Central California evacuation news

150th Aniversary: Fear takes hold of County
November 7, 2009
     One hundred and fifty years of newspapers contain stories large and small about the achievements, failures and foibles of the people of a region.
      This weekly series, part of the Times-Delta's observance of its 150th anniversary, shows slices of Visalia and Tulare County life through the years that the newspaper has been serving the region.

After Friday night there will be no more Japanese in Tulare County, either aliens or citizens.

- Last paragraph of a Times-Delta story published Monday, Aug. 3, 1942.

XVIII: Barely a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entrance into World War II, the United States government began making plans to move West Coast residents of Japanese ancestry to internment centers inland. Initial plans were to move only Japanese aliens, noncitizens. Before internment began, in spring 1942, American citizens of Japanese ancestry were included. A reading of contemporary accounts shows the how fear, racism and a series of antiquated and unenforced alien laws led to the removal of 1,472 Tulare County residents of Japanese descent for periods of up to four years.

Jan. 27, 1942
Checkup of Japanese Land Holdings Will Involve 600 Persons in Tulare County
     Investigation of California alien land holdings with special reference to legality of Japanese occupation of farm areas — a program ordered by Atty. Gen. Earl Warren early this week — will involve approximately 600 Tulare county Japanese, county officials estimated today.
     Investigation of alien land ownership is being conducted under a 1920 alien land law prohibiting certain types of aliens from owning land in California. Among those barred from ownership are those who are ineligible for citizenship, which includes Japanese. Warren has asked investigation of tracts which may be legally owned by a minor offspring of alien parents, which he termed "clearly an evasion." Violations of the alien land law are punishable by $5,000 fine or two years in prison, or both.
     Assessor George Prestidge, in estimating the number of aliens in the county, pointed out it would be a monumental job to check into the legality of each title. Moreover, much land farmed by alien Japanese truck farmers and others, he said, is leased and the lease unrecorded.
     He said the Dinuba, Earlimart and Orosi districts probably contain among the largest percentages of foreign-born farmers — possibly aliens.

Feb. 4, 1942
Enforcement of Alien Land Law Is Promised in County
     Vigorous enforcement of California's alien land law, which prohibits certain types of aliens — including Japanese — from owning or leasing land in the state was promised today by the Tulare County district attorney's office following a two-day meeting of California sheriffs and district attorneys in San Francisco.
     Deputy District Attorney Virgil Dowell, who with Sheriff S. B. Sherman represented Tulare County at the meeting, said there would be a concerted effort to ferret out every illegal alien land holder.
     "We are not, however," he said, "going out with a sword dripping with blood. We will be reasonable."
     Sheriff Sherman called on all persons with knowledge of illegal alien land holdings to report such to the sheriff or district attorney. He also advised persons who may accidentally have become involved in a violation of the alien land law — long a dead letter on California's statute books — to report their cases to authorities in order to receive most lenient treatment possible.
     County officials estimate there are 800 alien Japanese in Tulare County, most of them in truck farming. ...

Feb. 11, 1942
Supervisors Resolution Asks Evacuation of Enemy Aliens 300 Miles From Coast
     Evacuation or interment of all enemy aliens within 300 miles of the Pacific coast was urged today by the Tulare County board of supervisors in a resolution addressed to President Roosevelt, congress and military and naval authorities.
     The supervisors passed the resolution unanimously late yesterday afternoon after hearing a confidential report by Edwin A. Poehlmann, Tulare County defense coordinator, outlining grave danger from fifth columnists in the San Joaquin area and in California.
     [A "fifth column" is a clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation's solidarity by infiltrating sympathizers into its military, political or social fabric.]

Feb. 19, 1942
Orosi Mass Meeting Held to Protest Increasing Arrival in County of Alien Japanese
     Some kind of "protective" action was threatened today in Tulare County against alien Japanese pouring by hundreds into the county from evacuated coastal districts as county officials took steps to secure removal of all Japanese — alien and citizen alike — from county and the coastal areas.
     Orosi citizens, in a mass meeting last night, warned that unless immediate action is taken to prevent Japanese from resettling in the Orosi and Lindsay district, "the situation may be out of hand."
     They passed a resolution demanding that all Japanese be removed from their area for "the public safety and their own safety."
     District Attorney Walter Haight ... said danger here from sabotage was "very great." His office has just completed a map showing location of all Japanese in Tulare C, ounty ... but because of the influx of refugee aliens, it is becoming almost "worthless," he said.
     The Japanese migration to Tulare County began two days ago, it appeared, when a Los Angles Japanese newspaper carried articles headed "Palos Verdes Nisei Farmers Plan to Move to Central California," "Bay Cooperative Group in Voluntary Move: Lindsay to be New Locale; Plans for Resettlement Outlined."

Feb. 2, 1942
Aliens Coming to County Is Causing Alarm
     Concern over the influx of Japanese aliens evacuated from coastal defense sectors brought action from the Tulare County board of supervisors today after supervisors heard confidential civilian defense reports from Edwin Phelhmann, Tulare County defense coordinator. ...
     LeRoy McCormick, legal counsel to the supervisors, ... said some non-dangerous Japanese may become dangerous after being jerked from their home and sent here because of normal resentment of the moving.
     Supervisor Roscoe Patterson said he had information that letters from Japan were reaching addressed here uncensored and suggested that postal authorities be requested to censor incoming mail from enemy countries.

March 25, 1942
Two Plead Guilty to Setting Fire to Car of Japanese
     Two men who police said had a few drinks and got mad at the Japs early this month have pleaded guilty to a charge of arson in setting fire to an auto owned by S. Ogata, Sultana Japanese hotel owners.
     They are Edward Bernard, 25, Inglewood, and Waldo Ammons, 36, Orosi. They pleaded guilty before Supervisor Judge Frank Lamberson to an arson charge reduced from firing a hotel to firing an auto March 7 and applied for probation., the court set March 30 for report of the probation officer and judgment.

