 PIC   040

Crabb, James Shepard

1941 2000 PIC    

Culver, Baby Girl (d/o John Franklin & Marie Antonia Richie Culver)

  02 Feb 1939 PIC   011

Culver, David Seerden (h/o Tasie Petrucha Culver) (s/o John A. & Catherine Seerden Culver)

26 Jun 1906 26 Apr 1972 PIC   047

Culver, Frank M. (s/o John A. & Catherine Seerden Culver)

23 Aug 1899 23 Sep 1939 PIC   007

Culver, John Franklin (h/o Marie Antonia Richie Culver) (s/o John A. & Catherine Seerden Culver)

08 Apr 1885 17 Jun 1945 PIC   009

Culver, Katie A. (w/o George David Culver) (d/o Frank L. Butter, Sr. & Flora Adamski Butter)

03 Mar 1896 16 Dec 1977 PIC   037

Culver, Marie Antonia Richie (w/o John Franklin Culver) (d/o John Henry Richie, Sr. & Victoria Brennan Richie)

03 Aug 1895 05 Feb 1939 PIC   010

Culver, Rev. Msgr. T. Joseph (s/o John Franklin Culver & Maria Antonio Richie Culver)

03 Jan 1937 07 Apr 2009 PIC    

Culver, Tasie Anastasia Caroline Petrucha (w/o David Seerden Culver) ( d/o Tom & Julia Pawelek Petrucha)

14 Sep 1911 01 Mar 2008 PIC   046

Drennan, May Frances (w/o Henry Drennan) (d/o Sam & Rose Sherrer Dickinson)

12 May 1911 08 Sep 1977 PIC   054

Gavender, Edward Carl (s/o Alex Martin & Annie Bunk Gavender)

10 Mar 1912 29 May 1912 PIC   026

Gavender, Frances Eva (d/o Alex Martin & Annie Bunk Gavender)

17 Oct 1914 23 Mar 1918 PIC   027

Gola, Ida Magdalene (d/o Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola)

12 Jan 1902 08 Jan 1904 PIC   059

Gola, John (s/o Son of Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola)

08 Feb 1886 17 May 1959 PIC   069

Gola, Joseph (s/o Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola)

23 Oct 1899 31 Jan 1976 PIC   073

Gola, Lawrence (s/o Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola)

10 Aug 1887 02 Dec 1960 PIC   070

Gola, Louis (h/o Louise Foerster Gola) (s/o Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola)

09 Sep 1891 06 May 1987 PIC V 078

Gola, Louise Foerster (w/o Louis Gola)

09 Sep 1906 26 Aug 1984 PIC   079

Gola, Ludwig (h/o Mary Petrucha Gola)

15 Aug 1850 17 Apr 1917 PIC   061

Gola, Mary (w/o Ludwig Gola) (d/o Joseph & Caroline Casmah Petrucha)

May 1861 15 Mar 1922 PIC   062

Gola, Willie (s/o Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola)

22 Nov 1903 20 Nov 1981 PIC   074

Hale, Bland (h/o Husband of Leona Seerden Hale) (s/o Frank & Maggie Gault Hale)

17 Dec 1911 08 Mar 1965 PIC   005

Hale, Kenneth Charles [Cpl US Army, Korea]

28 May 1933 20 Jun 2003 PIC V  

Halik, Katie (w/o John Halick) (d/o Ludwig & Mary Petrucha Gola)

10 Mar 1889 21 May 1919 PIC   068

Henigan, Claude James (h/o Jadwiga Doss Henigan) (s/o John & Maggie Anderson Henigan)

16 Feb 1888 30 Oct 1967 PIC   030

Henigan, Jadwiga C. Doss "Addie" (w/o Claude James Henigan) (d/o William W. & Annie Seerden Doss)

30 Sep 1886 13 Jul 1966 PIC   031

Herreth, Francis (h/o Katherine Bleskachek Herreth) (Born in Vienna, Austria)

02 Sep 1845 21 Mar 1922 PIC V 072

Laird, Bertha (w/o Eric R. Laird) (d/o Henry M. & Mary Boyd Seerden)

17 Jun 1900 02 Apr 1979 PIC   023

Laird, Eric Ray (h/o Bertha Seerden Laird)
Texas, PVT HQ CO 14  144 Infantry, World War I)

22 Nov 1893 18 Aug 1966 PIC V 024

McCaskill, Mary J. (w/o William Theo McCaskill) (d/o John H. Richie, Sr. & Victoria Brennan Richie)

28 Jan 1893 30 Dec 1984 PIC   015

McQueen, Mary Ellen Covington Seerden (w/o Henry Murray Seerden)

22 Aug 1914 05 Jul 1984 PIC   025

Middendorpp, Anna Maria (w/o John Henry Middendorpp)

14 Jan 1843 09 May 1932 PIC   076

Middendorpp, John Henry (h/o Anna Marie Middendorpp)

1834 1902 PIC   075

Middendorpp, John J. (s/o John Henry & Anna Marie Middendorpp)

22 Oct 1880 09 Apr 1960     077

Petrucha, Barbara (w/o Tom Petrucha) (d/o Francis & Katherine Bleskachek Herreth)

07 Apr 1879 25 Aug 1899 PIC   071

Petrucha, Caroline Casmah (w/o Joseph Petrucha) (Born in Warsaw, Poland)

04 Nov 1830 24 Sep 1908 PIC   067

Petrucha, Joseph (h/o Carolina Casmah Petrucha) (s/o Henry Martin Petrucha)

19 Mar 1823 24 May 1909 PIC V 066

Petrucha, Julia M. Pawelek (w/o Tom Petrucha)

