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Rinzo Ogata - 1943: Helena. Montana

Brief History of the Ogata Family

By: Dye Ogata


The date is 1996, the Third Reunion of the Ogata family and this will be held in Riverside, CA on June 15 & 16. Dye Ogata, the Nisei bilingual member of the family has gathered data available to-date for this reunion. He has traveled the most and visited kinsfolk far and near, hence able to unravel names, places, ages and human interest tidbits that have been recorded in memory. He will be an octogenarian in October of this year and is ready to turn the task of keeper of the family annals to an aspiring candidate.

In feudal Japan, surnames developed along a complex system in which the warrior class played the dominant role. The cultural and geographic aspects of the society and features of the landscape also together account for family names of infinite variations. This is in sharp contrast to names say in China or Korea where there are only a few hundred.

The name Ogata is not a common name as say Suzuki or Toyota which are the names of autos found across our land. The name is found on the two big islands of Honshu and Kyushu. When we say Ogata, mind you it is not a single and specific name per se in Japan. There are probably 5 different ways of writing Ogata in Japanese. In Japanese the language is formed by syllables and Ogata is comprised of three syllables. There may have been a meaning for the name such as system, method or form of rope or cord, or some form of binding.

This the Preface which will be followed by 4 sections including Japan, Brazil, America and an Addendum.

In order to explain the where and the who in the geneaology of the Ogata family, the first order of division used here is geographic starting with Japan and specifically Kumamoto, the ancestral home. Brazil and America follow.


One might delve into the family records and reach back a long ways but this would have to be done in Japan by someone with intent and purpose. My records begin about 1850 with Tojiro Ogata (c 1850-1920) and his wife Sano Funatsu. From this union there were 5 boys and one girl as follows: Rinzo, Ginpei, Kitoshi, Tadashi, Chikaaki. The girl named Kunie married into Sakamoto. A son of hers came to America for a year or so working in agriculture after WWII. Of the boys, Rinzo came to America, Tadashi and Chikaaki initially went to Korea and then to Brazil. Some descendents in Brazil have recently moved to Ecuador.

For those who have left the ancestral home life has been anything but a bowl of cherries. Their descendants have attained high academic levels such as doctors, lawyers, scientists and the like. The longevity record goes to Tadashi of Brazil as he reached 97 in 1990. The largest number of progeny is shared by Rinzo and Ginpei with 7 children each.

The address of the ancestral home is Kumamoto-Ken, Kamoto-Gun, Kao-Machi, Oaza Chunoura, 529 Postal Code 861-05. The home itself was probably built in the 1800's and quite substantial. Rinzo Ogata met accidental death at the age of 63 and did not reach retirement or and age when one might reflect on one's youth.

Rinzo was the oldest son and it would have been his birth-right to inherit the family farm according to the prevailing system of primogeniture. However Rinzo who was born Jun. 12, 1883 left Japan after completing primary, secondary and some college. This college occurred at a remote location several hundred miles removed from the home on the island of Hokkaido in the city of Sapporo at an Agricultural College which showcased Western methods of farming and animal husbandry.

This college which has since changed its name is now part of the national college system. In order to introduce Western ways the Japanese Government invited Western scholars to teach. One such scholar was Professor Clark of MIT who insisted on a class on religion. His contribution also led to the creation of the slogan for the school, i.e. "Boys Be Ambitious." In Japanese this reads "Seinen Yo Taishi Wo Idake."

Rinzo was short in height measuring 4' 10" and this fact led to his disqualification for military service. With this release from compulsory service he probably applied for a permit to emigrate. All we know is that at the age of 21 he arrived in Seattle, WA aboard the S.S. Kanagawa Maru. [1904 - ejo]

More will be said of Rinzo in the section on America but this ends his time in Japan although he did return in 1920 to remarry after his wife Nobu Horiuchi died earlier that same year.

Ginpei's descendants now occupy the ancestral home. Rinzo had relinquished his rights of inheritance to Ginpei. Ginpei (1885-1973) married Tsune (family name?) (1892-1986). They lived to be 88 and 94. They had 5 boys: Shinobu, Tamashi, Takenori, Mitsunori and Takeharu. Also there were 2 girls: Yuriko and Seiko.

Ginpei and family.

Shinobu was about Dye's age and whenever Dye visited the home we shared some time together. As the war between Japan and China lingered on and then the war with America engulfed the entire island nation of Japan Shinobu was conscripted, he served in Manchuria and later sent to Okinawa where he died.

