Turmoil in Cherryvale, Kansas, 1915


From Mindi Gonzales Duncan: 
“Angel Fernandez Gonzalez was born in Aviles in 1882. Son of Gabrial Gonzalez and Manuela Fernandez. He came to the US aboard the Carpathia in August of 1904 and was followed by his wife, Ramona Muniz Gonzalez, in 1906. He worked at the Zinc Smeltering Co in Cherryvale, KS like many other Asturians at that time. They later moved to Donora, PA. This picture was taken around 1920 in Cherryvale. It is said that his wife hated the motorcycle so much that it was later left in a ditch. Can you imagine?!

On March 25 1915, Alejandro Barea, the Spanish Consul in New Orleans wires his Ambassador in Washington with typical staccato diction of telegraphs:

200 Spaniards Cherryvale Kansas complain  treatment received in that town without concrete facts. Result: strained relations; an American hit a Spaniard and the Spaniard wounded the American, hospitalized. Both Spaniards jailed. Our colony tried  unsuccessfully to free them on bail; sent Commissioner Recio New Orleans who asked me to go with him to Cherryvale. I declined because I am alone here and I thought that a three-day trip by train would be useless.  Today write Mayor prevent abuses; deliver letter to Mr. Strong repectable lawyer Blue Rapids recommending the case. Father Superior Lorente of Dominican Priests offered to write to the bishop to ask they he call on the priest of Cherryvale to urge parishioners to treat Spaniards well.

The text of the telegraph is included in a fascinating report that the Consul of New Orleans sent to Washington, and that is another gem of a document hidden in the folders, legajos and boxes of the Archivo General de la Administración in Alcalá de Henares, Spain:

 Ladislao Recio, who came to New Orleans in representation of the Spaniards of Cherryvale, Kansas, tells me that in that town there is a zinc foundry belonging to the “Egan Zinc Company” which employs 400 workers; 200 of them are Spaniards.  Their average wage per 6-hour day is $1.75, and our Spanish compatriots are greatly appreciated by the owners of the company because they never agreed to make common cause with the Americans when they tried on occasion to go out on strike.  So much so that last year, because of the high-cost of living, the Spanish workers humbly requested a raise, and it was granted immediately, increasing their salary by 25 cents per day.   But the foreman of the plant does not hold the same esteem for the Spaniards, and he does everything in his power to bother them, offend them, and mistreat them.  A few days ago, a relative of the foreman hit a Spaniard for no reason, and the Spaniard’s brother came to his defense, injuring the American, who is now in the hospital.  The Spaniards were sent to prison, where they still are, because the efforts of the rest of the Spaniards to have them released on bail were futile.

This hostility towards our compatriots prevails throughout the town, and they are afraid that they will be further victimized, because even the parish priest there, an Irishman, has ill will towards them, and they say that he doesn’t look kingly on our compatriots.  The Spaniards live on the outskirts of town and they are constantly insulted and threatened; they live in constant distress and they are armed to resist any attack; but since there are fewer of them, they are likely to come out on the losing side if a conflict were to break out.

To avoid this, which would have deplorable consequences, I wrote to the Mayor of Cherryvale, asking him to protect our citizens; and the lawyer of this consulate, Mr. Puig wrote to the Sheriff of Independence and to the Egan Zinc Company so that each, in their own sphere, contribute to help de-escalate the conflict.  The Father Superior of the Dominicans in New Orleans, furthermore, has written to the bishop of the Diocesis that Cherryvale belongs to,  asking him to exert his authority over the parish priest so that he urges his parishioners to put aside their ill feelings.  As for me, I gave Ladislao Recio a letter of introduction to Mr. James D. Strong, a lawyer from Blue Rapids, Kansas (who a year and a half ago was recommended to me by the Consul General of NY), to see if he would like to intercede on behalf of the Spanish prisoners.  The Spanish colony of Cherryvale is willing to pay the costs of the lawyer; they are mostly Asturians, with experience in zinc smelting because they were formerly employed at the Real Compañía Asturiana [in Arnao, Castrillón]. 

I was sure to urge Recio to convey to our compatriots that we recommend prudence and moderation, especially because they are living in a foreign country.  We hope that with the measures that we have already taken, and if Your Excellency were to write to the Governor of the State of Kansas, we might be able to re-establish the peace, and help dispel the mutual prejudices that exist today.

We can also rely on the valuable support that the Egan Zinc Company will certainly offer us.  It is an important business concern with a capital of more than a million dollars, and enjoying great credit in the market.  The company greatly appreciates the work done by the Spaniards, who are competent, assiduous, and well mannered.

The folder in the AGA also includes a letter addressed to the Governor of Kansas by the President of the Edgar Zinc Company, which we transcribe here:


St. Louis, April 13th, 1915

Hon Arthur Capper

Governor of Kansas, Topeka

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 10th, addressed to our Cherryvale, Kansas Works, together with enclosures from the Ambassador of Spain to the State Department at Washington and the Department’s communication to you, with reference to certain difficulties in which Spanish subjects working for our Company have been involved has been referred to me.

I wish to inform you that the difficulty arose over a fight that took lace on one of our furnaces on or about the 19th of March, in which one American and four Spaniards were involved. As I understand it, the American was punished very badly with furnace tools. The parties involved in this fight were arrested and their responsibilities in the matter will be determined by the County authorities at the trial which I believe takes places on Friday, the 16th.

I believe that the impression the Spanish Ambassador has gained –from reading hs letter of the 29th to the State Department—is not algotether warranted by the facts in the case. We have employed Spanish furnace men at our Cherryvale, Kansas Works for the past seven or eight years, and I believe they have been accorded better treatment by our company and their fellow American workmen than they have been accorded elsewhere in the same line of work.

