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[HISTORY] Stories (success/racism)of Chinese Servants During the Gold Rush Years

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  • madchinaman
    Tales of Chinese Laborers/Servants Becoming Successful Entrepeneurs during the Gold Rush days in the West. ==================== DEFINITION OF AN ENTREPENEUR:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 19, 2003
      Tales of Chinese Laborers/Servants Becoming Successful Entrepeneurs
      during the Gold Rush days in the West.


      ====================

      DEFINITION OF AN ENTREPENEUR: Entrepreneurship is the ability to see
      value where others do not. It is also the ability to "make lemonade
      when life hands you lemons."

      If life with Chinese servants, or any servants, for that matter, was
      considered to be an adventure, it was clearly preferable to life
      without them.

      One study found that certain non-economic factors proved to be
      nearly as important as economic circumstances in the emergence of
      entrepreneurship in a culture.

      Those identified as significant were, first, the legitimacy of
      entrepreneurship, or the cultural acceptance of the entrepreneurial
      role; second, social mobility, the fluidity of movement from one
      class to another; third, marginality, the mediating role of the
      entrepreneur on the margins of society. (Wilken, Paul H.,
      Entrepreneurship: a comparative and historical study. Norwood,
      Ablex, 1979. pp. 8-13; 261-262.)

      ===========================


      Stepping Stones to Empowerment: Chinese Servants in the American West
      A paper prepared for the Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian
      American Studies, April 19, 1997, Seattle, Washington.
      http://www.uidaho.edu/special-collections/stepping.htm

      Terry Abraham
      Head, Special Collections and Archives
      University of Idaho Library
      Moscow, ID 83843-2351
      208-885-7951
      tabraham@...

      -----------

      Introduction
      Many Chinese laborers in the American West used domestic service as
      an entry point to entrepreneurial opportunities. Following a brief
      description of the role of Chinese servants in the American West, we
      will examine case studies of individuals who used domestic service
      as an effective stepping stone to more entrepreneurial, higher-
      status activities.

      Since not all servants became entrepreneurs, we will look at
      characteristics of entrepreneurship for insight into the life
      decisions made by Chinese servants and laborers. "Stepping Stones to
      Empowerment: Chinese Servants in the American West" continues the
      author's earlier research on Chinese servants in the American West.
      Travel support to make this presentation was provided by the
      University of Idaho's John Calhoun Smith Memorial Fund.

      Chinese Servants in the American West
      After the discovery of gold in the West, labor was always scarce
      because every laborer mistakenly believed that work in the gold
      fields was more remunerative than any other kind of employment.

      At the very least, the gold rushes drained off large numbers of
      workers who otherwise would have been filling jobs and building
      communities. There was also a resulting imbalance between the number
      of males and females, with females in decidedly shorter supply. The
      larger society greatly felt the lack of lower-class women who could
      serve as domestics.

      At one point, San Francisco bachelors even shipped their dirty
      laundry to Hawaii to be washed. (For background on Chinese servants:
      Abraham, Terry. Class, Gender, and Race: Chinese Servants in the
      North American West. A paper presented at the Joint Regional
      Conference Hawai'i/Pacific and Pacific Northwest Association for
      Asian American Studies, Honolulu, March 26, 1996, see
      <http://www.uidaho.edu/special-collections/papers/chservnt.htm>.

      On laundry to Hawaii, see Bancroft, Hubert Howe. History of
      California. San Francisco, History Company, 1888. v.6, p. 236.)

      The shortage of labor for such tasks as doing the laundry or
      building the transcontinental railroad meant that employers sought
      to import workers, either from the eastern states or from across the
      Pacific. Coupled with outward propelling forces such as war, famine,
      and floods, southern China responded to the pull of work by sending
      laborers to western ports.

      In accordance with Chinese custom, where women were expected to stay
      at home and sustain the husband's family, these immigrant laborers
      were almost entirely male. The demand for domestic labor eventually
      met the supply of Chinese workers. As a result, male Chinese
      laborers assumed the usually female role of domestic servant on the
      West Coast of the United States and Canada, despite efforts to
      recruit from traditional sources in the eastern and southern states.
      (Katzman, David M. Seven days a week: Women and Domestic Service in
      Industrializing America. New York, Oxford University Press, 1978. p.
      207.)

      Domestic service involved cooking, cleaning, waiting table, laundry,
      child care, and the hundreds of other tasks that the primary
      caregiver in each home provided.

      Many households required servants simply because the amount of work
      was too much for any one person. In addition, social mores stressed
      the incapacity of adult women for domestic labor.

      The weak and wan dependent woman of popular literature could not be
      expected to carry and boil tubs of water to do the laundry every
      week. These kinds of jobs required sturdy immigrant women who didn't
      have fainting spells. (Katzman, David M. Seven days a week: Women
      and Domestic Service in Industrializing America. New York, Oxford
      University Press, 1978. pp. 111, 120, 149.) In addition, the rich
      social life of upper and middle-class women required more "free"
      time than continual house-cleaning and cooking provided.

      Afternoon social calls, teas, receptions, and expansive dinners were
      part of the life-style of the socially conscious. However, as one
      observer noted: "For what good purpose this assistance [of servants]
      sets the women free is not easy to guess; rocking the chairs seems
      the most arduous duty in many Californian homes, and it is one which
      is faithfully carried out." (Shepherd, William. Prairie experiences
      in handling cattle and sheep. Freeport, Books for Libraries Press,
      [1971 reprint] 1885. 116-117.)

      Into this economic niche resulting from overwhelming demographic,
      social, and political factors stepped the Chinese laborer. The
      Chinese were no more suited for domestic service in the West than
      were the Basque fishermen who became sheepherders there; this was
      just an artificial economic niche that circumstances made it
      possible for them to fill.

      While much of the late Victorian era social life existed only in the
      magazines and other taste-arbiters, it did seem that every home must
      have its Chinese servant. Not just in the provincial capitals such
      as San Francisco or Victoria, but even in remote mining towns in
      Idaho, and inland communities such as Boise, Walla Walla, and
      Lewiston. In mountainous Pierce, Idaho, for instance, in 1880, there
      were seven household cooks and three Chinese servants. (Stapp, Darby
      C. "The Documentary Record of an Overseas Chinese Mining Camp." in
      Hidden Heritage: Historical Archaeology of the Overseas Chinese, ed.
      by Priscilla Wegars. Amityville, Baywood, 1993. p. 15.)

      One woman remembered of Boise, "nearly everyone whom I knew had a
      Chinese cook, and usually he was not only the cook but generally
      house boy -- washing, ironing, and doing all of the heavy work."
      ("Boise in the Seventies was a Delightful, Gay City," Idaho
      Statesman, 23 July 1939, p. 6, as quoted in Yu, Li-hua. Chinese
      Immigrants in Idaho. Ph.D. dissertation, Bowling Green State
      University, 1991. pp. 128-129.)

      Another noted: "All the first families had them, and so did the
      young officers stationed at Boise Barracks." ("Dragon is Gone,"
      undated Statesman clipping in ISHS vertical file, as quoted in Yu,
      Li-hua. Chinese Immigrants in Idaho. Ph.D. dissertation, Bowling
      Green State University, 1991. p. 129.)

      It was not uncommon for military officers to have Chinese servants
      in the western posts. (Photographs of General O. O. Howard's Chinese
      servants, as presented by Donna Wells of Howard University, Society
      of American Archivists' annual meeting, Washington, D.C., September
      1995; Roe, Frances. Army letters from an officer's wife, 1871-1888.
      New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1909. passim.)

