Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Historic Redwood Barns-Jue Joe Van Nuys Ranch

I recently discovered that the  Jue Joe Van Nuys Ranch  has been mentioned as a property eligible for historic preservation in  "Survey LA Chinese American Historic Context Statement,  City of Los Angeles Department  of City Planning, Office of Historic Resources " September 2013
The full text of this excellent survey of historic Chinese American  sites in the Los Angeles area can be found in this  PDF file.
On page 13 there is this statement :
 "Extant examples of Chinese American owned farms are likely to be extremely rare. The sole example discovered thus far is the Jue Joe Ranch (16608 Vanowen Boulevard), which was submitted to SurveyLA‟s MyHistoricLA.org website. The property includes a ranch style house constructed in 1941 with several adjacent outbuildings, consistent with eligibility criteria for the farm house property type developed in SurveyLA‟s Industrial Context."

Our family is extremely pleased that the property's historic significance is being recognized and I wanted to provide some additional  background on some of the historic farm buildings which still exist on the property.

Here is a picture of the main barn of the property , the adjacent car port and packing shed as they exist today.  Click on the picture to enlarge.

And here is a side view.

Here is an aerial view of the farm from the old days where the barn and the car port and  packing shed can be seen circa the  late 1940's .

Here courtesy of  my Auntie Soo Yin is some information about these structures, how they were used , and memories of what life was like on the farm. Thanks so much Auntie Soo Yin ! You have made these old buildings come alive for all of us ! ps. "Ah Gung" refers to  San Tong Jue , my grandfather and son of Jue Joe, and my aunt's father. My grandfather San Tong built the large ranch house in the mid 1940's which is the most modern of the ranch structures and renamed the Van Nuys Ranch the Jue Joe Ranch in honor of his father.

The Van Nuys ranch was purchased in 1920 or 1919. The entire Jue Joe property was originally 300 acres (the old Dickey ranch).  It started from Vanowen Street and ran southward to Haynes Street.  And it ran east to west from Hayvenhurst to Balboa Blvd.  Because the first structure that Jue Joe built on his land was the big barn, according to Auntie Joan, this makes the big barn around 95-years of age.  It served as a stable for Jue Joe's forty (40) working horses.  Inside the big barn, and located to the right side, was a small room with a door that opened onto the stable area (the rest of the interior barn).  This room was Jue Joe's sleeping quarter before he built his cabin with a dirt floor.  This sleeping quarter in the big barn later housed a Mexican family for awhile; not sure if it was Ritchie Valens' family, but I know that they lived on the ranch for awhile, so it could be. 

(Ritchie Valens lived with his father who was a musician until his father died.  At around 10 or 11-years of age he came to live with Connie and Ramon for about 4 to 5 years or so.  One day he threw a rock at a large beehive on the ranch and stirred up wildly angry bees, Ah Gung had to shut down farm operations for 3 days as a result, and Connie soon afterwards farmed Ritchie out to relatives.  Later, they moved to Pacoima, I think, or Sylmar.  I remember that we always hid Ramon in a small bathroom inside our big house whenever the immigration authorities came with paddy wagon looking for him.  Our big ranch house was designed by architect George Chapman and it had 3 bathrooms (the smallest one proved very useful in more ways than one); 

The small sleeping quarter inside the big barn had another door that opened into an even smaller room that Jue Joe used as a kitchen area; it was camp-style:  A hotplate set on top of field crates, very basic and primitive.  This kitchen was later used by the Braceros and their families making tortillas for lunch in the same basic way.  There was a door in that tiny kitchen that opened onto a wide gravel pathway, across which stood the packinghouse.  Later, the tiny kitchen became a storage area where your Dad and Auntie Joan's saddles were stored, and Uncle Guy's too.  This was where Auntie Pingileen and I found your Dad's baby stroller and layette (which was later used for Jimmy and Ming's births). 

