- The port of Philadelphia, and the coal fields and heavy industry throughout the state of Pennsylvania attracted a significant number of Spanish immigrants during the early decades of the twentieth century. Donora is a good case in point.Donora is a borough of Pennsylvania, about twenty miles south of Pittsburgh. It was incorporated in 1901, and it gets its name from a combination of William Donner, the founder of the American Steel and Wire Corporation (one of the town’s major companies), and Nora Mellon, the wife of banker and investor Andrew Mellon. In the first decades of the twentieth century, Donora quickly developed into a major industrial site, where many immigrant workers –including a considerable number of Spaniards– would find jobs in the borough’s coal pits, steel mills, and zinc foundries.
Luis Argeo’s documentary film “AsturianUS” deals with the history of Spanish immigrants both in West Virginia and in Donora, Pennsylvania. The presence of coal, steel and zinc in the area of Asturias around Avilés helps explain the presence –and circulation– of Asturian immigrant workers among several industrial sites in the US where those industries were strong; in addition to West Virginia and Pennsylvania, we will find significant numbers of “asturianUS” employed in the zinc works of, for example, Cherryvale, Kansas, St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois.
Donora Spanish soccer team (1947-1948). Source: www.andrew.cmu.edu
Donora (PA) soccer team (1920’s)
El puerto de Philadelphia y los campos de carbón con su industria pesada a lo largo de Pennsylvania, atrajeron a un gran número de inmigrantes españoles durante las primeras décadas del siglo XX. Donora es un buen ejemplo de esto. Donora es un distrito de Pennsylvania, 20 millas al sur de Pittsburgh. Fue anexada en 1901, y obtiene su nombre gracias a una combinación entre William Donner, el fundador de la Corporación Americana de Fibras de Acero (una de las compañías más grandes de la ciudad), y de Nora Mellon, la esposa del banquero e inversor Andrew Mellon. En las primeras décadas del siglo XX, Donora se desarrolló rápidamente como sitio industrial importante, donde muchos obreros inmigrantes- incluidos un gran cantidad de españoles- encontraron trabajo en los pozos de carbón, y en las fundidoras de acero y zinc.
La película documental de Luis Argeo, “AsturianUS”, cuenta la historia de estos inmigrantes españoles en Virginia Occidental y en Donora, Pennsylvania. La presencia de carbón, acero y zinc en las región de Asturias, alrededor de Avilés, explica la presencia- y el tránsito- de obreros Asturianos en varias zonas industriales de los Estados Unidos; además de Virginia Occidental y Pennsylvania, encontraremos un número significante de “asturianUS” como trabajadores de zinc en Cherryvale, Kansas, St.Louis, Missouri y St,Louis del Este, Illinois.
I believe that’s my uncle Joe Rodriguez, third one from the left, top row, born 1918, died 1948, auto accident.
I believe that is my uncle Joe Rodriguez, third from left, top row. Born 1918, died 1948.
Hi Parthena. Could you tell us about your uncle? Where was he born, where was his family from? You can also follow us through https://www.facebook.com/tracesofspainintheus
My Uncle Joseph Rodriguez, born Shinnston West Virgina in 1918, grew up in Donora, Pennsylvania when his dad moved to work in Donora’s zinc works in 1929. Joseph was one of eight children born to Gabino Rodriguez (b. 1894 d. 1973) and Leonides Lopez Martuiez (b. 1893 d. 1966/ 67). Joseph’s dad, my grandfather, was born in Aviles, Spain and his mom, my grandmother, near Oviedo, Spain. They emigrated to the United States together in the spring of 1916 on The Alfonso XIII which departed from Coruna, Spain, landing in Ellis Island, N.Y. .My Uncle Joe was the second of my grandparent’s sons to die in an accident near town when he was hit by a drunk driver while changing a tire along the side of the road. He was married, no children and was said to be quite an athlete.
My uncles, Joe and Alex Sanchez played on the team. Joe is in the first row, far left. Alex is two over. Their cousin, Ping Alvarez, is on the far right.