On Okinawa his name is inscribed on a war memorial that was visited by Dye. It is a matter of conjecture whether some unfriendly feelings may have developed because of the family's loss when you consider Dye fought for America and in so doing used his knowledge of Japanese during the course of his military career. Besides Shinobu there was only one other serviceman that Dye personally knew who gave his life during the course of WWII. That other person was a fellow Montanan by the name of George Washington Suyama who while fighting for the American Forces in France went missing in action and presumed to have died. Shinobu is buried in the family plot of the ancestral home.

Tamashi died either at birth or during infancy.

Yuriko married Katsumi Kimura; they had one girl and three boys as follows: Fumiko and 3 boys named Masaomi, Shuichi and Takemi. Only Takemi has visited some of the Ogatas in America. He is believed to be a practicing doctor in Kumamoto City. Fumiko married Akinori Sakanashi and they have 3 children named Nanami, Takako and Yuuji.

Masaomi's wife is Kazuyo and their 2 children are named Kumi and Takeshi.

Shuichi's wife is Kiyomi and their one child is Shogo.

Takenori's wife is Yumiko and their 2 children are Hideya and Hideji.

Hideji's wife is Naomi and their child is Takashi.

Mitsunori's wife is Akemi and they have 2 girls and 1 boy as follows: Masayo and Motoko are the girls and the boy is Nobuomi. Masayo has moved out from the family and has written Dye once.

Motoko married Shigeru Hayashi and they have a girl named Kanako.

The ancestral home is occupied by Mitsunori and his family while his older brother, Takenori built a home closeby.

In 1987 Dye, Martha and Elsie visited the ancestral home and took pictures of several members gathered there to welcome us. The Japanese names discussed here will be the subject of the Addendum in which the graphic form of the orthographic Japanese will be scribed by Dye.

Seiko married Mitsuru Nakamine and lives a half hour's drive away. They have 1 girl and 3 boys; Mikiom, Tsuneo, Masaharu and one girl named Yuoko who married Hirofumi Funatsu.

The Funatsu's have 2 children named Ryouta and Taishi. Oddly Funatsu is the same family name as that of the wife of Tojiro Ogata, the patriarch.

Takeharu married Miyuki. He was the youngest and is listed as deceased.

Kitoshi Ogata the third son of Tojiro lived on the seashore some distance away. On his first visit to Japan Dye visited his family and remembered gathering "nori" which is a seaweed used in the making of "sushi." There were 2 daughters and no record was made of his wife's name. No record of his death was received and little is known about this uncle.

Tadashi Ogata the fourth son of Tojiro married Michie Honda. After Japan annexed Korea in 1910 both Tadashi and his younger brother Chikaaki went there to explore opportunities. But they both decided to go to Brazil. At Panama or thereabouts they ran out of money and wired Rinzo in America for help.

Now on the maternal side two other ancestors are from Japan. There are two because Rinzo married twice and their names are Horiuchi and Udo. The ancestral homes of the two are separated by considerable distance....several hundred miles.

The address of the Horiuchi family is Yamanashi-Ken, Higashi Yatsushiro-Gun, Kami Kurogama-Mura which is an area near the foothills of Mt. Fuji. Mohachi Horiuchi married Aki Watanabe and they had one daughter named Nobu. Apparently this ancestral village was the home of the feudal warlord whose rival was from the prefecture of Shizuoka. The two rivals were somewhat akin to todays "yakuza" or gangsters. In old Japan when Rinzo was a youth tales of their acts of daring feats were the subjects of the popular literature as learned from Rinzo.

Mohachi was born c 1870 and immigrated to America c 1903 with his wife and daughter. America was not a land of opportunity but rather a land of sorrow as both his wife and daughter passed away early and he himself returned to Japan where he died c 1924. The earliest photos of him are dated 1909 in Washington state where he farmed in the Mt. Vernon area following his arrival in Seattle.

Based on her birthdate of July 10, 1894 Nobu would have been 9 years old when she arrived in Seattle. Aki Watanabe was born c 1871 and met violent death on June 24, 1914.

In 1938 when Dye made his first trip to Japan by himself, he made an effort to uncover what might have happened to Mohachi after his return to Japan. From Tokyo he took a train to Kofu City and while on the train he engaged a native male to assist in locating someone named Horiuchi or Watanabe who had ties to overseas Japanese. As impossible as this effort really was in the context of a metropolitan area such as Kofu City and in view of the very rudimentary knowledge of the language, somehow and I don't really know how but I located a woman belonging to the Watanabe lineage in question. She was a teacher and from her I learned of her father living in Nagano Prefecture. She said he would know about such things. And so I boarded the train for Nagano and when I arrived there Mr. Watanabe was waiting at the station for me.

