Basques in Boise

Henry Alegria spent a great deal of time at the Basque boarding homes and in the Boise Basque community. His oral history is preserved at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, as well as his memoir. Images are available thru this link

Henry Alegria was born July 15, 1900 in a fishing village in Ondarroa, Spain. His father ran a horse stable, and his mother ran a grocery store which was below their living quarters. Alegria was one of nine children. His father and some of his siblings moved to America, and the rest of the family was to follow later. At the age of 11, he moved with his family to Boise, Idaho. Alegria and his father worked at several Basque boarding houses, hauling bed roles to several homes, and hauling their trash to the city dump, now Julia Davis Park. Alegria also delivered milk and bakery items to several Basque homes, and boarding houses.

While in Boise he went to school and learned English. In 1913 his parents died, and he stayed with family friends for a short time. He later moved to Los Angles to be with his sister. Years later, in 1936 he moved back to Boise and opened a service station business with three of his brothers, at 5th and Main in Boise. Alegria was very involved with sports, and for over 60 years he was connected with boxing, amateur and professional. He trained them, managed them, and worked as a judge and referee. For 40 years he also played amateur handball and paddle ball in the United States. The paddle he used from 1916-1919 is in the Idaho Historical Museum.

It was very common for Basques to stay at boarding houses. Many of the early Basques in Boise, were sheepherders, and they chose to live in a community with other Basques to share their language, food, and culture. By living with other Basques they had their own community and a home away from home. Often men immigrated to Boise alone, and saved their money to send for their wives and children at a later time. The boarding houses were a temporary family unit for men away from their families.

Alegria, Henry. 75 Years of Memoirs. The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, ID 1981.