The Chinese, like many other nationalities, populated Wollongong from its earliest days, largely engaged in fishing and operating village market gardens.
One of the first mentions of the "Celestials", as they were also known, in the Mercury was in January 1859 when six Chinese fishermen were reported to have camped on the banks of the "Illawarra Lake" to carry on fishing operations.
Three years later, five fishermen had set up a pavilion at Wonora (Waniora) Point, where they could be seen "day after day" collecting large quantities of mutton fish, which they boiled, salted and packed in barrels ready for export to Sydney, and from there to China.
In July 1875 the Mercury reported the death of Tommy Gammy, a "Chinaman", who died in a road accident.
Gammy, who had lived at Marshall Mount with his family for 20 years and was described as highly peaceful and industrious, came into town with calves and produce in a cart, with the intention of forwarding it to Sydney via steamer.
"There being no boat on that day he took the load back again, and when a little past the Marshall Mount School the cart capsized and he was killed on the spot," the Mercury said.
In July 1876, Patrick Mannix and Andrew Martin faced court, charged with assaulting Chinaman Ah Tuck, alias Tommy Tuck.
Tuck and a second Chinaman, Ah Lee, were sworn in by the blowing out of matches.
Ah Tuck deposed that he and two other Chinamen were on their way from Wollongong when Mannix accosted him by calling him Tommy, and then Paddy.
"Mannix then struck him in the eye with a stone which he held in his hand."
Witness Joseph Smith also deposed to having seen Mannix strike Tuck with a stone. Both defendants were found guilty and fined 20 shillings each.
Twelve months later, Alfred Betts appeared before the court, charged with assaulting Hoong Sing Long, a storeowner in Crown Street.
Long said Betts was in his shop one evening and caused a commotion by playing a concertina that was in the store.
"But I would not allow it as it would make too much noise," Long said.
Betts responded by calling Long a "bloody Chinese bastard", challenging him to a fight and hitting him several times before knocking him down and kicking him.
Other witnesses backed Long's version of events and Betts was fined £4.
The National Library of Australia has a large collection of Australian and overseas newspapers in print, microform and electronic formats. This guide contains a select listing of print and microform indexes.
Picture courtesy of the collections of the Wollongong City Library and the Illawarra Historical Society.