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Chinese in Maine

This slideshow contains 36 items
1
Portland City Directory advertisement, 1871

Portland City Directory advertisement, 1871

Item 10383 info
Maine Historical Society

What little we know about early Chinese immigrants to Maine comes from sources such as this ad in a Portland City Directory for the "New Chinaman's Tea Store."

Ah Foo Fong, who came to Portland in 1860 to work for George C. Shaw in his store on Middle Street, owned the tea shop at 333 Congress Street.


2
Chinese men in costume, Augusta, ca. 1890

Chinese men in costume, Augusta, ca. 1890

Item 10363 info
Maine Historical Society

Hop Ling is at left with an unidentified man.

By 1890, Chinese men lived throughout Maine, but new immigrants could no longer come to the U.S. from China.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first American immigration prohibition against an entire country.


3
Chinese man, Augusta, ca. 1890

Chinese man, Augusta, ca. 1890

Item 10365 info
Maine Historical Society

The lure of the "Gold Mountain," as America was called, prompted many Chinese to try to evade the Exclusion Acts by entering the U.S. through Canada.

Men who already were in the U.S. could stay, but were prohibited from bringing wives and families to America to join them.

Most of Maine's early Chinese residents, therefore, were men who lived in a bachelor society, even though many had wives and families in China.


4
Wong My, Augusta, ca. 1890

Wong My, Augusta, ca. 1890

Item 10371 info
Maine Historical Society

Many Chinese men in Maine joined Christian churches where they participated in Sunday Schools, in order to learn English and have an opportunity to socialize.

Wong My was a student in the Chinese Sunday School at South Parish Congregational Church in Augusta. The church opened a Chinese Sunday School in the 1880s.


5
Chinese Sunday School class,  Augusta, c. 1890

Chinese Sunday School class, Augusta, c. 1890

Item 10346 info
Maine Historical Society

Wong My, Sam Sing and the Chinese Sunday School class of Essie Wills from the South Parish Congregational Church, Augusta, at an outing about 1890.


6
Chinese Sunday School student, Augusta, c. 1890

Chinese Sunday School student, Augusta, c. 1890

Item 10347 info
Maine Historical Society

This Chinese Sunday School student in Augusta was fortunate to live in an area where there were enough Chinese men for such a class.

Many of Maine's Chinese lived in isolation, owning a laundry in a small town where they were the only Chinese person for miles around.


7
Wong My and Sam Sing, Augusta, c. 1890

Wong My and Sam Sing, Augusta, c. 1890

Item 10348 info
Maine Historical Society

Wong My and Sam Sing, members of Essie Wills' Chinese Sunday School class at South Parish Congregational Church in Augusta, pose in their American finery.


8
Chinese man, Portland, ca. 1910

Chinese man, Portland, ca. 1910

Item 10379 info
Maine Historical Society

Portland also had a large enough Chinese community for a Chinese Sunday School.

Here, an unidentified member of the Chinese Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Portland posed for a portrait.

The church held a Chinese Sunday School from 1902 into the 1950s. First Baptist Church now is home to the Chinese Gospel Church of Portland.


9
Chinese immigrant, Portland, ca. 1910

Chinese immigrant, Portland, ca. 1910

Item 10378 info
Maine Historical Society

Portland had a vibrant Chinese community. The Portland newspapers reported on the celebration of the Chinese New Year in 1895.

Between 1914 and 1920 Portland had a Chinese Masonic Lodge.

The Chee King Tong opened on Free Street in 1922 and lasted until 1927. "Tong" usually was associated with Chinese gangs, but the word means "meeting hall" or "club house."


10
Portrait of Chinese man, Portland, ca. 1910

Portrait of Chinese man, Portland, ca. 1910

Item 10377 info
Maine Historical Society

The Second Parish Presbyterian Church in Portland opened its Chinese Sunday School in the 1880s, about 20 years before the First Baptist Church's Chinese Sunday School, where this unidentified man had his photo taken.


11
Chinese Sunday School student, Portland, ca. 1910

Chinese Sunday School student, Portland, ca. 1910

Item 10376 info
Maine Historical Society

Another unidentified Chinese immigrant at the First Baptist Sunday School.

Christian training, along with socializing and learning English, were popular among Chinese immigrants.

One Chinese man, Frank Chin Guey, returned home to China as a Christian missionary in 1913.


12
Chinese Sunday School Picnic, c. 1925

Chinese Sunday School Picnic, c. 1925

Item 11762 info
Maine Historical Society

Members of the Chinese Sunday School of First Baptist Church of Portland pose with their teachers during a picnic on a Casco Bay Island, probably in the mid to late 1920s.