Mr. Watanabe undoubtedly suggested searching the Shizuoka area but this lead was not pursued for 20 years. In 1958 while Dye was stationed in Japan, he traveled to the city if Ito in Shizuoka Prefecture and met with a Ryuzo Horiuchi a cousin of Mohachi. It was then that he learned that Mohachi had died c 1924 in Numazu.

Mohachi was about 54 but his wife was even younger when she met violent death at age 43. His wife had lived about 10 years in America spending most of her time in Washington. Records seem to suggest that she had been living in Portland, Oregon and traveled to Outlook, WA to visit her daughter, Nobu. On the third day of her visit in 1914 she commited suicide while alone in the house. No photos of her exist; only photos of her casket, funeral scene and her tombstone.

Funeral of Aki Watanabe Horiuchi.

Nobu Horiuchi Ogata was born on July 10, 1894 presumably at the ancestral home in Yamanashi. She married Rinzo Ogata on Jan 14,1914. Following the influenza pandemic of World War [I - ejo] she developed pneumonia and died on Jan. 31, 1920 after 6 days of confinement.

There are many photos of Nobu dating from the time of her marriage. The most unusual aspect of this union is the fact that it evolved around a relationship of romance. Most unions of this era were Picture Brides and they were often from villages of the prospective groom.

At the time of her death Nobu was 25 and had 3 children, 2 boys and one girl as follows: Gen, Dye and Martha. This tragic event came 6 years after her own mother died. The distance from Outlook where Aki died and Mabton where Nobu died is close. Since the location of the Undertakers was in Sunnyside, WA, this is where they are both interned at the same gravesite with a common tombstone.

The tombstone is quite unusual because of the inscriptions which are mostly in Japanese. It rises about four feet and has required repairs over its 80-year life.

The other maternal side ofthe Ogata family derives from the Udo lineage whose address or ancestral home is Kumamoto-Ken, Kamoto-Gun, Kao-Machi (or Cho), Shimo Iwabara, 2740 Banchi. TEL 096836-3279. There is about 7 miles between this home and that of the Ogatas. The Udo family dating as gathered starts around 1880. Here the Issei comprised 2 boys and 2 girls as follows: Kimi, Masaki, Kokichi and a girl whose name is not of record. Kimi married into the Mukaeda line, Masaki became an adoptee of the Tateyama line and the unnamed girl married into the Suzuki line.

Except for Kimi, Dye met these Issei while they were in their late years; the year was 1938. Masaki Tateyama lived near the ancestral home in a section believed to be Kurashiki. The Tateyamas had 2 children; a boy Hisahide and a girl Tatsuno. Tatsuno married into the Matsuoka line and moved to America where they farmed like so many of the Isseis.

In 1938 when Dye first visited Japan he met Hisahide in Tokyo where he worked for the government. His work may have involved security matters judging from how he reacted. After WWII he returned to his ancestral home and began farming tobacco. There is a photo of him, his wife, son, daugher-in-law and grandson. A son by name of Jindai is a policeman in Kumamoto City; he trains men in the martial art of Judo.

Kokichi Udo was born c1885 and died in 1945 reaching an age of 60. His first wife's first name is unknown but her family name was Takeguma. They had 4 girls and one boy as follows: Tamako, Toriye, Shizuko, Masakazu and Chiyoka.

Tamako married into the Tsukamoto line; her husband was a pediatrician practicing in Kumamoto City before WWII. They had children but none are of record. There is a one photo of her taken at the ancestral home.

Toriye married into the Ogata line and her life is treated in the American section.

Shizuko married into the Hisano line and she lives not too far from the ancestral home.

Chiyoka married into the Oyama line and they lived in Yamaga City. They operated a sushi restaurant in 1938.

Masakazu Udo was the only boy in the family and as such inherited the family farm. In 1938 when Dye arrived in Japan to study Japanese, he helped in locating a school since I had come unannounced and without any credentials. For this search we took a train to Kagoshima to visit an aunt who married into the Suzuki line. Mr. Suzuki was in education and he directed us to Kyushu Gakuin in Kumamoto City. THis school was founded by Lutheran missionaries of the Missouri Synod. It was not part of the government system of schools but differed only to the extent that religious prayer meetings were part of the curriculum.

Revs. Miller and Schillinger were ministers at the school. About 30 Niseis from Hawaii and America were in attendance and we formed a club called the Pacific Triangle Club. After indoctrination Dye was placed in the 4th year class where participation was limited to monitoring or in Japanese I was a "bochosei."