      In Walla Walla, in eastern Washington, "In those days anyone who
      aspired to be classed as one of the Nob Hill set simply had to have
      a Chinese cook." (Bennett, Robert. Walla Walla, a town built to be a
      city: 1900-1910. v. 2 (n.p. 1982) 159; as quoted by Jewell, James
      Robinson. "Straw hat work force: The Chinese role in small town
      economies." Pacific Northwest Forum, Second Series, 6:1(Winter-
      Spring 1993) 47.)

      Domestic service provided a number of learning opportunities for the
      Chinese who chose this route. They learned how to cook "American-
      style," accomplished the rigors of house-cleaning and laundry, and
      even coped with child care. In addition, servants were in an
      excellent position to "get inside" the dominant culture. Unlike the
      railroad or cannery worker who was insulated from the Caucasians by
      the contractor, the servant was thrown into the midst of a "white"
      milieu. Learning some English was a requirement, since the lady of
      the house was certainly not going to learn Chinese.

      In addition to domestic duties, many cooks were also the shoppers.
      They would go to market, interact with the shopkeepers, and select
      and pay for the food supplies. As butlers and while waiting table
      they interacted with the social and political elite of the
      community. A Lewiston, Idaho, resident recalled having a U.S.
      Senator as a houseguest. During dinner, the Chinese servant asked to
      be introduced to the assembled company and went around the table
      shaking hands. (Pfafflin, Grace. Pioneer Chinamen of Idaho. Seeing
      Idaho, 1:9(February 1938) p. 24.)

      Others took advantage of their situation to learn business skills.
      Gee Sing asked his employer how to read the exchange rates in the
      newspaper; every night he would study the price of silver in Hong
      Kong. When it reached his target, he was off to the bank to buy or
      sell, in order to increase his stake being held for him in China.
      (Blythe, Samuel G. "Chinese cooks." Saturday Evening Post, 205:44
      (April 29, 1933) p. 67.)

      Entrepreneurial Examples
      Domestic service as a stepping stone to entrepreneurship has not,
      and perhaps can not, be proven. However there are numerous examples
      in the literature of Chinese men who began their American life as
      servants and moved out to establish businesses and other ventures.
      Among these are:

      Gin Chow
      He reported in the 1930s that after his arrival in southern
      California he first washed dishes in a French restaurant, and then
      went into domestic service for six years. Following that period he
      became a gardener. Eventually he bought land and became a farmer.
      (Gin Chow. Gin Chow's First Annual Almanac. Los Angeles: Wetzel
      Publishing, 1932. p. 29.)

      Gee Hing
      A bright, young go-getter, Gee Hing became a cook for a Californian
      after learning the trade in the Pacific Union Club in San Francisco.
      He also had experience driving a laundry truck. He mother called him
      back to China for an arranged marriage, after which returned to the
      States, as planned, to become a merchant. As a grocer in San
      Bernardino, he kept in touch with his previous Caucasian employer.
      (Blythe, Samuel G. "Chinese cooks." Saturday Evening Post, 205:44
      (April 29, 1933) p. 68.)

      Chin Quong
      He came to the United States in 1877 and found his first job in San
      Francisco as a servant. Like many, he found this role too
      constricting and by 1882 he signed on as packer in an Alaskan salmon
      cannery, and was later promoted to foreman. Based on that
      experience, he set up his own labor contracting business in San
      Francisco. Forced to find alternate sources for the Chinese goods
      needed by his laborers, he opened his own import business.
      Unionization of the Alaskan canneries diminished Quong's role as a
      labor contractor and supplier of goods. He retired, and died soon
      after, in 1938. (Chinn, Thomas W. Bridging the Pacific: San
      Francisco Chinatown and its people. San Francisco, Chinese
      Historical Society of America, 1989. pp. 80-84.)

      Walter James
      James was born in 1891 in Olympia, Washington. He started out as a
      houseboy and cook, and at age twelve or thirteen received three
      dollars a week. Later in life he was a Minneapolis restaurateur.
      (James, Walter. "Walter James: Reminiscences of my younger days,"
      Interview by Him Mark Lai, Laura Lai, and Philip P. Choy; edited by
      Marlon K. Hom. in Chinese America: History and Perspectives 1995.
      San Francisco, Chinese Historical Society of America, 1995. pp. 75-
      86.)

      Dong Tien Shong
      A goldsmith by trade, Dong Tien Shong left Hong Kong in 1873 and
      found work in Gonzales in the Salinas Valley as a servant for a
      Spanish family. On his $20 per month salary, he saved $800. He then
      quit and started a small store offering Chinese goods to the
      laborers in the valley. He expanded into Salinas and then Pajaro,
      opening a restaurant as well as additional stores. He died in 1933
      at the age of 78 after overexerting himself assisting the survivors
      of a Pajaro Chinatown fire. (Chinn, Thomas W. Bridging the Pacific:
      San Francisco Chinatown and its people. San Francisco, Chinese
      Historical Society of America, 1989. pp. 229-234.)

      Early Case Studies
      These brief biographical mentions can be supplemented by closer
      examination of three individuals whose rose from domestic service to
      positions of prominence and appreciation within their respective
      communities. These are Ted Loy and Gue Owen of Lewiston, Idaho and
      Goon Dip of Seattle, Washington.

      Ted Loy [Eng Moon Loy]
      Born in the Taishan district of China in 1879, Loy followed his
      parents to Seattle in 1891. (U.S. Census 1920: Idaho, Nez Perce
      County, Lewiston, Precinct 3, sheet 2A; Campbell, Thomas W. The
      Elders/ Ted Loy. Lewiston Morning Tribune, 11 December 1977, p. 5C;
      Campbell, Thomas W. Ted Loy, Chinese Pioneer, Is Dead at 101.
      Lewiston Morning Tribune, 21 March 1981, p. 2B; Loy's grandson
      stated that Ted Loy's name was actually Eng Moon Loy; Eng was his
      surname (Gorden Lee, personal communication to Priscilla Wegars,
      1994).

      His gravestone in the Lewiston Normal Hill Cemetery gives his name
      as Eng Ted Loy. I appreciate Priscilla Wegars' provision of her
      notes on Lewiston pioneers Ted Loy and Gue Owen.) A few years later,
      possibly after working as a cook in Portland, he was employed on a
      steamboat traveling on the Columbia River and Snake Rivers, from
      Celilo Falls to Lewiston, Idaho. (Campbell, Thomas W. The Elders/
      Ted Loy. Lewiston Morning Tribune, 11 December 1977, p. 5C;
      Campbell, Thomas W. Ted Loy, Chinese Pioneer, Is Dead at 101.
      Lewiston Morning Tribune, 21 March 1981, p. 2B.

      Loy's grandson, Gorden Lee, stated that Eng Moon Loy was "driven out
      of Portland for union activities" because he had "joined with
      Caucasian cooks trying to [work] fewer hours [in order] to spend
      more time with their families" (Gorden Lee, personal communication
      to Priscilla Wegars, 1993). For more on steamboats on the river, see
      Randall V. Mills, Stern-wheelers up the Columbia. Palo Alto, Pacific
      Books, 1947. pp. 83-84.)

      In 1900, by some reports, he was noticed by the local agent for the
      steamship company, John P. Vollmer, and was offered a position in
      that household. (Campbell, Thomas W. The Elders/ Ted Loy. Lewiston
      Morning Tribune, 11 December 1977, p. 5C; Campbell, Thomas W. Ted
      Loy, Chinese Pioneer, Is Dead at 101. Lewiston Morning Tribune, 21
      March 1981, p. 2B; Elsensohn, Sister M. Alfreda. Idaho Chinese Lore.
      Caldwell, Caxton, 1970. p. 22.