I have had a talk with the men in person since this trouble came up and Have assured each of them, Americans and Spaniards alike, that the Company knew no classes or races of workmen: we look upon our employees as individuals and hold each one responsible as an individual for his particular conduct, and all of our men, regardless of race or nationality, can be assured of the Company supporting them in any difficulty whatever provided their conduct as workmen and citizens of the community warrants this protections, an so far as I am aware the trouble occasioned by this clase has subsided and will not be renewed.

Trusting that this will give the Spanish Ambassador the information he requires, I am

Yours very truly

S.C. Edgar, Jr.


And then, apparently, there is a happy ending, reflected in this communiqué from the Spanish Consul in New Orleans addressed to the Spanish Ambassador in Washington, DC:

1 April

It is my honor to inform your excellency to I have received a letter from Ladislao Recio who, after thanking us for our efforts on on behalf of the Spanish colony of Cherryvale, Kansas,  tells me that the residents of that town have abandoned their negative attitude toward our compatriots and that the two Spaniards who were in jail have been released on $500 bond each.  The trial which was scheduled for March 26 has been suspended.

Signed: Alejandro Barea


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Lecture tour in Spain, March 12-16, 2018

26173996_897875727042088_7378569267382492605_oFrom March 12 – March 15, 2018, James D. Fernández, Professor at NYU’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, will be conducting a lecture tour sponsored by the US Embassy in Spain.  The main program title is “Una diáspora olvidada: Españoles en Estados Unidos”; Fernández will present, in four Spanish cities, the results and future directions of the research that he and co-director Luis Argeo have been conducting for over ten years now, in an attempt to reconstruct the little known history of Spanish emigration to the United States.  Fernández will be accompanied in three of the cities by the best-selling author María Dueñas (El tiempo entre costuras), whose novel “Las hijas del capitán,” about to appear (Planeta, 12 April 2018) is set among NY’s Spanish immigrant community in the 1930s.

Fernández will also be joined on the tour by a group of descendants of Spaniards who emigrated to the United States, including Ángel Briongos (of Madrid), Tony Carreño (of Tampa, Fla), Laura Goyanes (of Cleveland, OH), and Mike Muñoz (San Leandro, CA)

The almost finalized schedule of events is as follows –updates will be made to this

IMG_6020 (1)

María Dueñas, on the steps of La Nacional, 239 West 14th Street, in the heart of New York’s “Little Spain.”

schedule as necessary:


Monday, 12 March

11:00 am

Lecture: “Una diáspora olvidada”

Salón de Grados, School of Geography and History, Universidad Complutense


7:00 pm

Colloquium:  James D. Fernández with María Dueñas

“El tiempo entre legajos:  reconstruyendo las vidas de españoles en EEUU”

Casa de América, Madrid


Tuesday, March 13

12:00 noon

Lecture:  “Una diáspora olvidada”

Universidad de Alicante, Salón de Actos


7:00 pm

Colloquium:  James D. Fernández with María Dueñas

“El tiempo entre legajos:  reconstruyendo las vidas de españoles en EEUU”

Sede de la Universidad en la Ciudad de Alicante.


Wednesday, March 14.

7 p.m.   

Colloquium: James D. Fernández with María Dueñas

“El tiempo entre legajos:  reconstruyendo las vidas de españoles en EEUU”

Salón Noble de la Delegación del Gobierno de la Junta de Andalucía en Almería.  


Thursday, March 15


Lecture:  “Una diáspora olvidada: Españoles en USA (1868-1945)”

School of Economics, University of Almería.  



Lecture “Una diáspora olvidada: Españoles en USA (1868-1945)”

Salón de Actos, CAC de Málaga.


Friday, March 16

10:00 a.m.

Lecture:  “Una diáspora olvidada: Españoles en USA (1868-1945)”

University of Málaga, Department of History, School of Philosophy and Letters.


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2017: The Year in Review/Repaso del año

pantallasdvd_03-1(en español en letra azul)

Thanks to the generous collaboration of so many friends in the US, Spain and all over the world, 2017 has been another year full of discoveries and milestones for us.

Little by little, and all together, we are reconstructing the forgotten history of the thousands and thousands of Spaniards who settled in the US in the late XIXth and early XXth centuries.

With this review of the year’s activities, we would like to express our gratitude to all of you for your support throughout the year.

Gracias a la generosa colaboración de tantos amigos en España, EEUU y de todo el mundo, 2017 ha sido para nosotros otro año lleno de descubrimientos y logros.

Poco a poco, entre todos, vamos reconstruyendo la olvidada historia de los miles y miles de españoles que se establecieron en EEUU a finales del siglo XIX y principios del siglo XX.

Con este resumen de las actividades de 2017, quisiéramos agradeceros el apoyo que nos habéis brindado a lo largo del año.


23331132_874401639389497_2796008640193175569_oWe started the year with a bang. We premiered in the majestic Tampa Theatre “The Weight of Remembering/ La plomada”, our second documentary incursion into the world of Spanish emigration to Tampa, Florida. We also published the double DVD that contains that documentary as well as our earlier film, “A Legacy of Smoke/Un legado de humo.” And we co-produced the pamphlet by Ángel Rañón and José Ramón Oural, “Tampa Nicknames/Apodos de Tampa. All of this in collaboration with our great friends at the Centro Español de Tampa.

Empezamos el año en grande. Estrenamos en el


Left to right/izq a der: Luis Argeo, Laura Goyanes, Neil Driscoll, Cathy Varón, José Fernández, Bill Wear, Michael Muñoz, Elizabeth Fernández, James Fernández, Marisa Carrasco at the Tampa Theatre.

majestuoso Tampa Theatre “The Weight of Remembering/ La plomada”, nuestra segunda incursión documental al mundo de la emigración española a Tampa, Florida. Publicamos también el DVD doble que contiene ese documental, y el anterior “A Legacy of Smoke/ Un legado de humo”. Y produjimos el librito de Ángel Rañón y José Ramón Oural, “Tampa Nicknames/ Apodos de Tampa.” Todo en colaboración con nuestros grandes amigos del Centro Español de Tampa.



