Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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'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 straw 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! 

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