      Loy lived on the second floor in the Vollmer house.) Vollmer was a
      prominent businessman in Lewiston with interests in trade, banks,
      flour mills, electric power, telegraphs, telephones, and
      transportation. ("John P. Vollmer," in French, Hiram T. History of
      Idaho. Chicago, Lewis Publishing Company, 1914. v.3, pp. 1006-1007.)
      Later, Loy transferred his employment to the home of another
      Lewiston banker, William F. Kettenbach. (Lewiston Morning Tribune, 4
      June 1962, p. 14.)

      Leaving domestic service, Loy apprenticed under Louie Kim at the
      Portland Cafe and then moved on to the kitchen at the Bollinger
      Hotel. (Trull, Fern Coble. The history of the Chinese in Idaho from
      1864 to 1910. MA Thesis, University of Oregon, June 1946. pp. 58,
      60; Lewiston Morning Tribune, 6 October 1935, sect. 2, p. 6. The
      dates of Loy's Portland Cafe employment are not known. Lewiston
      Morning Tribune, 4 June 1962, p. 14.)

      Married in 1918, by 1920 he owned his own restaurant. (U.S. Census
      1920: Idaho, Nez Perce County, Lewiston, Precinct 3, Sheet 2A. The
      name of the restaurant he owned at that time is not known.)

      He remained active in the restaurant business as cook, owner and
      manager of a variety of establishments until his retirement in 1968.
      (Campbell, Thomas W. The Elders/ Ted Loy. Lewiston Morning Tribune,
      11 December 1977, p. 5C; Campbell, Thomas W. Ted Loy, Chinese
      Pioneer, Is Dead at 101. Lewiston Morning Tribune, 21 March 1981, p.
      2B; Bailey, Robert G. and Paul B. Blake, compilers. Nez Perce
      County, Idaho and Asotin County, Washington 1927 Directory.
      Lewiston, ID: R. G. Bailey and P. B. Blake. [1927]. pp. 57, 60;
      Lewiston Morning Tribune, 4 June 1962, p. 14; Polk, R. L. and
      Company. Polk's Lewiston City and Nez Perce County (Idaho) Clarkston
      City and Asotin County (Washington) Directory 1931-32. Seattle: R.
      L. Polk and Co. 1931. p. 120; Elsensohn, Sister M. Alfreda. Idaho
      Chinese Lore. Caldwell, Caxton, 1970. p. 22; Bailey, Robert G.,
      compiler. City of Lewiston and Nez Perce County, Idaho; City of
      Clarkston and Asotin County, Washington 1948 Directory. Lewiston,
      ID: R. G. Bailey. [1948] pp. 65, 79, 85, 96-A, 128-D.)

      He was a member of the local temple society, along with other
      Lewiston restaurateurs. (Idaho State Historical Society photograph,
      No. 2961.) He died in Lewiston in 1981, age 101. (Campbell, Thomas
      W. Ted Loy, Chinese Pioneer, Is Dead at 101. Lewiston Morning
      Tribune, 21 March 1981, p. 2B. Ted Loy's gravestone, in the Lewiston
      Normal Hill Cemetery, is engraved in both Chinese and English. The
      English reads, "Eng Ted Loy / July 3, 1880 / Mar. 19, 1981.")

      Gue Owen [Ng Gue Owen]
      Gue Owen arrived in Idaho around 1875 at about twelve years of age.
      He first worked in the mines at Elk City but soon quit that and
      dropped down to the Camas Prairie above Lewiston, Idaho. Here, he
      cooked for prominent landowner Loyal P. Brown in Mt. Idaho.
      (Lewiston Weekly Tribune, 2(16):1, 11 January 1894.)

      He apparently worked for a Mrs. Owen, from whom he derived his
      surname. She taught him to make bread, a skill he used to supply
      loaves to the Army troops defeated by the Nez Perce at White Bird
      Canyon in 1877. (Pfafflin, Grace. Pioneer Chinamen of Idaho. Seeing
      Idaho, 1:9(February 1938) p. 24.)

      Gue Owen was employed by the Robinson family in Grangeville from
      1875 to about 1885. While in Grangeville he attended school where he
      honed his English. He also worked for a Mr. John T. Brown and at a
      Grangeville laundry. (Lewiston Weekly Tribune, 2(16):1, 11 January
      1894. Elsensohn, Sister M. Alfreda. Pioneer days in Idaho County,
      v.1. Caldwell, Caxton, 1947. p.136-137; in 1904 he is reported as
      having "lived in Lewiston and vicinity since 1877." Lewiston Morning
      Tribune, 14(285)2:3, September 1904.)

      In 1887 or so, he returned to China to get married. After a year,
      and the birth of a boy, he returned to Idaho. (Lewiston Weekly
      Tribune, 2(16):1, 11 January 1894.) In 1889 he was apparently
      employed as cook and servant to anthropologist Alice Fletcher and
      her troupe who traveled throughout the Nez Perce Indian Reservation
      re-allotting Indian lands. (Gay, E. Jane. With the Nez Perces: Alice
      Fletcher in the field, 1889-92. Lincoln, University of Nebraska
      Press, 1981. p.12.)

      Late in 1899 he ran the Kwong Lung Laundry in Lewiston. (Pfafflin,
      Grace. Pioneer Chinamen of Idaho. Seeing Idaho, 1:9(February 1938)
      p. 24; Lewiston Teller, 23(58):3, 17 May 1899. Owen apparently
      preceding Ted Loy in the position as servant to the Kettenbach
      family.) From there he moved back into domestic service, for a local
      banker. (Pfafflin, Grace. Pioneer Chinamen of Idaho. Seeing Idaho,
      1:9(February 1938) p. 24.)

      About 1900 he worked for a year as a cook in the men's dorm at
      Lewiston Normal School. (Trull, Fern Coble. The history of the
      Chinese in Idaho from 1864 to 1910. MA Thesis, University of Oregon,
      June 1946. p. 57.) According to one local historian, "after he left
      the dormitory, he ran a hotel [and possibly a store] in downtown
      Lewiston. He eventually retired, went back to China, and was,
      according to rumor, robbed and murdered." (Elsensohn, Sister M.
      Alfreda. Pioneer days in Idaho County, v.1. Caldwell, Caxton, 1947.
      p.136; Elsensohn, Sister M. Alfreda. Idaho Chinese Lore. Caldwell,
      Caxton, 1970. p. 20.)

      Goon Dip (Goon Yun-Dip)
      Goon Dip was born in 1862 in the Taishan district of China. In 1876,
      aged 14, he traveled from Hong Kong to Portland and on to Tacoma
      where he became a laborer for relative. In 1885 or 1886 he returned
      to China and married. (Information on Goon Dip has been extracted
      from Chew, Ron, ed. Reflections of Seattle's Chinese Americans: the
      first 100 years. Seattle, University of Washington press, 1994. pp.
      141-142, and from Jue, William G. and Silas G. Jue. Goon Dip:
      Entrepreneur, diplomat, and community leader. Annals of the Chinese
      Historical Society of the Pacific Northwest. Bellingham, 1984. pp.
      40-48.)

      On his return to Portland, he despaired of employment in the face of
      the anti-Chinese sentiment in the air. He was taken in by Miss Ella
      McBride. Repeating the family story, Goon Dip's grandchildren
      reported: "She brought him home to meet her parents and they
      employed him as a houseboy. Ella taught the young Goon Dip English
      and introduced him to the customs of the new world.

      The bond between him and this young woman was so deep that in later
      years, Goon Dip would name his youngest daughter after his American
      friend. The gesture signified his gratitude for her assistance in
      helping him to adjust to American life." (Jue, William G. and Silas
      G. Jue. Goon Dip: Entrepreneur, diplomat, and community leader.
      Annals of the Chinese Historical Society of the Pacific Northwest.
      Bellingham, 1984. p. 42.)