In February, James D. Fernández inaugurated the Álvarez Seminar Trinity University, El Paso, Texas) with a lecture on our invisible immigrants

26173270_897876110375383_5147462611820708578_oAnd in that same month, Fernández, Argeo and their wonderful A-Team conducted a memorable and productive research trip to the Valle del Tiétar, Ávila, Spain. Hundreds of peasants from this area emigrated to Hawaii a century ago, and we gathered stories and images from the descendants of those who stayed behind.  The mayor and the townspeople of La Adrada were incredibly generous and helpful.

The trip generated great media interest, and we were able to help the descendants of


Left, Indalecio Caamaño, the only sibling who stayed in La Adrada, Ávila.  Right:  Indalecio’s sister, Bernarda Caamaño (with baby in arms), with her Korean husband and family in Oahu, Hawaii.  Izquierda:  Indalecio Caamaño, el único de los hermanos que se quedó en La Adrada.  Derecha: Bernarda (bebé en brazos), hermana de Indalecio, con su marido coreano y familia en Oahu, Hawái.

those who emigrated reconnect with the descendants of those who stayed in Ávila. For example, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Indalecio Caamaño, who had stayed in La Adrada, were reconnected with the descendants of his siblings, who live in Hawaii and California.


En febrero, James D. Fernández inauguró el Seminario Álvarez (Trinity University, San Antonio, Tejas) con una conferencia sobre nuestros inmigrantes invisibles.

Y en el mismo mes, Fernández, Luis Argeo y su maravilloso Equipo A realizaron un memorable viaje de investigación al Valle del Tiétar, Ávila, de donde, hace un siglo, partieron centenares de campesinos rumbo a Hawái.  Pudimos recoger historias e imágenes de los descendientes de los que se quedaron en la zona.  El alcalde y los habitantes de La Adrada nos acogieron con gran generosidad y cordialidad.

El viaje suscitó gran interés en los medios de comunicación y nos permitió ayudar a los descendientes de los que se fueron reanudar el contacto con los descendientes de los que se quedaron.  Los nietos y bisnietos de Indalecio Caamaño, por ejemplo, el único de los hermanos que no emigró, con los nietos y bisnietos de sus hermanos, que hoy viven en Hawái y California.

Muestras de la cobertura mediática/Sample media coverage

Trabajo de campo en el Valle del Tiétar, Ávila

26173996_897875727042088_7378569267382492605_oBuscan a las familias de abulenses que emigraron a Hawai a principios del Siglo XX. Tribuna de Ávila  09.02.2017

Buscan a las familias de los que emigraron a Hawai a comienzos del siglo XXJueves, 9 de febrero de 2017 AvilaRed


Buscan a familias de 250 abulenses que emigraron a Hawai entre 1911 y 1913
09/02/2017 (19:07)

Se buscan abulenses con familia en Hawai (aunque ellos no lo sepan).
Ávila 10/02/2017 – 11:37 h. CET


Buscan a familias de 250 abulenses que emigraron a Hawái entre 1911 y 1913 20minutos  10.02.2017


Buscan en Ávila a los familiares de los 250 abulenses que emigraron a Hawai entre 1911 y 1913
10 Febrero 2017 – 15:09 h.

Un profesor americano busca en Ávila a descendientes de emigrantes a Hawai Actualizado 11/02/2017 19:46:08

Familiares de los emigrados abulenses a Hawai testimonian sus vivencias
12/02/2017 14:37

Reunión de familiares de emigrantes a Hawai P.R. – domingo, 12 de febrero de 2017 Diario de Ávila

Reunión en La Adrada para conocer la historia de los emigrados del municipio a Hawai 12.02.2017 · LA ADRADA TRIBUNA DE ÁVILA


26198634_898574826972178_5261146049728143154_oSpain Premiere of “La Plomada” (The Weight of Remembering) at the Teatro Filarmónica (Oviedo) as part of the Semana del Audiovisual Contemporáneo de Oviedo.  Post-screening discussion with director Luis Argeo and protagonist/co-producer Anthony Carreño.

Estreno en España de “La plomada”, Teatro Filarmónica, Oviedo, Spain, coloquio posterior con el director Luis Argeo y el protagonista y co-productor, Anthony Carreño, en el marco de la “Semana del Audiovisual Contemporáneo de Oviedo.”


April was the month of lectures.  James D. Fernández told different versions of the story 2017-12-25-PHOTO-00005037of Spain’s invisible immigrants at Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania); University of Kansas; Universidad de Huelva; and the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.

Also in April, Fernández and Argeo formed part of a panel with the A-team core, Isabel Cadenas Cañón, Laura Repullo Chacón, and Ángel Briongos Herrera, at a conference on Spain-North American relations held at the University of Alcalá de Henares.

Abril, charlas mil.  James D. Fernández llevó distintas facetas de la historia de nuestros inmigrantes invisibles a Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania); University of Kansas; Universidad de Huelva y la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.17634870_769774243185571_3536008304208289358_n

En el mismo mes, Fernández y Argeo se reunieron con los principales del Equipo A (Laura Repullo, Ángel Briongos e Isabel Cadenas Cañón) para participar en un panel sobre los inmigrantes invisibles, en el marco de una conferencia sobre relaciones entre España y Norteamérica celebrada en la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares.


At the Centro Leonés del Arte, Luis Argeo led a screening and discussion of A Legacy of Smoke/ Un legado de humo and, at the Feria del Libro de León  he gave a talk on the process of creating the book Invisible Immigrants:  Spaniards in the US, 1868-1945.

Argeo also presented “A Legacy of Smoke” at the Laboral Cinemateca in Gijón.

En el Centro Leonés del Arte, Luis Argeo participó en la proyección/discusión de Un legado de humo/A Legacy of Smoke y en la Feria del Libro de León, presentó una charla sobre el proceso de creación del libro Inmigrantes Invisibles:  Españoles en EEUU, 1868-1945.

