View Full Version : Sending the dead back to China

02-11-2009, 05:40 PM
Hey, was wondering what was the procedure for sending dead bodies back to China for burial during the 1870's? The ones who died mining gold in the West and so forth.

Who payed for the cost? Families, employers, government?

Was it expensive?


02-11-2009, 06:02 PM
I have nothing to back this up, but my best guess is, they wouldn't.

Best they'd get is buried... and that'd be more practical (don't wanna attract the wild carnivores near the camp and the potential for disease).

Additionally, depending on religious persuasion, they might have cremated the body (I believe buddhists do that - and I also believe that certain school of buddhism believes you should just dump the body for nature to feed off*).

You should also remember there was significant anti-Chinese sentiment (putting it mildly) in the US during this time. This wasn't something minor or on a local level, but rather something national that resulted in legislation limiting Chinese immigration. And there was additional violence committed against these workers.

Then there is the basic problem with transporting a body over that distance which would be no easy task.

Hope this helps.

*You might wanna do some specific research if you follow these, as I'm going from memory and might be mixing things up.

02-11-2009, 06:08 PM
I'm sure a letter to the California Department of Tourism would shake some answers from the tree. I've seen on some TV show (can't verify the veracity, it might have even been some pseudoscientific detective show) that they might ship the bones back.

Kathie Freeman
02-11-2009, 09:05 PM
In the Chinese culture of that day, (and even sometimes now) bodies HAD to be returned to China and returned intact, meaning if a body part was amputated it had to be saved until the person's death and sent with him/her. In most cases the whole body was cremated and kept until the family could afford to send it, or until several urns were accumulated and sent in a single shipment. The expense had to be paid by the person or persons sending it.

C.M. Daniels
02-12-2009, 10:30 PM
A lot of them were sent home via ship and never made it. Remains were simply dumped overboard or never made it to the ships at all. A lot of the forensic cases I studied in my advanced methods/practical classes were of Chinese who were supposedly sent home.

At any rate, that's the way things were in Montana.