Volunteer

 
 

When I began this project I thought maybe it would be easy to find the Japanese American families who lived at the camp. It has become apparent that the history of the camp would only be revealed by a lot of good old fashioned research. I think it will be well worth documenting every detail of the story and to prove that it was a real historical event.


The list of items I am researching keeps growing larger. I now know that I cannot do this entirely by myself. I have had considerable help with my research requests at all the resources I contacted. Sometimes each piece of information I find turns into several more ideas for places to research. The resources seem to be endless and the discoveries are pure joy.


There is a broad range of studies involved in historical documentation and my searches have revealed worlds of knowledge I never knew existed. I never dreamed there was a program to adopt old mining cabins but sure enough there are several. Local, State and Federal agencies have formed many groups for preservation. As I searched through old newspapers I began to realize that not only did local papers report news of the area but papers all across the nation include stories about this remote part of the desert. It is wonderful how newspapers can bring the world of the past back to life. Read enough papers from the 1940s and you begin to feel like you knew everyone in town. Mining claims and mines are frequent on the internet. Some of the miners get a fair amount of attention too. It would be good to see more details on the real life of a miner. American internment is a subject that has considerable coverage on the internet. The personal accounts and biographies of Americans who where interned during the war are plentiful and easily found on the internet. The stories are heartbreaking but there are those too that seem to defy the overwhelming injustice.  Historic preservation is an enormous field that is becoming more important with every passing year. The task of preserving our history is complex and encompasses a wide range of skills and abilities, knowledge and mostly just plain old hard labor and perseverance.



Here are a few items for our discovery:


Personal Sources

One interesting revelation I had early on was that I never did ask anyone where they heard about the Japanese Camp. It is a simple question I wish I had asked years ago. I have tried it out lately and it has brought on some interesting pauses. The story of the camp has been around for so long that most people remember who told them the story but the origin of the story eludes them. I am unusually persistent these days when someone tells me they knew about the Japanese Camp. I ask, who told you about it? What was their name? Who do you think told them about it? What was their name? I never know where it will lead but now I know to ask the questions. Where did you hear about the camp?


Original Artifacts

I know over the years that items have been removed from the camp. It is a natural process that occurs in remote areas when a site has been abandoned. If something is useful it usually finds another home. I am looking for anyone who remembers seeing things at the camp, has pictures of the camp or even has items that were at the camp years ago. The older the better but it would be very helpful to know what was there at the camp when it was occupied. A good example is the missing outhouse seat. It was a two seater outhouse with one large seat and one small seat. The seats are what tells me there were children at the camp. The seat is now gone and the only reason I know about this important piece is that I have photographs of the seat. The clues they leave are enormous. If you know of or have pictures of anything at the camp please share it. If you know of anyone with pictures please call them and ask if we can see them.


San Bernardino County Historical Archives

I have only spent one day looking through these records and there is much more there to find. It is a little building next to the large multi-story hall of records in San Bernardino. They have the books containing the mining assessments and claims recorded by the county. Amazingly, this is were the miners came to file their claims of discoveries in the desert. They need to be thoroughly searched from 1932 to 1955. I have looked at most of 1932 to 1946 and recovered considerable information but I believe there is more there to discover. It is a simple process of checking and cross checking each book for entries regarding each mine and miner in the immediate area of the Japanese Camp.


Hi-Desert Star - Local Newspaper

They have most of the original newspapers onsite and available for review. I would like to read all of the oldest papers and particularly the annual Grubstake Editions. I believe there must be some reference to the Japanese Camp in one of these papers. It wouldn’t take too long to read them all and it would probably have very interesting results.

Newest Update 6/2/11:

I have nearly finished looking at all of the newspapers in Victorville, Lucerne, Beaumont, Banning, Desert Hot Springs and San Bernardino. The San Bernardino Daily Sun has only been read for the month of January. I now believe if f there was anything written about the Japanese Camp it will be in this paper. As a daily paper it takes most of the day to look at one month, all on microfilm. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. I have also been working on formatting all the interesting articles that I have saved from all of the other papers. I hope make them viewable online here soon.

