Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Yano Interview
Narrator: George Yano
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Steve Fugita
Location: San Jose, California
Date: December 1, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_4-01-0002

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TI: When and where were you born?

GY: I was born in Fort Lupton, Colorado, July 6, 1942. And my birth certificate says Keenesburg, rural Keenesburg. But I was born in a maternity home in Fort Lupton.

TI: Good, okay, and we'll get to that later in terms of how your family got to Fort Lupton, but we'll talk about that. Before we go there, let's just talk a little bit more about your father's family and that history. So, boy, I'm not sure where you want to start, whether it's with your grandfather or your great-grandfather, but why don't you kind of explain how the family, what they were doing in Japan and how they got to the United States.

GY: Well, like all Japanese families, if you go up to the grave, there's like twenty stones or however many for each generation. And if you're not the first son, it goes to another grave and you start all over again. But we're from Ehime prefecture, and Yawatahama city, in a small village called Maajiro. And unusually large numbers of immigrants came from Maajiro and Anai, which is another village next to Maajiro. And it's been documented in Japan as well about how these people emigrated. And Ehime didn't allow emigration. It's sparsely populated, so they tried to keep everyone there. But as you know, emigration started in Hiroshima people, because they were already used to going out to work. Because when Mitsui changed to automatic, what do you call it, textile machinery, it put a lot of people out of work. So those people used to go to other prefectures to work and return. And as it evolved to where Hawaii, there was an exclusion of Chinese, so they tried to bring in Portuguese people. And at one of the meetings the governor of Hawaii or something and Mitsui, some of the trading company people, and the plantation owners in Hawaii said, "Hey, we need labor." And they got together and said, "Hey, how about Japan?" And Mitsui and these people had connections with Hiroshima, and I guess near Yokohama, they had two locations. But anyway, that whole story is all documented in history books. But we think what happened was our area is very close to Hiroshima. It's just across the Inland Sea. And so leaflets that they distributed in Hiroshima came across, and people found out about it and then they tried to find ways. And most people that first went, came to America, came with the groups from Hiroshima. And then they didn't come in like the Europeans all by themselves on Ellis Island, they usually came in to Seattle, went to one of the boarding houses or the hotels, and they were picked, put into little groups and told to go here, there, mining was one, agriculture was another, wherever there was labor needed.

TI: Logging was available...

GY: Logging was another one. So you got people out in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, California, all over the West Coast. But anyway, that's how the original... my grandfather's uncle was already here when my grandfather came in 1903, and they probably came in that way. My grandfather was, he had a permit to leave Ehime to study horticulture. So he came the regular way, so his ship came all the way, right into San Francisco, and then he connected up with his uncle, so he was in Coyote. His uncle was in Coyote, and he ended up with, it's either Southern Pacific or Union Pacific, whichever goes to Coyote. And as I hear the story, he was mostly a guard at one of the bridges. People, bandits used to knock down bridges, stop trains and rob them in this area back then. This is early 1900s. And anyway, he came over that way and spent his three years, I guess, to pay for the ship and that. And then after, after that, he worked for a person named McDonald. But is that more...

TI: Yeah, let's talk about Mr. McDonald, because that's a fascinating story. But before we go there, the name of your grandfather?

GY: Kameo Yano.

TI: Okay. So he comes to the United States around 1903?

GY: 1903.

TI: He's around nineteen years old?

GY: Yes, yes.

TI: Okay, and then three years, Coyote, and then after that, so three years probably because he's on some kind of contract, do you think?

GY: I think so, yeah.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.