Masakazu's wife named Tsuyuki may have been his second wife. They may have had as many as 4 boys and 1 girl. The girl named Sachi was handicapped and only one boy named Ikuro seems to have inherited the farm. All of the other boys have left for the city, such as Nagoya.

Dye remembers Masakazu as an easy going and pleasant person. He had a military career in the Army reaching the grade of Sergeant-Major. After WWII he related some of his experiences as a POW after being captured in the Philippines. There are records of his parents both having passed away in 1945 and the aunt mentioned earlier, she lived to be 93.

In 1964 while posted to Saigon in Vietnam Dye visited Masakazu after completing Army Reserve duty in Tokyo and while en route on his return to Saigon. Since then Toriye corresponded with the ancestral home when the issue of land ownership arose. It seems Toriye held some rights of inheritence and Masakazu sought release of those rights. For the past 30 years no communications have been exchanged although Dye wrote to them in 1987. All of the Issei have quietly left the scene and to fill in the gaps now one would have to go to Japan, interview the descendents and develop an oral history.

This concludes the Japan section on antecedents as witnessed and recalled by Dye for the period 1938 to 1996. Besides Dye, only Martha from the ranks of the Nisei and from the Sansei, David and Douglas Hayashi have visited Japan. From Japan a Mr. Sakamoto and a Mr. Kimura have visited America.

An invitation to come to a reunion was sent to Mitsunori Ogata at the ancestral home in Japan but he seemed rather ambivalent. He felt his age would allow travel now but a few years it would be out of the question.

Branches of the Ogata Line Overseas

To begin this history, Brazil is my starting point; it is here that the two sons of Tojiro immigrated. Both Chikaaki and Tadashi initially went to Korea (now divided by a North and a South). Japan had claimed Korea and ruled it from 1910 until the end ot WWII. The arrival and departure dates for Korea are not known. Since Tadashi married in 1918, his stay may have lasted ten years and his or their move to Brazil occurred sometime during the 1930's.

Chikaaki Ogata was born c 1892 and died 1939 in Brazil from illness. In 1970 when Dye and Elsie visited Brazil Tadashi sent word to the Chikaaki family but no response was received. There is one photo of him taken as a group with Tadashi's family.

Tadashi, Michie, Chikaaki Ogata and children.

Tadashi Ogata was born 1893 and lived the longest to the ripe age of 97 having died in 1990. He married Michie Honda in 1918 and had 4 children: 2 girls Takae and Sumiko and 2 boys Masayoshi and Katsuyoshi. In 1970 Tadashi's family lived in the State of São Paulo some distance from the city of the same name. The town was Pereira Barreto which was reached by a long and rough bus ride. It was here that they farmed cotton and raised a family. By 1970 two of his sons had moved to the city and others followed including Tadashi himself after retirement. There are more overseas Ogatas in Brazil than anywhere else in the world.

Now there is a Colorado connection involving Michie Honda whose sister married into the Hoshiko line of Kersey, CO. The descendent is named Paul; his wife is Jean and they have 3 children. Paul who farmed onions has just recently passed on.

During the 1980's Dye corresponded with Tadashi but his grandaughter Emilia is the only one who writes on occasion now. His wife preceded him in death.

Masayoshi Ogata, the oldest son of Tadashi greeted Elsie and Dye at the São Paulo Airport in 1970 and arranged for us to bus to Pereira Barreto. In São Paulo City he operated a flower shop and invited.Elsie to do her stuff so to speak as a gesture for exchanging ideas on flower arranging. The flower wholesale market was toured also. Masayoshi and his wife Kiyoko are among the photos on hand. Kiyoko passed on May 27, 1992 and she was preceded by her husband but that date is unknown.

They had 5 children as follows: Emilia, Keiko, Mitigo, Miho and Yuko.Sexes for these names are unclear because of their spellings. Some have married and moved away such as Mitigo who has moved to Quito Ecuador. Brazil suffers from inflation that is so rampant that life can be a real struggle. Emilia remains unmarried although now middle-aged. Emilia has worked in banking and corresponds in English.

Takae Ogata (married name unknown) is the eldest daughter and her husband's first name is Mituyoshi. They have 4 children: Masao,Jorge (deceased), Mituyoshi and Kazue.

Sumiko Ogata Kiyono's husband is Masayoshi and they have 4 children: Satiko, Konti, Mitsuhiro and Toshie.

Katsuyoshi Ogata is married to Kumiko and they have 2 children: Marcio and Marcilo. He worked for Johnson & Johnson.

