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Antonio Gōmez Interview


Antonio Gōmez Interview


Newton, Kansas - History
Newton, Kansas - History - Railroads
History - 1918 Flu Pandemic
Newton, Kansas - History - Cinco de Mayo
Newton, Kansas - History - Dia de la Independencia


Mr. Gomez talks about being one of the first Mexican families to settle in Newton, Kansas in 1906. He discusses working on the railroads, the 1918 flu pandemic, and celebrating Mexican holidays such as Cinco de Mayo and Dia de la Independencia.


Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas


Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas


Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas




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In Copyright In Copyright





(translated to English in the transcript)




Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas, “Antonio Gōmez Interview,” Newton Digital Collections, accessed June 14, 2024,

A. W. Holt


Antonio Gōmez

Reader/narrator unknown


ORAL HISTORY 3. May, 1977
ANTONIO GōMEZ Interviewer: Ann Holt
MR. ANTONIO GōMEZ: I came here, with my father and my stepmother,
in 1905. And in 1905, my father arrived here in Walton, Kansas, and he worked here on the railroad for this year, for all of 1905. and when the winter of 1905 arrived, at that time, all the Mexicans, that they brought us, returned to Mexico, they went back. He didn't want to go back then, so they told him that he had to go where the construction was from there in Wichita, see to work there and live in tents, see, to live in tents. And in 1906, he worked there until May and then we returned here in Newton in 1906, and since then on, we have been here. Unhuh. We were away from Newton seven months, so my father could go to work at Harrington, Kansas. And it was no more than eight months and we returned to Newton. And from then on we didn't leave. When we came, they carried - us to my father here and in this way, he began to work here. Do you know what they paid at that time? Only ten cents for ten hours. I don't know how much else you will want to know.

