|Chew Yook, 1899|
My great-grandfather, HONG Yin Ming 湯恩明, was born in San Francisco, CA in 1873, according to official US documents.
Hong Yin Ming returned to China with his mother when he was very young and returned to U.S. in 1888. At that time, he had to sue in Federal court to be allowed to land.
This was six years after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 passed prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers, with exceptions for diplomats, teachers, students, merchants, and travelers. However, U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California ruled “In the Matter of Hong Yin Ming on Habeas Corpus,” case no. 6514, that HONG Yin Ming was a native-born American citizen and he was allowed to land.
These court records are the first documented evidence of the Hong Family in the United States. While the records refer to his birth in 1873, we do not have his birth certificate or information about his parents from any US documents.
Where did the name Hong 湯 come from?
Our family name in Chinese is 曾, which is pronounced Dong in Toisanese, Tsang in Cantonese, Tseng in Taiwan, and Zeng in Mandarin. According to family lore, Yin Ming came to use the name HONG because American authorities in the 1800's confused Dong with the Cantonese word Tong which they recorded as the character "湯," and which was transliterated back to "Hong" in Toisanese. Chew Yook's descendants who's families arrived in the US before 1965 have used the surname Hong. Family members arriving more recently from China likely use the Mandarin Zeng.
It is also possible that Hong was a paper name.
In 1898, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case United States vs. Wong Kim Ark established birthright citizenship in the US and eased the way for Chinese American citizens to leave and return the United States. One year later, in 1899, Chew Yook returned to China from San Francisco using the U.S. District court case as proof of his citizenship and right to return to the United States.
Back home at the age of 29, Yin Ming married CHIN Shee 陳氏 and took the married name Chew Yook 稠毓. In Chinese tradition, wives are known by their maiden names, and Chin Shee means Ms. Chin. My Grandfather Hock How was born on June 6, 1900. Chew Yook left for America shortly thereafter but returned in 1903. His son Quong How was born August 27, 1904, and once again Chew Yook returned to the US 1905.
As was often the case with Chinese in America at the time, it was very difficult for Chinese men to bring their wives back to the United States. Under the Page Act of 1875, which preceded the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, any East Asian woman who would be engaged in prostitution was banned from entering the United States. In practice, almost all Chinese woman were considered to be immoral and barred from immigrating. Thus, Chin Shee remained in China and was separation from her husband for 27 of their 41 year marriage.
|Chew Yook, 1916|
Chew Yook returned in China 1913, then made his final trip to the U.S. in 1915 bringing with Hock How with him this time. While in America, Chew Yook worked as a cook "out in the country". According to his son Hock How, Chew Yook worked “as a family cook for Mrs. E. B. Towne at Bryant St. and Lincoln Ave.” in Palo Alto, California.
Quong How joined his father and brother in America in 1923. In 1924 with the encouragement of Hock How, Chew Yook opened a restaurant in Redwood City. “Business was not very good,” according to Hock How, and after a year they lost money and withdrew.
Family was very important to Chew Yook, and one way to show fealty to his family was to share his good fortune with them. So, in addition to his two biological sons, Chew Yook adopted his nephews, Jeong Hing and Chun Mao, and his first cousin's son, Ning Bo.
Hong Ning Bo, the eldest, lived in America from 1909 to 1937, when he died at age 48. Ning Bo live for several years in Buffalo, NY. Hong Choon Mao came to America with Quong How in 1923 and died in San Jose in 1984. Jeong Hing tried to enter the U.S. in 1931 but was denied entry and returned to China. According to Jeong Hing’s son Lan Fon, Lan Fon's 2nd cousin Ling Nan (Chew Yook’s nephew De Fu’s son) also eventually moved to the U.S.
Photo of Jeong Hing and Chew Yook from a 1931, affidavit in which Chew Yook identifies Jeong Hing as his son to facilitate Jeong Hing’s arrival in San Francisco, CA.
(Source: National Archives)
In the 1930 US Census, Chew Yook, age 61, was listed as living at 156 Cowper Street in Palo Alto as the cook for J. Everett and Grace E. Hollingsworth, ages 29 and 28, respectively.
In 1932, after living in America for 40 of the past 46 years, Chew Yook returned to China at the age of 63. He died in July 1941 in his ancestral village, Dong An, Guangdong.
|Chew Yook and Chin Shee, c1937|
Given Name: Kwai Sing 葵勝 Kuí shèng
Married Name: Chew Yook 稠毓 Chóu yù
Born 8th year of Emperor Tong Chi, year of the horse, 4th month, 11th day, hour of the snake (May 11, 1870, between 9-11am). Died Republic of China year 30 (1941), year of the snake, 7th month.
[Note the discrepancy between Chew Yook's birth year from village records and the US District Court/Immigration Records.]
Father: ZĒNG Zhǎn Qiú 曾搌裘 (1827-1901)
Wife: CHIN Shee 陳氏 (1880-1963)
Sons: 1. Hock How
2. Quong How
Adopted Sons: Ning Young (aka Ning Bo)
Chew Yook was a 69th generation descendant of the Confucian Sage, Zengzi (505-436 BCE).