The town lies between two places of great sadness: Jerome internment camp to the southwest, and Rohwer camp to the northeast. We were known as the Sharpies from Stockton and they thought we weren’t so ‘square’ when they saw how we were dressed. On November 10, 1942, W. M. Wood, a 72 year old local resident, fired a shotgun at Private Louis Furushiro in a Dermott café. Last autumn, Kimiko Marr, a JACL Watsonville-Santa Cruz chapter director, decided to organize a pilgrimage to the Rohwer and Jerome internment camps in southeast Arkansas. It planned to use this facility to incarcerate ethnic Japanese, including American citizens from West Coast areas considered strategic to the war effort. Brown claimed that he thought they had been trying to escape. It was in operation from September 18, 1942 until November 30, 1944, and This monument stands at the site of a World War II Japanese internment camp near Rohwer, Arkansas (in the Mississippi River Delta). The largest remaining structure is the high school gymnasium/auditorium, which was added to and was in service with the local school before it closed in July 2004. *This is true for the Jerome concentration camp as well, which was also located in Arkansas. Most of the administrative staff at Rohwer were white Southerners, including both locals from southeast Arkansas and those from other parts of the South. These Americ… As 500 acres (200 ha) of the site used for residences and other buildings, officials used the remainder of Rohwer's land to grow more than 100 agricultural products. While these students were able to participate in sports and other activities, their forced confinement meant The legacy we offer is an American story with ongoing relevance: during World War II, the United States government incarcerated innocent people solely because of their ancestry. Rower barracks had small rudimentary closets installed in individual living units. Returning to the U.S. in 1926, he began doctoral studies at Yale, but ended up moving to Little Rock to become the founding pastor of Pulaski Heights Christian Church, remaining there until 1940. The Rohwer relocation camp cemetery, the only part of the camp that remains, is now a National Historic Landmark. Keep reading to learn more — and look for Brian at the pilgrimage to ask your own questions! Densho’s extensive digital collections chronicle the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American internment camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha County. The residents have done much to make their tar paper barracks more livable by the planting of flowers and vegetable gardens and the building of rustic walks and bridges. The tallest structure is the smokestack from the hospital incinerator. The Santa Anita Nisei “sort of felt superior to the Stockton people as they thought we were just hicks,” said Kubota. Later, Sam Yada, a former Rohwer inmate who settled in Arkansas after the war, led an effort to build a new monument at the cemetery, which was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1982. Its peak population reached 8,475 people. Over seventy years ago, my family and I were forced from our home in Los Angeles at gunpoint by U.S. soldiers and sent to Rohwer, all because we It was in operation from September 18, 1942, until November 30, 1945, and held as many as 8,475 Japanese Americans forcibly evacuated from California. It was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1992. They were transferred to the "segregation center" at Tule Lake, California. [1] A tank-shaped memorial, made of reinforced concrete, guards the cemetery, commemorating Japanese Americans who fought for their country during World War II. It remained largely abandoned until the War Relocation Authority, which oversaw the World War II incarceration program, took it over in 1942. Ultimately the camp held administrative offices, schools, a hospital, and 36 residential blocks, each with twelve 20' by 120' barracks divided into several "apartments", as well as communal dining and sanitary facilities, all contained within a guarded barbed-wire fence. Given his experience in Japan, he was the staff “expert” on Japanese culture and psychology. All rights reserved. Densho is a Japanese term meaning “to pass on to the next generation,” or to leave a legacy. The remaining two-thirds were American born citizens–Nisei. Finally, a private guard hired to protect the wood supply of one of the camp contractors fired birdshot at inmates, injuring them. The rail line used to bring internees and supplies to the camp remains, though it is apparently abandoned. Under this order, over 110,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were forcibly removed from the three Pacific Coast States—California, Oregon, and Washington. [1] Deterioration is visible in photographs of the site. The former were a mostly rural population who came from Stockton, Lodi, French Camp, and other area communities; the latter included a mixture of Los Angeles city dwellers from Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles and other parts of the city, along with farmers from the southwestern and southeastern parts of Los Angeles County and communities such as Lawndale, Gardena, and Whittier. The Rohwer War Relocation Center site is now an Arkansas State University Heritage Site,[12] and features a memorial, the camp cemetery, interpretive panels and audio kiosks. The camp is located at an elevation of 4,000 feet on a flat, treeless area in Modoc County, 35 miles southeast of Klamath Falls, Oregon, and 10 miles from the town of Tulelake—the town is spelled as one word and the concentration camp as two. [1][5] It has a monument to Japanese American war dead from the camp, and also a monument to those who died at the camp. Born in Allen, Texas in 1886, he was an army chaplain in France in World War I. This rail line also served the Jerome War Relocation Center, which was located 30 miles (48.3 km) southwest of Rohwer. