Butte County California Chinese Immigrants

CHICO'S CHINESE


EMPLOYMENT


As we have now found, the names of most of these Chinese men did not appear in the computerized 1880 census for California nor in the larger census for the United States. Although the 1880 census was far and away the best of the nineteenth century for accuracy and completeness, it would not be unusual for Chinese nationals to have avoided being found by the census marshal. In the political climate of the late nineteenth century, most would not have wanted their presence to be officially known. Fortunately, most of the photographs in this collection have information concerning “current” employment written on the verso or reverse side of the photographic mount (all except eleven of the photographs). Twenty-three mostly retail establishments are listed on the photographs (see Table Three below). Information about many of these companies had not been found in sources we sought. The Kee Chong Jan & Co., Number 7 in the table, may be the same company as the Kee Chong Jan Mo Company, Number 8. The rest of the names seem to represent separate companies or entities, and further research is definitely necessary to discover names of Chinese retail and wholesale stores and other Chinese-owned outlets in the area studied. Remember, any Chinese person’s ability to link his occupation to a merchant held an advantage. Laborers were those who were most likely to be deported after spending a year in an American jail if they were arrested. Having established white citizens vouch for you would be a second major defense against being deported.


NAME
CHINESE PERSONS

Table Three: REFERENCES TO EMPLOYMENT


Boo Sang Hong, a merchant in Old Town in 1896
(9)
Dew Ying, New Town
(20)
Dong Luke Company
(16)
Hong Fook Fong
(17)
Hong Wo Store, New Town
(32), (39)
Hong Yik Hong
(38)
Kee Chong Jan & Co.
(2), (8)
Kee Chong Jan Mo Company, #434, Old Town
(15)
Leong Hi, New Town, Block 96
(11)
Mau Hing, Tai Store
(6), (24)
Mee Lee
(23)
Quing Ting Store
(19)
Quong Hi
(41)
Quong Hing Wah Company, #412, Old Town
(3), (5), (13), (14), (18), (27)
Quong Sing Company
(10), (12), (25), (26)
Quong Wah and Company
(35), (36), (37)
Quong Wing Chung Company
(7), (31)
Quong Yak Co. Groceries
(1)
Ti Wo Tong
(40)
Tung Foo -- self employed as an orchardist & farmer
(30)
Wing Sung Wo
(22)
Wong Fong Chong Store
(21), (34)
Yue Lee Chung Kee Co.
(29)
No employment listed
(4), (11), (28), (33), (38), (42), (43), (44), (45), (46), (47)

                      Source: photographs themselves


Boo Sang Hong (9) and Tung Foo (30) were self employed with Hong being a merchant and Foo being an orchardist and farmer. Eight of the men appeared to be partners in a business--Ah Hong (5), who was a senior partner; Hung Goon (22), who was a member of a firm; Lee Ding (25), who was also a member of a firm; Wong Chung Dung (31), who was a member of a company; the two Wong Nings (36) and (37), who were members of a company; Yee Louis Sing (40), who owned ¼ of merchandise and goods; and Yuen Fook Toy (41), who had for five years been a member of a company. References were found for some of the companies or individuals mentioned as employers or places of employment in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls of 1873 through 1896.


Boo Sang …g ?

The letters in this name could not all be read. Possibly the name was Boo Sang Hong, but he was also known as “Ah Jug” (9). In 1896, he stated on the back of his photograph that he was a merchant in Old Chinatown, Chico. For information possibly relating to this individual, see his brief biography under number (9) above.


Dew Ying

In 1890, How Ah Dew (20) listed “Dew Ying” in New Town as his place of employment. It also said this was an iron (?) house. It is unknown whether this was a company or an individual. Since his last name was Dew, perhaps he was part owner of this establishment, which was possibly a laundry. However, the name “Dew Ying” does not appear in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls from 1873 through 1896.


Dong Luke Company

Gee Pong (16) listed this company, “Dong Luke,” as his place of employment in 1893. However, no listing was found of the company in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls from 1873 through 1896.


