A History of the Chinese in


Chinese settlers made their homes inOxnard beginning around 1903.  This community was located between Saviers Road (currently Oxnard Blvd), A Street, 7th and 8th Streets.  An alley ran through the center of this block, thus giving the area the name: China Alley.  This Chinese community was made up of stores, employment agencies, laundries, restaurants, gambling establishments, the Bing Kong Tong and the Chinese Fire Brigade.

China Alley
China Alley circa 1920
Courtesy of the Oxnard Public Library
During its 45 years of existence, approximately 200 men were present, however a few Chinese families made their homes in Oxnard. Oxnard grew up around the American Beet Sugar Company that began operations in 1899. Many of the Chinese settlers who came to Oxnard during this period were farm laborers who harvested beets that were processed into sugar at the factory.

Oxnard City Directories show that there were many Chinese restaurants located in China Alley. Hall Hoo and six partners started the Golden Chicken Inn in 1928. It is the only remaining building in the historic Chinese community. This restaurant recently celebrated its 75-year anniversary.

Families in the Chinese Community

There were a few Chinese families who made their homes on China Alley in family had six members. Tom Ah Toy was the widowed mother of five children, Nancy, Sue, Daisy, Charlie, and Henry. Tom Ah Toy listed her occupation as vegetable gardener in 1920 census enumerations.
Ann and Sue Sem
Courtesy ofPamela Lindell

Another family that resided on China Alley was the Soo Hoo Family. Hoo Yee Tom and his wife, Soo Hoo Jung Hall (Mama SooHoo, came to Oxnard in 1920. They opened a store called Wing Chen Lung. This business later became a restaurant, and its final location was on Oxnard Blvd. near 7th Street. It was called Mama Soo Hoo’s Orient. Six children were born into the Soo Hoo family: Irene, Bill, Bartley, Edward, Dorothy, and Rose. Bill Soo Hoo was born in 1924 and he attended local Oxnard schools. He served in the military during WWII and received two battle stars. Upon his return to Oxnard he served on the Grand Jury and the City Council. In 1966 he became the Mayor of Oxnard. He was the first Chinese Mayor in California.

The Ventura County Chinese American Historical Society is seeking further information regarding Chinese communities in Ventura County. If you have photographs, artifacts, documents, and/or stories we would like to hear from you. Please contact Linda Bentz at "Lindabentz-gmail.com" <Lindabentz@gmail.com>.

This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the CALIFORNIA COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES as part of the Council’s statewide California Stories Initiative.  The COUNCIL is an independent non-profit organization and a state affiliate of the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES. For information on the Council and the California Stories Initiative, visit www.californiastories.org.