The Yee Family of Ventura


The Yee family arrived in Ventura’s Chinese community in 1881.  The family consisted Yee Hay, Chan Shee and their daughter Emily.  While living in Ventura three addition children were born to the Yee family: William, Nellie and George.  The Yee children are the first, recorded, children to live in Ventura’s Chinese community.  Yee Hay worked as a traveling farm cook, a carpenter and volunteer fire fighter. 

Nellie was born in 1888 on Figueroa Street in Ventura and in 1979; she detailed her early life experiences when her family history was taken as a part of the Southern California Chinese American Oral History Project.  Nellie was ninety years old when she was interviewed. 

            Nellie Yee Chung describes her childhood in Ventura’s Chinese community. She speaks about her father’s journey to the United States, her leisure time activities with her brothers and sisters, her father’s employment, and his involvement with the Chinese Fire Company. Lillian Wong, Nellie’s daughter, was the interviewer in this section. Lillian refers to Nellie’s parents as Grandfather and Grandmother. They also speak of Nellie’s siblings, Eva, Emily, George, and William.


Q: Where was Grandfather born?

A:  In Toishan. He was a Yee from the Yee Village, Dikhoi.

Q:  You don’t remember what year he was born?

A:  I don’t remember.

Q:  What did Grandfather do in China?

A:  In China? In China there wasn’t much to do.

Q:  Oh, nothing to do?

A:  When he was young he lived in the home village.

Q:  How old was he when he came out?

A:  Relatives brought him out to Hong Kong to learn carpentry.

Q:  Why did Grandfather come to the States? Did he ever say?

A: When he was very young, he went to Hong Kong to learn to work. Someone said that the States was a good place, so he came with a group of people to the States. They came on a steamboat with sails to San Diego. 

Q:  How long did it take?

A:  Oh, I think it was 70-odd days. They were carried over by the wind, and sailed for 70 odd days. They arrived in San Diego, and then went to San Francisco.


Nellie was not certain when her father arrived in the United States. However, she recounted an incident to Marie Louie, her daughter, which places Mr. Yee in the United States by at least 1865: 

Mr. Yee’ s boss wanted to share with him the tragic news of the assassination of President Lincoln.  However the two men did not speak the same language, so the boss held up a coin with the “Big Man” (Lincoln) on it, and gestured the firing of a gun. 


Q:  So he went to San Francisco to look for work?

A:  He looked for work in San Francisco. Someone taught him to cook, at a white establishment. That man cooked for others. [Grandfather] worked for a family as a cook [also].

Q:  What about Grandmother?

A:  My mother came around the same time.

Q:  [They] got married in China, right?

A:  [They] got married in China. I don’t know when he came to the States. I don’t know.

Q:  Did he bring his wife over with him?

A:  According to the immigration laws, only men could come over. They could not bring their wives. So they had to go in roundabout ways. Once they stayed in California, and then they could, some of them could bring their wives.

Q:  Do you know why they came to Ventura?

A:  Because cousins lived there, and they told him to go look for work in Ventura.

Q:  What did Grandfather do [in Ventura]? Where did he work?

A:  He worked for others, pouring wine and harvesting wheat, etc. At each town, there'd be a big taxi car to pick them up, and he'd cook meals for people in the truck. He'd get up to cook at 4:00 a.m. They’d eat at 5 a.m., and start work at 6 a.m., threshing and cutting wheat. There was a kitchen there on the wagon. After they finished harvesting they'd go harvest in another place. The wagon would follow them. He cooked 3 meals a day for others. There was also the man who contracted the work, and they also arranged for a car to provide meals. [He cooked] bread, milk, coffee, [American food] things like that. He drove the provisions over, and ate from time to time, around 4 o’clock.

Q:  Where did he live?

A:  He lived on the wagon, and he slept in the car. When they finished harvesting in one place they went to harvest in another.  The wagon followed along the road. I heard him say that they threshed wheat, that is, harvested wheat, and picked beans. In the old days, wherever people went to work, the kitchen followed along.