In Brazil Emilia would seem to be a contact as follows; Emilia Yoshiko Ogata, Ap Brg Luiz Antonio 469 ap 34, São Paulo, S.P. Brazil 01317. The Niseis there have passed on and only the Sanseis remain to the best of my knowledge. On occasion these Sanseis do visit Japan.

Family of Tadashi Ogata - 1968: Brasil. São Paulo

United States of America

United States of America hereafter referred to as America and as a section will comprise the most detailed. With the exception of Mohachi Horiuchi, a maternal grandfather, none have permanently returned to Japan and no remains of any have been returned there.

Rinzo Ogata, the patriarch Issei of the American branch was undoubtedly strongly influenced by the West through his attendance at the Agricultural College in Sapporo, Hokkaido. He was the oldest male of the Tojiro Ogata family and would have inherited the family jewels or in this case the farm in Kumamoto. After the military had rejected him in Japan, he was free to immigrate.

Passage to America during this era was by boat and the journey was third class steerage for most. Even in 1938 when Dye took a boat to Japan the week or more time spent on the ocean was tolerable but reaching land was the best. Rinzo arrived in Seattle, WA Sep. 23, 1904; he was 21. His early life was never orally transmitted but like most Isseis of this era they made their living working with their hands.

The earliest photo of Rinzo is with a group sitting at a table with 3 or 4 men. This was a picture postcard bearing a 1909 date. Only two of these men besides Rinzo can be identified; one is Mohachi Horiuchi and the other is a Mr. Sugimoto. A 1911 photo of Mr. and Mrs. Sugimoto given to Rinzo would seem to suggest that Mr. Sugimoto returned to Japan for purposes of marriage.

In Washington state the area that drew Rinzo to farming appears to have been Mt. Vernon and to a Dearfoot Farm in particular. Potatoes were being farmed here but the prices being subject to market factors meant that when these slumped other opportunities were sought such as in the Yakima area.

Rinzo married Nobu Horiuchi on Jan. 14, 1914; they were 31 and 20 respectively. A wedding photo shows the bride dressed in a white silk gown with white shoes. They had 3 children: Gen, Dye and Martha. Her life was cut short when she became ill with the Spanish influenza, a pandemic enveloping the nation. From this she developed pneumonia and in just 6 days she died on Jan. 31, 1920. Several photos of the funeral and cemetery scenes have been preserved. Since a plot and tombstone had already been acquired for her mother, Aki Watanabe Horiuchi, Nobu was interned in the same plot and her name was added to the tombstone.

Wedding of Rinzo Ogata and Nobu Horiuchi

This plot and tombstone is located in Sunnyside Cemetery, Sunnyside, WA. The stone stands about 4 feet and is shaped like a square granite pillar with inscriptions in Japanese for the most part. These curious looking inscriptions set it apart from the other markers. Repairs were made more than once to this marker because it became wobbly and even toppled to the ground. In 1995 rebar was used to reconstruct the marker.

In the absence of any oral history one would assume Nobu attended school in America and acquired a knowledge of English. She was about 9 when she arrived in America. Rinzo acquired some of his English language ability from her no doubt. Her signature appears on her mother's Death Certificate but it can not be authenticated in the absence of another signature of hers with which to compare.

Rinzo farmed in the areas of Outlook, Grandview. Mabton and Sunnyside; this is where the children were born. He may have prospered judging from the fact that he owned a car which in those days was called a touring car with a high soft roof. There is this one photo showing a single potato weighing 4 pounds that was grown by him.

On May 20, a few months after Nobu died, Rinzo returned to Japan and to the ancestral village in 1920 to remarry seeking a foster-mother for his 3 children. Through the village grapevine I suspect he chose Toriye Udo whose village was about 8 miles away. They were married Aug. 13, 1920 and soon after boarded a ship at Yokohama and landed at Seattle aboard the S.S. Africa on Sep. 27, 1920.

Rinzo returned to the Yakima area to reclaim his family which had been left in the care of a Mrs. McKay. At some point he contacted the Oriental Trading Corp in Seattle. This company contracted to supply Japanese labor to railroads. About 1923 he gained employment with the Northern Pacific Railroad Co. and moved to Helena, MT.

His job title was Roundhouse Supplyman, a job which lasted right to the outbreak of WW II. He was an alien like most Isseis based on laws dating from 1924. Railroads were considered vital war industries and aliens were dismissed from their jobs as a matter of national policy. The only organization he ever joined was the International Brotherhood of Oilers and Firemen.