The big barn and the packing house are separate structures that are not connected to each other.  All of Jue Joe's original structures were made of Redwood, and this includes the original packinghouse.  This area around the big barn and packinghouse was a beehive of human activity:  You heard chatter in the Spanish language, machines humming as they sheared off stumps of asparagus and as roller belts moved asparagus down an assembly line for sorting and packing; you smelled homemade tortillas and beans wafting from the tiny kitchen in the big barn, and our dog Bingo barking as he went from person to person greeting his old friends.  There were other Redwood structures, too, that were torn down after we moved off the land.  Too bad.  These structures have such stories to tell.       

Uncle Ed's brother Rick had said, "...the big barn is very rare because it is the only original Redwood barn left in the San Fernando Valley, and if it has not yet been declared a historic structure, it really should be." 

 I noticed that the roofs on the big barn and on the packinghouse had been restored using new material.  The original roof covering on the big barn was black-tarred sheet covering.  Not sure whether the original packinghouse had black-tarred sheet covering, too, or had wooden shingles like the carport that it was connected to. 

I do not know whether the packinghouse was built at the same time that the big barn was built.  I can only guess that it might have been built at the same time, or shortly afterwards, as the ranch was intended to be a working farm.  In an adjacent structure that was connected to the packinghouse there were horse's yokes and bridle gear that hung on its tall redwood walls, yokes that Jue Joe's teams of horses wore to haul heavy wagons and farm plows down his fields.  That barn was partially burned in later years, and after we moved off the ranch, it was torn down.   
In your photo the structure to the right of the big barn was a carport.  You could park 2 cars in the carport or drive right through it to park beside Ah Gung's big ranch house; you would then enter the house through the kitchen's side-door.   The carport was actually connected to the packinghouse that is situated to the left of the carport, behind the big barn; the roof of the carport is slightly higher than the packinghouse, too.  And the carport's roof originally had wooden shingles.  

I think the carport might have been added shortly after the big barn and packinghouse was built, but I do not know exactly when, or whether it was built by Jue Joe or by Ah Gung.  The age of the Redwood panels and rusty nails on it looked like it could have been very close in time to the big barn and packinghouse.  I would guess that the carport was built by Jue Joe because Ah Gung was living in Los Angeles and moved to the ranch at a later date.  I remember a telephone pole standing to the right of the carport's side, too.  One day Ah Gung told me not to carve on the pole or paint on the floor of the carport, as I had started to do as a kid, because "...these are valuable Redwood materials, very old, and you will damage them."   

I remember that the door frames of the 3 connecting structures--carport, packinghouse, and barn that stored crates of asparagus ready to be transported to market (this barn opened onto the seed-washing basin)--were built Chinese style, or maybe that's how door frames were built in the late 19th century:  The bottoms of the door frames had a raised block of wood that you stepped over in order to enter the rooms.  It was to keep rain water out. 


On our operating farm some of the families that were not living in the migrant camps, which were spread across the Valley, lived on our ranch: in the big barn, Jue Joe's cabin or Posie's cottage (Auntie Soo-Jan recalled that a Thai family lived in Posie's cottage for short awhile).  There was a gypsy family that worked one or two seasons on our ranch and they set up their campsite on the Hayvenhurst property, according to Ah Gung.  And, of course, wino Mikey lived in the smaller horse's stable that was in a pasture located next to the big house, on its west side.  He worked one season on the ranch and then wouldn't leave.  He was homeless so Ah Gung let him stay so long as he didn't harm us kids. 

The packinghouse was so active.  There was Shorty always working at the shearing blades, cutting stumps off, packing asparagus in crates, and hammering the crates shut almost faster than you could blink, he worked so fast.  It was like watching an artist perform.  Shorty worked for Jue Joe, then Ah Gung, and finally your Dad.  Connie Valenzuela (Ritchie Valens' mother) worked in the packinghouse, too, she sorted and graded asparagus shoots as they moved by conveyor belt down an assembly line.  She always wore a headscarf when she was working.  I don't know where Ramon worked, probably in the produce-storage barn stacking crates from floor to ceiling driving a forklift.  I remember their 2 young daughters, little Connie and Irma, who were very young, maybe 4 and 5-years old, scampering about. 

