As I moved across the southwest, I entered Arizona. I have not been in Arizona for 35 years, and I wasn't necessarily planning on going into AZ ever again. But it is tough to move across the southwest without going through AZ. AZ is where I found myself, so I ended up taking a look at Tombstone, AZ the home of the O.K. Corral.
|O.K. Corral re-enactors|
I don't know much about AZ, Tombstone, O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, nor the Chinese and Jews who inhabited the Tombstone area. I actually did not know the Chinese role in Tombstone until I got to the tourist town. The current era Tombstone is just a few blocks long with re-enactors, and touristy shops. Tombstone is no different form cruise ship ports with lots of tshirt shops and fudge shops, except that Tombstone is surrounded by dessert, not water.
We walked the town up and down and I saw this sign that there was a community of Chinese in Tombstone during the wild west days. They lived in the 3 block area, and were probably there to work on the rail road going through AZ in the 1880s. After that work was over, they had no where to go, so they stayed in Tombstone. It is estimated that the Chinese were about 10% of Tombstone population, mostly men and some women, during the Wyatt Earp days. After the railroad work dried up, the Chinese worked at what ever jobs they could, laundry, cleaning, and mining. The big issue standing in the way of Chinese was the law, the Chinese Exclusion Act banning Chinese from becoming citizens. Because of this Act, Chinese people Tombstone were not counted in AZ state census, were not afforded the same rights as whites, and were not treated the same as whites. By the way, Chinese is the only nationality ever in the history of the USA to be excluded by law from immigration to, living free in and becoming citizens of the USA.
|Sign on some building in Tomestone|
The Chinese of the time of Tombstone believed that the body and soul remain together. In the time of death, the body and soul should be taken back to the place of birth to be buried and that would allow the soul to rest. For some reason, the Chinese of Tombstone did not return the remains to China of many of the Chinese residents who died, rather they buried their remains in a Chinese section of Boot Hill Graveyard. It is speculation that the "transporter" was a bad man, and was not really transporting the remains back to China, and he was just dumping the remains anywhere out of sight and stealing the money which was paid to him to respectfully transport the remains to China. The Tombstone Chinese probably thought it was better to bury their friends and loved ones at Boot Hill knowing they respectfully treated their bodies and souls, rather than risk having the remains dumped un-ceremoniously.
|Grave yard on Boot Hill|
The Boot Hill Graveyard is open for free to see, or for donation. The donations help for the up keep of the graveyard. Most of the graveyard has been restored, so what you see isn't necessarily how it looked in the 1800s, rather in the early 1900s, the graveyard fell into disrepair and was nearly forgotten, and then some people of the Tombstone area decided to restore Boot Hill and remember those who died. As best they could, in burial location, name and cause of death, they have restored the graveyard.
|One grave at Boot Hill|
I don't foresee going back to Tombstone any time soon, but I am glad I went. This is a part of USA history I don't know much about, and seeing it for myself helped me learn something new.