"Site of the First Japanese-American Farm on the Palos Verdes Peninsula"

Images shows close-up view of a plaque commemorating the site of the first Japanese-American farm on the Palos Verdes Peninsula., Full text of plaque reads: This site was designated a State Point of Historical Interest at a meeting in regular session on May 1, 1992 in Sacramento. It particularly honors Kumekichi Ishibashi who built the first Japanese-American farmhouse in 1906. He was born in Japan and came to San Francisco in 1895. Taking odd jobs, he worked his way through great difficulties to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, saving his gold coins until he could lease land. When he reached Portuguese Bend, he felt he had found the perfect area. However, the land was covered with sagebrush and huge boulders . . . not at all ideal for cultivation. He was told that he could plant as much as he could clear. The work was devastating. There was no electricity and no water. During three years of drought, he had to haul water from over the hill from nearby cattle ranches. He introduced "dry farming" techniques to the Peninsula for the first time. He sent for his young bride, Taki. On her first arrival to the new land, she wondered why she had left her beautiful home in Japan to come to this wilderness! It was a barren land as far as the eye could see. But the courage and foresight of Kumekichi reassured her, and they raised a family of four sons: Masaichi, George, Kay and Aki, and a daughter named Yasuko. The original farmhouse and small structures were built of wood. The area was called "Bay of Smokes," by both the Indians and Cabrillo. The property was owned first by the Sepulveda family and later by Jotham Bixby. In 1910, Kumekichi brought his younger brother Tomizo to join him at the farm. He was married to Umeno. Two workers also came, K. Ozaki and C. Hayashi. The latter two remained only for a brief time. As the family grew, Masaichi (Mas) - the oldest son of Kumekichi - slowly took over many of his father's duties. There was a time when sixty acres were farmed. During WWII, the original farmhouse was demolished and the land lease broken. The company from which their land was leased ordered them off of the premises. On February 1, 1942, Kumekichi Ishibashi was taken to an internment camp for Japanese in Bismarck, North Dakota. The rest of his family moved to Central California and started farming again. In July of 1942, Mas and his wife, Miye, and his brothers, George and Aki were interned in Poston, Arizona. In a little over one year, Kumekichi was able to reunite with is family in Poston. They then moved to Utah, to farm for the duration of the war. Mas' brothers, George and Kay had served in the 442nd Regimental Infantry Combat Unit. This unit received more citations than any other outfit in the United States military. After the war the family decided to return to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and eventually leased over 500 acres of farmland. Taki Ishibashi had passed away in 1928. Her husband Kumekichi passed away in the year of 1954. Mas, in his eighties, still farmed a few acres of land not far from the original farmhouse location. Kumekichi's brother Tomizo had four farming sons: Ichiro, James, Tom and Daniel and two daughters, Yukiko and Naomi. James' farmland is several miles down the road. His wife was Annie. "Annie's Stand" served the community for forty years. Tom farms on city-owned property next to Torrance Municipal Airport. Mas recalls when his father, Kumekichi, farmed mostly string beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. . . all without water. The water they had was used several times...for human use, for washing vegetables and finally for the two horses that were used to cultivate the earth. There was also the tale of Kumekichi's hardship in his trek to reach the Peninsula. One time, he was walking to the point of exhaustion and was terribly hungry. He found a castor bean plant and consumed the beans, thinking them to be edible. Extremely ill, he fell upon some cucumbers and in desperation ate them. They saved his life! Mas was married in 1937. For years, his wife, Miye, worked side by side with her husband selling fresh vegetables and flowers. When Mas was asked why he followed his father's footsteps as a farmer, he answered, "Farming is hard work, but it is a clean life!" The Ishibashi family motto states, "Life's obstacles can be overcome by earnest endeavor and patient endurance." It is obvious that the entire peninsula has benefited from the courageous pioneering family's decision to make farming a way of life. Mary Roderman President of the Society and Museum Founder, Plaque description from Palos Verdes Library District, Local History Center files.
Abstract/Description: Images shows close-up view of a plaque commemorating the site of the first Japanese-American farm on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Subject(s): Nameplates (Plaques)
Historic sites
Rancho Palos Verdes (Calif.)