Farming operations eventually moved from Van Nuys to Saugus in the 1950's . According to Auntie Soo-Yin :
In the 1950s Ah Gung sold 200 acres of the ranch to Southwest Properties for residential development (your parent's first Rubio house was part of that development).  Family farms were giving way to urbanization and Ah Gung could see no future for farms in the Valley.  So he was in the process of moving farm operations to Saugus and training your Dad to take over the reins there. 

Here is a picture of the redwood main barn on the abandoned site of the Saugus farm which was discovered by my cousin Michael. More information about this discovery is here. 




Here is a film made by my late father of the family asparagus farming operations in Saugus in the 1950s. Asparagus farming was our family business since Jue Joe established the business in 1919 until the late 1950s.  


Leong Shee's "Chinese Deeds" 1906

In 1906 when my great grandmother left China to come to America with her two young boys , she brought with her what she called "deeds" to land or houses that Jue Joe owned in China. These documents were preserved by my late Aunt Joan Jue Yen who gave them to my son Robert. Recently with the help of my nephew Nick we have been able to get some of these documents translated and my Auntie Soo-Yin has been able to supply additional commentary as to their meaning.


Here is a translation courtesy of my nephew Nick's friend and business associate in China ... 

"These were written in the vernacular Chinese, so I can not understand what is saying, sorry.

I can only see the main idea:

File 1, can not understand absolutely, it's some kind of blank receipt(proof for receipt of money),without actual amount.

File 2:
A contact of sell house
Zhao Jianxian's father left him a house, and he sell the house to Zhao WeiYue, price of the house is 380.72 silver dollar(old Chinese currency), Zhao weiyue paid
50 silver dollar as deposit, balance amount need to be paid in the 4th lunar month of 1903.
If the seller refused to handle the contract, seller need to pay buyer double deposit(equals 100 silver dollar); if the buyer refused to handle the contract, buyer can not
take back the deposit(50 silver dollar).
The contact was signed on the 10th day of the first lunar month in 1903.

File 3:
A contract of sell graveyard
Ou Tianxi's grandpa left have a graveyard, he want to give it to his relatives, but did not find
suitable relative. He got the information tha Zhao Jiye(live in Shanjiang town) need graveyard. They both agreed the price 15 silver dollar.
Ou Tianxi will clean up the graveyard before handle it to Zhao jiye.
Third party Ou Tianlu written the contract for Ou Tianxi.
The contract date is October 1902. "


Here are my  Auntie Soo Yin's comments 

 Hi Family,

You're all doing such a great job...these documents are a fabulous treasure!!!  I am so glad that Auntie Joan kept them all these years and had passed them on to Robert.  My siblings and I knew that Leong Shee (Posie) had carried these legal papers with her when she left Sum Gong Village for Los Angeles, traveling with Ah Gung and San You.  But I didn't know that there were so many docs...about 100!!! 
Posie was smart to bring these docs to America because it gives our family of today an unbroken continuity of time winging our lives back to Jue Joe's home in China, and to the beginning of our clan.  These Chinese documents are of historical importance to us all.  I'm amazed that they are in such excellent condition, too.  When we moved from the Jue Joe Ranch all of Posie's belongings that had remained with us were given to Auntie Joan,
who was very close to Posie.  And all of Jue Joe's possessions that could be removed from the Ranch were given to Jack Sr. because he was close to Jue Joe; especially, Ah Gung wanted Jack Sr. to have the famous Colt.45 that Jue Joe loved.  My mother Ping and I were removing contents from the iron safe in Ah Gung's office upstairs in the Big House, sorting things to pack for the move from the Ranch. 
I lifted the Colt.45 off a tray in the safe and found the Chinese papers folded up as you all see in the photos.  My mother told me that they were deeds and other transactions, and there were also astrological birth charts that Jue Joe had made back in China for Jack Sr., Joan, Soo-Jan and Guy when each of them were born.  Jue Joe believed in astrology and said to Ah Gung that the Chinese astrologers in pre-communist
China could produce the most accurate; their secrets were passed down from son to son for generations.  I remember seeing Jack Sr.'s Chinese name on his chart, and seeing Uncle Guy's Chinese name, too.  My mother translated Uncle Guy's chart for me, and to this day, I am amazed at how accurate the predictions were!  It said that Guy would experience financial struggle in the early part of his life, he would marry
and have two sons, and at age 50 there would be a widowhood, there would also be a remarriage, and after age 50 he would know peace and serenity.  Uncle Guy died at age 49, but age 50 according to Chinese calculation.  Uncle Guy had one land deed that he had framed in his home; I'm sure Auntie Estelle still has it.  If he didn't have it, then Auntie Soo-Jan might have it.   
File #1:  Jue Joe began to send money to Leong Shee in China when Ah Gung was nine-years old and when Leong Shee discovered that Jue Joe was still alive.  Perhaps this is a receipt for one of the transactions.  Or it could be a receipt for a large amount of money sent to Leong Shee for 1st Class ship's passage to America.  Also, Leong Shee was a smart and capable farmer and she rented portions of the land to tenant farmers who then
paid her in rice yields, rather than pay her in cash...it's like share-cropping.  Ah Gung told me that she grew wealthy by this method.  Zhao Wei Yue might be one of Jue Joe's several names or it could be Jue Joe's youngest brother whom we know as "Jue Yao."  Or it could even be a 3rd person...like straw man...to be a go-between.  Very interesting that Robert's name is also "Weiyue."    

