One reality of Hercules' past is that there were deadly explosions at the California Powder Works plant just outside of town. Another is that the Chinese men employed there lived different and separate lives from the rest of the local population.
In one fatal blast, seven Chinese workers were blown up, their body parts scattered far and wide. Some of the collected remains were recovered, but to the woe of relatives, they were mixed together in only four coffins for burial.
This article, from the July 17, 1905 edition of the San Francisco Call newspaper, expresses sympathy for the families of the dead and the Chinese community. It's also dismissive of their beliefs and culture, calling the Chinese "heathen."
We present the article with its original punctuation and spelling.
REMAINS OF SEVEN IN FOUR COFFINS
Manner of Death of Chinese at Pinole Brings About Complications.
Whether it was a matter of economy, or because it was impossible to segregate the remains of the seven Chinese who were blown into fragments in the powder explosion at Pinole on last Thursday morning, the remains of these unfortunates, or all of them that could be found, were packed into four coffins yesterday by the "cousins" of the departed men.
It was a grewsome funeral that started from Chinatown on the way to San Mateo Cemetery. There were four hearses, with as many coffins, into which were packed promiscuously the remains of the seven Mongolians.
Another and sadder feature of the grewsome funeral from a Chinese point of view is the fact that the future generations of the relatives of the deceased will never be in a position to recognize the bones of their departed kinsmen when the time comes to meet in the hereafter. This was made evident to all who understood the superstition of the Chinese race from the fact that while there was liberal distribution of yellow paper thrown from the mourner's hacks, there was but one solitary "tom tom" band and no roast pork or roasted chickens. The reason of this was that the remains being so badly mixed it would not have been known for which late lamented any chicken of pig offerings were intended for.
The late homes of those interred yesterday will be the subject of priestly incantations for the next sixty days, which is considered by the heathen to be the limit of time in which evil spirits are permitted to hover about an unlucky domicile.
This article comes from the California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cdnc. The collection has digitzed more than 400,000 images from newspapers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Images dated between 1846 and 1922 are in the public domain and not subject to copyright.