Argeo también presentó “Un legado de humo” en la Cinemateca Laboral de Xixón.



IMG_6020In June we played the hosts.  We had the privilege of accompanying acclaimed novelist María Dueñas, as she conducted research in New York and Tampa, Florida, for her forthcoming novel set among Spanish immigrants in New York in the 1930s.

We also welcomed the Briongos/Repullo family, the core of our A-team, who came to New York for some team-building exercises.  And with Celia Novis we did a tour of New York cemeteries, as she finalizes preparations for the post-production of her film “Sole Survivor”, about La Nacional, New York’s oldest Spanish social club.

En el mes de junio hicimos de anfitriones. IMG_6155 (1) Tuvimos el privilegio de acompañar a la gran novelista María Dueñas durante su viaje de investigación a Nueva York y Tampa, Florida; su nueva novela se va a ambientar entre inmigrantes españoles en Nueva York, años 1930.

Le dimos también la bienvenida a la familiar Briongos/Repullo, núcleo del Equipo A, que acudieron a Nueva York para realizar unos ejercicios de team-building.  Y con Celia Novis, hemos recorrido los cementerios de Nueva York, mientras finalizaba las preparaciones para la post-producción de su película “Única Superviviente”, sobre La Nacional, el club español más antiguo de Nueva York.



For the second time, we had the good fortune of taking part in Ribadeo Indiano, a wonderful celebrations of this beautiful Galician city’s ties to the Americas. James D. Fernández, Pilar Cagiao, Mario Eiras and Xosé Barreira took part in the panel discussion titled “Voces e imaxes da Mariña na emigración.”


Por segunda vez, tuvimos la dicha de participar en Ribadeo Indiano, una gran celebración de los vínculos americanos de esta hermosa ciudad gallega. James D. Fernández, Pilar Cagiao, Mario Eiras y Xosé Barreira participaron en el coloquio titulado “Voces e imaxes da Mariña na emigración.”


Screening and discussion of The Weight of Remembering/La plomada at the Palacio Valdés Bazan, San Román de Tirso, Candamo, Asturias, with Luis Argeo, Tony Carreño and a delegation of tampeños of Asturian heritage.

5 screenings of La paella de Daniel Albert/Dan Albert’s paella at the Feria de Muestras de San Martín del Rey Aurelio (Asturias)

Proyección y discusión de La Plomada en el Palacio Valdés Bazán, San Román de Tirso, Candamo, Asturias, con Luis Argeo, Tony Carreño y una delegación de tampeños de ascendencia asturiana.

Cinco pases de La paella de Daniel Albert/Dan Albert’s Paella en la Feria de Muestras de San Martín del Rey Aurelio (Asturias)


IMG_6644In a fun initiative, commissioned by the advertising agency of Bustelo Coffee, we designed and led a walking tour of the part of East Harlem where Gregorio Bustelo (born in Luarca, Asturias) got his start as a coffeeman.

James D. Fernández delivered a lecture on Spanish immigrants at Case Western University (Cleveland), as part of their Hispanic Heritage Month Activities.

En una divertida iniciativa, encargada por la agencia publicitaria de Bustelo Coffee, 21414861_845851358911192_1479531665853206637_odiseñamos y dirigimos una visita guiada a la parte de East Harlem donde Gregorio Bustelo (nacido en Luarca, Asturias) tuvo su primera tienda de café.

James D. Fernández dio una conferencia sobre los inmigrantes españoles en Case Western University (Cleveland, Ohio), como parte de las conmemoraciones del Mes de la Herencia Hispana en es campus universitario.



(Left to right; izq a der): Luis Argeo, Elisa Cepedal, Ramón Louis Banda, Alejandro Díaz Castaño, Martín Cuesta.

The highlight of November was, without a doubt, the selection of The Weight of Remembering/La Plomada, for  the FICX (Festival Internacional de Cine de Xixón). Our doc was screened at the Centro Niemeyer (Avilés) and  Cines Yelmo (Gijón).  Luis Argeo was present for post-screening Q+A at the second show.

Our second doc about the Spanish immigrant presence in Tampa Florida was also one of only thirteen films selected from over 300 entries for the CEMEDOC film festival, and had four screenings at different venues in Mexico City.  The last screening, at the Ateneo Español de México, featured a post-screening discussion with James D. Fernández, Jorge de Hoyos Puente, and Jorge Moreno Andrés.

James D. Fernández also took part in the presentation of The Vineyard/La templanza, María Dueñas’s third novel, at the Instituto Cervantes in New York, and at the Centro asturiano in Tampa, Florida.

Sin duda la noticia más importante del mes de noviembre ha sido la selección de La plomada/The Weight of Remembering por el FICX (Festival Internacional de Cine de Xixón) y tuvo dos pases en el marco de ese prestigioso certamen:  en el Centro Niemeyer de Avilés, y en los Cines Yelmo, en Gijón, este último con coloquio con Luis Argeo.

Nuestro segundo documental sobre la presencia de la emigración española a Tampa, Florida también fue una de solo trece películas seleccionadas de más de 300 por el Festival de documentales CEMEDOC.  Tuvo cuatro pases en distintos sitios de la Ciudad de México, el último tuvo lugar en un sitio muy especial:  la sede del Ateneo Español de México, y después de la proyección J.D. Fernández participó en un coloquio con Jorge Moreno Andrés y Jorge de Hoyos Puente.

Fernández participó con la autora en la presentación de La Templanza/The Vineyard, la tercera novela de María Dueñas, en el Instituto Cervantes de Nueva York, y en el Centro Asturiano de Tampa, Florida.



The end of year party with our A-Team and friends in Madrid coincided with a series of meetings of Argeo and Fernández, aimed at firming up support for what promises to be our most ambitious initiative yet:  a multi-media exhibition that will tell the story of our invisible immigrants!  We hope to soon make an important announcement about this exciting possibility.