      Later in this account, it is noted that "within a short time, Goon
      yearned to advance himself above the level of being a servant." He
      left the McBride family and became the assistant of a Chinese labor
      contractor, Moy Bok-Hin, and the two remained partners in different
      ventures for many years.

      Although he reportedly worked on the railroads in Washington, Idaho,
      and Montana, he did not speak of it within the family. (Jue, William
      G. and Silas G. Jue. Goon Dip: Entrepreneur, diplomat, and community
      leader. Annals of the Chinese Historical Society of the Pacific
      Northwest. Bellingham, 1984. p. 42. Chew, Ron, Reflections of
      Seattle's Chinese Americans: the First 100 Years. Seattle,
      University of Washington Press, Wing Luke Asian Museum, 1994, p.
      141, repeats the account of Goon Dip's labors in Montana and
      elsewhere.)

      He initiated a program of retraining disabled Chinese workers as
      hemstitchers, thus establishing Portland's garment industry. About
      1900 he and a cousin opened a store. Then his cousin took over the
      business and Goon Dip started his own dry goods and hemstitching
      operation.

      By 1906, Goon Dip had expanded his activities to the Seattle area.
      There he was appointed honorary consul for China representing the
      interests of the Chinese government, and later made full consul. In
      that role he was an official representative to the 1906 Alaska-Yukon-
      Pacific Exposition in Seattle.

      It was in that capacity that he met the owner of extensive Alaskan
      canning operations who needed a ready supply of laborers. Goon Dip
      became his labor contractor. Well respected and honored for his
      activities, Goon Dip died in 1933 at the age of 71.

      Paths to entrepreneurship
      Learning English, and, as a consequence, American ways aided the
      inclusion of the Chinese workers into American society. Washington
      State's new Governor, Gary Locke, reported that his grandfather
      learned English as a houseboy for the Yeagers of Olympia where he
      worked for free in exchange for the opportunity to learn English.
      (Locke, Gary. "Address to AAAS," Seattle, Washington, April 17,
      1997; Locke, Gary. "Inaugural address," AsianWeek, January 24, 1997.
      p. 7.)

      Then as now, immigrant workers sought help learning the dominant
      language. Missionaries were eager to teach English as a way of
      spreading the gospel. Employers also mistakenly believed that
      Christian teachings would make the Chinese better servants. The
      Chinese were accused of using the mission school solely as a "free
      day school" and as an employment service, rather than for religious
      purposes. (Vernon, Di. "The Chinese as house servants." Good
      Housekeeping, 12(January 1891)21.)

      Newspaper articles complained that the only result of such education
      was that the pupil would just quit and go "elsewhere for higher
      wages." ("Chinese Domestic Servants," Idaho Signal (Lewiston), 1:49
      (February 8, 1873)1, reprinted from the "S.F. Chronicle.") As might
      be expected, this was the whole point of the effort. It was this
      kind of upward mobility towards entrepreneurship that the former
      servants desired.

      Florence Grohman found herself acting as teacher to her servant; in
      exchange for home security she gave him lessons. She wrote: "...I
      disliked being alone in the house during the long November evenings.

      Although I had many kind friends who took pity on my loneliness,
      very often I felt it would be more canny if Gee could be induced to
      stay in the house till nine or ten o'clock.

      He did not seem to like the idea at all when I suggested it, and
      nothing more was said about it for a few days." Then he offered to
      stay in with her in the evening, giving up his free time in
      Chinatown, if she would teach him to read and write English.
      (Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White Agony: a chapter on
      Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and life in the hunting
      grounds of western America and British Columbia. by W.A. Baillie-
      Grohman; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman. London: Horace Cox,
      1900. 336-337.)

      Learning English, as we have seen, became the predominant
      characteristic of the Chinese who successfully made for the
      transformation from laborer to domestic to entrepreneur. Proficiency
      in English placed the Chinese at a transfer point between the two
      cultures. Taking advantage of that juncture is one of the marks of
      the entrepreneur.

      But not all
      While there were many Chinese who found the rigors of domestic
      service (always on duty, managing the household and the household's
      relationships, dealing with the continual patronizing) so onerous
      that even work in the canneries might have been preferable; there
      were those who found great satisfaction in the job and were well
      treated by their employers. (In fact, of the examples reviewed here,
      none left service because of mistreatment.)

      In the old days, when a Chinese servant became attached to a family,
      he stayed attached. There are plenty of instances where they have
      served three generations. I had a cook once - Wong Suey, ...who
      worked for one family for thirty-five years and then left only
      because the family had practically disappeared.

      There have been hundreds of families in California where these
      faithful, expert, skillful servants have come to be major-domos,
      have had complete control of the ménage, which, by the way, is an
      obligation a good Chinese cook of the old school takes upon himself
      whether his employer wants it so or not. And he is usually so
      competent the employer is glad to submit to his management. (Blythe,
      Samuel G. "Chinese cooks." Saturday Evening Post, 205:44(April 29,
      1933)10.)

      Others were drawn in alternate directions. Chin Quong, born in 1861,
      learned English in a mission school in China. Upon arrival in San
      Francisco he found his language skills and his mission training
      helpful in employment at the Chinese Congregational Church and as a
      domestic servant.

      Rather than following his initial dream to Gold Mountain, he
      remained in service to the Church for most of his life, while
      managing to send three of his six children on to college. (Chinn,
      Thomas W. Bridging the Pacific: San Francisco Chinatown and its
      people. San Francisco, Chinese Historical Society of America, 1989.
      pp. 84-87. This is a different individual than the previously
      mentioned labor contractor.)

      Wing Yee, another example, began in California as a houseboy, then
      became a cook. He remained with the same family for many years,
      assuming greater responsibilities as general farm manager. He was
      encouraged to bring a wife from China, who became housekeeper in his
      place; and his employers built a home for his growing family next to
      the main house. (Wong, H.K. Gum Sahn Yum: Gold Mountain Men. n.p.,
      n.p., 1987. 125-130.)

      Entrepreneurship
      Defining and analyzing entrepreneurship has always been a puzzle to
      economists and sociologists. Economists complain that there are too
      many social characteristics to entrepreneurship while the social
      scientists found too many economic factors at work.

      One study found that certain non-economic factors proved to be
      nearly as important as economic circumstances in the emergence of
      entrepreneurship in a culture.

      Those identified as significant were, first, the legitimacy of
      entrepreneurship, or the cultural acceptance of the entrepreneurial
      role; second, social mobility, the fluidity of movement from one
      class to another; third, marginality, the mediating role of the
      entrepreneur on the margins of society. (Wilken, Paul H.,
      Entrepreneurship: a comparative and historical study. Norwood,
      Ablex, 1979. pp. 8-13; 261-262.)

      Chinese entrepreneurs in the West demonstrated the validity all of
      these characterizations. Frontier culture was socially and
      geographically mobile. The Chinese in particular, spread out from
      the port cities to the highest mountains and the deepest valleys.

      Their value as laborers placed them in the heart of the Midwest,
      eastern metropolitan areas, and the fisheries of the gulf states.
      With the increasing availability of the railroad, people of all
      backgrounds traversed the country.

      Robert Louis Stevenson was one of those who took an emigrant train
      across the U.S. in 1879; one car, set aside for them, carried only
      Chinese. (Stevenson, Robert Louis, From Scotland to Silverado,
      Edited by James D. Hart. Cambridge, Belknap Press of Harvard
      University Press, 1966. pp. 115, 117, 135.)

      Socially, the boundaries were more sharply drawn but in comparison
      with class structures in China, even Chinese laborers in the United
      States had greater social and economic mobility.

      The dominating ideology of the respective cultures was favorable to
      entrepreneurship. Working hard and getting ahead was valued by both
      societies.

