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Thread: Morril County John Doe, Nebraska, Located 1981

  1. #1

    glitter14 Morril County John Doe, Nebraska, Located 1981

    • The victim was discovered Spring of 1981 in Morrill County, Nebraska
    • Estimated Date of Death: 1979 or prior
    • Partial Skeletal Remains

    Vital Statistics

    • Estimated age: 20-25 years old
    • Distinguishing Characteristics: Possibly Navajo.

    Case History
    The victim is suspected to be an itinerant railroad worker. Authorities have speculated that the man may have been one of about 80 Navajo who worked on a Union Pacific Railroad track crew in the Broadwater area for several months in 1979.
    No American Indian residents in the Morrill County area had been reported missing at the time, and the partial skeleton did not appear to match any missing persons reports.
    Only a partial skeleton was recovered, with no clothing or other materials.

    If you have any information about this case please contact:
    Nebraska State Patrol
    Sgt. Dana Korell

    You may remain anonymous when submitting information.

    Source Information:
    The Daily Times

  2. #2

    Default Re: Morril County John Doe, Nebraska, Located 1981

    Omaha World-Herald (NE)
    August 9, 2009
    Edition: Iowa;Midlands;Nebraska;Su nrise
    Section: News
    Page: 01A

    Index Terms:
    Body Found;Indian;Investigatio n

    Mystery has a face but no name after almost 30 years
    A death investigation fell through the cracks, and the bones have yet to return home.
    Author: Leslie Reed; WORLD-HERALD BUREAU

