I think I've written about this before but for those of you who don't know, I'm a very small part Chinese on my mother's side (I'm 1/8 Chinese; my great-grandfather Otis was Chinese). Despite that being relatively interesting and unique to a blond, hazel-eyed, all-American woman, I have never taken super interest in my heritage. As I get older though, as I think for most people, you want to learn more about where you came from. So when my uncle scanned and emailed a genealogy document my cousin put together in 1993 (that I had seen before my totally ignored) last week, I read it with great interest. And there is some super weird stuff in there.
#1: My great great grandfather was an indentured servant.
From his bio: One of about four brothers, Luk Wing Hoy immigrated to San Francisco from Kwantung Province, China in 1871 when he was only 12 years old. He arrived on a Chinese sailing vessel and worked as an indentured servant to another Chinese family. He moved to Sacramento as a free man and joined the Westminster Presbyterian church on December 30 , 1875 (age 17). He learned English at the church's mission school and earned a living as a court interpreter. Eventually he became a partner in a general merchandise business - -the Hoy Kee Company at the comer of 5th and I streets. In 1890, he met and married Fong So through a matchmaker.
#2: My great great grandparents met through a matchmaker and had a 20 year age difference.
This means my great great grandmother (Fong So) was, oh, 15 when they got married. The marrying through a matchmaker was very common from what I understand in the Chinese immigrant community (and maybe in China anyways? Not sure). They then proceeded to have EIGHT CHILDREN.
#3: My great great grandfather "went insane."
I don't really know what happened. But this is from his obituary in the Sacramento Bee in 1909: Until two years ago Hoy conducted a store (blah blah blah) and was one of the most prosperous of the local Chinese. Suddenly he went insane and his last two years have been spent in Napa.
That's literally exactly all it says. So in 1909 you can just go cray and get shipped off to wine country? Must investigate this approach.
#4: The media was racist AF back in the early 1900s.
This is a literal excerpt from my great great grandfather's obit: "His family are still in possession of the store and business. Among white people Hoy was as well or better known than any other member of his race in the city." Yay? Then, from a previous marriage newspaper article in 1890: "The marriage of Luk Hoy, the well-known Chinese interpreter, and Miss Fong Sue, a coy maiden with a complexion of olive hue (!!! WTF) occurred last night etc etc."