By Kris Leonhardt
In the late 1800s, significant numbers of Polish families made their way to America. As they watched their home country being slowly devoured by neighboring Prussia, Austria, and Russia, they looked toward the land of the free for escape.
Family settlements began acquiring the cheap cut-over lands, which Wisconsin lumber barons had left in their wake. This movement created large Polish communities; one such community is Stevens Point.
As the population grew in this area, Polish schools, churches, and businesses sprung up. Though they were creating a new world in America, they still longed for the one they had left behind. This need for communication created a demand for a Polish publication, one that might keep them in touch with the Old Country, while educating them about the new.
In 1891, The Rolnik (The Farmer) was established by Zygmunt Hutter and Teofil Krutza. The publication was taken over the following year by John Worzalla and his son, who would add another publication, Gwiazda Polarna (Northern Star).
The Worzalla family would complete their entire business operations and publication production out of the upper floor of a building at the intersection of Main Street & Third Street in Stevens Point.
Both publications were published weekly in the Polish language; while The Rolnik covered the local Stevens Point area, the Gwiazda Polarna reached out to an entire nation of Polish-Americans.
By February of 1918, the Worzalla Publishing Company had not only outgrown its original accommodations at Main & Third once, but twice. Operating from its new location on Second Street, the company looked to add a new line.
Announcing plans for a new two-story addition, the company aspired to add a book-binding operation to the business. The extension would allow for the publication of Polish books, calendars, and periodicals, while specializing in prayer books and almanacs in the Polish language.
The addition of the book binding line more than doubled the Worzalla staff and created a publishing empire that would reach the entire nation.
Joseph and Steven Worzalla continued to grow and build the company, in time adding offset printing to their services.
In 1957, the company would outgrow their facilities once again, when they would construct a new plant at their current location on Jefferson Street.
Today, Worzalla Publishing is completely employee owned. The business currently operates out of its 300,000 square-foot facility, providing full-service printing and binding work.
Kris Leonhardt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.