Mexicans & Illinois Railroads - Early 20th century


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Illinois History Conference Presentation, Sept. 2013

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Mexicans & Illinois Railroads - Early 20th century

  1. 1. Dreams & Life on the Prairie -Mexicans and Illinois Railroads in the Early 20th Century Presenter: Sal Valadez, Representative for Diversity & Outreach Laborers‟ International Union of North America (LiUNA) - Midwest Region 15th Annual Conference on Illinois History Springfield, Illinois 27 September 2013
  2. 2. Artist‟s Statement This painting, entitled Dreams and Life on the Prairie/Sueños y Vida en la Llanura, was “commissioned” by my husband Sal Valadez to represent the project and discussion. Sal told me of images he had in mind, what he envisioned the piece to portray and then trusted I would use my talents as a painter and my experience as a member of my Mexican family to tell a story through art. I took the information Sal offered into consideration as well as memories of his father and mother telling their story of how they came to the United States, and the many stories I have heard from others who came here for a better life. The sky, with the sun setting and twilight approaching is representative of dreams; dreams of better things to come, dreams that family will be reunited. The train represents those that worked for the railroads. The corn is a familiar and important image of both McLean County and Mexico. The man, a worker, is seen with a photo of family in his pocket, family he hopes can join him soon. I wanted to show only half of his face, but I could not articulate why. Dr. Maura Toro-Morn did that for me when she first viewed the work. “It is allegorical, many who came here, left part of themselves and their lives behind.” Maura, gave me the words for what I as an artist tried to project, but did not have the personal experience to say. It was an extreme honor to be asked to do the piece for my husband, and for the McLean County Museum of History Latino History Project‟s use of the image. Rebecca “Bec” Hawkins-Valadez
  3. 3. This is a story of a journey. RESEARCH QUESTIONS  Why did they come to Illinois?  When did they get here?  Where did they work?  How did they live?  What did they contribute? HOW TO CONDUCT RESEARCH I. Research of the Historical Record (census and immigration records, newspaper articles, photographs, birth, marriage, and death records, military service records, employment records) II. Oral Histories III. Share their of the stories through research papers, publications, and public exhibits WHEN ALL OF OUR STORIES ARE INCLUDED IN THE HISTORY OF ILLINOIS, OUR LIVES ARE ENRICHED
  4. 4. The Chinese Exclusionary Act 1882 & the Mexican Revolution 1910–1930 World War I 1914 -1918
  5. 5. Mexican Revolution Execution by the dreaded Rurales Enforcers for the President of the Mexican Republic, Porfirio Diaz
  6. 6. WW II & The Bracero Program 1942 - 1964
  7. 7. U.S Railroad Ties to Mexico Published: November 27, 1907 Copyright © The New York Times Shonts May Head the Alton – FELTON GOES TO MEXICO United Mine Workers Journal July 11, 1918
  8. 8. Mexican Labor Railway Age Gazette From July 1, 1912 to December 31, 1912 Issue, p. 519, (Google Books)
  10. 10. 1928 -Death on the Rails Cristobal Montañez
  11. 11. Boxcar People The Story of Galesburg‟s Mexican Railroad Families A WTVP production written and produced by Will and Luz Schick, Boxcar People tells the story of Mexican workers recruited in the early 1900s to work the railroads in Galesburg, Illinois.
  12. 12. Mexican Family Living in Boxcar East St Louis, IL The International Institute of St. Louis History-Mexican laborers living in boxcars near East St. Louis stockyards (ca1920)
  13. 13. ZARATE FAMILY, West Chicago, IL The father, Jacob, worked bor both the EJ&E and Northwestern Railroads. They lived in the West Chicago Boxcar Camps from the 1920‟s to 1940‟s Traveling Exhibit: Creating Mexican American Identities: Multiple Voices, Shared Dream Funded in part by the Illinois Humanities Council and the History Channel
  14. 14. The Perez -Valadez Family (circa 1920‟s) from Zacatecas, Mexico Eola, Illinois Journal Issue Volume 8, #3, Autumn 2005 (Mexicans in Aurora, IL - Dr. Susan Palmer, Aurora University)
  15. 15. Journal – Inside Cover The Perez - Valadez Family Manuel Perez & Eulalia (Valadez) Perez
  16. 16. Mexican Boxcar Community Eola, IL 1920‟s & „30‟s
  17. 17. Salvador Valadez Rangel Bracero in California – Southern Pacific Railroad 1940-1944
  18. 18. Left, Salvador Valadez Rangel & Margarita Romero Piña, 1951 Right, Margarita Valadez, Jorge (left,) Sal (right), 1957 Dad retired after 30 years as a diesel mechanic for the CB&Q Railroad
  19. 19. The Valadez Family, 1964 Aurora, IL (mom took the picture, left)
  20. 20. Silvis, IL In the early 20th Century, large numbers of Mexican workers came to Silvis and were employed by manufacturing and the shops of the Rock Island Railroad to strengthen an American workforce diminished by World War I. These large immigrant families could not find homes, so they moved into box cars north of the railroad tracks in Silvis.
  21. 21. Hero St. U.S.A, Silvis, IL WW II Heroes – The Ultimate Sacrifice Claro Soliz, Frank Sandoval, Joseph Gomez, Johnny Muños, Joe Sandoval, Peter Masias, Tony Pompa, and William Sandoval
  22. 22. The Perez -Valadez Family (circa 1920‟s) Eola, Illinois Journal Issue Volume 8, #3, Autumn 2005 (Mexicans in Aurora, IL - Dr. Susan Palmer, Aurora University)
  23. 23. “Uncle” Pete Perez, wife, Aunt Marie & Son, Pat Perez, Kane County Sheriff Uncle Pete is cited in the history books for being one of the first Latino football players to play at the University of Illinois and the Chicago Bears (in the 1940‟s). He was a long-time Aurora Police officer and retired as Undersheriff for Kane County, IL.
  24. 24. Dreams & Life on the Prairie The History of Latinos in McLean County, Illinois 1870 to the Present – Presentation, November 2012 The McLean County Museum of History‟s Latino History Project
  25. 25. WW I Draft Mexicans in McLean County
  26. 26. WW I Draft Mexicans in McLean County
  27. 27. The mystery of the boxcar community on the Alton Railroad right of way.
  28. 28. George Segobiano At age 14, left El Paso as a Water Boy on the Santa Fe RR From Guanajuato, Mexico to El Paso, TX to Bloomington IL (1,900 miles) Bloomington Railroad Days, July 15, 1936
  29. 29. 1920‟s -Pedro “Pete” and Graciana Chavez Arrived in El Paso, on foot in 1910 – U.S. Certificate of Arrival Pedro travelled a total of 2,000 miles from Moroleon, Guanajuato, Mexico to McLean Countu
  30. 30. Why is there urgency to conduct research? The people, and their memories, are quickly fading away. Their stories will be incomplete and will be missing from our history books if we do not act with urgency.
  31. 31. Sal Valadez Contact Information 309-340-5230