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Re: Re: Re: Old Chinese Cemetery Uncovered in Los Angeles

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Posted by helen ( on March 26, 2006 at 04:25:26:

In Reply to: Re: Re: Old Chinese Cemetery Uncovered in Los Angeles posted by helen on March 26, 2006 at 04:24:19:

They were treated like animals," said Lai, 78, who grew up in the pre-civil rights era and said the memory of being denied service at barbershops or restaurants because of his ethnicity still stings.In the late 19th century, racial intolerance toward the Chinese was particularly heightened because some whites believed the Chinese were taking jobs away from them.Most of the Chinese did not speak English. Politicians and newspapers seized on the anti-Chinese sentiments. The Los Angeles Times described denizens of the Chinese ghetto as "Celestials" and as the "the pig-tainted fraternity.""While the Chinaman is a natural-born thief and scoundrel, he is also the most superstitious of God's creatures," a Times reporter wrote in a breathless 1887 travelogue of the ghetto.Members of the historical society say they believe the excavation site is part of a Chinese cemetery that disappeared sometime after the 1920s, when development obscured most of the graves' whereabouts. It dates from 1877, when the owners of the nearby Evergreen Cemetery gave the city five acres in which to bury indigents.Chinese were not permitted to be buried in Evergreen Cemetery, where some of the city's most prominent early families such as the Van Nuyses, Lankershims, Hollenbecks and Workmans were laid to rest. Chinese were given a corner of the city potter's field next to the indigents.But unlike the white indigents, who were buried at no charge, the Chinese had to pay $10 for a burial, a substantial fee for that era, Lai said.Lai said he found what could be the last official acknowledgment of the Chinese cemetery at the Los Angeles County Hall of Records.The document, dated June 19, 1923, is from the superintendent of the county Department of Charities, Norman R. Martin, to the secretary of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Chan Kai Sing.Martin wrote that the potter's field where the Chinese were buried was badly crowded.Recently your people established a new Chinese cemetery on East 1st Street, and it would be highly desirable if the bodies buried in the county cemetery could be transferred to your new location," he said.Martin said he wanted the chamber to move the remains and offered compensation of $2 per body even after acknowledging that each grave cost the Chinese $10. "The idea being that you would move all of the bodies as fast as practicable," Martin wrote.The letter said there were 902 Chinese buried in the vicinity of what is now the MTA excavation site, at Lorena and 1st streets.Lai found a list of some of the dead buried at the old Chinese cemetery. In cursive writing were hundreds of Chinese names, such as Wong Wah Mow, who at 46, was killed after he was "shot in heart" in a homicide. Tom Ping, 51, died from opium poisoning. Wah Lee, 51, committed suicide by hanging.While historians said they hope the find will broaden their understanding of the sojourners' lives, some expressed anger at the way they learned about it

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