La fiesta de fin de año con el Equipo A y amigos en Madrid coincidió con una serie de reuniones convocadas por Fernández y Argeo para intentar cerrar lo que promete ser nuestra iniciativa más ambiciosa hasta la fecha:  una exposición multi-media que narre la historia de nuestros inmigrantes invisibles.  Esperamos poder hacer un anuncio muy pronto sobre esta prometedora iniciativa.  

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Newly Discovered Documents Shed Light on the Saga of Spaniards in Hawaii

We are pleased to translate these two documents we discovered and transcribed today (19 December 2017) at the Archivo General de la Administración in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. [Transcripción del original al final]

Mr. Plenipotentiary Minister [Spain’s “ambassador” in Washington, DC]


Original of the poster used to recruit Spanish immigrants to Hawaii.  Courtesy of Fraser Ottanelli and White Stone Ridge Productions.

We the undersigned are Juan Rodriguez, Manuel Puertas, Enrique García, Antonio Muñoz, Silvestre Rando, Antonio Guerrero, Francisco Campos, Francisco Sánchez. We live and work at the Papaikou Plantation on the Island of Hawaii, where we were assigned after arriving to Honolulu aboard the steamship Eliopolis [sic]. We accepted the concessions and benefits that were guaranteed to us by the United States government, and we continue working and following whatever orders they give us, so that after three years they would transfer to us as absolute property and without any kind of lien, the house we had been living in, valued at 500 gold pesos, as well as an acre of land. Now that the contract is ending, the boss wants to force us to move our homes to these deserted and isolated fields, that have impractical roads, and our kids are obliged to go to school. It is a shame that even though we followed all of their rules, they now want to take away our house and home which we have earned by working in torrential rains for entire months.

We bring this to your attention so that, as a representative of Spain, you can give us some advice about what to do should they commit such abuses against eight heads of families at the Papaikou Plantation on the Island of Hawaii.

May God keep you for many years for the sake of your fellow citizens.

Papaikou, 13 November 1909

Signed by

Juan Rodriguez, Manuel Puertas, Enrique García, Antonio Muñoz, Silvestre Rando, Antonio Guerrero, Francisco Campos, Francisco Sánchez.


The Hawaiian Plantation Museum is located on the site of the former Paipakou Plantation referenced in these documents from 1909.

The rather devastating response from the Spanish authorities arrived just a little over a month later:

Papaikou Plantation. Hawaii

17 December 1909

My Dear Sir: I have received your letter dated 13 November, that is signed by seven other Spanish subjects living at this plantation, in which you tell me that after having gone to this island with the promise that, after a fixed amount of work in certain circumstances and territories, you would be given certain plots of land, free of all liens, and that now that you have fulfilled the stipulated conditions, they are refusing to live up to what they had offered. His Majesty’s government has repeatedly tried to make it clear that certain Emigration Agents use evil techniques in Spain, to lure entire families out of their homes, with false promises of land grants and benefits that are rarely honored. Our fellow countrymen, however, pay no attention to the advice and warnings of our national authorities, and they put more trust in the perfidy of those who only deal with shipping companies, and are only concerned about the percent that will get payed for each passenger they secure. And it is only when they are in a case like the one you are in, that they even remember that they are Spaniards, and then they expect impossible wrongs to be righted. Because in the present case, for you to obtain those lands in Hawaii, you would first have to renounce your Spanish citizenship; and that would entail no longer being subjects of His Majesty. The representative of Spain can in no way help you sever yourselves from the country you should have never left in the first place.

I am your loyal servant, and I kiss you hands,

The Minister of Spain

Transcripción de los documentos

Sr. Ministro Plenipotenciario de España

Los que suscriben son Juan Rodríguez, Manuel Puertas, Enrique García, Antonio Muñoz, Silvestre Rando, Antonio Guerrero, Francisco Campos, Francisco Sánchez con residencia en la Isla de Haway y domiciliado y trabajador en la plantación Papaikou donde nos destinaron a la llegada a Honolulu en la emigración del vapor Eliopolis [sic] donde nos acogimos a las concesiones y beneficios que nos garantizaba el gobierno norteamericano donde continuamos trabajando y cumpliendo las ordenanzas según nos impusieron para que a los tres años de trabajo se nos dieran en propiedad absoluta y sin gravamen la casa donde vinieramos abitando [sic] valuada en 500 pesos oro y además una fanega de tierra. Bencida [sic] que va la contrata el patrón de la plantación quiere forzosamente que mudemos de domicilio a campos desiertos donde no hay comunicación con nadie y caminos intransitables, teniendo los niños que ir forzosamente a la Escuela y habiendo cumplido nosotros con sus ordenanzas es lastima que nos despojen de la vivienda y hogar que hemos ganado trabajando debajo una lluvia torrencial meses enteros.

Ponemos esto en conocimiento de VS que que VS como representante de España nos dé algunos detalles que hacer si cometen semejantes abusos a ocho padres de familia en la plantación de Papaikou, Isla de Haway.

Dios guarde a VS muchos años para vien [sic] de sus conciudadanos

Papaikou y Noviembre 13 de 1909

Firman los interesados



Papaikou Plantation. Hawaii

17 de diciembre 1909

Muy Señor Mío: He recibido la comunicación que con fecha de 13 de noviembre próximo pasado me dirije, suscrita por otros siete súbditos españoles residentes en ese plantío, manifestándome que después de haber ido a esa Isla bajo promesas de que cumplido un plazo prefijado de trabajo en determinadas circunstancias y territorios, les serían otorgadas ciertas parcelas de tierra, libres de todo gravamen, y que después de haber cumplido por su parte lo estipulado, se niegan ahí a cumplir lo ofrecido. El Gobierno de SM ha, repetidamente, tratado de poner de manifiesto las malas artes de que ciertos Agentes de Emigración se valen en España para sacar de sus hogares a familias enteras con decantadas promesas de cesiones de tierra y beneficios, que raramente se realizan. Nuestros nacionales, sin embargo, desoyen los consejos y las amonestaciones de las Autoridades nacionales y se fían más de la perfidia de los que no tratan otra cosa que cobrar el tanto por ciento que las empresas navieras extrangeras les pagan por cada pasaje; y cuando llega el caso en que se encuentra Uds, es cuando se acuerdan de que son españoles y desean que se deshagan entuertos imposibles; porque en el caso presente ustedes tienen que renunciar primero a la nacionalidad de españoles para obtener esas tierras de ahí, y esto implicaría el dejar de ser súbditos de Su Majestad, y no puede ser el Representante de España quien ayude a ustedes para separarse de su Patria que nunca debieron abandonar.

