The president of the historical society in Isleton, California has inherited a two-story wooden building with tin sides that she believes once housed a Chinese Tong.
In the late 1800s, Chinese immigrants risked all to start a new life in America. But Americans who feared losing jobs to the new, cheap labor turned the land of opportunity hostile. Chinatowns burned, ethnic slurs flew and Congress prohibited Chinese laborers from entering or working in the country.
For outcast Chinese, Tongs were places of protection and solidarity during this time of chaos, where they could worship, study and settle legal disputes peacefully.
In the newspapers, the Tongs were secretive centers of gangland warfare, opium deals and gambling.
Was there a Tong operating inside Isleton’s once-booming Chinatown? If so, what happened there?
History Detectives examines a colorful building and the sometimes secretive societies of the Chinese immigrant past.
- Also with Gwen Wright Old Fire Station Did President Ulysses S. Grant stop by a New Jersey firehouse on the centennial of America?
- Related Investigation Red Hand Flag Is this peculiar flag one that African-American soldiers marched under in the war to end all wars?
- Related Investigation Mankato Spoon What does this delicate silver spoon have to do with the largest mass execution in American history?
- Also with Gwen Wright Face Jug What does this ceramic face reveal about the Middle Passage and a captive people’s search for identity?
- Also in Emerging Modern America: 1890-1930 Navajo Rug Why would a weaver depart from tradition to make this rug?
- Also in Emerging Modern America: 1890-1930 Lindbergh Engine Could a 24-year-old have single-handedly built the engine for Lindbergh's plane?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.