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Oldest Asturian Settlement in West Virginia Mystery

 
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Manuell Alvarez



Joined: 14 Jun 2011
Posts: 220

PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:05 am    Post subject: Oldest Asturian Settlement in West Virginia Mystery Reply with quote

Hola Amigos,

I have searched in vain to determine who was the first Asturian to migrate to Harrison County, West Virginia, and where did that family settle? I suspect that the first Asturians to arrive probably still have descendants living in either Spelter or Anmoore. Harrison County does hold the distinction of having the first, oldest, and continuos Asturian settlement in West Virginia. That may well be Spelter.

The date of migration is probably shortly after 1900. Since the early arrivals were renters, the deed records in the Harrison County Courthouse is not going to be useful. Further, records of that nature were not kept on immigrants who were considered to be transients and outsiders by the locals. Employment records and documentation has likely been tossed out when the various businesses became defunct.

Even the Census records are not that helpful due to the ten year gap between recordings and registrations. The only family record that I have is a notation beside my uncle's name in 1920, that he a had a residency in Clarksburg for ten years. Further, travel documentation show that one of my aunts and her husband left Spain in 1907, and their destination in the U.S. was never recorded once they left New York.

I am not much of a history detective; however, I would still like to see this history recorded for future generations of Asturian descendants and the history archives in Charleston, WV.


Manny
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Suronda
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Joined: 23 Feb 2003
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Location: Upstate New York

PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Manny: I've been thinking about your idea of locating the earliest Asturians in West Virginia. It would be worth looking over the summary data for each census period by state to see when WV has its first listing of Spaniards. Even though I wouldn't necessarily trust the census record to be "accurate" you might find that there were earlier Spaniards in southern WV. My point is that Harrison County might not have been the site in the state for the first Asturian arrivals. In fact, it might have been Logan.

As far as the oldest settlement of Spaniards in Harrison County, I think it's going to take some more digging before someone can confidently say that it was Spelter. As soon as I find some time, I'd like to dig through some dates. I think, for now at least, that we don't have an answer to your question. It sure does give food for thought, though.
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4471
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasn't the first zinc factory in Anmoore? And if so, can't we eliminate Spelter as the first settlement of Asturians in WV?

I don't know when the factory in Moundsville was built, but there's some info on Asturians who worked there in this thread:
http://www.asturianus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=83

Suronda, there's a book waiting for you to get out your pen!

--------------------

¿No estaba la primera fábrica de zinc en Anmoore? Y si es así, ¿no sería posible eliminar a Spelter como el primer asentamiento de los asturianos en WV?

No sé cuando la fábrica fue construida en Moundsville, pero hay algo de información sobre los asturianos que trabajaban allí en este tema:
http://www.asturianus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=83

¡Suronda, un libro te espera!
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Manuell Alvarez



Joined: 14 Jun 2011
Posts: 220

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 1910 census report for West Virginia's fifty-five counties show that there were not any persons born in Spain living in Marshall County where Moundsville is located. Out of the twelve counties reporting Spanish people born in Spain,
Harrison County had the most at 399. Second is Fayette County with 19. Unfortunately, the Census does not distingush the province of birth.

I believe that the answer to my question verily lies in Harrison County. The first settlement or community of Asturian Spanish is probably between Spelter and Anmoore. The first arrival location is difficult to pinpoint. My hunch is that where ever the first birth was recorded prior to 1910, is likely to provide some evidence of community or settlement with family, if the information was recorded.

Without looking at the 1910 Census in detail, I believe that Spelter is the oldest Asturian community in West Virginia, and perhaps, the oldest and continuous Asturian settlemnt/community of historical record.