Hong Fook Fong

In 1890, Gung Sing (17) listed “Hong Fook Fong” as his place of employment. This name appeared in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls for 1884 and 1885. Resources listed for 1884 were goods and wares ($300) and for 1885, merchandise ($300). Taxes paid in 1884 were $ 4.50, and $3.39 for 1885. “Hong Fook Fong” again appears in the 1887 roll with China goods ($200), paying a tax of $2.35. The name of “Hong Fook Fong” again appears in 1889 through 1892. Taxable items were as follows: 1889,China mdse. ($500); and for 1890, 1891 and 1892,mdse. ($400). Taxes paid were 1889, $5.35; 1890, $5.20; 1891 and 1892, $4.80. This establishment appears to have been in existence from about 1884 until at least 1892.


Hong Wo Company Store

The “Hong Wo” establishment was listed on the back of two of the photographs, one belonging to that of “Wong Fun” (32) and the other one of “Wong Yon” (39). In 1893, Wong Fun called it the “Hong Wo Company” located in New Town, while in 1894 Wong Yon called it the “Hong Wo Store,” also in New Town. Wong Yon stated that he had been employed there for the past thirteen years, so the store could have been in existence between the years of 1881 and 1894. The name of “Hong Wo” appeared in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls in 1882 through 1887 and 1892 through 1896. The assessments were 1882 and 1883, merchandise (mdse.) ($300); 1884, goods & wares ($300); 1885, mdse. ($300); 1886 and 1887, China goods ($300); 1892 and 1893, mdse. ($500); 1894, goods ($500); 1895, mdse. ($500); and 1896, improvements ($300). The taxes paid each year varied as follows: 1882, $4.80; 1883 and 1884, $4.50; 1885, $3.39; 1886, $3.54; 1887, $4.12; 1892, $6.00; 1893 and 1894, $5.75; 1895, $5.89; and 1896, $3.60. This information adds two more years to the store’s existence, 1881 through 1896.


Hong Yik Hong

Wong Quong (38) listed “Hong Yik Hong” as where he was employed in 1893. The employer was listed for the years of 1890 through 1896 in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls under the Chico School District. It is unknown whether this was an individual or a company. The name of “Hong Yik Hong” was assessed for the following: 1891 and 1892, improvements ($500); 1893 through 1895, improvements ($400); and 1896, improvements ($500). The taxes paid on these assets were: 1891, $6.00; 1892, $4.80; 1893 and 1894, $4.60; 1895, $4.71; and 1896, $6.00.


Kee Chong Jan & Co.

Two of the photographs had the name of “Kee Chong Jan” listed on the back of them, Ah Gee (2) taken in 1893 and Ah Woon (8) taken in 1892. The Ah Gee photograph only had “Kee Chong Jan” written on it, while the other photograph had “Kee Chong Jan & Co.” written on it. The name of “Kee Kong Jan” first appeared in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls in the year of 1886, appeared again from 1889 through 1894, and lastly in 1896. This company paid taxes on the following resources: 1886, China goods ($300); 1889 through 1893, merchandise (mdse). ($500); 1894, goods ($500); and 1896, mdse. ($600). Taxes that were levied against the company were as follows: 1886, $3.54; 1889, $5.35; 1890, $6.50; 1891 and 1892, $6.00; 1893 and 1894, $5.75; and 1896, $7.20. This company, therefore, appears to have been in existence for at least eleven years, 1886 through 1896.


Kee Chong Jan Mo Company

This may be the same company as the “Kee Chong Jan & Co.” In 1893, Fook Sing (15) listed this company as his employer. He noted that it was located at 434 Old Town, Chico. Only the alternative name “Kee Chong Jan” appeared in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls for 1886 through 1896.


Leong Hi

One of the Chinese men in this collection listed his place of employment as Leong Hi, New Chinatown, Block 96, Chico. This photograph of Chew Ah How (11) was undated. The name “Leong Hi” did not appear in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls for 1873 through 1896.


