Arrow-right Camera


Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Wed., Jan. 23, 2013

From our archives, 100 years ago

The headline must have been shocking by the standards of 1913: “White Woman Weds Japanese.”

In fact, Justice of the Peace Sam Hyde refused to officiate at the marriage, saying that “the Japanese should not intermarry with whites.”

However, Miss Helen Henderson and J. Maeshima, of Spokane, said their vows in a ceremony conducted by a Methodist Episcopal pastor. 

“I know that such a racial marriage will cause more or less attention,” said the new Mrs. Maeshima. “But we desire to have the circumstances fully understood and that there has been nothing of haste or thoughtlessness in this step. Mr. Maeshima and I are deeply attached to one another and have been friends for years.”

They first met in Chicago, where Henderson was a missionary and Maeshima was an immigrant and recent convert to Christianity. Their paths drifted apart for a while, yet they both eventually ended up in Spokane. Maeshima worked as an interpreter for the Austin Corbin sugar beet plantations in the Palouse, which employed Japanese labor. Henderson came to Spokane to keep house for her brother.

Justice Hyde said he refused to preside because “the great English philosopher” Herbert Spencer had advised against such marriages.

 “Do not understand me to say anything against the Japanese, however,” the judge hastily added.

Click here to comment on this story »