Q:  Did they have blanket in the winter? How often did they come home?

A: They worked in the summer until August or September, and then came back. They worked a few months each year, not the whole year round.

Nick Peirano, local merchant, said that the Chinese were cooks for the crews on the big ranches, and they probably fed a crew of 35-40 men three meals a day. The cooks baked pies and cakes in the "chuck wagons," and they were very good cooks.

Mr. Collins, the cashier at William Collins and Son Bank, that was located on Main Street between Oak and California Streets on the southwest corner, said that there was always at least one Chinese cook on the threshing machine. Ah Wong Gow was a farmer who would borrow $2000 or $3000 for a crop mortgage. No money was ever lost when doing business with the Chinese community. He also recalled that some of the Chinese had accounts at the bank, but most carried cash.

Marie Louie recalled that Mr. Yee was paid in gold coin. He would stuff the coins in his shoes, because he did not want the money to be stolen. When he returned home on the evening of payday, the children would help to pull off his boots and coins would roll over the floor. The children thought that this was great fun.


Q:  Each time he came back, [from the farms] did he do any carpentry?

A:  Some people might want to remodel their store or partition off a room, and they’d ask him to do it.

Q:  He did that himself? Or did somebody help him?

A:  He did it himself, and the house we lived in was built by Grandfather. We had a house ourselves that was rented. There were houses there, [in Chinatown] a whole stretch of them; they’d been built by whites. That was Chinatown. In the old days the houses had about 2 rooms. The houses [on China Alley] were connected in the back. We built a little further out in the back, and raised some chickens and pigeons, etc. We put up a drying shed for drying clothes. [At the end of the alley there was a firehouse].

Q:  A firehouse?

A:  Yes, and Grandfather helped. Grandfather was in charge of opening the door, and as soon as there were shouts of trouble and calls to get out the fire truck, Grandfather went to open the door and let those people [Chinese fire fighters] in to get the fire truck. When the fire broke out, all of us Chinese came. We heard that a stretch of stores and house on Figueroa were all in the path of the fire. Mother was frightened, I was the youngest, but I was over a year old –18 months, that’s 2 years old. Mother picked out a few items of clothing. I was crying hard then, it was very frightening. There was no road out, just one side of the street. All the stores in that stretch burned down.


In 1872 the township of Ventura formed its own "Monumental Hose, Hook, Fire and Ladder Company." In approximately 1876, Chinese community formed their own fire brigade as well.  Newspaper accounts state that Chinese merchants collected funds to support the brigade.  Their equipment consisted of a two-wheeled cart that was pulled by the firemen, and one hundred feet of hose. According to Lillian Wong, Nellie Chung’s daughter, the Fire Company was formed because the Anglo response to fires in Chinatown was too slow. Or perhaps it was formed to compete with the Monumentals. Regardless of their motivation, these men extended their own services and helped extinguish fires outside of Chinatown, and were excellent fire fighters.

These men were greatly appreciated in the whole community. Newspaper reports praised their accomplishments:

The Chinese Fire Company is peculiar to Ventura and a valuable adjunct. By its promptness always, it has saved 1000's of dollars worth of property and it would not be a bad idea to give it a benefit so it could have a new complete outfit. Its maintenance has never cost the town a cent.


Another article on the same day said that the Chinese Fire Company was the first to arrive at the fire at Ayers Hotel, which was located on the south side of Main Street between Figueroa and Ventura Avenue. The article went on to say that they "worked like veterans and it was their efforts that saved the office of Justice Eastin." In 1921 the Ventura Post described the company as a group of dozen active young Chinese. The reporter went on to say:

"They fell heir to one of the cast off hose carts of the Monumentals. In time they fell into cooperation with the Monumentals, and always turned out at all town fires and always did good and efficient service. Also they always turned out and joined in the public parades with the Monumentals and received their share of the applause and cheers of the crowd.  


