Hachitaro and Moto Kishi

G.J. Hirasaki

Arrival in Texas
Hachitaro Kishi arrived at the Kishi Colony in Terry in April 1909, two years after the founding of the colony by his brother, Kichimatsu Kishi.  He was accompanied on this trip from Japan by his older brother, Kichimatsu Kishi, his second wife, Fuji, six-year-old son Taro, and Fuji’s personal maid Tsuru Ogawara.  In January, 1912, Miss. Moto Sakai arrived at the Kishi Colony along with two other brides.  On February 2, 1912, two happy couples, Hachitaro Kishi and Miss Moto Sakai and Junzo Nagai and Miss. Hisa Kitabara registered their marriage at the Orange County Courthouse.  The ceremony was officiated by Judge O.R. Sholars.  Back on the farm, the two couples were blessed by their friends in a Japanese-style feast.  One year later, Shunji Hasegawa and Miss. Tomo Morohashi married [1].

          On July 10, 1921 Hachitaro purchased 11.8 acres of land from Kichimatsu Kishi and became a landowner after twelve years of assisting his brother. [1]

Orange Petroleum Company

          Kichimatsu Kishi discovered oil was about 1920 on the southeast corner of his farm near the northern limit of Orange Oil Field.  This was probably in his 20 acres of land in the William Dyson league survey.  He became, “an oil millionaire overnight.”  He repaid “threefold” the investors who helped him start the rice colony in 1907.  His neighbors began to call him “Baron Kishi” again as they did in the 1900’s [1]. 

Norman Yoichi Kishi recalled that the role of his father, Hachitaro Kishi, was running Orange Petroleum Company.  His father once traveled to Japan for five years doing business for the company [2].

Orii [1] recorded the following facts about efforts to develop oil resources in Orange County.  Kishi (not clear if Kichimatsu or Hachitaro) sought Japanese capital on a trip to Japan around 1921. Hisahiro Naito and Keizaburo Hashimoto, the Nagaoka-born presidents of Nippon Petroleum Company and Takarada Petroleum Company, showed no interest in drilling for oil in Southeast Texas and shipping it to Japan.  They were occupied in the merger of the two companies, which took place in October 1921.  Kishi got strong support from Count Kojiro Matsukata, the president of Kawasaki Dock Company.  An agreement was made between the two to create an oil company under the laws of Texas.  Kishi would lease his property to the company for oil prospecting and production.  Matsukata would invest $500,000 (Kato’s figure) or $1,000,000 (Fujioka’s figure) from the chest of Kawasaki Dock Company.  Matsukata would also provide the company with the managing and engineering staff. (Kato, 135-136; Fujioka, 113; Wingate, 335)

Norman Yoichi Kishi recalled his father, Hachitaro returning from a long trip to Japan and showing him a check for $1,000,000.  He said, “Look at this. You may not see another one like this in your life.” [2]

Among the clerks and engineers who arrived from Japan were Shunkichi Nomura, Benzo Takahashi, K. Wakasa, and J.A. Takashima.  Nomura and Wakasa came to Terry before December 1922, Takahashi before March 1924, and Takashima before July 1924.  Nomura, a mining engineer, represented Matsukata’s interests in Texas.  Takahashi was his assistant.  James O. Sims and Harry A. Watts, a banker and a lawyer of Orange, respectively, agreed to take part in Kishi’s oil project. (Kato, 136, 141; Sorimachi, 248; Orange Petroleum Company, 2-6-1, 2-6-2; FBI, 100-143405-7, 3; 100-143405-10, 6; 100-143405-12, 3;100-143405-16,2) [1]

Independent information was found about K. Wakasa by his son and grandson in 2004 [3].  “This week, my son was in LA and visited the Japanese American Museum there.  He remembered about my father's arrival in Seattle, and looked up the passenger list.  He found my father's name (Katsunori Wakasa) arriving on July 2, 1922, destination Terry, TX.  He also found that Hachitaro Kishi of Terry, TX, was on the same ship.  Hachitaro's contact in Japan was listed as Mrs. Yamaguchi of Kojimachi, Tokyo [3]. “
Chiyo Yamazaki is the sister of Kichimatsu and Hachitaro. See Yamazaki family story.

