Ed J. Gor
Interviewee: Ed J. Gor
Interviewed by: Connie Young Yu and Barre Fong
Interview Date: 2016
Location: San Francisco, California
Length of Interview: 43 minutes, 39 seconds
00:05 Barre Fong: We want that on there.
00:06 Fong: Okay. So, whatever you do is kinda angle your knees a little bit towards her.
00:09 Gor: Okay, sure.
00:10 Fong: And just speak to her and not look at the camera. Don’t worry about me. If I need to cut in and change anything, I’ll … for it.
00:17 Gor: Okay. Good.
00:18 Fong: Just relax and the conversation will…
00:19 Gor: Oh, sure, sure.
00:20 Connie Yu: First of all, just introduce yourself, your name and where you were born, and something about yourself. Let’s start with you.
00:28 Gor: Okay. My name is Ed Gor, Edmond J. Gor, middle initial J. Pretty much after my dad. My dad’s name was Joe but he only gave middle initial is J with all of his sons. He gave my sisters the same middle name Jean. So, we had seven siblings, seven members of our family, three boys and four girls. My mother and father are from Kwandong originally, Canton if you will in Southern China. They came, my father actually came first and my mother didn’t come until many years later. But I currently am the National President of Chinese American Citizens Alliance based in San Francisco, but I actually live in Bel Air, Texas which is a suburb of Houston. So, my story kind of begins with how I got there. So, my father had a grocery business back in the Fifth Ward of Houston. And so, for the first 10 years of our lives we lived behind our dad’s business in the Third Ward with the African-American neighborhood.
01:27 The next 10 years as I was growing up, he lived in predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, although my dad also had a business there. He was able to save up enough money to eventually buy a house in another area where we went to school. And so, my dad always drive us to school because at the time, non-whites couldn’t attend the black schools and vice versa, so it’s segregated back in those days. It wasn’t until I basically got at high school that integration came into play and so that’s when integration starts. So, I have two older sisters, two younger sisters, and two younger brothers now. So, all of us have that common story of having a little bit African-American, a little bit Hispanic, and a lot of Chinese in us.
02:09 Yu: Could you give the year you were born and what city?
02:12 Gor: Yes. Born January 1950 and also in Houston, Texas, born in Houston, Texas. So, everyone of… My oldest sister was born in China, my next sister is born here in San Francisco in 1947. I was born 1950 in Houston so I was the first one of the Houston kids. Everyone else is born in Houston after that. And we’ve been Houstonians ever since. I just went away to the school at the University of Texas for a short period of time and I got an engineering degree there. I worked for several engineering companies over the years. Mostly doing, being STEM kid like most other kids back in those days, so kinda catches you up. Now, I got involved with the Chinese-American issues I guess after I started working.
03:03 And maybe the hint of that after I went to college. Because at the time, even though I grew up in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, I never saw race. And I don’t know if people saw me as different either but we all existed very well together. It wasn’t until I got to college actually that the differences were more apparent to me that I was seen differently. And so, that’s kinda when I, after I started working and then I discovered, you know, there’s something that I need to do more about what’s going on in my community of Chinese. Because you have to remember going to school back in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, there were not very many Chinese in Houston. And the ones you knew, you are probably related to half of them anyway. So, of course, today, there’s just a lot of Chinese, Asians throughout the city.
03:54 Yu: So, about the immigration of your family, you have an ancestor who came very, very early.
04:02 Gor: Yes.
04:03 Yu: And then that your father was born in China.
04:05 Gor: My father is born in China. He came over a very early age. Before he passed away, several years before that, I talked to him about, he came over at about age 13 is my understanding of this. And I don’t know if my grandfather came over after him or my grandfather is already here, that part I’m not quite clear about but I did know both my mother’s parents as well as my father’s parents. So, they all immigrated to United States about the same time, my grandparents I mean. Because my father came over in the late ’30s, like 1939 because he actually served in World War II as a mechanic for some of the Flying Tiger machine airplanes. And it wasn’t until seven years later that my mother actually got to come over because of some of the exclusions back in those days.
