Known as Sam Lee to many of his customers, Loo Kwok Fui, my immigrant father, whose American name was Frank Jung, owned and operated the Sam Lee Laundry on Mulberry Street in downtown Macon, Georgia from 1928 until 1956. Located near the geographical center of the state, Macon promoted itself as the “heart of Georgia.” As a major cotton, manufacturing, and textiles center, it was third in population after Atlanta, Savannah, and possibly Augusta. The Sam Lee Laundry was the only Chinese laundry in Macon during my father’s years there, which lasted from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s. He and my mother, Quan Shee, who adopted the American name of Grace Jung, raised the only Chinese family in Macon during these years. After World War II ended, my parents, in anticipation of retirement, moved our family in stages to San Francisco between 1949 and 1952, with my father remaining alone to run the laundry to support us. When he retired in 1956 to join the rest of us in San Francisco, a reporter from the Macon News wrote a touching column acknowledging his many years of service to the community and wishing him well. I was pleased at the thoughtfulness of the public recognition, but what really caught my attention was the headline, “Not A Chinese in Our Town For First Time in a Century.”[i] My two sisters, brother and I were the first Chinese children born in Macon, and we were the only Chinese in the entire city. Growing up, I had never thought, or so much as wondered, whether there had been any Chinese in Macon before my parents arrived in 1928. Learning that Chinese had been there earlier, while a surprise, was not particularly important to me, a 15-year old, at the time. Then, more than 50 years later, when I began the writing of Southern Fried Rice, a memoir about our family’s life in Macon, I remembered the article and contacted Macon’s public library to see what they could tell me about Macon’s earlier Chinese. Much to my surprise, from city directories the archivist found that there had been between 10 and 20 Chinese men, but no women or children, in Macon before my parents arrived. All of them ran, or worked for, one of the four or five Chinese laundries in the city between 1885 and 1930. By the time my parents arrived, there were only two Chinese laundries left, the Great Southern Laundry on Cotton Avenue and the Sam Lee Laundry on Mulberry Street. My curiosity was satisfied until, in 2012, I found a brief reference to the murder of a Chinese laundryman in Macon in 1895 in Three Tough Chinamen, an excellent account by writer Scott Seligman of the lives of three Moy brothers in the mid to late 1800s in the midwest and east, men who achieved
financial and political success before each fell into scandal and corruption. One, Moy Jin Kee, was accused of involvement in this murder. I learned more about the Macon murder through archival news accounts, discovering to my surprise that the murder victim was operating the Sam Lee Laundry in the very building in which our family operated our laundry and lived above it. This finding stimulated my curiosity about what life was like for the Chinese laundrymen of Macon from 1885 until 1928. A search of archives uncovered more than 40 newspaper articles related to one or another aspect of their lives, which provides the basis for this essay. Why Did Chinese Move East, and South? Most Chinese immigrants in the 19th century arrived and settled on the west coast, so one might well wonder what led some to move away from this region. Starting around the 1860s, increasing violence and anti-Chinese sentiment stemming from competition with white labor forced many Chinese to flee to the middle sections of the country seeking safety. Whites in some regions such as New Jersey[ii] and Massachusetts[iii] in the East recruited Chinese to help break strikes by white workers in the 1870s. In 1872, about 30 of a planned 200 Chinese laborers arrived from Indianapolis to work on the expansion of the canal in Augusta, Georgia.[iv] In some southern states, Chinese were sought as cheap labor replacements when slavery ended in 1865. A leading labor contractor, Cornelius Koopmanschap, who had had earlier success importing Chinese to help build the Central Pacific Railroad, made a proposal in 1869 at a Memphis convention of Southern planters to bring several hundred Chinese to work in the cotton fields.[v] In 1906, 60 Chinese were brought from Portland, Oregon to box trees and work at stills.[vi] Rice planters in South Carolina contracted for 250 Chinese who were expected to arrive in early January.[vii] Few Chinese actually came, though, and it is not known how many of them stayed or left the South. Many of those who did remain found themselves better suited to work in laundries and grocery stores than work in the fields. Some recruited relatives seeking work to come South from other parts of the country. After Mississippi, Georgia had the most Chinese in the early 1900s, and they lived primarily in Augusta (55), Savannah (47), and Atlanta (42). Several more remote counties had only one or two Chinese while Macon had eight. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Law
The growing concern over the mid-19th century that the increasing supply of cheap Chinese labor was taking jobs from white workers led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Law in 1882. It prohibited further immigration of Chinese laborers, a category that included laundrymen. However, a laborer was exempt if he had been in the country before 1882 or was the son of a Chinese merchant. And if he was born in the United States, he was permitted to leave and return. In 1892, the Geary Act extended the Exclusion law for another decade and added a requirement that Chinese carry a Certificate of Residence to prove their legal immigration status, under penalty of deportation. Although there is no record of deportation of any of Maconâ€™s Chinese, they must have been acutely aware of this danger, because the Federal Court in Macon held several deportation hearings against several Chinese from other cities. In 1904, the Court upheld deportation rulings against Fook King and Far Chung from Augusta. Their photographs were sent to San Francisco authorities ahead of their arrival there to prevent them from switching places with other Chinese willing to be sent home because they had â€œsecured enough of American gold to supply [them] in rats for the remainder of [their] earthly existence.â€?[viii] Kol Le, another Augusta Chinese, was scheduled for deportation in 1904 for not having a valid registration certificate. He was fortunate and won an appeal. Judge Speer held that the government failed to prove its case against him, the only evidence that he was a laborer presented being that he operated a laundry. When Kol had been asked to show his certificate, he claimed he had lost his original papers, and failed to obtain valid duplicates. However, the judge dismissed the case because Kol had lived in Augusta for 19 years and was widely regarded as a man of good character.[ix] [x] In the American South, strict racial segregation prevailed after the end of slavery. Jim Crow laws maintained the superior social status of whites over blacks. The sudden influx of Chinese to the South in the 1870s raised the question of where they fit in the social hierarchy. Chinese, and others from Asian countries, fell below whites and close to, but above, blacks. Societal attitudes in the South toward Chinese immigrants at the end of the 19th and well into the 20th century were decidedly hostile and uninviting, just as in most other sections of the country. One extreme example occurred in 1883 in Waynesboro, Georgia, just outside Augusta, which had the largest Chinese community in the region. Two Chinese from Augusta, Tom Loo Chang and Ah Sing,
