Jack Lan Hong (1933 - 2013)

Jack Lan Hong - 1953

Jack Lan Hong (曾連卓) was born in China, Guangdong Province, Toishan County, Ong On Village ( 中國廣東省台山縣東安村), on October 15, 1933, and pass away a month after his 80th birthday, on November 20, 2013 in Redwood City, California. He was the second son of Hong Hock How, a Stanford-trained electrical engineer, educator, and business man, and Tui Goon Chu Hong.

Shortly after he was born, Jack, his parents and older brother Larry moved to Guangzhou, where his brother Paul and sister Lily were born. During China’s war with Japan, the family moved frequently and ended up in Kunming, China. There Jack's youngest sister, Mary, was born and Jack acquired his taste for spicy food. After the war, the family moved to Rangoon, Burma, where the children attended the Wah Sha School.

Growing up in Kunming, China, and Rangoon, Burma

On September 7, 2009, a few weeks before his 76th birthday, Jack recorded his memories of the past 75 years including growing up in Kunming and Burma:

"My earliest memory is in Kunming because that’s where I grew up. I had a classmate who owned a restaurant. Oh maybe, they were Muslim. They didn’t eat pork. When I would show up at their restaurant, they would give me nong. You know the [rice] crust from the big pot. So they also served me beef. I never knew if it was horse meat, because in Kunming they ate a lot of horse meat too.

The Heavy Weight of a Trip to the National Archives

by Kenneth Hong
July 16, 2023

As I wind my way up Interstate 280, I take in the golden hills of California and glimpses of the Bay through the cool fog of an ordinary San Francisco summer morning. Exiting the highway, I drive by the rows of regimented white tombstones of the Golden Gate National Cemetery and up to the gray concrete bunker that is the National Archives. The usual feelings of anticipation build, a mixture of excitement and dread--excitement that I might find something new and dread that I end up with empty folders.

Entrance to the National Archives in San Bruno, CA
July 3, 2023

The Angel Island Files: Mysteries Solved and Found

By Kenneth Hong
July 16, 2023

Over the last 4th of July week, I spent a day and a half at the U.S. National Archives in San Bruno, CA, where many of the Chinese Exclusion Era immigration files from the Angel Island Immigration Station are kept. The archivist had located the files for my maternal grandfather (Chin Pak Yick), his father (Chin Gay Bin), his wives (Lee Moon Yee and Tso Mee Shew), and his famous first cousin (Chin Lain).

Lee Moon Yee, 1918
An "entirely respectable Chinese woman"
    Chin Pak Yick, 1918
"Well-dressed in American Clothes"

I had previously written about all five of these relatives. All but my grandmother Tse Mee Shew had died long before I was born, and in the case of my great-grandfather, Lee Moon Yee, and Chin Lain, before my mother was born. When I asked her or other relatives, "What do you know about your grandfather, father, or his first wife?" I would get only vague recollections about their father, and nothing about the other two.

I Owe My Life to Wong Kim Ark

By Kenneth Hong
May 30, 2023

The threads of history are woven together in unexpected ways. My family's story is inextricably linked to that of a man who fought for his rights as a U.S. citizen. A man whose name I had never heard of until a few years ago. I owe my very existence to that man named Wong Kim Ark.

Wong was born on Sacramento Street in San Francisco in 1870. My great-grandfather, HONG Yin Ming was born a few blocks away on Washington Street that same year.* We don't know whether or not they ever met, but they lived almost identical lives.

Identification Photo of Wong Kim Ark
 on 1904 Immigration Affidavit
(National Archives)
Identification Photo of Hong Yin Ming
 on 1899 Immigration Affidavit
(National Archives)

Official Map of San Francisco Chinatown 1885, with
Sacramento and Washington Streets Highlighted

Keep reading to learn more about Wong's legacy and how it affected Hong Yin Ming and his descendants.