One of the early chiefs of the Chinese Fire Company was Soo Hoo How. Thomas Bard employed him for seven years and then Mr. Soo Hoo opened a hand laundry. He fulfilled his life dream by returning to China in 1928 where he died in 1931. His son Wo Hing continued the laundry on Main Street until 1936.

Q:  How did Grandfather call you? What name did he call you?

A:  “Youngest girl, oldest girl,” like that.

Q:  “Oldest girl” was Emily.

A:  I was “Youngest girl.” My mother had many children then, but they didn’t survive, so they weren’t named. So we were called “Oldest girl, youngest girl,” like that.

Q:  Oh, Ah George was called Ah Gow (Dog)? 

A: Yes, Ah Gow.

Q:  What was Ah Bill called?

A: Ah Gee (Pig)?

Q: Oh, Piggy, Doggy?

A: Yes Piggy, Doggy.

In the Chinese culture boys were highly desired, and Nellie’s parents were afraid that spirits of the devil would take boys away. Consequently, the boys were called something insignificant like animal names to confuse the spirits.  Later in life they used their given names, George and William.

Q:  Tell us about Auntie Eva?

A:  I had an older sister. When she was born, my mother was ill, so she gave the baby sister to a Yee family that had no children.


Eva was born in San Francisco and a member of the Yee family in San Francisco adopted her and raised her in China. This was a common Chinese practice, especially among cousins. Eva learned that she was adopted and in 1915 Nellie contacted her. Eva and the family continued regular visits, and maintained a relationship until she died about thirty years ago.

Q:  So your mother’s health was not very good, right?

A:  Right, she was not very healthy.

Q:  So you told her, you were going to buy milk, right?

A:  Right

Q:  Where did you buy milk?

A:  I went to someone in Ventura on the other side of the railroad tracks. They had two cows, so I went to buy fresh milk. He [the man who owned the cows] said, “You can get fat when you drink milk. Just drink this fresh milk without adding water.” He had us drink it just like that. Until then, I’d never had anything substantial to drink. This milk was nutritious, perhaps.

Q:  When you were home playing with George, Bill and the rest, did you play any Chinese games? What did you play at home?

A:  Play? As soon as we walked out the door there was the sea.  They would go fishing, and we’d play in the sand.

Q:  Did you sing any Chinese songs?

A:  I don’t know how to sing any.

Q:  Did you play with white children?

A:  We lived in Chinatown. There was no one to play with.

Q:  You say that sometime you went to pick watercress?

A:  We picked watercress. In the watercress patch on this side, on the other side of the warehouse. You just walked straight down, it wasn’t very far.

Q:  There was a gully in the hill?

A:  There were a few inches of water which flowed down from the hill into Straw Man Gully.

Q:  Straw Man?

A:  Straw Man Gully.  We went to Straw Man Gully to pick some. At that time we didn’t know [it was called] Straw Man Gully. Later, when we were all grown up, Eldest Auntie told us about it, about Straw Man Gully. There was a straw man at Straw Man Gully. We all picked watercress. There were turtles in Straw Man Gully.

Q:  And you say there were turtles, right?

A:  There were turtles. As soon as you caught one, it would flop over. We tied it up with string, tied it by the leg. That way we could pull the live turtle and play with it.

Q:  Were they edible, these water turtles?

A:  Nobody ate them.

Q:  There weren’t many things to play with then. No toys!

A:  No toys. How could there be toys?

Q:  So you caught turtles to play with, right?

A:  Yes we also caught a dog. We raised a dog with was very obedient. When I went fishing with Father, the dog also came along. It was very obedient, that dog.

Q:  Did the dog have a name?

A:  Bobby

Apparently somebody was eating turtles. Annie R. Smith, an early Ventura resident, remembered a Chinese woman named Susie who paid children fifty cents to catch turtles.  She would put them in a bucket, clean them like clams, and then cook them.


