Polish-American/History Part I - ATPC

United States of America

Statue of LibertyGive me your tired,
your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

This verse inscribed on the Statue of Liberty was written by poet Emma Lazarus. [Learn More]
-History, -4th of July



Poles were among the early industrial workers in America. Poles played an significant role in the American Revolution. Beginning with the 19th Century, the turmoils of Europe and specifically Poland, led to a large migration of Poles to other countries. We would like to record the history of those who came to America. Where they came from in Poland, where they settled in the USA and what they did. If you have information that will help us with this project, please contact us.

The time-line is a historical perspective of the presence of Poles in America (dates in bold). Additional US history has been include as a bench-mark to relate to the history of that time period. These benchmarks include the date each State joined the Union, the year for each new President or Vice-President, and other signicant events during these times. Also note that "links" are available for additional information on a subject.

New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia: This site offers one of the best summaries on Polish immigration, influence and history in the United States. They are the source for many of the historical dates and information briefs presented in our time-line. We highly recommend reading the article for it's history and geanology content.

History Time-Line

17th Century |1600 |1700 |1800 |1850 |1900 |1950 |2000 |

  • 1608 - Jamestown, VA: Poles working in America as glassblowers for British owned London Company.
  • 1619 - Jamestown, VA: First labor strike in America was held by the Poles in Jamestown. Poles were denied the right to vote in the election of the Virginia House of Burgesses. The Poles walked off their jobs affecting the local industry that ultimately gained them the right to vote. (Source: Washington Post) -Learn More-
  • 1619 - Planters from Virginia begin bringing African laborers to US. Most were not slaves at this time, but by the 1660s, these involuntary immigrants became a part of a system of slavery.
  • 1653 - New Jersey: First Justice of Peace in Upper Bergen County is Pole, Olbracht Zaborowski.
  • 1662 - New Jersey: Albert Zborowski, ancestor to the Zabrieskie family of New York settled along the Hackensack River by this time. -Source-

    18th Century |1600 | 1700 |1800 | 1850 |1900 |1950 |2000 |

  • 1712 - Pennsylvania: Anthony Sadowski, a Polish pioneer and Indian trader settles northwest of Philadelphia. In 1729, he ventured into Western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. By 1790, 32 families of Polish descent were living in Pennsylvania. -Learn More-(1) (2)
  • 1733 - War of Polish Succession lasting until 1735.
  • 1752 - The lightning rod is invented by Benjamin Franklin.
  • 1772 - First Partition of Poland. Germany, Austria and Russia take control of over one third of Poland's territory. [view map]
  • 1773 - The Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre - the British fire on a mob of 70, killing 5 people.
  • 1776 - An official Declaration of Independence from Britain is issued.
  • 1776 - Philadelphia, PA: Tadeusz Kosciuszko a 30 year old military engineer arrives in Philadelphia. A year latter his participation in the battle of the Saratogo wins a decisive victory for the American Revolution over the British. -Learn More-(1) (2)
  • 1779 - Congress forbids import of slaves into America.
  • 1779 - Savannah, GA: Casimir Pulaski, the Pole who proclaimed, "I came to hazard all for the freedom of America." dies in the battle at Savannah. Learn More
  • 1786 - The dollar adopted as USA form of currency.
  • 1787 - Constitution is approved by the constitutional congress.
  • 1787 - Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey become States
  • 1788 - Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York become States.
  • 1789 - George Washington becomes first President, John Adams, first Vice-President.
  • 1789 - North Carolina becomes State.
  • 1790 - Rhode Island becomes State.
  • 1790 - First Census was taken showing nearly one million Afro-Americans and four million Europeans residing in the US.
  • 1791 - Vermont becomes State.
  • 1792 - Kentucky becomes State.
  • 1793 - Second Partition of Poland. Prussia and Russia take control of additional territory of Poland. [view map]
  • 1794 - The US post office is established.
  • 1795 - Third Partition of Poland. Prussia, Russia and Austria divide what's left of Poland among themselves. [view map]
  • 1796 - Tennessee becomes State.
  • 1797 - John Adams becomes 2nd President, Thomas Jefferson is 2nd Vice-President