16 Feb 1874 02 Jul 1963 PIC   049

Petrucha, Tom (h/o Julia M. Pawelek Petrucha) (s/o Joseph & Caroline Casmah Petrucha )

24 Dec 1857 14 Nov 1944 PIC   048

Petrucha, Tom Joseph (h/o Connie Ramos Petrucha) (s/o Tom & Julia M. Pawelek Petrucha)

27 May 1909 12 Apr 1990 PIC   057

Popek, John David (s/o David & Susan Armatta Popek)

13 Jul 1985 26 May 1986 PIC   065

Richie, John Henry, Jr. (s/o John Henry Richie, Sr. & Victoria Brennan Richie)

1897 17 Jun 1939 PIC   014

Richie, John Henry, Sr. (h/o Victoria Brennan Richie) (s/o Andrew & Mary Shaw Richie)

1863 14 Sep 1927 PIC   012

Richie, Victoria B. (w/o John Henry Richie, Sr.) (d/o Michall & Ellen O'Riley Brennan)

20 Feb 1867 04 Sep 1949 PIC   013

Ryman, Agnes Ellen Butter (w/o Samuel Carol Ryman)

24 Jan 1891 07 Mar 1981 PIC   004

Ryman, Harvey Venson (s/o Samuel Carol & Agnes Butter Ryman)

23 May 1922 05 Apr 1942 PIC   002

Ryman, Samuel Carol (h/o Agnes Butter Ryman) (s/o Peter & Annie Petrucha Ryman)

18 Oct 1883 02 Oct 1965 PIC   003

Schulte, Baby
The grave is about 20 feet north of the church. Originally buried in the main cemetery, the Priest requested the baby be reburied at its present location as the infant had not been baptized.]

  c1912     080

Seerden, Catherine Clara (d/o Daughter of Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden)

14 Oct 1908 23 Jul 1916 PIC   020

Seerden, Henry Martin (h/o Mary Boyd Seerden) (s/o Frank & Mary Jadwiga Petrucha Seerden)

22 Nov 1871 24 Jun 1958 PIC   021

Seerden, Henry Murray (h/o Betty Mason Seerden Bridges) (s/o Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden)

04 Sep 1906 23 Apr 1996 PIC   016

Seerden, Lawrence O'Connell (h/o Geraldine Schultz Seerden) (Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden)

05 Feb 1911 05 Oct 1970 PIC   017

Seerden, Mary Cecelia (d/o Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden)

19 Nov 1917 22 Nov 1917 PIC   018

Seerden, Mary Genevieve (d/o William Valentine Seerden & Pauline Waschka Seerden)

29 Aug 1909 05 Feb 1910 PIC   034

Seerden, Mary Sophia Boyd (w/o Henry Martin Seerden)

07 Aug 1876 09 Jan 1950 PIC   022

Seerden, Pauline Agnes (w/o William Valentine Seerden) (d/o Andrew & Rosa Gola Waschka)

01 Sep 1878 24 May 1958 PIC   036

Seerden, Walter Earl (s/o Henry Martin & Mary Boyd Seerden)

13 Aug 1915 18 Aug 1915 PIC   019

Seerden, William Valentine (h/o Pauline Waschka Seerden) (s/o Frank & Mary Jadwiga Petrucha Seerden)

11 Apr 1878 30 Jun 1953 PIC   035

Sherrer, Elizabeth (w/o Seraphine Sherrer) (d/o Joseph & Caroline Casmah Petrucha)

17 Nov 1868 04 Mar 1949 PIC   063

Sherrer, Emma (d/o Seraphine & Elizabeth Petrucha Sherrer)

15 Mar 1899 1901 PIC   060

Sherrer, Kenneth Lee

1925 1994 PIC    

Sherrer, Thomas Lee (h/o Effie Dickinson Sherrer) (s/o Seraphine & Elizabeth Petrucha Sherrer)
Texas, PVT  US Army, World War I]

30 Oct 1893 06 Jun 1973 PIC V 064

Tatum, A. J. (h/o Kathleen Henigan Tatum) (Born in Pineland, Texas, s/o James Buford & Sarah Nettie Bowen Tatum)
PFC  US Army, World War II]

05 Apr 1919 16 Mar 1978 PIC V 028

Tatum, Kathleen R. (w/o A. J. Tatum) (d/o Claude James & Jadwiga Doss Henigan)

20 Jan 1921 25 Apr 1997 PIC   029

Tatum, Talmadge James, Jr.

01 Oct 1961 13 May 2017      

Tatum, Talmadge James, Sr. (h/o Jean Ann Tatum)

12 Dec 1939 03 Jan 2007      

Waschka, Felix Albert (s/o Andrew & Rosa Gola Waschka)

28 Jul 1870 02 Dec 1940
Galveston, TX
PIC   032

Waschka, Rosy Gola (w/o Andrew Waschka)

23 Jul 1833 26 Jul 1921 PIC   033

Wheeler, Baby (i/o Benjamin Henry & Mattie Butter Wheeler)

    PIC   041

Zernicek, Lillian Culver (w/o Ludwig Joseph Zernicek; Married May 8, 1948)

03 Aug 1926 08 Dec 2014 PIC   008

Zernicek, Ludwig Joseph (h/o Lillian Culver Zernicek; Married May 8, 1948) (s/o Joseph & Mary Zernicek; Husband of Lillian Culver Zernicek)
PFC  US Army, World War II]

20 Jan 1925 15 Jan 1991 PIC V 008


Copyright 2004 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Jan. 17, 2005
Jul. 28, 2016