US immigration 1800s Era, was the decade of a prime influx of people from Europe.
US immigration in the 1800s was overwhelmingly from Ireland, England and the Scandinavian countries. They came from other countries in Europe, too. Asia also was a source of immigration during the 1800s.5 Often overlooked are the forced immigrants - those brought in through slavery.
People looked for opportunities elsewhere when land ownership in their native country became difficult, when their governments were oppressive, because of religious persecution, with food scarcity, or when they couldn't support themselves and their families.1
Ireland had a severe famine - often called the "Great Hunger." The origin began with potato blight, but was influenced by Political Maneuvers. Crops from their own island were shipped to England, regardless of Ireland's need. Desperate victims, approximately one million, died during the mid 1800s.
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Two million 1800s Irish immigrants escaped this "potato famine" by scraping together funds. Some only went as far as where the food went - to Britain: particularly Liverpool, Scotland, and Southern Wales. But many Irish immigrants went to Australia, Canada and the United States.2
To their credit, about half the immigrants were women: 52% exactly! When one family member arrived and found employment, they used savings to help others get passage.10
The main Asian ethnic group of 1800s immigrants were Chinese. Seafarers and merchants came first. The California gold rush attracted more. Others for work: agriculture, serving households, fisheries and the railroad. Many also to escape the Taiping Rebellion.4
During The 1800s, immigrants from Europe often trekked Westward. Their goal was rich farmland or fertile parts of California. But they met stark deserts and difficult mountain ranges. Some decided to settle in suitable areas prior to reaching their original goal.7
Another motivation was the California Gold Rush. Chinese immigrants, others from South America, Mexico, and also Europe were headed there to seek riches.7
Freed former slaves (recent ancestry from Africa) came West in the 1800s. After the Constitution's 13th Amendment was ratified at the end of 1865.8 Many had experience with cattle in their lives on plantations, farms and ranches. They used that experience working as cowboys. They found more acceptance and camaraderie within ranks of the cowboy unit, than in general public life.9
All these ethnic groups made their way to Tombstone Arizona during this time of widespread US immigration in the 1800s. Native Americans lived on the land, and they battled these new people who were laying claim to it.
Tombstone's population in 1882 was itemized as 559 Irish, 423 Hispanics, and 245 Chinese. There was also a sizable Jewish and German population.6
Millions of Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800s. Once landed on the East coast many came West to escape extreme discrimination. Its origin was from traditions of the British in their native land. It continued in Eastern American cities that they tried to adopt as their own. As many immigrants were also from the British Isles.
Many came to mining camps, hoping that discrimination wouldn't follow them West. Irish were part of Tombstone's population.
Some were recent Irish 1800s immigrants to the U.S., and others were second generation. They held strong connections to their "mother country." This support system helped withstand discrimination and improve their own lives in their new country. A part of that was boosting Ireland's organizations:
From the June 14, 1893 Tombstone Epitaph, Page 2
The Mexican Community did intermix into Tombstone town. Arizona Territory had been part of Mexico, and this ethnic group lived there already. Many Mexicans got involved in mining. Although Mexicans worked alongside white miners, they weren't always treated the same. In social circumstances, sometimes they all got along and were part of a group. Other times there were strained relations.
The Mexicans often lived in a specific part of town. Referred to as the "Mexican Quarter." It covered the block of Fremont south to Allen Street, between 1st and 2nd Streets.
The Mexican Community Got Little News Attention Unless Something Went Wrong
The Chinese population mainly kept to themselves, in their own community. Chinatown was contained in a few blocks. Almost to Fremont south to Toughnut, from around 1st to 3rd Streets.
Commercial interests sought Chinese labor to work the mines and railroads. Many Asians also farmed and sold vegetables to area markets. Some worked as cooks and household domestics. They opened laundries.
