KS History – Group D

blogs about KS history

Mexican American Labor in Kansas November 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tfern24 @ 3:49 pm

Learning about Mexican American Labor, brought a question to mind, what sort of things did they do here in Kansas? Some of the things include meat packing plants, sugar factories, and even railroad systems. Being of Mexican descent and having a family who grew up in Salina, Kansas brought somewhat of a personal interest to this matter.

Many people may not recognize the kind of effect Mexican Labor had on Kansas, and how it helped to aide in the production and even industrialization of Kansas.  One could go as far to say that Kansas would not be the way it is without Mexican labor even today, especially in relation to the meatpacking plants in southwest Kansas. Even though they built some of the railroad tracks in Kansas, the tracks themselves were used to attract European Emigrants to come and settle in Kansas and create an agricultural empire.

The image description on Kansas memory says that these are Mexican American workers on the Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe railroad section. This image was taken near Pauline, Kansas. In the image description is also says, the men are standing next to a little girl dress in all white. The significance of that is not fully clear to me, but it comes off as a racial distinction between two races/ethnicity, the Hispanics and whites. The interpretation one can draw from this picture is that the Mexican American men were building this for the white men of Kansas. It is not as though they were building it for themselves.

In relation to the reading for this week out of the course pack, it was obvious that Mexican workers were not treated fairly and were even blamed for economic issues.  The image could almost be placed in our reading for this week because it depicts the Mexican community as workers, but also puts them at a status below whites.  The perspective that immigrant labor is mainly Mexican Americans relates both to this photo and the in class reading. Question to the readers of this blog, did you know how much of an impact Mexican American labor had in Kansas before this week’s reading and this blog on the railroads?

Here is another image that was presented on the site related to this subject matter.

(crew consisting of Mexican American labor)

Image 1:  Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe Section Crew, Pauline, Kansas . Kansas Memory. http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/214380 (Accessed November 19, 2009)

Image 2: Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe Railroad Crew. Kansas Memory.  http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/210147 (Accessed November 19, 2009).

By : Tracy Fernandez

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7 Responses to “Mexican American Labor in Kansas”

  1. Kristen Epps Says:

    Those are some great photographs, Tracy!

  2. elena Says:

    Great photographs. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dennis Hermreck Says:

    Interesting stuff. Thanks for posting. My grandfather was a Mexican-American railroad worker for the ATSF from the turn of the century to the 1950’s, working on the line from Garnett south. We have several photos of him on the section gang around the Garnett area during the 1920’s and 30’s. He was born in El Paso Tx and we think migrated north when the ATSF recruited mexican workers to build track from 1900 to 1910. Thanks again…this is an area of Kansas history somewhat ignored and so it is nice to see these types of postings.

    Dennis Hermreck
    Onaga, Ks.

  4. Elisa Montoya Says:

    My Grandparents came in 1920 to Newton, KS. My Grandpa, worked for the Santa Fe railroad and retired, 70s yrs old when I was born, and never quit working. They lived well considering the hard labor and low wages. My dad was second generation railroad worker and retired also. This information needs to be known how they built and keep these small towns running.

  5. Gloria G Urueta Says:

    Thank you for posting this pictures. My grandfather worked for this railroad during the year 1930’s. He is originally from Mexico and met my grandmother in Zacatecas, Mexico. He then joined the railroad taking his family to Kansas. He had four children when he died in Santa Fe. My father turned 79 this year and never met his father. He would love to see any, if there is more pictures of familys that worked in the railroad. If anyone has any information about a web site that I might be able to look up anything pretaining to my grandfather, please let me know. His name was Miguel Gallegos married to Felipa Rodriquez Gallegos. His children were Auruelio, Leonardo, Rosa and my father Cirpiano.

  6. jose romo Says:

    we just can not find where Miguel Gallegos was buried. I am talking about the father of Aurelio, Leonardo, Rosa and Cipriano. If anybody can help me let meknow please.


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