The Chinese Texans

By: Pranav Akinepalli GT Texas History Coach Vice-3

Map Of Texas

The Chinese had a fairly simple settlement pattern and first settled in El Paso since most of the Chinese' jobs were building a railroad in El Paso. Then the Chinese Exclusion Laws were passed and these laws stopped the immigration of Chinese to Texas for 60 years. After that, General John J. Pershing, "Black Jack", brought 527 Chinese from Mexico when he returned to the U.S. after the failed attempt to capture Pancho Villa. The Chinese had been living in Mexico for centuries working as shipbuilders in Acapulco and as servants on Spanish trading ships. Decades later, General Pershing entered Mexico and the Chinese supplied the U.S. troops with food, supplies, and laundry services. These Chinese went with Pershing to escape warring Mexicans from death. Most of these Chinese were brought to San Antonio and still provided their services to the army until they got waivers from the set of laws that excluded the Chinese. Most of them opened restaurants and grocery stores becoming community leaders and doing well. When the Chinese government was friends with the U.S. during the World War ll in 1942, the immigration laws changed and the Chinese were legally allowed to come to Texas. Houston was the center of this Chinese life, in 2003, with many celebrations. The accelerated machine control of the American West, following the gold rush, made it a target for Chinese contract laborers in the late 1900’s. Current governmental refugees are attracted to the United States because of its democratic government and agreement of asylum-seekers. The alternative party consisting of current Chinese immigrants, those seeking education, are attracted by American universities and colleges, which support their student visas. They often stay in the United States, drawn by the significantly higher pay and opportunities.

Culture Highlights

Chinese tea was a popular beverage in the 1800’s and the 1900’s in America. Since the 1960s, Chinese cuisine has been a necessary part of the American diet as well. Chinese restaurants are found in small towns and large cities across the United States. Key ingredients for preparing authentic Chinese dishes are now found in all chain supermarkets, and lessons in Chinese cooking are regular features on national television. Chinese take-outs, catering, and chain restaurants have become common in major cities, and Chinese dim sum, salads, and pastas can be found in cocktail lounges and exclusive clubs and resorts. Pre-1960 dishes such as chop suey, chow mien, egg fooyung, and barbecue spareribs are now gone. In fact, many Americans have mastered the use of chopsticks and acquired the taste for complicated Chinese regional cuisines, such as Cantonese, Kejia (Hakka), Sichuan (Szechuan), Shangdong, Hunan, Mandarin (Beijing), Taiwan (Minnan), Chaozhou (Teo-Chiu), and Shanghai. American households now usually use Chinese ingredients, like soy sauce, ginger, and hoisin sauce in their food; employ Chinese cooking techniques, such as stir frying; and include Chinese cooking utensils, like the wok and the cleaver, in their kitchens. Very few Chinese Americans now wear traditional Chinese clothing. On special occasions, some traditional costumes are worn. For example, on the wedding day, a bride might wear a Western wedding gown for the wedding ceremony and then change into a traditional Chinese wedding gown, called gua, for the tea ceremony and banquet. In some traditional families, the elders sometimes wear traditional Chinese formal clothes to greet guests on Chinese New Year's Day. Sometimes, young Chinese American women wear the tightly fitted cengsam ( chongsam ), orqipao, for formal parties or banquets. Occasionally, Chinese styles find their way into American high fashion and Hollywood movies. Chinese opera and folk songs are performed and sung in the Chinese American community. Cantonese opera, once very popular in Chinatown, is performed for older audiences. Small opera singing clubs are found in major Chinatowns in North America. The performance of Peking opera is now rarer. Among the well-educated Chinese, concerts featuring Chinese folk and art songs are well attended and amateur groups singing this type of music can be found in most cities with significant Chinese American populations. Some Chinese Americans are found following among both classical and folk dances. The Chinese Folk Dance Association of San Francisco is one of several groups that display this activity. Most American-born Chinese and younger new immigrants, however, prefer either American popular music or Cantonese and Mandarin popular music from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Memorable Chinese Texans

Sam Hing was one of the amazing Chinese Texans. He was a labor contractor who brought Chinese to work on the railroad. He married a New Orleans woman and brought her to live in Texas. A son was born to Sam and his wife in El Paso on October 14, 1885. That by was probably the first Chinese child born in Texas. Sam built a large house with all the latest availability but Mrs. Hing (his wife) left town because the women of El Paso did not accept her in 1887.

Mar Yum Eh, or Sam MarDock (1862-1942) came to California when he was 14 in 1874. He learned English in California and signed with the railroad to work his way east. He worked as an interpreter in El Paso for other Chinese before moving to Tyler, where he lived for 50 years!!! He opened six restaurants, including the Cotton Belt Restaurant. He married Wong Shee in 1800 and built a home for hr in Bok Sha, China. He couldn't bring his wife to Texas until 1911 because the immigration laws in the U.S. were so strict.

Dr. T.F. Sam was a Chinese doctor who practiced in 1889 in El Paso. He graduated from a medical college in Canton City, China. For six generations members of his family had treated diseases with herbs made from plants. Dr. Sam's offices were located in the marketing marketing hotel block on St. Louis Street in El Paso.


Q: What percentage of Chinese adults still live with their parents?

A: 30%

Q: How much do about 200 million people in China live on everyday?

A: Less than a dollar

Q: How many more times do the Chinese consume fish than the United States?

A: 3

Q: In China, how much seafood does the average person eat each year?

A: Over 45 pounds of seafood

Q: How much percentage of the world's garlic does China make and how much did they make in 2009?

A: China produces 66%; 15 billion pounds

Q: How many internet users are there in China?