decided that business opportunities would be better if they opened a store to sell “fans, notions and other trifles” in Waynesboro, where they would not be competing with other Chinese. However, not long afterward, a mob attacked them one night, drove them out of town, and looted their store.[xi] A few months later, it was suggested that the attack stemmed from miscegenation fears created by Loo Chang’s marriage to a white Waynesboro woman and the impending arrival of several more Chinese men to the town.[xii] Discriminatory laws excluded Chinese from work across the country in many fields, including manufacturing, fishing, mining and farming. Laundry work was for a while the best available occupation for the Chinese in most parts of the country. It required little capital investment, equipment or training to start a laundry, and for a few years, whites did not compete with Chinese for this business. Notable exceptions to the predominance of laundries among Chinese immigrants were the Mississippi Delta and Augusta, Georgia, where most Chinese opened grocery stores in black neighborhoods. Macon’s Chinese Laundrymen The fact that there was, to use the local newspaper’s term, a “Chinese colony” of laundrymen in Macon from the mid-1880s to late 1920s raises many questions. How many Chinese were there, and when did they start laundries? Why did they choose this occupation, and did any of them have other occupations? What were the relationships between these few Chinese and the citizens of Macon? As none of the laundrymen had wives and children, at least not with them in Macon, what was their social life like? Did they have social relationships and friendships with non-Chinese? What role, if any, did these laundrymen have on my parents’ decision to come to Macon? Why did they all eventually leave, and where did they go? Unfortunately, no diaries or other documents about the lives of Macon’s Chinamen have been found, but a search of archives of Macon newspapers yielded some articles related to the laundrymen. Reporters tried to explain to their readers some aspects of the customs and culture of these “Chinamen,” who were sometimes referred to as “Celestials” and sometimes as “Chinks.” As in other parts of the country, Chinese laundries were referred to as “washee establishments” and a laundryman was called “John or John Chinaman,” depicted in strange-looking clothes such as loose fitting pantaloons and tunics, their long hair braided into queues (at least until the Chinese revolution in 1911), and speaking no, or pidgin, English. Newspaper articles about the Chinese took a condescending and patronizing tone, a
practice not unique to Maconâ€™s journalists, but rather a common style all over the country. One can not only obtain evidence of some important events related to Maconâ€™s Chinamen from these newspaper articles, one can also gain insights about the attitudes toward them that prevailed in Macon. Macon's First Chinese Laundry The Sam Lee Laundry, the first Chinese laundry in Macon, according to the Schole City Directory, was located at 96 Mulberry Street, in the heart of the business district, in 1885-6 but the following year it had moved to 91 Mulberry, in the basement of Lanier House, the largest hotel in town at the time.[xiii]
Figure 1 Sanborn Fire Map for Sam Lee Laundry at 519 Mulberry next to the Lanier Hotel.
Many years later, probably in the 1980s, the entire side of the 500 block of Mulberry Street where the laundry stood was demolished and replaced with a large office building. The building that had housed the Sam Lee Laundry for about 70 years was leveled and the site served as a parking lot for a few years before a two-level parking structure was built on it.
Figure 2 Sam Lee Laundry shown in 1906 and 1950 was replaced by parking building before 2012.
Although U. S. Census records provided an estimate of the number of Chinese in Macon, the recorded names were not always correct because Chinese names were unfamiliar to American census enumerators. Enumerators had to record Chinese names phonetically, based on their pronunciation, but the spelling of names was inconsistent. Confusion about the first and last names of Chinese, which are in the opposite sequence of that of western names, also created errors. Since Chinese migrated frequently in search for work, some Chinese did not get listed in official records, as evidenced by the appearance of some names in newspaper articles that were absent from Census lists. A reasonable estimate of the total number of Chinese in Macon between 1885 and 1930 is probably 15 to 25. But where were these Chinese from? No evidence could be found as to where any of them lived before they came to Macon. Chinese listed at one location during one Census were rarely found at the same address in the following Census. In fact, most of the Macon Chinese could not be found in the Census of a decade later, possibly because many moved around the country in search of work during the Exclusion period between 1882 and 1943.
Figure 3 Newspaper ads for Macon's Chinese laundries,
How Did Macon Receive and Treat the Chinese? Judging from accounts of how Chinese were treated in other parts of the South, it is likely that the first Chinese in Macon, Sam Lee, was the target of some curiosity as well as hostility. Negro boys and bootblacks who worked at the hotel would congregate regularly in front of Sam Lee’s laundry, which was then located in the hotel’s basement. In April of 1885, the Macon Telegraph reported that Sam Lee had an argument with one of the boys who was a porter at Lanier House, as it was called before it was renamed Lanier Hotel. Sam tried to strike the boy's hand, which, unfortunately for him, held a knife that ripped open a gash of several inches in Sam’s hand.[xiv] Sam Lee did not stay long in Macon. In October of the same year, the Macon newspaper reported, in an article entitled, “Mourning of the Chinese,” the sadness in the Chinese colony over the impending departure of Lee from Macon to get married in China. He did not intend to return, and sold the laundry to his assistants, Mo Yung and Mo Tung Hi. The new owners retained the business’ name, Sam Lee Laundry, even though Lee was not planning to return from the ‘land of the Celestials.’[xv] [xvi] In 1886 Sam Sing and three other Chinamen at the Sam Lee Laundry had a run-in with boys who sat in front of the saloon next to the hotel. They wanted the Chinamen to move the laundry sign on the sidewalk closer to the street so it would not obstruct their view. The Chinamen refused the request, but the next day found the sign overturned and dumped in the middle of the street. “When Sam and his brother Johns discovered how the sign had been treated, they uncurled their pig tails and swore in Chinese…. the Chinamen recovered the sign and placed it in its proper position on the sidewalk. This ended the trouble so far as the boys were concerned.” [xvii] But worse was still to come, as the next morning the Chinamen awoke to find that their sign had been stolen after they closed. The three-cornered sign was not in its usual place on the sidewalk in front of the laundry. A rumor that it had been seen floating in the nearby Ocmulgee River led to an extensive search, but it was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, they had in their possession a smaller sign that read, “Chinese Laundry,” that Sam Sing had saved from his previous laundry on Cotton Avenue. The Chinese were especially upset because they had received threats that their laundry might be blown up with dynamite and that they would be driven out of Macon.[xviii] The threat never materialized and in fact, the following year business was so good that they “established a branch washee washee in a basement on Fourth Street.”[xix]