Manny
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Bob
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Joined: 24 Feb 2003
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Location: Connecticut and Massachusetts

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 11:42 am    Post subject: Asturians in WV Reply with quote

My grandparents were among the first Asturians in Spelter, but upon entering the EEUU at Ellis Island, they first to Cherryvale KS and then St. Louis or East St. Louis, together with other Asturians. From there, quite a few Asturians went to Spelter. Spain established a vice consulate in WV, which shared space and personnel with the Italian vice consulate. The person in charge was an Italian surnamed lawyer who was fluent in English, Italian and Spanish. I can't remember his name.
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
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Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob, what year did your grandparents arrive in Spelter?

Manuell, rushing to a conclusion without doing the hard work to determine what really happened is not helpful. As much as we'd all like to be able to determine what is true by simply considering what we believing and what our hunches are, beliefs and hunches are usually not closely linked to reality. Reality is very difficult to pin down even when you're looking at reliable data! There are no short cuts.

There are two reasons that Spelter was not likely the first Asturian settlement. If I remember correctly, the Spelter factory was not the first zinc factory in WV. And we also know that there were many Spaniards (including a few Asturians) working in the coal mines in WV. There may have been a few others who moved to WV even earlier, too, but I haven't seen any records on that.

What Suronda was saying was that she (or someone else) needs to look at the census records to see whether any West Virginians listed Spain as their birth place. That'll take some effort and time.

As you suggest, some birth and death records could also provide this kind of information, but searching them would be a difficult task.
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Bob
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Location: Connecticut and Massachusetts

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:35 pm    Post subject: Arrival in spelter Reply with quote

My best guess is 1913 or 1914. All of my uncles and my father were born there, except Joe, who was born in Asturias before my grandparents left. Miguel, the oldest son born in the US, was born in Spelter in 1914 or 1915. My father, born in 1917, was the next oldest. Gabriel was next, followed by Manuel. Gloria, the only girl, died from choking on a prune pit. By the time the family got her to Clarksburg and medical attention, she was already dead. Dr. Lynch was apparently out of town that day. He usually practiced in Spelter and nearby communities. Gloria is buried in WV, where Suronda'a father takes care of the grave for us.

Another son, Luis or Emilio, died as a small infant. He is probably buried in Kansas or Saint Louis, but there is no record of it in my family.
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Manuell Alvarez



Joined: 14 Jun 2011
Posts: 220

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 1920 Census shows that my first cousin, Lydia, was recorded as thirteen on January 13, 1920, living in Anmoore, and was indicated as being born in West Virginia. If that information is correct, her birth year would probably have been 1907. Given that, she is in contention as being among the first children born of Asturian parents in Harrison County and probably West Virginia. There my be others earlier than that; however, I may never know, especially, if the birth records never surface.

Unfortunately, the State of West Virginia does not have a record of her birth. I may have to go to the Harrison County Courthouse for confirmation sometime next summer. I have requested information from the Catholic Church baptismal records; however, I have not heard back from them. I have also requested her school records from the Superintendent of Harrison County Schools and have likewise not heard anything. Nothing heard from the genealogy people there either. I am batting zero.

Manny
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Art
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Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's some info from Suronda's Pinnick Kinnick Hill preface, p. xvii-xviii:
Suronda Gonzalez wrote:
In 1903 when the Grasselli Chemical Company of Cleveland, Ohio finalized plans to locate a plant in Clarksburg, local papers touted it as "one of the largest industrial deals in the state." It was also a contract that ensured growth and prosperity for the community. Grasselli officials issued an immediate call for laborers, carpenters, mechanics, stonemasons, and stonecutters to begin construction on their chemical factory in the city's industrial sector, Steelton, which later became known as Grasselli, and is now called Anmoore. Zinc production began on May 3, 1904. Within a year, Grasselli Chemical announced that it would open a second factory in Clarksburg that would double its capacity. Finally, in 1910, Grasselli began constructing their second factory along the West Fork River in Harrison County. This second location became known as Spelter, the product of zinc smelting, and was called Zeising by some, after Richard Zeising, general manager of the Grasselli Zinc Division. by 1913, Clarksburg, West Virginia was home to the second largest smelter plant in the nation.

