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Wolski, Kalikst (1816–1885)

Marion Moore Coleman Biography

Kalikst Wolski, Polish writer, was born in 1816 of landed gentry stock in Potoczek, province of Lublin, Poland. He studied in the Piarist school in Warsaw but left to join Polish forces in the uprising against Russia in November 1830. When the revolt failed, Wolski went to France and studied engineering. He had a part in the building of French railroads and in the construction of the dikes at Dieppe. As an ardent socialist he feared reprisals from the government of Louis Napoleon (III) and came to the United States in 1852, arriving first in New York. He visited Buffalo for several months and traveled as far west as Chicago, but he returned to New York City, where he remained for over a year. He visited the socialist Cooperative Agricultural Association of the North American Phalanx at Red Bank, New Jersey, and was interested in the women's liberation movement of the period. Victor Prosper Considérant, the heir and disciple of Utopian thinker Charles Fourier, wrote Wolski in New York and asked him to go to New Orleans to meet the first group of colonists who were bound for Texas to found the colony La Réunion, near Dallas. Wolski, who was selected as guide because of his knowledge of the English language, met the first group of Belgian and French settlers in New Orleans when they arrived in February 1855. In early March they went by ship to Galveston, then to Houston, and then by foot and oxcart to the site of the proposed colony. The party of thirty-seven (including four teamsters) arrived in May, and Wolski remained at La Réunion until mid-November, long enough to convince himself that the project would fail. He returned to New Orleans, and little is known about the next four years of his life there. Apparently he had a daughter, Anna (mother unknown), who was educated in the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans and who was to figure prominently in the life of the Polish and American actress, Helena Modjeska. Wolski returned to Poland in 1860 or 1861 and settled in the Austrian portion of the divided Polish state, principally in Kraków and Zakopane. Wolski's account of his experiences in America, a great deal of it about Texas, was published in serial form in the Warsaw illustrated weekly Klosy (Ears of Grain) in the mid-1860s. A revised version of these articles was published as a book, Do Ameryki i w Ameryce (To America and in America), in 1876; a second edition was issued by Wolski himself in 1877, and this volume was translated into English as American Impressions in 1968. Although Wolski wrote other historical works, he never again wrote about America. He died on January 22, 1885.

Marion Moore Coleman, "Kalikst Wolski in Texas," Texana 5 (Summer 1967). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Peoples
  • Poles
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Marion Moore Coleman, “Wolski, Kalikst,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 23, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.