Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Chinese On Lower Delmarva in 1900

Between 1850 and 1900 about 250,000 Chinese came to America.  Most arrived in California initially for the Gold Rush and they referred to going to America as going to Gold Mountain.   As the gold became harder to find they moved into the laying of track for the railroad and many service type jobs.  Because they would work cheap and did not shy away from jobs that were traditionally woman’s work; such as cooks, dishwashers, laundryman, servants etc  they at first were accepted, but as more arrived and jobs for white men became limited, prejudice and discrimination drove them East looking for employment.    There were bound to be a few that would end up on Lower Delmarva.  The few that were here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s were almost all owner and operators of Chinese laundries.  Unlike the Chinese immigrants who lived in ethnic enclaves in the large cities, the Chinese on Lower Delmarva were isolated from the Chinese communities in Wilmington, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC.  They would eke out a living working 18 hour days, 6 days a week closing only on Sunday due to community pressure.  Usually single and in their 30’s they had no social outlets and would usually move after a few years.

From 1914 edition Salisbury Advertiser, Salisbury Maryland

The Chinese laundry continued until the late 1940’s when home washing machines and new
Fabrics reduced the customer base and the children of the laundry family had higher aspirations than to continue their laundries.
Ad From The State Register Laurel Delaware 1929

Altho the Chinese Laundrymen made little money and lived a fugal life he also had no social outlet or place to spend his money due to not speaking the language and racism.  He was able to send a little money back to his family members in China. The families receiving this money  were referred to as Gold Mountain families.   Their relatives back in China had little appreciation of the hard life their relative was living in America.  Instead they imagined that relative just went out and picked gold nuggets up off the ground and was very stingy about sending them home to China.  Many came from the region in Guangdong (think Hong Kong and Canton) and with the money sent to them from America a very poor group of farmers who struggled in the fields were able to buy land, built family homes, summer vacation homes, hired tutors for their children, hire servants to do the work for them, eventually the constant money stream from America allowed them to stop work and they became upper class leisure people or welfare people.  This would come to an end in the 1930’s when Japan took over parts of China and prevent the transfer of money from America to those families.  The Gold Mountain Families found themselves selling land, jewelry, houses, and possessions and in some cases themselves just to buy food.
From Iris Chang book “The Chinese In America”;

Correspondence between Hsiao The Seng, a Chicago laundryman and his family in China, revealed the endless pressure placed on the overseas Chinese by their kin.  Letters he received from home all harped on one single theme: money.  Bandits had kidnapped Hsiao’s elder brother’s concubine, and the family needed $20,000 to pay her ransom.  A cousin asked for $200 to adopt a son.  Younger clan members pleaded for money to purchase a house in Canton, because they had no suitable place to stay during their vacation (“we are indeed losing face Please do not regard this as an unimportant thing”) .  After gangsters ransacked Hsiao’s village, his family begged for funds to construct a wall (“the village’s life and death is depending on you.  Take note of this”)  A nephew wanted financial assistance to cleanse himself from the “humiliation of an embezzling uncle.”  Hasiao’s daughter asked for a gold watch (“Big uncle’s daughters have gold watches, but we do not.  My venerable one can use his own judgment whether jade should be inlaid or not”). 
And on and on goes the demands, perhaps much like today’s immigrant or illegal alien who is sending money home. 
Above and Below From the Salisbury advertiser 1892


Below are listed a few of the Chinese on Lower Delmarva in 1900;

1900 Census Sussex County Delaware
Charles Long (Keay); Laurel, Delaware, laundryman, single, age 25, born Sept 1874, Immigration in 1892 8 years in US Naturazation: AL (alien)

Kay (Keay) Long; Laurel, Delaware, laundryman, single, born April 1865, age 35 immigration 1890 ten years nat: AL(alien)

Jhon, Leon;  Milton, Delaware, laundryman born June 1862,age 38, single, Immigrated 1874

Sing, Loun; Lewes, Delaware, laundryman Born Oct 1874, Age 25,

1900 Census Dorchester County Maryland
Fong, Lee; Cambridge Maryland, Born Jan 1870, age 30, immigrated 1892, laundryman

1900 Census Wicomico County Maryland
Dong, Lit; Salisbury Maryland, Born Feb 1868, age 32, Single, immigrated 1885, laundryman

1900 Census Worcester County Maryland
Jung, Sing; Snow Hill Maryland, age 23, Born Jan 1877, single, Immigrated 1895, laundry
Wah, Long; West Berlin Maryland, age 40, Born Feb 1860, single, Immigrated 1869, Laundry

1900 Census Somerset County Maryland
Leung, Woo; Crisfield, Maryland, age 40, Born April 1860, married, immigrated 1878, Laundryman
Leoug, Henry; cousin, Crisfield, Maryland, Age 47, Born December 1852, married, immigrated 1875, laundryman

1900 Census Accomack Virginia
Foon, Say; Chincoteague Island, Accomack, Virginia Age 36, Born August 1863, single, immigrated 1876,Laundryman
Kee Jin;  Onancock, Virginia age 39, Born Oct 1860, single, laundryman

1900 Census Northampton Virginia
Lee, Charles; Cape Charles, Virginia, Age 36, Born Oct 1863, Married, laundryman
Lee, Gee; Cape Charles Virginia, age 52, Born July 1847, married, laundryman

Due to the unbalanced sex ratio of Chinese males to Chinese female (Many more men) in 1900 and the enforcement of antimiscegenation laws, the Chinese men were forced to seek wives that were still living in China or wives of other races that lived here.  Our Government passed laws prohibiting their Chinese wives from immigrating to the United States.   

