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Dreams & Life on the Prairie Panel Discussion



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The History of Latinos in McLean County Illinois 1880 to the Present by Sal Valadez, Lead Researcher for the Latino History Project - McLean County Museum of History, Bloomington, IL

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Dreams & Life on the Prairie Panel Discussion

  1. 1. Panel Discussion - Agenda Dreams and Life on the Prairie - The History of Latinos in McLean County - 1880 to the present Sueños y vida en la llanura - La historia de los latinos en el condado de McLean desde el 1880 hasta el presente A Project of the McLean County History Museum Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. in the Governor Fifer Courtroom Bloomington, IL I. Welcome and Introduction of Moderator - Greg Koos, Executive Director, McLean County History Museum II. Moderator - Ingrid Ramirez a. Brief comments b. Read Artist’s Statement (Rebecca Hawkins-Valadez) c. Recognition of corporate support from Country Financial & support from Illinois State University’s Latin American and Latino Studies Program directed by Dr. Maura Toro-Morn d. Introduction of Panelists III. Panel Discussion a. Paul Segobiano, McLean County Board Member - A descendant of the "early" Mexican arrivals in the County, Paul will share his thoughts on growing up in Bloomington. b. Sal Valadez, MA - Will provide a summary of research and oral histories related to the project (PowerPoint Presentation) c. Mark Wyman, PhD - Professor Emeritus, History, Illinois State University – Maura will discuss the early history and background of Mexican migration into the US, the early beginnings in railroad work, then in agriculture and mining and thoughts about how Mexicans reached Illinois. d. Maura Toro-Morn, PhD - Director Latino Studies Program, Illinois State University - Maura will discuss ISU Latino Studies Program’s present and future involvement in the project. She will also share her perspectives on what it means to be Hispanic/Latino. IV. Question & Answer Session V. La Despedida/Closing Comments - Greg Koos - Thank you for attending, please take the opportunity to visit the Fiesta! Exhibit on the third floor.
  2. 2. Artist’s Statement This painting entitled Dreams and Life on the Prairie/Suenos 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 - Alton Railroad’s Abraham Lincoln (circa 1930’s) - 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 History Museum’s Latino History Project to use the image. Rebecca ―Bec‖ Hawkins-Valadez
  3. 3. Dreams & Life on the Prairie - The History of Latinos in McLean County, Illinois 1880 to the Present Presented by: Sal Valadez, MA Lead Researcher - Latino History Project McLean County Museum of History 3 November 2012
  4. 4. Project Overview – The Story of A Journey  Who is the Latino community?  Why did they come to McLean County?  When did they get here?  Where did they work?  How did they live?  What did they contribute? 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. The telling of the story (research papers, publications) IV. Additional research
  5. 5. The people that we know as ―Latino‖ today, began arriving in McLean County in the 1870’s.  The first arrivals were of Spanish and Portuguese descent.  The earliest record is an entry in the 1880 U.S, Census.  The ―record‖ tells stories of hardship, struggles and sometimes, of untimely death.  It is a story of hope and dreams.  And for many, it is a story of ―becoming‖ American.
  6. 6. McLean County, IL 1876 Railroad Map
  7. 7. Latinos & Railroads in McLean County C&A Shops 1920
  8. 8. Work – Canning Factories Source: Souvenir of Bloomington Illinois 1912 CARLI: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois
  9. 9. Key Events Impacting Mexican Immigration The Chinese Exclusionary Act 1882 & the Mexican Revolution 1910–1930 World War I 1914 -1918 Poster image (left) Courtesy of Soldaderas Photo (Right) Courtesy of
  10. 10. Mexican Revolution Execution by the dreaded Rurales Enforcers for the President of the Mexican Republic, Porfirio Diaz Photo courtesy of
  11. 11. WW II & The Bracero Program 1942 – 1964 Left photo courtesy of Right photo courtesy of
  12. 12. U.S Railroad Ties to Mexico Published: November 27, 1907 United Mine Workers Copyright © The New York Times Journal Shonts May Head the Alton – July 11, 1918 FELTON GOES TO MEXICO
  13. 13. Attitudes to Mexican Labor Railway Age Gazette July 1, 1912 to December 31, 1912 Issue, p. 519, (Google Books)
  14. 14. 1928 -Death on the Rails Cristobal Montañez
  15. 15. McLean County, IL U.S Census Data Finding: A preliminary survey of original U.S. Census forms from 1880-1940 indicates that there were Latinos (primarily people of Mexican origin) living in Bloomington, Normal, Towanda, Bellflower, and Chenoa.
  16. 16. 1880 U.S. Census – Bloomington, IL Anthony & Catherine Frances Born in Spain & Ireland Source:
  17. 17. The mystery of the boxcar community on the Alton Railroad right of way (see reference to the boxcars at the lower left margin). Source:
  18. 18. WW I Draft Mexicans in McLean County Source:
  19. 19. WW I Draft Mexicans in McLean County Source:
  20. 20. WW I Draft Mexicans in McLean County Source:
  21. 21. WW II Draft Mexicans in McLean County Source:
  22. 22. WW II & Korean War Veterans • Lorenzo Garcia (WW II & Korea) - Chenoa IL • Paul Segobiano (Korea) – Bloomington, IL (more Latinos have served, additional research is needed)
  23. 23. Arthur & MattieVasconcellos arrived in B/N around 1912. Son Arthur (shorter of the two men pictured below) and his wife Antionette were the Flying Concellos. Family is of Portuguese descent. Circus poster (left ) Courtesy of Photo (right) Courtesy of the Circus Historical Society
  24. 24. Agapito ―Pete‖ Garcia & Felicia (Flores) Garcia Settled in Chenoa, IL around 1915 Source: Pantagraph Newspaper • CHENOA — Lorenzo Garcia, 86, of • Presentacion Ramirez Garcia, 83 of Chenoa passed away at 10:16 p.m. Chenoa, passed away at 10:00 pm, Saturday (March 26, 2011) Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at her • Lorenzo was born Aug. 10, 1924, in residence in Chenoa. Chenoa, the son of Agapito and • Presentacion was born November Felicia (Flores) Garcia. He married 21, 1928 in Crowell, TX the Precentacion Ramirez on Dec. 5, daughter of Tiburcio and Maria 1953, in San Carlos, Mexico. Ramos Ramirez. She married • Lorenzo served our country in the Lorenzo Garcia on December 5, U.S. Army during World War II 1953 in San Carlos, Mexico. He and the Korean War. He was passed away March 26, 2011. employed for more than 45 years by • Survivors include one son; Ernest GM&O Railroad and later Illinois Garcia and two grandchildren, Anne Central Railroad, retiring in 1986. Marie and Paul Lorenzo Garcia all of Fairbury; three sisters, Francisca Borrego of Plainview, TX; Gilberta Martinez of Bloomington; and Teresa (Domingo) Carranza of Chenoa and many loving nieces and nephews.
  25. 25. 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 County
  26. 26. George Segobiano At age 11, 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 (Courtesy of the McLean County Museum of History)
  27. 27. Salvador ―El Conejo/Rabbit‖ Sandoval Galvan & Maria Alfaro Sandoval
  28. 28. Patricia, Sylvia, Sandra & Luis Sandoval 1975
  29. 29. Latino Stories Hardships Hard work and faith Latino heritage and proud Americans Family, friends, church and community Celebration of life events Education Humor & Optimism The telling of Latino stories has just begun.