The Tribulations of Chinese...

grace

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#1
1549748388636.png


This thread took a bit of hunting down, but here it is at last. In the latter half of the 19th century, the Chinese began to worm their way into the public eye in many strange ways. Benighted pagans, puppy eaters, cheap labor, the best washpeople in the West, doll-sized women...the list of strangeness goes on and on.

China was a favorite place to send missionaries to. These missionaries would generally go out for a set amount of time (around 6 years) and then come back for a year. This could be really hard on the families. Another result could be that the missionaries' children "went native." This led to split families and other sorts of awkwardness as the children came back to the states and had a huge amount of trouble re-adjusting. Some of them never did.

In Californa, the Chinese people were feared and despised at times. Part of this was the strangeness of these "yellow" people and part of it was the fact that they were willing to work for a lot less than many other nationalities. Chinese men, in particular, went into mines, blew tunnels, and laid track for the trains under unspeakable circumstances.

The women were very seldom seen at all. When they were, the smallness of their bound feet and the "quacking and singing" of their speech did not inspire confidence.

However, we worked our way into America. And we are here to stay.

--a proud second-generation half Chinese girl. :smile:

References:

Pearl S. Buck: The Good Earth and other works
Jules Verne: The Trials and Tribulations of a Chinaman in China
https://archive.org/details/tenthousandchinese00dunn/page/n7
https://archive.org/details/chineseageneral07davigoog/page/n26
 

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#2
I was going to point to Pearl S. Buck, but she's in your signature! Bravo.

I heard a rumor Chinese immigrants built the Transcontinental Railroad.

Who knows?
 
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#3
I was going to point to Pearl S. Buck, but she's in your signature! Bravo.

I heard a rumor Chinese immigrants built the Transcontinental Railroad.

Who knows?
They pretty much did for the portion going east from California. A really good read about the railroad is:

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2000) Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 (Simon & Schuster).
 
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#4
View attachment 290624

This thread took a bit of hunting down, but here it is at last. In the latter half of the 19th century, the Chinese began to worm their way into the public eye in many strange ways. Benighted pagans, puppy eaters, cheap labor, the best washpeople in the West, doll-sized women...the list of strangeness goes on and on.

China was a favorite place to send missionaries to. These missionaries would generally go out for a set amount of time (around 6 years) and then come back for a year. This could be really hard on the families. Another result could be that the missionaries' children "went native." This led to split families and other sorts of awkwardness as the children came back to the states and had a huge amount of trouble re-adjusting. Some of them never did.

In Californa, the Chinese people were feared and despised at times. Part of this was the strangeness of these "yellow" people and part of it was the fact that they were willing to work for a lot less than many other nationalities. Chinese men, in particular, went into mines, blew tunnels, and laid track for the trains under unspeakable circumstances.

The women were very seldom seen at all. When they were, the smallness of their bound feet and the "quacking and singing" of their speech did not inspire confidence.

However, we worked our way into America. And we are here to stay.

--a proud second-generation half Chinese girl. :smile:

References:

Pearl S. Buck: The Good Earth and other works
Jules Verne: The Trials and Tribulations of a Chinaman in China
https://archive.org/details/tenthousandchinese00dunn/page/n7
https://archive.org/details/chineseageneral07davigoog/page/n26
The history of the Chinese in the western U.S. is quite a tale.

Locally Chinese New Year was celebrated today in the town of Jacksonville (as it is every year), complete with authentic dragon. There were quite a few Chinese in Oregon due to gold being discovered but they were eventually made to leave. Oregon actually had a clause in it's constitution that prevented blacks, Hawaiians, and Chinese from living here or becoming citizens.

There were a number of Chinese buried in the Jacksonville cemetery (where I volunteer) in the pauper section (where all non-whites and people who died without any assets were buried) but apparently men were sent to dig up the bones and return them to China - although actual documentation of that is scanty - so we think there are now probably only a few Chinese remains (none of the graves in the pauper section were marked).

Some years back there was an archeological study done in Jacksonville in what was the Chinese section. There's a small local group that tries to keep the Chinese heritage alive.
 

diane

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#5
Great topic! The Chinese in Siskiyou County did a lot of mining and shop keeping, but I really don't know who had it worse - Indians or them! Yreka's Chinatown was burned down so many times they lost track, but the people made all sorts of secret tunnels to escape the miners, who were usually drunk. When I5 came through, old Chinatown was destroyed entirely, not one stick of it left, but that was when they discovered a veritable warren of intricate tunnels all over the town. There was also a Chinese cemetery outside of town but all the people were taken but one lonesome fellow. His gravestone is still there. The last Chinese family of the old times, the Ons, moved away several years ago and their house - which was very unusual in Yreka as it was of distinctly Chinese style - was just recently torn down. Very sad that the one grave outside town is all that is left of Chinese history in town. Downriver, when most everybody was mining for gold, the Chinese mined for jade. Some of the finest jade in the world is located down the Klamath River and the creeks that feed into it. It was very smart - they got much more for the jade in China than the gold, and they didn't compete with the miners and that meant less trouble!
 
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#8
@Drew she's one of my favorite authors! :smile:

@John Winn and @diane thank you for the additional information!
You are most welcome.

When I lived in a remote part of Nevada in the 70s there were two Chinese child mail order brides still living who both ran restaurants. They were open only by appointment and you didn't get to order; they just made what they wanted and it was served family style. It was one of my real western transformative experiences to eat at those places and be in association with those women, both of whom were elderly (they didn't really want to chit chat; just cooked and served the meal). It's a rich history but also sad in many ways, especially out in the countryside.

OK, sorry to blah blah blah - it's just a fascinating subject for those interested in the history of the west.
 
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#11
I just discovered a few days ago the Mississippi Delta Chinese - remarkable group. They have a drawl just as thick as Shelby Foote, too!
I never heard of them. I'm imagining blind Willy "wang dang" Wang Wei playing slide guzheng in Rosedale, MS and getting recorded in 1934 doing the Kick The Gong Around blues.
 
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