Polly Bemis: A Chinese American Pioneer by Priscilla Wegars




Although Idaho’s Polly Bemis is the Pacific Northwest’s most famous Chinese American woman, almost nothing is known about her early life or her family except that she was born in northern China, near Beijing, on Septermber 11, 1853. The same year, Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary celebrated the birth of their last child. Polly arrived in Idaho in 1872, age eighteen. After living there for more than sixty years, Polly Bemis died on November 6, 1933, when she was eighty years old. This is her true story.

About the Author
Priscilla Wegars, Ph.D., is an independent historian and historical archaeologist specializing in the history and archaeology of Asian Americans int he West. She has worked on archaeological excavations in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, England, New Zealand, and Belize, Priscilla is the founder and volunteer curator of the University of Idaho’s Asian American Comparative Collection, a repository of artifacts and documentary materials essential for the study of Asian American archaeological sites, economic contributions, and cultural history. She edited Hidden Heritage: historical Archaeology of the Overseas Chinese and wrote Chinese at the Confluence: Lewiston’s Beuk Aie Temple. She is working on a biography of Polly Bemis or adult readers, and on a history of the Kooskia Internment Camp, a little-known World War II Japanese alien internees’ detention facility in northern Idaho. Each summer Priscilla leads a University of Idaho enrichment class to visit Polly Bemis’s cabin and grave. She lives in Moscow, Idaho, with her husband, Terry Abraham, and their cat, Groucho.

Additional information

Dimensions 11.25 × 6.75 × .25 in