Digging Jacksonville – February 2018

In celebration of the 2018 “Year of the Dog,” the Southern Oregon Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) is proud to present an educational pamphlet on the history of early Jacksonville’s Chinese Community! Archaeological study of Jacksonville’s “Chinese Quarter” revealed there was little information about Jacksonville’s early-day Chinese population. In order to cure this, SOULA had me compile a pamphlet in collaboration with Southern Oregon Historical Society (SOHS) and Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association (SOCCA), available in both English and Chinese.

The pamphlet provides a short history of Jacksonville’s Chinese Community, and highlights the most recent archaeological excavations of the Chinese Quarter performed by SOULA in 2013, accompanied by historical and excavation photographs. A map is also included, noting places of interest regarding prominent Chinese individuals in Jacksonville’s history. The map also works well for those using it as a walking tour map.

This pamphlet was also created to dispel the misconception that early Chinese communities in the United States were secluded in enclaves. This is especially true in the case of Jacksonville’s Chinese Community, who, alongside their Euro-American counterparts, established the city during a gold rush.

While a “Chinese Quarter” did exist here, many Chinese residents did not live within its borders. Many were also not confined to vocations in mining and manual labor, as some owned businesses which provided essential services to the community. The history of early Jacksonville’s Chinese population is not one of isolation, but integration. Both Peter Britt and C.C. Beekman had regular dealings with the Chinese Community. In his childhood accounts, Pinto Colvig, mused about his friendship with an elderly Chinese woman.

The pamphlet will be distributed at the Chinese New Year celebration and will be made available to local businesses in digital, printable, and hard copy formats.

Peter Britt photograph of a Chinese man, courtesy of SOHS.

Keoni Diacamos

Keoni Diacamos is a senior at Southern Oregon University, finishing his degree in Sociology and Anthropology, with a focus on Archaeology. He also works as an artifact collections assistant at Southern Oregon Historical Society. His research interests are in diverse historical communities, and the evolution of military and firearms technologies. You can reach SOULA by contacting Chelsea Rose at rosec@sou.edu and follow SOULA on facebook/Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology.