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Asian America Now Series Presents~Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West

February 24, 2011 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Chinatown YMCA in San Francisco

855 Sacramento St (bwtn Stockton & Grant)

Asia Society/Co-Sponsor Members $7 & Non-members $12

Co-sponsored by the Chinatown YMCA and Chinese Historical Society of America, Chinese Culture Center, & Hyphen Magazine

To register, please call (415)421-8707 or visit https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=7896fb

When gold rush fever gripped the globe in 1849, thousands of Chinese immigrants came through San Francisco on their way to seek their fortunes. They were called sojourners, for they never intended to stay.

In San Francisco, a labyrinthine Chinatown soon sprang up~a clamorous city within a city where Chinese women were smuggled in and where the laws were made by “hatchet men.” At this time, a young Chinese concubine known as Polly was brought by her owner by steamboat and pack train to a remote mining camp in the highlands of Idaho. After he lost her in a poker game, Polly found her way with a new owner to an isolated ranch on the Salmon River in central Idaho.

As the gold rush receded, it took with it the Chinese miners~or their ones, which were disinterred and shipped back to their homeland in accordance with Chinese custom. But it left behind Polly, who would make headlines when she emerged from the Idaho hills nearly half a century later to visit  a modern city and tell her story.

Peppered with characters like Mark Twain and legendary newswoman Cissy Patterson, Poker Bride vividly reconstructs a lost period of history when the first Chinese flooded into the U.S., and left only glimmering traces of their presence across the American West.

Christopher Corbett is a former news editor with The Associated Press. He is the author of Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express and Vacationland. Since 1995 he has written The Back Page for Baltimore’s Style magazine, twice winner of best column from the City and Regional Magazine Association and honored by the Society for Professional Journalist for best editorial writing. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times, among other outlets.


February 24, 2011
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Chinatown YMCA
855 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94108 United States