Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Moving Day: May 17, 1942

ABOVE: The Pacific Electric Railway station was at the foot of the Huntington Beach pier, Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street, in 1942.  The majority of Japanese Americans in the Wintersburg Village and Huntington Beach part of Orange County were instructed by the U.S. Army to gather at the P.E. station to wait for the military-guarded buses that would take them to the Arizona desert.  Some were instructed to wait at the Japanese Language School building, off Sherman Avenue in Garden Grove.  Japanese Americans in north Orange County departed from Anaheim by train. By May 17, 1942, all Japanese Americans in Orange County, California, were gone. (Photo, Pacific Electric Railway station circa 1941, City of Huntington Beach archives)

Note: In 2022, it is the 80th anniversary of the forced removal from Orange County.

            "I remember the regulations being posted on Edison Company poles."
             "And this was the only notification you had--the public posters?"
             "When you got to Poston, what did you think of it?"
             "I had a real deep sinking feeling when we saw the place."
                          ~ Hitoshi Nitta, February 7, 1966. Born in Santa Ana, California, in 1917.

   In Orange County, "moving day" was seventy-five years ago: Sunday, May 17, 1942.  All persons with Japanese ancestry--including U.S.-born citizens--were instructed to report to various Civil Control Stations or designated departure sites around the County by that date.  In Huntington Beach, the departure site was the Pacific Electric Railway station at the foot of the Huntington Beach pier.

 LEFT: The Santa Ana Register provided an update at the bottom of their front page about the "expulsion" of Japanese Americans from Orange County. By May 17, 1942, all persons with Japanese ancestry--whole or partial--were gone. (Santa Ana Register, May 18, 1942)

   On May 18, 1942, the Santa Ana Register reported a total of 1,543 from Orange County were now at "a concentration camp near Parker Dam, Arizona, as a result of expulsion of all persons of Japanese ancestry under Army orders."

   "We left from the Huntington Beach Pacific Electric station, but we left on a bus. It was a PE bus," recalled Henry Kanegae in his 1966 oral history with Richard Curtiss for California State College, Fullerton.  He and his family farmed about 45 acres near Talbert (Fountain Valley).

   Kanegae was 25 at the time he left for the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston), in Arizona. His wife, two small daughters, and his parents, were part of the Kanegae family group that gathered in Huntington Beach, before their journey to Arizona.  He told his interviewer in 1966 that his children "wouldn't eat or sleep the first two or three days" when they got to Poston.  He found baby food at a small market in the camp and made soup with it so his daughters would be comforted and sleep.  

   Kanegae was interviewed again--at age 75 in 1992--by Dean Takahashi with the Los Angeles Times ("Half a Century Later, Relocation Pain Persists", February 16, 1992).  Then retired from farming and living in Santa Ana, Kanegae vividly remembered the blowing sand of Poston "hit like it was coming from a fire hose, making all kinds of noise. All we saw was dust."

LEFT: New arrivals at the Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona, filling mattress cloth with straw left in piles near the barracks. The barracks behind them were built by the Army with green lumber and black tar paper.  The green lumber dried rapidly, shrinking and opening cracks through which blew the endless dust of Poston. (Photo snip, National Archives and Records Administration, Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona, May 21, 1942)

   Kanegae's interviewer in 1966 asked if the federal government provided them with food or supplies for the journey on the day they left Orange County.  Since no one knew for certain where they were going, it was hard to know how long their journey might take.  Kanegae did not recall provisions for food for his bus during what turned out to be a minimum nine-hour journey, but remembered a group of women who showed up at the Pacific Electric station in Huntington Beach.

   "No, the government did not (provide food), but there was a group of--I believe they were Baptist--ladies who were from the western portion of the county that had coffee and donuts for us," recalled Kanegae, born in the peatlands of present-day Fountain Valley and a lifelong resident of Orange County.  "And after I arrived at camp, I wrote them a letter thanking them for it."

    The temperatures in Orange County were rising in mid May, the Santa Ana Register reporting on "mid-summer heat" of 88 degrees by noon.  The buses leaving for Arizona had no air conditioning and it got hotter as the day progressed.  The barracks that would be their living quarters in Arizona had no cooling systems, the dark tar paper walls only absorbing more heat.  As people arrived in the Sonoron desert--where average heat in May is in the mid to high 90 degrees--the temperatures were well above 100 degrees.

