Alberto Ricardo: Walla Walla’s First Mexican Success Story

A Story of Forgotten Mexican Pioneers

Among the very first Mexican immigrants to eastern Washington, Alberto Ricardo overcame intense prejudice to become a successful printer, newspaper owner, and town father in Dayton, Washington.

To many early white settlers, “Mexican” was synonymous with criminal. In 1867, the Walla Walla Statesman Review published several editorials, which, defined Mexicans as deceitful, jealous, and fickle. The Walla Walla Statesman editorialized that “The Mexican is not a man or a brother he is a totally different creature from Americans.” The editor went on: “The Mexican as a man is probably the lowest specimen of moral testimony that can be produced to prove the equality of the human race … they are as jealous as Turks; deceitful as mules, and fickle as the wind."

Despite such prejudice, Alberto Ricardo was a perfect example of a Mexican individual who rose to become a successful and assimilated American citizen. Ricardo was born in Mexico in 1854. Perhaps it was there that Ricardo and his wife, who was also listed in the census as a Mexican-born printer, learned their trade. It is unclear when Ricardo left Mexico but by 1885, he migrated into the city of Walla Walla. Upon his arrival in Walla Walla, Ricardo became the newspaper manager for the Walla Walla Statesman Review--the same newspaper that published various anti- Mexican editorials since 1867.

Ricardo’s success continued beyond the Palouse hills and the Blue Mountains of the Walla Walla Valley and into the Columbia County. By 1900 Ricardo established his permanent home in Dayton, Washington. Ricardo became the owner of two newspapers, the Courier and the Press.

The Ricardos spent the rest of their lives in the city of Dayton, where they were respected citizens. Alberto became assimilated, at least outwardly, going by the name of Al instead of Alberto. Perhaps because of his success, Ricardo never had the necessity to return back to Mexico. Lyman’s suggested that through his success in the newspaper industry “Ricardo gave emphasis to his Spanish heritage rather than his Mexican nationality.”



There is no known address for Mr. Ricardo.