We landed in Willmar, and that’s where we stayed.: Becoming Minnesotan

Lourdez Schwab. Minnesota Historical Society, Oral History Office files.
  • Name - Lourdez Ortega Schwab
  • Age at interview - 31
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 05.10.2009
  • Ortega Schwab family, Willmar, Minnesota. Minnesota Historical Society.

    Economics, Latino, Travel to U.S., Work

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    Push & Pull Factors: Why did this person come to the U.S.?

    Words to look for

    Background Information

    Many Mexicans and Mexican Americans originally came to Minnesota as braceros. These migrant farm workers travelled through Texas and into other states to work planting, harvesting, and processing crops. Whole families would travel and work together through the entire season. Agricultural companies in Minnesota, especially sugar beet growers in northwestern Minnesota, began to recruit Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from Texas to work in their fields and factories in the late 1910s and 1920s. These companies found Mexican labor to be cheap, abundant and reliable. Most sugar beet workers, or betabeleros, returned to Texas at the end of the season. However, some workers and families stayed over the winter in the rural communities where they worked, and others moved to St. Paul for the winter.

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Lourdez Schwab 1
    1:26 Minutes | 1.38Mb


    Narrator: Lourdez Schwab (LS) Interviewer: Ruth Trevino (RT) RT: So, you moved to Minnesota when you were eleven. Did you move here to the Willmar area, or was there a lot of moving around before you eventually landed in Willmar? LS: No, we landed in Willmar, and that’s where we stayed. RT: That’s where you stayed. What drew your family to Willmar? LS: My brother’s education, agriculture work, everything. My brothers were older; two of them were in high school at the time. And one of them was not doing so well, socially, and he was getting into trouble. And there’s so much different bad influences in Texas, I guess everywhere, but it was really heavy. He was in football and sports, and the gangs were trying to get him into their gangs, and the pressure was on for him. And my parents said, “Hey.” We met up with the next family that was coming up to Minnesota and we came with them one year, to work in the fields. And that’s how we got here, and we stayed. RT: What kind of field work were you doing? LS: Sugar beets, soy beans. I think when we immediately got here we did rock picking. We did everything. And then, so we just kind of hoed the fields. That’s just what we did, even in Texas.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  An action exerted by a person or thing with such power on another to cause change. 


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2173