In a previous edition of Tales, I described the U.S. Naturalization record of Peter Gardett. The HRC holds U.S. Naturalization records for Kern County that span from 1866 to 1982. These records document the rich diversity of our county. People immigrated from countries such as Austria, Canada, Chile, China, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Prussia/Germany, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the West Indies, Yemen, and many others. The records include correspondence, petitions for naturalization, and declarations of naturalization.
Over the course of this academic year students have been working diligently in the HRC to make sense of all the information contained in these records. One of the first activities undertaken was a raw count of immigration activity by selected nationalities such as those from Ireland, Mexico, France, and Spain. During the process students identified Tomás Castro. This name may sound familiar to you if you have ever driven down Castro Lane in Bakersfield. Tomás came to Kern County in 1867, declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen in 1872, and was naturalized in 1875. Born in Banamichi, Mexico, the 1870 census shows Tomás living with his wife Conception and six children. Once established in Kern County, Tomás became very successful in ranching, owning over 60 acres north of Bakersfield. He also owned a second ranch on Mt. Breckenridge. Tomás died in 1900 and is buried at Union Cemetery.
There are many other stories waiting to be uncovered. Tomás Castro’s story and many others are available in the Historical Research Center. Come visit us! You never know what you’ll discover!