04:58 So, that was the start of that. And our father ended up in Waco and that’s how he got there. And between the families, they were able to pull money together to open businesses and they first started Waco as a restaurant. And another group of our Gor family moved to Beaumont, opened up restaurants. And finally, we settled to Houston, opening up grocery stores. So, that’s kinda how our side of the family began.
05:27 Yu: Did you talk about how is it that you have an ancestor working on the railroad in the 1860s?
05:34 Gor: Yeah. A great surprise to me as well. It wasn’t until just recently, someone traced back where the Gor families actually got to Texas. I’ve never heard exactly how that came about because they all had to come through in Angel Island experience or through Seattle, or one of them in major immigration ports for Chinese. And so, it turns out that we had one branch of our family, the Gor family who was here first. That family goes back to, from my level, so I’m in my 60’s now. So, at my level we had a uncle who came over in the, I’m gonna say 1870s, 1880s. Well, this brother was only born in 1876. So, as I put some of the figures together, he was not a transcontinental railroad worker but when he got here, he already caught on to some of the railroad workers as they finish the transcontinental railroad.
06:36 Those folks according to my aunt, now my aunt is the one that actually knows most of the story. Her name is Kun Gor, Kun Li, actually Kun Gor Li. And she is the one that is directly related to this branch where the family came through. There were four brothers of her great grandfather who came through first. And he must have been a merchant. He was not diplomat but there were several classifications of Chinese back then who could freely travel back and forth to China, even due to the fact we had the exclusion laws and there were a lot of restrictions on travel. But evidently, he was able to do that. Because the funny story about this brother, he got so much freedom was he was able to buy and sell guns going back to China.
07:25 So, he bought guns here, taking them back to China and that kind of thing. He must have been some kind of merchant or some kind of person that was involved in commercial trade. So, that brother, let me just get back to that. So that brother is actually the one who bought papers for his three other brothers to come to United States. And so, fast forward to about 19-, I guess in, was it 1907 when the earthquake came and…
07:54 Yu: Six.
07:54 Gor: Six, they destroyed all the papers. And actually, that was when it would afford him the opportunity to buy those papers for his other three brothers. So, those brothers, all four of them were here in the United States that time. And that brother, the oldest one I’m talking about is the one that got started working railroad because I was trying to figure out from an age standpoint. He must have started working early on and I think the dates tell me that he must have been about 14 when he first started working on the railroads because he got married at age 15, which I think was not unusual to my ancestor so that’s real common to have married early on in life. So, that brother was the one that, the oldest brothers who came first was the one that as age wise goes ended working for the Central Pacific Railroad into Texas.
08:48 So, that’s the best I could figure out that the Gor family was part of it. So, another part that I’ve read for the purpose of this research that was kinda put to me, it got very interesting to me because I’ve always kinda wondered how did the Gor family, because we have a very unusual non-common name. And so, we were actually asked to become part of another family to change names. But we didn’t, we decided not to do that. There’s a family, a Chinese family, I think it was pronounced Shurn that wanted us to adopt, we want them to adopt our name, that’s what it was. And so, that story is a little bit unusual to me. I couldn’t figure out what all the reasoning was except maybe coincides other’s paper business, that we had to have a lot of that going on.
09:38 Yu: Could you give us some years, you know…
09:40 Gor: Yeah. If you don’t mind I kinda refer to…
09:43 Yu: We’ll start with the, could you give us a year and the name of the first ancestor you knew who came to America?
09:50 Gor: I’d be glad to do that. So, Leung Sin Gor, he was the first generation here. He was the son of Yik Dan Gor and his wife was Wong Si. So, the first one, Leung Sin Gor, was born in 1876 and he died in 1949. So, he didn’t actually come over here obviously. So, when the railroads were finished, the transcontinental roads were finished, he was just born in 1876. So, it wasn’t until we figured about 1889, 1890, that he must have started himself working in the capacity working on these railroads. I don’t have any dates on where in the Central Pacific Railroads were started and completed, but had him gone into that era. Because I tried to ask him, well, how did he get over here because there’s Chinese exclusion laws?