Since Niseis were citizens they were allowed to work as did Gen and a few others. These were the steam locomotive days and from their stacks would belch contaminants since they were fired by coal. The family lived very close to the roundhouse and all the smoke and whatever from the stacks gave our environment a taste of pollution.

During J. Edgar Hoover's directorship of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, tabs were being kept on many people who posed as some sort of threat even though it took some flimsy excuse to justify such record keeping. Dossiers were being kept on a whole range of people including those worked on sensitive government matters. Some of the information described here comes Dye's dossier which was requested on the basis of the authority spelled out in FOIPA (Freedom of Information Privacy Act). There are other dossiers on Rinzo and Toriye which have been requested and should be forthcoming.

To protect the sources interviewed by the FBI, much of text is blacked out. Here is a quote from one of the pages ".........advised that she knows him to be a loyal, patriotic American. She advised that she has known the Ogata family for approximately..........years. She said that they are a hard working, energetic American-Japanese family. The children have all gone to school in the Helena schools and are all above average in intelligence. She advised that the entire family enjoys a wonderful reputation in the city of Helena. She knows nothing derogatory concerning any member of the family. She further advised that anything she could do to help DYE OGATA or any other member of the family, she would be most happy to do."

This statement from an unknown source and kept in secret files of the government is remarkable in its praise and complete trust in our family. The actual identity of the source would be a matter of conjecture but since the word school appears one might suspect it could have been a teacher such as Alice Israel who was our second grade teacher. Another guess is that it could have been Laura Deal who together with her husband were both friends of the family.

Rinzo was bilingual and this fact helped in his employment in that part of his job was notifying freight locomotive crews when to report. He was also the contact point for matters involving the railroad workers who were Japanese. Again there were times when the INS would call on him to interpret on immigration matters. He was called a supplyman because he would lubricate the drive wheels of locomotives and supply oil cans. Because he was short they called him "shorty" but he was just "Pa" to us.

For as long as I can remember Pa had a work shift from 4 PM to midnight with no breaks for meals. At the end of the day he would bathe and after 5 hours of sleep he would wake up about the time all the rest of us woke. Then he would work all day caring for cows, chickens, hogs, garden vegetables or hauling hay. For a long time we would milk cows together. We even had a cream separator and the cream was taken to the creamery. Fresh milk was delivered to a few local residents by us boys. In the summer we made our own ice cream using ice from the railroad icehouse.

Toriye Ogata - 1943: Helena. Montana

Toriye Udo Ogata was born Dec. 12, 1897 and lived to be 92 having passed away on Feb. 12, 1990. Her ancestral home was Oaza Iwabara, Menotake-Son, Kamoto-Gun, Kumamoto-Ken. On Aug. 13, 1920 she married Rinzo Ogata and soon after left for America arriving at Seattle aboard the S.S. Africa Maru on Sep. 27, 1920.

Her family on arrival were the 3 children left motherless with the death of Nobu Horiuchi Ogata. Gen would have been 5, Dye 3 and Martha 18 months. One would have to imagine that language posed a formidable task early on because none of the children spoke Japanese.

At first the family settled in Wapato, WA where Yeiko and Fumi were born. Later the family moved to Helena, MT where John and Hoover were born. Now the home so-called in which the family lived was located on the premises of the Northern Pacific Railroad and it was provided to us. Basically it was a modified freight boxcar onto which several rooms were added in handyman fashion. Because of its proximity to the roundhouse we had water, air, steam and electricity. Coal was used for cooking. There were a couple rooms that were barely 5 feet high.

As the family grew to 7 children, some of us slept in rooms in another building which was dubbed the camp. This was an elongated building with 15 rooms or so and it was designed for single workers.

Income from Rinzo's railroad pay was hardly enough and even with her limited English Toriye was sent out to work as a housemaid or domestic such as dishwasher at the YWCA. Life was anything but easy and enterprising Rinzo began gardening initially using railroad land and then broadening out by renting land in Helena Valley. Couple cows needed to be grazed and Yeiko and Fumi had the task of herding. Some people called the City Pound when these cows wandered into the wrong places.

In 1939 while Dye was in Japan, Toriye returned to Japan to visit her parents for the first and last time since leaving Japan. Both of her parents died in 1945. Toriye became a single parent when on Nov. 7, 1946 Rinzo struck the abutment of a steel bridge and died. This particular bridge has since be rebuilt; it spans Ten Mile Creek. At the time the road over the bridge was the main highway between Helena and Great Falls. Now the road is called Montana Ave. since a new highway has been built.