Q:  Where did you go to school? Did you go to school in Ventura.

A: I didn’t go to school when I was young.  A teacher came to our house and taught me ABC’s.

Q:  Oh, you weren’t in school?

A:  No Chinese children went to white schools.

Q:  Oh, you weren’t allowed to go?

A:  I don’t know if they didn’t allow us or if we wouldn’t go. The other children didn’t go either. The teacher came to our house to teach us ABC’s.

Q:  The teacher was a whit woman?

A:  A white.

Q:  She taught you alone?

A:  She taught me and my sister.

Q:  Oh. What about your father and mother?

A:  My mother didn’t know English. My father knew a few words. He had to work.

Q:  How long did you study?

A:  Not very long.


            Nellie’s mother practiced the Buddhist religion in Ventura. The temple was located in the Chinese community.  Mr. Yee celebrated the festivals, such as Chinese New Year.

Q:  Did any Chinese worship Buddha? Were there any?

A:  Yes. Some people say there are still some.

Q:  Were there any Chinese temples?

A:  Yes. Everyone went to worship. The Koon Yum Temple. It was across the street. (On the west side of Figueroa Street). I never went there. Those people would take some incense to the temple and worship. I’ve never gone inside, I just looked.

Q:  Did Grandmother also worship Buddha?

A:  She worshipped Buddha.

Q:  What did she wear to worship [at the temple]?

A:  She wore a gown with a long skirt and long top, and there were thing tied around the shoulders. She had an incense burner, one for holding incense. Think of how dangerous that was, going in a long gown. What with lanterns and candles, there would be fire there. Think of how dangerous that was.

Q:  And on top of that, it was a wooden building.

A:  It was a wooden building, on an alley.

In Nellie’s account of Chinese religious practices in Ventura, she said that the temple there was that of Koon Yin, known as the Goddess of Mercy. Fruits and vegetables were taken to her as an offering, and incense was burned as well. There were usually three Gods in Chinese temples, however only Koon Yin has been verified in Ventura. It is of interest that the Goddess of Mercy was found there since times could be very difficult, particularly between the host and the Chinese community.

There were many attempts to Christianize the Chinese in Southern California, as well as in the United States as a whole. These efforts are important for at least four reasons. The process helped the host community and Chinese to better understand each other, missionaries were instrumental in limited acculturation, Christian workers provided material and spiritual help in times of need, and the missionaries provided a voice for the Chinese when the Anti-Chinese movement was at its peak.  Moreover, most missionary efforts were established to educate, and provide medical services along with religious teachings.  

The most extensive and well-publicized mission effort in Ventura was the Congregational Mission established in Ventura in 1889 through the American Home Missionary Society. The Mission’s ultimate objective was the conversion of mankind to the faith of Jesus Christ. A school was established somewhere near the Chinese community. The location is unknown; however it is believed that it was within walking distance from the Congregational Church. In 1902 the teacher in Ventura, Lillian M. Bissell, wrote in a report that the average attendance of the school was about five. She went on to say that the students were advancing in English and some were asking for instruction in arithmetic and grammar. Men were exclusively the pupils at the mission.

The missionaries would go to Chinese women’s homes to teach reading. Chinese children were their students as well. Mrs. Bissell spoke of missionaries’ use of the Montgomery Ward catalogue which provided imaginative teaching techniques when teaching the wives of the Chinese merchants. Soo Hoo Chong Ti, wife of Ung Hing proprietor of Sing Hing and Company, benefited from this English instruction. Chinese women also did beautiful sewing and embroidery, and since these women were reclusive, the missionaries would shop for cloth and bring it back to their homes.



Q:  Then did you burn incense at home?

A:  We burned it in the evening during festivals.

Q:  What about Grandfather? 

A:  I remember, whenever it was Chinese New Year’s Eve. We had a family gathering on New Year’s Eve, and Grandfather was sure to worship then. New Year’s money was given out, we’d prepare the incense.

