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Wondering about a man in U.S., 1914 2008/9/4 17:52
This is a question, in fact a difficult question, that has been bugging me for many years and I thought I should at least try to do something about it.

Life for my whole family had generally been based in Japan. However, my great grandfather lived in Vacaville, California for a very short time and that's where he happened to die in 1914. His ashes are buried in Japan.

My question: Just out of curiosity I want to know what specifically he was doing in Vacaville. Where he lived, what friends he had, stories they might remember. But all I know is his name, the date he died, that he worked at a hotel (which may not be true) and that the friend he went abroad with brought his ashes back home. His koseki doesn't tell much and neither do my other family members. So where can I start to find out more?

I do know what life in general was like for Japanese Americans in Vacaville in those days. There are plenty of websites and museums. But I am having trouble finding email contacts, or at least having trouble deciding which organization to contact to to see if I can find out more about this specific man, my great grandfather. Perhaps a large Japanese-American community can try to help me.

Since this forum has been so helpful in the past, I decided to ask here. Any advise? Thank you.
by Uco  

. 2008/9/4 22:06
I'm not sure if this is helpful or not, but it might be a place to start, looking through old US immigration records.

by John rate this post as useful

Long Shot 2008/9/4 23:53
Uco I wonder if there are any nursing or old afe homes in the area that cater to Japanese? If you are looking for stories of your grandfather, the person you are looking for would have to be at least 87 years old. Are there any Japanese oral history associations in that area ? Sorry more questions than answers. What was his name, That might be a start.
by Peter rate this post as useful

correction 2008/9/4 23:55
Thats age. I Know I should proofread my posts.
by Peter rate this post as useful

Long shot? 2008/9/5 07:15
Peter: I am not sure where you got the "87 year old figure," as the date of death, 1914, was 94 years ago. Anyone old enough to actually remember a man who died in 1914, would have to be closer to 100 years old. I think that scenario is going to be problematic.

However, many small towns had newspapers and a lot of them were microfiched. I used to work for a small town newspaper and there were microfiche copies dating back well over 100 years. If you want to get an idea of the situation in Vacaville back then, that might be your best bet.

This thread is interesting to me because my grandfather was also in California at the turn of the century, but he returned to Japan and was able to pass down an oral history before he died of old age.
by Aki rate this post as useful

I am in Japan now 2008/9/5 09:14
Thanks, everyone. I forgot to mention that I am living in Japan right now and cannot travel to California at the moment for various reasons.

And Vacaville, I had discovered, is among the very first cities that had a large Japanese-American commuity. So we're talking about a little man that used to live there for a really short time among that vast population. Very trivial.

But at the same time the information on that vast community is so abundant. I'm sure I would get to something if I do my research very hard, but the field is so huge. And since this forum is full of people who know something about Japanese immigrants in the U.S., I thought it would be a good place to ask for people who can pinpoint me to the right contact information, hopefully an email address since I'm abroad from the U.S.

Aki, I don't know why but I had never thought about local newspapers. An internet search led me to websites that show local news of Vacaville. I might email them to see if they know anything about old local newspaper records. Meanwhile I'll study that Immigration website, thanks to John.

I guess what I'm picturing is this: I am quite sure that many people in the world has asked questions similar to mine. There must have been many Japanese men who traveled for a very short time to the U.S. in the pre-satelite days and then saw his fate. And I thought that there would be a large Japanese-American NGO of some kind that kept getting those trivial questions. And I thought they would know how to answer it: They would know whether to say, "Try asking them instead." or "I've seen questions like that before, but just give it up." I am looking for someone who can say that to me with authority, I suppose. But strangely, a lot of NGOs only show phone numbers and no email.

Btw, as I mentioned, it's my GREAT grandfather. His son was already over 90 when he died a long time ago. That is why I mentioned that it's a difficult question, and that is why I hadn't done much about it in the past.
by Uco rate this post as useful

I'm in California 2008/9/5 11:15
Well since I am a Japanese person who went to American schools in California, what I can tell you is that Asians in California at the turn of the century typically worked the goldmines, built the railroads of farmed.

Vacaville is not far from Sacramento, so I would suspect that your great grandfather was involved in farming.

My own grandfather lived in Glen Ellen, California which is only about 40 miles away. My grandfather was a house servant to a very famous person of the day so there are many written acounts of my grandfather in various newspaper clippings and books.

Asians were not scarce by any means, so you probably need to find a written record of something your great grandfather did that might distinguish him from others who were there around the same time.
by Aki rate this post as useful

. 2008/9/5 22:52
Aki, the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum here in Yokohama did tell me that he most likely was doing farming (but there were hotels too, so you never know). I wrote an email to a local news website. We'll see how it goes.

Btw, totally unrelated to my great grandfather's issue, I lived in Pasadena, California in the early 70s where I attened local elementary schools. Nice to know we have something in common :)
by Uco rate this post as useful

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