Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sunshine, Movie Stars and Lynchings

LA in 1870
One of the things I love most about writing the Granny Apples series is incorporating history into the stories. I love doing the research needed to infuse the books with a sense of historical timing for the ghosts encountered. Today, while doing a bit more research into the area around Olvera Street (known as the birthplace of Los Angeles), I learned something about that part of Los Angeles that I never knew, even though I was schooled in the LA area from 3rd grade up.

TV shows and the movies have always focused on the period in Los Angeles history when the mob ran the streets, most notably Mickey Cohen and Bugsy Siegel and their pals, in the late 1930s thru the 1950s. It's a very unsavory piece of fairly modern history of my beloved city but one that attracts a lot of attention.

But there were many other violent eras in LA history and today I learned about the 1871 Chinese Massacre that took place near downtown in the area where the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is now located.

On October 26, 1871, a mob of hundreds of white men rioted in the old Chinatown area (near but not where Chinatown is now). They ransacked and brutalized the area's Chinese inhabitants, ending with the lynching of 18 Chinese. It has the dubious distinction of being the largest incident of a mass lynching in American history. (Bet that surprised you, didn't it?)

This information isn't needed for Ghost in the Guacamole, the 5th Granny Apples novel which I'm finishing right now and which will be out in early 2015. It was something I stumbled upon while researching another tidbit. Still, I think I'm going to mention it in the book. Horrific or not, it's part of the history of the area and I'll bet I'm not the only one who never knew about this.

1 comment:

Mark Baker said...

A sad part of LA's past for sure, and one I didn't know about.