Q: Did he (Grandfather) eat vegetarian food in New Year’s Day? On the first and fifteenth days? Or perhaps you don’t know?

A:  I don’t know. I wasn’t aware of it. I know that on the first and fifteenth, he would offer incense and heat up wine. He offered incense after washing up and then [he would] go cook.


Chinese New Year, which occurs in January or February, was a festive time for the Yee family, as well as other residents of the Chinese community. This lunar New Year is a time of great celebration and joy, and has been celebrated for thousands of years. On New Year’s Eve the family gathers, and then the year is welcomed in with lion dances and firecrackers. These fireworks will frighten away the evil spirits that could threaten New Year. During the holiday gifts of money, wrapped in red paper, are given for good luck. 

During the year incense was also as burned in different parts of the house for the various reasons. For example, incense was burned on the fifteenth day of the month for the kitchen god (God of the Hearth) who was the news reporter. This god kept a record of the behavior of the family and reported to the main god at the end of each year. In the living room incense was burned for the ancestors.

Anglos found this festival to be quite interesting, and in 1896, an article described the events in Ventura:


Many of our citizens have availed themselves of the opportunity to visit and partake of the good cheer provided by the leading Chinese merchants who take pride in dispensing with lavish hand the peculiar dainties.    


            Nick Peirano reminisced about Chinese New Year as well:


On Chinese New Year my dad and mother would get all gussied up and they'd go up and take a little gift to each and every one of them in their little places. Then, on Christmas Eve they'd all come down to the house and bring my mother and dad [gifts]- we had some of their trays; . . . they had china sections in them, the teakwood sections, and they were filled with lychee nuts and ginger and things of that type.



Nellie apparently frequented the Chinese and Anglo businesses on Figueroa Street. She had an understanding of the merchant- contractor role.


Q: What did Ah Lum’ s store sell? (Ah is a term of address, like Mr. or Mrs.)

A:  Groceries, dried shrimp, dried cereals, fruits. Every week the people from the farms would come out here to buy groceries.

Q:  Tell me about the stores in Chinatown?

A: The farm workers would go to the grocery store every week, or perhaps once a month. Some people came to the store for provisions, and they’d buy them by the bundle. Some looked like dried shrimps and dried cereals, etc.

Q:  What about the workers?

A:  If anyone came looking for workers, he’d notify the [merchant/contractor] who would go tell some Chinese to go to work. In those days, most of the foremen were Chinese or so. That way, there’d be about a dozen or so men living in his store. If someone wanted work, he’d go outside in front of the store. Then a big taxi car would come and take them off to work, to the farm. They were far away, these places.

Q:  They worked on the farm? Were there any who worked on the rails, on the railroad?

A:  I wasn’t born when they were building the railroads.

Q: You say you went to Ah Nick’s store?  (Nicolas Peirano’s store was on the southeast corner of Main and Figueroa Streets).

A:  I went to a white-owned store. Ah Nick’s store sold things like coffee and white sugar.

Q:  And what did Grandfather do?  Did he buy white sugar?

A:  He said he bought white sugar, he bought a package of white sugar. [He told me to buy coffee, and he gave me a dollar.] I’d say “Coffee,” and [Ah Nick] would give me a pound. And I bought sugar.


Mrs. Yee died when Nellie was seven years old, and she is buried in Ventura. Nellie’s family moved to Los Angles in approximately 1897. Emily had married and moved south, and she cared for her siblings after her mother’s death.


Q:  Your mother died when you were young?

A:  Yes. I was 7 years old. Eldest Auntie, [Emily] was 16, Ah George was 13, and Ah Bill was 3 or 4. I think. So my sister got married, my older sister married. Then my father brought me over to live with my sister.

Q:  You were 9 in 1897. 


In 1910 Nellie married Dr. Chung Hong. He was forty-two and she was twenty-two. He was a widower, and had three sons by his previous marriage. He was also considered among the “foremost of the Chinese physicians in the United States and [had] a high standing in his native land.”