Queda de ustedes en S.S., q. b. s. m.

El Ministro de España


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La Plomada, Set to Plumb Mexico

23331132_874401639389497_2796008640193175569_oLA PLOMADA (English title:  “The Weight of Remembering”) will be featured at the fourth edition of the CEMEDOC Film Festival in Mexico City, November 14-21.

The documentary is one of only 14 films, selected from the 740 entries that were submitted to the festival from more than 100 countries.  It is a co-production of White Stone Ridge Productions and the Centro Español de Tampa.

La plomada/The Weight of Remembering is our second documentary feature that explores the traces of Spanish immigration to Tampa, Florida; the first, titled Un legado de humo/A Legacy of Smoke was also featured at CEMEDOC in 2015.

The film is structured by a narrator’s search to understand the meaning of a mysterious heirloom he has inherited from his Spanish immigrant grandfather.  With that goal in mind, he travels from his New York home to Tampa, Florida. And before long, thanks to the amazing cast of tampeños the narrator encounters there, he finds himself immersed in the sights, sounds, textures tastes and smells of a world on the verge of disappearing.  The trailer can be viewed here.

The film will be screened at three different venues in Mexico City during the festival run: James D. Fernández will present and discuss the film at a special fourth screening, followed by a closing reception, on Sunday, November 19, at 12:00 noon.  All festival activities are free and open to the public.

Saturday, 18 November 13:00

Filmoteca UNAM, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva S/N, Coyoacán, Cd. Universitaria

Sunday, 19 November

12:00  Ateneo de España en México, Calle Hamburgo 6, Delegación Cuauhtémoc (followed by a closing cocktail reception.)

16:00: Casa de Cultura Tepito, Rivero #12, Colonia Morelos

18:00: Cine Lido, Av. Tamaulipas 202, Hipódromo Condesa


About the filmmakers

*Luis Argeo Fernández Álava (Asturias, 1975) received his Licentiate in Journalism (1988) from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca. A filmmaker and journalist, he has written over 15 guides and travel books for Anaya Touring, Spain’s leading publisher in that genre.  Among numerous film credits, he has written and directed two documentary films about Spaniards in the United States:  AsturianUS, a portrait of Asturian immigrants in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and Corsino, by Cole Kivlin, the story of a Spanish Civil War orphan who was raised in Texas.

*James D. Fernández (Brooklyn, NY, 1961) received his BA from Dartmouth College, and his MA and PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Princeton University. A Professor at New York University since 1995, Fernández’s published books and articles have focused primarily on Spanish literature, culture and history in the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, with a particular emphasis on the links between Spain and the Americas.

About the collaboration

*For the last ten years, Argeo and Fernández have been crisscrossing the US and Spain, in an effort to reconstruct the history of Spanish immigration to the US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They have interviewed scores of descendants of Spanish immigrants in both countries, and have digitized dozens of family archives.  The products of this research, thus far, have been the book Invisible Immigrants:  Spaniards in the US (1868-1945), and three documentary films that they have written, shot and edited together:  one set in Monterey, California (La paella de Daniel Albert/Dan Albert’s Paella, 2012), and two set in Tampa (Un legado de humo/A Legacy of Smoke, 2014 and La plomada/The Weight of Remembering, 2017.) The two Tampa films are the product of material gathered by Fernández and Argeo during six trips made to Tampa between 2013 and 2016. Their Facebook page (Spanish Immigrant in the United States) has almost 15,000 followers, and has become an important point of reference for descendants of Spanish immigrants.

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Valentín Aguirre: Una diáspora en casa


Nos complace mucho compartir este breve texto nuestro que figura (en castellano, inglés y euskera) en el hermoso catálogo de la exposición titulada “La memoria recobrada: huellas en la historia de los Estados Unidos”, comisariada por José Manuel Guerrero Acosta, y patrocinada por Iberdrola. J.M. Guerrero Acosta editó el catálogo. 


Aguirre, una diáspora en casa

En vez de ir a casa de Valentín Aguirre, como hacía la gran mayoría de los que llegaban de España, Juan llevó a su familia a un hotel cerca de la calle 42 y de Broadway…” Así comienza la descripción de la aventura estadounidense de una familia de asturianos que, como miles de sus paisanos y compatriotas, llegaron a EEUU a principios del siglo XX en busca de mejor fortuna. Resulta muy llamativo ver cómo, en esta crónica de una llegada de asturianos a Nueva York, el no quedarse en casa de Valentín Aguirre funciona como nota distintiva; se trata de una excepción que confirma la regla. Pero ¿quiénes eran “los que llegaban de España”? ¿Y quién era ese Valentín Aguirre que solía recibir a tantos de ellos?