      The Anglo-Saxon ethic prized the "go-getters" who made things
      happen.

      The Chinese (or more precisely, Southern Chinese) characteristic
      that sustained the entrepreneur was acquisitiveness, where wealth
      accumulation was the means to status for one's family and lineage.
      (Hafner, James A. "Market gardening in Thailand: The origins of an
      ethnic Chinese monopoly." in The Chinese in Southeast Asia, v.1,
      edited by L.Y.C. Lin and L.A.P. Gosling. Singapore, Maruzen Asia,
      1983. p. 41; see also: Pan, Lynn. Sons of the Yellow Emperor: A
      history of the Chinese diaspora. Boston, Little Brown, 1990. pp. 244-
      245.)

      In becoming merchants, it has been noted, the Chinese in America
      found a higher status than they would have had in the same role in
      China.

      This is often attributed to the importance of trade in the American
      scheme of things; but it appears to be a cultural signifier more
      common to South China. (Gosling, L. A. Peter, "Chinese crop dealers
      in Malaysia and Thailand: The myth of the merciless monopsonistic
      middleman." in The Chinese in Southeast Asia, v.1, edited by L.Y.C.
      Lin and L.A.P. Gosling. Singapore, Maruzen Asia, 1983. p. 151.)

      Not only was the entrepreneurial role encouraged by the society; but
      the Chinese, as ethnic and racial minorities, found themselves at
      the very margins of the majority society.

      Truck gardeners were a prime example of how the Chinese assumed a
      mediating role between cultures. Growing vegetables for their own
      use, Chinese gardeners found their crops in high demand among the
      Caucasian population.

      In remote mining communities, they carved carefully sited garden
      terraces into south facing hillsides at lower elevations. They then
      provided early vegetables to the miners still locked in winter's
      snows at higher elevations. (Fee. Jeffrey M. "Idaho's Chinese
      Mountain gardens," in Hidden Heritage: Historical Archaeology of the
      Overseas Chinese, ed. by Priscilla Wegars. Amityville, Baywood,
      1993. pp. 65-96.) Here the Chinese found an entrepreneurial niche
      that the dominant culture rewarded.

      Studies in South-East Asia have identified other characteristics
      that fostered Chinese entrepreneurship.

      The Chinese had little incentive to invest in agricultural
      enterprises requiring extensive land holdings; they needed quick
      access to their capital both in response to anti-immigrant pressures
      and their own desires to cash out and return home.

      Newly developing market economies such as those in the West also
      offered increasing economic opportunities, often requiring little in
      the way of capital expenditures. (Lim, Linda Y.C. "Chinese economic
      activity in Southeast Asia: An Introductory Review." in The Chinese
      in Southeast Asia, v.1, edited by L.Y.C. Lin and L.A.P. Gosling.
      Singapore, Maruzen Asia, 1983. pp. 2-3.)

      Entrepreneurship is the ability to see value where others do not. It
      is also the ability to "make lemonade when life hands you lemons."

      Living on the margins of the culture attunes one to the imbalance of
      goods and services.

      Domestic service provided the Chinese with an experience at the
      heart of the culture, within the Caucasian home, in the bosom of the
      family; an experience that offered glimpses of needs that could be
      fulfilled from the margin.

      Many seized the entrepreneurial moment and made a successful life
      for themselves in a strange land among a strange people.

      ============================

      Class, Gender, and Race: Chinese Servants in the North American West
      Terry Abraham
      Head, Special Collections and Archives
      University of Idaho Library
      Moscow, ID 83844-2351
      208-885-7951
      http://www.uidaho.edu/special-collections/papers/chservnt.htm

      A paper presented at the Joint Regional Conference Hawai'i/Pacific
      and Pacific Northwest Association for Asian American Studies,
      Honolulu, March 26, 1996


      As she stepped off the brig Eagle from Hong Kong at the San
      Francisco wharf in 1848, returning missionary Charles Gillespie's
      servant was undoubtedly unaware of her singular position as the
      first Chinese servant on the West Coast of North America.(Wegars,
      Priscilla. "Besides Polly Bemis: Historical and Artifactual Evidence
      for Chinese Women in the West, 1848-1930," Hidden Heritage:
      Historical Archaeology of the Overseas Chinese, ed. by Priscilla
      Wegars. Amityville, Baywood, 1993. 230.)

      She would not have realized that her presence signaled a shift in
      the domestic labor market and that her sisters would not participate
      in the change.

      Instead, the many Chinese servants who followed her were almost
      entirely men, unlike the case on the East Coast where most servants
      were women.(Katzman, David M. Seven days a week: Women and Domestic
      Service in Industrializing America. New York, Oxford University
      Press, 1978. 55.)

      Domestic service in the nineteenth century changed because of
      industrialization. Previously, servants were drawn from nearby rural
      areas and were often distant relatives of their employers.

      Employment as a servant provided food and housing, if not a cash
      income, under the paternalistic (or, as some say, maternalistic) eye
      of a wealthy (or wealthier) patron. Servanthood, in the agrarian
      age, was barely a step up from slavery.(Rollins, Judith. Between
      Women: Domestics and their Employers. Philadelphia, Temple
      University Press, 1985. 7, 203.)

      As industrialization progressed, the rising middle class and its
      aspirations, coupled with a decline in the number of agricultural
      workers, sparked an increase in the demand for and supply of
      domestic workers.

      There was a consequent erection of class barriers, a shift to
      working for wages, and change in the population of the servant
      class. Instead of poor displaced relatives, servants came from the
      class of poor displaced rural workers who were attracted to the
      cities seeking increased opportunities.

      As the supply of Caucasian rural expatriates declined, employers
      turned toward African-Americans and immigrants. In addition, the
      bulk of those becoming servants were female.(Rollins, Judith.
      Between Women: Domestics and their Employers. Philadelphia, Temple
      University Press, 1985. 31; Katzman, David M. Seven days a week:
      Women and Domestic Service in Industrializing America. New York,
      Oxford University Press, 1978. 45.)

      On the West Coast, the situation was complicated by the demographic
      forces resulting from the many gold rushes. In the West, labor was
      always scarce as every laborer mistakenly believed that work in the
      gold fields was more remunerative than any other kind.

      At the very least, the gold rushes drained off large numbers of
      workers who otherwise would have been filling jobs and building
      communities. There was also a resulting imbalance between the number
      of males and females, with females in decidedly shorter supply.

      The shortage of labor for such tasks as building the
      transcontinental railroad meant that employers sought to import
      workers, either from the eastern coast or from across the Pacific.
      Coupled with outward propelling forces such as war, famine, and
      floods, southern China responded to the pull of work by sending
      laborers to western ports.

      In accordance with Chinese custom, these immigrant laborers were
      almost entirely male; the women were expected to stay at home and
      sustain the husband's family.

      The demand for domestic labor eventually met the supply of Chinese
      workers, resulting in male Chinese laborers assuming the usually
      female role of domestic servant on the West Coast of the United
      States and Canada, despite efforts to recruit from traditional
      sources in the eastern and southern states.

      By 1870, seeking replacements for the Chinese, the San Francisco
      Elevator lamented the lack of African-American workers on the
      domestic scene.(Katzman, David M. Seven days a week: Women and
      Domestic Service in Industrializing America. New York, Oxford
      University Press, 1978. 207.)

      Domestic service involved cooking, cleaning, waiting table, laundry,
      child care, and the hundreds of other tasks that the primary
      caregiver in each home provided. Many households required servants
      simply because the amount of work was too much for any one person.

      In addition, social mores stressed the incapacity of adult women for
      domestic labor.