RIGHT: In early 1942, a group of University of California social scientists began studying the forced removal and confinement of Japanese Americans. In a report published in 1946, The Spoilage, there are details about camp conditions, atmosphere, social relations, and the inconsistency of policy or management among the different camps. This excerpt describes the scene at the "intake" for Poston, Arizona. (The Spoilage, University of California Press, Dorothy Swaine Thomas and Richard S. Nishimoto, 1946)

   After the day-long journey, some fainted from the heat, lack of water and food, and pure exhaustion.  Volunteers handed out salt tablets, ice, and wet towels.  The Spoilage notes, "at long tables sit interviewers suggesting enlistment in the War Relocation Work CorpsMen and women, still sweating, holding onto children and bundles try to think."

   A Poston project director is reported as saying, "he thought the people looked lost.  He once found a woman standing, holding her 4-day-old baby and sent her to rest in his room."  An associate project director recalled seeing "an elderly mother who had been in a hospital some years propped on her baggage gasping and being fanned by two daughters, while her son went around trying to get a bed set up for her. The old lady later died." 

LEFT: Men incarcerated in one of the Department of Justice prison camps in Santa Fe, New Mexico, heard about the conditions at Poston and appealed to the Consulate of Spain.  By July 1942, it was reported at least four had died from heat. Spain acted as the neutral country under the Geneva Convention for prisoners of Japanese ancestry classified as non-citizen enemy aliens (Issei were not allowed to become U.S. citizens until 1952). In this instance, prisoners appealed to the Spanish Consulate on behalf of their families incarcerated at Poston, rather than themselves.  The Consulate requested of the U.S. government an opportunity to inspect the relocation centers as a result. (Letter to Hon. Francisco De Amat, Consul of Spain, from Japanese detainees at U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Station, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 9, 1942)

   Upon arrival at Poston-- as well as the other camps--each adult was required to answer questions about their occupation, in order to fill camp jobs.  Then, fingerprinting.  Then off to another barrack to stand in line for a housing assignment.  Then, registration, again, and a physical examination.  Only after all this, were families loaded into trucks and driven to their barrack to take stock of their new "home".

RIGHT: Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61, which was issued for the region of Orange County including Wintersburg Village and Huntington Beach, provided a list of what each family was allowed to bring with them. Belongings were to be labeled with the identification number they had been provided during registration the prior week at the Civil Control Station.  Prior to departure, families tried to find homes for their pets, who were not allowed to come with them. A teacher in northern California allowed her students bring their pets to school so other students could volunteer to take them in. (Excerpt, Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61)

   The space allotted to each family in a barrack was a 20 by 25-foot barren room, dust blowing inside through the knotholes and growing cracks of the green lumber drying rapidly in the desert heat. The four family "apartments" in each barrack would be divided by hanging cloth partitions.

   For each person, there was one Army cot, one blanket, and one piece of cloth for a mattress.  That meant one more task at the end of a never-ending day: find a pile of straw left by the camp administration and fill the mattress cloth, or, go without a mattress that night. And, only then, try to sleep.  Listening to the collective silence.  Wondering why they were there.

ABOVE: Luggage and bags with family identification tags at the interpretive center at the Manzanar National Historic Site tell the story of what people were allowed to take with them.  And, how much was left behind. (Photo, Exhibit at the Manzanar National Historic Site interpretive center, Owens Valley, California. M. Urashima, July 2015) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

MOVING DAY, MARCH 23 - AUGUST 11, 2017 - In conjunction with the exhibition Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066, the Japanese American National Museum presents Moving Day, an outdoor public art installation in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles. The work consists of a series of projections of the Civilian Exclusion Orders that were publicly posted during World War II to inform persons of Japanese ancestry of their impending forced removal and incarceration, a series of dialogues and events grappling with the legacy of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. Learn more at

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 10, 1942: Civilian Exclusion Orders 60 and 61

ABOVE: Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61 applied to anyone with Japanese ancestry living south of Westminster Boulevard, east of Bolsa Chica to Highway 101, and south to the city limits of Laguna Beach.  Civilian Exclusion Order No. 60 was released on the same day, May 10, 1942, for northern Orange County.  The orders were posted on telephone poles and in post offices.  In south Orange County, Japanese Americans were directed to register in "'Little Tokyo' north of Oceanside" at the Japanese school house.  The school house was the Japanese Language School building supported by the Wintersburg Japanese Mission, now Cottage#34 at Crystal Cove State Park.

