When the Church's historical summary was written--over eight decades ago--it already was described as "one of the oldest Japanese churches in Southern California."
The Japanese Americans settling in North Orange County had, for the most part, migrated here for agricultural work, helping the "peatlands" of Wintersburg become one of the celery capitals of America. Some had left Japan to avoid being drafted into the Imperial Army, others simply to find a better life. Some were Christian of various denominations and some were Buddhist.
The celery trains
The Los Angeles Herald reported on January 18, 1905, that the Southern Pacific Railroad was "running special trains loaded with celery and bound for eastern markets." The Herald noted 25 to 30 car loads left daily on the rail line running down to the Wintersburg celery fields and Smeltzer packing station in present-day north Huntington Beach.
This also was the time of St. Louis' Louisiana Purchase Exposition, a World's Fair at which California again made a big impression on winter-fatigued easterners. In the same 1905 Los Angeles Herald edition, Charles L. Wilson, California's superintendent of the installation of exhibits at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was quoted "everywhere I heard people talking about California."
"When I left St. Louis, it was eight degrees below zero. It was fifteen below at Kansas City, and colder as we came through Kansas, with snow and sleet all the way to Needles, 300 miles east of Los Angeles," continued Wilson. Wilson's train arrived in San Bernardino at sunrise to clear, sunny skies. "People on the train who had never before gazed upon California scenery, and were a little doubtful of the truth of some of the glowing stories they had heard of the glorious southland, when they looked out of the car windows this morning were in ecstasies of delight..."
The Herald also reported tourist travel to Southern California was growing, packing the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads "to their fullest capacity. The larger hotels are rapidly filling up" and the Santa Fe "Pullman accommodations for lower berths on their limited out of Chicago have been exhausted..."
Rev. Kikuchi's historical summary noted there were about 150 families in the immediate vicinity of Wintersburg. "... Most of them are dry chili pepper farmers-they raise half million dollars a year production from peppers. Also there are three bid (sic) gold fish farms owned by our church members." These would have been the gold fish farms of C.M. Furuta--who donated the land for the Mission--and the Asari and Akiyama families of Wintersburg.
Building a new Church during the Depression years
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