      The weak and wan dependent woman of popular literature could not be
      expected to carry and boil tubs of water to do the laundry every
      week. These kinds of jobs required sturdy immigrant women who didn't
      have "the vapors," or fainting spells.(Katzman, David M. Seven days
      a week: Women and Domestic Service in Industrializing America. New
      York, Oxford University Press, 1978. 111, 120, 149.)

      In addition, the rich social life of upper and middle-class women
      required more "free" time than continual house-cleaning and cooking
      provided. Afternoon social calls, teas, receptions, and dinners were
      part of the life-style of the socially conscious.

      Florence Grohman, interviewing one "nice-looking girl," was
      surprised, after listing the servant's duties, to be asked, "What
      part of the work do you do?" Startled, she answered forthrightly,
      and oh-so-patronizingly, "I ha[ve] a great amount of needlework and
      letter writing, and many social duties and a great deal of necessary
      reading to get through.

      In fact, if [you] only le[ave] off being busy when I d[o], [you
      will] have a hard time."(Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White
      Agony: a chapter on Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and
      life in the hunting grounds of western America and British Columbia.
      by W.A. Baillie-Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman.
      London: Horace Cox, 1900. 358.)

      Others had their doubts about this distribution of the work-load.

      One observer noted: "For what good purpose this assistance sets the
      women free is not easy to guess; rocking the chairs seems the most
      arduous duty in many Californian homes, and it is one which is
      faithfully carried out."(Shepherd, William. Prairie experiences in
      handling cattle and sheep. Freeport, Books for Libraries Press,
      [1971 reprint] 1885. 116-117.)

      Into this economic niche resulting from overwhelming demographic,
      social, and political factors stepped the Chinese laborer. The
      Chinese were no more suited for domestic service in the West than
      were the Basque fishermen who became sheepherders there; this was
      just an artificial economic niche that circumstances made it
      possible for them to fill. Yet, they filled it in ways uniquely
      Chinese and -- as well -- uniquely western.

      It is difficult to discuss the typical Chinese servant in the North
      American West in the latter half of the nineteenth century because
      there is little in the way of aggregate evidence to deduce
      commonalties. There is a quite a bit of anecdotal evidence but not
      much in the way of quantitative summary data.

      (In an 1868 statistical report approximately 7 per cent of the
      Chinese immigrants in California were domestic servants; cited in
      Tsai, Shih-shan. China and the Overseas Chinese in the United
      States, 1868-1911. Fayetteville, University of Arkansas Press, 1983.
      21.)

      In addition, it is useful to note that not all servants were always
      and forever servants. Gin Chow reported that after his arrival in
      southern California he first washed dishes in a French restaurant,
      and then went into domestic service for six years. Following that
      period he became a gardener. Eventually he bought land and became a
      farmer.(Gin Chow. Gin Chow's First Annual Almanac. Los Angeles:
      Wetzel Publishing, 1932. 29.)

      Ted Loy (Eng Moon Loy) started as cook on a Columbia River
      steamboat. He stopped at Lewiston, Idaho, at the end of the run from
      Portland, and joined the wealthy Vollmer family as houseboy. Within
      a few years he was in the restaurant business for good.(Yu, Li-hua.
      Chinese Immigrants in Idaho. PhD dissertation, Bowling Green State
      University, 1991. 113.)

      Wing Yee, on the other hand, began as a houseboy, then became a
      cook. He remained with the same family for many years, assuming
      greater responsibilities as general farm manager. He was encouraged
      to bring a wife from China, who became housekeeper in his place; and
      his employers built a home for his growing family next to the main
      house.(Wong, H.K. Gum Sahn Yum: Gold Mountain Men. n.p., n.p., 1987.
      125-130.)

      With that in mind, let us sketch in the experiences of a "typical"
      Chinese servant. Usually teen agers or younger when they arrived,
      most knew no English and had little idea of what to expect; many
      suffered extreme homesickness.

      Often labor contractors assigned them to specific jobs, and both the
      contractor and the employer expected them to learn on the job. If
      successful, they learned to cook and clean, acquired some English,
      and found a good home.

      The permanence of such a situation was not expected; and few were as
      fortunate as Wing Yee. Any surplus funds were mailed back to China
      to support the family remaining there or saved for a triumphant
      return to the ancestral village.

      Over time, and through careful management of their money, they moved
      on into other occupations such as restaurateur or laundryman. A
      successful servant could do well. Hang, cook for the Roe household
      in Montana, returned to China with the immense sum of $1200 in
      savings.(Roe, Frances. Army letters from an officer's wife, 1871-
      1888. New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1909. 311.)

      The employers of servants in the West were not enthusiastic about
      the choices presented to them. Catherine Hubback noted:

      In this country of happy equality young women consider domestic
      service a disgrace, and contrive to make it such a grievance and
      mortification to their employers that were it not for China boys I
      don't know what we should do. Do our own work I suppose, which is
      not so bad where there are 2 or 3 women to help but comes
      uncomfortable on one, who has not been used to it. But at present
      there is no lack of Chinese as they come over in ship-loads.
      (Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA, June 23, 1872. Bodleian
      Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fols 19-20.)

      While "white" servants were desired, they were next to unobtainable.
      Another woman wrote: "When I first went out to British Columbia with
      my husband, ...I do not think that there were more than three
      families in Victoria, the capital, employing white servants. These
      could not be obtained in the country, but had to be imported at
      their employer's expense from the old country.

      The white girls thus brought over seldom stayed in their places
      long, as they quickly married, or left to obtain higher
      wages."(Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White Agony: a chapter on
      Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and life in the hunting
      grounds of western America and British Columbia. by W.A. Baillie-
      Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman. London: Horace
      Cox, 1900. 333.)

      Those who were fortunate enough to hire "white" labor displayed no
      little pride in their fortune. "If my girl [Bridget] were not the
      best natured in the world, she would be put out sometimes; but
      fortunately she never is under any circumstances. She is a treasure
      and worth her thirty-five dollars a month in this part of the world.

      Our neighbors have Chinamen and pay them thirty dollars. I would
      rather give five dollars more and have a good reliable woman,
      although the Chinamen make excellent servants, good cooks, and
      excellent washermen and ironers."(Allen, Mary Julia. Letter, March
      15, 1868, [Camp Steele], San Juan Island, to Sister Carrie.
      Photocopy (of a typescript copy) in the Asian American Comparative
      Collection, Laboratory of Anthropology, University of Idaho, Moscow,
      Idaho.) Employers saw the "ship loads" of Chinese as a specific
      solution to a specific problem.

      Later, it was conveniently overlooked that, as one commentator
      noted, "...the cry against the Chinamen, because in family service
      they are underbidding white labor[,] can not be considered worthy of
      much attention, when it is known that there has never been a time in
      California when a wholesome, capable white person, willing to do
      house-work, could not readily find employment at better wages than
      they could command in the Eastern States for the same labor."
      (Gibson, Otis. The Chinese in America. Cincinnati, Hitchcock &
      Walden, 1877. 107.)

      While domestic wages were higher in the West than in the East, the
      Chinese were able to compete almost entirely on price at first, not
      quality.