Mau Hing Tai Store

The name of “Mau Hing Tai” appeared on two of the photographs as places of employment. Ah Hun (6), 1893, noted that he had been a member of this store for eight years. The other name was Jung Ching (24). The writing on the photograph indicated that the store may have been around since 1885. The Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls showed that it had started in 1882 and was in existence until at least 1896, fourteen years. The store name appeared in the rolls also in 1887 through 1892 and probably in the years of 1883, 1884, 1886, 1893, 1895 and 1896 as “Mau Hing Ti.” The resources that were taxed were as follows: 1882, merchandise (mdse). ($1,000); 1883, general kind of mdse. ($1,000); 1884, goods & wares ($1,000); 1885 and 1886, mdse. ($1,000); 1887, China goods ($500); 1888, mdse. ($500); 1889, China mdse. ($500); 1890 through 1893 and 1895, mdse. ($500); and 1896, mdse. ($600). Taxes that were paid were as follows: 1882, $16.00; 1883 and 1884, $15.00; 1885, $11.30; 1886, $11.80; 1887, $5.89; 1888, $6.24; 1889, $5.35; 1890, $6.50; 1891 and 1892, $6.00; 1893, $5.75; $1895, $5.89; and 1896, $7.20.


Mee Lee

Jim Gee (23) stated on the back of his photograph that he was associated with “Mee Lee.” Other sources indicate the company was in operation for 14 years between the years of 1882 and 1896. References to Mee Lee or Mee Lee Co. were found in the Butte County Tax Assessors Rolls from 1882 through 1893, 1895 and 1896. This company was also recorded in the Chico School District. The assessments were: 1882, China merchandise (mdse). ($700); 1883, mdse. ($700); 1884, goods & wares ($700); 1885, mdse. ($1,000); 1886, china mdse. ($1,000); 1887, Chinese goods ($400); 1888 thru 1892, mdse. ($300); 1893, mdse. ($200) and improvements ($800); 1895, improvements ($500); and 1896, improvements ($600). The taxes paid each year varied as follows: 1882, $11.20; 1883 and 1884, $10.50; 1885, $11.30; 1886, $11.80; 1887, $4.71; 1888, $3.74; 1889, $3.21; 1890, $3.90; 1891 and 1892, $3.60; 1893, $11.50; 1895, $5.89; and 1896, $7.20.


Quing Ting Store

Hon Kung (19), photograph dated November 10, 1893, stated that he had been employed by the “Quing Ting Store” for ten years. However, no store by this name was found listed in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls from 1873 until 1896.


Quong Hi & Co.

Yuen Fook Toy (41) was the only man in this collection who listed “Quong Hi” as his place of employment in 1893. As reported on the verso of the photograph he had been a member of this firm for five years (1888). The name of “Quong Hi” was listed in the 1882 Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls. Later, under the name of “Quong High,” it was listed for the years from 1883 through 1891, probably 1892, and 1893 through 1896. This information indicates that “Quong Hi” was in Chico for at least fourteen years from 1882 until 1896. The resources taxed for the man “Quong Hi” and for his company are as follows: 1882, merchandise (mdse). ($500); 1883, mdse. ($300); 1884, goods & wares ($300); 1885, mdse. ($300); 1886, China goods ($300); 1887, mdse. ($350); 1888 and 1889, mdse. ($200); 1890, watch ($30) and mdse. ($400); 1891, watch ($30), improvements ($900) and mdse. ($500); 1892 and 1893, mdse. ($1,200); 1894, goods ($300) and improvements ($700); and 1895 & 1896, mdse. ($300) and improvements ($700). The taxes paid for these assessments were as follows: 1882, $8.00; 1883 and 1884, $4.50; 1885, $3.39; 1886, $3.54; 1887, $4.12; 1888, $2.50; 1889, $2.14; 1890, $5.59; 1891, $17.16; 1892, $14.40; 1893, $13.80; 1894, $11.50; 1895, $11.79; and 1896, $12.00.


