Migrant labour in Texas

There were three Japanese families, the Saibara’s, Onishi’s and Nishimura’s that settled in Texas in 1903. Saito Saibara was encouraged to explore rice growing in the area. Rihei Onishi brought a gift of short grain rice from Japan, it was very successful as an alternative to the long grain rice from Honduras that was already grown here.

Below is a photograph of Onishi’s wife Nobu. Many Japanese men came to Texas and in order for any partner to join they had to already be married to gain entry to the US. This led to many marriages being conducted before ever meeting, these photographs served as an introduction, and the women photographed were known as picture brides. They would be married, the paperwork would be filed and the bride could then join her husband due to the Gentleman’s law 1805.

Onishi travelled to San Fransisco with the picture brides, he was refused entry under the suspicion of trafficking prostitutes. Quickly other plans were made for the group to travel to Texas through Eagle Pass on the Mexican border, they successfully entered the US by foot. Eagles Pass, on the banks of the Rio Grande is still to this day a way for migrants to enter the US.

‘TSHA | Rice Culture’. 2021. [online]. Available at: https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rice-culture [accessed 17 Mar 2021].

‘Onishi’. 2021. [online]. Available at: http://hirasaki.net/Family_Stories/Onishi/Onishi.htm [accessed 17 Mar 2021].

KUROSAWA, Kiyoko T. 1964. ‘SEITO SAIBARA’S DIARY OF PLANTING A JAPANESE COLONY IN TEXAS’. Hitotsubashi Journal of Social Studies 2(1 (2)), 54–80.

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