    Article Text:
    LINCOLN - Out fixing fences washed out by a hard spring rain in 1981, Morrill County rancher Verlin Livingston and his son Mark made a chilling discovery.
    While working in a sand draw - a creek bed where water drains after a downpour - Verlin spied what looked like a perfectly round white rock.
    He stooped to dig it out of the mud and uncovered a human skull.
    The Livingstons, who had occasionally found arrowheads and other evidence of Native American encampments in the draw, assumed they had found ancient remains.
    On a trip to Bridgeport, Neb., a few days later, Verlin Livingston reported the skull to then-Sheriff Roger Sterkel. A forensic anthropologist later concluded it was, indeed, the skull of an American Indian male.
    But this was no archaeological find. This man, possibly a Navajo, had been dead less than two years. Sterkel suspected foul play.
    But for more than two decades, the skull and about two dozen pieces of the unknown man's skeleton gathered dust in Colorado, where Sterkel had taken them for forensic analysis. The man's identity remains unknown.
    It's another case that highlights Nebraska's lack of uniform standards in death investigations. The World-Herald's "Fatal Flaws'' series in 2008 revealed that there is no state oversight and few standards to ensure quality investigations into murders, suicides and other deaths. The newspaper's report found that death investigations and standards vary from county to county. Legislation promising uniform standards and more training of county officials was approved this year.
    The Morrill County bones apparently fell through the cracks because of an unusual set of circumstances, said Sarah Scheer, coordinator of the Nebraska State Patrol's Missing Persons Clearinghouse. The sheriff handling the case left office, county records were lost, and the remains were forgotten in a scientist's laboratory.
    The bones were housed for years in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Charney, a nationally recognized forensic anthropologist at Colorado State University. After Charney's death in 1998, law enforcement agencies across the country began querying authorities on the whereabouts of human remains they had consigned to Charney's laboratory.
    After an out-of-court settlement in 2005, Colorado authorities were assigned to return the various remains to their rightful custodians.
    Yet the question remains unanswered: Where do the bones found in Morrill County belong?
    The remains are suspected to be those of an itinerant railroad worker. Scheer said she did not believe race or socioeconomic status played a role in the handling of the case.
    Judi Morgan gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, said standards have changed since the days when Indian bones were regarded by some as collectible artifacts.
    "The world was a different world in 1981 than it is today," said gaiashkibos, who has been assisting with efforts to find a proper resting place for the bones.
    "What was acceptable then isn't now," she said. "Today, if remains were found like this, action would result, there would be a more thorough investigation and better communication."
    For about three years, the Morrill skeleton's reconstructed face has watched over Sgt. Dana Korell from its perch atop a file cabinet in his office. The reconstruction was molded over a casting of the original skull.
    Korell, a Nebraska State Patrol criminal investigator based in Scottsbluff, took over the case after being contacted by Colorado authorities several years ago. He has been working with Scheer and gaiashkibos to identify the remains.
    Despite digging through boxes of old records in Morrill County, Korell has been unable to find files on the case. County officials today remember little about the bones found on the Livingston property.
    Federal authorities say that about 4,400 sets of unidentified human remains turn up each year across the country. About 1,000 remain unidentified after one year, garnering "cold case" status.
    The vast majority of unidentified remains turn out to be homicide victims, said George Adams, missing persons program manager for the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas.
    But it's often hard to tell how the person died when skeletal remains are all that's left. Animals and the elements often carry off or otherwise damage bones that would provide the telltale signs of a violent death.
    Scheer said five Nebraska sets of unidentified remains have been officially reported to the National Crime Information Center, not including those found in Morrill County.
    At the time the bones were found, Sterkel told a news reporter he had some tentative leads.
    No American Indian residents in the Morrill County area had been reported missing at the time, and the partial skeleton did not appear to match any missing persons reports.
    Sterkel had speculated that the dead man might have been one of about 80 Navajo who worked on a Union Pacific Railroad track crew in the Broadwater area for several months in 1979.
    That might explain why no one filed a missing persons report on the man, estimated by Charney to be age 20 to 25 when he died. Perhaps his co-workers assumed he had returned to his family, while his family assumed he was still working with the railroad.
    Union Pacific officials say they don't keep records of track crew employees from 30 years ago, let alone the names of seasonal employees from 1979.
    It's not known what more Sterkel may have learned. He resigned in 1989, citing burnout and stress, and died in Cheyenne County in 1998.
    John Edens, who became Morrill County sheriff in 1991, said he didn't know the bones existed until Colorado authorities began trying to return them to Nebraska several years ago.
    If Sterkel kept records about the remains found on the Livingston Ranch, Edens said, he likely took them after his resignation.
    Sterkel's widow, Judy, said her husband retained some files after he left office. She said she didn't know whether they still exist. She said she thought the case was solved several years ago.
    The Navajo have a tradition of working for the railroad, dating back to the days when track gangs worked for the old Santa Fe, which eventually merged with Burlington Northern Railroad.
    Union Pacific began hiring Navajo track workers in the 1960s as part of a federal effort to combat unemployment in the Navajo Tribe, said company spokeswoman Brenda Mainwaring.
    At one time, the railroad recruited about 500 workers from the Navajo Tribe each year for the seasonal work.
    "During the 1960s and 1970s, more than half of our track labor and small-machine operators were Navajo," Mainwaring said.
    Only about one-third of the workers spoke English, she said. The men, many related to one another, served on the same teams year after year. They lived in a rolling camp, sleeping in railcars fitted out as bunk rooms and eating out of a dining car.
    Lawrence Curley, now the division director for Union Pacific's police department, is a Navajo who started out working summers on a track crew as a college student in 1977.
    Curley, who did not work with the track gang in Broadwater, was skeptical that someone could wander away without being missed. He shared a bunk car with seven other men. He would have noticed if someone hadn't shown up for work.
    After receiving Charney's report on the skull's age in summer 1981, Sterkel gathered a posse to look for the rest of the skeleton.
    Mark Livingston, then 19, led the way on horseback, guiding the group to the spot on the 5,000-acre ranch where the skull had been found. The men fanned out, each following a gully out of the sand draw. Four hours later, they found more bones, about 400 yards away, Livingston recalled.
    George Post, a Bridgeport doctor who served as the county coroner's physician, identified them as human bones and arranged them as they were found. Only a partial skeleton was recovered, with no clothing or other materials.
    Post, now 89, said in a recent interview that it appeared to him that heavy rains had washed the body out of a shallow grave in a creek bank.
    The U.P. tracks come within a mile of the Livingston ranch. Mark Livingston said the Navajo workers frequently parked in a pasture on the Livingston property to rest in the shade during the heat of the day. The bones were found a few miles from that pasture.
    If the man were murdered, Livingston said, his killer might have hidden the body under a steep bank carved by torrents of water when the draw flooded.
    Korell appeared surprised that Post and Livingston suspect foul play.
    "I don't have a report about trauma to the bones," Korell said. "I guess from what I understand, it appeared that this person wandered off and probably died from exposure."
    Korell contacted gaiashkibos in May to seek her help in surrendering the bones to the Navajo Tribe. Tribal authorities then began investigating whether the remains are truly those of a Navajo.
    New leads were generated after a Farmington, N.M., newspaper article included a photo of the facial reconstruction.
    Three sisters came forward to report that their brother disappeared while working for the railroad in the late 1970s. Authorities have declined to name them at their request. The women agreed to submit to DNA testing to possibly determine whether the bones belong to their lost brother.
    The bones will need to go to the University of North Texas for identification. The university has a federal grant to perform no-cost DNA testing in cases of missing persons or unidentified human remains.
    Adams, the program manager at North Texas, said it would take four to six months to complete the sisters' test results and even longer to complete tests on the skeleton.
    Even if DNA tests do not identify the bones as those of the women's brother, they could help lead to the eventual identification of the partial skeleton, Adams said. Test results could be entered in a national database to be compared against missing persons reports from across the country.
    And perhaps the unknown man found in Morrill County may finally go home.
    Color Photo/1
    The man whose partial remains were found in Nebraska's Morrill County in 1981 may have been Navajo. His age at death is estimated to be 20 to 25 years old.
    B&W Photo/1
    A Navajo track crew boards a bunk car in this undated photo.
    Locator Map/1

