Photo Essay: Exclusion Order No. 1, Bainbridge Island

March 30, 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the removal of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, Washington. The community of almost 300 was the second in the country targeted for eviction—after Terminal Island, where residents were given a mere 48 hours to pack up and move further inland—and the first taken directly to a concentration camp. We offer a look back at this historic date with photos taken during the March 1942 removal.

Japanese Americans had lived on Bainbridge Island since the 1880s, establishing a small but thriving community near the Port Blakely Mill, where Japanese immigrants worked alongside a diverse crew of Native Americans and fellow immigrants from Hawai’i, the Philippines, Italy, Finland, Sweden, and China. It was a Japanese American family, the Moritanis, who introduced strawberry farming to the island in 1908, and by World War II most Nikkei islanders were engaged in some form of agricultural business.

On March 24, 1942, a little over a month after Executive Order 9066, Western Defense Commander John DeWitt issued an exclusion order against the Japanese American residents of Bainbridge Island, citing the island’s close proximity to the Puget Sound Navy Yard. Those affected by the order had just six days to sell or lease their farms, store their property (or sell it for pennies on the dollar), find new homes for pets, and say their goodbyes. These photos show the exclusion orders being posted, on or about March 25, 1942.

Original caption: “Photo shows military police posting Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1, requiring evacuation of Japanese living on Bainbridge Island, in Puget Sound, Washington.” (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

Nisei helping a soldier post Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

The government was ill-prepared for this first removal and made the “evacuation” of Bainbridge Island especially difficult by providing Japanese Americans with confusing and conflicting information. Additionally, the support network of churches and other community organizations that eventually formed to help Japanese Americans pack and store belongings was not yet in place. Bainbridge Islanders had to prepare for their eviction largely on their own.

Nisei students meeting with Bainbridge High School principal Roy Dennis prior to removal. Dennis arranged for seniors to finish their term through correspondence courses, thus ensuring incarcerated students could still obtain their high school diplomas. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

Evaristo and Miki Arota meet with Army officers on Bainbridge Island on March 25, 1942. Because Evaristo was Filipino and Miki was Japanese, the couple was separated during the removal. (Courtesy of The Seattle Times.)

Loading trucks for mass removal. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

Family loading belongings onto a truck, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

Local papers like The Seattle Times praised the “orderly evacuation” as “a credit to the efficiency of the army”—and, as the next photos clearly show, it was indeed a military operation.

A convoy of army trucks preparing for mass removal, March 30, 1942. The trucks were used to pick up Japanese American farm families and transport them to the Eagledale ferry dock. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

Soldiers discussing removal with Japanese American Bainbridge Islanders, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Soldiers trying to remove an Issei couple’s dog from a truck waiting to take them to the checkpoint. King bared his fangs at the soldiers and had to be coaxed back inside by Mrs. Moji. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Surrounded by U.S. army soldiers, Nisei men register their families during the exclusion from Bainbridge Island on March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

A young boy and a soldier, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

All Japanese American residents of Bainbridge Island were required to report at the Eagledale ferry dock, where they would be transported across the Puget Sound to Seattle. Many families arrived wearing their best clothing, uncertain of where they were being taken and no doubt feeling pressure to make a good impression.

Bainbridge High School excused students so they could say goodbye to their Japanese American friends, and other Islanders came to see them off. The ferry Keholoken left Bainbridge Island at 11:20 am, carrying 227 exiled Japanese Americans. (Another fifty-two Nikkei residents had already left “voluntarily,” according to The Seattle Times.) Upon landing in Seattle, the passengers were immediately transferred to a train bound for Manzanar, then known as the Owens Valley Reception Center.

Charter buses and personal vehicles transporting Japanese Americans to the Eagledale ferry, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

People arriving at the checkpoint above the Eagledale ferry dock, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

Yoshie (left) and Ritsuko Terayama (middle) say goodbye to a friend from school, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Family on “evacuation day.” (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

Kikuyo (back left) and Henry Takayoshi wait at the Eagledale ferry dock with their children (left to right), Shizue, Mieko, Kiyo, and Takoto. In the background are (left to right): Lilly Kojima, Takiko Kojima, Iku Amatatsu and Kuniko Chihara. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

Fumi Hayashida holding her sleeping daughter, Natalie, while waiting for the ferry, March 30, 1942. Pregnant with her third child and “layered up” with as many clothes as she could wear, Hayashida would later describe feeling fear for her family’s future at the moment this photo was taken. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Japanese Americans walk down the Eagledale ferry dock to catch a special ferry to Seattle, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Ritsuko Terayama (left) and Sumiko Furuta as they leave the island on the Keholoken, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Sumiko Furuta on the ferry to Seattle, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Islanders transferring to a train that will take them to Owens Valley, California, while a crowd watches from the overpass, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry.)

Children waving goodbye from the train, March 30, 1942. (Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.)

After a multi-day train ride, Bainbridge Island’s Japanese American community arrived in Manzanar. The camp was still under construction, and some Islanders joined the group of volunteers already working to complete the sewer system, barracks, and other crucial facilities. As additional exclusion orders were carried out across the West Coast, Manzanar began to fill with new arrivals—largely from the L.A. area. Tension between Bainbridge Islanders and the L.A. crowd, combined with Seattle’s Nikkei population being sent to faraway Minidoka, led many to request a transfer to join their friends and family in Idaho. The WRA eventually granted permission for the transfers, and 177 Islanders arrived in Minidoka on February 26, 1943, with five families opting to remain in Manzanar.

Today, the former Eagledale ferry dock is the site of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, an outdoor exhibit that honors the names of all 276 Japanese Americans exiled from the island by Executive Order 9066 and serves as a reminder of what happened on March 30, 1942.

By Nina Wallace, Densho Communications Coordinator

[Header photo: Japanese American families walk down the Eagledale ferry dock to catch the special ferry to Seattle. Bainbridge Island, March 30, 1942. Courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.]

Single Comment
    • 18/04/2017 at 23:20

    Why is it that the “WHITE” people of this country seem to always be moving the “people of colour” who live peacefully next to them away from them? First it was the American Indians who lived peacefully on the lands before the white people invaded and TOOK their lands. Then it was the Hispanics, who’s lands where taken, Then people who where brought to this country against their will like the Africans and Asian peoples.

    WHAT MAKES THE “WHITE” people think that their are so much better then “People Of Colour”. I MUST say that not all “white” people have STOLEN lands for the native inhabitants, but the conquest of this country has meant that native peoples are always taken advantage of by people of Europen descent.

    The terrible thing is that it seems like it is starting all over again, where “white” people think that they have the RIGHT to think they OWN this country.

    What Many “white” people don’t understand is that without the million of peoples of colour who developed this country, this country would be like many of the European countries that their ancestors emigrated from.

    This country is a large mixing pot of many peoples from many different countries, but NO ONE PEOPLES developed this country into what it is today.

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