Update 1/12/11:

I have searched the following papers:

The Desert Star    April, 1957 - March, 1958

Star Advertiser    Oct. 15, 1964 - Dec. 29, 1966

Star Advertiser    Jan-Dec    1967, 1968

Star Advertiser    Jan-Dec    1969

Star Advertiser    Jan-Dec    1970

Yucca Valley News    Jan-Dec    1970

Hi-Desert Star    July-Dec    1974

Hi-Desert Star    July-Dec    1976

Hi-Desert Star    Jan-June    1977

Hi-Desert Star    Jan-June    1978

Hi-Desert Star    July-Dec    1978


The Banning Record Gazette - Banning Newspaper

This would be an interesting paper to research. Banning and Beaumont were major centers of travel during the 1941 to 1946 period. I have contacted the Banning Public Library and they have the 1940 and 1943-1946 papers available on microfilm. The 1941-1942 years are missing and I am still hoping to locate them.

Update 6/2/11:

Bill Bell at the Banning Library was able to provide the missing 1941-2 years! So the search of these papers has been completed!



Additional Newspapers Researched

The following papers have been digitized and available on NewspaperArchive.com for an every word search. Remembering that newspapers do not scan perfectly and suffer from poor OCR, not every single page has been reviewed and so they still have the possibility of producing information:

Long Beach Independent (Long Beach, CA)   1938-1957

Desert Sentinel (Desert Hot Springs, CA)        1916-1957

Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, CA)         1875-2009

Covina Argus Citizen (Covina, CA)                  1931-1958


The Village Spotlight magazine

A local publication by Homer and Ruth Stuart published from 1946 to 1948. It is a local account of the growth and history of the area. It was originally donated to the Yucca Valley Park District in 1959 by contributor and assistant publisher Howard D. Clark. It was to be kept as a reference book in the Yucca Valley branch of the San Bernardino County Library. So far I have not been able to locate it. There is the possibility it may contain information regarding the camp or residents in the area.


Sheriffs Records

I have a story that the Japanese families were discovered and removed from the camp. I have tried a couple of calls to the San Bernardino County Sheriff”s Archives but with no luck. They tend to want to keep arrest records private, even from the 1940s. It would be good to know if they made any arrests in the area during that time or had any reference to detaining Japanese Americans. If they did make contact with the families then it seems like it would have generated some kind of record. Also, I have been recently told about the possibility of the families being taken to the old Riverside County Industrial Road Camp located in Banning.


More Original Sources

Discover information sources for the period between 1941 and 1970. Finding information that directly relates to Yucca Valley or the areas along Old Woman Springs road area are tough to find. Seeking out and talking to the many old timers who lived in this area during the war and afterwards has been incredibly productive. First hand accounts are real gems and you never know what they will relate.


Oral Histories

Japanese Americans have shared many of their stories of internment. I have searched some of them but have not found a reference to any Japanese Americans who avoided internment or at least delayed internment by hiding out somewhere and did not report to the camps.


Miners

I have done personal histories on two of the four local miners near the camp in order to discover their history My hope is to see if they knew of Japanese Americans living at the mines and passed the story down to their family. The remaining two miners, Daniel J.W. Huntington and Dan J. Wheeler are still somewhat elusive and need more research to discover their life history. If you want to search for them send me an email to get started.


Preservation

I am in the early stages of contacting the BLM regarding their Historical Site Stewardship program. I do know that if the site is considered for protection that there will be a need for volunteers to go to the camp for maintenance and preservation. Let me know if you are interested in hearing more about volunteering in this area.


Suggestions

This website and research is a reflection of everyones involvement. Let me know if you have any suggestions to improve the site or recommendations for research avenues to pursue.



 

What You Can Do

Thank you again for all of your help.

Send me an email at the bottom of the page.

Every little bit of information will help.

Phillip