  • 19th Century |1600 |1700| 1800 |1850 |1900 |1950 |2000 |

  • 1800 - The capital of the USA is moved from Philadelphia to Washington DC.
  • 1801 - Thomas Jefferson becomes 3rd President, Aaron Burr is 3rd Vice-President
  • 1803 - Lewis and Clark Expedition into West Territory
  • 1803 - Ohio becomes State.
  • 1803 - Louisiana Territory is purchased.
  • 1804 - Lewis and Clark Expedition into the northwest territory begins.
  • 1805 - George Clinton is 4th Vice-President replacing Aaron Burr
  • 1809 - James Madison becomes 4th President, George Clinton continues as 4th Vice-President
  • 1812 - Louisiana becomes State.
  • 1812 - The War of 1812 between the USA and Great Britain break outs over movement of trade goods.
  • 1813 - Elbridge Gerry becomes 5th Vice-President replacing George Clinton who died in office.
  • 1815 - The Slavery is outlawed in France.
  • 1816 - Indiana becomes State.
  • 1817 - James Monroe becomes 5th President, Daniel Tompkins is 6th Vice-President.
  • 1817 - Mississippi becomes State.
  • 1817 - Construction of the Erie canal begins taking until 1825 to complete.
  • 1818 - Illinois becomes State.
  • 1818 - Poles who had served under Napoleon were among a group that founded Camp d'Asile north of Galveston [Learn More]
  • 1819 - Alabama becomes State.
  • 1820 - Maine becomes State.
  • 1821 - Missouri becomes State.
  • 1825 - John Quincy Adams becomes 6th President, John C. Calhoun is 7th Vice-President.
  • 1828 - The first railroad in USA is constructed leading to rapid opening of the West.
  • 1829 - Andrew Jackson becomes 7th President, John C. Calhoun continues as 8th Vice-President.
  • 1830 - Polish Revolution: A number of Poles from Napoleon's Polish Legion came to the US and many joined the American armies in fighting the Seminole Indians. -Source-
  • 1832 - Martin VanBuren is 9th Vice-President replacing John C. Calhoun on the party ticket.
  • 1832 - A Polish railway engineer, Aleksander Bielaski, comes to US and help construct the Illinois Central Railroad. He also became a friend of Abraham Lincoln and was to die in the Civil War.
  • 1833 - Slavery is legally abolished in Great Britain's empire.
  • Help us build this time-line, send your regional Polish history to ATPC-Polonia.
  • 1835 - Rock River, MD: A formal organization of prominent Americans existed as the Polish National Committie which Congress granted thirty-six sections of land near Rock River. -Source-
  • 1836 - Arkansas becomes State.
  • 1836 - Battle of the Alamo takes place and Texas war of independence from Mexico.
  • 1836 - Poles participate in the fight for Texas independence with Sam Houston [Learn More]
  • 1837 - Martin VanBuren becomes 8th President, Richard M. Johnston is 10th Vice-President.
  • 1837 - Michigan becomes State.
  • 1841 - William H. Harrison becomes 9th President and first to die in office, John Tyler is 11th Vice-President.
  • 1841 - John Tyler becomes 10th President, no serving Vice-President.
  • 1845 - James K. Polk becomes 11th President, George M. Dallas is 12th Vice-President.
  • 1845 - Florida, Texas, become States.
  • 1846 - Mexican America War breaks out lasting until 1848.
  • 1847 - Trans-Atlantic cable installation begins leading to voice communications between the USA and Europe.
  • 1848 - Wisconsin becomes State.
  • 1848 - Father Gaspar Matoga was the first Polish priest to be ordained in the USA. -Source-
  • 1848 - Gold Rush in California begins.
  • 1849 - Zachary Taylor becomes 12th President, Millar Fillmore is 13th Vice-President.

