Landa, Maria

Joseba Chertudi
Interview Location: 
Boise, Idaho
Interview Date: 

Maria was born in Amorebieta, Bizkaia on 19 March 1898.  One of seven children, Maria was raised on the farm that her family had tended since 1690.  Her family was quite poor, so at the age of 8 Maria was sent to work for other families.  She took care of children and helped with chores for several different families before her father sent her to Bilbao, where she worked and learned how to cook.  At the age of 13, after a year in Bilbao, Maria's father asked her to come home to care for her ailing mother.  She did so, and stayed on the family farm until she turned 20.

Maria's brother, Patxi, urged her to emigrate to the United States to make a better life for herself.  After some thought, Maria made the necessary arrangements and took the train to La Havre, France, with her sister, Lorentza.  They boarded "La France," a French steamer, in 1919, and sailed to New York.  Maria and her sister bypassed Ellis Island and were taken to the train station, where they boarded the train for Boise, Idaho.

In Boise, Maria worked as a maid and met her husband, Antonio Landa, a sheep herder for Mr. Egurrola.  They married in 1922.  While he was away with the sheep, Maria stayed in Boise, working and acquainting herself with the Basque community.  Maria and her husband farmed for two years before moving to a sheep camp, where Maria cooked for her family and the workers.  She raised her children on the sheep camp and the family farm, and enjoyed going with them to help ship the lambs every year.  After more than 20 years, Maria and her husband started an orchard and sold peaches, prunes, and apples, which furthered her reputation as an exceptional gardener.

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