Doc Hay of John Day, Oregon

Home ** Travel Adventures by Year ** Travel Adventures by State ** Plants ** Marine-Boats ** Geology ** Exciting Drives ** Cute Signs ** RV Subjects ** Miscellaneous Subjects

More Oregon Adventures ** Some of our Miscellaneous Subjects ** More 2007 Travel Adventures




Doc Hay of John Day, Oregon

June 19, 2007.

We are staying at Mountain View Travel Park in Baker City. $24.79 FHU, shade and a nice enough RV-Park. It must be a former KOA since they charge extra for everything, $2 extra for wifi, $2 extra for larger sites, you get the picture.


This was a slow day for us and we got a late start. At first we were undecided about what we wanted to do but finally settled on heading out to John Day since we had not been out that way. So John Day it was. By the way John Day is the name of a small east Oregon town.


Doc Hay of John Day, Oregon

Doc Hay of John Day, Oregon

The building served as the office of Doc Hay. He was the most famous Herbalist between San Francisco and Seattle in his day. He was a master of pulse diagnosis. Doc Hay could tell his patients what was wrong with them just by feeling the pulse in their arm. Then he would prepare an herbal mixture from local plants and herbs from China. Doc Hay was blind. When he shut the building up in 1948 to go to the nursing home, Doc Hay left behind over 500 different herbs, many that have never been identified.



This is what the building looks like from the back side.



When we saw that sign saying the museum was closed we thought we had missed everything but on our way out of the parking lot we spotted a state park building on the other side of the street that was housing most of the information ----that saved the day for us since we have driven 90-miles.

In the State Park building we were able to read and see many displays that helped us understand about the Chinese population in the northwest in the 1800 and into the 1900s. Chinese of this era did all manner of work even owning stores. In 1904, Jim Low opened a general merchandise store in McDermitt, Nevada. While Jim traveled the High Desert country selling supplies to isolated ranches, his wife Chew Fong ran the store. Customers ranged from buckaroos and miners to Paiute Indians. The Paiutes called Chew Fong, "Bee Duh," meaning "auntie," as a token of their regard.

The migration of Chinese to the American West was driven by the lure of opportunity. Initially, it was hoped-for quick riches of the gold rush, later the opportunity for steady wages working on the region's railroads, and in the agricultural, manufacturing and fishing industries. However, after arrival and initial employment in these low paying jobs, many enterprising individuals began to go into business for themselves, providing goods and services within Chinatown, as well as to the community at large.

Typically, the businesses operated by Chinese entrepreneurs included stores selling Chinese goods and supplies, restaurants, laundries, small farms, and woodcutting enterprises. "China bosses," individuals who spoke English and had a sharp business sense, often accumulated considerable wealth contracting with western industries to provide Chinese labor. Chinese medical practitioners, such as Ing Hay of John Day, Wing Luke of Seattle, and ah Fong of Boise, often made the transition from treating only Chinese laborers to being successful and respected within the entire community.

Some Chinese became fishermen. By 1857, Humboldt Bay, California had a Chinese fishing village. In the 1880s, Chinese shrimpers exported more than a million pounds of shrimp meat and shells to China and Japan, making California the most productive of America's shrimp-producing states.

Because of immigration laws, there were very few Chinese women allowed into America. Many Chinese males lived and died as bachelors. Any Chinese marriage was a major cause for celebration.

I wonder what kind of laws we had that only allowed men into the country? Do these laws still exist? It would seem that thousands of men with no women would be a problem that could be seen by those making the laws. What am I missing? Was this no women law applied to all nationalities applying to enter America? Questions, Questions, so many questions. There are so many things you do not learn in history classes formulated to teach "jaded" history.

The values that the Chinese immigrants brought with them to the new world facilitated the passage of their descendants into mainstream America. Although small numbers of tenacious, elderly Chinese men continued to reach their goal of returning to China after years of labor in the West, younger generations began to look upon the region as their home. Children of first generation immigrants were American educated, upwardly mobile, and assimilated rapidly into western communities.

Initially, Chinese who died were buried for a brief period, then their bones were shipped to ancestral burial grounds in China. However, as more Chinese chose to remain in the West, their permanent resting place was often the corner of a community cemetery equipped with a brick altar for burning funeral offerings.

The Pacific Coast was the entry point for most of the Chinese immigrating to the American West. The first Chinese to labor on the Pacific Coast arrived in 1788. By the mid-1800s, significant numbers of Chinese had entered ports in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Many Chinese immediately followed the rivers inland to the mining regions. Other Chinese stayed on the coast and plied familiar maritime trades. Chinese-style "junks" fished off California shores for abalone in the 1850s. By 1870, there were Chinese fishing villages scattered along the entire length of the the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Baja, California.