10:49 That’s when they told me he was a merchant sort of person that was able to freely go back and forth. So, he’s the one that started this. The next generation after him, so he had four sons if I’m reading this thing correctly. And so, this generation I actually knew myself. And the ones I knew, he had a son named Wan Sim Gor, married as well, and had another son named Robert Gor Sr., whom I know. And then he actually died early on in Houston because I know his son, Robert Gor Jr. So, Robert Gor Jr. is kind of my generation here, so that’s one son of that man. The next brother was a man named Wasun, his American name was Ben Gor and his wife was Fong, and so they had children as well. And their next generation which would have been my parents generation was Yu Lun Ngo.
11:56 So, Ngo, N-G-O, was common derivative of Gor as well. There are some derivatives of Gor, NGO is one, NGAO is another, GO, and GOR, it’s just some spellings of it. He was pretty prolific. He had children in this generation which is mine. He has a son named Wayne Pak Gor married to Luz or Maria. And then he had another daughter, Judy Gor Yap, married to a Robert Yap. Then there was Rosetta Gor Jao, married to Houston Jao. Then Marietta Gor Lao, married to a fellow named Wei Ho Lao. And then Linda Gor Wong, married to Lan Wong. And then finally, one daughter Susan Gor Ching, married to a fellow named Teddy Ching. So, Wayne actually grew up with me and just like a lot of things, I had no idea where Wayne came from.
13:00 Well, he just showed up at my cousin’s house one day and they said, “Oh, this is my brother.” I said, “Where did you get a brother? I’ve known you all years. Where did you get this brother?” Well, obviously, he was adopted but he was not really a brother. He was really this man, Wa Bin Son’s grandson. So, again, this is where all of these relationships get confusing because no one really want to admit who he really was related to because of the paperwork. If you ever trace back their paperwork it says you’re not his brother, you’re actually his second cousin. So, this generation I knew as well. Then another brother from that was Ngao Hun Chan and he’s married to Chain Din Yan.
13:53 So, they had children that I did not know because they did not grew up in Houston that time. And another brother related to the Wa Son, Ben Gor side was a man named Kim Hang Gor Wang. So, he had children I do not know either. I did not get to the real story but I’m guessing they’re in Canada or just stayed in China all these years because I did not know any of them. The other one that I did know though, another son of the original was Yim Son George Gor who is married to Ngan Theo Chow Gor. So, this was my cousin that I really knew because I grew up with him and his family. So, my Uncle George, I’ll just give you a little side story about him. He served in the Navy. Before he died I found out that he was, during the time he served in the U. S. Navy he was, actually, his boat was torpedoed. He spent three days in the water, in the Pacific waters and I have different relationship with both of them after I heard that.
15:00 Fong: Okay.
15:02 Gor: Really, really touching his story. But anyways, he’s passed on now. So, his daughter is the one that is still alive, she’s 86 years old. And she is the one that still has great history in her mind about what her remembrances of the railroad [SP]… and her name is May Kun Hong Gor Lee. She married a man, Albert FM Lee and he’s passed away but she’s still alive. And they had a son, Jim Gun Gor married to Maria. And so, there’s variety of children that came from that relationship, that marriage. And then he had one other son, a Dr. Henry Gor married to Evelyn Ji Gor, she was a Ji, and they had two boys and a girl. So, Trevor and Troy are their sons and Kimberly is their daughter. Interesting thing about Henry Gor who’s my cousin is he married Evelyn Ji Gor.
16:07 Evelyn is the sister of Meimei Ji Lu who is Judge Wan Lu’s wife in L. A. So, Judge Wan Lu is a federal judge in L. A., so it gets pretty interesting in there. Then another brother, actually one more brother and one more sister. One last brother there was Yuk Dick Gor and he was married to a woman named Bo Nan Gor. And he had, let’s see, two daughters, Patty Fong Gor Wong, married to Freddie. Another daughter, Ginny Gor Calocami, married to Norman. And then his son, Bernard Gor, married to Anna. Then that’s, again, my generation there and they have children going down the line as well. And then one last lady, Mrs. Choi Ef Gor Lee, married to Charlie Lee. She just passed away in the last month. And they had one son named Kurt Lee, married to Chi Yang Lee, and they have a son, Bryan.