March 25, 1942
Tulare-Kings County Fair Grounds Taken Over by Army as Japanese Induction Center
     TULARE, March 25. — As a move to speed up evacuation of Japanese and to provide quarters for troops, the United States Army today took over the Tulare-Kings County Fairgrounds and started immediate construction of a huge "induction" center.
     First phase of the project is the construction of 250 dormitories or barracks which will be designed to accommodate approximately 5,000 or more Japanese or eventually more troops.
     Lumber and other building material was arriving today in large quantities and it is understood that several hundred carpenters will be on the job tomorrow. The camp is scheduled for completion not later than April 15.

March 18, 1942
Board Declines County Expense Jap Funerals
     Another link in a chain of refusals to do anything for Japanese evacuees was forged today by the Tulare County board of supervisors.
     The board declined to provide at county expense grave sites for evacuees who die in the Tulare induction camp.
     Replying to an inquiry from the Lemoore air base quartermaster corps, the board said indigents might be buried in regular county indigent plots, but otherwise burial was up to the government.
     However, the supervisors agreed to the government's request to allow an inspector from the county health department to check corpses before burial.

June 3, 1942
Exclusion of All Japs From County in Future Announced
     The exclusion of all Japanese, alien or non-alien, from Military Zone No. 2 in California was forecast today in a telegraph from Lt. General J. L. DeWitt to District Attorney Walter Haight.
     Haight read the telegram to the board of supervisors and concluded with the simple statement that "It looks like we're going to get action."
     The paragraph of the telegram from which Haight drew his conclusion appeared near the end of the message but bore these prophetic phrases:
     "All alien Japanese and all person of Japanese ancestry will be excluded from said California portion of Military Area No. 2 by future orders or proclamations of this department."
     Military Zone No. 2 covers a part of Tulare County, the eastern portion of the county not covered in the original evacuation order relating to this section....

June 9, 1942
Entire County May Be Cleared of Japanese
     Bits of information gleaned from authoritative sources ... reveal the imminence of complete evacuation of all Japanese, native and foreign born, from all areas of Tulare County. No definite date has been hinted at by any source, but all have agreed that the movement will take place soon. ...
     There is a hurrying and scurrying between farms and agencies which participate in the arrangement for evacuation. Japanese merchants are disposing of their stocks and in instances renting their places of business. Truck farmers and others are making hasty arrangement for an early exit and attempting to salvage crops now being harvested.
     In the main potential evacuees are calm, but in some instances there are cases of the jitters. One Japanese farmer who only this year undertook a sizable farming operation and brought thousands of dollars worth of tractors and other farming machinery, disposed of it all so hastily that he scarcely realized a dime on the dollar of his investment.
     A white farmer in the southern part of the county who has struggled along with a mere 20 acres suddenly found his holding expanded 10 times. His Japanese neighbor, a large land operator, simply turned over all his lands and all his equipment "for the duration" and made the white man beneficiary without any obligation whatever.
     Prospective buyers of small merchandising establishments are putting a "squeeze" on Japanese owners, records in a state office here reveal. It is the plan of would-be purchasers to hammer down the price to a give-away figure before closing the deal. The same has been true in the sale and purchase of furniture, automobiles and other things which the Japanese cannot take into concentration camps. ...

July 3, 1942
Tulare County Japanese Get Orders to Move
     SAN FRANCISCO, July 3. (AP) — Lieut. Gen. J. L. DeWitt, western defense commander, today moved one step closer to completion of a program to exclude all Japanese from California by ordering the exclusion of all person of Japanese descent from portions of Tulare, Kern and Fresno counties and all of Inyo County. ...
     All Japanese in the excluded portion of Inyo, Kern and Tulare counties will report to the civil control station in Lindsay on July 8 and 9 and will be evacuated to the Colorado River Relocation Center between July 32 and 125 at the rate of 250 persons per day.

July 27, 1042
Japanese Family Heads Present for Registration
     Japanese heads of families, about 400 of them, presented themselves at the civic auditorium today for registration in the U.S. Army's final evacuation drive.
Leo Fisher and staff of clerks from the U.S. Employment service here had set up a receiving center at the auditorium and conducted the registration without a hitch.

Aug. 3, 1942
Jap Evacuation Carried Out on Schedule
     Climaxed with a movie thrill finish, the dispatch of the first trainload of Japanese from Visalia in the third and last evacuation movement was carried out as programmed last night.
     The special Santa Fe train, bearing 499 persons of Japanese ancestry, was bound for the giant federal relocation camp at Parker Dam.
     It took just 33 minutes to load the special train after it has pulled to a halt before the station, but the non-arrival of a public health nurse from San Francisco caused a delay of 49 minutes and set the stage for the last-minute thriller.
     Leo Fisher of the U.S. Employment office here, who has charge of the evacuation under U.S. Army orders, ordered the train to pull out without the nurse, but just as it got under way she arrived at the depot, waved frantically at the departing train and began to chase after it.
     A couple of fleet-footed youths joined her in the race, pulled her along and fairly shoved her into the doorway of the last car where porters lifted her, breathless and excited, into the vestibule.
     Tomorrow night another train bearing 500 Japanese will roll from the station here to the same destination and a similar train will be made up Thursday evening and pick up some 200 more Japanese at Reedley before continuing the journey to Parker Dam.
After Friday night there will be no more Japanese in Tulare County, either aliens or citizens.

Source: http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/article/20091107/LIFESTYLE/911070333/1024/lifestyle