  • |1600 |1700 |1800 | 1850 |1900 |1950 |2000 |

  • 1850 - Millar Fillmore becomes 13th President, no serving Vice-President.
  • 1850 - California becomes State.
  • 1850s - Detroit, MI: Poles begin settling into the Motor City in numbers.
  • 1850s - Stevens Point, WI: Poles from Prussian Poland during late 1850s settle in Stevens Point area of Wisconsin.
  • 1852 - Democratic Society of Poles in America was founded. By 1854, it numbered over two hundred members. -Source-
  • 1853 - Franklin Pierce becomes 14th President, William R. King is 14th Vice-President.
  • 1854 - Panna Maria, TX: First "permanent" Polish settlement in United States established by Father Leopold Mocyzgemba. Learn the History: See our Panna-Maria page and Richard Lysiak's article on, "The Oldest Polish Settlement in USA".
  • 1854 - MI/WI: Shortly after the Panna Maria settlement, Poles were establishing a colonies in Parrisville, MI and Polonia, WI. -Source-
  • 1855 - Castle Island opens as an immigration center in New York. At this time states were responsible for processing immigrants.
  • 1855 - Panna Maria, TX: First Polish church in USA was built.

    1860s: Alamo - San Antonio, TX

    Signing of Immancipation Proclaimation

    Gettysburg battle casualties

    Grant's staff

    1863 Portrait

    1863 Photo of Civil War Soldier
    (NOAA Photo Library)
  • 1857 - Maria Elzbieta Zakrzewska founded the first American Hospital for Womaen in New York and later, one in Boston in 1859.
  • 1857 - James Buchanan becomes 15th President, John C. Breckinridge is 15th Vice-President.
  • 1858 - Texas becomes State.
  • 1859 - Oregon becomes State.
  • 1860 - Buffalo, NY: Poles begin to settle in Buffalo, NY area around this time period.
  • 1860s - Chicago, IL: Large groups of Poles settle into Northwest and Southwest areas of Chicago.
  • 1861 - Abraham Lincoln becomes 16th President, Hannibal Hamlin is 16th Vice-President.
  • 1861 - The Apache indian nation declares war on the USA.
  • 1861 - Kansas becomes State.
  • 1861 Poles join in the Cival War effort with over 3,000 enlisting in forces of the North.
  • 1861 - The Civil War begins as the South declares itself the Confederate States of America. The bloody war endures until 1865.
  • 1861 - The transcontinental telegraph is completed.
  • 1863 - Civil War: Grover Cleveland, 26 years old and one day to be President, paid George Beniski, a 32 year old Polish immigrant, to serve in his place as a private in the Seventy-sixth New York Infantry. A practice that was legal and available to those who could afford to do so. (source: NARA )
  • 1863 - Battle of Gettysburg takes place and the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves is enacted.
  • 1863 - Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
  • 1864 - Nevada and West Virginia become States.
  • 1865 - Andrew Johnson is 17th Vice-President, replacing Hannibal Hamlin on the Republican ticket.
  • 1865 - President Lincoln is assassinated. Andrew Johnson becomes 17th President, no serving Vice-President.
  • 1867 - Nebraska becomes State.
  • 1868 - Fell's Point, MD: Settling of Poles begins in an area southeast of Baltimore. Some years earlier, Poles were working the Port of Baltimore as longshoremen. By 1900, 30,000 Poles lived in the surrounding communities.
  • 1869 - Ulysses S. Grant becomes 18th President, Schuyler Colfax is 18th Vice-President.
  • 1870 - Morrison County, MN: Poles from Selesia first to settle in Two Rivers Township.
    -Learn More: Article by Robert Prokott
  • 1870s - Milwaukee, WI: Poles in large numbers settle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • 1871 - The Great Fire all but destroys Chicago.
  • 1873 - Henry Wilson is 19th Vice-President, replacing Schuyler Colfax.
  • 1874 - At the request of Father Jozef Dabrowski, the Felician Order of Women come to the US to serve in Polish centers.
  • 1876 - Colorado becomes State.
  • 1876 - The telephone is invented by Bell and Latimer.
  • 1877 - Rutherford B. Hayes becomes 19th President, William A. Wheeler is 20th Vice-President
  • 1880 - Wilno, MN: Poles establish rural settlement in Minnesota (Wilno).
  • 1880 - North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, become States.
  • 1881 - James A. Garfield becomes 20th President, Chester A. Arthur is 21st Vice-President.
  • 1881 - Grover Cleveland becomes 22nd President, Thomas A. Hendricks is 22nd Vice-President
  • 1886 - Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the US, is dedicated in NY. Built on Bedloe Island near Ellis Island, the island was later renamed, Liberty Island.
  • 1889 - Benjamin Harrison becomes 23rd President, Levi P. Morton is 23rd Vice-President
  • 1890 - Castle Island closes. The federal government takes control of immigration into USA.
  • 1890 - Idaho, Wyoming, become States.
  • 1892 - Ellis Island opens to process emigrants into US.
  • 1893 - Grover Cleveland becomes 24th President, Adlai E. Stevenson is 24th Vice-President.
  • 1893 - A financial panic sets the stage for a major depression that would last until 1897.
  • 1893 - Silent movies are introduced as a form of entertainment.
  • 1896 - Utah becomes State.
  • 1897 - William McKinley becomes 25th President, Garret A. Hobart is 25th Vice-President.
  • 1897 - Lattimer, PA: At half past three in the afternoon, a group of 400 immigrant coal miners went on strike. It was to become known as the Latimer Massacre. Nineteen minors lost their lives of which fourteen were Polish Americans. -Learn More-
  • 1898 - Spanish/American War breaks out last one year.
  • 1899 - Theodore Roosevelt is 26th Vice-President, replacing Garret A. Hobart.