File #2:  This sales transaction made in the 4th lunar month of 1903 could be for the house that San You was born in.  Jue Joe returned to marry in Leong Shee in 1902, and Ah Gung said that his older brother San You was born in Jue Joe's 1st home, not the big house that Ah Gung was born in.  So Jue Joe must have purchased the first house just before San You was born.  Later, he purchased vacant land at the end of a track and built his ranch-style home and family compound in which San Tong was born in 1905 and in which his immediate relatives shared living
space.  The new lot was at the eastern end of the village and the area was pretty undeveloped at the time except for a couple of houses.  When Auntie Pingileen and I visited the home in 1987 it still was located at the eastern fringe, but with a few more developed homes and street-side kiosks.  There was still open space looking eastward toward Kieu Shan (mountain) beyond Jue Joe's home..."4th row in the 4th house from a stone road (now aged and more like a dirt road)."
I don't know who Zhao Jianxian is....I think Zhao Jianxian was probably a seller not connected to our immediate family , but I think Zhao Weiyue, the buyer, is Jue Joe's married name.  I think a lunar month begins in February, if so, then the contract was signed on February 10, 1903, and San You (Uncle Sam) was born on August 17th of that year. 

File #3:  I think this transaction to purchase a gravesite was for the reburial of Jue Joe's father Leong Kao.  He died a pauper and at a young age from diabetes, I think.  Ah Gung had said that when Jue Joe returned to Sum Gong the first matter to take care of was proper respect for father, then mother.  I kind of remember something about a new gravesite, and although Lee Shee (Jue Joe's mother) had died before Ah Gung was born, it is more likely that Jue Joe's father would receive the higher honor of reburial.  In our old family album there is a photo of Leong Kao's gravesite; the picture was deteriorating and very dark, it was a small mound with Chinese characters written on stone atop the mound.  Ah Gung had taken the photograph in 1937 when he returned to China to marry my mother Ping.  Zhao Jiye might be a "relationship name" used to address Jue Joe, showing him respect as an elder distant relative.  The name Jiye might be a form of respect that Tianxi, the gravesite seller, used in deference to Jue Joe's reverence for his father. 

The above comments on the Files are conjecture on my part, so I may very well be wrong.  But I hope that my thoughts give you more leads in solving the mysteries of our Jue family saga.   Destiny is for sure helping us all to develop a full and whole picture of the Jue story for all generations to come! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Jue Joe Returns to America-Ship's Manifest 1906

Recently  I have been able to locate Jew Joe's record on the ship's manifest of the SS Mongolia on which he returned alone to America from China on January 26, 1906 after staying in China for four years, getting married and fathering two sons.  He was 49 years old at the time .(Jue Joe later changed the English spelling of our surname from Jew to Jue ).
The record states that his surname is Jew and primary name is Joe ,  born September 26, 1856 in Sam Kong, San Ning China . He returns as a laborer . He has an identifying "tumor on right eye".  His destination is Los Angeles, CA.
Click the picture of the record on this link and you can  zoom and manipulate the record . Look at line 29 .
Jue Joe's record on 1906 Ship Manifest

Here is a previous post that explains how  Jew Joe returned as  a "returning laborer" even though his  immigration should have been blocked by the existing discriminatory immigration laws of the time .
He must have had some "friends in high places, " who convinced the immigration authorities to "land him ".