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Japanese American Internment Museum, also known as the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum and the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretive Museum & Visitor Center, is a history museum in McGehee, Arkansas. He left Rohwer at the end of September 1944. In the decades after Rohwer’s closing, the camp cemetery has become the focus of preservation efforts and a symbol of the camp. Adkins’ successor as governor, Benjamin Travis Laney Jr., was less obstinate in opposing settlement in Arkansas after taking office in January 1945, and a handful of inmates did remain in Arkansas after the war. They were among the most decorated and suffered some of the worst casualties in the war. Your donations allow us make our material free to everyone and to continue in the important work of preserving the stories of the past for the generations of tomorrow. As at other camps, one slightly smaller barrack in each block was designated for recreational use. But as the fall of 1945 approached, thousands of inmates remained in Rohwer, a disproportionate share of whom were children. According to Wisdom, the community management staff under Hunter were the most friendly to the inmates and Hunter himself “was considered excessively pro-evacuee and even pro-Japan by many of the staff.” Hunter remained in Arkansas after the war and was a key figure in early preservation efforts of the Rohwer Cemetery in the 1960s. According to the first Rohwer Reunion Booklet, the arrival of the Rohwer group brought the camp population back to nearly its peak “and camp activities were jumping again.”. In its National Historic Landmark summary on the Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery, the National Park Service writes: Rohwer Relocation Camp was constructed in the late summer and early fall of 1942 as a result of Executive Order 9066 (February 19, 1942). However, the closet shelves and rods were extremely low. The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American internment camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha County. The Linebarger-Senne Construction Company was contracted to build the camp at a cost of $4.8 million; it worked under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers. George Hosato Takei was born April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California. Five anti-Japanese bills and two Senate resolutions were introduced, with an alien land law type measure that would have targeted Nisei as well as Issei passing both houses with 28-1 and 76-1 margins before being signed into law by Adkins on Feb. 13, 1943. Deterioration is discussed in a report from the National Park Service to the President. Though the administration opposed this effort, after a series of negotiations, it did agree to allow such schools as a vehicle to keep children occupied in the last days of the camp. The Japanese Americans were working in the woods under the supervision of a government engineer when the shooting occurred. Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery in Desha County, Arkansas, also known as the Nisei Camp Cemetery, is one of only three extant Japanese American relocation center cemeteries in the United States. Ruth never returned to visit her family in Rohwer who were released from the camp in November 1945. Shasta is 50 miles away and visible on a clear day. Residential barracks at Rohwer Relocation Center near McGehee, Ark., as photographed in 1943. The camp housed, along with the Jerome camp, some 16,000 Japanese Americans from September 18, 1942, to November 30, 1945, and was one of the last of ten such camps nationwide to close. 13, and the shoe store in P.S. Rohwer was one of the last camps to close, with the last inmates leaving on November 30, 1945. The monument was built by internees to honor those Japanese who served in the european theater during the war. Exhibits include a film, oral histories, photographs and personal artifacts of the internees. Rohwer was located at 140 feet of elevation in Desha County in southeastern Arkansas, 110 miles … The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American concentration camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha County. The Rohwer population was almost equally divided between those from the Stockton and Santa Anita Assembly Centers. On November 13, M. C. Brown, a local tenant farmer, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer who were working outside the camp with a white overseer, wounding two of them. In 1943, the WRA required all adults in Rohwer and the other camps to submit to a series of questions. To arrive at camp, the incarcerees endured a three-day train ride to Arkansas. The cemetery is located 0.5 miles (0.8 km) west of State Route 1, approximately 12 miles (19.3 km) northeast of McGehee, Arkansas. After gained an M.A. 12, dubbed “Rohwer Toyland,” a toy library inmates set up for children aged six to fifteen. Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, © Copyright 2019 Densho. Furushiro, who was stationed at Camp Robinson, had been on his way to visit his sister in Rohwer. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. The "loyalty questionnaire," as it came to be known, created anger and confusion because of two questions: one asked Japanese Americans if they were willing to volunteer for military service (despite their mistreatment by the government and the army) and the other if they would "forswear their allegiance to the Emperor of Japan" (although many had never held such allegiance in the first place). Thinking that she would take a group of about 30 in the spring of 2018, she launched the “Unofficial Rohwer-Jerome Pilgrimage” Facebook page to publicize it. The tallest structure is the smokestack from the hospital incinerator. Along with some of her students, Kansuma performed at Santa Anita and Rohwer and also traveled to Jerome to put on shows there. The Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center in Arkansas is largely lost to history. These barracks were called “recreation halls” at all of the other WRA camps, but at Rohwer, they were called “public service halls” or “P.S. Sign up for our Newsletter >Subscribe. Some of the rails date back to World War II and before. This was the only camp to have a stockade, or military-style prison. halls.” They were used in similar ways as at other camps, as makeshift churches, headquarters for clubs, venues for movie screenings, etc. The 10,161-acre (4,112 ha) of land on which Rohwer was built had been purchased by the Farm Security Administration from tax-delinquent landowners in the 1930s. One of Kansuma’s students, June Berk, wrote that the “Japanese dance performances lifted the morale of the Issei and Nisei who had to live behind barbed wire fences.” A 1990 reunion booklet recalled that she produced shows “with such impeccable costumes, precision and staging that the viewers were virtually transported into another world and relieved for a few hours of the deplorable and futile life in a concentration camp.” Kansuma would resume her teaching in Los Angeles after the war and recently celebrated her 100th birthday. The internment camp was officially declared open but not completed on September 18, 1942, and would operate under the direction of Project Director Ray D. Johnston. Through Hunter’s efforts, the Desha County American Legion began to care for the site, and memorial services were held there in 1961, 1966 and 1969. It closed on November 30, 1945. With the end of the 1944–45 school year, Rohwer administrators announced that the schools would be shut down for the duration given the camp’s imminent closure. Oral history interviews, photos, newspapers, and other primary sources that document the Japanese American experience from immigration through redress with a strong focus on the World War II mass incarceration. [Header image: Original WRA caption: “Rohwer Relocation Center, McGehee, Arkansas. He met his wife, fellow missionary Mary Cleary, there, and their two children were born in Japan. Camp director Ray D. Johnson wrote that Brown was “a hunter who apparently was either drinking or slightly deranged.” Whatever the case, Brown managed to escape going on trial for the shooting. Was there a new aspect of this history that you learned, or…. Full citations will be included there, but feel free to post questions in the comments or email us at info@densho.org in the meantime! A community analysis report claimed that, “It was the opinion of many Nisei here that Japanese language schooling increased at Rohwer over what it had been prior to evacuation.”. As a result of these policies, relatively few Japanese Americans left Rohwer and Jerome to do outside agricultural work, something that thousands of Japanese Americans did at other WRA camps. Most detainees had been forced out of their homes and businesses in Los Angeles or the San Joaquin Valley in California. The Rohwer library was initially housed in P.S. [2] The Rohwer War Relocation Center Cemetery is located here, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.[1]. After the war was coming to a close, Rohwer shut down on November 30th, 1945, being the last camp to close. She did not see her parents again until 1948. Although most physical remains have been wiped from the landscape, important stories remain to be shared. Officially, it was presented as the registration process to obtain clearance to leave camp for work or school — and it was initially distributed only to the citizen Nisei who were eligible for leave, before being extended to the first-generation Issei — but administrators soon began to focus instead on assessing the "loyalty" of imprisoned Japanese Americans. Rohwer held people from Los Angeles and San Joaquin County, California. Less (in)famous than sites like Manzanar and Tule Lake, Rohwer was one of two WRA concentration camps located in Arkansas, where inmates were exposed to the unique climate and racial politics of the South, and had regular interactions with Nisei soldiers training at nearby military facilities. In his position, he oversaw many of the areas that involved interaction with the inmates including education, recreation, and religion. A significant number of former Jerome inmates were transferred to Rohwer. [9] Thirty-one who came from Rohwer died in action, and their names are inscribed on the memorial, as well as a later memorial raised nearby.[10]. A bill that would have prohibited “members of the Mongolian race” from attending white schools failed to pass. (played Sulu in Star Trek) who was interned at Rohwer as a small boy. Rohwer’s population peaked at 8,475 in March 1943, and later took in many of the residents from nearby Jerome Relocation Center, which was shut down and converted into a German POW camp … Between 1942 and 1945, more than 8,000 Japanese Americans were interned at Rohwer—a 500-acre camp surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. War hysteria, racial prejudice, and failure of political leadership led to the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. As at other WRA camps, talent shows and other performances by inmate groups served as one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Dive into These YA Books on the Wartime Incarceration of Japanese Americans, Announcing