Mary Adams Urashima

Mary Adams Urashima is an author, government affairs consultant and freelance writer living in Huntington Beach. She created to generate more awareness about the history of the Japanese in Orange County, including stories of an area in north Huntington Beach once known as the Wintersburg Village. Urashima is chairing a community effort to preserve the century-old Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission complex, named to the “America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” list in 2014 and designated a “National Treasure” in 2015 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Her book, Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, was released by History Press in March 2014.

Updated April 2016

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Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

George Freeth, the Village of Maikura, and the 1918-1920 Pandemic

In December 1908, at the age of 25, the “father of surfing” George Freeth saved the lives of nine Japanese American and two Russian American fishermen off Venice beach when a violent Pacific storm lashed the coast. For his heroic actions, Freeth was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for bravery.

In April 1919, at the age of 35, the Hawaiian-born Freeth—noted for his physical fitness and still in his prime—died after a long battle with the flu virus spreading across the globe. He was the first person to surf the Huntington Beach pier at its re-dedication in 1914 ...

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The Wintersburg Village Japanese Association and fireworks in the Huntington Beach Township

The first fireworks in Huntington Beach were brought by the Smeltzer Japanese Association in 19051, as their contribution to the patriotic celebration. By 1910, the daylight and evening fireworks were an advertised highlight of the Huntington Beach July 4th events, beginning in the morning and continuing through nightfall.

In 1910, the saltwater plunge near the Huntington Beach pier was open and the Pacific Electric Railway line along the beach dropped visitors off next to the pier by the hundreds.

Thousands were making their way to Southern California beaches for the holiday. The Los Angeles Herald reported on July 4 ...

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Mas Masuda: A Hero's Century in Orange County

“Acts of courage can be remembered for ages”, wrote columnist Stephen Greenhut fifteen years ago, in November 1992, as he recalled R.C. Hoiles, publisher of the Santa Ana Register (later, Orange County Register and Freedom Communications). Hoiles bought the newspaper in 1935 with a guiding philosophy to “believe in moral principle and have enough courage to express these principles and point out practices and beliefs that violate moral principles.”

Greenhut provided an example of moral courage in his 1992 column by citing a recent visit by an 84-year-old Japanese American gentleman, Mas Masuda. He said Mas “showed up at ...

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Two Decembers: 1934 and 1948

In December 1934, the communities of Wintersburg Village and Huntington Beach gathered to dedicate the newest house of worship for the Wintersburg Japanese Mission. Formally recognized as a Church with the Presbyterian Church USA in 1930, the Wintersburg Japanese Mission was marking its 30th anniversary in 1934.

The first Mission building also had opened in December, in 1909, followed shortly by the Manse (parsonage). Reverend Joseph K. Inazawa and his wife, Kate Alice Goodman, were there for the 1910 dedication and services, as was Charles Furuta, the Furuta farm; and Reverend Terasawa and Dr. Ernest Adolphus Sturge, who had helped ...

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Moving Day: May 17, 1942

“I remember the regulations being posted on Edison Company poles.”
“And this was the only notification you had--the public posters?"
“When you got to Poston, what did you think of it?”
“I had a real deep sinking feeling when we saw the place.”

~ Hitoshi Nitta, February 7, 1966.
Born in Santa Ana, California, in 1917.

In Orange County, “moving day” was seventy-five years ago: Sunday, May 17, 1942. All persons with Japanese ancestry--including U.S.-born citizens--were instructed to report to various Civil Control Stations or designated departure sites around the County by that date. In Huntington Beach, the ...

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