17:14 Bryan actually is very interesting. I may be able to get help from him because Bryan talk to his mother quite a bit about the experience of his family. So, Bryan has a lot of downloads from his grandmother. So, Bryan was a really pretty upbeating kid. He listened to his grandmother so he has a lot of history. I think between Mrs. Kun Gor and Bryan who’s probably about 30, he listened. He said he knows his grandmother told him these great stories about this similar railroad experience of the kids there. So, that kinda gives you a little bit of a ledge on one branch. So, I’m trying to find out my branch that connects in it, so we are connected somehow, again, going backward a little bit on all the folks over there.
18:04 Yu: This family is very interesting. And then we’ve been, usually, the descendants we had, you know, the first generation comes and then stays. And then the next generation and then the next generation. There’s no going back to live. So, it seemed like with your family there was a disconnect to somebody and they have to immigrate on their own.
18:26 Gor: Yes, yes.
18:27 Yu: So, that’s different. I was wondering if you have ever been to the many archival information, gone to the San Bruno Archives and get the staff of…
18:35 Gor: I have not, I have not.
18:37 Fong: Hang on one second. Okay, go ahead.
18:41 Yu: Yes. So, you have not been to the archives. Have any grandchildren been to the San Bruno archives and found out when they immigrated with the question they asked like what village are you from?
18:52 Gor: Yeah. No, no, I haven’t gotten to that depth of talking to them about it. You know, I’ve been working through CAC, I’ve actually been working on something of everybody else’s stories and just hearing them. And I haven’t bothered even trying to look at my own very much because it just never felt like we could go back very far until I figured out my aunt about the story. Because we have, annually we have our Gor family association dinner in Houston, and it’s probably the largest number of Gors in one area. And we have our family association, and it’s not that many people but we still do it every New Year’s. So, just this past March, I just made a quick announcement. I said, “You know, this is the 150th anniversary of the Chinese railroad workers, transcon railroad.”
19:40 And I just keep saying, “You know, if those of you guys are ABCs like myself, we don’t really have that history. We don’t know much about it.” And I’ve been trying to encourage to people, “Look, our problem is that Chinese-Americans wouldn’t have enough on our textbooks, we don’t have education about it. We need, you know, get more of that in there.” I said, “But if you anybody around town who’s a Chinese railroad worker, you know, give me a call, let me know.” So, about a week or two later my cousin calls me, he said, “Oh, my mom says that she’s been talking about this quite a while, that we are descendants of the Chinese railroad workers.” And I said, “Figure it out.” I said, “What does she know?”
20:17 And so, that’s kinda when I sat down with her for a little bit and that’s when I saw Su Fan Chang and she put me in touch of the story about the Chinese in Texas. Dr. Ed Roads had written quite, it’s like 100% accurate. Everything I’ve read that he’s read about the Chinese in Texas is spot on. All the information about organizations, the people he’s interviewed, everything that I’ve known since I’ve been literally able to understand what’s been going on with this. And now I understand why a lot of them, even if you ask them, “How did you get to United States?” They wouldn’t wanna tell you. Because my own story, it’s kind of interesting because when I was born, I always thought I was the second son because I thought I had a brother that lived with me all these years.
21:09 He was about eight years older than me. Common, yeah, there’s another guy but he was 20 years younger than my father. So, I always assumed he was my brother and it was until I was probably in college. Something clicked on, I said, “Wait a minute. What did you just say?” So, I kinda found out he’s actually my father’s brother. My father’s youngest brother and he came over as my father’s son because my grandfather at the time, that was the only way he get another son into the country. And so, my father ended up being like my uncle’s son all these years. And so he always get a little mad about that. Well, when were you gonna tell us? When are you gonna tell us this anyway? But obviously, it was because they didn’t want us to know any of these things because just in case somebody would, because that’s the fear.
22:12 Someone would come in the immigration would say, “Listen, you know, Lu Min Gor is passing himself off as your brother. Is he your brother?” I said, “Yeah, he’s my brother.” You know … But he went on to become a farmer assistant from University of Texas, relocated out here to the Bay Area as a matter of fact in Fremont. He’s passed away since then. So, that was another interesting part of my family that I couldn’t… Now I know the reason why they didn’t wanna talk too much about our immigration story. So, it was until much later on that I started putting some of these together and understanding why he rebuffed me every time I tried to find out. So, it’s been a interesting kinda road to try to figure out our small family, our small Gor family even. It’s a challenge. So, I really wonder what it’s gonna do for us in terms of trying to find out more information.