      (Wages in California in 1899 were estimated at $4.57 a week,
      Katzman, David M. Seven days a week: Women and Domestic Service in
      Industrializing America. New York, Oxford University Press, 1978.
      307;
      * * $30 a month was the rate on San Juan Island, Allen, Mary Julia.
      Letter, March 15, 1868, [Camp Steele], San Juan Island, to Sister
      Carrie. Photocopy (of a typescript copy) in the Asian American
      Comparative Collection, Laboratory of Anthropology, University of
      Idaho, Moscow, Idaho;
      * * $40 per month and room and board in Lewiston, Idaho, Yu, Li-
      hua. Chinese Immigrants in Idaho. PhD dissertation, Bowling Green
      State University, 1991. 113;
      * * $40-$75 per month, Yu, Li-hua. Chinese Immigrants in Idaho. PhD
      dissertation, Bowling Green State University, 1991;
      * * $40 per month, Donaldson, Thomas. Idaho of Yesterday. Caldwell
      1941 p. 49; quoted by Yu, Li-hua. Chinese Immigrants in Idaho. PhD
      dissertation, Bowling Green State University, 1991. 132;
      * * $10 per week, Trull, Fern Coble. The history of the Chinese in
      Idaho from 1864 to 1910. MA thesis, University of Oregon, June 1946;
      * * $15-$25 per month, Gin Chow. Gin Chow's First Annual Almanac.
      Los Angeles: Wetzel Publishing, 1932. 29;
      * * $18-$30 per month, Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White
      Agony: a chapter on Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and
      life in the hunting grounds of western America and British Columbia.
      by W.A. Baillie-Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman.
      London: Horace Cox, 1900. 349;
      * * $12-$30 per month, Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA,
      September 23, 1872? Bodleian Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fols
      29; $10 per month (as opposed to $30-$90 for a "white" woman),
      Vernon, Di. "The Chinese as house servants." Good Housekeeping, 12
      (January 1891)20.)

      As one employer noted, "It is scarcely fair to compare poor John
      with the trim English maid in her cap and apron, who has been well
      trained in modern civilities as well as her duties, nor can his
      culinary productions compare with those of a finished European cook;
      but with the average plain cook and the inefficient housemaid the
      contrast would be all in his favour."(Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow
      and White Agony: a chapter on Western Servants" in, Fifteen years'
      sport and life in the hunting grounds of western America and British
      Columbia. by W.A. Baillie-Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-
      Grohman. London: Horace Cox, 1900. 333)

      Over time, and through on-the-job training, the Chinese developed a
      reputation for quality service worth paying for. An unusual letter
      from a "white" domestic, printed in the newspaper, underscores her
      perception of the economic disadvantage.

      What are the chances for getting employment in your city? The
      Chinese barbarians have captured Boise and will soon rule the
      whites. I would like to know if this is a free and independent
      country? If so, why should the Chinamen carry on their bull-dosing
      [sic] operations? I went to Boise city to try and get employment but
      the answer at each house was, "We've got a Chinaman." I inquired the
      amount of wages paid. The answer usually was $8 a week. I asked
      several of them what they would give a good cook and house keeper if
      they could get a white woman. The reply was about $4 a week. I left
      them disgusted, and subsequently met a friend, Mrs. ---. She wanted
      a girl if she could get one, having just discharged her Chinaman. I
      asked what she would pay a good cook. She said $3 per week; she said
      she had given her Chinaman $7, but he was much better than a white
      woman. I bade her good day, with a tear in my eye, wishing I was a
      Chinaman.(Idaho Avalanche (Silver City), March 31, 1877, as quoted
      in Yu, Li-hua. Chinese Immigrants in Idaho. PhD dissertation,
      Bowling Green State University, 1991. 130.)

      Filling a vacant position was relatively easy. Grace Pfafflin noted
      that in Lewiston, Idaho, they recruited their Chinese help from
      local merchant "Quang Sing's voluntary employment bureau."(Pfafflin,
      Grace. Pioneer Chinamen of Idaho. Seeing Idaho, 1:9(February 1938)
      23. In one case, the employer placed a newspaper advertisement
      endorsing cook for a new position. Lewiston Northerner, 1:31(May 22,
      1875)3, as quoted in Wegars, P. Chinese at the Confluence
      (unpublished manuscript).)

      Many cities had employment agencies, often run by entrepreneurial
      Chinese, that brokered opportunities and vacancies.("Idaho Recorder
      on April 18 of 1894, further noted that a Chinese company called
      Fong Kee & Co. had opened an employment agency for Chinese cooks and
      laborers. [p.2,c.3]," as quoted in Yu, Li-hua. Chinese Immigrants in
      Idaho. PhD dissertation, Bowling Green State University, 1991. 130.)
      Selecting from the applicants was not without its perils.

      As for engaging a boy, it would take too long to tell of all the
      little tricks practiced, the frauds perpetuated, the knaveries
      committed by the "officeman" and the boys he sends out to engage as
      servants. Some of them promise to come to work at a certain time,
      and then never appear, while the hapless housekeeper sits waiting at
      home for the boy that is not to come.

      They ask to see the kitchen, they put all the regulation questions
      as to the number in the family, the time for meals, the size of the
      wash, generally winding up with, "no make beds." If there is one
      thing above another that a Celestial seems to hate, it is to make a
      bed. The Chinese will take a place, representing themselves as
      finished cooks, and when the first attempt at a meal shows their
      ignorance of how to boil potatoes, or to light a fire, with a bland
      smile, John will say, "You teachee me then I sabe."(Vernon, Di. "The
      Chinese as house servants." Good Housekeeping, 12(January 1891)22.)
      Mrs. Hubback acquired her cook through Samki, an employment agent.
      At one point, hearing strange voices in the kitchen, she found her
      cook and another Chinese who said:

      [H]e "had come from Samki, you savez Samki, he say that man go back
      to Samki -- he no learn cook -- I come here, I learn cook, my broder
      he go to city, he go to Samki." Meanwhile Moon's face assumed a
      [frowning] look... & he said not a word. After a great deal of
      palaver & gibberish the other man was ejected, & Moon went & locked
      the door & then poured out a torrent of pidgeon English quite
      unintelligible. However when he had calmed a little, I made out that
      Samkee wants him to make cigar boxes -- "I no like make boxes -- I
      likee learn cook I no go" and he wants to stay here, but appears to
      be a good deal afraid tha[t] Samkee and an unknown but overwhelming
      force of Chinamen will come when I am out, & carry him away. If they
      come when I am at home, I am to say to them "Go [a]long, get out,
      get out, dam smart."(Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA,
      February 9, 1873. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fols
      42-43.)

      Another woman advised that it was not necessary to "go to an
      intelligence office. Rather, you ask an interview with the best
      specimen of the sort you have seen in the houses of friends. There
      is a good chance that he will bring to you shortly after a man, the
      exact counterpart of himself, who he will call his 'cousin.'"
      (Faison, Jean. "The virtues of the Chinese servant." Good
      Housekeeping, 17(May 1896)279.) "Cousin" was shorthand for a clan
      relationship. (Tsai, Shih-shan Henry. The Chinese Experience in
      america. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1986. 46)

      Lack of language ability hindered both sides of the relationship.
      The employer was not expected to learn Chinese and the Chinese were
      expected to learn English by osmosis.

      "The only boy I could get is a man, Moon, he calls himself, who has
      a silk tassel in his hair, & he not only knows very little cooking,
      but still less English. It is not easy to get on with no language in
      common, so as you say -- it is a trial -- I took him on trial, & I
      find him such."(Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA, February 9,
      1873. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fols 42-43.)

      Mrs. Hubback fired another servant for his lack of skill, "He knows
      so little English that I could not make him understand an abstract
      idea, he thought I was angry with him, & said pathetically 'Me go,
      you no likey Wan.' with his hand on his heart, & his diagonal eyes
      blinking narrowly."(Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA, April
      27 1873. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fols 44-45.)

      Then as now, immigrant workers sought help learning the dominant
      language. Missionaries were eager to teach English as a way of
      spreading the gospel. Employers also mistakenly believed that
      Christian teachings would make the Chinese better servants. The
      Chinese responded in their own fashion.

      All the Evangelical churches threw open their assembly rooms,
      offering to teach the heathen to read, in hopes that they might
      learn the A B C of the gospel.

      Nor were the heathen unwilling, and discriminating fellows that they
      were, crowded around the bright young girls whose zeal in the
      Master's service had led them to this path of duty.