Q:  How did you meet your husband?

A:  [We were introduced by] a matchmaker, through a go-between.

Q:  How long had you known your husband when you got married.

A:  Not very long.

Q:  Do you remember when your husband came here from China?

A:  Before 1910 . . .1904.

Q:  Had he ever gone to San Francisco?

A:  Yes, he went to San Francisco first.

Q:  What kind of work did he do?

A:  He ran a drugstore. Chinese medicines.

Q:  So he opened the drugstore as soon as he came to L.A.?

A:  Yes he opened it after he got here.  I forget how long after he got here.

Q:  He opened a drugstore in San Francisco?

A:  Yes, in Chinatown, and soon afterwards on 9th Street in L.A. In 1910. 

Q:  When you got married, did you give a banquet or have some other ceremony.

A:  Chinese customs.  We gave out cakes, wore pretty clothes, etc. and invited the minister. A white came to perform the ceremony.

Q:  He was a minister?

A:  Yes, he was a minister. There was a combination.

Q:  Oh, there was a Chinese custom and a Western sermon.

A:  Yes.

Q:  Did you have a dowry? 

A:  Yes. There was clothing, wooden chests, etc.

Q:  Were you married in a church?

A:  It wasn’t a church, it was at home.

Q:  Was there a bus?

A:  [No], I think it was horse-drawn. They called it a stagecoach.  You know, the old fashioned coaches?

Q:  Did your father come to your wedding?

A:  According to Chinese custom, my father didn’t come. At that time I had already lost my mother.

The Los Angeles Examiner covered Nellie and Dr. Chung’s wedding ceremony on the front page complete with pictures of the wedding party.  The caption read: “Pagan and Christian Rites at Chinese Wedding. Yee Nuptials Mark New Chinatown Era.” A description of the ceremony follows:


The wedding was the biggest in the history of the local colony. Bride and groom are members of old and honored families. A strange wedding it was, a mixture of Christian and Oriental custom. A minister of the Christian faith performing the Christian service while interwoven almost with the very words were the Chinese wedding customs . . . [Before the ceremony] [t]he bridegroom was taken in hand by his friends. He was conducted to a room where his wedding robes were taken out. They consisted of silk jacket, silk vest, mandarin apron and the satin pantaloons. His queue hung in a straight black line down over his gorgeous costume which was sent from San Francisco and which cost more that $500. On his head he wore his cap of office with a god button.   


The article went on to describe Nellie’ s wedding attire:


She was gorgeously dressed in a costume, said to have cost a $1000. The entire affair, jacket, apron and pantaloons were a mass of gold wire embroidery. Great dragons glared from the scarlet silk, curling their golden tails about. Butterflies and insects flitted across it.  It was a sight worth beholding. The headdress was the official wedding helmet, a mass of gold and jewels and a heavy veil of gold and pearls hung down over her ivory skinned features. 


A reception was held after the ceremony; however Nellie did not lift her face to the scores of guests. The dictates of Chinese custom require that the full view of her face be reserved for her husband alone. The following day, the bride and groom were photographed in traditional clothing. 


Q: After you got married you moved over the drugstore on 9th and Hill Streets?

A: [Yes]. Whites lived there. We were the only ones living in our house. We lived upstairs. Downstairs was the drugstore. 

Q:  Did you buy it?

A:  No, we rented it.

Q:  Did you work after you got married?

A:  Work? No.

Q:  Did you ever help your husband with jobs like filling prescriptions?

A:  No. He hired someone to watch the fire and brew the medicines.  If I had free time I’d come down and watch the fire.

Q:  Do you remember if more whites or Chinese came to your husband’s drugstore?

A:  Mostly Chinese came.

Q:  At the drugstore was there was a room for people to take their medicine?

A: The back room was used for taking medicine, and there were 2 tables there.

Q:  There was also a pharmacy.

A:  A pharmacy, a big kitchen, and a porch.

