Many of the most troubling chapters of our past are taught in schools in an effort to educate students about mistakes that shouldn't be repeated.

Read More: Unfortunate Colorado History: The Colorado Coal Wars |

However, while subjects like the genocide of Native Americans orchestrated by early settlers to the United States and American slavery are widely covered, it's rare that students learn about the mistreatment of Asian Americans that took place during the 1800s.

Back in the 19th Century during the gold rush, numerous women of Asian descent were unfortunately known by many as simply "China Mary," including one woman who immigrated from China to Colorado.

China Mary: An Unfortunate Colorado Moniker

Today, three women who immigrated to the United States in the 1800s have become known as "China Mary" due to the ignorance and unwillingness to learn the given names of these women by settlers.

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In Tombstone, Arizona, a woman known as China Mary ran a brothel and opium den, while a woman known as China Mary in Alaska began her life in America as a prostitute but later earned a living as a nurse manager at a prison.

However, another woman who was given this name found herself in Colorado after immigrating from China and while her journey began with hardship, she eventually became highly respected and remembered fondly.

Ah Yuen: Colorado's China Mary

Born in China between 1848 and 1854, Ah Yuen immigrated to Denver, Colorado in 1863 where she worked as a prostitute. At this point in time, Chinese women and girls were typically forced into prostitution in the United States, were largely illiterate, and were forced to sign contracts that they could not read.


Yuen eventually moved from Denver to Wyoming where she witnessed numerous lynchings in the Bear City Riot and worked her way up in society, ultimately marrying a Chinese member of the Mormon faith nicknamed, "Mormon Charlie."

After years of overcoming adversity, Yuen became very popular and was paid 10 cents per photograph to pose with admirers.

Yuen passed away in 1939 in Evanston, Wyoming where she is now forever immortalized by "China Mary Road," which was named after the beloved resident.

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