Howard E Poston Iii Biography & Facts
The Poston Internment Camp, located in Yuma County (now in La Paz County) in southwestern Arizona, was the largest (in terms of area) of the ten American concentration camps operated by the War Relocation Authority during World War II.
The site was composed of three separate camps arranged in a chain from north to south at a distance of three miles from each other. Internees named the camps Roasten, Toastin, and Dustin, based on their desert locations. The Colorado River was approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) to the west, outside of the camp perimeter.
Poston was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, over the objections of the Tribal Council, who refused to be a part of doing to others what had been done to their tribe. However, Army commanders and officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs overruled the Council, seeing the opportunity to improve infrastructure and agricultural development (which would remain after the war and aid the Reservation's permanent population) on the War Department budget and with thousands of "volunteers."The combined peak population of the Poston camps was over 17,000, mostly from Southern California. At the time Poston was the third largest "city" in Arizona. It was built by Del Webb, who would later become famous building Sun City, Arizona and other retirement communities. The Poston facility was named after Charles Debrille Poston, a government engineer who established the Colorado River Reservation in 1865 and planned an irrigation system to serve the needs of the Indian people who would live there.A single fence surrounded all three camps, and the site was so remote that authorities considered it unnecessary to build guard towers. The thousands of internees and staff passed through the barbed-wire perimeter at Poston I, which was where the main administration center was located.
Poston was a subject of a sociological research by Alexander H. Leighton, published in his 1945 book, The Governing of Men. As Time Magazine wrote, "After fifteen months at Arizona's vast Poston Relocation Center as a social analyst, Commander Leighton concluded that many an American simply fails to remember that U.S. Japanese are human beings."
Establishment of the camp
When Poston was chosen as the site for the relocation center, the Colorado River Indian Reservation Tribal Council adamantly opposed the use of their land because they did not want to be involved in inflicting the same injustice they faced on the Japanese internees. The council was soon overridden, and the BIA and WRA jointly took control of 71,000 acres (29,000 ha) of tribal land and began construction in early 1942. Del Webb (Del E. Webb Construction Company) began building Poston I on March 27, and his workforce of 5,000 completed the first camp less than three weeks later. Construction on II and III began soon after, contracted to be finished within 120 days. In the meantime, Poston was partially opened on May 8, as the Parker Dam Reception Center, one of two such sites that augmented the 15 temporary "assembly centers" where Japanese Americans waited to be transferred to the more permanent WRA camps. Approximately two-thirds of Poston's population were brought directly from their homes to what was then Parker Dam, and many of these early arrivals volunteered to help complete the still under construction camps.Upon completion, the Poston site consisted of hundreds of residential barracks, a hospital, an administrative center, and guard and staff housing. The camp officially opened as the Colorado River Relocation Center on June 1, 1942, and the BIA relinquished its authority over Poston in 1943.
Life at Poston
Life at Poston for the Japanese internees was difficult from the start. Japanese-Americans across the West Coast were uprooted from their lives and placed in different camps around the United States, including Poston. Hurried construction and lack of supplies made living conditions for internees barely suitable. Barracks were made with redwood, which shrunk more than expected and created cracks throughout the buildings. A shortage of lumber led them to build using adobe. Weather also added to the difficulties of living in the camp because of its location in the desert. Extreme heat during the summer, reaching up to 115 °F, and extreme cold in the winter, reaching as low as 35 °F, added to the frustrations of internees. Outbreaks of disease were another common factor across most camps that contributed to poor quality of life. Poston was not immune to disease outbreaks and tuberculosis was rampant with 140 reported cases. Care for these sick was also lacking, which led to avoidable death or disability. By the end of 1942, heating systems were still not in place and clothing allowances still hadn't been delivered.The frustration that was being felt by the internees was mounting, and is seen in this section of an anonymous poem by an internee:
That Damned Fence (anonymous)
...We're trapped like rats in a wired cage,
To fret and fume with impotent rage;
Yonder whispers the lure of the night,
But that DAMNED FENCE assails our sight...
Japanese-Americans in Poston were becoming increasingly frustrated with their new life in the internment camp. Rising tensions came to a head in November 1942, sparked by the beating of a suspected informer on Saturday evening November 14. Two men suspected to have beaten the man were detained and under investigation. The community demanded the release of these two men, and their request was refused. Because of the denial of their request, workers went on strike on November 19. A compromise was reached by the director and the evacuees' Emergency Executive Council, ending the strike on November 24.Unlike the nine other concentration camps, the agricultural and animal husbandry areas of Poston were within the perimeter fence. Schools and a number of other buildings were constructed by the internees. Many of the inhabitants participated in and created recreational activities, such as the Boy Scouts, sports teams, and jobs. Baseball teams were very common among the internees as leagues were set up soon after opening. Scores and game summaries were recorded in the Poston daily press bulletin, along with other daily news. There were elements that made life at Poston liveable for internees, but their time at the camp was mostly filled with frustration and struggles to the end of their internment.
A camp newspaper Poston Chronicle (formerly Official information bulletin, then Official daily press bulletin) was published between May 1942 and October 1945.
Clara Breed, a librarian from San Diego, made a point of maintaining contact with Poston camp children she had met in San Diego. She corresponded with many of them and sent them reading materials and other gifts. Their letters to her became an important record of life in the camps. Hundreds of "Dear Miss Breed" postcards and letters are now part of the permanent archives at the Japa.... Discover the Howard E Poston Iii popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Howard E Poston Iii books.