  • 20th Century|1600 |1700 |1800 |1850| 1900 |1950 |2000 |

    1903 Horse and Buggy
    1903: Horse and buggy transportation is still popular (NOAA Photo Library)

    1909 - Slebzak family working farmland in Md.
    1909 - Slebzak family (Polish) working on Bottomley Farm. They have worked here 3 years and one winter at Avery Island, La. All work except the very smallest. She hangs aroung the fields. Begin work about 4 A.M and work sometimes until sunset. Rock Creek, Md (NARA photo/text)
  • 1900s - Counties, WI: Poles begin settling in large numbers in Trempealeau, Shawano, Oconto, and Brown counties of Wisconsin.
  • 1900s - Poles begin settlement in Riverside, NY in an area known as Polish Town.
  • 1901 - President McKinley is assassinated (See Kubynski artile right hand column). Theodore Roosevelt becomes 26th President, Charles Fairbanks is 27th Vice-President.
  • 1907 - Oklahoma becomes State.
  • 1909 - William H. Taft becomes 27th President, James S. Sherman is 28th Vice-President
  • 1909 - Matthew Henson of Robert Peary's expedition reach the North pole.
  • 1912 - New Mexico, Arizona, become States.
  • 1912 - Alliance College: Founded by the Polish National Alliance to provide opportunities for Polish American to learn about Poland's culture, history and language. Closed in 1987.
  • 1912 - Alaska is organized as a US territory.
  • 1913 - Woodrow Wilson becomes 28th President, Thomas R. Marshall is 29th Vice-President
  • 1914 - World War I begins.
  • 1914 - Panama Canal opens to ship navigation.
  • 1914 - Over 23,000 Poles in the US volunteer to join the French Campaign in support of Poles in the Europe.
  • 1914 - A group of Poles move from Chicago and settle Korona, Florida in what would later become a part of Flager County. They would establish the St. Mary's Catholic Church of Poland that during the late 70s util 2000 would be served by the Very Rev. Canon Walter Bayer, a close friendship of Pope John Paul II.
  • 1917 - USA enters into World War I.
  • 1919 - League of Nations is formed primarily through the efforts of President Woodrow Wilson (Speech).
  • 1919 - The Poland and Lithuania War erupts when Poland take over Vilnius and begin to invade further into depth of Lithuania.
  • 1920 - Women Right to Vote is enacted.
  • 1921 - Warren G. Harding becomes 29th President, Calvin Coolidge is 30th Vice-President
  • 1922 - Buffalo, NY: Buffalo area now has 34 churches established by Polish Americans.
  • 1922 - Chicago, IL: The Polish Welfare Assoc. was founded, later to become the Polish American Assoc.
  • 1923 - President Harding dies in office. Calvin Coolidge becomes 30th President, no serving Vice-President
  • 1925 - Charles G. Dawes becomes 31st Vice-President
  • 1926 - An estimated 5,500,000 Poles sign a "declaration of admiration" consisting of 111 volumes that was given by Poland to the USA on its 150th anniversary of American independence. [Learn More]
  • 1926 - Hollywood introduces movies with sound.
  • 1928 - First television is introduced.
  • 1929 - Herbert Hoover becomes 31st President, Charles Curtis is 32nd Vice-President
  • 1929 - Stock market crashes, beginning of the Great Depression.
  • 1933 - Franklin Roosevelt becomes 32nd President, John N. Garner is 33rd Vice-President
  • Uncle Same
    Uncle Sam Poster
    Play Song:
    Any Bonds Today?
  • 1939 - Black Hill, ND: Korczak Ziolkowski, sculptor assists in sculpting Mount Rushmore for a brief period before taking on his own project, a monument to the Lokota indian chief, Crazy Horse.
  • 1939 - Germany invades Poland leading to the beginning of World War II.
  • 1941 - Henry A. Wallace is 34th Vice-President, replacing John N. Garner.
  • 1941 - On December 7th, Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
  • 1942 - Polish American Historical Assoc. Founded by Oskar Halecki and Mieczyslaw Haiman as an organization devoted to the study of Polish-American history and culture.
  • 1943 - Ellis Island is closed as processing center for emigrants.
  • 1944 - Polish American Congress: Alliance founded to support Polish Americans with concerns regarding the independence of Poland.
  • 1945 - President Roosevelt dies in office. Harry S. Truman becomes 33rd President, no serving Vice-President.
  • 1945 - First Atomic Bombs used in war are dropped on Heroshima and Nagasaki by the USA.
  • 1945 - United Nations is formed.
  • 1948 - NATO is formed.
  • 1949 - Alben W. Barkley becomes 35th Vice-President.