  3. #3

    Default Re: Morril County John Doe, Nebraska, Located 1981

    This railway operated in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming. This man could have been from any of those places.

    The history of this railway, the workers and the story in general is very firy. with many disputes, strikes, lay-offs, accidents and sometimes even violence. It is a very interesting story though.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Morril County John Doe, Nebraska, Located 1981

    Omaha World-Herald (NE)
    May 18, 1997
    Edition: Sunrise
    Section: News
    Page: 1a

    Index Terms:
    Series;Illegal Alien;Immigration

    Migrant Tide Steeped In History, Economics

    Article Text:
    Javier Gallegos glistened in the noonday sun as he ducked under the low doorway of his parents' house and stepped into the dirt street.
    His hair shone, still wet from a shower and freshly gelled. His alligator - skin boots were polished to the sheen of black pearls. His wallet - sized belt buckle shimmered in silvers and reds over the buckle's inscription: "The Great State of Nebraska."
    The village of Orranteno bustled around him. Its young men were back from the north, from the field work, meatpacking, construction and garbage - hauling jobs that sustain their families and, to a large extent, this town of 2,000. It was a festival day, and Javier, 27, looked forward to seeing old friends - and perhaps recruiting other men for his roofing crew in Lincoln, Neb., 1,500 miles away.
    Javier and his crew are part of the largest wave of Mexican migrants and immigrants to Nebraska and Iowa since the 1920s, '30s and '40s. They fill jobs in Midlands towns and cities where the labor pool is shallow. They are not a homogenous group, nor are they the only people in Nebraska and Iowa with Mexican roots.
    Some, like Javier, return to the United States for part of each year, legally or illegally, to support their families and towns in Mexico. Others go to stay, legally or illegally, to establish permanent roots. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated in 1996 that 2.7 million Mexican immigrants were in the country illegally. By comparison, 2.9 million Mexican immigrants were granted permanent residency in the United States from 1987 through 1996.
    These migrants and immigrants join the aging men and women who came north half a century ago and the children, grandchildren and great - grandchildren of that earlier wave. The headwaters of this new river of migrants and immigrants are in towns like Orranteno.
    The most recent flow started in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Midlands meatpackers started recruiting workers. But sociologists and economists say the vast majority of people now come as a result of word of mouth, especially from American communities where an earlier wave of immigrants has established itself. Friends tell friends on street corners in Nebraska and Mexico, husbands invite wives, and a channel is established between a Mexican and an American community.
    Increasingly, the word on the street in places such as Orranteno is that Nebraska has plenty of good - paying jobs - jobs that pay seven to 10 times more than comparable jobs around Orranteno.
    Most Orrantenians say they wouldn't leave if they didn't have to. They are caught in the age - old global mechanics of migration and immigration - the flow from poverty to prosperity.
    Mexico still languishes in recession. The new peso still languishes against the dollar. Poverty and high unemployment have driven residents north to America. A four - year drought in the valley around Orranteno has further complicated the economic problems.
    Those coming from Orranteno to Nebraska are still in the first phase of immigration - the transitory, migrant phase. Javier first went to the United States seven years ago. After working in other states for four years, he traveled to Nebraska with friends who were interested in meatpacking work. But he hooked up with some roofers instead.
    "Meatpacking turns your fingers into sausages," he said through an interpreter. "And it's too cold."
    He bounced from city to city, finally landing a roofing job in Lincoln. He started inviting friends and relatives from Orranteno, most of whom had never been out of Mexico. Last year his father went, too.
    Now Javier is considering moving his family to the United States. But first he must become a legal resident. That will take years: The United States has recently tightened its immigration laws.
    Until then, he'll continue to drive back and forth between Orranteno and Lincoln. He and his workers, all in the United States without documentation, lie low in Lincoln under aliases.
    Orranteno residents estimate that nearly half the working - age men in this town of 2,000 leave for part of the year to work in the United States, mostly in Texas or California. Estimates are similar in towns throughout northern Mexico.
    A recent study in the nearby Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacan indicated that 60 percent of the males 18 or older had worked in the United States at least once and that 30 percent to 40 percent of the total income in the villages was sent back or brought back across the border.
    All of which creates sad irony in the streets of Orranteno. The refurbished town square, the modest but comfortable concrete - block homes and the newly remodeled school all were made possible by American dollars.
    But more U.S. money means that fewer people are staying here. Orranteno is becoming a prosperous ghost town.
    "It becomes very sad around here when the men leave," said Magdalena Gallegos, Javier's mother. "There is no life."
    At least for nine months of the year. Come December, about the time of the Virgin of Guadalupe festival, migrant workers begin returning from the north. From December to March, it's a joyous time in the valley, a time for husbands and wives to get reaquainted, and a time for fathers to get acquainted with the new person their child has become.
    It's a time, too, when mothers start losing their boys to the stories from the north: that promise of a better life, that chance to be rewarded for working hard. That opportunity not only to get by but to buy alligator - skinned boots.
    "Immigration doesn't just happen," said David Lopez, a sociology professor at Creighton University who specializes in racial and ethnic inequality issues. "In Mexico especially, it's a process steeped in history, social networks and economic forces. In essence, it's guys standing on the street corner or in the town square trading stories."
    Hard Life, Hard Choices
    Orranteno is one of several small towns in this valley, a wide swath of flatness running north and south between two mountain ranges. The region was wrestled from buckbrush and pricklypears 50 years ago with the help of reservoirs and irrigation ditches.
    Most of Orranteno's men and women who stay home work in the dairies or the pecan, cotton and peanut fields surrounding the town. The average wage is about 50 pesos a day, equivalent to about an hour's wage for many Nebraska roofers and meatpackers.
    Most of those farming jobs dried up when drought came in 1992.
    Local businesses failed. Javier's parents, Socorro and Magdalena Gallegos, closed the small pharmacy they ran out of their house. They still owed on the loan they took out to start the business.
    About to lose his house, Socorro decided to follow his son to Nebraska.
    The faded letters F - A - R - M - A - C - I - A still can be seen beneath the fresh white paint on the Gallegos house. Javier's parents sat in the tile - floored living room, which had been the pharmacy, and talked about the difficulties of making a life here or leaving home for work in another country.
    "It was an awful decision," Mrs. Gallegos said. "But we had no choice. Either he went or the bank would take everything. We would have nothing left."