   The day everyone had been both waiting for and dreading was finally here.  Civilian Exclusion Order No. 60 and No. 61 were published on May 10, 1942.  Within 24 to 48 hours, every individual or family with full or partial Japanese ancestry---both those classified as "alien" and those who were U.S.-born citizens---was required to register at a Civil Control Station.  

   The words "exclusion" and "control" made one's status in the situation clear: there was no choice, no free will, no civil liberty.  The entirety of one's life would now be under the control of the Army and the War Relocation Authority.  Ancestry was the sole reason for the registry and confinement at what President Franklin Roosevelt himself called "concentration camps". 

   Decades later, by unanimous consensus in the 1982 Congressional report, Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, it was concluded a "grave personal injustice was done" and that "the broad historical causes that shaped these decisions were race prejudice,  war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership." 

LEFT: Civilian Exclusion Orders were posted on telephone poles around Orange County.  The Civil Control Station in Huntington Beach was at the Memorial Hall at Sixth and Magnolia streets, near where the Main Street Branch Library and Triangle Park are today.  Rumors and statements to the media hinted that the Japanese American community would be taken to a camp under construction near the Parker Dam in Arizona.  (Image: Civilian Exclusion Order No. 60 posted in north Orange County, Santa Ana Register, May 11, 1942)
   The Civilian Exclusion Orders applied to anyone with a percentage of Japanese ancestry.  By 1942---four to six decades after many had arrived in the United States---there were descendants of mixed ancestry and mixed marriages.  The first clergy to live in the manse (parsonage) at the Wintersburg Japanese Mission in 1910---Reverend Joseph K. Inazawa and Kate Alice Goodman---were an interracial couple, having eloped to New Mexico since their marriage was considered illegal in California.  

   Spouses without Japanese ancestry would have to make a decision: separation, or join their spouse and children in confinement.  

   By September 1942, the Wartime Civilian Control Administration allowed some spouses or mixed-marriage couples to be released, although there were different requirements depending on if the husband was white or Japanese American.  The Associated Press reported in 1942, "a Japanese husband and a white wife with their children may be released from relocation centers under Army approval, but may not remain within the Western Defense Command. However, a Japanese woman and white husband (if he is not an enemy alien) and their children may remain inside this military zone, if approved."  

RIGHT: Lewis Dischner, three-year-old Bette, and 23-year-old Ruth Dischner were reunited at their Santa Ana ranch, after Ruth and Bette received permission to return home from the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston), Arizona.  After receiving "numerous telephone calls" about the presence of Ruth at the ranch, an Orange County sheriff  and FBI agent were dispatched to the Dischner property to investigate.  Ruth was a California-born U.S. citizen who had grown up in Orange County. (Santa Ana Register, September 4, 1942)

   The Santa Ana Register reported on one couple granted permission to reunite in Orange County: Lewis Dischner and Ruth Kikuchi DischnerRuth and their child, Bette Mae, had been confined at Poston.  There were a reported 39 "mixed" couples at Poston who applied for release, two in Orange County, a handful in Riverside County, and more from Los Angeles county.

   Some families were already separated from loved ones arrested by the FBI after having been identified as potential community leaders.  These were the civic leaders, teachers, Buddhist and Christian clergy, older men who had served their mandatory military service in Japan years before coming to America, and martial arts instructors.  Remarkably, Reverend Sohei Kowta of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission convinced the FBI he should stay with the women and children---many of whose husbands had been arrested and incarcerated---until all were directed to leave California in May, 1942.

LEFT: The Civil Control Stations in Orange County were at 249 East Center Street, Anaheim, the Huntington Beach Memorial Hall, and "at the Japanese school house in 'Little Tokyo' north of Oceanside". ("Evacuation of Japanese Here Begins Friday," Santa Ana Register, May 11, 1942)

Japanese farmers had begun moving to south Orange County in the early 1920s. By the 1930s, a group of families from the Kumamoto Prefecture were farming north of Oceanside. Wintersburg Japanese Mission congregant Clarence Nishizu described a population of approximately 100 people in an area referred to as Kumamoto Mura, or Kumamoto Village. Some geological survey maps continue to include a reference to "Japanese mesa" and an SDG&E facility on the land (now part of Camp Pendleton) retains the name "Japanese Mesa Sub Station." A group of about ten families from the San Onofre area were provided an opportunity to live in southern Utah in March, 1942--prior to the mandatory removal from California in May 1942--by the founder of Honeyville Food Products, Inc., at the Page Ranch west of Cedar City. Aki Iwada writes about her family being part of the group sheltered by Lowell Sherratt Sr. in  Collecting Nisei Stories. Sherratt, who had worked with the Aggler and Musser Seed Company, had an existing relationship with the families due to his work as a seed salesman. Sherratt's action to help the families move to Utah is noted on the Honeyville website: "When asked of his father's role in sponsoring the displaced families, Chairman of the Board, Lowell Sherratt, Jr. comments, 'We didn't think it was extraordinary. It was just something he did for some very fine people.'"

