A Few Days Ago In Austin History: The Funeral of La Du Jim

April 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

On April 25, 1882, the Austin Statesman reported on:

The Funeral of La Du Jim.
La Du Jim, a Chinaman, 31 years of age, died of dropsy and was buried in the city cemetery yesterday afternoon at one o’clock. As this was the first Chinese funeral on record in our city, a Statesman reporter was present to observe the quaint ceremonies. Rushes were burned slowly, from the time of death until the burial, at deceased’s late residence. As soon as the remains were placed in the coffin, the deceased’s personal apparel, and all his money were also placed in it. In the funeral procession, besides a nice hearse and a fine carriage, was a conveyance containing the bedstead, bedding, washtub, chairs and personal effects of Jim, and when the grave was reached and the corpse was being taken from the hearse, the goods were piled up together near the grave and set on fire and burned up. After this a basket was produced containing a baked chicken, piece of cooked fresh pork, a teapot full of tea, a tin bucket full of rice, a bowl, a cup, a flask of whiskey and two chopsticks. The contents were deposited at the foot of the grave and the coffin lowered. Rushes and wax candles were then stuck in the ground around the foot of the grave, as was the head board and a lot of Chinese paper, with characters inscribed on each piece. The head board was about five feet high and six inches wide. The rushes, paper and candles were lit and while burning, one Chinaman took a piece of wax and held it to a candle until it was heated and then rubbed it over the Chinese characters on the head board and another opened the whiskey, poured some in the cup and bowl, and then sprinkled it all around the things at the foot of the grave. When the lights had burned to the ground, all the things at the foot of the grave, except the headboard, were deposited in the grave at the foot, and then all walked about six paces from the grave and stood with their backs to it until it was filled in, after which they took their carriages and returned to the city. Nothing that was taken to the graveyard returned to the city, not even the basket that contained the eatables. The head board was placed at the head of the grave as a mark for the last resting place of La Du Jim.

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