Chin Gay Bin - First Generation American

Chin Gay Bin 陳基彬 (1864-1916) and Fung Shee 馮氏 (b.1869)

My Great-grandfather Chin Gay Bin (Kee Ben, Ghee Ben, pinyin: Ji Bin) was born in Cha Zhou Liu Cun in Taishan, Guangdong, China, 廣東省台山縣六村槎洲. Gay Bin was married to Leong Shee 梁氏 then married Fung Shee (b.1869) 馮氏 on January 7, 1887 (Guangxu 12-12-14). According to immigration records they had six sons and a daughter, Long Ngook, who died when she was 8 months old. However, family ancestral  records only name five sons, Pak Tou 伯陶 also known as Don Born 敦本,  my Grandfather Pak Yick 伯釴, Pak Hong 伯衡, Pak Ho 伯侯, and Pak Hei 伯喜.

Chin Gay Bin, 1912 Gay Bin's Wife, Fung Shee

According to Gay Bin’s grandson William Chin, “Grandpa Ghee Ben may have immigrated with Uncle Chin Bok Lain in 1896. Uncle Bok Lain returned to China in 1905 to visit and then returned to San Francisco in 1906. So grandpa could have come in 1896 or 1906.” According to immigration records, Gay Bin first arrived in the United States on November 26, 1910 on the S.S. China. These records also give alternative spellings for his name as Chen/Chan Ki Pun.

Two months after arriving, Gay Bin became a new partner at Wah Chong Co. which was located at 311 8th Street in Oakland, California. He contributed $500 to the partnership and worked as a salemsman at the store which sold watches, jewelry, and other merchandise.

He later brought two of his sons with him including Pak Yick and Don Born. Don Born died in the United States and is buried at the Hoy Sun Ning Yung Cemetery in South San Francisco, CA. His descendants ended up in Hong Kong, along with the descendants of Pak Hong. Pak Ho and his descendants remained in China. We do not know what happened to Pak Hei, or if he had any descendants.

According immigration records for Pak Yick and Pak Yick's wives, Gay Bin had one daughter who died as a baby and six sons. The English spelling of their names varied from interview to interview, and I was only able to match four names. One of the names may be an alternate pronunciation or name for the remaining son in our village records. Both unmatched names may also have been for paper sons. Interestingly, Pak Yick's 1937 immigration transcript indicates that all of his brothers had died and that none of them had been the the US. The contradicts the fact that Don Born died in the US on February 17, 1937, and is buried in South San Francisco.

Gay Bin's grandson William, who was born in 1931, remembers that Gay Bin lived on 8th or 9th street in Oakland in the 1930's while working at Hang Far Low. William recalls his older sister Mary telling him that Gay Bin would take Helene and Henry for walks when they were old enough, but William was still too small. 

William's recollection conflicts with his parents' and siblings' immigration transcripts from 1918, 1936, and 1937 and others public records which indicate that Gay Bin died in San Francisco on January 17, 1916, and that his remains were sent back to China.*

Gay Bin was in the 1st generation of his family to immigrate to the United States, the 23rd generation of Chins to born in Liu Cun, and a 62nd generation descendant of the Ying Chuan Chen family 頴川陳氏.


*Death Certificate #3073. Family Search.

National Archives.

Chin Family Genealogy (Jiapu).

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