Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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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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Jew, Richard Jeong : The Tale of Richard Jeong Jew by Kiyoshi Din
Year of Arrival 1937

Richard Jeong Jew’s Angel Island experiences, from his autobiography:

“Story of the Water Buffalo from Hong Kong,” written in 1996.

Richard Jeong Jew was born as Jew Jeong Ngar on September 4, 1924, in Sun Huey Village, Dow Moon, in the Chung Shun District about one hundred miles from Hong Kong.  He made the voyage to America in 1937, he said, as an illegal immigrant.  Later, he became known as Richard Jew when he started school in San Francisco in 1938.

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Din (Gong Bow Gwun), Hew : Not one, not two, but three paper names! by Grant Din
Year of Arrival 1912

Gong Bow Gwun, later known as Hew Din, came over from China as Ow Luen in 1912 on the SS Manchuria, which docked in San Francisco on August 15, 1912. He received his Certificate of Identity on September 7, 1912 after three weeks on Angel Island. Like many Chinese immigrants trying to come over during the Chinese Exclusion Acts, he came over as a son of a native born American citizen, which if true would mean he was immigrating legally. His paper father was from Namhoi, in Guangdong Province; in reality, he was from a village called Lok Cheung in the Fah Yuen district, now known as Huadu or Hua Xian.

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Jung, Frank and Grace : The Only Chinese in Town: An Appreciation of Frank and Grace Jung by John Jung
Year of Arrival 1921

Lo Kwok Fui, my father, used false identity papers to immigrate in 1921 from his Hoiping village in Guangdong, China, to the United States at the age of 20. He had hopes of earning a better living than possible in his impoverished village and sending money back to help his parents and brothers in China. Upon his arrival at the Angel Island Immigration Detention Center in San Francisco bay, his paper father, a Chinese merchant, came from Chinatown with two Caucasian witnesses to testify in support of his application to enter the U. S.

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Gluckman, Harry : Harry Gluckman by Reese Erlich
Year of Arrival 1940

Harry Gluckman's family followed the same path as Eva Schott Berek and Lotte Loebl Frank (see their stories in Immigrant Voices) as they fled Nazi Germany in 1940 and made their way across Russia to China and finally to the United States.  Reese Erlich's account of Harry's journey as an 11-year old boy paints a picture of hardship, perseverance, and survival.  Harry recently translated his father's diary, which offers a detailed look at their perilous journey.

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