Chinese laborers were in high demand in the coastal industries. They were prevalent in canneries in British Columbia. Oregon and Washington, shingle mills and coal mines in British Columbia, and cigar factories in San Francisco. Until anti-Chinese labor unrest forced time from their jobs in the 1800s, they labored in the logging camps and lumber mills throughout the Puget Sound region. Almost no industry and no part of the economy on the Pacific Coast was left untouched by the resourceful Chinese laborers.

As the inland valleys of the West developed, Chinese labor became critical. Chinese laborers were recruited and managed through a "China boss," who had to speak passable English, in addition to several Chinese dialects, and above all, be a shrewd businessman. It was his job to provide Chinese labor crews to employers.

By the 1800s, 75% of the seasonal labor in California agriculture was Chinese. In the Sacramento Valley, Chinese laborers built levees and cleared the tule swamps to create one of the West's richest agricultural regions. They cleared land and planted the vineyards and orchards that established the California wine and fruit industries. Both the Oregon and Washington hop fields depended on Chinese labor.

Inland cities and towns relied upon enterprising Chinese farmers who marketed vegetables to local households, restaurants and groceries. In the Willamette and Rogue River valleys of Oregon, Chinese laborers cut dense brush and hauled stone from the fields to create productive farmland. The many existing, neatly stacked stone walls in these regions are ever-present reminders of their work.

One temporary Chinese community complete with tents and outdoor kitchen equipment followed the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad as it progressed through California's Sierra Nevada Mountains and eastward across the deserts of Nevada and Utah.

While the Chinese labored in America, cut off from the comfort of marriage and family by immigrations laws, most Chinese lived in anticipation of their eventual return home. During their sojourn, they did their best to reconstruct the familiar elements of their traditional society in this new land.

Their exclusion from western communities fostered the development of both urban and rural Chinatowns. Within these "Chinatowns," there developed a communal spirit that assisted them in maintaining their cultural identity.

A critical element of any culture, and particularly of Chinese society, is its foods. Therefore, it was natural for the Chinese to raise or import traditional vegetables, fruits, fish, and poultry. Wherever they went, the Chinese took with them their stir-fry utensils, woks, and ceramic jars of sauces and spices.

The Chinese adapted their lifestyles to the varied climates and terrain of America. In the gold fields, they often lived communally in dugouts or tents. In the Snake River Canyon of Idaho, they lived in crude stonewalled huts dug into the ground along the river banks and roofed with canvas. However, they continued to favor traditional clothing and personal items of daily life, holding fast to these remnants of their distant homeland while working in the most remote corners of the American West.

In many western communities the Chinese laundry was a familiar and, no doubt, welcomed sight in the West.

A few Chinese families existed. Those were the extremely fortunate ones. Many sizable Chinatowns grew and died without ever having a Chinese child born in them. I still wonder about the emigration laws that created this situation. I hope someone can explain this to me.

Some Chinese became cooks. At the turn of the century, the ZX was one of eastern Oregon's largest ranches. Throughout the era, a number of Chinese cooks presided over this cookhouse and the outfit's chuck wagon on roundups and trail drives.

The Chinese and Indians had disagreements just as did the Americans and Indians. In 1864, over fifty were massacred by Paiutes while on their way to the Owyhee mines on Jordan Creek, near Jordan Valley, Oregon. The place is known as the Chinese massacre site.

While some Chinese worked as Chuck wagon cooks occasionally, they also worked as cowboys on ranches, such as "Buckaroo Sam" who worked on the Sproul Ranch in eastern Oregon.

Chinese laborers operated "hydraulic giants," high pressure water hoses for washing away earth to expose gold-bearing rock. The devices were cheap to operate and moved a great deal of soil, but were inefficient. Other Chinese often picked over the "leavings" and recovered much more gold than was recovered in the initial process.

We all know about the Chinese laborers contribution to constructing the transcontinental railroad. After more than two years of labor the Central Pacific Rail Road reached the community of Winnemucca, Nevada. Then, on April 28, 1869, a Chinese track crew with the Central Pacific laid ten miles of track in twelve hours, beating the old Union Pacific record by two miles.

In Astoria Chinese worked in a Salmon cannery. Chinese were introduced to the Oregon salmon canning industry in 1871, and turned it into a major industry. Salmon canning in Washington state was second only to wheat as a moneymaking industry.

As we might expect some Chinese worked as household servants. A Chinese servant, especially a cook, was a valued and prestigious part of many upper-class urban American households.

