Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crossing the Ocean

From I was able to do a search on my Grandpa, Sun Tong Jew ( which is the way he is listed on immigration papers ) and find the passenger manifests of the ships on which he traveled from China to America the first time in 1918 and his travel back from China in 1937 with his new wife Ping .

The first document is for the SS Colombia sailing from Hong Kong on March 27, 1918
Leong, Shee age 35, Housewife , Chinese , last residence China, Tai Hong, Sunwui
Jew ,Sun Yeaw age 15 ,Student ,Chinese , last residence China, Tai Hong ,Sunwui
Jew, Sun Tong , age 13 ,Student ,Chinese , last residence China , Tai Hong , Sunwui

The second document is for the SS President Hoover sailing from Hong Kong on October 27th,1937
Jew ,Sun Tong , age 31, Merchant, Chinese, last residence , USA, Los Angeles California

( I think Ping and maybe Leong Shee must be on the same ship in 1937 but haven't been able to find their names yet )


  1. From Auntie Soo-Jan:
    , Sun Yeaw, Sun Tong, (both brothers’ names are spelled this way on their immigration papers)...... As a case in reference, all of the family’s last names were spelled Jew, including Jack and Joan’s birth certificates and Guy’s and mine. On my important documents, I have to list that as an alias. I’m not sure at which point of time the family began spelling our last name as Jue. Also, during your Gung’s last 20 years or so, he went back to using the Sun Tong spelling, rather than San Tong. I asked him why and he said that Sun means “bright as the Sun.” He liked the simile!

  2. Regarding name change from Jew to Jue I was told this by Sun Tong: In the late 1930s there was anti-semitism in the US and Europe and no one would do business with "Jew" Joe at the L.A. Produce Mart on San Pedro St. So Joe simply rewrote his surname as "Jue" Joe. Sometimes he wrote Jew and other times Jue. But when he used Jue he got lots of produce buyers. After Jue Joe died intestate San Tong continued to use "Jue" and that's why Pingileen and I have "Jue" on our birth certificates. During the 1956 court trial Judge Palmer questioned San Tong on why so many alias to which he replied to the Judge: "A man is given a birth name, an adult name, a married name, a professional name, and a titled posthumas name, and names refer to simile. So it wasn't unusual that Jue Joe or I, Sun Tong, interchanged names." Auntie Soo-Yin.

  3. Auntie Soo-Jan writes:

    Leong Shee, Sun Yeaw and Sun Tong arrived in 1918 at Angel Island, at 15 and 13 years old. I believe they were kept there for 3 weeks. After Angel Island was opened to the public as a museum, I asked my Dad if he wanted to go visit there because we would bring him there. He said, “Absolutely not!” I talked to other friends who’s family members came through Angel Island and none wanted to go there too. It brings back painful, sad and scary memories!! My Dad said that on the boat ride coming to San Francisco (steerage, S.S. Columbia, arriving April 24, 1918), he, his brother and mother were cramming all kinds of family facts to make sure that their answers corresponded with each other, otherwise whoever’s statement doesn’t match gets sent back to China. This is to prevent “paper sons.” He said that he was so scared that he was shaking and, as the boat came closer to America, all the Chinese onboard threw their fact sheets of papers overboard.

  4. The 90 pages of fact sheets sent to Leong Shee, San You, and San Tong to memorize for U.S. immigration officials were compiled by Jue Joe's attorney named "Oliver." As a young lad, Oliver had worked for Jue Joe and had slept in a barn on a sack of potatoes. At night he read books by a Kerosene lamp. Joe asked him what he was reading and Oliver replied, "Law books." He told Joe he had no money to finish law school so he came to Joe's ranch to work. Oliver was a good and bright lad and Joe financed his education. As a result, Oliver graduated at the top of his class and married the daughter of Mr. Grant, founder of both the Santa Fe Railroad and the California Bank. He became the Bank's attorney. Until the day Oliver died at the age of 32, without children of his own, he always gave bank loans to Jue Joe in gratitude, and was present to meet Jue Joe's family when they were released from Angel Island. Toward the end of San Tong's life he wanted to see Angel Island on a trip up to SF to visit me. The immigration station was closed for renovation but we met a nice couple with a motor boat in Sausalito and, after hearing San Tong's story, they sailed us up to the wooden pier of the Station so that San Tong could see the building where he was incarcerated. After his death and when the Station was reopened Soo-Jan and I on separate occasions visited the facilities. It was just as our father had described it: the 3 wash basins that served 300 Chinese men of all ages, the bunk beds crammed together from floor to ceiling, and this building that separated San Tong and San You from their mother who was housed in another building on a hill. Children and mother were not allowed to see each other until they were released. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  5. The name "Tai Hong" on the passenger manifest and on the early immigration papers of 1918 refer to "Dai Hong Lei" in Sum Gong Village, Sunwui District (Sanjiang Village, Xinhui District). The Village is divided into two districts: Dai Jan district (the commercial district) and Hong Mei district. (There is a big canal with a stone bridge that separates the 2 districts, and thousand-year old Mangrove trees grow alongside that canal.) Within Hong Mei district are 3 leis, a "lei" meaning a block: Ngan Wo lei, Ngee Yee lei, and Dai Hong (Tai Hong) lei. You enter the Village through a gate at Pig's Head Mountain (Jee How San). Jue Joe's compound is the 4th house west of a stone road (dirt road today) at the end of housing development, and the compound is set against the backdrop of Snake Mountain (Shia San). Auntie Soo-Yin.

  6. I remember our father San Tong telling me the following: Leong Shee, San You, and San Tong sailed in First Class aboard the SS Columbia in February of 1918 and arrived in San Francisco in late March of 1918. The ship stopped in Hong Kong where Leong Shee bought her sons and herself Western clothing for their journey to California. Upon arrival in San Francisco they were transferred from their ship into a small launch that took them to Angel Island where they were incarcerated for nearly 3 months. San Tong also said that while incarerated they were served 2 meals per day, which consisted of a bowl of rice, a little bok choy, and 2 cubes of salted fish. A kitchen helper approached San You and San Tong and told them that if Jue Joe slipped him a little money he would see to it that the 2 brothers would eat in the kitchen with him and enjoy a better meal. So the boys secretly communicated this message to Leong Shee and she in turn secretly got the message out to Jue Joe. As a result, the 2 boys got bigger portions as they ate with that kitchen helper. Upon the family's release Jue Joe was there with his attorney to meet them, he smiled and was so happy to see them. He took each son by the hand, one in each hand, and led the trio to S.F.'s Chinatown for lunch. As was the old custom, Leong Shee walked behind them. They stayed in San Francisco for 1 month in order for the trio to get accustomed to their new surroundings and to complete additional paperwork that was required. Then Jue Joe took his family to Los Angeles. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  7. Upon arrival in Southern California--Leong Shee cried. She cried for 2 years because she was so homesick and wanted to go back to China. Living in a temporary, two-room apartment on Ferguson Alley in L.A.'s Chinatown was not too bad, at least the Chinese spoke her language of "say yip" ("fourth dialect"), but living in the San Fernando Valley in 1918 was isolating to her and was so desolate to her in terms of its surroundings. However, in time Leong Shee resigned herself to her fate and the rest became history. Auntie Soo-Yin.