INTERVIEWER: Well, much more. I would like to know where you
were born and when.
MR.Gōmez I was born in a small town name Villa Obregon, Jalisco,
in Mexico, 1985, no, 1895. From then, well, as I say, we came from there and, but I was born in that little town named Villa Obregon, Jalisco. In July of 1895.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you. .And what were your mother's and father's
MR.G.: My father was named Margarito Gōmez. And my mother, the
name that she had before marrying was Nicolasa Varrientos.
INTERVIEWER: How long did you go to school in Mexico?
Mr. G.: I went six months. Six months of school was all. And
here, when I came here, my father wanted for me to go to school. And if he had seizelme from here and, he would have been able to take me. But he was very good to me and he didn't want to do that. And it embarrassed me to go here to begin kindergarten with the little ones, see, and I didn't know English or anything.
And well, I didn't want to go, I didn't want to go. Now, afterwards when I first began to work, all the schooling I had was six months, see? But here, a man showed me how to write and to read. And then I began to read newspapers and books. Well, (it was) something.
But when I was working, I worked from 1915» continuously, without leaving, in 1915 to 1964. Thirty-four years.
INT.: How did all of you come from Mexico?
MR. G.: Three cars and the express in a small engine, at that
time. And in this way, we came here on the train from El Paso,
Texas to here.
INT.: And you were the first Mexican child here?
MR. G.: I and a sister, we were by my father's first wife, and
by the second wife, there were five more. I have a brother here who lives close to here. Epimenio. And the rest, two were in California and some died, see? And now there is only me and this brother, and a brother and sister that we have in California.
INT.: What are their names?
MR. G.: This one is Epimenio Gomez and that in California is
Gregorio Gomez, see, the other brother. The sister in California we don't know if she is living or dead. She was Rosario Gomez, see? We don't know if she is living or where she lives, nor how she is, see? She married what we called them, an American, see, and we don't know where she lives nor how she is.
INT.: Why did you come to the United States?
MR. G.: No, well because of this (which follows)my father came here. We were not in the revolution, because the revolution began in 1910, and we had been here five years already. He asked, he thought about coming here, he had good work there and lived comfortably.
INT.: What did he do there?
MR. G.: He had a butcher's shop, see? A meat store meat would
come in they killed steers, porks. That was all the Mexicans who were
here. No, no more, let us say, established. Every year they brought people at, to work every year, but the majority of the people
left in winter, upon arrival of the cold, they left. But my father said, ’’No, I'm not going. We are going TO live here.” Then he
got work here in the roundhouse in Newton. And there he began to work and then there he worked many years. And afterwards, he changed to the section to work on the track. He said he liked it better, because he was in the free air and what all and in that
way, he worked there until 1915, when he died in December. He died in December of 1915. And well, I stayed with my stepmother and five little ones and at last, my stepmother also died, in 1918, in the flue epidemic. From this year, there is much influenza and she died and many others she died, and I remained with the younger children, in that way, I had them paying for the, they were two little girls (chamaquitas) and two boys (chamacos)-they were four, two little girls and two boys. I paid one part because the two girls looked after me and later, the two little boys of his, I worked, that is to say, they lived with me. And thus we were for a time, and then in 1923, the grandparents of these little ones sent to me to say that I send them there, to Mexico. That they be sent, and (again)the they be sent and that they be sent, and well I sent them. They were sent. But I married in 1919. And already they, I sent them in 1919, and we began, she lived with my family, see, and thus this marriage gave us six sons and two daughters.
INTER: Congratulations!
MR. G.: We didn’t have a father here. We didn’t have a church,
either. We went to Saint Mary's.. There we baptized the children and until 1923, we made the first little chapel that we had here in W. First, see? That little chapel, the church of Saint Mary's didn't make it. And they always came to give us, the father at Saint Mary's, to come to give us mass Sundays to the little chapel until afterwards came Father Munoz. And he was with us another time. He was one and later afterwards, was Father Jimenez, but there was, in between there a priest with American names that I don't remember of that right now. Then those priests from Hutchinson came, Father Munoz and afterwards
BELEN TERRONES: Father Porfiro. I don't remember his....
MR. G.: Yes , Father Porfiro. And afterwards. I don't know what
other priests there were.
BELEN: Father Felix.
MR. G.: Felix also, was there at one time.
BELEN: And Father Eugenio.
MR. G.: Unhuh, also.
INTER: What were the religious festivals like?
Mr. G.: Well, the festival of the church, that is, we had the
Christmas fiesta and well... We even had a procession that left through the street and returned. And in certain festivals, I don't
Tape of Rev. Mnsgr. Lampe--records of flu victims
remember right now which were the fiestas that we had in which we went out in a procession, on First Street and we returned. But now I don't remember the title of the, of the festivals. We celebrated the twelfth of December. On the twelfth of December, the festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Well, those are the only festivals, of the church that I remember. I don't know what others. We had them, but I don't remember.
INTER: Has Newton grown a lot?
MR. G.: Well, yes, Newton has grown a lot. There was not any pavement
when I came here on Main Street, see and I remember that, how there, when they passed the track those horses, cars of horses and horses left much mud, all that. Then they brought a man with a little car, cleaning all that the horses had thrown, the earth and all in that time, but well, yes Newton has grown a lot, I agree. But I can't explain that time...
BELEN: There weren't a lot of shops?
MR. G.: Yes, in the stores, almost all the ones that exist right now.
Only littler. Everything littler and there, let us say, the stores were renovated from little to bigger, from small. Then, some of them were burned, some and others, completely redone, and thus, see?
But when he, his father, entered, it was almost when I came. The downtown, what is from there to the depot, Saint Mary's, almost is the same as when I came, only littler-the properties were smaller.
BELEN: The steam boiler there are many cases
MRS. G.: It's better for the
MR. G.: When I came, let us say, when I began, I began to work
about the age of sixteen years, see, they did not want to give me the work, but always my father signed, and they gave me work. I worked there, and the roundhouse already had thirty seven housings that were where they entered the engines thirty seven. And they already had that. And the roundhouse was the same. And the machines arrived and they extinguished the fire, and with the steam that was brought in the engine, they placed them inside. Then there, one changed the water and they washed them and flushed them. I worked there when I was very young. Then, one put all the flushers in, return position and we filled them with water and then, there was a man who started the fire and then they began to have steam to leave, with the steam now on the outside. That was the work that was there at that time, see, and I began to work releasing the steam from the engines, filled on return with water, see? And that was my first work that I did there. Then, afterwards, I was working, they collected the boilers for some six months, and stoked the boilers to give steam for the roundhouse and to the depot. And then from there I changed to the coal chute. And there was in the coal chute were one had sand and coal for the machines. There was where well I remained working all those years, all those years from '15 to '64. And from then on, they already were starting to use oil and they were to use oil and coal, because they used the two things, as much the oil as the coal. And the coal, they came up to one in these last years, stopping using the coal, see? For that reason, they eased out the coal chute and put in a small sander which was where I worked my very last years.