Remembering Fred Chin (1943 - 2022)

Fred CHIN Bo Hing 陳寶興 was born in Oakland, California, on August 17, 1943 to CHIN Pak Yick and TSO Mee Shew, the sixteenth of his father Pak Yick's seventeen children, and the fifth of Mee Shew's six. Fred passed away on Tuesday, December 27, 2022 at age 79 at his home in Danville, California where he lived with his partner Lee Chen.
Fred Chin and Lee Chen, December 23, 2022

Fred grew-up in the family's home on 7th Street in Oakland Chinatown. Although his family did not have a lot of money, their home was filled with a lot of love and the Chin’s all worked together to get through lean times. Throughout his school years, Fred enjoyed playing basketball, football, and many other sports.

Fred (Center) in 1945 
with siblings (L-R) Rose, Dennis, Mabel and Allen

Looking back, his brother Dennis recalls that Fred was a good student, getting all A’s and B’s, especially in Math and Science. Freddie wanted to take a Chemistry class, but it was full so he ended up having to take a laboratory tech class instead.
Fred (bottom 2nd from left)
Lincoln Junior High School
6th Grade Photo

William S. Chin (1931 - ) Memories of Growing Up in Oakland, California

William S. Chin, 1959

My maternal uncle William Bo Shang Chin 陳寶瑺 was born in the Oakland, California on January 5, 1931, to Chin Pak Yick 陳伯釴 and Lee Moon Yee 李滿意. He was the youngest of their 11 children. Moon Yee died in 1933 a month before William's 3rd birthday. Pak Yick re-married in 1936, and William has two half-sisters (including my mother) and four half-brothers from that marriage.

Uncle Bill made the following submission for a project called "Memories of Growing Up in Oakland, California: Lincoln School Alumni". The project, published on September 24, 2010, encapsulates both family and school photos, individual memories, newspaper clippings and more covering 1370 pages. William's brothers Morris and Allen and sister-in-law Diane Lee (Chin) also had individual submissions.

* The Lincoln School is one of the oldest schools in the Oakland Unified School District. The first Lincoln School was created in 1874 when the Harrison Primary School at 10th and Alice Streets was renamed. It was the main primary school for generations of students from Oakland Chinatown and the surrounding area. It has had several incarnations and occupied different buildings. It was a 1-8th grade school during the time William's father attended in the 1910's and a K-9th grade school by the time William attended in the 1930s and 40s. The current Lincoln Elementary School teaches kindergarten through 5th grade students, and is located at 225 11th Street in Oakland, California.

Morris D. Chin (1927-2018): In His Own Words

My material Uncle Morris Bo Doong Chin 陳寶琮 was born in the San Francisco, California on September 14, 1927, to Chin Pak Yick 陳伯釴 and Lee Moon Yee 李滿意. He passed away at the age of 90 on June 29, 2018, in Oakland, California.

He made the following submission for a project called "Memories of Growing Up in Oakland, California: Lincoln School Alumni". The project has over 1300 photos and entries starting from around 1920.

The Hong Family: Recollections on Serving the Community

1951 San Francisco Civic Center Plaza - Paul, Larry, and Jack Hong
1955 San Francisco Richmond District
(L-R) Sister-in-law Marie Chu,
Mary, Lily, and Paul Hong

     My father, Jack, and his four siblings, Larry, Paul, Lily, and Mary came of age in the 1950's and 60's when it was common young men and women heeded their country's call. They felt a deep and abiding desire to serve their communities and country. They also grew-up at the tail end of segregation and exclusion in the United States when government jobs often provided some of the best (and often only) opportunities for hard-working, dedicated minorities to make a good middle-class life for themselves and their families.

     They were third-generation Chinese Americans, who were born in China and spent their early years there. After World War II they followed their father and grandfather's footsteps moving to the US in their teens, individually then in pairs. They spent most, if not all, of their careers serving their country, state, or local communities. They and their spouses served with distinction as teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, civil servants, and community leaders. All U.S. military service was completed with honorable discharges. Continue reading to learn more about their individual stories.