These markers surround us because we live in a community steeped in history and culture. We are sometimes so inundated with what we have in front of us that we end up not taking a minute to enjoy the past that has so enriched our lives and gives our city such a unique and wonderful spirit.
In March, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered General John J. Pershing to lead an expedition into Mexico to punish Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary whose troops crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and attacked the town of Columbus, New Mexico. Chinese merchants set up camps to supply the soldiers, angering a native-born populace who already resented and feared the Chinese. In danger of retribution, 2,500 Mexican civilians, including 527 Chinese, accompanied Pershing when he returned to the U.S. in February 1917.
Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), which banned Chinese immigration into the United States, Pershing had to request special permission to bring the Chinese across the border. They began to live adjacent to the base at Columbus. In June 1917, most of the group was moved to San Antonio, where they served as laborers, carpenters and cooks at Camp Wilson (Camp Travis), Fort Sam Houston and Kelly Field in preparation for World War I. They worked admirably and at night attended an English school established by William Page, civilian advisor for the immigrants.
To prevent deportation of the refugees after World War I, Page and General Pershing,vwith the help of a law firm, developed a plan to ask Congress to take action in giving the immigrants permanent resident status. Congress passed Public Resolution 29 in 1921 and in January 1922, the Immigration Service began registering Chinese refugees in San Antonio as permanent residents of the United States. About half stayed in San Antonio, with many opening businesses. Maintaining identity through church, school, and ethnic organizations, the refugees became the base of San Antonio's Chinese community, which today remains one of the largest in Texas.
Erected 2009 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 16246.)
Location. 29° 26.866′ N, 98° 26.617′ W. Marker is in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in Bexar County. It is in the Near East Side. Marker is at the intersection of Wilson Street and Road S-22, on the right when traveling east on Wilson Street. Marker is in a field on the south side of the road. There is no parking close to the marker. Marker is in this post office area: Jbsa Ft Sam Houston TX 78234, United States of America.
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