BELEN: What did they call where they put in the coal?
MR. G: Coal chute, in English it was coal chute, but in Spanish,
well we called it carbonera, see? The carbonera was not mechanized.
It had machined out half way up and then with a car lift. (He explained that there was an elevator, "car lift." The coal cart would get raised from the bottom and went to the tender at the top. The tender would dump it-) and the same car lift would let it lower. But the day arrived when they made the coal chute mechanized from top to bottom, to park the coal cars below, and then there, it raised it up overhead and then there, when the coal was all overhead, it opened the doors and let rush (the coal) to the engine,see?
INTER,: You celebrated May the fifth right?
MR. G.: Yes, the fifth of May. That was a festival day, let us
say a patriotic one of Mexico. And the sixteenth of September, see? These were the two fiestas that we celebrated here for many years until now, soon they will be forgetting all of this. But for many years, we celebrated May 5 and September 16 here regularly.
INTER.: And how were they celebrated?
JMR.G.: With dancing. Then it had speeches, it had some program
where some young women sang and danced and things like that, see?
MRS. G.: They presented some story or a program of the young women.
BELEN: In the discourses, they said what program it was that they were
MRS. G.: ....program about what they were celebrating.
BELEN: ....the independence of France.
MR. G.: All of those, all that which we did, and then we organized
a program, let us say of song or dance. Some of the boys and girls danced and so; things like that. Speeches also, everyone saying
something, some speech. To say a discourse that had to do with, well something of Mexico, something that had happened, yes.
INTER.: And also, the sixteenth of September is the independence
from Spain.
MR. G. Of Mexico.
INTER.: Yes of Mexico from Spain.
MR. G.: From Spain, unhum. May 5 is the independence from France.
She doesn't (dance). I do.
MR. G: I do. I've danced since the age of sixteen years old.
We danced in different places. Then, we went from here, we boys, to dance at Halstead, there on the patio where they had the ranchito that we named-we danced there.
INTER.: The Mexican polka, for example?
MR.G.: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: And what others?
BELEN: The jarabe, right? Choti.
MR. G: Well, like the Jarabe or danzal. Like a dance that is done in one part. Everyone dances. The, here in the houses, at that time we were even accustomed to having dances here in the houses. A day, (for instance), when a Saint's Day a son arrived, or of the mother or the father. And right there in the houses we had, that is if we did not have a dance hall to go to, or something like that. The pastrela. I don't know if she (interviewer) will know what that is.
MR. G.: That is, here we organized one, one time, and presented
it in St. Mary's Hall, also that pastorela. And then we went to Florence and presented it in Florence. Well, it is something religious, see, of the birth of Jesus Christ. And it deals with the shepherds and one does the manger scene and sings and speaks of many things that happened in that time. How Jesus Christ came to the world and how he grew, how he suffered before dying and all of that. That is about all of what we presented in the shepherd's song.
BELEN: Chamupo.
MR. G.: We had the first Devil, and the Second Devil and the Third.
We had the Gila. And the, to Barolo also, who was very slack and the one who directed it was also a persona. Here, I don’t know if you would have seen it or remember.
BELEN: Not very well.
MR. G.: No no, I think you were still very little then. But we
Organized it at home where Gimnasio lived that at that time, in town. Well, that was one of the most enjoyable things and something religious see, also, see? We had great personas like my comadre Lupe. She knows well.
BELEN: Garcia, Lupe Garcia?
MR. G.: Unhuh.
MRS. G.: The Gila, she would be?
MR. G.: No the Gila was the little sister of the baby Jesus, the
baby Jesus, was the Gila. And she was a shepherdess.
MRS. G.: There were men and women.
MR. G.: At that time it was very common that only men did them.
And that family that come here from Sedgwick made one with young women and young men, almost all.
BELEN: The Lunas.
MR.G.: Lunas, She, they also know about that. I don’t know if
they will remember, but Mrs.
INTER.: What size(is the Mexican-American population in Newton)?
MR. G.: From two families it was growing, growing, growing. Every
year people came, but they left, And they remained a little. In that way the colony was growing. Now, it is already big.

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