Q:  How many burners did the stove have?

A:  6 burners.

Q:  And they were all used at the same time?

A:  If they were a used at the same time, you could cook 17 to 18 pots of medicine. Each burner could cook 3 pots.

Q:  And there was a room for taking pulses?

A:  There was a room for taking pulses, and a room for taking (medicinal) teas. After the medicines were cooked, they were taken there.

Q:  I remember the medicines were put in the most beautiful porcelain bowls.

A:  Yes. There was also a cup of tea, a Chinese spoon, and a big rice bowl filled with tea.

Q:  There was also a plate of Western crackers?

A:  Western crackers and a cup of tea for them to drink. There was a plate with a few crackers to e taken with the medicines.  They drank the medicines like soup, spoon by spoon, and weren’t afraid of the bitterness.

In China the profession of herbalist was usually passed down from father to son. In the Chinese American community, the herbalist would usually diagnose ailments and prepare herbal medications that were usually taken as a tea. Some of the herbs were ground into a powder and pressed into a pill, and these were usually taken by Anglos.

At Dr. Chung’s office, he would take the patient’s pulse, diagnose their illness, and prescribe the proper herbal cure.  Patients would either take the medicine there, or carry it home. Dr. Chung was quite well known, and people from all over came to his office. He traveled on business to Calexico by train on two occasions, and he was known to make house calls.  Some of Dr. Chung’s patients are still in contact with the Chung family.


Q:  How many children do you have?

A:  You -  Lily, Arthur, Marian, and then Marie.

Q:  Were you busy managing the 4 of them?

A:  There was no pause all day long.  I had to do laundry and cook the meals, 3 meals a day.

Q:  Your daughters helped you?

A:  My daughter (Lillian) helped me when she grew up. Then when she went to China. The 3 of us were at home.


Nellie and Dr. Chung had four children together. Dr. Chung’s children by his first marriage were named, Sam, Chung Ping, Elbert. In 1928, some family members, Nellie, Dr. Chung and Marie, traveled via boat to China to visit their home villages. Nellie spent ten days in her father’s village, Dikhoi.  The family slept in a gun tower that had been built to protect the village from bandits who came during the night.  This tower acted as a sort of clubhouse. Moreover, they stayed in the tower because the homes in the village were very small, and did not have guestrooms. 

They also visited Dr. Chung’s village, and Nellie and Marie’s appearance came under close scrutiny.  Since Dr. Chung was the first to return to his village with an American born Chinese family, people of the village thought that Nellie and Marie’s eyes should be blue, or at least lighter than people’s eyes that were born in China. 

Overall, this trip made a big impact on Nellie. She was very excited about visiting the homeland of her father. Nellie returned to China in 1975 to visit her daughter Lillian, and this time she went by airplane.  Nellie was eighty years old at the time.   

Nellie Yee Chung experienced good health until late in life. She attributed her vitality to fresh vegetables, freshly killed chickens, and fresh milk.  Nellie lived into old age, and died on November 21, 1984.  She was 96 years old.

            Nellie’s children have also led prosperous and interesting lives. Arthur became a physician and is currently living in Sonoma, California. He attended medical school in China and was there when the communist régime came to power. He had little contact with his family for twenty-four years. He worked in Switzerland for two years and then returned to the United States with his children.

            Marian married one of Arthur’s classmates. They lived and worked in New York for a while and then moved to China. They lived in China for twenty-five years. Sadly, Marian died in 1975. Her husband remarried, and he and their three children live in Orange County.

            Lillian married an architect and engineer who came to the United States from China to study at Caltech in Pasadena. They returned to China several days after their marriage. There they remained during World War II. Their two children were born in China. Several years ago they returned to the United States and are currently living in Alhambra.

            Marie met her husband in 1958 at USC where she was working in the library, and he was a doctoral student.  Dr. James W. Louie worked as a guidance counselor and a teacher.  Marie and James retired and moved to Camarillo.