Quong Hing Wah Company

The men who listed this establishment as their place of employment were Ah Hayong (3) in 1893, Ah Hong (5) in 1891, Coon Shoy (13) in 1893, Foo Chee (14) in 1892, Hing (18) in 1890, and Leong Gun (27) in 1890. Ah Hayong had been employed there for seven years, 1886 through 1893. Ah Hong, a senior member, and Foo Chee’s photographs gave the address of the company as 412, Old Town. Other information gave the company a longer life. The name of “Quong Hing Wah” was found in the 1886 Butte County Tax Assessment Roll and also in those of 1887, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894 and 1896. This company was assessed for the following: 1886, China goods ($700), money and solvent credit ($200); 1887 through 1892, merchandise (mdse). ($1,000); 1893, mdse. ($700); 1894, goods ($500); and 1896, mdse. ($300). Taxes that were paid were as follows: 1886, $10.62; 1887, $11.78; 1888, $12.48; 1889, $10.70; 1890, $13.00; 1891 and 1892, $12.00; 1893, $8.05; 1894, $5.75; and 1896, $3.60. This information shows that the company was in existence for at least ten years, 1886 through 1896.


Quong Sing Company

Charlie Hoy (10), Chong On (12), Lee Ding (25), and Lee Yun (26) all listed this company as their place of employment. Charlie Hoy’s photograph was dated in 1889, Chong On and Lee Ding’s were dated 1893, and Lee Yun’s was dated 1892. On the back of Lee Ding’s image someone wrote that he had been a member of the firm for thirteen years, 1880 through 1893. No location was mentioned for this company on any of the photographs. The name of “Quong Sing,” “Quong Sing Co.,” or “Quong Sing & Co.” was listed in the 1882 Butte County Assessment Rolls for the years of 1883 through 1896. The taxable resources were listed as follows: 1882, China merchandise (mdse). ($1,000); 1883, mdse. ($1,000); 1884, goods & wares ($1,000); 1885, mdse. ($1,000); 1886, China goods ($1,000); 1887 through 1891, mdse. ($500); 1892, mdse. ($500), wagons ($115) and horses ($100); 1893, mdse ($500); 1894, goods ($500); 1895, mdse. ($500); and 1896, mdse. ($600). The taxes paid for these assets were as follows: 1882, $16.00; 1883 and 1884, $15.00; 1885, $11.30; 1886, $11.80; 1887, $5.89; 1888, $6.24; 1889, $5.35; 1890, $6.50; 1891, $6.00; 1892, $9.30; 1893 and 1894, $5.75; 1895, $5.89; and 1896, $7.20. The above information indicated that this establishment was in existence for at least sixteen years, 1880 through 1896.


Quong Wah and Company

Wong Ning (35) dated 1892, Wong Ning (36) photograph dated 1897, and Wong OK (37) dated 1894 listed Quong Wah and Company as their place of employment. The location of the company was given on the back of Wong Ning’s photograph (35) as being a brick building, #10 in Old Chinatown. The back of Wong Ning’s photograph (36) indicated that he had a 1/6th interest in three brick stores; one of those was probably for this company. The third person, Wong OK (37), indicated that he had $500 worth of goods in a store along with 1/4th interest in book accounts ($4,000) and other accounts worth $2,400. “Quong Wah & Co.” or “Quong Wah” were listed in the 1885 Butte County Tax Assessment Roll and also in the rolls for the years 1886 through 1888, 1890, 1891, 1893 and 1894. The resources that were taxed were as follows: 1885, mdse. ($1,000); 1886, China goods ($500); 1887, 1888 and 1890, merchandise (mdse). ($400); 1891, mdse. ($200); and 1893 and 1894, mdse. ($250) and improvements ($1,500). The amount of taxes paid on these items were as follows: 1885, $11.30; 1886, $5.90; 1887, $4.71; 1888, $5.00; 1890, $5.20; 1891, $2.40; and 1893 and 1894, $20.12. The above information indicated that this company was in existence for at least twelve years, 1885 through 1897.


Quong Wing Chung Company

Two of the Chinese men in this collection listed the “Quong Wing Chung Company” as their place of employment. They were Ah Jeung (7), dated 1892, and Wong Chung Dung (31), dated 1889. The name of “Quong Wing Chung” appeared in the 1885 Butte County Tax Assessment rolls and also in the rolls for 1886 through 1888, 1890 through 1892, and 1894 through 1896. The resources that the company was taxed on were as follows: 1885, mdse. ($500); 1886, China goods ($500); 1887, merchandise (msde). ($500); 1888, mdse. ($1,000); 1890, mdse. ($700); 1891, mdse. ($500); 1892, mdse. ($600); 1894, goods ($500) and improvements ($600); 1895, mdse. ($500) and improvements ($600); and 1896, mdse. ($800) and improvements ($600). The taxes levied and paid by this company varied as follows: 1885, $5.65; 1886, $5.90; 1887, $5.89; 1888, $12.48; 1890, $9.10; 1891, $6.00; 1892, $7.20; 1894, $12.65; 1895, $12.96; and 1896, $16.80. The above information indicated that this company was in existence for at least eleven years, 1885 through 1896.


