canning industry by abe20


									                                                     Canning Was Major Industry For County
                                                  (From "Adams County Crossroads of the West Volume II"
                                                                  by Albin Wagner)

        The extension of irrigation in Adams County gave rise to the development of small "truck
farms" along the South Platte devoted to raising cabbage, tomatoes, celery, pickles and other
vegetables for the hungry mouths of Denver and the rest of the region. The produce was most
often sold at the Denver City Market. Denver's first market opened in 1883 at 23rd and
California Sts.

        At the height of the cabbage production period from 19171924, thousands of carloads of
cabbage were shipped from the siding along 2nd Ave. (renamed Cabbage Ave.) in Brighton. The
Colorado Cabbage Exchange, headquartered in Brighton, was organized in 1920 by area farmers
as an early effort in cooperative marketing. The Vegetable Producers Cooperate Association,
another marketing cooperative, was formed in 1923.

        Local promoters also sought to develop a canning industry based on the locally grown
vegetables. The first canning factory built in Adams County was the Brighton Canning Co.
factory completed March 7, 1889. Sauerkraut, pickles and tomatoes were canned in the 20' x 40'
frame building on the corner of Skeel and Front Sts. (now S. 1st Ave.). However, the local
company soon failed.

        Max Kuner began the Kuner Pickle Company's association with Brighton in 1895 when
he moved a building to Brighton from Greeley as a "Salting Works" for pickles and sauerkraut.
Kuner was born in Lindau, Bavaria, December 4, 1824. He came to the United States alone when
he was seven years old, via New Orleans to Vicksburg, Mississippi. He married there and was a
Southern sympathizer during the Civil War. In 1873, Kuner took over a pickle factory in St.
Louis for back debts. He later moved to Denver where he joined his brother in the company of
J.C. Kuner and Son. Max took the company over in 1883, renaming it "Kuner Pickle Co." Kuner
was the active manager of the company until his death in 1913. After Kuner died, the company
headquarters was moved to Brighton in 1916, where a small factory had been built in 1907.

       In 1908 another major canning factory was built in Brighton by the Wilmore Canning
Co. on N. Main St. The factory was later operated under a variety of tenants, including C.H.
Green Canning Co., Blayney Canning Co., Platte Valley Canning Co., and Silver State Canning
Co. (the present Fort Lupton Canning Co.).

       The truck gardens attracted a large Japanese population to Adams County. Gravestones
of Japanese men, women and children in Riverside Cemetery, Denver's pioneer cemetery, in
Commerce City, dating from 1886, indicate there were Japanese in Denver by that time, but there
was no sizable Japanese population in Colorado until after the turn of the century.

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       Many Japanese came westward as railroad workers employed to do construction and
maintenance and stayed to till the soil. Between 1903 and 1906 every railroad in Colorado had
contacted with labor contracting firms such as the S. Ban Company for Japanese laborers, not
only because they could be paid less, but also because large numbers of workers could easily be
obtained through these labor firms.

         One of the major Japanese labor contractors, Harry Naoye Hokasono, who is also buried
in Riverside Cemetery, had a stained glass window erected in his honor in the State Capitol in
Denver in 1977. A leader of the Japanese community in Denver and Colorado, Hokasono spent
his latter years in Brighton. His two adopted daughters graduated from Brighton High School in
1931 and 1934.
Bill Hosakawa of the Denver Post in Nisei, his excellent book on the history of the Japanese in the
United States, says, "Harry Hokasono saw the West's need for skilled construction laborers. He
organized a crew of more than 500 Japanese laborers, and with them laid rails deep into the
Rockies, cleared the way for power lines, graded highway routes. It is said that at one time he
owned more than a thousand horses and mules that were used to haul earthmoving scoops.
Although he is scarcely remembered, Harry Hokasono deserves a place among Colorado's

         Hokasono arrived in San Francisco from Japan in 1884. He came to Colorado in the
winter of 1898. Having studied English and been involved in various businesses in California, he
became a labor contractor for companies in Colorado seeking Japanese workers. Hokasono
predicted a bright future for Colorado agriculture in the Japanese newspaper Shin Sekai (The
New World) published in San Francisco and encouraged the Japanese of the West Coast to come
to this state. He began his career as a labor contractor at Greeley in 1903 when he brought 70
Japanese laborers from Rock Springs, Wyoming and contracted about 1,200 acres of sugar beets.
Later he supplied many Japanese workers for mines and irrigation projects and other large
construction jobs, including 600 men for construction of the Moffat Tunnel and 600 men for the
construction of Baker Dam and Reservoir in Boulder Canyon above Boulder, Colorado.

       Hokasono also published a Japanese newspaper, the Denver Shimpo. He was president of
the Japanese Association of Colorado and also president of the Japanese Business Men's
Association in Denver. His last labor contract was the huge Wind River Canyon Project for the
Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Due to engineering problems he faced, he lost $300,000 on the
contract and died in Brighton in 1927 at the age of 54, a poor and broken man.

        Perhaps the first Japanese organization in Adams County was the "Japanese Association
of Brighton, Fort Lupton and Platteville" formed in 1908 to fix land rents. The Japanese Farmers
Association of Colorado, formed at a meeting in the town hall at Brighton on March 31, 1909, is
probably the same organization as the Brighton Japanese Agricultural Association organized in
May 1909 "to promote the welfare, prevent mutual conflict amongst themselves and protect
rights of Japanese farmers in the region." In 1914, a "Brighton Branch" of the Japanese

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Association of Colorado was formed. Finally, the Brighton Japanese Association, the predecessor
of the present Brighton Japanese American Association (BJAA), was organized in 1920.

        The first meeting of the Brighton Buddhist Kydokai (congregation) was held in the home
of Zentaro Goto in Henderson on February 10, 1924. When a Buddhist Sunday School was
started in Brighton in 1925, the children had to be escorted under armed guard because of threats
credited to the Ku Klux Klan. The Buddhists met in Japanese Hall (the former Brighton
Pavillion, a dance hall and roller skating rink, which was purchased in 1927 by the Japanese
Association for a Japanese Language School) until the present Brighton Buddhist Church was
completed in February, 1940. Many Japanese also belong to the Methodist Church, due to the
missionaries in Japan and work among the Japanese immigrants in America.

        Japanese language meetings, schools and religious services were curtailed during World
War Il and the Japanese Association turned its property over to the Nisei (second generation,
American born) Japanese. The war also brought a new influx of Japanese population to this area
after the U.S. government moved all 110,000 Japanese on the West Coast into "relocation camps."
Many Adams County Japanese served in the 442nd "Go For Broke" Combat Team in Italy and as
interpreters in the Pacific. Fourteen lost their lives in the Service. The local Japanese community
emerged from the war stronger than ever.

       In 1948 the Nisei Women's Club was formed in Brighton by the younger women and on
February 3, 1950, the Brighton Japanese American Association (BJAA) was organized by the
younger men. In 1951, the BJAA sold the Japanese Hall (now apartments west of Strode Motors)
and bought the land at 12th and Longs Peak Sts. that was donated to the City of Brighton in 1973
for BJAA Park.

Albin Wagner. "Brighton Resident to be Honored in Capitol." Brighton Blade. September 1, 1976.
Bill Hosokawa. Nisei; The Quiet Americans. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1969.

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