Katsu-nori Wakasa, spent several years with the Orange Petroleum Company as a drilling engineer, although he had to keep books and secure supplies in addition.  Immediately after his graduation from the School of Mines at the University of Tokyo in 1922, he was hired by the company and sent to Orange, Texas.  He lived in the Kishi farm for several weeks to get acquainted with the American way of life, and then served as an engineer under Mr. Shunkichi Nomura, vice-president of the Orange Petroleum Company.  Mr. Nomura was a businessman, who represented Japanese interest and was a relative of Baron Matsukata (formerly Minister of Finance, Japanese Government), a major investor for the company. [3]

The observation that Hachitaro brought home the $1,000,000 check and was aboard the ship with drilling engineer, Katsunori Wakasa, suggests that it was he rather than his brother who traveled to Japan [2].

Kishi and Nomura opened their offices in the city of Orange and in the Orange Oil Field. He built an office on the 50 acres of his land later leased to the Humble Oil and Refining Company. He also built a warehouse on the 8½ acres of land owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Winfree in William Dyson league survey. It was called the Kishi Warehouse. (Orange Petroleum Company, 2-15-1) [1]

Nomura began extensive purchases for the company.  He bought office furniture and fixtures including one each of Smith typewriter, Remington portable typewriter, and a Wales adding machine.  He acquired three automobiles, one each of Ford, Dodge, and Studebaker roadster.  He also got oil-drilling equipment which included one each of Lucey drilling rig, Ideal rotary machine, Sheave mid-rotary block, Simplex drill stem, Ideal swivel, National boiler, Ideal draw works, two each of Ajax engine, Ideal pump, Moon generator, four Worthington pumps, 9,311’ 11” of 4” drill pipe, 6,230’ 10” of 3” drill pipe, tool joints, and lease tools.  The derrick had been set up in the Orange Oil Field by the end of 1922.  Miscellaneous items were kept in the above-mentioned Kishi Warehouse. (Orange Petroleum Company, 2-8-1, 2-8-2) [1]

Kishi did not organize the orange Petroleum Company (Charter No. 35933), as all sources claimed.  He took it over and reorganized it.  The company was organized by R.B. Goree, H.L. Cohenhour, and Ira C. Herrington in Orange on 2/1/1921.  No Japanes name is found among the ten directors and more than 100 subscribers.  Harry A. Watts is the only familiar name.  Kishi’s business manager had eleven shares of $50 each.  The Japanese team – Kishi, Nomura, Wakasa, Sims, and probably Watts too – bought many shares of the company and became its directors before the summer of 1923.  Kishi took control of the company on 7/27/1923 when shareholders changed its charter to increase capital stock from $100,000 to $200,000 and reduce directors from ten to five. (Ibid., 2-3-1 to 2-6-2) [1]

Kishi subscribed to $53,500 and Nomura to $46,500 of the increased stock of $100,000.  Their subscriptions were paid in as follows:

Kichimatsu Kishi

$444.41        Pain in cash.
$7,193.78     Paid in personal property sold by bill of sale
$1,576.64     Paid in form of a water well and personal property in connection therewith, conveyed by deed.
$44,285.17   Paid by assignment of oil and gas lease.

Shunkichi Nomura

$1,073.71     Paid in cash.
$42,667.02   Paid in form of personal property sold by bill of sale.
$297.00        Paid in form of Ford roadster sold by bill of sale.
$1,067.67     Paid in form of Dodge roadster sold by bill of sale.
$1,394.60     Paid in form of Studebaker roadster sold by bill of sale.
(Ibid., 2-7-1, 2-7-2) [1]

The Orange Petroleum Company was reorganized, and Kishi became its president and Nomura its vice-president.  Harry A. Watts assumed the post of treasurer and secretary.  K. Wakasa and James O. Sims probably took two remaining seats of the board of directors.  In the summer of 1924 Kishi, Watts, and Sims remained on the board.  Nomura and Wakasa were replaced by J.A. Takashima and William H. Stark, Kishi’s neighbor and mortgagee.  Under Kishi’s leadership the company continued to “contract for the lease and purchase of the right to prospect for, develop, and use coal and other minerals and petroleum; also, the right to erect, build and own … oil tanks, cars, and pipe necessary for the operation of the business of the same.” (Ibid., 2-3-1, 2-33, 2-23) [1]


  1. [1] Orii, Kazuhiko, “Kichimatsu Kishi’s Japanese Colony at Terry, Texas, 1907-1931,” Department of History, University of Pennsylvania, 1983.

  2. [2] Hirasaki, George J., Interview with Norman Yoichi Kishi, October-November, 2004, Canyon Lake, TX.
  3. [3] Takahashi, Taro, email correspondence with G.J.H., 2004.
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