Murder of A Chinaman on Mulberry Street A decade later, a larger misfortune befell Mo Tung Hi (also Moy Tung Hai), who was shot and killed at his laundry on the wintry night of Feb, 13, 1895 by an assailant who was never apprehended. A witness heard the assassin and the Chinaman arguing in the laundry just before the murder. He saw the killer calmly leave the scene on foot. One policeman at one end of the block and two others near the other end of the street heard several gunshots. They quickly converged at the laundry, but the lone gunman escaped. One of the policeman was “unable to say whether the fleeing assassin was a white man, Chinaman, or negro.” [xx] [xxi] There is some discrepancy as to exactly when Moy Tung Hai came to Macon. According to the newspaper article described earlier, Sam Lee turned his laundry over to his assistants, Moy Tung Hai and Moy Yung in 1885. By contrast, the article about his murder in 1895 suggested that he came to Macon only a year earlier from Chicago, where he had run a store. He had left town out of fear that he would be killed.[xxii]Chicago had two rival Chinese associations, or tongs, that fought over the control of gambling. Moy Hung Tai was a member of the Chinese Free Masons, which opposed gambling. The rival Hip Lung gambling group allegedly targeted Moy Tung Hai for his opposition to their gambling activities and dispatched highbinders, men prone toward violence means for settling disputes, to kill him. Consistent with this view was the fact that some of Macon’s handful of Chinese laundrymen had noticed an unfamiliar Chinaman in town just before the murder who was no longer seen after the crime. However, Chinese in Atlanta doubted it was the work of a highbinder because they would not flee the scene after the crime. Moy Tung Hai was considered a “high roller,” a successful gambler to whom many Chinese laundrymen in other towns like Atlanta, Augusta, and Columbus owed money. It was suspected that one of them, or possibly a jealous Negro, was the murderer. Sam Moy, a Chicago millionaire, sent his cousin, Moy Tung Quai, a Chinese interpreter at the Circuit Court in Chicago, to the funeral held in Atlanta to offer a $1,000 reward for the arrest of the murderer.[xxiii] The anti-gambling organization insisted it had nothing to do with the murder and that the Masons were trying to cast blame on its president, Moy (Jin) Ah Kee.[xxiv]
Despite this murder, the number of Chinese laundrymen in Macon increased.[xxv]Chinese in Macon, as elsewhere, recruited male relatives in China or other states, including sons as young as 12, to come work in their laundries. The 1900 census listed 10 Chinese men, but no women or children, in Macon. If any of these men were married, their wives probably stayed in China, as was typical for Chinese during those days. By 1900, the Sam Lee Laundry had a new owner, Sam Lee, age 41. A 23 year-old, California-born Chinese boarder, Jim Won, worked with him. It might seem unusual that a Chinese named Sam Lee came to operate this laundry, because as already noted, another Sam Lee previously ran it. However, when Chinese bought an existing laundry, they often retained its name rather than incur the expense of making a new sign. Moreover, “Sam Lee” is not always a person’s name. “Sam Lee” is a close approximation of a Romanized version of the Chinese words that mean “triple profits.” By naming a laundry Sam Lee, the owners may have felt it would promote prosperity of the business. The Sam Lee Laundry had several later owners. Some newspaper articles in 1906 identified Lee Dip as the proprietor. The 1910 Census listed N. G. Kim, age 37, who was born in China, as its head, but he left sometime the following decade because in the 1920 Census, Sam Tom, age 22, was listed as the owner. Loo Kwok Fui, my father, first came to the United States in 1921 as “Ben Jung,” a false or “paper name.”[xxvi] He worked in laundries of relatives in Chattanooga and Augusta. After working for two years with a great-uncle in Chattanooga, Gan Heung Loo, he moved to Augusta. There he worked in a laundry owned by his uncle, Gan Hong Loo and cousin, Kam Lee. They had entered the U. S. illegally from Canada via New York and worked in a laundry in South Carolina, then one in Augusta. In 1927, my father purchased a share in a business partnership with other Chinese. Acquiring a classification as a merchant instead of laborer allowed him to leave and re-enter the country. Then he returned to China to be married in an arranged match. When Kwok Fui came back to Georgia in 1928 with his new bride, Quan Shee, they settled in Macon and opened their own laundry. I never learned whether he was related to any of Macon’s other Chinese or what influence they may have had on his decision to settle in Macon. They first operated the Great Southern Laundry at 363 Cotton Avenue. My mother was the first
Chinese woman in Macon. The couple kept that laundry for a few years and then also ran the Sam Lee Laundry on Mulberry Street in 1937 briefly before closing their first laundry. My father’s immigration journey was similar to that of many other young Chinese immigrants. He entered as a “paper son,” and he moved every few years to work in different cities in which he had relatives or friends. Such a pattern may account for the difficulty of locating an individual Chinese in Census listings for the same location over the decades. Then, after saving enough money, he returned to China to marry my mother in an arranged match. He managed to bring her to America, unlike many other Chinese who left their wives behind, returning every few years for brief visits and to sire children. When male offspring reached adolescence, many were brought in to work in their businesses. Cotton Avenue Laundries There were at least three, and maybe four, Chinese laundries on Cotton Avenue around the end of the 19th century, but exactly how many Chinese worked in them is ambiguous. Several Chinese names that never appeared in the Census can be identified from newspaper ads. Sam Loo placed a newspaper ad for his “first class new laundry” at 574 Cotton Avenue in 1894. Sam Lung published an announcement in 1895 that he had moved his laundry from Fourth Street to Cotton Avenue, next to Newman’s bakery. Since no street number was given, it is unclear whether he replaced Sam Loo at 574 Cotton Avenue or if he had a different laundry at 474 Cotton, where the 1900 Census listed 36-year old Fock Lo John (name probably misspelled) from China as the proprietor. Another laundry was located at 454 Cotton Ave. In 1900, several newspaper articles and business ads identified Sam Chung as the owner of a laundry at that address. However, this laundry appears to have existed earlier, because Loo Sang, a laundryman in Alabama, stated on his 1910 petition for a replacement Certificate of Residence that he had worked in a Macon laundry at 454 Cotton Ave. in 1894. The 1900 Census listed four other Chinese, all with the same last name, at 454 Cotton Avenue: Sing Lo 36, Hay Lo 38, Hun Lo 42, Dod Lo, 42.[xxvii] Although local news articles mentioned Sam Chung was head of this laundry, the 1900 Census listed Sing Lo as the head. Sam Chung left Macon before the 1910 Census, which listed 40-yr old Loo Ye as owner of the laundry, along with an assistant, 34 year-old Lee Lang.