23:13 Yu: This is sort of the capsule, you know, the struggle with the exclusion law. It affected the families so that this, well, let’s say misinformation with a lot of the papers or [inaudible].
23:30 Gor: Absolutely.
23:31 Yu: But who, which ancestor went back? So, the first railroad worker went back and then the next group, do you know who went back?
23:42 Gor: They all stayed evidently. There was only one because one of the things that happened about this man named Leung Sin Gor who had the four brothers was they said he had bought papers for those other three brothers to come in. And interesting enough, one of them was buried in Houston so that tells you they had quite a penetration into Texas even back then in the late 1890s and into 1990. They’re already in Texas because this man lived long enough, they stayed there long enough to actually be buried in Houston. So, I don’t have the information on this brother but have the ones on the oldest one or the one that actually first came to United States to do that.
24:30 Yu: Your father came from China.
24:32 Gor: My father came from China as well.
24:33 Yu: Taishan.
24:34 Gor: From Taishan.
24:35 Yu: Do you know the name of the village?
24:37 Gor: Well, good question. If I said Xuiting I would be like, you know, is that right? It’s not right, yeah. So, I need to find out which village that is because I went back to China with my wife’s family. We went back to their village and so I need to find out what ours is for sure.
24:55 Yu: You know it’s Taishan because…
24:56 Gor: It was definitely Taishan, yeah.
24:58 Yu: Is that where many, the railroad workers came from.
25:03 Gor: Yeah. It’s definitely Taishan village for sure.
25:07 Yu: So, yeah. Your father didn’t tell you a lot. I get to understand…
25:11 Gor: No. He did not really want to tell us a lot. He’s very private about that whole matter with my, because he was entrusted with taking care of my uncle or his brother if you will.
25:22 Yu: Somebody went back to have your father, you know?
25:26 Gor: Yeah, yeah. So, I know my grandfather and grandmother… My thinking is that my grandfather came after my father was here. See, that’s the only thing I’d say because my grandmother didn’t go over here for several years as well. That to me struck me strangely that my father found a way over here because they had this, obviously, they had this thing of pulling family money together and find out who would work in the common business, until they save enough money so the next person could open up their own little business. That was the common practice back in the grocery store business. If a relative from your village could immigrate here in United States, you sponsor them or someone else sponsor them, and you had a business.
26:15 It was a little bit of your obligation to help them by having to learn the business and to actually live with them. I had several families that I rarely knew except I knew they were related to us, who lived with us for a period of anywhere from three months to a year. And including this couple of family is married even. They still lived with us until they learned the business, save up enough money, and then we’re able to open up their own business.
26:40 Yu: Well, I want to know how, you know, you have this story of an ancestor who worked for the railroad and there was a Southern Pacific by the 1870s because this was not, the transcontinental railroad…
26:56 Gor: No, no, definitely not. Yeah.
27:00 Yu: But it’s still part of the whole China’s labor story. It was before the exclusion law. But how did you know? What, do you have… Did somebody ever see a payroll record for the Southern…
27:10 Gor: Yeah. I don’t have any of that, you know, information that I can find right now. I think that’s gonna be my search now that I’ve figured like this. When Su Fan told me this back in July, it’s only what, two months. It kinda piqued my interest about, you know, how this come out. Then I thought about, “Well, actually, my father never told me how we all landed up in Texas versus being on the West Coast or even on the East Coast for that matter.” It’s similar to the Mississippi story. Why do we have so many Chinese in Mississippi? Well, I think we’re finding out some of that now. I think they’ve seen some documentaries recently about how a lot of the Mississippi Chinese out there. But I still haven’t heard a full story from beginning to end or been into now about where or how all the Chinese ended up in Texas.
28:04 Yu: Do you have any photographs of your early ancestors in Texas?
28:08 Gor: I do. I do have some of those, yeah. So, let me try to dig those up and get those because I think that’s part of our … I just recently found quite a few because my brother was kind of assuming amateur photographer growing up so he had a lot of them. He passed away as well recently and so I was able to grab the things that I could find from him. But my father took a lot as well. I need to find out where those are. Still, it’s gonna be a little difficult but that’s why I’m trying to get our Gor family now to pick this up because some of them have already start putting the family trees together on their side right now. And, like I said, just as I left Houston in the last couple of days, you know, they’ve kinda kicked me a little bit and said, “Okay. You need to do this right now.” So, I’ll probably be a point of contact for the moment for you to help you get that kind of information.
