cheetahstripes wrote in little_details

Treatment of half-Chinese child/teenager in 1890s "Western" setting?

I've been trying to focus on one of my characters' backstory lately and am having a hard time figuring out the finer details. He grows up during the American Wild West era; his father was Chinese and his mother was a white woman. I need to work out the finer details of how his parents even met but I've been puzzled with how he would be treated during childhood and as an adult.

So basically his father dies shortly after he was born (sometime around 1885), so he's raised by his mother and his disapproving grandfather, and the family owns a ranch and are pretty well-off. His mother dies when he's about 7 so the grandfather has to take over and treats him very roughly. I am having a hard time finding any sort of general information how mixed race children would be treated by small-town American society at large, also considering that he's born out of wedlock.

Almost everything I've found when looking for cases of mixed race people from around that era is for black/white mixed children or relationships, I have found nothing on any kind of Asian parentage. Everything I've found for taboos on interracial relationships are aimed at black/white relationships. I have looked thru articles and the Ask Historians subreddit about Chinese immigration to the US and laborers. So far this dissertation is the best thing I've found, and while it does answer some of my questions it seems to be aimed at people who lived in big cities. And while I can find lots of examples about how normal Chinese immigrants were treated (poorly) — along with how they typically only stayed around each other and established camps and Chinatowns and such — I can't find anything that could fit my character well enough (speaks only English, raised among Caucasian people). Would he be able to attend school and/or church, or would he have to be taught at home?

There was a thing I dug up the other night — and of course now I can't remember where I was looking at it — saying how around the turn of the century or early 1910s and onward, Chinese people were treated almost like white people, or Chinese women essentially had honorary status if they were married to a white man. Now that I'm looking through the page for "Anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States" and it kind of stops after it gets to 1905 and mentions how "yellow peril" fears shifted to Japan instead.

Any help on this would be appreciated. He ends up "dying" around 1910 and becomes a vampire so I'm not really going for cold hard historical realism here, but I like to try and base some of my stuff in reality.


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