The pull of the United State for many Mexicans migrants were many. There was the rapidly developing agricultural region of the American southwest. Viable irrigation systems created booms in cotton, citrus and beet farming. The need for the labor of harvest was met by thousands of migrants. They sought the higher wages and political stability of America. During the first three decades of the 20th century the immigrant labor pool became indispensable.
22 year old Gaspar Dominguez along with his wife and infant son entered the United States on October 5, 1916. They had traveled, most likely by train, from Mexican state of Zacatecas to El Paso, Texas. Eight months later he was working with Southwestern Railway in Pelea, New Mexico.
Leonardo Dominguez, Gaspar’s cousin, entered the United States on May 9, 1919. He arrived in El Paso, Texas with $30.00 in his pocket and hopes of finding work. His name was changed to “Leandro” by the intake personnel. Leonardo was afraid to mention the error for fear of refusal to enter the United States and so Leandro he was for the rest of his American life. By January of 1920 Leonard was working for the U.S. Government as a laborer at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Also in that month he traveled to El Paso to meet his wife, Jacinta Hernandez, and children who had traveled north to be with him.
Juan Dominguez, Leonardo’s brother and Gaspar’s cousin, entered the United States in 1918, most likely through El Paso, Texas. He arrived with his wife, Maria Marquez, and 3 year old son, Manuel. By 1920 his family had settled in Kyrene, Arizona with other members of their extended family.
Eventually Gaspar moved his family to Kyrene and is enumerated in the 1920 U.S. Census. Juan and his family lived within a mile of the Gaspar Dominguez family. In 1919 Gaspar’s brothers; José Ascención Dominguez and Pedro Dominguez immigrated and settled in Kyrene next door to their brother. Leonard moved his family to Kyrene by 1921. Here the extended family lived, celebrated and worked in the cotton industry.
Cotton first became a major crop in Arizona during World War I. By 1920 Arizona cotton was so valuable and so profitable that farmers in the state stopped producing almost all other crops to concentrate on cotton. Dirt hardened “streets” connected the community of Kyrene were migrant workers lived with family and friends.
Kyrene was a springboard for the families as well. I can imagine them talking about the future. Whether they should remain in the United States or return to Mexico. If they chose the United States then remain in Arizona or travel to Los Angeles. Eventually José Ascención and Pedro returned to Mexico. Leonardo and family settled in San Dimas. Juan and family lived in Los Angeles. Gaspar and family moved to Fullerton in Orange County.
And the families grew and added to the American Experience.