Student searching for members of Japanese colony from Clovis

Courtesy photo The Ebihara family lived in Clovis from the early 1920s until their forced removal in 1941. The family eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Dr. Roy Ebihara still lives today.

Courtesy photo
The Ebihara family lived in Clovis from the early 1920s until their forced removal in 1941. The family eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Dr. Roy Ebihara still lives today.

By Emily Crowe
Staff writer

Several generations after World War II and the forced removal of the members of the Japanese colony from Clovis, many have never heard the stories of the men, women and children who once called eastern New Mexico their home.

That is all about to change. Clovis native Adrian Chavez has begun bringing to light the stories of those railway workers and their families.

Chavez, 47, is a student at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque and first learned about the Japanese workers in a New Mexico history class last fall.

He began researching on his own and eventually reached out to Dr. Roy Ebihara, who was a member of the Japanese colony and was only 8 years old when his family was removed from Clovis in 1941.

Ebihara, now 80 and a retired optometrist living in Ohio, was born and raised in Clovis as an American citizen, and lived in the Japanese camp along with nine other siblings. His father, Shiro, worked as a machinist for the Santa Fe Railway and was also a skilled tool and die maker.

Ebihara, as well as other Japanese colony members Freddie and Lily Kimura, will travel to Clovis for next weekend’s Pioneer Days celebration and receive special recognition from the city and an apology for the events that occurred here more than 70 years ago.

Rokuo Ebihara, the eldest brother of the family, was born in Japan and later became one of the most well-known members of the Clovis Japanese community. He graduated from Clovis High School in 1933 and later worked at the law offices of Wesley Quinn and James Hall.

Courtesy photo Kathy and Roy Ebihara in Clovis in 1941. Kathy Ebihara is now living in California.

Courtesy photo
Kathy and Roy Ebihara in Clovis in 1941. Kathy Ebihara is now living in California.

According to Chavez, Quinn attempted to help Rokuo Ebihara get into law school in San Francisco in 1935. On his way back from the interview, Rokuo Ebihara was attacked by Chinese men and died of an acute kidney ailment, as was reported on the front page of the then-Clovis Evening News-Journal.

After being removed from Clovis in 1941, the rest of the Ebihara family went to Old Raton Ranch for nearly one year, then left for the Topaz Relocation Camp in Utah.

Roy Ebihara said the family spent another year in Utah before his older sister Amy began protesting that the family had committed no crimes and that their internment was wrong.

“We ended up in Cleveland, Ohio,” Roy Ebiahara said, “with people who were anti-war people. They took us in and found jobs and accommodations for us.”

Shiro Ebihara later built tanks at a plant in Cleveland and was the country’s first “alien” to work in a defense plant. Roy Ebihara still lives outside Cleveland.

In an effort to bring the stories of the Japanese workers and their families to the forefront, Chavez contacted Clovis Mayor David Lansford last December and was asked to present the story to the Clovis City Commission.

Roy Ebihara will be honored with a proclamation at a Clovis City Commission meeting and will be given a key to the city. He will also act as grand marshal of the Pioneer Days Parade.

 

Courtesy photo Roy Ebihara in 1941, when he was 7 years old. Later that year, Ebihara and his family were removed from Clovis and taken to live at Old Raton Ranch, a remote location near Capitan.

Courtesy photo
Roy Ebihara in 1941, when he was 7 years old. Later that year, Ebihara and his family were removed from Clovis and taken to live at Old Raton Ranch, a remote location near Capitan.

Roy Ebihara, who has returned to Clovis a few times to tend to his brother Rokuo and sister Yaeko’s gravesites, said he is tickled pink to be able to come back and receive special recognition from the city.

While an older brother has some negative feelings toward Clovis, Roy Ebihara said that sentiment is an exception among his other siblings.

“A lot of us were kids and it never affected us negatively,” he said of the events of World War II and the anti-Japanese feelings of some Clovis residents.

“It’s nothing but pleasant memories,” he continued. “Clovis is still my home. I’ve always loved Clovis and I still have fond memories.”

As for receiving an apology from the city, Roy Ebihara believes it is his duty as a good Christian to accept.

“When the mayor and his commission offer an apology, it’s for us to say we accept that apology,” he said. “There should always be forgiveness in our heart and in our everyday life.”

On the ‘Net
Links to a C-SPAN broadcast of Dr. Roy Ebihara talking about being forcibly removed from Clovis during World War II and detained at federal internment camps:
Oral History Interview, Part 1:
http://www.c-span.org/video/?291640-1/roy-ebihara-oral-history-interview-part-1

Oral History Interview, Part 2:
http://www.c-span.org/video/?291640-2/roy-ebihara-oral-history-interview-part-2

What they’re saying
“Clovis was a great place. We used to go see the Clovis Pioneers baseball team. We couldn’t afford to go into the ballpark, but some of those players were our heroes.”
— Roy Ebihara, 80, member of Japanese colony

“Being the age I was, I was not in a position to know if there was hatred, dislike or displeasure with the Japanese community. They were always accepted. In those days, we played together and went to school together and made friends.”
— Robert Stebbins, 82, former Clovis resident

Courtesy photo Shiro Ebihara, the patriarch of one of the largest families in the Clovis Japanese colony, was already a skilled machinist and tool and die maker when he came to Clovis in the early 1920s. He later became the first “alien” to work in a defense plant in Cleveland, Ohio.