29:04 Yu: Photographs of the earliest ancestor Leung … Gor. And also any historical photographs of Chinese working on the railroads in Texas, because that’s very interesting. Because we see here, it’s all part of this whole story, you know, Chinese coming to work on railroads. And then the fact that they did very well and they continue to hire maybe not in California, on the other railroad line.
29:29 Gor: Yeah. I think that’s the missing part. I didn’t really realized how many Chinese were working on the spurs that came off of the original transcontinental railroad. I didn’t realize they were still doing that because I mean the story, the exclusion is kinda start with Chinese basically, the railroad workers had been kicked away from any more work and being scapegoated for issues. So, I guess these other fellows found more work in Texas if you will, and maybe to the Midwest to do that. But that certainly I will be able to find out, get more for you.
30:04 Yu: All right. Well, that’s…
30:05 Gor: Sorry, I can’t give you more.
30:07 Fong: Where does your aunt live? Does she live in Houston?
30:09 Gor: She’s in Houston, right, right. She lives in Houston.
30:10 Fong: How old is she?
30:11 Gor: Eighty-six. So, she’s getting … She’s still in good health because she still complains a lot.
30:17 Yu: If we could talk to her that it’s, just finding out how the early, that first, you know, group and…
30:27 Gor: I’m as curious as you because like I said, I was trying to get with… When my cousin and I had dinner with her the other day I said, “Listen, I wanna just match up these dates and times a little bit better because I don’t have a good feel right now for where we are as far as trying to put the dates and ages together.”
30:45 Yu: So, is your aunt who has been talking about how, you know, the Chinese first started and then they came to work from the railroads.
30:53 Gor: I would say she definitely knows the line, the lineage going back. I will be very confident because she’s going on and on, and on, and on, far past about it and understood. So, I think she really got more that I didn’t translate well. And even her daughters couldn’t translate that well first to say, “Okay. Write this down for me.” So, I think there’s a lot of things that we certainly can talk about as far as getting some of these things together. I tried to scribble some notes but now, this won’t.
31:28 Yu: And you mentioned the paper that, you know, the revelation to you. It’s about the Chinese in Texas.
31:33 Gor: It’s all about Chinese in Texas.
31:35 Yu: In what year does it start?
31:37 Gor: This one right here…
31:38 Yu: He is the first Chinese as you mentioned.
31:41 Gor: Let’s see. He does talk about the Chinese. Chinese first came to Texas as part of the initial Mass Exodus in May of 1869. So, that’s where…
31:52 Yu: That’s why.
31:53 Gor: He kinda starts…
31:53 Yu: Yeah, that starts, yes.
31:55 Gor: Right. And so he kinda starts this and my aunt did say that one of them worked on the Texas Midland Railroad which started in 1892, so there’s a little bit of a date that I can connect her to. So, someone had given her a recollection of that. That maybe one of the employers of the family member back then, so that was her recollection. I don’t know how she remember that whole thing but it’s amazing the things that she remembers. But all the things in this paper that Professor Roads put together, like I said, all the things he talks about in San Antonio and in Houston especially, I can say they’re really spot on stuff that I know from talking to my friends in San Antonio and the things that I’ve known over the years in Houston, he’s got it very well documented, so everybody there must really had a good memory for telling those things. So, yeah. I’m gonna leave this with you if you don’t mind.
32:58 Yu: Oh, really?
32:59 Gor: Yeah. I’ll leave this paper and I’ll leave you a copy of this. I’m trying to get them sent. And I’ll leave you a copy of this other Gor family tree if you will. I don’t know exactly how this gentleman, Gor Yat Tam fits into it. But fast-forward to today, all these people are in some way related to me because their last names are Go, Gor, or they’re married to someone who’s in this tree. So, I can leave you this as well.
