The first Chinese, like many other immigrants to Plumas County, arrived about 1850 as a result of “Crazy” Stoddard’s Gold Lake myth. Diligently working the streambed gravels spurned by the white miners, they eked a living, mostly using cradles, pans and sluices. By 1880, their numbers had increased to make them the highest percentage of gold miners in the county.

Although sometimes abused both physically and verbally, there were no lynchings or major purges of the Chinese here, unlike some neighboring counties. Because they were not interested in assimilating into American culture, the Chinese developed their own communities near the white settlements. Greenville’s Chinese community sat along Wolf Creek just west of town; La Porte’s “China Alley” is on the east side of town; Taylorsville had a small Chinese neighborhood at its southern flank and Quincy, the county seat, had its Chinatown where the Quincy Junior Senior High School is now located, hence “China Rock..”

The largest Chinese settlement by far was the town of Silver Creek, just west of Spanish Ranch, about seven miles from Quincy. Over 500 residents made up this commercial center for the Chinese of Plumas County. Hotels, restaurants, gambling houses, stores, shoe repair shops, just about everything that might be needed was available. A Joss House for worship and social activities was also a magnet to this town which existed from about 1855 to the 1920s. The land surrounding the town was later dredged away, leaving only a very few remnants of this once bustling community.
Because of immigration laws, there were very few Chinese women here. Most of the Chinese miners were young males, in their early twenties, and when gold opportunities diminished or ran dry, they left. Through about 1910, there were a number of companies of Chinese miners still working various sites in the county, mostly in the southern portion.

Interestingly, there is no evidence to show that the Chinese participated in the construction of the Western Pacific Railroad through Plumas County at the turn-of-the-century. In time, most left to work in the urban areas. The old men who stayed here eventually died and were buried near their communities.

The museum enjoys a personal connection to the Chinese of Plumas County: Our first curator, Robert Gee Moon, was the grandson of Mun Gee, an early-day Silver Creek merchant. Many of the items displayed here are from the Moon (Mun) family.

Mun Gee came to Silver Creek from Canton in the 1880s with his wife Wong Poy. They raised one daughter and five sons, some of whom remained in the area. Mun Gee’s name was soon Americanized to Gee Moon. He and his wife are buried in the Meadow Valley Cemetery.