    So he left. Mrs. Gallegos was left in a house with only photos of her husband, in a town with only women and children. "Some would say that's good," she joked.
    But it wasn't.
    She worked part time and took dance lessons and guitar lessons to pass the time.
    "The house is quiet. Then you go outside, and the streets are quiet, too," she said. "The town gets very sad when the men are gone. It feels like a town of orphans and widows."
    Olga Acosta, whose husband, Jose, went to Lincoln last year to work with Javier, echoed Mrs. Gallegos' remorse.
    Mrs. Acosta said she sometimes asks her husband to stay home. "We'll find a way to make do, I tell him. I need him here. I just want him around."
    But he doesn't listen. "He says he must go to make us a future. I think we could make do, but he has his own mind about things.
    "The men go off, they work hard, but they enjoy themselves, too, sometimes," Mrs. Acosta said. "Sometimes they don't realize how hard it can be to raise children alone."
    Education suffers, as well. For three - fourths of the year, many of Orranteno's schoolchildren are without fathers. Other children leave for part of the school year to visit or live in the United States. Twenty - five of the 63 students at a nearby school temporarily left classes last year to go to the United States.
    Children have become more unruly in recent years, said Erasmo Reyes Gallegos, the principal of Orranteno's grade school. And they learn less.
    "So how are we supposed to teach them?" he asked. "What are we building for the future of Mexico or this town? When the fathers leave, the discipline goes, too. The father is supposed to be the rock. Now the mothers and the teachers are trying to do everything."
    The school conducts special parent - teacher meetings in December to help get fathers involved again in their children's schooling and discipline. The program has helped, Reyes - Gallegos said. "The children begin to listen and learn better in the winter."
    Reasons for Hope
    The school principal, like many in Orranteno, hopes things will get better. The valley has suffered, but the rains returned last fall. When the reservoirs filled late last summer, there was an impromptu party on the Madero Dam. Banks started lending again. A shopping center that had been closed for two years has reopened.
    Valley residents are optimistic the area eventually will return to the course it was on in the early 1990s: Trade with America. Bumper crops. Modernization. The valley and the state of Chihuahua are at the forefront of Mexico's push into the global economy.
    Several American companies have opened plants in the area. A small industry near Orranteno stone - washes jeans. Long, green chilis are grown here, canned and sent north.
    The valley looks not unlike the plains of central Nebraska. Irrigation equipment from Lindsay Manufacturing Co. in Lindsay, Neb., and Valmont Industries of Valley, Neb., two of the world's largest irrigation equipment companies, tower over cotton fields.
    Pella windows, made in Iowa, await the completion of a new housing development outside a nearby city. Union Pacific freight cars roll through the valley.
    "As long as the rains keep coming and government doesn't destroy things, life is going to keep getting better for people around here," said a young entrepreneur from Delicias. "Then maybe people will choose to stay here."
    But for now, many people like the Gallegos family don't have a choice. They must leave home to earn a living.
    For seven months last year, Javier and his crew lived in the trailer home in northwest Lincoln.
    Socorro Gallegos was the group's father figure at age 48. He stayed home when the boys went to Gateway Mall to watch girls and buy basketball shoes. He reminded them to get to bed. "They needed their sleep," he said.
    Roofing is hard and dangerous work. But the money was good. Socorro sent $300 a month back home. But he missed his wife and the familiarity and pace of Orranteno.
    "It's just such a different world up there," he said. "I couldn't speak to anyone. I didn't know anyone. It was the loneliest time of my life. But that's life, I guess."
    You can get by in California or Texas without English, the men said, but it was tough in Lincoln. They rarely went out, except to shop at Gateway Mall.
    Javier, who speaks some English, handled most of the errands and the bills. The group sometimes went to Grand Island for weekends, where more people speak Spanish. "You feel a little more at home there," he said.
    "Nebraska is a nice place," said Acosta, the young father, "but it's too fast and too different. People aren't bad there to Mexicans, but it still is not a tranquil life. It's just not home."
    Perks Have a Price
    On the morning of the Virgin of Guadalupe festival, children laughing and sword - fighting with cedar branches waited in front of Orranteno's Catholic church to finish a float. An old cowboy rode by on a Diamond Back mountain bike. A blue Ford tractor chugged up the square, belching diesel smoke and churning up dust.
    Cars passed, many with U.S. license plates - Texas, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska.
    Eighteen - year - old Jose Acosta stood with six buddies on the street corner a block from Socorro's house.
    All but two had gone to the United States. Acosta and his best friend, 19 - year - old Hector Quintero, had gone to Lincoln with Javier.
    "We all grew up together," Acosta said, his arm around Quintero. "Now we all go work together."
    They wore Fila and Nike basketball shoes and sweats, Dallas Cowboy shirts and Cowboy baseball caps worn backward. Five years ago, neighbors said, these young men would have worn the cowboy gear of their fathers and grandfathers.
    Attitudes have changed, too, and the young men scare some of their older neighbors and relatives. They talk like city kids. They're street savvy. Ask mothers and grandmothers here, and they say the young men are learning the talk, mannerisms and incivilities of American gangs.
    But beneath the street veneer, the young men talked about basic goals and dreams.
    "I have a wife and a son," Acosta said. "They have to eat."
    His friends were more cavalier.
    Quintero went to the United States for adventure. He went because his friends went. He went for the toys that can be bought with a good income. And it's the cool thing to do.
    "Orranteno gets dull," he said. "If you want to make something of your life, you go find work in America. If you don't want to be bored to death, you go to America."
    Among his friends, Acosta downplayed the impact the travel has on his new family. He repeated a frequently told joke: "At first the women are very sad that we are gone. They say: 'Come back! Come back!' Then we send the first check. Then they say: 'Stay there! Stay there!"'
    But away from his friends, Acosta was more contemplative. His son, Brian, grew from 2 months old to 9 months old while he was gone. Acosta didn't see Brian hold his head up for the first time or roll over for the first time. When Acosta returned, he was a stranger to his son.
    "I don't know my son," he said. "That's the price you pay."
    Other men, when pressed, also acknowledged the price. Javier's wife borrowed a video recorder to tape his daughter's kindergarten graduation. But it wasn't like being there.
    "It hurts," he said. "And I know it hurts her. You say it's the way things have to be, but it still hurts.''
    For some, the price is too high. Socorro planned to go to the United States again this spring but hoped it would be his last trip.
    But Javier said he has no intention of staying year - round in Orranteno any time soon. He would rather become a permanent resident in the United States and move his family to Lincoln.
    "You can't make it here if you're poor and from the country," he said. "I would have no hope here."
    A Three - Day Series TODAY: American dollars, Mexican lives. Pages 10A and 11A. MONDAY: Hoping for the best, legally and illegally. TUESDAY: Part of the American fabric.