Toriye and her Mother - 1939: Kumamoto. Japan

Possibly during the 1940's the family bought a farm called Valley Farms and moved from the railroad premises. The farm was about one mile square or a section (640 acres). The void created by Rinzo's death was filled by John who was in the Army at the time. John requested and received a compassionate discharge from the Army so that operations of the huge farm could be continued.

John assumed the caregiver role for Toriye and bought a house on Rodney St. in Helena where she lived until about 1964. John presumably sold the farm and moved to Sonoma, CA. In the meantime Fumi moved from Billings, MT to Santa Rosa, CA and then Fumi looked after her.

Toriye sought solace in religion and this religion was a brand of her own. Her beliefs were written in Japanese but a close look would reveal that it was English transcribed in Japanese script. By the 1980's her needs were delegated to a convalescent home in Sonoma. She suffered a stroke and we could not communicate with her for many years. She was in a coma before developing pneumonia which led to her death. But she also suffered from diabetes and severe senile brain syndrome.

Her remains were cremated and her ashes were taken to Helena MT to Forestvale Cemetery and placed together with the remains of Rinzo Ogata in 1995. This was the final act of lying to rest the last Issei pioneer of the Ogata family. Today, 1996 five of the seven children are living and as Niseis we too will be leaving the scene for the Sansei to carry on the legacy of Asian Americans who still look just like their ancestors who crossed the ocean deep from the Land of the Rising Sun.

In 1952 laws were changed allowing persons like Toriye to become citizens of America and we encouraged her to change her alien status but she was not at all inclined. Her fluency in the spoken language was good but she would use Japanese KANA to write English and her letters were a real puzzle to unravel. For example she would Japonify English so that it would look like this: "DEERU DAI EN ERUSHISAN SANKYU SENDO MI PITCHA MICHIESAN."

Gen Ogata with his Martin guitar. circa 1941

Gen Ogata was born Nov. 1, 1914 at Outlook, WA. After schooling including a Ph. D from U MN and 4 years of military service in the Army he married Dolly Matsuoka on Jun. 15, 1946. As a soils physicist he spent his entire career with the Dep. of Agriculture's Salinity Lab in Riverside, CA. Here they raised 5 children as follows: Don Curtis, Lorraine, Kenneth Rinzo, Irene Tatsuno and Carol Nobu.

As a Regimental Ammunitions Sergeant in the Army he served overseas in the European Theater of operations. After more than 30 years' service in the Federal Government he retired and continues to live in Riverside. (ejo - Gen Ogata passed away at 8:00 PM PST, 3 November 2003, Riverside CA) He was elected the first president of the local JACL (Japanese-American Citizens League) and has been active in local civic affairs.

Dye Ogata was born Oct. 22, 1916 at Grandview, WA. After schooling to high school, he went to Los Angeles and worked until he had saved enough to finance an education trip to Japan. After one year there he returned in 1940 before the outbreak of WW II. After Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the Army and served 6 years reaching the grade of 1st. Lieutenant. While still in the military he married Shizuko Kawamoto in 1944. They had 2 children: Lyle Dick and Dean Alden. Following a tour of duty in Vietnam while we were not allowed to bring our dependents, we separated and then divorced. On November 27, 1969 he married Elsie Fujiko Kano, a widow with 2 grown children, Betty Nobue and Susan Tatsuko Kano.

Dye earned degrees from U CA, Berkeley and U MI through the help of a government program granted to military service people and termed "The GI Bill of Rights." He served 6 years (1942-1948) and resigned as 1st. Lt. On the island of Bougainville in the Solomon Group he was buried by a bomb dropped by a Japanese night bomber. On the same day the Commanding General of the 37th Inf. Div. awarded him the Purple Heart.

His commission lapsed after opting not to join the Reserves. Subsequently after earning college degrees and applying for a commission in the Reserves he was made a Major. Duties in the Army were Intelligence related and these were continued in the Civil Service from 1952-1966 while working on national security matters. Based on these duties and a special act of Congress Dye was allowed to retire at age 50 and 20 years of government service. Soon after retirement he moved to Canada where the family lived for 15 years and returned to El Cerrito, CA in 1985.

Martha Ogata was born Feb. 15, 1919 at Mabton, WA. She married Paul Barrozo and they had 2 boys: Fil and Tobin. Martha found life at home oppressing during adolescence because Toriye, her stepmother was unwittingly partial to her own children and Rinzo was indifferent about this. She left home early and endured considerable hardship, especially during WWII when discrimination was the rule for anyone who bore a look-alike of an ethnic Japanese.

