Felix Mercado on sugar-beet farming in the Big Horn Basin

Felix Mercado, born in 1917, was interviewed in April 1994 by volunteers from the Washakie Museum in Worland, Wyo. This excerpt was prepared for the museum’s summer 2012 exhibit about early settlers in Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin, Voices of the Basin: History in their Own Words. Mercado and his family worked in the sugar beet fields around Worland in his youth.


My parents were born in Mexico.  My mother came to the United States at a really young age.  My father was considerably older than her.  They lived in Pueblo, Colorado for some years where my father owned a restaurant.  And they later moved to Wyoming when things got bad in Colorado. 

And mostly worked in the fields.  We all grew up in Wyoming, in Worland.  We all grew up in the sugar beet fields, doing labor.  I have four brothers and one half sister.  Back then, we were paid by the acre.  So, however many acres that the family thinned or hoed or topped.  Topping, we were paid by the ton I believe, but that’s how we were paid.

Dad, of course was the bookkeeper and he took care of all of that part of it.  Individually we didn’t get anything.  Like I say, my father got the money and he budgeted it out for the winter months as best he could.  And there were several winters that we, if it had not been for welfare, we probably wouldn’t have survived because there was nothing else for us to do.

Transcription by Washakie Museum and Cultural Center, Worland, Wyo.