    Color Photos/2 TOP: Baseball games return to Orranteno each fall with the young men. Jose Acosta, left, who worked last year in Lincoln as a roofer, jokes with a friend before a game. ABOVE: Last year Socorro Gallegos, left, worked in the United States for the first time. "Everybody leaves," said his wife, Magdalena, holding her wedding photo. B&W Photos/7 RIGHT: The Virgin de Guadalupe festival has become a sort of community reunion for rural towns such as Orranteno, since that is when workers return from the United States. Here the festival processional rolls up a country road to a small church near Orranteno. BELOW: One young girl each year is chosen to depict the Virgin de Guadalupe in a processional and Mass. The day commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego in 1531 in what now is part of Mexico City. ABOVE: Children rehearse a school music program. Many of Orranteno's children are fatherless most of the year, which affects discipline and learning at school. RIGHT: The Virgin de Guadalupe festival ends with horse races, where many men drink beer, bet on their favorites and often tell stories about the money to be made in America. FAR RIGHT: Dairy cattle are frequently herded through Orranteno's streets and town square. VILLAGE SCENES: "We were just married, and I have no husband," said Olga Acosta, top, who raises son Brian alone while husband Jose is gone. Above, an old man wheels firewood near Delicias. Several roads in the valley were recently paved in a modernization effort. Map/1 Bar Graph/1 Line Graph/1

