The smaller of our event rooms is the Au Sing, named in honor of one of many Chinese living in Fort Benton between the 1860’s and 1920’s. During this period the Chinese owned and operated restaurants, laundries, saloons, bakeries, stores, the ever-present opium dens, and were in demand as gardeners, cooks and house boys, they gave testimony in courts, grew in numbers and persevered.
They were regarded as the most successful vegetable gardeners in this vicinity, and generally looked upon with more curiosity than wrath. During this time they participated as active members of the community, and maintained their distinct cultural identity, often to the delight of locals. It was noted that the fire crackers during the Chinese New Year made as much noise as a mountain howitzer….
Anti-Chinese sentiment throughout the United States was building at this time, the Chinese Exclusion Act, passed by Congress in the 1880s, restricted immigration and froze the Chinese community in it’s place, preventing it from growing and assimilating into U.S. society. Another law in 1891 required all Chinese to register and be photographed. By the end of the 19th century the local news paper reported, “These people [the Chinese] will not allow even their bones to rest in American soil. They are aliens alive and aliens dead, and have nothing in common with our people.” Owners of the Quan Café were the last Chinese noted in Fort Benton in 1923.
If you would like to have a private meeting or conduct business from Fort Benton the Murphy Neel is uniquely equipped to provide short term office space for an hour, a day, or even a month, we offer a fully furnished and equipped professional office space with an adjoining conference room and even larger event space if necessary.
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