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.