13
Iron used by Toy Len Goon

Iron used by Toy Len Goon

Item 10498 info
Maine Historical Society

From the beginning, Maine's Chinese community was mostly self-employed.

Daniel Cough opened a general store in Tremont in the 1860s. Ah Tee Lam was a cigar maker who opened a tobacco shop in Portland and, in 1880, opened the first known Chinese restaurant at 1 Custom House Wharf in Portland.

Ah Foo Fong opened his Portland tea shop by 1871. In 1877, 14-year-old Sam Lee opened the first Chinese laundry in Portland.


14
Photo of Lee Goon and bakers, Biddeford, c. 1916

Photo of Lee Goon and bakers, Biddeford, c. 1916

Item 10369 info
Maine Historical Society

Lee Goon, center, owner of a laundry at 244 Main St., Biddeford, poses with four bakers from Riley and MacFarlane Bakery, 248 Main St.

The photo suggests a friendly relationship among these working-class neighbors.


15
Bar of soap from Chinese laundry

Bar of soap from Chinese laundry

Item 10495 info
Maine Historical Society

By 1920 there were about 30 Chinese laundries in Portland alone. Solitary Chinese owned laundries in places such as Cherryfield, Eden, Skowhegan, Fairfield, Rockland, Ellsworth, and Rumford among many others.

Many of Maine's Chinese laundrymen operated from and lived in two-room storefronts.


16
Maine Laundrymen's Association badge, 1903

Maine Laundrymen's Association badge, 1903

Item 10497 info
Maine Historical Society

In January 1903 Maine laundrymen formed the Maine Laundrymen's Association to fix uniform prices for doing laundry and to provide a social outlet.

Even though there were about a hundred Chinese laundrymen in Maine at that time, none were asked to join this Association.


17
Charlie Goon Laundry, Washington Street, Sanford

Charlie Goon Laundry, Washington Street, Sanford

Item 11761 info
Maine Historical Society

Among the Chinese hand laundries in Maine -- in nearly every town about the time of World War I -- was the Charley Goon Laundry in Sanford, shown at left.


18
Chin Kow, Portland, 1911

Chin Kow, Portland, 1911

Item 10373 info
Maine Historical Society

Chin Kow was a member of the First Baptist Church Chinese Sunday School in Portland in 1911 when this photo was taken.

He often was called "The General" by his friends and customers at his Chinese hand laundry, which he ran until 1966.


19
Menu of the Pekin Restaurant, Bangor

Menu of the Pekin Restaurant, Bangor

Item 10370 info
Maine Historical Society

By 1910 many Maine towns had added a Chinese restaurant to the community.

This is the menu from the Pekin Restaurant in Bangor, incorporated in 1924 by Wong J. Jones, Chin Dong, Gong Yee, Gam Woo, Chin Aui, and Chin Hun.

Chin Dong was president of the corporation and Wong J. Jones was treasurer.


20
Main Street, Lewiston, c. 1920

Main Street, Lewiston, c. 1920

Item 10372 info
Maine Historical Society

A photograph of Main Street in Lewiston, taken in the early years of the twentieth century, shows a Chinese-American restaurant that advertised Chop Suey as well as "regular" (American) dishes.

It may have been the Oriental Restaurant.


21
William Wong, ca. 1926

William Wong, ca. 1926

Item 110 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

William Wong was a cook at the Oriental Restaurant , 28 Monument Square, Portland, when this photo was taken.


22
Wong children, Portland, 1926

Wong children, Portland, 1926

Item 5271 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

William Wong was popular with the neighborhood's Chinese children.

With him in the photo are, front row, Annie Wong and Jack Wong; second row from left, Ruth Wong, Lilli Wong, Laura Wong, Carolyn Wong, Helen Wong, and William Wong; and back row, Ruby Wong and William Wong

Many of Portland's Chinese residents lived in Monument Square (where Wong worked) and on Center Street in the 1920s and 1930s.


23
Sing's of Bangor, ca. 1980

Sing's of Bangor, ca. 1980

Item 10496 info
Maine Historical Society

Glass from the Sing's Chinese Restaurant in Bangor, about 1980.


24
Dogan Goon in U.S. Army uniform, ca. 1918

Dogan Goon in U.S. Army uniform, ca. 1918

Item 10366 info
Maine Historical Society

Dogan Goon was a private in the Medical Department of the U.S. Army in World War I. He enlisted June 24, 1918 and was received an honorable discharge January 13, 1919.

Even though Chinese immigrants were not allowed to become U.S. citizens because of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, they served in the armed forces.

Goon came to Portland about 1914, possibly as an illegal immigrant, then got permission to stay in the U.S. He became a citizen shortly after his discharge. He and his wife operated a laundry on Forest Avenue at Woodfords Corner.