  5. #5

    Default Re: Morril County John Doe, Nebraska, Located 1981

    Omaha World-Herald (NE)
    September 20, 2004
    Edition: Iowa;Metro;Midlands;Nebra ska;Sunrise
    Section: Living
    Page: 01E

    Index Terms:
    Ochoa, Ella
    Agriculture;Hispanic;Seri es

    She knows issues faced by migrants
    The North Platte woman spends her time "opening doors" for others.
    Author: Betsie Freeman; WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

    Article Text:
    Migrant farm workers see a lot of the country and forge strong families through working together. But they also deal with low wages, substandard housing and educational challenges.
    Ella Ochoa of North Platte, Neb., knows all about the lifestyle. She used to live it.
    For nearly 30 years, she has been the executive director of NAF Multicultural Human Development Corp., formerly the Nebraska Association of Farmworkers. The agency helps workers deal with migrant issues or find new careers.
    Ochoa said mentors helped her get her GED and take college classes. "That's why I've dedicated my life to opening doors for other people."
    She was born in Laredo, Texas, to Mexican parents who were migrant workers. They traveled to North Dakota, Illinois and Minnesota. At 18, she married into another migrant family.
    She eventually began working for migrant schools as a community liaison. When her husband got a job with Union Pacific, they moved to North Platte.
    Now, her husband is ready to retire, but she's not sure she is, even though she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years ago. When the time comes to quit, she'll spend time with her four sons and grandchildren.
    Two of her sons are the first college graduates on either side of the family. The others are working on degrees.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Morril County John Doe, Nebraska, Located 1981

    Omaha World-Herald (NE)
    May 20, 1997
    Edition: Sunrise
    Section: News
    Page: 1

    Index Terms:
    Immigration;Illegal Alien;Series

    Old Culture Quietly Fades As Migrants Sink Roots
    Author: Robert Nelson; World - Herald Staff Writer