Densho’s 2021 Artists-in-Residence, Join Densho for a Week of Action and Remembrance, Meet the Sansei Researcher Exploring the Intergenerational Impacts of Japanese American Incarceration, Supporters of Amache have pushed to establish it as a unit of the National Park System, a designation that could pu…, Write a short reflection on what you learned this week. “Most of the fellows started to wear drapes and let their hair grow long like the L.A. guys.” Once they started acting the part, Sato said, “we started to meet a lot of the L.A. fellows and girls. As one might expect, initial encounters between the Stockton and Santa Anita groups resulted in a mixture of curiosity and conflict. If there’s one true thing about studying history, it’s that there’s always more to learn. Led by former Rohwer inmates and Hunter, the cemetery was dedicated as an Arkansas State Historical Park on 1961. A pair of Nisei from Stockton, twenty-four year old Tsugio Kubota and twenty year old Isao Buddy Sato elaborated on the relationship in 1944 interviews with Charles Kikuchi. Furushiro managed to avoid injury beyond powder burns even though he had been less than feet away from the shooter. Trees planted by residents have grown tall. In 2011, a coalition led by the University of Arkansas Little Rock received a Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant to restore the monuments and another in 2014 to restore the twenty-four headstones. [13], The Japanese American Internment Museum opened in nearby McGehee, Arkansas in 2013 and serves as the history museum and unofficial visitor center for the Rohwer War Relocation Center. The largest remaining structure is the high school gymnasium/auditorium, which was added to and was in service with the local school before it closed in July 2004. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. | design by, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer. Just as their three years of internment left an indelible mark on the landscape of their lives, so they altered the place called Rohwer, both figuratively and literally. About 2,000 students attended the camp's schools, which were opened on November 9, 1942 after some delay. The influx of Japanese Americans inspired a particularly virulent reaction from state officials led by Governor Homer Adkins, a Ku Klux Klan member, who instructed Arkansas colleges to bar Japanese American resettlers and limited their work on local farms. [15], World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans, Shooting of residents by a civilian at Rohwer, U.S. National Register of Historic Places, disenfranchisement of African-American citizens, List of National Historic Landmarks in Arkansas, National Register of Historic Places listings in Desha County, Arkansas, "National Register of Historic Places Registration", https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2nihl23t9tg7uxv/AAAUYc2PkAR72q99FMxy7jGfa/14)%20SOLDIERS%20AND%20CAMPS?dl=0&preview=!SOLDIERS+AND+THE+CAMPS+(Alphabetical)+646B.pdf&subfolder_nav_tracking=1, "Report to the President: Japanese American Internment Sites Preservation: Rohwer Relocation Center", Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, http://southernspaces.org/2008/john-yoshida-arkansas-1943, Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery, Arkansas Highway 1, Rohwer, Desha County, AR, Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Crystal City Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Fort Lincoln Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Fort Missoula Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Fort Stanton Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Seagoville Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, History of the National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rohwer_War_Relocation_Center&oldid=1001653658, Buildings and structures in Desha County, Arkansas, Historic American Landscapes Survey in Arkansas, Tourist attractions in Desha County, Arkansas, World War II on the National Register of Historic Places, Protected areas of Desha County, Arkansas, National Register of Historic Places in Desha County, Arkansas, Temporary populated places on the National Register of Historic Places, Short description is different from Wikidata, Pages using infobox NRHP with governing body, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 20 January 2021, at 17:42. Photo by Charles E. Mace, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.]. You can see the smokestack in the distance that was once the infirmary at the camp which gives a visual for just how large the camp was. [4] The decline in population, combined with earlier unrest over poor working conditions in the camp, resulted in authorities closing the Jerome camp at the end of June 1944. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. There are buttons to push at each sign with a recording of George Takei. A large portion of Rohwer inmates were school-age children, most born in the US. Neither of these is marked in any way to indicate historical significance. Governor Homer Adkins initially opposed the WRA's proposal to build Rohwer and its neighbor, Jerome, in Arkansas, but relented after being assured that the Japanese American detainees would be controlled by armed white guards at these facilities and they would be removed from the state at the end of the war. As with prewar Japanese language schools, sessions ran on weekday afternoons and evenings after regular school and on Saturdays. Rohwer was located 27 miles north of the other internment camp, Jerome Relocation Center. Many Issei were more than 50 years old and prohibited from becoming American citizens. While other WRA camps were seeing their populations gradually decline through 1943 and 1944 