324 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI however, attracted other ethnic groups to the region during the second half of the nineteenth century. In particular, Chinese, Italian, Jewish, and Lebanese migrants settled in Delta communities and carved out their own economic and cultural niches that had lasting effects on the region. The first known Chinese immigrants set foot in the Delta after the Civil War. Hailing from southern China, early Chinese immigrants came to the Delta with hopes of making money to send back home to their families. Some Delta planters looked to Chinese laborers to replace African American slaves following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Chinese immigrants did not last long in Delta cotton fields. The inability to control their own pace and type of labor proved frustrating to Chinese immigrants, and it did not take long for the Chinese labor experiment to evaporate. However, the Chinese immigrants did not leave the Delta. Instead, they built businesses—often grocery stores—and, of course, homes and churches. Early on, these grocery stores were tiny operations, but as the Delta grew in the late nineteenth century, Chinese groceries catered to an expanding clientele that included poor African American sharecroppers, as well as African Americans and whites who worked in logging and the clearing of land. The early Chinese migrants to the Delta did not speak English, which made communication with the English- speaking Delta population a formidable challenge. The second and third generations of Delta Chinese adapted much more easily to the culture and environment of the region, although as nonwhites, they endured racial segregation and discrimination. Thriving communities in Rosedale and Greenville were a testament to the resilience of the Delta Chinese. In Bolivar County, a Chinese Mission School became an important site for education of Chinese youth. By the early twentieth century, the Delta Chinese were a small but important part of the Delta economic and cultural landscape. Italian immigrants came to the Delta in the 1880s as part of a larger Italian immigration to the United States in the late nineteenth century. Although most would associate Italian immigration with New York City and Ellis Island, many Italians from Sicily came to the United States through the port of New Orleans. Some of these migrants settled along the Gulf Coast while others moved north up the Mississippi River to Natchez and Vicksburg and the Delta. During the 1880s and 1890s, planters and levee builders hired Italian workers. Italian immigrants just across the Mississippi River in the Arkansas Delta faced harsh treatment from planters and were treated as debt peons, which prompted a government investigation into the handling of Italian immigrant laborers. Like the Chinese, many Italians managed to make their living in towns owning groceries, restaurants, and other enterprises. Greenville had the largest population of Italians in the Delta. By and large, Italians found town life to be more to their liking than plantation agriculture. Some Italians bought large tracts of land and took up farming, but most of the Delta Italians were townspeople. The Italian communities were especially important to the creation of Roman Catholic churches in the region. The Delta, like the rest of Mississippi and the South, has historically been dominated by Protestant churches. But there are significant Roman Catholic congregations in places such as Greenville, Clarksdale, Cleveland, and Shaw, thanks in large measure to the first Italian immigrants. Since before the Civil War, the Jewish community has been an important part of Delta life. Jewish people first arrived in Mississippi during the eighteenth century seeking to continue practicing their religious traditions while hoping for a better life in America. In Europe, anti-Semitic laws and customs barred Jewish people from owning land, a harsh reality that prompted the Jewish community to pursue commercial endeavors as merchants. Expertise in business came in handy on the Mississippi frontier, and as the Delta expanded throughout the late nineteenth century, Jewish merchants established themselves as staples of town life. Greenville, Clarksdale, Rolling Fork, and Cleveland all contained thriving Jewish businesses. A Greenville clothing store owned by a Jewish family grew into the national corporation known as Stein Mart. Current stores such as Kornfeld’s in Greenwood and Abraham’s in Cleveland underscore the historical importance of Jewish people to the Delta business community. Synagogues have been regular features of Delta culture since the late nineteenth century. The Jewish presence in Delta politics has been vital as well. The town of Rolling Fork in Sharkey County had a Jewish mayor, Sam Rosenthal, who served in that office from 1924 until 1969. Like Delta residents of Chinese and Italian descent, Jewish people in the Delta have worked to find their place in a largely biracial society. Like the Chinese, many Italians managed to make their living in towns owning groceries, restaurants, and other enterprises. Greenville had the largest population of Italians in the Delta.