Eureka: Two views of the former Eureka Chinatown
Eureka is known as the place where the "peaceful" expulsions
began. It was here for the first time white citizens of a town
decided to force all of the Chinese residents to leave. This was
seen as a "decent" and "humane" alternative to the riots and
attacks against Chinese that had taken place elsewhere.
While anti-Chinese racism had been simmering in Eureka for many
atmosphere of the town changed overnight due to an unfortunate
accident. During the fall and winter of 1884-85, increasing
violence between rival Chinese
tongs had troubled the
residents of Eureka. On the evening of February 6, 1885, gunfire erupted
between two tongs, and Eureka City
Councilman David Kendall was accidentally shot and killed when
he walked between two Chinese men who were shooting at each
other from opposite sides of the street. Police arrested one of
the Chinese men and took him to jail, but a crowd of more than
600 men soon gathered and threatened to lynch the prisoner and
other Chinese who were thought to be involved.
The mayor intervened, and a committee was appointed to find a
less violent end to the situation. The solution proposed by the
committee was to order all Chinese residents out of town within
24 hours. Soon representatives of the committee went
throughout the town and surrounding ranches informing all
Chinese to pack up and be prepared to leave the next day. In the
meantime, the Sheriff asked for the local militia to mobilize in
order to prevent a riot from breaking out overnight.
About this Site: The
Humboldt County Historical Society
in Eureka has a photograph
in their collection, dated 1885, that was taken at the
intersection of 4th and E Streets by an unknown photographer.
This is the exact place where David Kendall was killed. The block
on the right side of the photograph was the main Chinese
community in Eureka. The downtown street names and locations
have not changed since the time of the expulsion, so I was able
to match the location of the photograph with the same
The 1885 photograph is reproduced
here with permission of the Humboldt County Historical Society.
40° 48' 09.51" N, 124° 10'