Nishimuta Family History
As told by Francis Nishimuta

Note: The following was written by Francis Nishimuta of McAlester, and sent to his children in emails in 2002, when he was 82. "Frank" is the third child of Kyutaro and Louisa, born in Cushing, Oklahoma in 1919. He worked for the Public Service Company of Oklahoma, the power company, in McAlester for over 30 years. These remembrances were compiled with the help of Frank's brother, Fr. James Nishimuta, and is one of the best "oral" traditions we have today. Some of the specifics may differ slightly from events found in other sections of this website, as events can get changed as they recede into history! If I can clarify any differences, please contact me at mike@nishimuta.net.

The Nishimuta Family History, by Francis Thomas Nishimuta.

I am writing this article about the Nishimuta name for all new members of our family, and to all others who want to keep it current. Our dad, Kyutaro was born in Izumi City, Kagoshima, Japan, on February 25, 1881. Kyutaro parents were Mr. and Mrs. Kyuzaemon Tateno, and he lived with his parents and finished school in that city. When he was in his early twenties, he decided to go to America and further his education. In 1902, before he left Japan, his second brother, who had married into a wealthy family, decided to purchase a military name that had no family to continue using it, a Japanese tradition of the time. He purchased a Samurai family name “Nishimuta,” and presented it as a gift to Kyutaro for him to use in America. Kyutaro used the last name “Nishimuta” from that day on.

Kyutaro J. Nishimuta, my father, left Japan for America in 1902. He arrived in San Francisco a few weeks later. While processing through immigration, customs, and medical screening, he was found to be physically below standards, and was returned to Japan. A few months later, he left Japan, and this time entered British Columbia, passing all exams.

After a few weeks, he entered the US through Washington state, traveling to San Francisco. He was there when the great earthquake of 1905 hit the city. He went to work on railroad construction, beginning in California. Enroute to the East coast, passing through Nebraska, he stayed to attend an automobile mechanic’s school. After he graduated, he found a job with a banker. In those days, you had to have a driver as well as someone to keep the vehicle in good condition. Since Kyutaro fit the bill, he had a permanent job for years to come.

Kyutaro was employed by Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, a wealthy banker in Omaha, Nebraska. Several years prior, Mr. Hamilton met a lady from Spain, and they had a daughter. When the daughter was about 12 years old, the Hamiltons wanted their daughter to learn Spanish. Mrs. Hamilton had a sister who was in charge of a convent in Spain, so she wrote to her sister and asked her if she could find a young girl who would be willing to come to America live in their household, and tutor her daughter.

Louisa Lorenzo was a young school age girl, who agreed that this would be a good opportunity, and she accepted. The Hamiltons made arrangements for her to come immediately. Louisa arrived at the Hamilton home and not only taught the child, but took on other household duties. Since Kyutaro was close to the family and in the house often, he soon became acquainted with young Louisa. Before long, they began dating. On February 18, 1915, one year after their first date, they were married in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and decided to support themselves with a chicken hatchery farm in Omaha.

In 1924, Kyutaro and Louisa moved to Cushing, Oklahoma, and leased 160 acres from Pat Ryan, who was retiring, but continued to live in the large two story house. Kyutaro would use all the other buildings for his business. Many teams of work horses were used to cultivate the land, and were housed in a large barn, which could also store hundreds of bales of hay. Mr. Ryan built a new four room house for Kyutaro and his family. Kyutaro and his two hired hands constructed many hot beds and cold frames. After the first year, Kyutaro built two frame houses near his own for the hired hands and their families.

The truck farming business was active year round. During the spring and summer he hired the wives of the farmers to prepare and pack vegetables for market. In March 1924, Paul William, the third son was born and in January 1927, the fourth son, James Kyuzaemon. In December 1932, their fifth son, Robert Kyutaro was born. Kyutaro and Louise ran a very successful truck farm, making a profit every year. In the spring they raised all varieties of vegetable plants and sold them to retail stores in the area. They had four delivery trucks, going to market often during the summer, delivering many varieties of vegetables that had been hand prepared for the retail stores to display and sell.

Every Sunday morning, Kyutaro and Louisa would take their eight children to Mass at St Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Cushing, and prepared their children to receive the sacraments when they were of age.

During Lent, the children gathered in the living room, and all recited the rosary. In the Spring of 1933, Mary Tomiko, the eldest daughter, decided to enter the foreign mission sisters of St Dominic, located in New York. Kyutaro and Louisa worked very hard to raise the children, and when they were old enough, they were given daily chores. Besides vegetables, the family raised chickens, cows, and pigs for milk and meat. All the excess was sold at the market.

