Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jue Shee and the Chinese Mission Schools

Recently my Auntie Soo-Jan has studied the record of the 1918 immigration interview of Jue Joe. This interview was conducted as part of the immigration investigation concerning Jue Joe's wife and sons at Angel Island.  I will post much more about those immigration records in a later post. For now we will concentrate on a comment from Jue Joe's interview about his younger brother Jue Shee : "The third son is Jew See, 53 ot 54 years old.  He lives in the village with his wife.  Can't remember her name or if they have children.  He studied English in this country about 20 years in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Pomona.  He went to China from Paris, France."
In the previous post we have discussed the mystery of Jue Shee's education career. Jue Joe's interview is an additional clue that helps us understand Jue Shee's story in more detail.  I originally surmised that Jue Shee had got his initial English language education in missionary schools in China. I now believe that he actually got this education in  Los Angeles and Pasadena before enrolling in high school level classes at Pomona College.
 When did Jue Shee  immigrate? I think it was after Jue Joe was in Los Angeles and established his farming operations. My best guess would be sometime in the 1890's probably early 1890's . Did Jue Shee speak some English when he immigrated?  Maybe , maybe not.
What was he doing ? My best guess is that Jue Joe would have trained his younger brother  to work in the Los Angeles end of the business selling the produce there while he himself  would be at the ranch . Jue Joe established early on the need for family at the produce market and then family at the ranch. It was a pattern he would continue for years. Whether or not Jue Shee spoke English he would have to learn quickly to be effective in the produce market.
How did he learn English and how did he get educated? The big clue is in the discovery of Jue Joe 's comment that Jue Shee was educated in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Pomona . We already know that he went to Pomona in 1904 and enrolled in high school there . Education is linear and we can assume that Pomona was the pinnacle of Jue Shee's educational career,so he must have had grade school type education somewhere else to be accepted into the college prep school. The clue is in the educational careers of the two other Chinese university educated students that I have discussed earlier.
Both Walter Fong and Fong Sec were educated at missionary schools in the United States that catered to Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. These missionary schools were havens for the Chinese in the late 19th century. Subject to fierce discrimination and persecution these missionary schools took the Chinese boys and men and provided them with English language and grade school type education while converting them to the Christian religion . These schools did not cooperate with immigration authorities. They protected the Chinese men who went there whether they had immigrated legally or illegally. Did such schools exist in Los Angeles and Pasadena and what denominations were they? Most interesting is Jue Shee's Pomona transcript where he lists his religious denomination as "cong. m." I think that refers to the Congregational church and the m. the Methodist church.
How did he become a Christian and a Congreationalist and Methodist ??? It looks like in the late 19th century the Congregational Church had an active mission in Los Angeles giving classes in English and other subjects to Chinese men while converting them to Christiantiy. A similar Chinese mission was run by the Methodist church at the same time in Pasadena. These missions were usually run by Caucasian women of the middle or upper class who felt called to help the Chinese. The photo posted above is dated about 1890. It is of the Chinese Mission School of the Congregational Church located in Los Angeles Chinatown. The photo and a fascinating discussion of  it's context and implications can be found here.
I think Jue Shee's education was long and drawn out because of his need to work on the produce side of the family business in Los Angeles at the same time he was getting his education in the missionary schools . Remember Pomona is a Congregational church sponsored university . Like Fong Sec, Jue Shee would have been educated in missionary schools in Los Angeles and Pasadena and the teachers there would have helped him get into the Pomona prep school just like the missionary teachers helped Fong Sec get into Pomona. The Christian missionary schools were true refuges for these young Chinese men. 
The Congregational Church through the American Missionary Association was at the forefront in protesting the discriminatory attitude and legislation of the times directed against Chinese immigrants.  A great article about the  role of the Congreational Church  in creating mission schools can be found here.
"Congregational purists like Lyman Abbott rejected all restrictions. He asked, "By what right do the children of the immigrants of 1620 say to the immigrants of 1880, 'You shall not set foot upon this soil?' By what right do the sons of the Pilgrim Fathers say to the pilgrims of this generation, 'You shall keep off?'"(26) At the thirty-third annual meeting of the AMA, in 1879, the Chinese Missions committee reported:
We would utter, therefore, our solemn protest as an Association against the discriminating legislation of State or nation, and the insults and wrongs of individuals, by which the lives of the Chinese among us have been vexed and the name of the Christian religion has been dishonored. And we would urge this Association to lead the van in arousing public sentiment against the wrongs already inflicted as now threatened, and to prosecute its work of evangelization among them, until the Chinese shall be as undisturbed in America as immigrants from other lands. The cry that the Chinamen must go is unworthy of our nation and our religion.(27)"
"By 1892 there were at least 271 schools or missions sponsored by numerous denominations. An 1876 Congregational report argued: "For bringing the Chinese within our reach, no other plan compares with this of proffering to them instruction in the English language. These thus attracted are, in general, and by a process of natural selection, the choice spirits, most eager for knowledge, and thus most open to impression."(30) Congregationalists often said that they were "baiting the Gospel hook with the English alphabet."(31)
In its first annual report the CCM boasted that it had 1,500 students enrolled in thirteen mission schools throughout California. There were three schools in San Francisco and ten more schools, one each, in Antioch, Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, Oroville, Petaluma, Sacramento, San Leandro, Santa Barbara, and Stockton. Later schools were founded in Marysville, Suisun, Visalia, Woodland, Tucson, San Diego, Fresno, Ventura, Pasadena, Riverside, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, and Bakersfield.(33)
Congregational missions never required their teachers to learn Chinese because, argued Pond, the object of the schools was not to train the intellect, but to save the soul. The Chinese were eager to learn English and even risked becoming Christian. The CCM relied on Chinese helpers and "close hand-to-hand teaching," making less use of books and tracts than did other missions. Even if the missionaries could speak Chinese, Congregationalists believed that it was better to let recent Chinese converts speak from their own experience.(34)"
For the Chinese it was not always easy. Lee San Hong, a Chinese mission worker in San Diego, recalled how his friends ridiculed him when he became a Christian. "The Chinese made fun of me, calling me a Jesus Boy. After I was baptized by immersion they asked me if the water was wet. I thought my father in China would not like it, so I did not tell him for a long time. When they [in China] saw my photograph with my queue off they called me a monk."(35)"

