Chinese Heart of Texas is a book which has needed writing for a long time and it’s been a privilege for me to do it. I am
Chinese American by marriage, for over thirty years now, partly thanks to the First Chinese Baptist Church of San Antonio.
Friendships in the church family initially drew my future wife from Houston to San Antonio after college; we met and married.
Many years later when beginning my formal research for the book, I learned quickly that anyone who has written of Texas Chinese
in the past, relied on a 1941 masters thesis. It was written by one Miss Amy Elizabeth Nims but I’d never heard of her until
beginning my look at this subject.
Having acquired a copy of Amy’s thesis from Texas State University, I was amazed by a coincidence found therein. It contains
Amy’s address as of 1941 which was 1730 McKinley Ave. San Antonio, Tx. I subsequently learned that this was her parent’s home
until the early 1950s. By phenomenal chance, my folks bought that very house in 1960. I lived there through my high school
years, into college, then occasionally until I married a wonderful Chinese American girl named Lorraine Lee. So begins this
serendipitous Texas Chinese history.
My title, Chinese Heart of Texas is meant to convey the spirit of acceptance and opportunity which early Chinese found
here. Within these pages and photographs is a story of their coming to the Lone Star State in the late 19th century, then
establishing a successful colony in the Alamo City. It is then an account of how apparently compatible they were within the
region’s already ethnically amalgamated population.
Another aim was to describe the real contrast in experiences for Texas Chinese with those of their countrymen elsewhere,
especially in the west coast and mountain states during the same periods. The differences allowed them a progression from
being hard labor “coolies”, to middle class merchants and businessmen, then well educated professionals. That they achieved
this transition in a relatively short time, confirms my thesis that Texas was the best choice they could have made at the
time. The first century for the Chinese in Texas was positive overall. That was due to a complex blend of history, heritage,
circumstance, culture and personality which was happily somehow unique.
Mel Brown Austin, Tx. Jan. 2005