In 1930, Kyutaro and Louisa purchased an eighty acre farm six miles east of the Ryan farm, for future truck farming in the Rose Bud community. All the children attended the Norfolk school system while living on the Ryan farm. In August 1933, Kyutaro and Louise decided to move from the Ryan farm to their own farm. It was a difficult decision, because they had spent nine years in developing a successful venture on the Ryan farm, but the family was growing and needed a future of their own. In the Fall of 1933, the Nishimuta family packed up and moved to the Rose Bud community. This would take several weeks, as they had many things to move, including large machinery and livestock. By January 1934, all there property was assembled on the Rose Bud farm, but all the hot beds and cold frames had to be built because the growing season was near, and this was their primary income. In the spring the four oldest children would go to school in Cushing, while the four youngest would attended the Rose Bud school. This school house was about a mile from their residence, so they could walk to school on the country road.

The first year, Kyutaro and Louisa were very busy, plotting and planting many varieties of vegetables and raising many hot bed plants for sale in the nearby towns. Business was good and they were able to keep four delivery trucks going all summer. Then in 1935 came the drought, dust storms, and depression. This did not alter their business, since the retail stores wanted their vegetables, which had to be irrigated from Euchee Creek, running through the farm.

When the second son, Francis, was at Cushing High School, the school began offering an initial course in vocational agriculture, which Francis began and continued for four years. With his interest in soil conservation, he was able to help his father terrace the farm and improve the yield. Eventually he received the Junior Master Farmer degree from Oklahoma A & M College in Stillwater.

In 1938, Francis and Grace graduated from Cushing High School. In the summer of 1939, Kyutaro received a call from a Japanese family in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, who were returning to Japan. They had a large vegetable farm which they wanted to sell. Kyutaro and Louisa were very interested, as it was piped for irrigation using city water. The annual cost was very reasonable.

Since the Tommuro family wanted to leave for Japan as soon as possible, Francis and Kyutaro went to Okmulgee the next day and worked out a satisfactory price for Tom Tommuro’s inventory. Tom did not own the land, but the improvements and household furnishings. All they took to Japan was their clothes and personal things, leaving everything else in place. In August 1939, Kyutaro and Louisa, and their five youngest, moved to the Okmulgee farm. Since it was furnished, they left the Rose Bud farm and furnishings to sons Joe and Francis to carry on, since they were well experienced in operating a truck farm.

A few years passed, and Francis met a young lady who lived on the adjoining farm, Fern Campbell. Since Kyutaro and his family did not leave a housekeeper, Francis and Fern decided to get married and raise a family on the Rose Bud farm. This created a problem for Joe, the oldest. Since he also wanted to start a family, in the fall of 1939 Joe married Maxie Kilmer, from Yale, Oklahoma. Joe and Maxie started their own farm in Yale. Francis and Fern operated the Rosebud farm until World War II, when Francis and Joe were both drafted.

When Kyutaro and Louisa and four of their young children moved into the Okmulgee farm in late August of 1939, the first duty was to join St. Anthony’s Church and enroll the children in the Catholic School. This was a much larger church than St Peter and St Paul in Cushing, and very beautiful. Compared to Cushing, Okmulgee was a large city with a large parish. Kyutaro and Tom Tommuro’s hired hands had to gather and process the summer vegetables for market and plant the Fall vegetables.

Since Kyutaro had been truck farming for many years, it was routine work, but one new crop for them was a large acreage of strawberries already growing. In the following spring, Kyutaro had to find people to pick and process the strawberries, but there were many expecting strawberry work each spring.

In 1945, James Nishimuta, after graduating from St Anthony School, entered the Maryknoll Missionary Seminary in New York to become a priest. He was ordained in June, 1954, and was sent to Japan with his first duty to establish a church and a school.

The four remaining children graduated from St Anthony school, and went on to different universities. Kyutaro and Louisa continued to work the truck farm from August of 1939 until July 1960. After raising eight children and being very successful on the farm, they decided to slow down, reduce the acreage being farmed, and raise livestock. In January, 1960, Kyutaro found out he had lung cancer. As the months passed, and he was unable to work, he sent word to his son Fr. James, to come home and see him before he died. Fr James gave his dad the last rights of the Catholic Faith, and was at his bedside when he passed on. Fr. James presided at the funeral Mass at St Anthony Church, and Kyutaro was buried in the Okmulgee city cemetery on July 13, 1960. Fr James stayed to settle the estate, sell the farm equipment, and move his mother into an apartment in town. Louisa had many friends there who watched over her, and she attended Mass daily at St Anthony’s. Her son Francis, now working for the Oklahoma Public Service Company in McAlester, visited her quite often, as Okmulgee was part of his territory. Louisa visited her eight children often, taking public transportation to visit them.

While visiting her daughter, Margaret, in Dallas, Texas, she passed away in her sleep on December 3, 1965. Her son Francis, with a funeral director, brought her body to Okmulgee for a Mass at St Anthony, and burial next to her husband in the Okmulgee city cemetery. All of Kyutaro and Louisa’s eight children are still alive, except for Mary, the oldest daughter, who died in December 1993. Four of their sons, Joseph, Francis, Paul, and Robert, served in the U.S. military, and Fr James Nishimuta, a Maryknoll Missionary, served 47 years in Japan and retired in January 2001. Six of Kyutaro and Louisa’s children had thirty four children, and sixty eight great grandchildren, as of March, 2002.