CESTOHOWA, TEXAS. Cestohowa (originally Czestochowa) is on Farm Road 3191 and Cibolo Creek a mile west of State Highway 123 in northern Karnes County. It is a daughter settlement of Panna Maria, the oldest Polish settlement in America, and is named after the city in Poland where the famous painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the patroness of Polish Catholics everywhere, is enshrined. In 1873, as the population of Panna Maria grew, a group of about forty families decided to start a new community five miles north. They first built a small school that also served as a chapel. The priest came from Panna Maria once a month to say Mass and made special trips for other purposes. In 1877 land was donated for a church, which was completed on February 10, 1878, and placed under the patronage of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the church was remodeled in 1931 and repaired and painted again in 1973. By 1878 the town had 175 residents, a gristmill, a gin, and a school. By 1892 a bank was in operation in Cestohowa. During that decade the population reached 170 families. In 1898 some residents moved north and formed the new community and parish at Kosciusko in Wilson County. In 1902 others formed a new parish at Falls City. But Cestohowa continued to progress and at various times had two general stores, a cotton gin, and several blacksmith shops. The town had lost its bank and several other businesses by 1914. A Cestohowa post office was established in 1883 and discontinued in 1918, when local mail was routed through Falls City. In 1936 the community had only 100 residents. Its population was 200 in 1970. The first school in Cestohowa was St. Joseph's, a parochial school. In 1937 it was incorporated into the Karnes County public school system. A new eight-grade Cestohowa school was built in 1964, but declining enrollment led to its closure in 1974. As part of the Falls City schools, it reopened in 1975 as a three-grade school, operated a few years, and was closed again. In 1990 Cestohowa remained a lively community centered about its fine church building, a large parish hall, and a community center that occupied the former school building. That year its population was 110.
Robert H. Thonhoff, History of Karnes County (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State College, 1963). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Karnes County, Texas).