Local residents were suspicious of this unique group, with customs that seemed odd. Some local Tombstone residents even formed an "Anti-Chinese League" - which put pressure on businesses to rid Tombstone of the "yellow peril." To boycott using Chinese business. It also instigated some violent incidents.
The contractor building the Courthouse in Tombstone began using four Chinese brick-makers. The League was outraged, demanding explanation. The contractor did: we "could not get white labor to do the same kind of work. The white men habitually worked a day or two and quit."6,13
But the anti-Chinese sentiment got support with the government's Chinese immigration act: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Naturalization of Chinese already in the U.S. became illegal. Plus long-range effect was a cut-off of further Chinese immigrants to America for the next 61 years!11
Even so, some Chinese citizens in town succeeded, and became respected citizens. Well known was China Mary - Mary Sing. Also Can Can restaurant manager, Quong Gu Kee. Both are buried at Boothill.
Other European Immigrants made their way to the Wild West, and to Tombstone Arizona. Most of those were from Germany, Scandinavia, and Great Britain.6
An 1848 German immigrant, Frederick Brunckow was the first person to investigate mining in Tombstone's territory. With a mining degree, and a bit of European mining experience, he was hired by an American mining company. He did well and was rapidly promoted. In 1859 he began his own company with three professional miners and Mexican laborers.6 See the Whole Brunckow Mine Story>
Jews also immigrated, to escape religious persecution in Eastern Europe. After arriving in the U.S., some made their way West.
Fred Harvey was ahead of his times in hiring practices when beginning his hotel/restaurant chain that followed stops on the Santa Fe railroad in the 1800s. Two of his prized employees were Jewish.12
A small Jewish population came to the Old West, to settle and live in Tombstone Arizona.6
1 Library of Congress (n.d.) Immigration to the United States, 1851 - 1900. Timeline Retrieved from loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/ presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/riseind/immgnts/
2 Foster, R.F. (1988). Modern Ireland. P. 268. Penguin Group
3 Parsons, George W. (1996). A tenderfoot in Tombstone. The private journal of George Whitwell Parsons: The turbulent years, 1880-82. p 72, Westernlore Press, Tucson AZ.
4 Ward, G. (1997). The West: An Illustrated History. Dayton, IL: Little, Brown & Co. , Back Bay Books.
5 National Geographic Society (1996-2019). Immigration to the U.S. in the late 1800s. Retrieved from nationalgeographic.org/photo/immigration-1870-1900/
6 Bailey, L.R. (2004). Tombstone, Arizona: "Too tough to die" The rise, fall, and resurrection of a silver camp; 1878 to 1990. Westernlore Press, Tucson, Arizona. A prime general resource.
7 Slatta, R.W. (Jan. 19, 2006). Western frontier life in America. World Book Online Reference Center. World Book, Inc. Worldbookonline.com/wb/Article?id=ar599110. Retrieved from hfaculty.chass.ncsu.edu/slatta/cowboys/essays/front_life2.htm
8 History.com Editors (June 14, 2019). Slavery abolished in America. HISTORY: A&E Television Networks. Retrieved from history.com/this-day-in-history/slavery-abolished-in-america
9 Nodjimbadem, K. (FEB. 13, 2017). The Lesser-Known History of African-American Cowboys. Retrieved from smithsonianmag.com/history/lesser-known-history-african-american-cowboys-180962144/
10 Maurer, E.L. (MARCH 14, 2017). Raising a glass to Irish American Women. National Women's History Museum. Retrieved from womenshistory.org/ articles/raising-glass-irish-american-women
11 History.com Staff (June 7, 2019). Chinese Exclusion Act. HISTORY: A&E Television Networks. Retrieved from history.com/topics/immigration/chinese-exclusion-act-1882
12 Fried, S. (Aug. 3, 2010). The Jews who tamed the Wild West. The New York Jewish Week. Retrieved from jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/the-jews-who-tamed-the-wild-west/
13 The Daily Epitaph, June 16 & June 18, 1882.
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