Lured by low natural gas prices, other zinc manufacturers had also begun locating in Harrison County. In 1907, the Columbia Zinc Works, known later as the Clarksburg Zinc Company, opened for business in the Northview area of the city. The demand for zinc was such that Columbia too announced plans to build a new plant to double its capacity. Later that same year, a third and considerably smaller zinc works opened in Lumberport, just north of Clarksburg.

On p. xiii, she wrote:
Suronda wrote:
According to the 1910 census, 464 Spaniards lived in the state, 85% of them in Harrison County. Spanish men, many of whom had worked in zinc factories in the province of Asturias, came to the state to work in Clarksburg's expanding zinc industry. As word spread about jobs and opportunities in West Virginia, many more Spaniards emigrated. From 1910 to 1020, the Spanish population of West Virginia more than tripled to 1,534. The growth of West Virginia's Spanish population, expanding at nearly twice the national rate, led to the establishment of a Spanish Vice Consulate in Clarksburg by the 1920s.

And later on the same page:
Suronda wrote:
Between 1882 and 1936, over four million Spaniards left the Iberian Peninsula seeking opportunities in the Americas. The period extending from 1904 to 1913 represented the period of heaviest out migration. The majority of emigrants went to Argentina and Cuba, with much smaller numbers going to Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. It is estimated that less than 2% of the entire emigrant population settled in the United States. Communities like Tampa, Florida and New York were important immigrant receiving centers.

The estimate of "less than 2%" would suggest that fewer than 80,000 Spaniards settled in the US during that period. We know that there were much earlier Asturian and Spanish immigrants, too, including many in the American Southwest and in Florida.

I wrote earlier about accuracy. I am extremely grateful to Suronda for her careful research of this period and I hope she'll return to this subject soon. But there are certainly many missing details, some of which may already be lost to us forever. There may also be errors in the reporting underlying the newspaper articles she has relied on. Newspapers are renown for errors. In addition, interpreting foreign cultures is always risky business. I see only one small flaw. Asturias is not a province, although that may be the most easily understood word for it in English. Asturias is a "principality" (which is related to having a prince, like Wales has the Prince of Wales). This won't matter to most Americans, but would matter to many Asturians!

Although I've read these passages several times before, some of the details surprised me. Thanks, Suronda!
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Manuell Alvarez



Joined: 14 Jun 2011
Posts: 220

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Art,

What comprises the Northview area of Clarksburg/Harrison County?

Manny
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4471
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not very good at getting around in Clarksburg. I think it's an outlying area of the city, but Ron or Suronda could describe it better.
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Manuell Alvarez



Joined: 14 Jun 2011
Posts: 220

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just wondering, since I have not found a map of Clarksburg/Harrison County that adequately protrays each voting/Census district to identify where each ethnic group might have settled. So far, I have identified only the Coal and Simpson Districts which appear to have the largest numbers of Spanish people born in Spain. Further, the only records that I can find are the Census which are not that accurate. In searching for my father and family, the hand writing was not legible and bold. I had to have enlarged copies made by the WV History and Cultural Archives just to be able to read them. Our last name was misspelled.

Anmoore appears to be in the Simpson District, and is Spelter in the Coal District????

Lastly, after reading somewhere that the Asturians were preferred for work in the zinc furnance rooms, I am left with the impression that Asturians may have comprised the largest group of Spanish immigrants in Harrison County. Another question is, which section of Spain was the Consular from, and will that give us a definitive answer?

Manny
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4471
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can search the forum for info on the consulate in Clarksburg. If you type this into a Google search box:
site:asturianus.org spanish AND consulate AND clarksburg
That's how to do a search on this site for any pages containing all three search terms. You'll see a few pages listed.

If you look in our photo album, there is also an old map showing the districts in Harrison county. I can't remember if it shows the entire county or not. From the stories I've heard people tell on the forum, my sense is that the Asturians spread out and didn't all live in the same areas, although there were several areas that were more popular.
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