33:32 Yu: Thank you. I think the paper is a very good way to start, because I think that just mentioning that the date May 1869 was when the, you know, there’s a Mass Exodus of workers. The Central Pacific was completed for the transcontinental railroad but there’s a lot more other lines to be worked on.
33:52 Gor: Right, right. So, I’ll be curious to see how this particular brother who worked on the Texas sections, that railroad, how he found his way from Angel Island if you will because that’s where he came through, into Texas. I mean what caused him…
34:11 Yu: When did he come through Angel Island? Angel Island, it was 1910.
34:15 Gor: Okay. So, where did he come through then do you think?
34:18 Yu: San Francisco.
34:19 Gor: Okay, just through San Francisco.
34:21 Yu: They had a custom, they call it Customs House.
34:23 Gor: Okay. And then how he worked his way into getting the work.
34:27 Yu: For work, they looked for work.
34:28 Gor: Exactly. Getting into the work, right. How you found out with the work part?
34:32 Yu: All it takes is one or two people from one clan to get started then they get more and more people. That’s why there’s so many Chinese in the Sacramental Delta because one of the people, the ancestors, you know, that we’ve read about Jim King found that they want a payroll after he was a foreman and everything. After the end of the railroad, he went back to Sacramento because they needed building up the levis and they need all their records. They needed thousands of Chinese. So, he became a recruiter so that’s how it started.
35:06 Gor: Oh, okay. So is Jim King Chinese?
35:09 Yu: Yes.
35:10 Gor: Okay. Because King is a favorite name in Houston area. Yeah, I’ve heard that name.
35:14 Yu: He came very early and his name was Jao Ki, yeah. And Jao Ki and everybody, the minors liked him. They go, “Oh, Jim King,” you know? So, it was that way on the payroll. And the only reason why his descendant was able to match this was he went to the archives and found all the testimonies like his grandparents who went back for it. They said, “Oh, they had a white person testify.” They go, “Yes, these are the sons of Jao Ki who we know as Jim King.” So, there you go.
35:48 Gor: Okay, okay.
35:50 Yu: So, that’s why the testimonies are really very interesting. It’s carved for his name. Because the immigration officers would often say, “What are your names?” Because they knew the Chinese have so many names.
36:03 Gor: And we switch them around.
36:04 Yu: Yes. Right, exactly.
36:06 Gor: And do those things. But yeah, I was really a little bit sheepish when I told my aunt. I said, “Am gonna talk to Connie and Gregory about this but I think you should be here.” But she said, “I don’t wanna travel.” I said, “Well, okay. I will find somebody who will translate for you.” And my cousin said, “Well, we’ll tape you, record you doing this and that way at least we’ll have that on tape. So, when somebody else will come back later and do the transcript if you will in English and we can kinda figure this out and put together.” So, she said, “Oh, yeah. I will use it.” I said, “Okay. We’re gonna do that.”
36:43 Yu: To see the Chinese variants of the name Gor.
36:46 Gor: It’s unusual, yeah. It’s way too many strokes, I can say that right now. My dad gave me the name of this guy like 50 strokes, so I said, “No. I can have a simpler name like Lee or…”
36:59 Yu: Yeah. Mine is Lee. I’m a railroad descendant and my great grandfather was Lee Wong Sang.
37:05 Gor: See, Lee is very simple. Right, right, Lee.
37:07 Yu: I know. And then there is this Fong and then what is your mother’s…
37:15 Fong: Ho.
37:15 Yu: Ho. And this is very, you know, both have family that goes way back, but I was able to find out so much testimony because my grandmother coming back, you know, from one of the trips was detained on Angel Island. So, for 15 and a half months because her husband had died, he was born in the United States. And therefore, they kept saying, “Well, you know, you have no identity. Your husband is not with you.” And so, she’s detained but all the testimony went all the way back to 1866, he’s a railroad worker. So that’s how I have some proof of when they, you know, the first guy came.
37:55 Gor: So, both of you are kinda originated from the Bay Area. That’s a great advantage in terms of the research ability and the fact that you could find information more readily versus being in an area like Texas.
38:08 Yu: [inaudible], and in fact, we have friends there. We just get a card and, yeah. But, you know, you can do things online.
