Monday, November 24, 2014

The Chinese in southern Arizona history

A photo of two Chinese men
at the Arizona History Museum
The Chinese played a small part in the develop-
ment of Arizona.

Following a grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence theory, many of China’s young men immigrated to the United States during the California Gold Rush of 1849.
Their families sent them across the Pacific Ocean in hopes they’d strike it rich in California, and return home with trunks full of money. It didn’t happen this way. Other Chinese ended up in Arizona after entering North America at a Mexican seaport and then making their way across the Sonora Desert.

With gold rush excitement running high, California passed a law banning Mexicans and Asians from mining; still, the young men stayed in this country. Many chose to move eastward, and ended up working in mining camps in southern Arizona, until the territorial legislature banned Chinese from working in mines in 1878.  Then they turned to helping build the railroad through Arizona. When the railroad was finished, they stayed on, starting their own businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores and laundries, or turned to farming, growing food for Tucson’s burgeoning population.
Boothill in Tombstone

The federal census for 1880 showed more than 1,600 Chinese were living in Pima County, which includes Tucson. Tombstone, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, also had a few Chinese residents, burying them in a separate section of the cemetery at Boothill.

Today, about 5,000 Chinese live in Tucson, and have their own cultural center, hosting events and programs that promote their native culture.
Are you going to China?
If a trip to China is in y our future, check out my website, Cheryl's China, and feel free to email me with any questions about travel in China.