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

San You Jue's Gravestone -Rosedale Cemetary Los Angeles

Previously in this blog I have discussed the life story of my grandfather's older brother, San You, who was the apple of his father Jue Joe's eye . Unfortunately San You died at a young age of leukemia . This was a huge tragedy for Jue Joe who loved his son. Jue Joe had a beautiful gravestone created for San You at Rosedale Cemetary in Los Angeles. Recently a picture of that gravestone was posted on the internet. Here is a picture of San You Jue as a young man.

Here is a picture of his gravestone.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tom Stockwell's Articles about Jue Joe in the St. Helena Star

Recently Tom Stockwell a writer for the St. Helena Star wrote a wonderful two part story on Jue Joe in his series "Missing faces of the Napa Valley." Tom interviewed me for the articles and took a lot of time to read and research our family history blog in detail . Here is the link to Tom's first article which discusses Jue Joe's time in the Napa Valley and his second article which discusses Jue Joe's life after leaving the Napa Valley .

Here are some of our family's pictures and a picture of old St Helena Chinatown which Tom included in his articles and Tom's captions.  His articles are an excellent summary of Jue Joe's life as well as the hidden history of the Chinese in the Napa Valley.

"Jue Joe, a Chinese immigrant who spent nearly 13 years in St. Helena, is reunited with his family after a long separation. Pictured are Jue Joe, his wife, Leong Shee, and his two Chinese-born sons, San You and San Tong. Jue Joe left China at the age of 14, returned to be married, re-immigrated to the U.S., and built a business that would allow his family to immigrate to this country. His wife did not hear from him for nine years while he earned enough money to help them immigrate."
 Courtesy of the Jue family

"Jue Joe arrived at St. Helena’s Chinatown at the age of 14 to work in the vineyards. St. Helena’s Chinatown was located kitty-corner from today’s Tra Vigne Restaurant, across the road from Long Meadow Ranch, at the edge of a gravel pit. It was home to 300 workers. Jue Joe spent nearly 13 years here."
 Courtesy of the St. Helena Historical Society


"Jue Joe — once a resident of St. Helena Chinatown — as he appeared in 1918 after returning from China. Jue made a fortune in vegetables, lost it, and returned to make it again. "
Courtesy of the Jue family

Friday, March 21, 2014

Van Nuys Ranch 2014

The history of the Jue Joe Van Nuys Ranch has fascinated many people including residents of the local community, and fellow online bloggers and I have received many comments , emails and pictures sent by people who have discovered my family history blog and who are interested in the history of the property. Part of the old property has been developed as a public tennis facility and the other part of the ranch including the main property that includes the historic barns and older buildings built by my late great grandfather Jue Joe, and the main house and swimming pool built by my late grandfather San Tong have been preserved intact. The buildings are not part of the tennis facility and the only part of the old residence being used by the public is one bathroom. Here are some recent pictures of the ranch property taken from the public areas of the property that were forwarded to me for my blog. I will include some of the pictures of the property from the old days for comparison sake. Here is an aerial view of the property surrounded by farmland circa 1947.
Here is a view of the front of the main house circa 1949.
And here is a view of the main house in the early days after an unusual winter snowstorm . Snow is unusual for the San Fernando Valley !
Here are some recent pictures of the property . Part of the property is being used as a public tennis facility.
Here are some views of the main house and side house that are not part of the tennis facility but can be seen from inside the tennis facility.
Looks like a lot of clean up or other work has been done to the main house or is in progress. Here are some views of the back of the property.
I remember the back of the house from my childhood. There was a large solarium with multiple windows that could be opened to let the breeze in . You can see the windows in the current picture above as well as in this family photo of my mom and dad's enagement party at the ranch circa 1950.
The big pool was a central area for family gatherings in the old days. I had a lot of fun swimming in it as a child . Here are my Aunties Soo-Yin and Pingy as hula girls by the pool when they were kids.
Here is a view of the pool in 2014.
The inside of the house which I remember as quite grand as a young boy is not open to the public and the only part of the main house open is a small bathroom .
Here is a picture from the interior of the house in the old days. On the couch are my Dad's stepmom , my mom and my Dad's grandmother and sisters.
Recently the "San Fernando Valley Blog " did a nice piece on the Jue Joe Van Nuys Ranch . The blog has some additional current pictures of the property including this nice picture of the historic redwood barn which I think is one of the last such barns left in the San Fernando Valley.
Here is video of our family during the Van Nuys Ranch days Here is a hand drawn plan of the Jue Joe Ranch Property circa 1947 courtesy of Auntie Soo-Yin Here is a hand drawn plan of the Jue Joe Main Ranch House circa 1949 courtesy of Auntie Soo-Yin