Other laundrymen listed in the 1900 Census were Charlie Sui Kee, age 35; Lee Bing, age 35; and Josie Leung, a 17 year-old, California-born Chinese male at 657 Fourth Street, and Sam Kee, age 45, at 318 Third Street. The 1910 Census listed 30 year-old, California-born Yig Goring (probably a misspelled name) at the laundry at 318 Third Street. The 1920 Census listed Yan Quon, a 35 year-old, at a 312 Third Street laundry and 50 year-old Gar Low at a laundry at 416 Third Street. Several Chinese in Macon who could not be linked to a laundry were identified from an 1894 Internal Revenue memorandum about issued Certificates of Residence: Moy Ying, Soo Hoo, Woey Yeun and Yee Lee. One other Chinese on this list, Hugh Chun, was listed at the address of a laundry at 659 Fourth Street. It is possible that these men did not work at a Macon laundry, but used it as a place to receive mail. Finally, the subject of a 1918 news article, Loo Wing, could not be linked to any laundry.[xxviii] Chinese Laundries Advertise Prices Chinese laundrymen in Macon used small newspaper ads to list their prices. It appears that two laundries, Sam Lee on Mulberry and Sing Kee on Fourth Street, advertised together as the Old Union Laundry, offering identical prices. For example, shirts were 10 cents, collars 2 1/2 cents, cuffs 5 cents, and coats 15-20 cents. However, Charlie Lee, who operated a laundry at 463 First Street, beat their prices. His newspaper ad boasted “cut prices,” with shirts priced 20 percent lower than his rivals at eight cents each, and 1½ cents for collars. Condescending Attitudes Toward Chinese A newspaper article in 1898 describing how Chinese celebrate their New Year to Macon residents adopted an insulting, often mocking, tone. It even suggested that none of the Chinese knew the purpose of the event. The reporter claimed he searched for three days to get information “out of the slant-eyed sons of Confucius, but not one of them would or could tell him anything about it.” At each laundry, he noted that the Chinamen invariably would grin and pretend they thought he wanted some washing done. Finally he went to see Sing Lee on Fourth Street but all he could tell him was, “New Year, big time; get drunkee, Chinaman heap fun.”[xxix]
A newspaper article about the impending 1908 Chinese New Year celebration of “the Chinese colony of Macon, consisting of some eleven members” emphasized that they would not have political orators to read the Declaration of Independence but would “observe it in true Chinese style.” Much of the article described the foods that Chinese, eat such as “peculiar-looking dried fish with huge staring eyes… together with …delicious birds’ nests, ducks’ feet... and other delicacies not obtainable nor liked by the ‘Bo Lang Li,’ meaning “foreign devils…It is planned to have all of the Chinamen gather in Sam Lee’s laundry… and have a general “blowout” in the eating line. If you should chance to enter a Chinese joint, and wish to make a hit with the proprietor just say: ‘Kung Hai Fat Toy.’ If you can. it means ‘Happy New Year.’ The ’Kung‘ means one part of the greeting and the ’Hai Fat Toy‘ means another part. Just which is which will never be known__ except to the Chinese.”[xxx] A different example of how Chinese were viewed as a source of amusement was an incident involving a policeman who went to “one of the Chinese laundries on Cotton Avenue” to pick up his laundry. It was late in the evening and the laundry was closed, so the Chinaman who came to the front was reluctant to open the door until the policeman identified himself. Another policeman happened to pass by, and, noticing the late gathering at the laundry entrance, inquired if something was wrong. The first policeman, in jest, remarked that somebody had “shot another Chinaman,” which prompted the other officer to dash to the back of the laundry. where he tried to wake up several Chinamen so he could find out which one had been shot.[xxxi] Dangers Faced By Laundrymen Chinese laundrymen in Macon, as elsewhere in the country, were at risk for robbery, physical assault and even murder. They were well aware of these dangers as word of these crimes spread among them quickly. A chilling incident in Rome, Georgia, not far from Atlanta, occurred in 1899 when two Chinamen were savagely beaten and robbed, with one of them, Joe Lee, dying as a result.[xxxii] In 1899, Sing Kee, a laundryman on Fourth Street, had an argument with a white contractor who charged him 75 cents for some work he performed. The laundryman felt he should only have to pay 50 cents, provoking an argument that led to blows. Two other Chinese in the laundry, James Lee Lin and an unnamed man, came out to help, but the white contractor prevailed despite being outnumbered.[xxxiii]
Another laundryman on Fourth Street, Sing Lee, suffered a worse fate in 1902 when a fire started by a gasoline explosion destroyed the wooden building his laundry occupied. The articles of laundry in the store were a total loss. Unfortunately, Sing Lee had no insurance.[xxxiv] In 1901, a Negro porter was captured in the act of burglarizing a Cotton Avenue laundry when the Chinamen were out. Just as he broke the lock on the trunk containing their money, a policeman who had been watching him made an arrest before he could pull out his pistol.[xxxv] In 1907, Sam Kee, who ran a laundry at 318 Third Street, had a run-in with a negro washerwoman, Hattie Evans, who worked for him. One day she asked to leave early to attend a funeral, but he needed her help to get the work done. Kee hid her shoes to prevent her departure, which led them to come to blows, and “cops” had to be summoned. Kee and the washerwoman worked out their problem, but Kee was still in trouble because he provoked the ire of Sam Lee, another laundryman. Lee felt his good reputation in Macon was harmed by Kee’s misconduct, because some customers could not distinguish them due to the similarity of their names.[xxxvi] Sam Kee was involved in another dispute in 1909, this time with a customer who forgot to remove his cuff buttons when he brought a shirt in to be washed. He demanded that Sam pay for them, which the latter refused to do because he said he had not seen them. The judge sent Sam to jail until he paid up.[xxxvii] In the same year, Sam Lee was assaulted and robbed in his laundry.[xxxviii] The next year Sam Chung had cuffs and collars stolen from his Cotton Avenue Laundry by a 16 year-old Negro boy who was arrested and sentenced to seven months on the county chain gang or a fine of $55.[xxxix] In 1913, Negro robbers ransacked a Chinese laundry on Broadway even though he had a dog on the premises. It was suspected that the robbers drugged the dog, because it slept through the invasion.[xl] Sometimes laundrymen had their own differences. In 1896 Lung Sing attacked Sing Lee one afternoon after they left the Tatnall Square Baptist church Sunday school, beating him severely with a sharp instrument following an argument.[xli] In court, he pleaded guilty to assault and battery changes and paid a $30 fine to avoid a sentence of three months on the chain gang.[xlii] These incidents illustrate the hazardous situations Chinese laundrymen in Macon, as elsewhere, faced, especially when they worked alone or with only one partner late into the night. Chinese laundrymen risked arguments, robberies, thefts, physical and verbal assaults, and even murder.