    Among those imprisoned before the May 1942 civilian registration was Huntington Beach's Masami SasakiSasaki was known as the "chili pepper king" and operated a large complex of chili pepper dehydrating and processing warehouses on the William T. Newland farm, where the Newland House Museum and Newland Shopping Center is today.  In 1929, his dehydrating operation was described by the Santa Ana Register as "the largest pepper drying plant in the world", with a growing annual output of a quarter of a million dollars.  

RIGHT:  Masami Sasaki hosted civic groups, including the award-winning martial arts program at his Huntington Beach warehouses, circa 1930.  By the time of the Xth Olympiad in 1932, the judo students were invited to participate in a demonstration at the Los Angeles Coliseum. (Photo snip, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University Fullerton, PJA 260) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©

   Sasaki---along with Reverend Kenji Kikuchi of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission---was one of the "prominent Japanese" invited as a regular speaker at Huntington Beach High School Parent Teacher Association meetings in the 1930s.  He also had been part of a local Business Men's Association, supporting the formation of a local Red Cross chapter in 1917.  His prominence as a successful businessman and the fact the Aoki Kendo Hall operated in one of his warehouses, made him an immediate target of the FBI in December 1941.

   By the time of registration in May 1942, new growers had taken over Sasaki's chili pepper warehouses in his absence.  The Santa Ana Register noted the significant drop in chili pepper production due to the absence of Japanese American farmers and in late May reported on the possibility of a variety of crops rotting in the fields, due to lack of knowledgeable labor.  The Orange County Farm Bureau lobbied Washington, D.C. for tariff reductions to encourage local farmers to recover a crop that Japanese Americans had proven to be an economic boon to the County.

ABOVE: Japanese Americans waiting at 249 East Center Street in Anaheim, on May 11, 1942, the first day of registration at the Civil Control Station in north Orange County. The Santa Ana Register noted that "when the evacuation is completed on Sunday, all persons of Japanese ancestry in Orange county will have been removed." (SOURCE: Santa Ana Register, May 11, 1942)

   In May 1942, Charles Furuta, owner of the Furuta Gold Fish Farm at Historic Wintersburg, also was among those already imprisoned.  The FBI interrogated him in the sunroom of his home within 48 hours after Executive Order 9066 was signed on February 19, 1942.  He was taken to the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Los Angeles County, and eventually would be confined in a Department of Justice prison camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico.

LEFT: The sun porch of the 1912 Furuta bungalow at Historic Wintersburg, the location of Charles Furuta's interrogation by the FBI in February 1942. (Photo, M. Urashima 2014) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©  

   Yukiko Furuta and her children had been packing and preparing for the Civilian Exclusion Order.  They managed to store belongings at the Pacific Gold Fish Farm, owned by Yukiko's sister, Masuko, and her husband, Henry Akiyama.  Caucasian employees of the Akiyama family continued to operate the business and safeguarded the families' personal property for the duration of the war.

   To avoid separation, Charles and Yukiko's eldest, Raymond, married his sweetheart, Martha Kuramoto, in the Wintersburg Japanese Church one month before they left California. Their first child would be born in confinement at the Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona.

RIGHT: Raymond Furuta, 27, an alumni and star athlete at Huntington Beach High School, married 23-year-old Martha Kuramoto in a "quiet ceremony" on April 19, 1942.  Not all who wished to attend were able to be at the wedding, due to the five-mile travel limit imposed on Japanese Americans. After the ceremony, the wedding party walked next door to the Furuta bungalow for supper. The ceremony was performed by Reverend Sohei Kowta, who followed his congregation into confinement at Poston. (Source: Santa Ana Register, April 21, 1942)

   Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61 directed Japanese Americans to register on May 11 and 12 at the Huntington Beach Memorial Hall, at Sixth and Magnolia (now Pecan) streets.  