A: There are 120 million; but not everyone can contact all websites

Q: China is the source of how much of the worlds "pirated" goods?

A: 68%

Q: What was first tamed almost 10,000 years ago in China?

A: The hog, swine, or pig

Q: How much of the world's population lives in China?

A: 20%

Q: How much of China's plants are used in medicine?

A: Twenty percent

Q: When is China Day?

A: October 1st

Q: How many different varieties of kiwi fruit [Yangtao] are in China and how long have they been used?

A: There are over 400; over 700 years

Q: According to insurance statistics: what color are the most dangerous cars and what race are they driven by?

A: Green; the Chinese

Q: When KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken] first translated its advertising slogan "finger lickin' good" into Chinese, what did it come out as?

A: It came out as "eat your fingers off"

Q: How long ago did Chopsticks originate in China and the replacement of chopsticks for knives for eating at the table supposedly indicates what?

A: Almost 4,000 years ago; the increased respect for the scholar over the warrior in Chinese society

Q: What did Ketchup [Catsup] originate in China as?

A: A pickled fish sauce called ke-tsiap

Q: How many children are born every minute in China?

A: 35

Q: Who was the wheelbarrow invented by?

A: A Chinese

Q: About how many engineers graduate annually from schools in China?

A: 700,000

Q: About how many characters are in the Chinese language and how many is an adult expected to know?

A: 42,000; 5,000 of them

Analysis 1-Culture Effects

Early contributions of Chinese Americans are very important. The American West could not have developed as quickly as it did without the Chinese’ labor, especially in railroad construction, mining, farming and manufacturing. The Chinese provided food, supplied, and laundry service to the U.S. troops. until they were given waivers from the exclusion laws. Most of them opened restaurants and grocery stores doing well and becoming community leaders. Chinese culture is among the oldest in the world. Modern astronomers studying the stars still use comet and eclipse facts of the sun that was gathered by the early Chinese astronomers. Books about 311 diseases including diabetes, asthma, and mumps written by early Chinese doctors in 300 B.C. Instruction for acupuncture, the method of putting needles at special places on the body to stop the pain or help healing, was included. In literature, the authors Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan write stories often based on personal experiences in their Chinese American homes. The greatest accomplishments of Chinese Americans have been in the area of science and technology. Following World War II and continuing today, they have made a huge dent in the defense and aerospace industries. Many Chinese Americans have received the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry. They also rank highly in mathematics, biological sciences, and engineering. Chinese American contributions are significant and far-reaching. In general, it can be said that they contributed in labor to the economic development in the West in the second half of the nineteenth century and to science and technology in the second half of the twentieth century. Even though the nineteenth-century immigrants to the West Coast were mostly peasants working as contract laborers, their collected contribution to the building of the West has long been recognized by historians. Most importantly noted was the completion of the transcontinental railway over the Sierra Nevada and the deserts of Nevada and Utah, and the building of the railroad network throughout the Southwest and into the Deep South. Less known was the labor they provided for the mining of not just gold but also other minerals from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains, the construction of the canals, irrigation systems, and land claims that lay the foundation for the well-known and prosperous agribusiness of California, the groundbreaking work in fruit and vegetable farming and fishing industry, and the labor-intensive manufacturing industries, such as garments, shoes, woolen mills, and cigars, which provided the necessities of life in the developing West. Chinese labor was so timely, dependable, and efficient that Stanford historian Mary R. Coolidge, writing in 1909, concluded that without it California's material progress would have been postponed a long time ago. Frank Chin, Genny Lim, and David Henry Hwang have all made lasting contributions to the theater. Among the best known plays of Hwang are FOB, The Dance and the Railroad, Family Devotions, and M. Butterfly. Several films of Wayne Wang, Chan is Missing, Dim Sum, Eat a Bowl of Tea, and Joy Luck Club, have received critical acclaims. Less famous are the unique Chinese American themes and sounds of jazz compositions and recordings of Fred Ho in New York and Jon Jang in San Francisco. Besides their enormous contributions to science and technology, many Chinese Americans also excel in art and literature. Maya Ying Lin is already a legend in her own time. At 21, while an architecture student at Yale University, she created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., one of the most frequented national monuments. After this enormous success, she went on to design the Civil Rights Memorial in Atlanta, a giant outdoor sculpture commemorating the history of women and a monumental sculpture at the New York Pennsylvania Railroad Station. Just as impressive, are the architectural wonders of I. M. Pei. Some of his best known works are the East Wing of the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., the John F. Kennedy Library at Harvard University, the Boston Museum and the John Hancock Building in Boston, Dallas Symphony Hall, the modern addition to the Louvre in Paris, the Bank of China in Hong Kong, and the Xiangshan Hotel in Beijing. Anna Sui, born in 1955, a native of Detroit, is a famous Chinese American fashion designer. Known for her stylistic versatility, Sui has dabbled in everything from 1960's fashion to formal evening wear.

Final Analysis

Texas is better off with the Chinese immigrating into Texas and there a ton of reasons, most of which were explained in Analysis 1. The first is that the Chinese were very helpful in providing food, supplies, and laundry services for the U.S. troops until they were given waivers and even then still became community leaders. The Chinese also contributed labor in the second half of the 19th century. Without them, we would be very behind in construction. There have been contributions of literature such as the writings of Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. The Chinese' greatest accomplishments were, however, in science and technology. Following World War II and continuing today, they have made a huge dent in the defense and aerospace industries. Many Chinese Americans have received the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry. They also rank highly in mathematics, biological sciences, and engineering. Early Chinese astronomers and doctors discovered facts that we still use today. The Chinese have made several contributions to the fields of theater, film, music, art, literature, & just the visual arts.


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