Quong Yak Co. Groceries

Ah Chung (1) was the only man in this collection that named the “Quong Yak Co. Groceries” as his place of employment. His photograph was dated 1893. The name of this grocery did not appear in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls for the years 1873 through 1896. However, there were a couple of years, 1891 and 1893, that a “Quong Yeck” showed up in the tax assessment ledgers paying taxes on merchandise.


Ti Wo Tong

In 1899, Yee Louis Sing (40) was the only man to list “Ti Wo Tong” as the place of his employment. According to information on his photograph, the location of the business was in Old Town and contained a stock of Chinese merchandise and goods worth $6,000. Yee Louis Sing owned 1/4th interest of that stock. The name of “Ti Wo Tong” did not appear in the Butte County Tax Assessment rolls for the years 1873 through 1896.


Tung Foo

Tung Foo (30) was a self-employed orchardist and farmer photographed on November 2, 1899. His Registration Certificate was dated 1894. His name did not appear in the Butte County Tax Assessment rolls for 1873 through 1896.


Wing Sung Wo

“Wing Sung Wo” was the place of employment written on the back of Hung Goon’s photograph (22) dated December 1893. The name of “Wing Sung Wo” was listed in the 1892 and 1893-1895 Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls. This firm was assessed for the following resources: 1892, merchandise (mdse). ($955); 1893, mdse. ($1,000); 1894, goods ($500) and improvements ($500); and 1895, mdse. ($500) and improvements ($500). Taxes paid for these years were as follows: 1892, $11.46; 1893 and 1894, $11.50; and 1895, $11.79. This information indicated that this firm was in existence for at least four years, 1892 through 1895.


Wong Fong Chong Store

Two of the men in the collection listed either “Wong Fong Chong” or the “Wong Fong Chong Store” as their place of employment. The 1893 photograph of Hoy Lee (21) and the 1894 photograph of Wong Kong (34) had this store listed on the back. Wong Chong noted that this store was a brick house worth in excess of $1,000. The name of “Wong Fong Chung” appeared in the 1895 and 1896 Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls. The taxable resources were listed in 1895 as improvements, $500, and taxes paid were $5.89. In 1896, the improvements were assessed at $600, and the taxes paid were $7.20. This store was in existence for at least four years, 1893 through 1896.


Yue Lee Chung Kee Co.

Sam Yuen (29) listed this company as his place of employment in 1898. No other information was found about this company. Its name did not appear in the Butte County Tax Assessment Rolls for 1873 through 1896. The information found on the 21 places of employment indicated that at least eleven of the establishments, firms or individuals had been around for some time while other names could be found for one year only or a short space of time (See Table Four). The two self-employed Chinese men were not included in this table.


 

NAME
YEARS

Table Four: YEARS KNOWN FOR PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT


Dew Ying
1893
Dong Luke Company
1893
Hong Fook Fong
1884-1892
Hong Wo Company Store
1881-1896
Hong Yik Hong
1890-1896
Kee Chong Jan & Co.
1886-1896
Kee Chong Jan Mo Company
1893
Leong Hi
no date
Mau Hing Tai Store
1885-1896
Mee Lee
1882-1896
Quing Ting Store
1883-1893
Quong Hi & Co.
1882-1896
Quong Hing Wah Company
1886-1896
Quong Sing Company
1880-1896
Quong Wah and Company
1885-1897
Quong Wing Chung Company
1885-1896
Quong Yak Co. Groceries
1893
Ti Wo Tong
1899
Wing Sung Wo
1892-1895
Wong Fong Chong Store
1893-1896
Yue Lee Chung Kee Co.
1898

                      Sources: photographs and Butte County Tax Assessment Ledgers 1873 through 1896