Category: Basques in Oregon

Basques in the United States: Add your personal tale to this ever expanding project

We here at the Center for Basques Studies are amazed by the amount of work that has gone into collecting the countless stories of Basque immigrants to the United States, and the results of this labor can be found in the three volumes, and counting, of Basques in the United States. Now it’s your turn to tell your story! Do you have a relative who migrated to the States? Perhaps you migrated here yourself! Have you taken a look at your own family members’ entries and found discrepancies or have additional information? We’d love your help, and it only takes a few minutes, here’s how:

First, visit our website: https://basquesintheus.blogs.unr.edu

There you will find links to add a new entry, correct an existing entry, or add to an existing entry. Today, we’re going to look at creating a new entry.

Once you click on the link, you will be lead to the following page:

As you can see, it’s a form where you can input all of the information you know. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the specifics! Fill in what you know.

Next, you will be asked to add more personal information about the family, work experience(s), and stories of your migrant. Once again, do the best you can!

Be sure to add a photo if you have one!

Lastly, you are required to include your own information so that we can reach out to you.

Once again, this is your chance to be part of this amazing project! Be sure to take a few minutes out of your busy day to preserve the history and memory of your family, believe me, it will be worth it. And keep in mind, we regularly post on individuals mentioned in this biographical encyclopedia. Who knows, you or your family members could be next!

Please contact us via replies (at the bottom of this page) if you need further assistance. We look forward to reading your stories!

Tales from Basques in the United States: A Wild West story

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Southeastern Oregon countryside near Downey Canyon where these tragic events took place.

Today’s story in our weekly look into the lives of ordinary Basques who came to the US is adapted from vol. 1 of Basques in the United States and concerns the sad story of (Raimundo) Domingo Aldecoa Egaña.

BUS cover

Born in the Kurtziaga neighborhood of Ispaster, Bizkaia, ca. 1884, he arrived in New York City on Apr. 21, 1903 and went to Oregon, where his uncle Juan Acarregui lived. Domingo Aldecoa became a sheep camp tender and a partner in a third of a large herd in Jordan Valley. He gradually built up his own herd of 2,100 sheep that every year during lambing season he would take to Downey Canyon, OR.

In the spring of 1910 another sheepman named Blanchett decided to take his herd to lamb to the same canyon, arriving there before Aldecoa. On Apr. 1 Aldecoa started to move his herd toward the canyon. Two herders were guiding it, one of them his younger brother. Obviously he did not seem to know that Blanchett had arrived with his sheep ahead of him. On April 3 Aldecoa arrived and with the other herders and began setting up camp. Charles Wear, one of Blanchett’s herders came up to the Basque camp and, aiming his gun at Aldecoa, ordered him to abandon the site. Domingo agreed, even though he had been coming with his herd to the same spot for many years.

Around 4pm that same day the two Basque herders moving Domingo’s sheep arrived at a hill overlooking the canyon. Blanchett and Wear saw them and started moving their herd toward the Basque herders. When the two herds were about 200 yards from each other, the Basques started to move their animals away so they would not mix. Wear and Blanchett advanced toward the Basque herders, who tried to explain to them that they were going to the camp Domingo was preparing. Then Wear pulled his revolver out and began insulting and attacking them. The Basques moved the sheep about 2 miles away and young Aldecoa went looking for his brother. Meanwhile, Wear went to the Basque camp and pulled the tents down, scattering their provisions and clothes. Young Aldecoa went to the ranch and told his brother all that had happened. Domingo then went to Jordan Valley and the following morning went back to the camp, intending to pick up the things and take them over to Jordan Creek.

At this time the two herds were about 1,000 feet apart from each other. Young, one of Blanchett’s herders who had spent the night with the herd (and who would turn into the prosecutor’s principal witness), reported that Wear came to their camp and told him go eat dinner. Wear was armed with a rifle and a revolver. About 1,000 feet away he saw Domingo picking things up. Wear entered the Basque camp and Young heard some shots. Young said he then saw Domingo running away and Wear chasing him. Domingo had a gun in his hand and was bleeding and came to Blanchett’s camp seeking Young’s help. But Wear caught up with him and shot him dead in cold blood. Charles Wear was sentenced to life imprisonment (Idaho Statesman, May 7, 1910).

We intend for Basques in the United States to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we’d like it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US.

If you’d like to share your own family stories with us, please click here at our dedicated Basques in the United States Project website.

Tales from Basques in the United States: If you ever needed reminding that Basques had a reputation for working hard…

Today’s story in our series of tales from Basques in the United States is adapted from vol. 1 and concerns the amazing feat of record-breaking Antonio Malasechevarria, brother of the more tragic “Txomin” covered in a previous post.

Jan eta lo, potolo (“The Devil makes work for idle hands,” literally: “Just eating and sleeping makes you fat”)

 Lan onak, uzta ona (“Good work, good harvest”)

Gus Bundy.

Long, lonely days on remote mountains were the norm for newly arrived Basque sheepherders. Photo courtesy of Gus Bundy, from the Basque Archive.

Born Apr. 22, 1890 in Gizaburuaga, Bizkaia, he arrived in New York City in 1910 and went straight to Winnemucca, NV, to meet up with his brother, Juan, who was working in Paradise Valley. He became a sheepherder and, after stints in Humboldt Co., NV, he ended up working for Jay H. Dobbins in southern Idaho and Oregon. In 1918 the media reported that he had broken a record that was difficult to match: He had worked a straight 38 months and 5 days or 3 years, 2 months, and 5 days, without taking a single day off! What’s more, he didn’t receive a single penny for any of this mammoth work shift until it was over, and he went into a town only when passing through. In the end, he received a check for $2,018. Antonio was one of the five “Bascos” contracted by Dobbins in the spring of 1915. Another compatriot, José Arriaga, had also worked 2 years straight without rest (Oregonian, Jul. 7, 1918).

We intend for Basques in the United States to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we’d like it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US.

If you’d like to share your own family stories with us, please click here at our dedicated Basques in the United States Project website.