Polish settlement in Worcester County had humble beginnings: a small group of German Poles in the 1870s. Over the next decades, thousands of Russian and Austrian Poles, fleeing economic and political hardship, pinned their hopes for a better life on jobs in the burgeoning industries of central Massachusetts. Practicing their religion in their native tongue was vital to these devout Catholics. New England’s first Polish parish was founded in Webster, with others following in Worcester, Gardner, West Warren, Clinton, Southbridge, and Dudley. Polish clubs served as central gathering places in Gilbertville, Uxbridge, and South Grafton. Worcester County’s Polish Americans share an intricate web of relationshipsfamily, religious, business, social, cultural, educational, political, and athleticthat celebrates their heritage and sustains them today as one of the region’s largest ethnic groups.
About the Author
Barbara Proko, a journalist and genealogist, coauthored The Polish Community of Worcester and The Polish Community of New Britain. Janice Baniukiewicz Stickles, a public relations and marketing specialist, coauthored The Polish Community of Worcester. Proko and Baniukiewicz Stickles are granddaughters of Polish immigrants. Our Lady of Czestochowa Guild of Catholic Women, founded in 1965, provides support for Worcester’s Polish parish and schools. Polish American parishes, organizations, and families generously provided images for this photographic history of Worcester County Polonia.