Por suerte, la diáspora vasca a Estados Unidos está relativamente bien estudiada. Y


Valentín Aguirre (a la derecha) con su gran amigo el boxeador Paulino Uzcudun.

gracias a la nutrida bibliografía que ha surgido en torno a ese fenómeno histórico, sabemos bastante sobre la figura de Aguirre, y sobre el papel que desempeñó en la historia de los Amerikanuak. Sabemos que Aguirre nació en Busturia, Vizcaya en 1871; que ya para 1895, tras haber trabajado varios años en el transporte marítimo entre España, Hispanoamérica y Estados Unidos, se había establecido en Nueva York. Sabemos asimismo que en las primeras décadas del siglo XX, regentaba, con su esposa, Benita Orbe, una pensión en la barriada española más antigua de Nueva York, en la zona portuaria del East River, entre los puentes Brooklyn y Manhattan. Nos consta, además, que en 1913 Aguirre, junto a otros doce vascos residentes en Nueva York, fundó el Centro Vasco Americano en Cherry Street, la misma calle donde tenía la pensión. Se conoce que después, Aguirre y Orbe trasladaron su negocio a la zona portuaria del otro lado de Manhattan, junto al Río Hudson, donde nacía otro enclave de inmigrantes españoles. Existe todavía el gran edificio de ladrillo ubicado en 82 Bank Street que durante décadas fue la sede de su Hotel Santa Lucía, su restaurante Jai Alai, y su agencia de viajes y de empleos. Sabemos, en fin, que en este “Todo-en-uno” de Aguirre, los vascos recién llegados a NY podían hospedarse cómodamente, disfrutar de los afamados guisos de Benita, enterarse del trabajo disponible en NY o en otras partes de EEUU, e incluso sacar su pasaje hacia el destino donde hubiere empleo. Entre las anécdotas que los descendientes de vascos en EEUU todavía cuentan, se recoge la de los hijos de Aguirre y Orbe, que, a lo que se dice, solían acudir a los muelles cuando llegaba algún barco español para reclutar a la clientela al grito de “¿euskalduna zara?”

Esta viñeta, sin duda entrañable, probablemente pertenece al mundo del folklore inmigrante. Lo cierto es que quienes llegaban a Nueva York, ya en los trámites de Ellis Island tenían que dejar constancia de dónde pensaban alojarse, antes de desembarcar en los muelles del Hudson. Ahora que es fácil recorrer on-line los manifiestos de los transatlánticos, podemos apreciar la ingente cantidad de españoles que respondían a la pregunta “¿Residencia en NY?” con las palabras “Casa Aguirre.” Y resulta que muchísimos de los clientes de Aguirre –acaso la vasta mayoría—no habrían entendido la interpelación en euskera de los hijos del hotelero, ya que provenían de otras partes de la península.  

Valentín Aguirre, Explorador” es el título de un artículo publicado en La Prensa (NY) en agosto de 1928. El texto narra el viaje a más de 30 ciudades de EEUU que hizo “el héroe vasco de nuestra colonia” acompañando a un tal Mr. Henderson, de la Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, con el objetivo de visitar “todos los agentes de [la naviera] y todas las colonias hispanas en esos lugares.” El texto recoge las impresiones entusiastas de Aguirre ante la hospitalidad y la prosperidad de sus compatriotas españoles. Los nombres de algunos de los lugares que visitó Aguirre en este viaje de siete semanas serán familiares a los conocedores de la diáspora vasca, como Reno (Nevada), Boise (Idaho) y otros. Pero el itinerario  de Aguirre también nos permite reconstruir parte del menos conocido archipiélago de enclaves de inmigrantes españoles que ya para 1928 salpicaba la geografía entera del país. Poca gente sabe que en las últimas décadas del siglo XIX y las primeras del XX emigraron a EEUU decenas de miles de españoles de casi todos los rincones de la península. En las escalas que hizo Aguirre en el cinturón industrial del “Midwest”, por ejemplo, sin duda conocería a los asturianos, gallegos, castellanos y andaluces que trabajaban en las acerías, en la fundiciones de zinc, en las fábricas de coches, u otras industrias pesadas en lugares como Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Detroit (Michigan), Minneapolis (Minnesota), Canton (Ohio), y Gary (Indiana). En su paso por Nuevo Méjico y Arizona, probablemente conoció a muchos de los cántabros y castellanos que trabajaban en la ganadería y minería de aquella parte del país. Y en California, tendría oportunidad de conocer a los andaluces, valencianos, extremeños y castellanos que habían emigrado a Hawái, antes de dar un segundo salto al “Estado Dorado.” Nos consta que algunos de estos emigrantes, al querer reclamar a sus parientes españoles, contaron con los servicios de Aguirre.


82 Bank Street, Greenwich Village, New York, donde Valentín Aguirre y Benita Orbe regentaban el Hotel Santa Lucía, el restaurante Jai Alai, además de una agencia de viajes. [Foto cedida por Frances Aguirre]

Al volver de este viaje a su casa en Nueva York, Aguirre se encontraría de nuevo con una colonia española que parecía un microcosmos de la diversidad tanto de la península como de la diáspora española en EEUU. La pensión que había tenido en la Calle Cherry se encontraba a pocas puertas de La Valenciana, el hotel y restaurante donde se reunía el Círculo Valenciano; no muy lejos de la Carnicería La Ideal, regentada por gallegos; y a pocos metros del restaurante El Chorrito, propiedad del catalán Sebastián Estrada. Cuando se mudó al otro lado de la isla, se instaló en una barriada principalmente gallega; su vecino y rival principal como restaurador era el asturiano Benito Collada, dueño de El Chico; tenía a pocas manzanas la sede de la Unión Benéfica Española, dirigida por el catalán José Camprubí y que para 1920 contaba con más de 4,000 socios procedentes de toda la geografía española.  La historia de la diáspora española a EEUU está todavía por reconstruir, y la gran figura de Valentín Aguirre promete ser una pieza clave de esa reconstrucción.

