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This brief history had originally appeared on another site authored by Jerry Mazuchowski.

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BREIF HISTORY OF TOLEDO POLONIA

The Polish people have been an established group in Toledo since at least 1874. On October 11 of that year, the Rev. Vincent Lewandowski (a Franciscan Priest exiled from Poland by Otto Von Bismark) arrived in Toledo, Ohio to serve the spiritual needs of the Polish people who had settled near the German communities because of their ability to speak this language as well as their native tongue.

These communities of settlement were at opposite ends of the city. In the north, near and along LaGrange Street, (LaGrinka), and in the south near and along Junction and Nebraska Avenues (Koushwantz).

Land for the building of a church was sought in the central area of the city around the location of the present day Toledo Museum of Art, but found wanting.

Property available at the corner of Dexter and Warsaw Streets was purchased for the building of a combination church / school named in honor of St. Hedwig, Duchess of Silesia whose feast on October 16, 1875 became the beginning date of the Toledo Polonia through means of this parish.

St. Anthony Parish in the south end was established in 1881.

Growth for the community was phenomenal with the increase of immigrants, necessitating the establishment of other parishes to serve the religious, cultural, educational and social needs of a proud people:

St. Adalbert in 1907
St. Stanislaus in 1908
Nativity in 1922
St. Hyacinth in 1927
Our Lady of Lourdes on Hill Ave. in 1927

The contributions to the common good of all by these hardworking citizens redounds to this day with many who enter the professional fields of business, education and politics.

A strong sense of unity prevailed in these tight knit interrelated communities until waves of change began to take their toll. In the late '60's demographic changes of color began to affect the "koushwantz (German for "Cow's Tail")" section of the city causing what is known now as "white flight." The result was the abandonment of homesteads, school and churches with obvious regrouping of these people in parts of the city farther south and northwest.

In 1975 St. Hedwig Parish observed the centennial of its establishment and under the direction of Rev. George M. Rinkowski appeared to be a bulwark against the tide that finally crashed "LaGrinka" beginning a downward slide in 1984.

In November of 1989 remnants/descendants of the original settlers in a last ditch effort to reclaim a glorious past had the area officially proclaimed and designated as "Polish Village."

All is not lost, neither there, nor to the south as there are those who still reside in the areas once universally recognized as belonging to these people from Poland and of Polish descent.

Today the Toledo Polonia is a diaspora constituting sixty percent of the population of the greater Toledo area.

The foods, clothes, traditions and even the language can yet be found, particularly in the organizations and certainly the hearts of these people-The Toledo Polonia!

 

 





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