25
Painting of Turnpike Drive in Camden, 1933

Painting of Turnpike Drive in Camden, 1933

Item 10499 info
Camden-Rockport Historical Society

Chinese immigrant I Nee Lee, living in Camden, owned and operated a laundry, but also painted local scenes.

This scene of Turnpike Drive, or Route 52, with Megunticook Lake at the left was painted sometime in the 1930s.


26
Painting of Camden Harbor, 1933

Painting of Camden Harbor, 1933

Item 10500 info
Camden-Rockport Historical Society

Chinese immigrant I Nee Lee painted this scene of Camden Harbor in 1933.

He was born in Hong Kong about 1888 and emigrated to the United States. He operated a laundry in Camden in the 1920s and 1930s and moved to Bangor about 1936 where he died on July 21, 1939.


27
Quoy Wong family, Bangor, 1922

Quoy Wong family, Bangor, 1922

Item 10374 info
Maine Historical Society

Quoy Wong, his wife, Grace, and their children Charles, Albert, Helen, and Grace posed for a family portrait in 1922. Quoy Wong owned the Oriental Restaurant in Bangor.


28
The Wong family, Portland, 1923

The Wong family, Portland, 1923

Item 10382 info
Maine Historical Society

Once the first Chinese women arrived in Maine, just before 1900, a number of Chinese families began to appear, mostly in Maine's cities.

Hing Wong, who worked at the Oriental Restaurant in Monument Square, Portland, posed with his wife, Woo Shee Wong, and their children, Carolyn, Lilli, and William Wong in 1923.

Several of the early Chinese immigrant families still live in Maine like the Chin family of Lewiston and the Wong family of Bangor.


29
Clothing worn by Toy Len Goon

Clothing worn by Toy Len Goon

Item 10494 info
Maine Historical Society

This tunic and these pants were brought from China by Toy Len Goon after her marriage to Dogan Goon when she came to live in Portland.

The Goons owned a laundry on Forest Avenue in Portland at Woodfords Corner.


30
Goon children playing, ca. 1934

Goon children playing, ca. 1934

Item 10375 info
Maine Historical Society

Four of the children of Dogan and Toy Len Goon play with a car at their home at Arlington Place at Woodfords Corner in Portland.

The children are, from left, Doris, Josephine, Richard, and Edward.


31
The Wong sisters, Portland, ca. 1927

The Wong sisters, Portland, ca. 1927

Item 10380 info
Maine Historical Society

Lee Wing Wong, who worked at the Oriental Restaurant in Monument Square, Portland, and Chin Shee, a native of Canton, China, had four daughters in 1927.

They are, from left, rear, Ruby and Helen, and front, Laura and Ruth.


32
Wong children, Portland, 1923

Wong children, Portland, 1923

Item 11763 info
Maine Historical Society

Carolyn Wong and William Wong, children of Hing Wong and Woo Shee Wong of Portland, are pictured in 1923.


33
Arthur Goon on Navy ship, 1954

Arthur Goon on Navy ship, 1954

Item 10364 info
Maine Historical Society

Arthur Goon, son of Chinese immigrant to Portland Dogan Goon, served in the U.S. Navy in 1954.

His father served in the U.S. Army during World War I, an era when Chinese persons were not allowed to become U.S. citizens.


34
Toy Len Goon, Portland, 1952

Toy Len Goon, Portland, 1952

Item 10368 info
Maine Historical Society

Toy Len Goon, widow of Dogan Goon, at her hand-operated presser in her laundry at 615 Forest Ave., Portland, after she was named Maine Mother of the Year in April 1952.

Her daughter, Doris, is in the background.

Mrs. Goon was 57 when she won the honor. Her husband died in 1940 and she raised five sons and three daughters, the eldest of whom was 17, by herself. She was later named American Mother of the Year.


35
Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, 1952

Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, 1952

Item 10367 info
Maine Historical Society

Toy Len Goon, a native of Canton, China, was named American Mother of the Year in 1952.

Here, she is the star attraction of a parade in New York's Chinatown.

She married Dogan Goon and came to the U.S. in 1922. They had eight children. When he died in 1940, she continued to raise the children (the oldest of whom was 17) and operate the family laundry at Woodfords Corner in Portland.

She was born August 14, 1891 in China and died May 27, 1993.


36
Tiananmen Square Protests, Portland, 1989

Tiananmen Square Protests, Portland, 1989

Item 11766 info
Maine Historical Society

Many members of Maine's Chinese community protested the actions of the Peoples Republic of China when it crushed the pro-democracy student rally in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.

This protest was in Monument Square, Portland.


This slideshow contains 36 items
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