–James D. Fernández

New York University

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On the Origins of New York’s “La Nacional” (Part 2)


José Francisco Navarro was one of the wealthy Spanish businessmen who in 1868 helped establish New York’s Spanish Benevolent Society, an organization which is poised to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

It was in the Spring of 1867, almost exactly 150 years ago, that Spain’s Consul in New York, Joaquín Marcos de Satrústegui, noticed an alarming trend:  increasing numbers of destitute Spaniards were showing up at the doors of his Consulate pleading for assistance.  Satrústegui’s ability to aid his needy compatriots was limited because, as he reports, most of them were undocumented or otherwise “beyond the limits of the law.”  And so, as we revealed in Part 1 of this chronicle, Satrústegui appealed to the handful of wealthy Spanish business leaders who at the time were living in New York, asking them to organize a charitable organization, and to contribute a monthly quota, to be used to aid their unfortunate countrymen.

Now:  it is important to point out that a similar initiative had already been undertaken some thirty years earlier, under the patronage of the great Cuban-born priest, Father Félix Varela, and with the involvement of Spanish and Spanish American ex-pats in the city, like Andrés Patrullo, Manuel de Puga, Francisco del Hoyo, Antonio Aicinena y Mariano Velázquez de la Cadena. But that “Sociedad Española de Beneficencia,” founded in 1837-38,  didn’t seem to prosper, or at least it has not left many historical traces.  So much so, that just thirty years later, when Satrústegui addressed the Spanish ex-pat community in New York in 1867, he seemed to have no awareness of this previous attempt to organize a similar intiative.  So it is that the club that still exists today, with headquarters at 239 West 14th Street, can point to an uninterrupted chain of evidence proving that the origin of their organization —which would later merge with several other important Spanish clubs in the city— can be traced as far back as 1868.

What became of Satrústegui’s appeal to the Spanish élites living in New York in 1867-68?  Thanks to the wonders of archives —once again, Spain’s Archivo Histórico Nacional, in Madrid, Spain— we can answer that question with the words of Satrústegui himself, who on February 14, 1868, addressed this letter to his boss, the Ministro de Estado in Madrid:

It gives me great satisfaction to have the honor of notifying Your Excellence that after patient efforts, I have achieved the establishment in this city of a Spanish Society of Benevolence.  This measure was urgently needed because of the considerable number of unfortunate Spaniards who come to our Consulate asking for aid, even though the Consul is unable to officially help them with funds from the government of His Majesty.

The nascent Society already has, I understand, 29 subscribers, each of who contribute $5.00 per month since the first of January of this year:  that is to say, $145 monthly dollars that will wipe away a few tears.  I hope that soon the subscription will exceed $200 per month.

I attach the copy of the appeal that I made to wealthy Spaniards living in New York, and of the names of the first 26 subscribers.

For the execution of this idea, I have been helped primarily —with a zeal that deserves my most heartfelt gratitude— by Don Carlos Martí and Don José Francisco Navarro.  They personally have collected the contributions from their numerous friends, a very difficult job in such a large city, when paying a visit sometimes involves traveling more than two leagues in each direction.

Don Carlos Martí left for Havana yesterday, and he took copies of the documents I have mentioned.  He intends to take advantage of this trip to collect contributions from his rich friends in Cuba, given that the greater part of the needy Spaniards we must help arrive here from our Antilles.

I will take care of the statutes and consolidation of the Society, which I consider capable of, and destined for, a great and most useful evolution.  Together with the fundraising by subscription for aid, I think that we can create a Spanish Club, that would be a center of periodical meetings of our nationals who now live in isolation from each other.  This would stir up their patriotic feelings.  And one day, when Spain is at peace with Peru and Chile, the club could form part of the core of a great Spanish-American Society, that would strengthen the bonds of friendship, affection and common interests among the mother and her daughters, because the wealthy would find in the club a place of enjoyment, and the poor would find shelter and protection.

May God keep Your Excellency for many years,

J.M de Satrústegui


Exmo Señor, Mui Señor mío,

Es mucha mi satisfacción en poder tener el honor de participar a V>E. que, después de pacientes esfuerzos, he logrado el establecimiento en esta Ciudad de una Sociedad Española de Beneficencia cuya necesidad era apremiante por el considerable numero de desgraciados que se presentan suplicando socorros que el Consul no puede prestar oficialmente con cargo al gobierno de SM.

La Sociedad naciente cuenta ya, según tengo entendido, con veinte y nueve suscriptores a cinco pesos mensuales del el 10 de enero del presente año; es decir con $145 pesos mensuales que enjugarán algunas lágrimas; y espero que pronto pasará la suscripcion de a $200 mensuales.

Adjuntas elevo a VE copias de mi llamamiento a los españoles pudientes domiciliados en esta residencia y de los nombres de los 26 primeros suscritores

Me han ayudado principalmente para la realización de esta idea, con un celo que merece mi mas viva gratitud, los Señores Don Carlos Martí, y Don José Francisco Navarro; recabando personalmente la co-operación de sus numerosos amigos, –lo que es mui molesto en una ciudad tan extensa y en la que una visita representa a veces un viaje de más de dos leguas de ida y otro tanto de vuelta.

Don Carlos Martí salío ayer para La Habana, llevando copia de los documentos a que he aludido; y se propone aprovechar la ocasión para reunir contribuciones entre sus amigos ricos en Cuba, en atención a que la mayor parte de los desvalidos que tenemos que socorrer proceden de nuestras Antillas.

Me ocuparé de los Estatutos y la consolidación de la Soeicdad, la que juzgo capaz de, y llamada a un grande y utilísimo desarrollo.  Unida a la suscrición para Beneficencia, pero independiente de ella, creo que se puede agregarle un Club Español, Centro de reunion periodica para nuestros Nacionales que ahora viven aislados; Eso avivaría sus sentimientos patrióticos; y el Club podría forma, en el día venturoso en que se encuentre España en paz con Perú y Chile, el núcleo de una gran Sociedad Hispano-Americana, que estrecharía los lazos de amistad, afecto e intereses comunes entre la Madre y sus hijas, puesto que los ricos encontraráian en ella su solaz, y los pobres amparo y protección a su sombra.

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