America is truly a country of immigrants. What does it take to leave your home, your family, your country? How do you become a citizen of a new country? How can you retain your identity, your ethnicity, while you create a new identity and ethnicity?
Millions of Americans have done it. They have immigrated from all parts of the world. They have left their countries, their homes and their families to become citizens of the United States of America.
One group left the country of Spain and settled in the small rural agricultural town of Winters, in Northern California. Why did they leave Spain, how did they end up in Winters, and how, after almost one hundred years, have they become American - yet remained “Spanish?”
The following are stories of immigrants and their descendents from Spain. These are not the Spanish conquistadores nor are they the missionaries of early California history. These are stories of thousands of Spaniards that left Spain in the early 1900s from small towns and villages in the province of Andalucia. Those villages had names like Alora, Jaen, Estepona, Marchal, Lubrin, Pilar, and Chive. They are an important part not only of the history of the community of Winters, but also of the history of America. These Spanish immigrants have been a hard-working people with strong family ties and have achieved the “American Dream.” They came with nothing and have prospered. It is said that it takes three generations to assimilate into the American culture and that has been true with these immigrant families. With each generation, a little more of the culture is lost: fewer will speak the language, not as many of the traditional foods will be made and eaten, and families continue to live farther and farther apart.
How is it that the Spanish families in Winters, California have kept up as many traditions as they have? Maybe it is because, as most residents know, Winters is a special place. Maybe it is because for so many years these families that came from so little, worked so hard, and supported each other so much. It is hard to say, but important to note that the descendants from the original immigrants are grateful and have not forgotten what their grandparents and parents did in order to provide a better life for them.