In addition to these physical threats to laundrymen, Macon health officials concerned about the health hazards in Chinese hand laundries were considering new regulations on the operations of laundries. Chinese laundries were considered to increase spread of disease since most laundrymen lived on the premises, which were notorious for their unhygienic condition. Other cities had laws requiring that laundry items be dried in a separate room from the sleeping quarters of the laundrymen.[xliii] Social Life of Chinese Laundrymen Since none of Maconâ€™s Chinese laundrymen had wives or families with them, they enjoyed no family life. They did not have any social contact with non-Chinese, as their English fluency was poor and they generally did not have much knowledge of, or interest in, American cultural practices. During the few hours of leisure they could find in their arduous work weeks, they crowded together in one of their laundries to gamble, or possibly smoke opium, even though neither activity was legal. On Sundays, Chinese laundrymen from out of town might join them, or they might leave Macon to visit other Chinese in nearby towns. An article in the Macon Telegraph in 1905 reported that the Chinamen were having their Christmas celebration a few days late. Sam Lee, one of the leaders of the Chinese colony, closed his store at 5 o'clock one evening, leaving a sign on his door that he was going to church and asking his patrons to leave their bundles with a friendly neighbor. Together with other laundrymen, Loo Been, Lim Gum, Loo Quong, Lee Dip, Sam Lee and Loo Lung, the proprietor of a laundry on Cotton Avenue, took 100 pounds of fireworks by taxicab to Tattnall Square where they joined fellow members of the the Tattnall Square Baptist Sunday School. After enjoying a western-style meal prepared for them, the group went and shot off the fireworks on Bellevue Avenue.[xliv] A Brush With The Law Over Gambling In 1906, Macon Chief of Police Conner got a tip that about a dozen Chinese had gathered to gamble in the back of the Sam Chong Laundry at 454 Cotton Avenue. Chief Conner came late that night with a few officers. Using a ladder borrowed from the fire department, he peered in the window, but could not make out what was going on, as wire gauze placed over the window prevented him from distinguishing faces. He saw Chinese men sitting around the table and heard sounds similar to those made by poker chips.
Eventually, Sam Chung came to the door and let the police in, but by then the Chinese had removed all incriminating evidence, leaving only a handful of half charred playing cards by the stove. The police remained suspicious, as they found a total of $1,800 among the laundrymen. Sam Chung said they had gathered for a dinner of chicken, rice, celery and fruit. The police were unable to make arrests, because they could not speak Chinese and none of the Chinese could speak English very well, so interrogation of the laundrymen was impossible. Won Lung, summoned from a First Street laundry to interpret, said these Chinese had come to Macon from neighboring towns for a Christmas dinner. Some of them had eaten a lot and were taking naps in the bedroom, while others were smoking, but there was no gambling. Moreover, they claimed they didn't know how to play cards, and as for the cards in the stove, they had been placed there a boy who was cleaning up the rooms.[xlv] The newspaper reported that, “The entire outfit will be arraigned this morning on the charge of gambling, and may get the route that leads to where there will be a suspension of chop suey and “washee washee” for some days to come.” However, lacking sufficient evidence, the police had to release 11 men, detaining only the owner of the laundry, Sam Chung, who was charged with keeping a gambling house, and made to pay a bond of $250.[xlvi] There was insufficient evidence to convict him and he was released.[xlvii] Only one man, Sam Lee from the Mulberry Street laundry, had a local address. All of the other men, Lee Sing, Joe Lee, Joe Kee, Lee Chung, Chung Lee, Charlie Lum, Loo Gee, Loo Lee, Joe Nam Hang, and Ken Loo, apparently came from nearby towns. The Chinamen suspected that someone had snitched to the police. Their prime suspect was Charlie Lee, owner of the laundry on First Street between Poplar Street and the Park Hotel. Lee heard about this accusation when he was in Atlanta and feared that someone might be out to harm him. Chief of Police Connor compiled a complete dossier on every Chinaman in Macon, and stated that he was determined to protect Charlie in every possible way.[xlviii] Charlie Lum of Milledgeville, who was one of the laundrymen at the gambling party. sent Lee a letter threatening to sue him unless Lee made up the shortage of $58 that he incurred when the police returned the possessions taken from them on the night they were arrested.[xlix] Similar raids and arrests of Chinese for gambling occurred in other cities. In 1902, Atlanta police raided the Leong Yick Merchandise Company where they found Chinamen gambling in a large basement
room with four or five tables, and made arrests of 25 laundrymen. A raid on a store run by Charley Ying in Atlanta in 1908 led to charges against some 30 Chinese men.[l] Opium smoking was another vice that many Chinese indulged in that led to arrests. In Augusta, for example, Sam Lee was convicted of running an opium den. At the time of his offense, Augusta had no law governing opium use so they could only charge him for operating a business without a license, an offense for which he was fined $100.[li] A raid in 1920 of the On Leong Tong headquarters in Atlanta led to the arrest of six Chinamen for opium possession.[lii] However, for Macon’s Chinese no evidence was found that showed any of them were indulging in this activity. A Mystery About The Identity of Lou Shong Lou Shong, a Macon laundryman, returned to China for a visit in 1899. On his departure, he reported to immigration authorities that his occupation in Macon was both that of tea merchant and laundryman, because he knew that merchants were allowed to re-enter the U. S., whereas most laborers could not do so easily. After a year had passed, the mayor of Macon received a letter from Lou Shong, including his photograph. that expressed the fear that he might need help in gaining re-entry to the United States. Shortly after that message was received, immigration authorities in San Francisco detained a Chinese attempting to enter the U. S. under the name Lou Shong. They sent Macon’s mayor a photograph of the man. One of Shong’s partners at the 454 Cotton Avenue laundry, when shown the documents, denied knowing any such person.[liii] He asserted that his partner who had gone to visit China was named Au Beng, and that neither of the photographs looked like him. Suspicion arose that the Chinese attempting to enter the U.S. as Lou Shong was a fake. Macon’s Chinamen were puzzled, but finally decided that the laundryman they had known in Macon had used a fake name when he was in Macon as part of a crooked scheme. He may have planned that when he went back to China, he would sell his identity card to a person named “Lou Shong,” hoping to aid his entry into the United States. His scheme was thus thwarted.[liv] Interestingly, a decade earlier, in 1891, a Columbus, Georgia newspaper published a report that a laundryman, Loo Toun, who had been in Macon for five years, was returning to China for a visit. What made his departure newsworthy was the unusual fact that Loo presented costly gifts of tea and porcelain to