In the 1850 to 1900 time period the two classes of immigrants that were lowest on the totem pole of immigrants were Asians and Irish.  They frequently lived in the poorest neighborhoods of cities and towns so if there were not race laws prohibiting it, Chinese men would marry Irish woman. 

One Chinese man  who was not a laundryman was Yann Phou Lee who lived in Cedar Creek Hundreds Sussex County Delaware and was a farmer.  Lee born in 1861 in Zhongshan Guandong Province China arrived in America at age 12.  He broke the traditional single laundryman mold by arriving in Connecticut and taking a Caucasian wife, Elizabeth Maude Jerome.  They had two children and in 1890 he divorced her and went to Nashville Tennessee where he married Sophia Bolles.  They would also have two children; Clarence and Louis.  While in Delaware he had his two nephews from China, Gon Lee and Joe F. Lee work the farm with him.  
The Chinese were often made fun of as in this ad for Chase and Sanvorn Tea which appeared in the Courier Newspaper Salisbury Maryland 1906

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Mason Dixon Line Talk At The Delmar Library

Saturday I attended the talk given by Mike Dixon at the Delmar Library. A modest sized group turned out for an interesting talk on the Mason Dixon Line.

He discussed the history and problems related to the disputes between Maryland and Pennsylvania resulting in the surveyed boundary line by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon from 1763 to 1767. He associated the line with references to more recent songs and other cultural media. No the line running down State Street is not the Mason Dixon Line it is the Transpeninsular Line surveyed in 1751. He did not say if he was related to Jeremiah Dixon.

The talk was paid for by the Delmar library and the Delaware Humanities Forum.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Kindal Batson a Sussex County Delaware Name

I recently was helping someone with their family tree and one of the people in the tree was Kendall Batson Adams.  Kendall (and Kendall was spelled every conceivable way you could think of) Batson Adams was born in 1845 and died in 1914.  He lived around Laurel, Delaware and had two wives and several children.  His descents are now from Delmar to Wilmington.  Now we know that people name their children after well known people such as Presidents (there must be thousand of people named George Washington), Generals ( after the civil war - countless people were named Robert Lee), local doctors, Mayors, politicians etc.  In Sussex County a number of men born about 1830 to 1850 had the first and middle name of Kendall Batson.   So who was Kendall Batson? 

Kendall Batson was born about 1771 and died in 1840.  He was the son of Thomas and Tabetha Batson.  He lived in Sussex County where he had a variety of jobs and occupancies.  He was the Sheriff of Sussex county, Judge, Keeper of the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, vestryman of St. Peter's church in Lewis, he served in Capt Rodney's Company in the War of 1812 as a Sergeant and he was one of the founders of Georgetown, Delaware.  A Freemason, on June 27, 1823, a charter was granted to Franklin Lodge No.12 Georgetown Delaware by Grand Master James Derrickson, naming Caleb Layton – Worshipful Master, and there is our man Kendal Batson – being made Senior Warden. Their meeting place was the third story of the Eagle Hotel where they continued to meet until 1838.

Kendall Batson and his wife, Margret Ellis Kollock,  seem to have only produced daughters, so with no male heirs to carry on his name it is good that so many Sussex men were named after him.  It also left a number of current family tree hunters wondering why their ancester was named Kendell Batson.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Second Japanese Raid On Pearl Harbor

Less than ninety days after the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941 they launched a second attack on Pearl harbor.  The attack would occur on March 4th 1942 and was called K-Operation.  It came about because of the confusion and tying up of war materials, men and money created after the Japanese had attacked the oil tank field at Elwood City, California with submarine I-17.   This Pearl Harbor attack was designed to put fear in to the American people again and with the clamoring of them for more protection in Pearl Harbor the results would confine American Warships to Pearl harbor for protection instead of having them out on the ocean hunting the Japanese Navy.

The Japanese would use two of their giant four-engine flying boats (Kawanishi H8K"Emily" ) each carrying one ton of bombs (about four bombs).  The bombers flew from Japan to Wotje (Marshall Islands) refuel than fly to the French Frigate Shoals, about 500 miles from the Oahu, Hawaiian islands.  There submarines I-15, I-19 and I-26, which had been converted to carried aviation gasoline, would refuel them for their bomb attack.  The Flying Boats would make one pass at 1 AM drop their bombs and then fly back to Wotje.

All went well until they arrived over Pearl Harbor and found low overcast clouds obscuring any chance to see the target.  They took a chance and dropped their bombs based on their best guess where their target was.  If nothing else they would let Pearl Harbor know it could be bombed at will.  Their guess as to where the target was failed.  One load of bombs fell into the sea.  The second load of bombs fell to the East of Honolulu.  The planes had been picked up by radar and by their radio messages and once again the military did nothing about it.  Instead of thinking the Japanese had attacked them the Army accused the Navy of dropping bombs by mistake and the two services argued back and forth for a day or so until bomb fragments were analyzed and it was determined it was Japanese.   The two Flying Boats returned safely to Wotje.