Salem Mass. and Chinese Sailors
Food in History
Fall Volume: 2019 Issue: 26(3) pages: 30 to 32
Many early Chinese did land on the West Coast in or
near San Francisco, some even landed on the East
Coast in Salem Massachusetts. Salem is a town some
fifteen miles north of Boston. It was known for the
Salem Witch Trials and other things in those early
days. We know it well because when first married we
lived nearby in Cambridge, then in Woburn; both were
before we moved to New York State.
We and many neighbors knew Salem, a New England
town famous for witch trials held here in 1692. The
Salem Museum touts them and the twenty people who
died then in this historic seaport town. Few knew
about the clipper ships and their sailors who arrived
there from China in the late 1600s.
The Peabody Museum, now called the Peabody Essex
Museum shares information about the Chinese sailors
manning those ships who landed there, a few even
staying. They may know other historic places there
such as the House of Seven Gables, the Custom House,
the National Maritime Museum, the Darby House, and
others. Many may have read a 1819 novel by Nathaniel
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, about here as it was
required reading in many a High School.
If you have never been here, we recommend visiting.
You might see where Alexander Graham Bell did his first
demonstration of the telephone in this town. There, his
first words were: “Can you hear me now” spoken at the
Lyceum Hall in 1877. This one and more than twenty
other buildings are worth visiting here, some in the Yu
Tang complex where a complete building moved from
China. Built during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 CE) and
the only complete house built in China now in the US
from that time period. There are these and other things
to see and do in Salem including this classic attraction
built during the time of Roger Conant in the late 1600s
when this town was called Naumkeag.
Walk down its cobblestone streets sense and see this
classic New England village with many quaint shops and
galleries. Some are on Pickering Wharf, itself a place
not to miss.
From Salem, one can go whale watching and visit the
Salem Beer Works, the oldest and largest restaurant
and brewery in New England. While there, take a look
at The Salem News, a local newspaper known for its
logo. It is a witch on a broomstick. There is that and
for those who like modern places, one can visit an
Italian revival building, and there is much more to see
As to the Peabody Museum recently renamed The
Peabody Essex Museum. It shows and tells about the
town’s early history. It recently had an infusion of one
hundred fifty million dollars so visitors see a bigger and
better museum that is a great place to learn about the
earliest Chinese sailors on the US East Coast. History
buffs and most spend lots of time here.
If planning to go, you may want to consider purchasing
a ‘Destination Passport’ there or the the many other
places in town selling it available April through
September. It includes admission here and other
places in town that charge a separate admission fee.
However, it is not available on holidays or in during
one month in the Fall. Therefore, inquire before buying
yours. Everyone can get other visitor information there
at www.pem.org to learn about this town and the many
eateries giving reductions for those that have one. Do
your homework and learn this and more; you will be
glad you did.