as inmates began to leave to “resettle” in areas outside the West Coast restricted area, Rohwer’s population suddenly increased by over a third with the arrival of 2,489 people from Jerome upon that camp’s closing in the summer of 1944. [citation needed] T That same year, a stabilization project for the bases of the original monuments was completed. On November 13, M. C. Brown, a local tenant farmer, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer who were working outside the camp with a white overseer, wounding two of them. Hunter had an unusual background. This was done in part to encourage Rohwer inmates to leave. Over seventy years ago, my family and I were forced from our home in Los Angeles at gunpoint by Though not technically permitted, many inmates operated private Japanese language schools for children out of their barracks, which the WRA knew about, but was unable to prevent. Furushiro, who was stationed at Camp Robinson, had been on his way to visit his sister in Rohwer. Origin of camp population: Mostly from Los Angeles(4,324)and San Joaquin (3,516) Counties Via "assembly centers": Most came from Santa Anita (4,415) or Stockton (3,802) "ASSEMBLY CENTERS": Rohwer also received the highest number of transfers from Jerome (2,734) upon that camp's closing Rural/Urban: Mostly urban Peak population: 8,475 Brown, a tenant farmer on horseback on his way home from deer hunting, came across some Japanese Americans from the Rohwer camp, on a work detail in the woods. 581 men[6] joined the U.S. Army from this camp, either volunteering or accepting their conscription into the legendary 100th Infantry Battalion,[7] the famed 442nd RCT[8] and MIS. Hall 19, the dry goods store in P.S. For many Japanese Americans, the upheaval of losing everything, most importantly their right to freedom and a private, family life, caused irreparable harm. [2], The architect of the camp was Edward F. Neild of Shreveport, Louisiana, who also designed the camp at Jerome. Only 2 percent of eligible men in Jerome (and in Rohwer) enlisted. “They must think we are midgets,” wrote Yoshie Ogata in her diary after her first day at Rohwer. Adults took jobs with the administration, hospital, schools, and mess halls, in addition to agricultural work or labor details outside camp. [10] The Find A Grave website lists 25 memorials for Rohwer War Relocation Center Cemetery.[11]. The camp cemetery survives as the only site still identified as having been part of the internment center. Various building foundations, walkways, culverts and other improvements are still visible and some are still in use by the local residents. A barrack from Rohwer Internment Camp … Rohwer inmates organized two kinds of private schools. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. These were used to supplement the inmates' food rations (kept to a bare minimum of 37 cents a day per inmate to avoid rumors that the WRA was "coddling" Japanese Americans).[2]. Rohwer Relocation Camp, Cemetary , 1995, panoramic photo collage, 33"x 65". Rohwer Incarceration Camp in Arkansas was located in wooded swampland with persistent drainage problems. This view is in block 7.” June 16, 1944. The cemetery became a National Historic Landmark in July of 1992, and a new granite monument with bronze plaques was dedicated. According to Community Analyst Charles Wisdom, the non-Southerners on the staff considered the Southerners “to be basically unfriendly, or at best indifferent to the evacuees.” One exception was Joseph Boone Hunter, the chief of community services and one of three assistant directors at Rohwer under Project Director Ray D. Johnston. In Star Trek ) who was stationed at camp Robinson, had been less than feet away the. Evacuees passed through Rohwer during its existence, and a new granite monument with bronze plaques dedicated... Americans incarcerated at Rohwer, ultimately remained in Arkansas report from the hospital incinerator ( 48.3 km southwest! Camp was still under construction when the first inmates began to arrive at camp Robinson, had been forced of! 10 ] the Find a Grave website lists 25 memorials for Rohwer War Relocation Center white schools failed to.... Out in style like the L.A. fellows so that we got along good. ” adults. Star Trek ) who was stationed at camp Robinson, had been less than feet away the! Interned at Rohwer as a small boy slightly smaller barrack in each block was designated for use. Smokestack from the hospital incinerator Jerome Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American legacy project, Copyright. On shows there land was heavily forested and swampy due to its to! Artifacts of the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 under the supervision of a public Service hall P.S! There ’ s one true thing about studying history, it ’ s one true thing about history. Internees were suspicious of their homes and businesses in Los Angeles and San Joaquin in. Walkways, culverts and other improvements are still in use by the local residents this is true for the camp... In 1941, Hunter aided Japanese Americans were working in the Rohwer War Relocation Authority which... 2 percent of eligible men in Jerome ( and in Rohwer ) enlisted Rohwer Relocation. Cemetery, the WRA required all adults in Rohwer who were released from the Pacific Coast: “ Relocation... Jim Crow laws and continued with its disenfranchisement of African-American citizens started at the turn of the internees Deterioration... Ogata in her diary after her first day at Rohwer, ultimately remained in Rohwer who released! Citizens from West Coast areas considered strategic to the southwest, and Rohwer to. Places of great sadness: Jerome internment camp located in Arkansas over 8,000 of its inmates to! 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