Racism has been a perennial scourge of American society. When you are in the real estate business as Martha was, one has to learn to read and listen to the unuttered. Her sons both Fil and Tobin have done well professionally; Fil became a medical doctor and Tobin an educator.

Gen, Yeiko and Dye Ogata - 1942: Minneapolis. Minnesota

Yeiko Ogata Yamakawa was born Jul. 28, 1921 at Wapato, WA as the first child for Toriye and Rinzo. She married William Yamakawa in June 1944. In 1947 the marriage was annulled. Yeiko was religiously minded and in 1942 was attending a Bible College in Minneapolis, MN. At the time Dye was stationed at a nearby Army Camp and Yeiko came to visit. Later in 1944 when she moved to Lebanon, TN with her husband, Dye visited them while en route to a military training camp in GA.

In 1957 she married Bryan Richards. They had one boy but he was given up for adoption. The beginnings of Yeiko's sad life story are hard to delineate. It could date back to when she was a baby and her mother had her in a basket sitting atop a sewing machine. Yeiko rolled off this position and did not seem to have been injured. However, an autopsy at her death 45 years later showed that she had an egg size brain tumor lodged in the left front side of the brain and that the pressure of the tumor on the brain caused death. This tumor could not be demonstrated by x-ray, hence went undiscovered until her death.

Yeiko died Sep. 1966 and was buried at Forestvale Cemetery in Helena, MT; the grave is in an untended area away from the grave of Rinzo her father.

Fumi Ogata Hayashi was born Aug. 28, 1922 at Wapato, WA. She attended schools in MT and MN at the completion of which she became a Registered Nurse. She married Minoru Hayashi on Sep. 10, 1949 and they had 3 boys: David, Douglas and Thomas. Because of her training Fumi was a working spouse while being a mother and housewife. Also she looked after Toriye in her declining years alternating with John in providing life support until Toriye was placed in a home.

The Hayashis lived in Billings, MT several years and about 1964 moved to Santa Rosa, CA. Colorado lured them to Thornton but they were lured back to California to a place called Elkgrove. Their son Douglas, daughter-in-law Bih Lien and granddaughter Heather live nearby in Elkgrove.

John Ogata - 1945: Helena. Montana

John Ogata was born May 10, 1924 at Helena, MT where he went to school. He married Beatrice Seeley Boggs at Napa, CA. This was late marriage for John and his wife having been married before had several children so in a sense he gained an instant family. Still they raised two children of their own; they were John and Toriye Lynn.

John was the third Ogata to serve in the Army having joined May 15, 1946. On Dec.18 of the same year he was given a compassionate discharge based on family hardship created by the death of Rinzo Ogata on Nov. 7, 1946.

Rinzo operated a rather ambitious farm in the 1940's and John was the main technician where equipment was involved especially tractors. Due to bodily stresses placed on John while operating such equipment he developed kidney infections. Proper medical care was not received and as a result some kidney function was permanently lost. This condition plagued him later and required dialysis treatment. Complications led to his death at Napa on Sep. 16, 1983. His remains are interned at Sonoma, CA.

Hoover Ogata - 1947: Helena. Montana

Hoover Ogata was born in Helena, MT on Feb. 17, 1929. Rinzo hoped for great things when he named him after President Hoover. Hoover was schooled in Helena and Missoula MT. As the fourth and youngest of the Rinzo's sons he entered the Army in the 1950's. After the Army he settled in the Washington, D.C. area. He married Elizabeth Bates on Jul. 12, 1957 and they had 3 children: Eric, Tracy and Jefferson.

His career began in Washington and ended there after retiring early rather than waiting for involuntary retirement. Like Gen and Dye, Hoover also served the US Federal Government. After retirement Hoover moved to Florida with his sailboat.

Toriye had trouble pronouncing Hoover's name because in Japanese there is no "vee" sound. As a result she would call him "Huuba." Happily Hoover is the last of the seven Niseis who collectively were born from the union of Rinzo Ogata and Nobu Horiuchi of the first union and Rinzo Ogata and Toriye Udo of the second union.

Hereon the descendants will be Sansei (3), Yonsei (4), Gosei (5), etc. About every 25 years another generation will enter the time scale. Each will begin and end as a finite group as we the Nisei now bow out as a group. We have had a difficult task in trying to reach back into a culture, language and history that is located in an earlier century and geographically a continent away from the Western World. In closing I give you the words from my High School Album......"It's what a man stands for that counts." And there is the proverb "Never Say Die (Dye)!"

Dye Ogata
Last modified: Sat Aug 21 22:32:39 EDT 2004