    Article Text:
    Adela Hernandez wanted to raise an American family. Still, she had hoped at least one of her four sons would marry a nice Mexican girl like their mother.
    Instead, they all married Anglo girls. That was how things worked in Hershey by the 1950s: Mexican kids cruised with Swedes, Japanese kids played ball with Germans. And, for the most part, any girl dated and married any boy.
    "Nobody even seemed to realize anybody else was different," she said. "It was beautiful, but I ended up with grandkids who can't speak Spanish."
    Like thousands of others, Adela Hernandez and her husband, Ned, came north during the 1920s during the first major wave of Mexican immigration to work in the beet fields of western Nebraska.
    In the 75 years since, Adela and her descendants have struggled through the phases of assimilation. Their lives, and the history of Hershey, are examples of how Mexicans become Americans.
    Many of those early migrant workers established roots in the towns of western Nebraska - Scottsbluff, Mitchell, Bayard, Hershey. After a few years, many moved into other occupations, particularly with the Union Pacific Railroad.
    Although much of the Hispanic community in Hershey has left for regions with more jobs, the town still has the third - highest percentage of Hispanics in the state, after the beet country towns of Lyman and Terrytown.
    In the early part of the century, Hershey was a crossroads for ethnic groups coming from all directions - GermanRussians and Swedes heading west, Japanese railroad workers heading east, Mexicans heading north.
    These immigrants' stories of assimilation are being repeated down Interstate 80 in Lexington and in other towns throughout Nebraska where new Hispanic communities are forming.
    "The patterns are incredibly universal," said Lourdes Gouveia, a University of Nebraska at Omaha sociologist.
    Migrants or immigrants come, find temporary housing and scrape by without English language skills in a closely knit and insulated immigrant community. As years pass, they learn the language and how governmental and economic processes work. They take out loans, buy homes, start businesses. Their children speak fluent English and graduate from high school or college. Their grandchildren push toward even higher achievements, often leaving behind all remnants of their grandparents' culture.
    "It's happening in Lexington - the migrant stream is beginning to mature," Ms. Gouveia said. "They have begun to pool resources, build new credit mechanisms, move out of those initial jobs where there are more opportunities for advancement. What happened before is happening all over again."
    But there is a difference between then and now. Hispanics in the Midlands seem to be hearing more anti - immigrant talk and, in some cases, experiencing more racism and discrimination than Mexican - Americans of Mrs. Hernandez's generation.
    "I don't understand it," Mrs. Hernandez said. "My grandchildren are hearing things I never heard."
    What's happening, sociologists say, is that fully acculturated families of Mexican heritage are getting caught up in the cultural conflicts that arise when a new immigrant population moves into an established one.
    Six months ago, Mrs. Hernandez's son Leroy found a racial epithet scrawled on a wall at work. It was the first one he had seen in his 19 years with the company.
    The darker the skin, the more likely a person will hear disparaging comments. Leroy's son, Scott, has more of his father's Hispanic features, while his daughter, Sarah, looks more like her Anglo mother.
    "Scott has it a lot worse than I do," Sarah said. "He looks Mexican, so he's gotten all kinds of comments. I feel bad for him."
    Scott said he has dated several girls whose parents were apprehensive about their daughter dating "a Mexican." He has increasingly heard racial slurs in public places such as bars or restaurants.
    David Lopez, a sociology professor at Creighton University who specializes in racial and ethnic issues, said, "The problem comes when people start operating on racist perceptions instead of facts regarding a certain group. The more these new immigrants come ... the more you'll hear of some of these inter - ethnic problems."
    Over the years, Mrs. Hernandez has kept a journal tracking Hershey's Mexican - American community. Her recollections were used in a history book published in conjunction with Hershey's centennial in 1992.
    Mrs. Hernandez was born in Wichita, Kan., in 1917, shortly after her parents had moved from the Mexican state of Jalisco. The family moved to Sutherland, Neb., in 1926 and to Hershey two years later.
    She began working in the fields when she was 9. Because she spoke English, she served as interpreter for her parents and, later, for other new immigrants.
    Ned, her husband of 55 years who passed away earlier this spring, was born in Durango, Mexico, in 1910. His mother died when he was 4, and an aunt took him to El Paso, Texas. He later moved to Chicago, then came to Nebraska in search of work.
    During the 1920s, labor trains from El Paso carried immigrants to fields in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and California. Entire families came. Everybody older than 9 worked in the fields. Children attended school only during the winter months and for a month just before the harvest.
    "You were bent over all day," Mrs. Hernandez said. "It was tough to stand up afterward."
    Work often began at 4 a.m. The women would get up at 2 a.m. to make tortillas and lunch for the day. The pay was $18 per acre, which included thinning, hoeing twice and topping the beets.
    Mrs. Hernandez's family lived west of downtown in a little shack. By the early 1930s, 19 Mexican families were permanent residents in Hershey, and many of those families still have descendants in the area.
    In 1936 she met Ned Hernandez at the Hershey corner store. They married six years later, just before Ned went to fight in World War II. After returning from the service, Ned went to work for Union Pacific. The couple also started two businesses - a janitorial business and a restaurant. The restaurant closed when all of Mrs. Hernandez's help - their four sons - left Hershey for tours of duty during the Vietnam War.
