In the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, there were Chinese immigrants scattered across small towns across the country. They lived in cultural and social isolation unlike Chinese in or near Chinatowns of larger cities.
Not much is known about the lives of these Chinese living beyond Chinatowns, mostly bachelors or married men separated from families back in China by the Chinese Exclusion Laws started in 1882.
Census records and city directories provide some limited information about where and when they lived and how they earned their living. Most Chinese during that period operated hand laundries, and some eventually moved into running small restaurants.
A richer, but still limited, picture of their lives can be found in newspaper articles as shown below for North Carolina. Newsworthy topics included advertisements for laundry services, announcements of the opening, relocation or closing of a laundry, stories about the relationship between the community and Chinese, reports of deaths, assaults, homicides and robberies of Chinese, conflicts among Chinese, and success stories about some of their children.