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rev. Wai Shing Kwok and the Locke United Christian Center

My maternal grandfather's history has been documented in a previous post.  Rev. Wai Shing Kwok was the pastor at the Chinese Christian Church in Sacramento and head teacher at the Kwai Wah Chinese language school after emigrating to the USA with his wife and son in 1920.  In the  late 1920's through the 1930's  and until the early 1940's he was also a visiting minister at the United Christian Center in  the town of Locke in the Delta south of Sacramento.  During this time the Locke Christian Center did not have a regular minister of Chinese descent and my grandfather often travelled to Locke to officiate at marriages at the Locke Christian Center as well as perform other pastoral services at the request of the Locke center.  Here is a favorite picture of mine of my grandfather Kwok and I after he retired from his ministry.



The history of Locke and of it's Christian center is fascinating .  The town  has been preserved as a historic landmark as has it's buildings including the building housing the Locke Christian center and is well worth a visit .

Here is a brief history of the town from the Locke Town website  :

"Locke was founded in 1915 after a fire broke out in the Chinese section of nearby Walnut Grove. The Chinese who lived in that area decided that it was time to establish a town of their own. A committee of Chinese merchants, led by Lee Bing, Chan Hing Sai, Tom Wai, Chan Dai Kee, Ng So Hat, Chan Wai Lum, Chow Hou Bun, and Suen Dat Suin was formed. They approached land owner George Locke and inquired if they could build on his land. An agreement was reached. The town was laid out by Chinese architects and industrious building ensued. The founding of Lockeport, later 'Locke', was a reality. By 1920 Locke stood essentially as you see it now. Levee construction originally brought the Chinese to this area, but by the time Locke was built most of the work was in farm labor. Locke had many businesses that catered to the farm workers and residents of this region. In the 1940's restaurants, bakeries, herb shops, fish markets, gambling halls, boarding houses, brothels, grocery stores, a school, clothing stores, and the Star Theatre lined the bustling streets of Locke. At its peak 600 residents, and as many as 1500 people occupied the town of Locke. On August 2, 1970, Locke was added to the registry of national historical places, by the Sacramento County Historical Society, because of its unique status as the only town in the United States built exclusively by the Chinese for the Chinese.Locke is no tourist trap, nor is it a ghost town. Its unusual, out-of-the-way charm is genuine. Perhaps it is this authenticity, without any hypocritical overtones, which brings so many out of town visitors to its doors. "

 The Locke Unit of the United Christian Center  was established in 1920 by Dr . Charles Shepherd who had been a baptist missionary in Canton China.
Here is some information about the Christian center movement taken from the United Christian Center web site :

" The Christian Center movement, of which we are a direct descendant of, had it’s beginning over 100 years ago, when various church related centers came into existence to meet some human needs. The early Baptist Christian Centers had their inception in the efforts of the American Baptists to minister to the waves of immigrants just prior to, and following, the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. This work was known as Christian Americanization and was carried on in bi-lingual churches. As the workers became more aware of the many needs of the new comers, the programs expanded, and many of these churches became known as Christian Centers and some still exist in the Christian Center program. (United Christian Centers has continued this tradition to this day, assisting specifically with the resettlement of Hispanic and Slavic immigrants that were arriving in West Sacramento and the Sacramento area in general.) A decision was made in 1918 that they be planned along the line of social settlement houses such as Chicago’s famous Hull House.

