Thursday, January 31, 2008

Urban Legend


i have been trying to find information about a mass grave found in ca it had 4,000 bodies in it they turned out to be chinese people. i read this within the past forty years.
but i have not been able to find the information . at the time the article said that the chinese people were killed so that they would not have to be paid
please help if possible


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regard to the Central Pacific Railroad, the Chinese workers were paid in gold, about $30/month, and highly regarded by the railroad management. The best information available does not support more than about 150 deaths related to the railroad construction. So the reason that you can't find information to support this nonsensical urban legend is that this is a vicious and racist falsehood fantasizing events that never happened. Making such wild charges without proper documentation is highly irresponsible and demeans the memory of both the heroic Chinese workers and the railroad engineers and businessmen who created the greatest project of the 19th century.

1/31/2008 10:00 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Subject: Question – chinese mass grave

While I won't say it isn't true, I will say I am highly suspicious. The context sounds like urban legend. 4,000 bodies is a LOT of people, especially in the 19th century. I cannot imagine who would be capable of employing 4,000 people, and then kill them to avoid paying them. Certainly not the railroads – who continued employing Chinese for many years. If any company or organization killed that many Chinese – even assuming they got away with it in the US legal system (which seems unlikely) – then the Chinese 6 Companies would NEVER have allowed them to hire another Chinese. Pretty much any employer capable of hiring 4,000 Chinese (and that is VERY few companies in 19th century California) would be anticipating hiring them again future.

Even in some calamity that might result in a mass grave (death from disease like plague, for instance, or even the 1906 San Francisco earthquake & fire) the number of Chinese bodies would likely be in the low hundreds at the very most, and likely much less than that. Estimates of total deaths from the 1906 earthquake and the following fire and related causes range from 600 to less than 3,000 – and that is for EVERYONE, and covers all of the effected area from South of San Jose to North of Santa Rosa. And certainly most of those were NOT buried in a single mass grave.

I'm willing to be proven wrong if some actual evidence turns up, but my guess is that you cannot find information on the Chinese mass burial because it actually never happened.

Whether there was some article that claimed that – well that is an entirely different question. There have been plenty of articles that make statements for which there is no actual evidence to substantiate them, only a made-up or a mis-interpreted story. That's often how urban myths get started.

—Kyle Wyatt

1/31/2008 10:39 PM  

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