Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

 

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Low, Dick (Ko Shew) : A Tribute to My Father, Dick Low, on his 90th birthday, 1995 by Kenneth Ko Low
Year of Arrival 1921

Ko Shew immigrated to the U.S. in 1921 under the name Dick Low.  He worked hard throughout his life, starting out as a farm laborer and eventually becoming a department store manager.  Kenneth Ko Low reflects upon the many gifts and life lessons his father bestowed upon him.

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Low, Raymond : A Remembrance of Raymond Low by Arthur Low
Year of Arrival 1938

Arthur Low traces the life of his father from humble beginnings in Toisan. China to life in Sacramento, CA.  Despite difficult times, Raymond Low worked hard at two jobs, bought a house and raised four children with his wife Yvonne.  Today, his grandson, Evan Low is the Mayor of Campbell,CA.

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Moy, Damon : My Father, Damon Moy by Diane Lo
Year of Arrival 1940

A longtime resident in Sacramento,CA, Mr. Damon Moy immigrated to the U.S. in 1940 and was detained on Angel Island for three months.  After a long career in the food service industry, he and his wife Helen retired in Honolulu where their children now reside.

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Wong, Poy (James) : Life in America (Nov 11, 1901 – Jan 4, 1990) by Linda Lum
Year of Arrival 1916

Wong Poy began his life in America with three months of interrogations, but he was finally landed in March 1916.  After working and studying in San Francisco, he moved to Augusta, GA where he spent many years in the grocery business.  He finally settled in Oakland, CA.

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Friesen, Nick : Remembering Nick Friesen (1913-2011) by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1929

Nick Friesen, a former Angel Island detainee who I had the good fortune to interview in 2008, died of a massive stroke on January 4, 2011.  I was told that he had purchased a three-wheel bike at a thrift store in Reedley, California, and was riding it home when he had the stroke.  He was 97 years old.  I thought to myself, that’s so like Nick—active and on the move to the very end.

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Yee, Helen : My Immigrant Story by Helen Yee
Year of Arrival 1940

I was born in San Francisco at St. Luke Hospital on June 26, 1923. When I was 4 months old, my parents took me to Detroit, Michigan to enable themselves to open a laundry there. Due to the fast progression of the Ford and the General Motors Corp. business had expanded. Thus, the laundry business was a good thriving business. My parents heard of it through word of mouth. However mom had bad health problems. Medical bills used up the earnings. My dad’s mother, Grandma Yee, who lives in a remote village in China, sent word for my dad to return to China to remarry, after my mother died at age 32. I was the oldest at 12 years old. There were six of us. The youngest was one year old, not yet two. We arrived in China on January 1936. I became ill, then bedridden for two years, during the latter part of my four-year stay in China.

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Eng, James L. : James L. Eng’s Odyssey by James L. Eng
Year of Arrival 1931

Our ancestral home was in Fook Lim Village in Hoysan, AKA Taishan, county in Quangdong Province, China.  The village is approximately sixty five miles west of Hong Kong.

My grandfather, Ng Ming Sun, left his wife and two young sons to return to Mexico for the second time. During his first visit, he realized that Mexico would not serve his future. His new plan was to work in the United States to help his family and later, retire to China.

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Park, Rose Young Soon : Two Korean Woman and a Child at Angel Island by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1914

There were no more than 1,000 Koreans among the half million immigrants who sought admission through the port of San Francisco between 1910 and 1940.  Fleeing a harsh life in Korea under Japanese colonial rule since 1910, most were young men claiming to be refugee students, but there were also picture brides, wives, and children of Korean alien residents.  To circumvent the Japanese government’s ban on Korean emigration, many had to steal across the northern Korean border into Manchuria and make their way to Shanghai, where they could book passage on an American steamer going to the United States.  Some were lucky enough to secure Japanese passports that allowed them to travel directly to the United States.  Among the lucky ones was three-year-old Rose Park.

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Chiu, Yook Lon : Minor Daughter of a Merchant: The Story of Chiu Yook Lon: A Paper Daughter on Angel Island by William Warrior
Year of Arrival 1926

Imagine for a moment…  It is the ides of February 1926.  You are Chiu Yook Lon, an eighteen-year-old woman and a passenger on the Pacific Mail Steamship President Pierce, bound for San Francisco from Hong Kong.  The seas are rough, and you are seasick the entire twenty-eight day voyage -- a voyage destined to end in a ferryboat ride to a minimum-security prison on an island in San Francisco Bay. You have left your mother in Guangdong on a mission to find your father, who has not written home since 1909.  You are traveling with your “paper mom” and family friend, Chiu Wong Shee.  Together you are studying everything about Chiu Wong Shee:  her husband, Chiu Ming, a pharmacist and merchant living in Butte, Montana, and their four sons, the youngest to whom you have been promised in an arranged marriage.  The study papers are demanding in their requirement for precise and complementary answers to dozens of questions about your imagined home and family.  From the place where your grandparents are buried, to the number of oil lamps in your house in the village, to the placement of skylights in the roof of your home, to the north-south alignment of the various dwellings in the village, to the names and occupations of the men who carried your bags from your house to the riverboat in China -- you study those pages and rehearse them with your paper mom, and then somewhere past Hawaii you cast your study papers out to sea, committing your adopted past to memory, and your uncertain future to dreams…

 

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Lee, Show Nam : “We were real, so there was no need to be afraid.” Lum Ngow’s Long Stay on Angel Island by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1935

On February 5, 1935, fifteen-year-old Lum Ngow and his mother Ow Soak Yong arrived in San Francisco from China on the President Taft.  They had come to join his father Lum Bew, a merchant who ran Lung Kee, a Chinese poultry and deli in Oakland Chinatown.  Family members of the merchant class were exempt from the Chinese Exclusion Act and they should have been admitted into the country.  Instead, mother and son were detained on Angel Island for eighteen months, fighting a legal battle to prove they were in fact the son and wife of Lum Bew. 

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Makishima, George Akira : George Akira Makishima story by Eva Martinez
Year of Arrival 1940

On May 8, 1940, 19-year-old U.S. citizen George Akira Makishima arrived at the Port of San Francisco on the SS Tatuta Maru. He was returning from Japan where he had lived with his paternal grandparents for nearly a decade.

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Ginn, Roy Gway : Roy Gway Ginn's Adventurous and Fulfilling Life by Karen Ginn
Year of Arrival 1930

Roy Gway Ginn was born on November 12, 1912, Toisan (Taishan) region of Kwong Tung (Guangdong) Province, China. He lived in Loong Kai Li, a small village consisting of twelve homes. Life in China had many hardships. As a boy, Roy had big dreams and ambitions. Everyone heard about a better life in America! San Francisco was known as Gold Mountain after gold was first discovered in the state in 1848, and Chinese traveled to California in search of wealth and fortune.

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Jin, Sheung Ngaw : A Paper Daughter's Angel Island Story by Flo Oy Wong
Year of Arrival 1940

Summary Interview by Flo Oy Wong with Lily Wong Chooey on November 23, 1999.

Jin, Sheung Ngaw – 1940 (AIIS Detainee May 30 – June 19, 1940)

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