Miss Helen Banks, Locke Christian Center staff, reading with children.
The first two Baptist Settlement centers were founded in 1919 in Hammond Indiana. Over the ensuing 50 years many different types of center programs developed, but all represented the same Christian Center philosophy of acceptance of people on the level which they live and approaching individuals and families through meeting their felt needs, and then moving to their deeper needs. This philosophy led the centers to the use of group work methods, extended weekday activities, and became involved in community organization with a focus on community growth and development. The United Christian Centers of Greater Sacramento in it’s current corporate form, was formed in 1958 after a merger of three separate Centers operating in the Sacramento area. The oldest of these centers was the Chinese Christian Center in Locke California. The Locke Christian Center was organized in 1920 under the leadership of Dr. Charles Shepherd to serve the Chinese Community. This Center continued operation until 1966."


 This history of the Locke Christian Center is from  the following PDF document
Historic American Buildings Survey Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service Department of the Interior Washington, D.C. 20243

"On the east side of Key Street stands the original Chinese Baptist Center, established in 1919 by the Reverend Charles R. Shepherd, a former Baptist missionary to China. Shepherd had worked for the Baptist Foreign Missions in Canton where he was a professor of Church History at Canton Baptist College, and an English teacher at the Canton Baptist Boy's Academy. At the time he was asked to visit Chinatowns in the Delta, Shepherd was director of Chinese Missions of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, based in SanFrancisco. His and other Christian missionaries' motivating objective in working with Chinese people was to bring them out of ignorant "paganism." By the early 1890s eleven Christian denominations were involved in converting the Chinese in America. The initial result of Shepherd's efforts in Locke in 1919 was the founding of the Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society.
 The first religious services for adults and classes for children were conducted in a laundry. In a few years, efforts to raise money for a mission building began. Ironically, the "bulk of the funds were solicited from Main Street gambling house owners. By 1922 the Locke Christian Center on Key Street was completed and occupied for Sunday services.











Sunday school classes and weekly clubs were attended predominately by young girls who were instructed in music, sewing and cleanliness.




 In the summers, a joint program with Walnut Grove's Japanese Methodist mission was created. The Reverend Shepherd wrote that during the first summer
"50 (were) enrolled, 23 boys and 27 girls, and an average attendance of 38; 182 articles were made, and the little folks did splendidly in the Bible and song work The collection amounted to $ll. The girls made sewing-baskets, jointed paper dolls, rag dolls, aprons, wallpaper beads, purses, etc. The boys made small tables, broom holders, wagons, toy animals, flower stands."
The impact of the mission upon Locke1 s Chinese community was never as great as Shepherd had originally hoped. The Baptist mission saw its plight in terms of an uphill battle that could only be successful with the leadership of a Chinese pastor. The Baptist mission1 s inability to retain a Chinese pastor in Locke resulted in minimal support among the local people.
(note :In the 1940's Rev. Edward S. Yook did serve as a resident pastor .  I am not sure how long he was retained as pastor. He is pictured below with his wife and three of his children in front of the Locke Christian Center)



 General lack of interest in the mission and the declining population in the Chinese community contributed to the mission's slow decline. In 1934 thirty-five boys participated in mission activities. By 1965 the school had been closed, and the building was given to Walnut Grove Church. "

Pictures above were obtained from :
Library of Congress 
and a wonderful  new book in the Images of America  Series
Locke  and the Sacramento Delta Chinatowns  by  Lawrence Tom , Brian Tom and the Chinese American Museum of Northern California

Edited 5/24/2014
Current picture of the Locke Christian Center Building which has been nicely painted and restored as an artist's workshop ....


Locke has a nice memorial park honoring Chinese pioneers in the Delta ...


There is a memorial pillar that honors these early Chinese settlers.....

Families and others can buy memorial tiles for the walls around the park to honor relatives who lived and worked in Locke or in the surrounding communities .  Our family installed a tile honoring my maternal grandfather who served as a visiting pastor at the Locke Chrisitian Center.