(Excerpted from Poles in Michigan Vol. 1 Detroit, MI 1953)
The unification of the Polish immigrants was accomplished under the continuous influence of three factors — the parishes, the fraternal benefit societies, and the press. Who can deny that the most powerful pillar of support, the force binding the construction of the Society, was the press?
The first Polish newspaper in the United States did not ap¬pear in Detroit but in New York City. This was “Echo From Poland,” (Echo z Polski) establ. 1863 which failed in 1865.
The second Polish periodical appeared in the small Missouri town of Washington. The first edition of this “Polish Eagle” (“Orzel Polski”) was issued on Feb. 22, 1870,
while the last edition was dated February 1872.
In chronological order, the third newspaper was established by Jan Barzynski in Union, Missouri—the “Pilgrim” (“Pielgrzym"). The first number of the “Pilgrim” came off the presses on March 29, 1872.
Fourth was the “Catholic Gazette” (“Gazeta Katolicka”) which appeared in Detroit. Its first number carries the date, August 15, 1874.
The editor of this publication was the Jan Barzynski who founded the “Pilgrim” in the early part of 1782. Barzynski was encouraged to transfer his “Pilgrim” to Detroit and publish it under the new name of the “Catholic Gazette” through the aus¬pices of the first Congress of Poles held in Detroit toward the end of 1873. Five hundred dollars was voted for this purpose — the costs of transferring the “Pilgrim”.
Immediately after the Congress, Jan Barzynski suspended his “Pilgrim” and moved himself with his printing-publishing house to Detroit.
Henry Nagiel in his brochure published in 1894 entitled “Polish Journalism in America,” described these first Polish newspapers in this manner:
“They were called forth by the necessity for unity and self-understanding understood by the emigrants who were thrown on a new land and under foreign living conditions. The first result of their efforts was an amalgamation. Clustered among their own people they felt stronger and more capable of repelling foreign, hostile influences. They joined forces in organizations and societies, in parishes and colonies. The newspaper served as a binding force over the bygone years. It carried news from one colony to another; it aided their efforts at organizing into societies; it published news from the old World for which the emigrants yearned so, in the early years of their stay in a foreign land. It familiarized its readers, slowly, casually with the life and local conditions of a foreign land; and, finally, it was the arena of our quarrels and battles, sometimes sharp and shocking… Wherever a sizeable colony formed, there, shortly, appeared a Polish newspaper… With time conditions became easier, Polish settlements multiplied. From its bosom factions arose. Polish colonies were created, competition and strife manifested themselves. In the fire of these disputes and the course of developing needs, newspapers became more numerous and improved. Slowly, capital began to flow into the publishing enterprises. Along with the publications of solider foundation there grew the ephemeral—founded today, failed tomorrow—with the result that we reached the present stage of development.”