city hall officials “in appreciation of their courtesy in preparing the certificates necessary” for his trip that he would need later to re-enter the United States. Is it possible that the “Lou Shong” who left Macon in 1891 for China and the “Loo Toun,” who bestowed gifts to city officials was actually the same man, but reporters had misspelled his name? Lou Shong and Loo Toun are somewhat similar looking names, and when pronounced, they may easily be confused. It’s an intriguing question. Was There A Highbinder Among Macon’s Chinese? The discovery in 1906 that one of Macon’s laundrymen, Sing Lee, was a cousin of a notorious Chinaman on trial in Atlanta for murder created quite a stir in the Chinese colony. Lum Woo of New Orleans, reputedly a “highbinder,” or hatchet man, for the Hip Sing Tong, one of the powerful organizations that controlled life in Chinese communities, stood accused of killing Chang Bing. He had been arrested in Atlanta, where he tried to avoid arrest by leading a model life, opening a laundry and even attending Christian services and Sunday School.[lv] Woo denied the charges, claiming that he was actually atarget of highbinders, who wanted to retaliate against him for his reporting gambling activities to the police. Consequently, Macon’s Chinese became suspicious as to whether the taciturn Sing Lee himself was a highbinder.[lvi] Concerns Over San Francisco’s 1906 Earthquake When the 1906 earthquake and fire devastated San Francisco, reporters interviewed Macon laundrymen because of its large Chinese community. Lee Dip, head of the Sam Lee Laundry, informed a reporter that although none of them had relatives in San Francisco, some had friends there about whom they were greatly concerned.[lvii] A Chinese Beau Brummel Visits Macon A bizarre episode in 1907 involved the visit of a Chinese “Beau Brummel” to Macon from New York. Macon’s laundrymen pressed charges against him because the stranger, George Lee, who preferred to wear white spats, a white vest, and a fancy cut suit over the typical Chinese attire, had managed to obtain money from some of them under false pretenses. He alleged he was a government agent seeking justice for Sam Lee, one of the laundrymen accused of gambling at the Christmas dinner the previous year. Lee also tried
to extort money from them by announcing that he planned to open a rival laundry unless he was paid off.[lviii] A Cotton Avenue Laundryman Suicide In 1923 Yee Gin summoned police to the Sam Chong Laundry at 545 Cotton Avenue where his nephew, Lee Quong, a 38-year old laundryman, was in the basement dead from a gunshot with a pistol in his hand. Quong’s cousin, Leo Lee, had discovered him.[lix] Information that he had been ill for some time led the police to rule the death a suicide.[lx] Chinese Views Related to the Chinese Revolution of 1911 American newspapers reported an incident in Pekin in 1906 in which someone had thrown a Chinese shoe at the Dowager Empress as she was walking in a public garden. A Macon reporter eager to get an interpretation from a local laundryman sought out Lee Dip, whom he described as the proprietor of the Mulberry Street laundry and replacement for “the departed Sam Lee,” noting that he “answers with equal cheerfulness to either name.” He considered Dip to be the only Chinaman who spoke English adequately, as the other Chinamen of Macon, in his view, “communicate with their American surroundings chiefly by exchanging laundry slips, and have, in consequence, a very limited vocabulary.” According to Dip, “throwing a shoe” was the equivalent of provoking a fight, and was a sign of the impending revolution that would overthrow the regime of the Dowager Empress. Dip was also asked to explain the rash of attacks on missionaries in China. He said Chinese were upset at American missionaries because they speak directly to Chinese women in their homes, despite warnings to them that in China men do not speak directly to women that they do not know well. Puzzled, the reporter asked how then do Chinese men court women? Dip explained that Chinese men would never talk directly to women themselves on such matters when for only two or three dollars they could hire someone to arrange a match on their behalf.[lxi] An article in 1911, after the overthrow of the old regime, noted in its headlines that “Macon Chinamen Cut Off Glossy Queues.” It explained that, “An imperial edict has gone forth from the fatherland—whatever that may be in Chinese—saying that it isn’t polite any more to wear queues. So the Chinamen, being always “velly polite” have sadly parted with the offending appendages... One of the
Macon Chinamen here stated last night that the members of his race in Macon will not sell their hair, but throw it away.” [lxii] Macon’s laundrymen were found to be in strong support of the new regime in China under Sun Yat Sen. When asked if Macon’s Chinese would return to China, Lee Sing told a reporter: “Melica and Macon goodee place. Chinamen learnee heap here and maybe die in Macon.” The article added this “disclaimer” at the end: Note: Pidgin English above not guaranteed under the Pure Food and Drug Act.[lxiii] Three Little Chinese Maidens Come To Macon In 1904, Macon received the surprising news that a Chinese maiden, Ei Ling Soong, would be coming from China to attend Wesleyan Female College.[lxiv] A few years later, they learned that her two younger sisters, Ching Ling and Mei Ling, already studying at schools in the northeast, would be joining her in Macon.[lxv] It is doubtful whether the Chinese laundrymen knew of, or were even interested in, the presence of these Chinese maidens in Macon. The Soong sisters would have been equally uninterested in the laundrymen, as they were refined and educated daughters of a wealthy man, Charlie Soong, who had come from China as a young boy to attend school in North Carolina where he converted to Christianity. After his religious studies at Vanderbilt University, he returned to China and made a fortune selling Bibles. During his stay in the American South, he had become good friends with a missionary from Macon, the Rev W. B. Burke. When his daughters were ready for college, he entrusted them to the care and supervision of his Macon friend. The two older sisters were highly regarded as students at Wesleyan College, but the youngest one was denied admission to one of the local high schools because she was not Caucasian.[lxvi]
Figure 4 Chinese not admitted to White Schools. Ironically, Mei-Ling would return to Macon as Madame Chiang-Kai-Shek in triumph 33 years later during her historic 1943 visit to the United States to rally support for China against Japan in World War II. She came to Macon to receive an honorary degree from Wesleyan College, which her two older sisters had attended. As shown in the newspaper article below, the occasion received extensive coverage and as we were the only Chinese family in Macon, my three siblings and I were summoned to attend the festivities. My parents did not attend, because they were too busy at work in the laundry. I suspect that they were not even invited, and I wonder if they would have been all that interested.
Figure 5 Mei-Ling. returning as Madame Chiang Kai Shek,welcomed in Macon in 1943.