Here is a nice article about the Los Angeles Chinese Mission School run by the Congregational Church.(Picture of this school is attached at the head of this post).
"By 1890 there was a Los Angeles Congregational mission for the Chinese but the
directors lamented the discouragement they felt about the city. Nineteen years
before, a Congregational deacon from Los Angeles related that on his way home
from midweek prayer meeting he saw 18 Chinese hanged by vigilantes. In 1892 the
California Chinese Mission reported that it had cut off funds for a Los Angeles
project but the local residents refused to die and had obtained help from First
Church of Los Angeles. By 1895-1896, the Los Angeles mission to the resident
Chinese could count 38 adults enrolled in the Congregational Association, 15
youths in the Christian Endeavor Society and a total of more than $300 was given
for benevolences.
Obviously the primary advantage for the Chinese in a Christian afternoon or
evening school came from the chance to become assimilated. So the school of
adult education became the enticement to join some Christian Church. By August
of 1891 the Congregational school for Chinese in Los Angeles could claim 122
students who had enrolled, eleven of whom had publicly declared they had given
up idol worship. Mrs. C. A. Sheldon and Low (or Loo) Ying were in charge that
year. Many found the classes of lasting value. "

A similar mission school was established by the Methodists in Pasadena and ran for many years. Here is a timeline of the Chinese community in Pasadena.

"1885 Shortly after its establishment, the First Congregational Church at 27 W. California Blvd. begins a ministry to Pasadena’s Chinese population
1885 On November 6, unemployed white laborers throw stones into Chinese laundry on Fair Oaks just south of Colorado, knocking over lanterns, and resulting in a fire. The next day, an ultimatum from town council bars Chinese from living in entire center section of the city as bounded by California Boulevard on the south and Mountain on the north.
1886 Part of Los Angeles Chinese quarter is burned in LA
1887 Methodist Episcopal Chinese Mission is established at 259 N. Marengo, where it operates until 1946"

The Methodist Chinese Mission school  in Pasadena was a  prominent part of the community there for many years.

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