Friday, March 19, 2010

Chinese in Texas

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Institute of Texan Cultures had a corner dedicated to the contributions of Chinese people who settled in Texas. I learned quite a bit about the history of the Chinese in Texas. For example, the first known Chinese settlers came in 1870, 300 laborers brought to Calvert, Texas, to build a railway to Dallas. Many stayed in Texas after the completion of the railway, settling in small towns along the railway route. In the 1880s, another railway brought another influx of Chinese settlers -- when the Southern Pacific RailRoad reached El Paso, Chinese workers again settled in Texas.

The next sizeable influx came in 1917, via Mexico. American troops went into Mexico to capture or kill Pancho Villa, and a Chinese community befriended the American troops. They brought food and supplies to the Americans when no Mexicans, who were frightened of retaliation from Pancho Villa, would. In fact, Pancho Villa threatened to kill all "Chinos," because he was angry at them for supplying the Americans. When the Americans left Mexico, several hundred Chinese followed. They settled in San Antonio under the sponsorship of General John "Black Jack" Pershing. Interesting, yes?! I'd never heard about this bit of Texas history before.

As happened in most of the U.S., many Chinese settled in Texas after the Communist take-over in China in 1949. That was the last large influx of Chinese in Texas.

The girls were quite proud to see Chinese people represented in those who settled Texas. I'm interested to learn more about the Chinese families who came to Texas in such small numbers in those early days. It must have been quite a fascinating life.

The museum gift shop had several children's books with Chinese themes, and they also had lots of tiger stuff (Year of the Tiger this year) -- I wasn't surprised to see that they had had an Asian Festival in February!

1 comment:

Melissa P said...

So glad you visited ITC! We seem to spend a lot of time there, between special exhibits like RACE, the Asian Festival (Joie is in the Lion Dance group that starts and ends the festival), the Folklife Festival (more cultural dancing), and TX Public Radio events there. Joie's lion partner showed us a photo in the Chinese in TX exhibit featuring the patriarch of her family--the Wongs, who were/are prominent in San Antonio! Irwin Tang always comes to the Asian Festival there, too, to promote his books about Asians in Texas.