Courtesy photo
Shiro Ebihara, the patriarch of one of the largest families in the Clovis Japanese colony, was already a skilled machinist and tool and die maker when he came to Clovis in the early 1920s. He later became the first “alien” to work in a defense plant in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I’ve always wondered what had happened to them. It was a time of turmoil. Right after Christmas in the early part of 1942, my dad joined the Army. My mother had died in 1938. I went back to Ohio to live with his sister for a couple years during the war. We were uprooted and things happened, and that’s just the way things were.”
— Robert Stebbins, 82, former Clovis resident

“What am I getting out of this? The only thing I’m getting out of this is the fact that I’m bringing the story to the forefront. This is all because it’s the right thing to do.”
— Adrian Chavez, 47, former Clovis resident

Fast facts
After the 32 members of the Japanese colony were removed from Clovis in 1941, all were transported to an internment camp near Capitan, then spread out among several War Relocation Authority camps in Arizona and Utah nearly one year later.

John Culley wrote that no member of the original colony returned to Clovis to live after that time, but almost all of the Japanese stayed in the U.S. after their release from prisoner of war camps and the end of World War II.

Thomas Isuke Takada
Takada was a single railroad wo
rker who moved to the Gila River Relocation Center after internment at Old Raton Ranch. No other records exist for him.

Sukishiro Sam Sakiyama

Also a single railroad worker, Sakiyama moved to a farm near Clearfield, Utah, in April 1942 after leaving Old Raton Ranch on parole.

Kizo Nishibata
Nishibata became the first recorded Japanese resident of Clovis in 1910 and had two daughters who stayed with their aunt in Japan. He moved to the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona in 1942, and upon release from internment in 1945, he moved to Salt Lake City.

Henry Yataro Suehiro
Suehiro had left a wife and children behind in Hiroshima while working in Clovis, and after internment at Old Raton Ranch, he moved to the Central Utah Relocation Center.

According to records, he applied for repatriation to Japan but was still in the U.S. at the end of the war. He was released in 1945 and his location was listed as Salt Lake City.

Kanjiro Sugihara
With a wife and three children in Tokyo, Sugihara was repatriated to Japan in 1943 after his time at the Gila River Relocation Center.

Chokichi Nakashima
Nakashima and his wife Yakuno, along with their son Itaro, moved to the Gila River Relocation Center in 1942. Both Nakashima and his son died of natural causes while there.

Shigezo George Okazaki
Along with his wife Kiyomi and their child Yuko, Okazaki moved to the Gila River Relocation Center in 1942. They were eventually repatriated to Japan in 1945 to join two of Okazaki’s other children.

Shoshiro James Hatae
After being released from internment in 1945, Hatae applied for repatriation to Japan but initially chose to stay in Salt Lake City. He and his wife Asa had two children. John Hatae moved to a farm near Olney Springs, Colo., after leaving Old Raton Ranch on parole. Nobuo Hatae passed away in Utah in 1980.

Shiro Ebihara
The patriarch of one of the largest Japanese families among the Clovis colony, Ebihara, his wife Fujiko and their seven children including Amy, Louise, Bennie, Katherine, Mary, Roy and William, moved to the Central Utah Relocation Center before being paroled in 1943 and settling in Cleveland, Ohio.

According to Roy Ebihara, all of his siblings that left Clovis in 1941 are still living throughout the United States.

An older brother, Rokuo, and sister, Yakeo, passed away while living in Clovis and are buried here.

Tamon Tom Kimura
Another large family in the colony, the Kimuras were sent to the Colorado River Relocation Center at the end of 1942. Tamon and his wife Harue Kimura were parents to Lily Uriko, Blance Eimo, Freddie Yukio, Frank Itaru, Frances Reko, Jane Aiko and Richard Aiko.

Freddie and Lily Kimura are still living and will return to Clovis for Pioneer Days.

Source: Racial Encounters in the Multi-Cultural West, World War II and a Western Town: The Internment of the Japanese Railroad Workers of Clovis, New Mexico by John J. Culley.

Source Article from http://www.cnjonline.com/2014/05/31/student-searching-for-members-of-japanese-colony-from-clovis/
Student searching for members of Japanese colony from Clovis
http://www.cnjonline.com/2014/05/31/student-searching-for-members-of-japanese-colony-from-clovis/
http://news.search.yahoo.com/news/rss?p=Japanese%20Class
Japanese Class – Yahoo News Search Results
Japanese Class – Yahoo News Search Results



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