  • |1600 |1700 |1800 |1850 |1900| 1950 |2000 |

  • 1953 - Dwight Eisenhower becomes 34th President, Richard Nixon is 36th Vice-President.
  • 1957 - The first artificial satellite, named Sputnik, is successfully launched into orbit around the Earth by the USSR.
  • 1959 - Alaska, Hawaii, become States.
  • 1961 - John F. Kennedy becomes 35th President, Lyndon B. Johnson is 37th Vice-President
  • 1961 - First human in space, Yuri Gagarin, is successfully put in space by the USSR.
  • 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviets missiles identified in Cuba leads to threat of a nuclear confrontation between the USSR and the USA.
  • 1963 - President Kennedy is assassinated. Lyndon B. Johnson becomes 36th President, no serving Vice-President
  • 1965 - Hubert Humphrey becomes 38th Vice-President.
  • 1969 - Richard M. Nixon becomes 37th President, Spiro T. Agnew is 39th Vice-President
  • 1973 - Gerald R. Ford is 40th Vice-President, replacing Spiro Agnew.
  • 1974 - President Nixon resigns from office. Gerald R. Ford becomes 38th President, Nelson Rockefeller is 41st Vice-President
  • 1977 - Jimmy Carter becomes 39th President, Walter F. Mondale is 42nd Vice-President
  • 1981 - Ronald Reagon becomes 40th President, George Bush is 43rd Vice-President
  • 1989 - George Bush becomes 41st President, Dan Quayle is 44th Vice-President.
  • 1990 - Proclamation by President George Bush on granting special trade status to Poland -Learn More-
  • 1991 - Proclamation by President George Bush on US relationship with Poland. -Learn More-
  • 1993 - William J. Clinton becomes 42nd President, Al Gore is 45th Vice-President

  • 21st Century |2000 |1600 |1700 |1800 |1900 |1950 |

  • 2001 - George W. Bush becomes 43rd President, Dick Cheney is 46th Vice-President

    Continue on to History of Poles in America: Part II
    Related resources:
    1. Library of Congress Polish Room
    2. A History of Poles in America to 1908 - Review by John J. Bukowczyk
      (These reviews appeared in The Sarmatian Review - Rice University.)
      - Part I:
      - Part II: The Poles in Illinois
      - Part III: Poles in the Eastern and Southern States
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