    During their first two decades in Hershey, the Hernandezes associated primarily with other Mexican - Americans families. Early on, the families lived close to each other near the old Hershey water tower. Few spoke English. In those days, a parent's admonitions of "stay out of trouble" meant, in effect, stay clear of unknown whites and people with the capability to abuse power - especially police officers.
    New immigrant communities are typically very insular, said Peter F. Orazem, an economist at Iowa State University, who studies the movement of new immigrants in the Midwest. But eventually, they become established not only in the community but also in American culture.
    "That's how all immigrant populations start. You have pockets of people from a particular place with a particular language. Obviously, new people coming in head for those pockets because they can communicate there. It, in essence, makes the personal cost of assimilating a lot lower."
    At first they're transitory, Dr. Gouveia said. "They're figuring, 'Is this place for me? Is this job for me?"' When they find the right place, they tend to drop roots, she and other specialists say.
    "You want to recognize that different types of immigrants have distinct needs and ambitions,'' Orazem said. "But if they're coming with their family, or have family, they want precisely what any family wants - stability, good schooling. That's how the region was built."
    By the 1950s and 1960s, when the Hernandezes' son Leroy and daughterin - law Carol were in school, MexicanAmericans were building some of the most respected businesses and farms in the area. The second and third generations contained honor students, star athletes and war heroes.
    "The Mexican population here has done what every other immigrant population has done," said Ken Niedan, president of the Hershey State Bank. "They went from being migrants to being railroad workers and property and business owners to helping build the war memorials. Now we're all just people from Hershey, Nebraska."
    Now a third generation has come of age. Leroy and Carol Hernandez's children, Scott, 23, and Sarah, 18, are looking for work, but they know they'll probably have to leave home in order to find jobs.
    ''There's not much around here for young people," Scott said.
    "I've told all my children and grandchildren it's OK to go," Adela Hernandez said. "They have to. You have to go where the opportunities are."
    But Carol is apprehensive. Prejudice seems to be growing around the state and the country, she said. At Hershey High in the 1960s, she said, "it was never an issue with anyone" if different races dated.
    "My best friend was Mexican. My boyfriend was Mexican. Nobody cared, and nobody thought about it," Carol said. "I guess that's why we're even more surprised with what we hear from our kids."
    Carol said she was sitting by a man during a basketball game in which one of the top players was Hispanic.
    "This guys says, 'Well, we'll give him a year. By then he'll have some white girl pregnant and be in jail.' This is a guy I've known all my life."
    Within the Hernandez family, the different generations have dealt with hardship and prejudice differently.
    The ethic of the old Mexican immigrant community here, Adela Hernandez said, was to work, not make trouble, and run from trouble when you see it. Then good things will come.
    Their sons and daughters were emboldened with education, fluent English and a better understanding of America.
    "Leroy was always quiet - he was pretty traditional, like his parents," Carol said. "Then some people walked on him. He finally started speaking up. Now you can't keep him quiet."
    Along with his job as a machinist at the Union Pacific diesel shop in North Platte, Leroy serves as mediator and sometimes advocate when allegations of workplace discrimination arise at the shop. Recently he has been pushing for more minority hires in the almost exclusively Anglo diesel shop.
    Adela Hernandez's grandchildren are caught in a strange middle ground - not Mexican, but not accepted by some in the established strata of American society of which they are a part. It has been cumbersome and frustrating for Scott.
    For a short time, Scott worked at the IBP meat processing plant in Lexington, which is heavily staffed by Mexican immigrants. Almost everyone he worked with spoke Spanish. He was an outcast because he didn't and because he wasn't "one of them."
    "I get caught in the middle a lot," he said.
    So does Sarah, to a lesser extent. Sarah, though, has been increasingly exploring her Mexican roots. She identifies herself particularly with the Chicano culture of California. Her Mexican half is a wellspring of pride and identity.
    She wears baggy old Dickies, working man's clothing, "the same stuff as my grandpa wore," and subscribes to Low - Rider magazine, which celebrates the low - slung, hot - rod status symbols of the barrio. She takes the magazine "more for the cultural stuff than for the cars."
    "I am proud of what I am," she said. "I see my culture in those cars and in the Zoot suits and Dickies and all that."
    Hershey is much different now from what it was in the 1960s, Adela Hernandez said. Most of the MexicanAmerican community is gone. The only new immigrants she sees are young Mexicans riding cross - country on freight trains. When the trains slow or stop near Hershey, the young men jump off and buy water and a loaf of bread from the convenience store before the trains roll on.
    Some of the men say they have heard there are field jobs in Hershey, she said.
    "Somebody out there somewhere is still telling people that there are opportunities here to work," she said. "That old grapevine never dies."
    She empathizes with the travelers, seeing them as young people with the same hopes and aspirations she and her husband had 70 years ago.
    "It's all the same thing," she said. "We all have the same hopes and dreams."

    Color Photos/2 TOP: Four generations of the Hernandez family have lived in Hershey, Neb. From left are Leroy; his father, Ned, who has died since this photo was taken; Leroy's daugh ter, Sarah; and her toddler son, Marcus. ABOVE: Ned and Adela Hernandez moved to America in the 1920s. They married and raised a family in Nebraska. B&W Photo/1 FIELD WORK: Sorting potatoes for Kuroki Farms are foreman Don Reyes, left, and Jim Rivera. Potatoes and beets, once abundant crops in the Hershey area, lured workers north, including Reyes' father, Julius. Don Reyes is the brother of Adela Hernandez.

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