Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Remembering Chinese Pioneers
Remembering Chinese Pioneers
The Santa Cruz Chinese community buried over 80 people at Evergreen Cemetery. It was customary for specialized 'bone pickers' to later exhume bones and send them home to China. Some Chinese remain buried here.
Most Chinese burials at Evergreen are on the steep slope past this sign, to your left. Over time, nature and people destroyed the wooden grave markers. A bronze replica of the last remaining wooden marker stands in the center of the monument to your right.
Traditional Chinese funerals were elaborate ceremonies. Funeral processions included firecrackers to frighten away evil spirits, marching bands, and wagons. Community members burned the belongings of the deceased for use in the spirit world. The restored burner to your left is an original structure.
The Chinese community believed in the need to care for their graves. If ignored, the deceased would become hungry ghosts, causing mischief and mayhem. Each April, the traditional festival of Qing Ming (Tomb-Sweeping Day) is celebrated. Descendants honor their ancestors and take care of gravesites. Here, it is our role
Captions: Chinese laundryman, Felton, 1875
A brick inscribed with the person’s name, village, and district in China was buried with the deceased. This brick was found in 2012.
“Santa Cruz Evergreen Chinese Cemetery”
Inscriptions on the Chinese Cemetery Monument
“Striving for self-improvement”
“Chong Lee (or Lue Chong Sing); Origin Unknown; Date of Death: April 15, 1921”
“Yee Lam: Origin Unknown; Date of Death: March 26, 1919”
“Chin Lai (or Mook Lai Bok, or Chen Wenli); Origin Canton; Date of Death: March 25, 1949”
“Lou Sing; Origin Unknown; Buried September 12, 1884"
Blank marker: This marker commemorates all the Chinese buried at Evergreen and in unmarked graves throughout Santa Cruz County.
“Making achievements, in a hundred years”
“Ever told are their greatest stories”
We will never know the full history of the Santa Cruz Chinese pioneers. We have lost most of their true names, origins, and stories. What we can do is appreciate their contribution by taking care of their graves appropriately. Toward that end, artists, history and language experts, and volunteers
The Santa Cruz MAH extends appreciation for crucial contributions to Ow Family Properties, Yuming Shang, Geoffrey Dunn, Tom Ralston Concrete, Sandy Lydon, Sean Monaghan & Bronze Works, and the many other volunteers.
For more on the extraordinary history of the Chinese pioneers in the Monterey Bay region, see Chinese Gold by Sandy Lydon.
Caption: Monument Dedication, 2014
Where were the Chinatowns?
Four different Chinatown locations in Santa Cruz form 1860-1955
1 Pacific Avenue Chinatown c. 1860 - 1872 (1860: less than a dozen men)
2 Front Street Chinatown 1872 - 1894 (1880: 37 men, 1 woman)
3 Blackburn's Chinatown 1894 - 1905 (1900: 19 men)
4 Birkenseer's Chinatown 1905 - 1955 (1905:50 men, 9 women)
Old Time Chinese Cook Is Buried
Lue Chong Sing, a Chinese cook well known in different lumber and logging camps, was buried yesterday, his funeral taking place from Wessendorf & Son's undertaking parlors. He has been paralyzed for about a year and this resulted in his death. The Chinese was 64 years old and was born in Canton province, and among the places where he has cooked during the past 15 years was at the Loma Prieta mill, McAbee's camp and at Jim Maddocks. In Chinatown he lived with Wong Kee. He was
Santa Cruz Morning Sentinel April 19, 1921
Chin Lai, age 81, and his nephew George Ow, Jr., January 1947. Chin Lai had been a logging camp cook for many years in the San Lorenzo Valley. This memorial sculpture was installed in 2014 with the support of Ow Family Properties.
Property of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
Erected 2014 by Evergreen Cemetery and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.
Location. 36° 58.843′ N, 122° 2.09′ W. Marker is in Santa Cruz, California, in Santa Cruz County. Marker is on Evergreen Street 0 miles east of Coral Street, on the left when traveling east. The Marker is near Harvey West Park. The path to the Chinese section at Evergreen Cemetery is named Incense Path and is accessed from Evergreen Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Santa Cruz CA 95060, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Louden (London) Nelson (a few steps from this marker); Grave of Grove C. Cook (a few steps from this marker); Mary Amney Case (within shouting distance of this marker); Williams (within shouting distance of this marker); California Pioneers (within shouting distance of this marker); Isaac Graham: “Swashbuckling Soldier of Fortune (within shouting distance of this marker); Arthur A. Taylor (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lady of the Night (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Santa Cruz.
More about this marker. Marker is uphill from Evergreen Street. The gate marking the Chinese section can be seen from the street. Chinese headstones date from 1801.
Categories. • Asian Americans • Cemeteries & Burial Sites •
More. Search the internet for Remembering Chinese Pioneers.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 13, 2020. This page originally submitted on April 16, 2019, by Tom McDannold of Santa Cruz, California. This page has been viewed 44 times since then and 43 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on February 13, 2020, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 16, 2019, by Tom McDannold of Santa Cruz, California. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.