   One year earlier---on April 5, 1941---a crowd of 200 local residents gathered at the Memorial Hall with the Japanese American Citizens League for a banquet honoring Orange County Nisei who were entering the U.S. military.  Among the dignitaries recognizing the young servicemen were W.H. Gallienne of the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce and Reverend Sohei Kowta of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission.

LEFT: The Huntington Beach Memorial Hall served as the Civil Control Station on May 11 and 12, 1942. Only one year earlier, it had been the location of a community celebration for Japanese Americans entering the U.S. military. (Photo, Huntington Beach Memorial Hall, circa 1950, City of Huntington Beach archives)

  The 1941 "Selective Service banquet" was a multi-cultural fete of the type Huntington Beach had enjoyed for years, with local Boy Scouts leading a flag salute, a chorus of "God Bless America", Mary Toyoda from Santa Ana playing a violin solo, and a koto performance by a Miss Takahishi from Los Angeles. Huntington Beach's chili pepper king Masami Sasaki also is listed as one of the guest speakers, along with elected officials and the Chamber of Commerce.

RIGHT: Reports of the growing production and success of local chili pepper growers were a regular feature in the Santa Ana Register. Much of the local crop was dehydrated and purchased by paprika or cayenne manufacturers.  (Santa Ana Register, November 8, 1941)

   One year later, Masami Sasaki was in a prison camp.  After President Roosevelt issued Proclamation No. 2525 on December 7, 1941, Sasaki---born in Japan in 1888 and not allowed to become a U.S. citizen---was classified as an enemy alien.  He was taken into custody for questioning on December 7, and then moved to Ft. Missoula, Montana, where his FBI hearing was described in 1960 court documents as being "only five or ten minutes".  He was then moved to Livingston, Louisiana, then Santa Fe, New Mexico, then Granada, Colorado, then to Tule Lake, California where he remained until released in 1945.  

   The same families of the young servicemen honored at the 1941 Selective Service banquet in Huntington Beach now were lining up outside Memorial Hall in May 1942 to register and receive an identification number, before their eventual incarceration in the Arizona desert.

   "Finally when the curfew laws, military zoning, and evacuation orders were instigated to include the American citizens of Japanese ancestry, the whole life of the Japanese community became a turmoil," recalled Clarence Nishizu, a congregant of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission during his 1982 oral history with California State University Fullerton.  "Accounts were frozen, payments neglected, cars and furniture repossessed--we were helpless victims of the money grabbers who came to buy furniture and other belongings at ridiculous prices...many realized nothing from the sale of their life's earning."

   After the Civilian Exclusion Orders were posted in Orange County, the Japanese American community would have seven days to prepare for departure on May 17.  The shock and fear felt after December 7, 1941---and the past months' chaotic dismantling of the lives they had created in the peatlands---would give way to quiet despair and the surreal existence of a prison camp.

ABOVE: The map that accompanied Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61, illustrating the boundary for those who were required to register at the on May 11 and 12.  According to the Santa Ana Register at the end of registration on May 12, 1942, a reported 575 people, representing 150 families, registered in Huntington Beach, and in Anaheim, 736 individuals registered, representing 174 families.  The total for this region of Orange County (not including the "Little Tokyo" north of Oceanside) was 1311 people, representing 314 families who would depart California on military-guarded buses on May 17.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Friday, May 5, 2017

May 5, 1942: Within days, Civilian Exclusion Orders and saying goodbye in Orange County

LEFT: On the fifth anniversary of his arrival in Wintersburg Village, Reverend Sohei Kowta delivered the final sermon before he, his family, and his congregation left California for incarceration at the Colorado River Relocation Center, "Poston", in Arizona.  Toshiko Furuta---the daughter of his neighbors on the Furuta farm at Historic Wintersburg, Charles and Yukiko Furuta---played piano for the "musical hour" of the service. (Santa Ana Register, May 5, 1942)

   Seventy-five years ago this week, Japanese Americans in Orange County were preparing for Civilian Exclusion Order No. 60 and No. 61.  These were the specific military orders from Lt. General J.L. DeWitt ( following Executive Order 9066 authorized by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) which directed they present themselves to the "Civil Control Station" in their region to register, prior to incarceration.  

   Failure to register at a Civil Control Station meant criminal penalties, "immediate apprehension and internment".  Either way, one would be incarcerated.

   At the time of the final sermon of the Wintersburg Japanese Church on May 5, 1942,---then marking its 38th year in Orange County---it was not yet known where they would be going.  The Civilian Exclusion Order affecting Little Tokyo in Los Angeles was already in effect and residents had been ordered to register on May 4 and 5, 1942, before being taken to the Santa Anita Racetrack for "temporary" confinement.  The Santa Ana Register reported 2,100 Japanese Americans in Los Angeles County had already been taken to Santa Anita; there were 1,100 in Little Tokyo who faced impending removal and incarceration.

RIGHT: A classified advertisement for an "evacuation sale" of an almost 20-acre Garden Grove ranch. Small advertisements advising of sales of tractors and other farm equipment had been appearing in the Santa Ana Register and other newspapers since February, 1942, after Executive Order 9066 was announced. Most received only pennies on the dollar, a loss that would take more than a generation to recover. (Santa Ana Register, May 1, 1942)

   Businesses and farms had already been selling off property and equipment, trying to find places to store their belongings.  Those with land tried to find someone reputable to watch over their farm.  The Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA) advised Japanese Americans to sell or store vehicles indoors, to avoid deterioration.  Those who had been allowed to take their vehicle to outdoor lots next to assembly or detention centers were advised after the fact that "the automobiles would not be made available to Japanese after they are evacuated..(and) will rapidly turn to scrap metal and their value will decrease materially".  

   The Santa Ana Register reported on May 4, 1942, that Japanese Americans who stored their vehicles with WCCA could sell their vehicles through the Federal Reserve Bank, and in some cases, vehicles might be acquired by the Army at an "appraised value".
LEFT: The Farm Security Administration directed "squads of FSA agents move in and seek to close as many deals as possible between Japanese operators and prospective tenants". Empty farms came under FSA control. Many Japanese Americans were never able to return to their farms after World War II. (Exerpt from The Fresno Bee, Knotty Problems of Japanese Evacuation Told, May 4, 1942)

   California officials had begun to realize the growing and significant loss of agricultural production and labor.  The Farm Security Administration, working with the Federal Reserve Bank, reported ongoing efforts to enlist and train people to become farmers and take over vacated farms.

   The early agitation of California's Alien Land Laws of 1913 and 1920 had restricted ownership and lease of property, with fear-mongering that Japanese immigrants would own all of California's farmland.  By 1942, land surveys showed Japanese Americans operated only two percent of all agricultural land in California, Oregon and Washington combined, which was about one third of the truck crop acreage.  However, they produced 50 to 80 percent of the coastal output of vegetables.  Crops were ready for harvest in May, 1942, food was needed in communities and for the war effort, and there was a growing shortage of knowledgeable farmers.

RIGHT: The Santa Ana Register advised residents to prepare for Orange County's two Civilian Exclusion Orders. The Orders applied to anyone of Japanese ancestry, including U.S.-born citizens and those with mixed heritage that included Japanese ancestry. Mandatory registration was designated at Civilian Control Stations in Anaheim and Huntington Beach, the specific locations to be announced in the Orders. (Santa Ana Register, May 7, 1942)

   The five-mile travel limit restricted many from coming to the Wintersburg Japanese Church, where the community gathered one last time before leaving for an unknown future for an unknown period of time.  No one knew for certain if they would be in the same camp or when they would see each other again.  In the final sermon of Reverend Kowta---before the Church and Mission buildings were boarded up---he spoke of Moses. 

ABOVE: During the month of May, 1930, almost twelve years to the day before the Japanese American community was forcibly removed from Orange County on May 17, 1942, the Wintersburg Japanese Mission officially became a Church. Founded by an interfaith group in 1904, it already was one of the oldest Japanese missions in California, supporting the four Japanese Language Schools in Garden Grove, Talbert, Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach. (Santa Ana Register, May 19, 1930)

   "Whenever we think of a great migration under a great leader, we think of Moses...But, I believe that even Moses, if he were here with us today, would not be able to do much for our people," said Kowta, whose final sermon was included in a 1945 collection of sermons by Japanese American clergy entitled, The Sunday Before. "At the words of Moses, the mighty Egyptian king trembled and yielded to the demand. But today, conditions are different. We Japanese are not expected to make demands of the Army that is in control of our affairs. We are simply asked to obey and cooperate with whatever the Army commands us to do."

  Within days, the Civilian Exclusion Orders from the headquarters of the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army at the Presidio in San Francisco would appear as handbills on telephone poles and in post offices.  The Japanese American community in Orange County would finally know what the Army commanded.

©  All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.