Butte County California Chinese Immigrants




According to Mansfield (1918:66,288,320,378), Oroville’s first Chinatown was ravaged by fire at least four times and the community formed in the Lava Beds at least once. The first fire in the Oroville Chinatown was noted as occurring in July of 1858 burning more than one hundred dwellings and retail stores (Mansfield 1918:66). The first buildings in this area were constructed of two and three stories with circular porches.

A second fire that burned half of this Chinatown occurred in August of 1876 (1918:288). The Oroville Mercury noted that many people considered the Chinatown “the very seat of iniquity and the lowest of the low.”

A third fire in the Oroville Chinatown was recorded by Mansfield as occurring in September of 1880 (1918:320). This fire again consumed the entire Chinatown but it was immediately rebuilt.

Mansfield (1918:378) described a fourth fire as occurring on August 23, 1905. The fire started on the north side of Montgomery Street between Huntoon and Lincoln Streets, then moving down Lincoln into what was then Chinatown and the tenderloin section.

Mansfield (1918:288) also notes that forty buildings (tents, lean-tos, the theater, temple and retail stores) in the Lava Beds Chinatown were destroyed by fire in September of 1877. Estimated loss from this fire was twenty thousand dollars.