      But ancient spinsters were rejected, with that lack of gallantry
      characteristic of Oriental nations. "Me no likee old one," was what
      each seeker after knowledge said.

      After a time, however, slowly but surely, it began to dawn upon the
      minds of some of these good people that the wily Chinese had simply
      used their Christian endeavors as a free day school and an
      intelligence office.(Vernon, Di. "The Chinese as house servants."
      Good Housekeeping, 12(January 1891)21.)

      Note how the otherwise laudable effort to learn the dominant
      language and become socialized in the dominant culture is ridiculed
      and demeaned.

      Newspaper articles complained that the only result of such education
      was that the pupil would just quit and go "elsewhere for higher
      wages."("Chinese Domestic Servants," Idaho Signal (Lewiston), 1:49
      (February 8, 1873)1, reprinted from the "S.F. Chronicle.")

      Mrs. Grohman found herself acting as teacher to her servant; in
      exchange for security she gave him lessons. "...I disliked being
      alone in the house during the long November evenings. Although I had
      many kind friends who took pity on my loneliness, very often I felt
      it would be more canny if Gee could be induced to stay in the house
      till nine or ten o'clock.

      He did not seem to like the idea at all when I suggested it, and
      nothing more was said about it for a few days. Then he came with a
      proposal; 'Missus Gloman, I velly solly you all alone evening. I
      stay till half-past nine or ten, but I like you teach me lead and
      write English; I get book. After work I come in? You tink
      so?'"(Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White Agony: a chapter on
      Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and life in the hunting
      grounds of western America and British Columbia. by W.A. Baillie-
      Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman. London: Horace
      Cox, 1900. 336-337.)

      Learning English was one thing, learning to cook was another.

      Although some Chinese were reportedly trained in hotel kitchens
      before being sent to families in the hinterlands, most learned on
      the job.(Pfafflin, Grace. Pioneer Chinamen of Idaho. Seeing Idaho,
      1:9(February 1938) 23.)

      It was part of the price one paid to have inexpensive help.
      Catherine Hubback noted: "When I was your age I had little idea I
      should ever be teaching cooking to a China man in California."
      (Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA, February 9, 1873. Bodleian
      Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fols 42-43.)

      Later, she added, "And I would much rather teach a China boy than an
      English girl even or Irish girl certainly. One never gets
      impertinence in words, & even if they are angry they only slam the
      door. They cannot speak well enough to be saucy."(Hubback,
      Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA, April 27, 1873. Bodleian Library,
      Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fols 44-45.) Florence Grohman was forced
      to hire the cheapest of Chinese servants once, cheap by reason of
      inexperience.

      One winter when I was in Victoria there was an unusual scarcity of
      Chinese servants, and I tried in vain to procure a suitable white
      girl. I at last engaged a small six-dollar boy. He could say "Yes,"
      and "Boot," and "Knife." He knew absolutely nothing. When one has to
      train a boy like this, one recognises what it is not to have an
      European groundwork to begin on.

      The most elementary things must be taught from the beginning. He
      could not light a fire, he had never used a scrubbing brush, and he
      had not yet realised that empty saucepans left on a red-hot stove
      will burn, and that tin ones invariably melt.

      But once shown how to do anything, the boy, whom we called Charlie,
      not having been able to understand his real name, never forgot how
      to do it.(Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White Agony: a chapter
      on Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and life in the
      hunting grounds of western America and British Columbia. by W.A.
      Baillie-Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman. London:
      Horace Cox, 1900. 349.)

      Although quick to learn, the Chinese servant was often sufficiently
      uncomfortable with all the strange tasks he was called upon to
      perform that he learned not to venture too much initiative.

      The servant who tossed his master's prize limburger cheese into the
      river thinking it spoiled is but one example of the dangers of
      making assumptions in a different culture.(Pfafflin, Grace. Pioneer
      Chinamen of Idaho. Seeing Idaho, 1:9(February 1938)23.)

      Florence Grohman sympathetically noted of her Chinese servant, "It
      is marvellous how he adapts himself so well to the many strange
      duties required of him."(Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White
      Agony: a chapter on Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and
      life in the hunting grounds of western America and British Columbia.
      by W.A. Baillie-Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman.
      London: Horace Cox, 1900. 333.) Several women repeated tales of the
      hazards of rote learning. Mrs. Grohman reports one as a classic,
      probably apocryphal, story and adds her own account:

      The mistress of this Chinaman is said to have shown her man how to
      make a cake; taking six eggs for this, she broke them one by one, in
      the orthodox manner, into a cup, and then pouring each into a basin.
      The third she came to was bad, so she threw it away, the like fate
      befell number four, and two more were taken to replace them. Next
      time the Chinaman was told to make a cake, he also took six eggs,
      the third and the fourth he threw away, although they were perfectly
      fresh, and he replaced them, as the mistress had done, from the egg
      basket from the store-room.

      Charlie's act was similar. One day I undertook to show him how to
      bake, and I had got as far as ten minutes' kneading of the dough out
      of the thirty required, when I suddenly remembered that my last
      bread had not been successful, because the oven had not heated
      properly. As this was probably owing to the stove pipe being full of
      soot, I determined to have it remedied at once, and, covering up the
      dough, I made the boy take down the stove pipe, clear out all the
      soot, and clean up the stove again, before proceeding with the bread
      making.

      When his turn came to make the bread, I went into the kitchen to
      watch him and see that all went well; everything was imitated
      exactly, when he suddenly stopped kneading, and said: "Ten minutes
      now," and, covering up the dough, disappeared to fetch bucket and
      broom for the cleaning of the stove pipe, which, of course, did not
      want doing again.(Grohman, Florence. "The Yellow and White Agony: a
      chapter on Western Servants" in, Fifteen years' sport and life in
      the hunting grounds of western America and British Columbia. by W.A.
      Baillie-Grohman ; with a chapter by Mrs. Baillie-Grohman. London:
      Horace Cox, 1900. 350-351.)

      The daughter of a mine superintendent in Park City, Utah,
      remembered: "Very, very early in my life we had Chinese servants in
      the home, and the first one had to be taught by Mother exactly how
      to cook each dish according to the taste of the family, and exactly
      how to do each act of housekeeping.

      The secret was to lay an accurate foundation psychologically, and
      then there would be no trouble. If John left, he would teach
      accurately his 'cousin' Tom, and when Tom left, he would introduce
      his 'cousin' Charlie to the mysteries. It was a sort of apostolic
      succession. And if one taught the first major domo and factotum but
      one little error by mistake, that little error traveled on ad
      infinitum as long as there were 'cousins' in succession in one's
      cuisine and menage."(M., D. M "Picturesque America," The Pacific,
      (November 1934) 135.)

      Another explanation given is that the Chinese servant is unable "to
      unlearn. He learns with alacrity to cook new things or to cook old
      ones in new ways, but more he cannot do. If you find on second
      thought, for instance, that his recipe for mayonnaise calls for too
      much mustard you must learn to like some other dressing, for your
      cook, try as he may, cannot amend what is graven in his
      memory."(Faison, Jean. "The virtues of the Chinese servant." Good
      Housekeeping, 17(May 1896)280.)

      Mrs. Hubback wrote of one, named On, that he "cooks very well, &
      boils mutton much better than Bohea did, because he knows it should
      not boil fast."(Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA, September
      23, 1872?. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fol 29.) She
      also praised his breakfasts: "hot rolls, beefsteak, tomatoes, corn &
      an omelette. I only ordered the steak & tomato sauce, the rest was
      voluntary with him."(Hubback, Catherine. Letter, Oakland, CA,
      September 23, 1872?. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Ms.Eng.lett.e.150.fol
      29.)

      Florence Grohman complimented her cook: "He could cook fairly well,
      he could roast and boil, and make c<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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