Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bessie Yoshida Konishi Interview
Narrator: Bessie Yoshida Konishi
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-kbessie-01-0003

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MA: And so then when did your family actually move to Colorado?

BK: They moved to Colorado in 1925. Earlier, the year before, there was a man who owned a lot of land in the San Luis Valley. And he knew a lot of that land was good agricultural land. And so he actually sent two of his representatives to California and talked to some Japanese farmers. And so a couple of the men, without their families, came to see what the situation was and reported back. And then my father was the first one to bring his family. And they came by train. And he said this man who owned the land was very good to 'em and helped them get set up on tenant farms, because back then you couldn't own land. Because they couldn't, they weren't a citizen of the United States, and the kids were too young to buy land under their name. So they were tenant farmers. But they did very well, they were good farmers.

MA: So your father moved to Colorado. Did he have experience in farming before that, or...

BK: Well, just only as a foreman. And before that, he must have worked in the fields. So, yeah.

MA: Was your family one of the first families in San Luis Valley, or what was the, was there a Japanese community there before your family arrived?

BK: No, there really wasn't. There were a few men there. My sister kept cemetery records of all the Japanese who are buried in the San Luis Valley, and she had it all written in Japanese and everything. And before she passed away, fortunately, I had gone over and translated it all in English. So I do have all those records. And I'm, I can't remember the year, but it was early in the 1900s, when the first burial was there. And it was a man, a single man. So there were some Japanese men there, working on the railroad before the families came in.

MA: It seems like your family might have been the first, one of the first actual families setting in that area.

BK: I would think so, yeah. Uh-huh.

MA: So then your parents were farming on this land that the man who had recruited your father in California, so they were doing that when you were born, is that right?

BK: Uh-huh. Yeah, 'cause that was 1925. So, yeah.

MA: So I'm curious, can you describe their farm in La Jara and what they grew and who they sold to?

BK: It was vegetables. And things like, they hadn't grown there before. The Caucasian farmers had not grown cauliflower and cabbage. They weren't familiar with that. And so that's what they grew and I have a picture with my uncle and my father and a friend named Mr. Nishikawa. And they were very good farmers and did very well. And the other Japanese families that came also were successful. So successful in fact that they had their own packing shed. And they did very well until the Depression hit in the '30s.

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