Conclusions All Chinese in Macon except my parents had departed by 1930. Some retired, some returned to China and others died. Still others may have opened laundries, or even restaurants and other businesses in other towns as Chinese laundries faced stiff competition from white steam laundries, of which Macon had at least three by the 1920s. My parents managed to earn a living and raise a family with Sam Lee Laundry for almost two more decades in Macon when we were the only Chinese in town. When father closed the business and left for San Francisco, it marked the end of more than 70 years of Chinese laundries in Macon, and for a while, Macon had not a single Chinese living in town. Several articles appeared in the Macon Telegraph about the Chinese laundrymen between 1886 and 1926. Articles meant to explain cultural customs such as Chinese New Year celebrations lacked understanding or tolerance of Chinese practices. News articles, even those that reported a robbery of a laundry, invariably included side comments that disparaged or made light of the laundrymen’s behaviors, customs, and inability to speak English. A much more respectful tone was used in the previously mentioned 1956 newspaper article based on an interview of my father when he retired. Still, there were several major factual errors that reflected the journalist’s stereotypes and unfamiliarity with Chinese customs. He stated that my father was a devout follower of Confucius, which was not at all the case. He either assumed that my parents were Confucian, or my father may have just politely smiled when questioned as to whether he believed in Confucius. The article went on to say that my father said that he came to the U. S. to join his father, but in fact, his real father never left China. However, because my father was not a merchant, he would have been ineligible for entry to the U. S. under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Like thousands of other Chinese, he circumvented the discriminatory barrier by acquiring the documents of another Chinese whose father was a merchant and could bring in his family. For father’s story to fit with his “paper son” identity, his account had to acknowledge the presence of his “paper father” in the United States before he came. The claim in the article that he went back to China to marry and bring back his childhood sweetheart was not true, either. Chinese custom at the time involved arranged matches between brides and grooms who had never met before. The journalist simply assumed that Western custom governed Chinese
marriages. Father allowed the error because he knew that the Chinese custom was at odds with the romantic Western version and would therefore invite ridicule. He did not bother explaining these complicated matters but calmly gave the answers he thought the journalist wanted to hear. Life in Macon for all of its Chinese laundrymen involved cultural isolation, and they were generally thought of as curiosities from the Orient who could never assimilate to American ways. Although my father was much better accepted in Macon than the earlier Chinese had been, he was still an outsider. As the last Chinese laundryman in Macon when he left in 1956, he looked forward to his move to rejoin his family in San Francisco and its large Chinese community.
[i] Walter Bragg. “Not A Chinese in Our Town for First Time in A Century.” Macon News, March 6, 1956, 4. [ii] “The Chinese Washermen. A Visit to the Laundry at Belleville, New Jersey.” New York Times, Dec. 26, 1872. [iii] “The Chinese in North Adams. II. The Shoemaker at Work.” Boston Daily Advertiser September 28, 1870, 2. [iv] “Arrival Of Chinese.”Augusta Chronicle, November 5, 1873, 4. [v] Cornelius K [vi] “Chinese Labor to Be Tried in Florida.” Macon Telegraph, March 29, 1906. [vii] “Chinese in South Carolina.” New York Times, Aug. 17, 1869. [viii] “Two Expelled Chinese Photos Methods of Preventing Shrewd Celestial Prisoners Escaping the Clutches of the Law Enroute.” Augusta Chronicle, Oct. 1, 1904. [ix] “Chinese Cases Indeed Troublesome. Judge Speer’s method of dealing with Kol Lee in discharging him.” Macon Telegraph, June 24, 2004. [x] “Cases Abandoned Against Chinese. Kol Lee and Woo Pui, of Augusta, Need Not Return to The Celestial Empire As Result of Present Prosecution.” Augusta Chronicle, August 11, 1904. [xi] “Chinese Want Justice.” Salt Lake City Herald, March 15, 1883. [xii] “The Chinese in Georgia. History of the Waynesboro Trouble. A Mongolian Wins A White Wife.” New York Times, June 11, 1883. [xiii] The following year, 1888, according to Sanborn Fire Maps, the building that housed the laundry was renumbered, first as 519, and in the late 1940s, to 533 Mulberry. [xiv] “Sam Lee in Trouble.” Macon Telegraph, April 22, 1885. [xv] “Mourning of the Chinese. Sam Lee leaves on a matrimonial trip to China.” Macon Telegraph, Oct. 28, 1885. [xvi] The actual surnames were probably Moy rather than Mo as reported in the article. [xvii] “Macon's Chinaman. How a Triangular Sign Caused the Celestials Much Trouble.”Macon Telegraph, Oct. 20, 1886. [xviii] “After the Chinese. They meet with the loss of their sign and grow very indignant.”Macon Telegraph, Oct. 22, 1886. [xix] No title. Atlanta Constitution, March 16, 1887. [xx] “Southern States Item of Interest.” Times-Picayune, New Orleans, Feb. 11, 1895, 10. [xxi] “Alleged Highbinder Murder in Georgia.” New York Sun, Feb. 17, 1895, 8. [xxii] “Tung Hai’s Murder. Chicago Chinamen Are Interested and Want the Murderer Captured. They Decide to Offer A Reward. Some of Them Suspect the Highbinders of Committing It. A Bitter Feud Exists
Among Them The Masons Outnumber the Highbinders Ten to One—The Wealthiest Chinaman in Chicago the Dead Man’s Cousin.”Atlanta Constitution, Feb. 17, 1895. [xxiii] Ibid. [xxiv] “Say It Is A Tap for Moy Ah Kee. Chicago Chinaman Charged with Complicity in a Murder in Macon, Ga.” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 19, 1895. [xxv] I do not know whether my father knew about this homicide when he acquired Sam Lee Laundry a generation later but if he did, I am glad he never told me about it. [xxvi] My father, like many other Chinese not related to a merchant, used purchased documents of sons of merchants to gain entry to the U. S., and were called, “paper sons.” [xxvii] The Census spelled their surname, Lo, but it could also be spelled Loo or Lau. [xxviii] “Chinese Resident Files Questionnaire. Loo Wing Makes some Queer Characters on the Paper in Giving Name Macon Telegraph, October 9, 1918. [xxix] “The Chinese New Year. The Celestials Had A Hot Time Last Night. Will Keep It Up All Day And Will Do Precious Little Washing. None Of Them Could Tell Why They Celebrate The Event.” Macon Telegraph, Jan. 21,1898. [xxx] “Macon Chinese Colony to Observe New Year. Most Important Day of Celestials’ Calendar on Feb. 13-Curious Eatables Being Received From China. Macon Telegraph,Jan. 26, 1908. [xxxi] no head, Macon Telegraph, 1895. [xxxii] “Rome’s Chinese Horror. Eight Negroes Now in Jail Charged With Complicity in the Murder. Macon Telegraph, Feb. 12, 1899. [xxxiii] Chinese-American War. One American Knocked out Three Sons of the Orient. Macon Telegraph, July 11, 1899. [xxxiv] “Chinese laundry burned.” Atlanta Constitution, September 14, 1902. [xxxv] “Burglarized A Chinese Laundry, And a Negro Porter Was Caught in the Act-He had his gun, but did not draw it in time.” Macon Telegraph, May 31, 1901. [xxxvi] “Chink and Negro Washer Woman Fight. Sam Lee Indignant because Rumor Was Floated That it Was Him.” Macon Telegraph, Aug. 28, 1907. [xxxvii] “Sam Kee’s Trouble Over Cuff Buttons. Was arrested but liked not the looks of jail.” Macon Telegraph, July 20, 1909. [xxxviii] “Sam Lee, Chinese Laundryman, Stuck Fearful Blow on Head. Negro, Evidently Bent On Robbery.Visits Sam Lee On Third Street. And Strikes Him With Piece of Iron.” Macon Telegraph, Sept. 25,1909. The reporter may have confused Sam Kee and Sam Lee, as the latter had a laundry on Mulberry Street. [xxxix] “Three Negroes were found guilty in the city court.” Macon Telegraph, July 2, 1910. [xl] “Was Chinaman’s dog drugged by robbers? Whether He Was or Was Not He Snoozed Away While Robbers Ransacked Laundry.” Macon Telegraph, Aug. 11, 1913, [xli] “Chinese Arrested in Macon for Having a “Scrap.” Atlanta Constitution, July 7, 1896. [xlii] Newsy Notes, Atlanta Constitution, July 22, 1896. [xliii] “Washee washee man in trouble. War waged on Chinese by Macon Board of Health. Chared that Laundrymen Work and Sleep in Same Room, Thereby Endangering Health of Patrons.” Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 4, 1902. [xliv] “Chinese Have Christmas A Few Days Behind Time.” Macon Telegraph, Dec. 29, 1905, 2. [xlv] In Atlanta, a similar raid on gambling led to the arrest of 18 Chinatown. Their lawyer entered a plea of ‘Not guilty’ and that the Chinamen had been engaged in a Sunday nightprayer meeting. “They Broke Up A Prayer Meeting. Dense Ignorance Displayed by the Sleuth Hounds of the Atlanta Detective Force. A Young Lawyers Smart Trick.” Macon Telegraph, July 19, 1893. [xlvi] “Police Raided “Chink” Poker Players Last Night. Fourteen Were Captured, and They May Be Deprived of Chop Suey Some Time.” Macon Telegraph, Dec. 26, 1906. “One Chink Bound Over and Others Released. Christmas Festivities are Broken Up by Chief and Squad.” Macon Telegraph, Dec. 27, 1906. [xlvii] “Chinatown Was Not Guilty.” Atlanta Constitution, Jan. 12, 1907. [xlviii] “Chink Believes His Life is in Danger. Recent gambling of Chinamen cause threat of highbinders ” Macon Telegraph, Jan. 1, 1907. Charlie Lee was not listed in the 1900 Macon census, but in the 1910 census, a 47-year old laundryman named Charlie Lee was listed in Atlanta but whether it is the same man is speculative.)
[xlix] “Washee Artist is in Trouble. Charlie Lee Receives a Letter than Gives Him Uneasiness.” Macon Telegraph, March 4, 1907. [l] “Tower Crowded with Chinese Laundrymen. Gay Celestials Surprised at Sunday Games With Cards and Dice. Atlanta Constitution, July 21, 1902. “Chinese Go On TrialOn Charge of Gaming.” Atlanta Constitution, April 7, 1908. [li] “Celestial Works in Shackles Sam Lee Convicted of Running An Opium Joint.” Atlanta Constitution, Feb. 25, 1897. [lii] Caught in Raid, Chinamen Held for Early Trial” Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 9, 1920. [liii] A 1894 memorandum from the Internal Revenue Service about the issuance of Certificate of Residence included a Lou Shong at 519 Mulberry Street but no other list showed him at that address. It is possible that he moved to work at 454 Cotton Ave. by 1900. [liv] “Chinese Puzzle for Maconites. A Laundryman’s Visit to China Causes Complications. He Calls for Help.” Macon Telegraph, May 18, 1900, 5. [lv] “Rival Chinese Factions Lined Up In Murder Case. One of the Alleged Slayers Smuggled Out of Country at Expense of Thousands.” Times-Picayune. New Orleans, February 2, 1906, 4. [lvi] “Macon Chinaman Cousin To Celebrated Lum Woo. Local Celestial Is Sing Lee, Whose Laundry Is On Fourth Street.” Macon Telegraph, March 25, 1906. [lvii] “Macon Chinese Afraid Friends Are Destroyed. Local Celestials Have No Relatives in the Stricken City.” Macon Telegraph, April 19,1906, [lviii] “Swell Chink Strikes Town, Celestial Beau Brummell Stirs Muss in Chinese Colony.”Macon Telegraph, April 10, 1907. [lix] The Death Certificate listed the Informant as Loo On, another name that does not appear in any other document or listing. [lx] “Lee Quong, Chinaman, Commits Suicide Here, Body of Laundryman Found in Basement, Pistol in Hand.” Macon Telegraph, Jan. 17, 1923. I do not know whether Yee Gin was a relative but he is listed in the 1930 Census at 363 Cotton Avenue, the same address that my parents lived at for several years, which was the site of their Great Southern Laundry. [lxi] “Why Was Shoe Thrown At Aged Chinese Empress? Lee Dip Explains Meaning of Strange Chinese Event—Throws Other light. Macon Telegraph, March 1, 1906, 2. [lxii] “Macon Chinamen Cut off Glossy Queues. Will Not, However, Attempt to Dispose of Braids like Some of Countrymen. Macon Telegraph, Jan. 14, 1911. [lxiii] “Macon Chinamen Are Strong for Republic and President Sun Yat Sen.” Macon Telegraph, Jan. 5, 1912. [lxiv] “Little Chinese Girl for Wesleyan. Her Name is Soon and United State Authorities Will Not Let Her Land-Jon. DePont Guerry Has Taken Matter Up With Authorities At Washington.” Augusta Chronicle, July 22, 1904. [lxv] “Chinese Student; Wesleyan College Bright Celestial Who Is Finishing Her Education.” Augusta Chronicle, October 3, 1907, 3.
[lxvi] “Young Chinese Girl Can't Attend Gresham. Aliens Not Admitted Under the Law—Pupils Must be Naturalized and of the Caucasian Race According to Act Creating Bibb Schools. Macon Telegraph, September 22, 1910. The Soong sisters became arguably the three most powerful women in China after the new republic was created in 1911. Ei Ling married the Minister of Finance, Ching-Ling married Sun Yat Sen, the leader of the revolution, and Mei-Ling married Chiang-Kai-Shek, successor to Sun Yat Sen.
About the Author John Jung was born in Macon where his immigrant parents from China in the late 1920s, the only Chinese in the city, owned a laundry until they moved to San Francisco in the early 1950s. After retiring from a 40 year career as a psychology professor, he started a new career writing 4 books on the history of Chinese immigrants and their family-run businesses. He has made 70 book presentations across the country to pay tribute to these pioneers.
A social history of the lives of a handful of bachelor Chinese laundrymen who settled in Macon, Georgia as early as 1884. By 1928, only one...