James Barayasarra Wins Second in Basque Literary Contest

James Barayasarra has won second prize in the 2018 Basque Literary Contest for his manuscript “Seven Wagons and a Half”, a hilarious and touching tale about growing up as the middle child of Basque immigrants Nemesio and Victorina Barayasarra.

“…[M]y parents did not have a high level of education, they were self-taught, were proud of their Basque heritage and American citizenship. They experienced many hardships, including poverty and discrimination, and yet they survived. It was tough, but I wouldn’t trade any of the events for all the towers in the world. I mean we were poor, discriminated against, but we made it through and I can live to tell about it. I have taught my offspring about my heritage and hope they will appreciate their Basque heritage and sacrifices of immigrants like Nemesio & Victorina Barayasarra,” Barayasarra said when asked about his inspiration for “Seven Wagons and a Half”, “The story is about the attempt to record the contributions of an immigrant family, such as Nemesio & Victorina. Even though they had challenges and struggled at times, they survived the hardest times. It is about appreciation of their hard work and to honor them for their sacrifices.”

James Barayasarra

James Barayasarra

Since his teaching days at high school level in Idaho and Nevada, teaching as well at SUNY Alfred State and Chesapeake College, having received a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Master’s of Education from the College of Idaho, as well as a Masters in Natural Sciences from the University of Idaho; and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Biology from Saint Bonaventure University, Barayasarra has “ taken approximately 40 hours of theatre, creative writing, and art…[and has] 9 unpublished work plays, one that has been performed on stage, thank you very much”.


  1. Johnny Serafin Olearain

    January 23, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    My Name is Johnny Serafin Olearain. My father was born in Spain and immigrated here in , I believe, the 1920’s with his family. His mothers name was Pia Barayasarra. I had two 2nd cousins who came over and lived with us for years before returning to Spain. There’re names were Pedro,and Thomas Barayasarra. Is there any way I can verify you are a part of my family. This is the first time I’ve seen the name, Barayasarra in print. I’m very excited to find what I hope to be family I never knew. Thank you so much and congratulations. Johnny

    • Dolores Totorica (amateur genealogist and friend of James B)

      March 23, 2019 at 11:06 pm

      I do not think that Nemesio & Pia, nor their parents were cousins —– here is Nemesio Barayazarra’s baptismal in Errigoiti —- 1352418 Barayazarra, Monasterio, Nemesio
      [Padre] Barayazarra, Asla, Candido
      [Madre] Monasterio, Urlezaga, Luisa Manuela H 1897-10-06 Errigoiti-Errigoiti —- here is Candido’s baptism 488019 Barayazarra, Asla, Candido
      [Padre] Barayazarra, Yturriolaeta, Jose
      [Madre] Asla, Arriaga, Francisca H 1867-10-03 Arrieta-Arrieta ——————————————————- is this one your grandmother Pia???? 314560 Barayazarra, Ynunciaga, Felipa Pia
      [Padre] Barayazarra, Gandárias, Pantaleon
      [Madre] Ynunciaga, Ajuriagojeascoa, Feliciana M 1887-05-01 Muxika-Ibarruri —— here is Pantaleon’s baptism in Errigoiti — 388260 Barayazarra, Gandarias, Pantaleon
      [Padre] Barayazarra, Elorriaga, Juan Bauptista
      [Madre] Gandarias, Embeita, Maria Antonia H 1843-07-27 Errigoiti-Errigoiti

  2. Interesting article.

  3. James P. Barayasarra

    February 18, 2019 at 10:13 am

    I have met very few of my relatives although my sister’s daughter and her sons have. My dad’s father was Candido Barayasarra (or z instead of s). His mother was Manuella Monesterio. I know he had a brother, Martin. That is about all I know. I am the middle and now the only living child of Nemesio and Victorina: We are Luis, Felipa, Alva, Jaime (me), Frank, Michael, and Manuel Martin.
    Please have the Center of Basque Studies give you my email address or phone number.
    Hope to hear from you.

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