38:18 Gor: Oh, yeah. Now, they share. I just, you know, like I was just fascinated about all the things that my cousins pulled up about us because we’ve been trying to figure out the obscurity of our name, number one. And then the fact that our village was probably that small because most of the Gors end up marrying with the… Right, right. So, that’s kinda where some of the Gor and Wong things come from. But no, I’m really, you know, excited to help my cousins out now.
38:49 Yu: This is a great interest because of the Texas connection. I think most we’ve interviewed people from Colorado, yeah, Denver. We have a picture of a railroad worker who settled in Denver. And then, but…
39:04 Fong: Not the south.
39:05 Yu: Not the south.
39:07 Gor: How about Mississippi?
39:09 Fong: What I got is …
39:10 Gor: There’s a huge community there and actually, a lot of people move from Mississippi into Houston. Houston actually had probably the most number of transbay Mississippians, Chinese now. There’s obviously still some in Mississippi, in the Delta area, in the cities like Greenville and all these small cities Cleveland, you know. So, there’s been a variety of folks that have been coming through CACA trying to guess their film Finding Cleveland, Honor and Duty, and…
39:42 Yu: I know people from Belzoni [sp] and Shelby, Mississippi.
39:45 Gor: Yeah.
39:46 Fong: Has there been a film, a good film like that or…
39:49 Gor: As a matter of fact, so the two or three that I’ve been aware of only because they intersected with us in some occasions. Honor and Duty put together by Samantha Ching and Gwen Gong. So, Gwen Gong originally from Mississippi so she’s kind of the link there. Finding Cleveland is Baldwin Chiu. And Baldwin’s story is actually his father is from Cleveland, Mississippi but evidently, he was estranged from his father. So, he didn’t actually grew up in Mississippi, he grew up in L. A., so he’s still based in L. A. but he went back to find out about his father’s story. And then there’s a fellow named Kenneth Ing who is also in Los Angeles and he has a story about his family, “My Life In China” which is about his father actually.
So, there’s three films or documentaries that I’ve seen that the young filmmakers trying to talk a little bit more about the story. So, maybe I’m trying to go through CACA to see if we can have them come to our different lodges, chapters across the country so they can kinda show it which is good. But I would say the most of the Mississippians are in Houston and quite a few actually in Los Angeles as well. So, some didn’t stop in Houston, they kept going.
40:55 Yu: And so, you’re here for a conference at Stanford…
40:58 Gor: Yeah. So, I don’t know if you know the Story Con. CACA or national archive is over here on Stockton Street. We’ve actually donated them to Stanford now. And we’re gonna have a little show and tell tomorrow, so most of the board has not been to the Stanford campus to see what they intend, what they’re gonna do with them or how they’re gonna archive them, the cataloging and all. And so, I think they’ll be real impressed. My whole thought about how Stanford is gonna do this is, of course, it’s gonna be a research and academic facility being for academics who will be doing the research there. I think by the time they finish this project of putting all of our, I think we almost have 200 boxes worth of information that we’re gonna be shipping over there soon.
41:48 But we have membership records of all of our lives from the very beginning. And these records are like from Houston Lodge which was born in 1954 to our original three oldest lodges in Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. So, all those membership records were put in one area at our national headquarters. So, the other part of that, a year, a year and a half ago, I just was coming through one of these books that had the Houston membership records. So, I found some of the people that I knew. They’re still my age but their fathers and mothers were members of CACA. And so interesting enough, back in that year they found these membership records, if I knew that the family had three kids, only two of them are listed. The third one haven’t born yet.
42:39 So, I thought it was kind of this, that’s how interesting capture of history. But our idea I think is to salvage some kind of a linkage like in ancestry.com. Because eventually, someone, I probably get once a month somebody sees me and says, “Do you guys have a CACA, some records of, because I think my father and mother came through wherever, you know? And so, they were CACA members.” So, I think by the time Stanford fixed, through with this I hope that we’ll be able to go online, dump in a name and you’ll be able to find out, you know, some story.
43:12 Yu: I think that’s terrific project and we’ll have a lot of info. I just remember, you know, CACA was the organization like in the ’50s and ’60s. My father was a lifetime member and then we knew, let’s see, Charles Jang. He was fantastic and then I have all the booklets. There’s 15 members, oh, yeah, 50th anniversary…
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