This series explores the stories behind historic sites, artifacts and tall tales told in cities across the country, with the help of an inquisitive team of fact-finders with an uncanny talent for uncovering the truth.
History Detectives Previous Broadcasts
KQED World: Sun, May 10, 2015 -- 1:00 PM
* Red Hand Flag - During her last active duty posting with the Army at Ft. Jackson, a Desert Storm veteran from South Carolina learned about a local, all-but-forgotten African-American infantry regiment in WWI. Years later, she purchased a worn red-white-red striped flag with a red felted hand sewn in the center and small U.S. flags sewn in the corner. The contributor would like to know if her flag was carried into battle by one of the few African-American infantry regiments that fought in WWI under the command of the French. These unsung heroes of the Great War exhibited extraordinary heroism in battle and were highly decorated by the French. If this particular flag has French origins, though, why is it red-white-red-striped and not blue-white-red like the tricolor French flag? Elyse Luray heads to Columbia, South Carolina, to link this mysterious flag to the legacy of the Red Hand Division and its wartime triumphs.
* Seth Eastman Painting - A Decatur, Illinois, man purchased a painting that depicts a scene of traditional Native-American life. The contributor, a longtime student of the history of the American West, says the image appealed to him because it was strangely familiar, almost iconic in its imagery. The painting bears the initials "S.E." and the seller's Web page reads "Seth Eastman, American Painting, Oil on Canvas." Could this painting be an authentic work of artist and military officer Seth Eastman - and an accurate depiction of Native-American life in the mid-1800s? Tukufu Zuberi travels to historic Fort Snelling in Minnesota to examine how Eastman carried out government policies of Native-American removal while capturing on canvas what he believed was a doomed way of life.
* Isleton Tong - The president of the historical society in Isleton, California, has inherited a two-story wooden building with tin sides that she believes once housed a Chinese Tong. In the late 1800s, Chinese immigrants risked everything to start a new life in America. But Americans who feared losing jobs to the new, cheap labor turned the land of opportunity hostile. Chinatowns burned, ethnic slurs flew and Congress prohibited Chinese laborers from entering or working in the country. For outcast Chinese, Tongs were places of protection and solidarity during this time of chaos, where they could worship, study and settle legal disputes peacefully. In the newspapers, the Tongs were secretive centers of gangland warfare, opium deals and gambling. Was there a Tong operating inside Isleton's once-booming Chinatown? If so, what happened there? Gwen Wright heads to the Sacramento Delta and to San Francisco to unravel the mystery of the Chinese Tong.