From the earliest days of western exploration and settlement, the Chinese labored with skill and energy in a wide variety of occupations. In 1788, sea trader John Mears brought 30 Chinese to Nookia Sound, in British Columbia, to construct the sloop (Northwest America,) the first sizable ship built on the Pacific Coast. Individual Chinese were present in Spanish California in the early 1800s. However, it was the discovery of gold in 1848 that attracted the first large migration of Chinese to America.

In the early days of the gold rush, Chinese miners worked the streams alongside forty-niners from throughout the world, but hostile discrimination soon forced them from their claims. Soon large gangs of Chinese were working as contract labor construction untold miles of ditches to bring water to dry diggings and working hydraulic mining operations.

Outside the mining regions, they built levees, drained swamps and cleaned fields to create the region's prosperous agricultural industry. They labored in shoe factories, iron foundries, lumber mills and the garment industry.

For over half a century, they worked in fish canneries of California to Alaska. They constructed the western half of the first transcontinental railroad through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the deserts of Nevada as well as the subsequent rail routes and roads that created the region's transportation network.

Other Chinese worked as garment workers. The first Chinese garment worker was hired in San Francisco in 1859. by the 1870s, 70% to 80% of the garment workers were Chinese. In 1876, there were two thousand Chinese in the "sewing trades" in San Francisco.

Until Chinese labor diked the river and drained the tule swamps beginning in 1850, the Sacramento Delta, now one of the world's richest agricultural areas, was an uninhabitable marsh. By the late 1860s, thousands of Chinese agricultural workers labored in the area.

Gold had been discovered in California in 1848. By 1870, many of the miners in California and the majority of those in Oregon and Idaho were Chinese. As we all know the discovery of gold throughout the West spurred economic development. Chinese labor was in demand in the growing, lumber, fishing and construction industries. Soon Chinese labor was building the great transcontinental railroad which tied together the North American West. As this project ended, Chinese railroad workers migrated deeper into America, building smaller rail lines throughout the region. They went into other industries, ranging from garment making, cigar manufacturing, lumber milling, borax and quicksilver mining to salmon canning and glass blowing, as well as into agriculture on farms and ranches throughout the West.

Between 1876 and 1890, steamships brought an estimated 200,00 Chinese to American west coast ports. Most immigrants were poor and had to borrow the money for their voyage through the "Credit Ticket System."

Passage one-way to America was around $50, but with the high rate of interest, it cost the immigrant about $120. One estimate suggests that American and British steamship companies made $11 million in steerage fees paid by Chinese laborers. The immigrants, like many newcomers, were often swindled. The money they had borrowed for their journey created a form of virtual slavery to the firms which advanced their passages. In 1852, Chinese aboard the ship Robert Brown bound from Amoy discovered that they had been brought aboard under false pretenses, killed the ship's officers and returned to China. By 1862, American law forbade American ships from engaging in the infamous coolie trade because of the many abuses.

Upon their arrival at Pacific Coast ports, the Chinese found local employment, or began a second journey to the railroad camps, mining regions and industries in the inland valleys, mountains and deserts of the West.

Initially welcomed for their labor, the Chinese soon began to meet prejudice and discrimination. Between 1852 and 1880, an increasing number of laws and local restrictions had limited the civil rights and job opportunities for Chinese in the West. Between 1885 and 1965, a series of laws restricted Chinese immigration. During this period the journey to America was limited to a privileged few. However, in recent years, more equitable treatment during immigration has tempered the experience of Chinese newcomers, who have come to America in search of opportunities in the West.

Chinatowns were established in San Francisco by 1850, Portland by 1851, Seattle by 1860, and Vancouver by 1870. Soon Chinatowns could be found throughout the West.

By 1880, as the Western development era slowed, the demand for Chinese laborers waned. The smaller remote Chinatowns slowly died out as many Chinese withdrew to the urban Chinatowns in fear of anti-Chinese violence. In addition to greater security, the Chinatowns offered many obvious advantages to the Chinese: familiar supporting institutions, a hope of marriage and family life, and opportunities to pursue familiar pastimes. These communities were generally dominated by successful China bosses and merchant families.

Chinatowns often provided services for the surrounding communities. Chinese gardens produced fine vegetables for local housewives. Gambling halls contributed such familiar American pastimes as keno, which began as the Chinese game, "white pigeon ticket." Restaurants were popular destinations for visitors. Chinatowns, because of their exotic nature, held a special allure for outsiders.

In the Western deserts Chinese worked at many occupations from mining to building railroads to farming. Signs of their presence remain throughout the West in numerous place names like the ubiquitous China Creek found in most states of the region.

Traditional Chinese agricultural techniques proved useful in this hostile and intractable environment. In the desert outside Winnemucca, Nevada, is a fold in the low hills called "China Gardens" where Chinese took advantage of run-off waters to grow vegetables to sell in the local settlements.

The desert also had unique industries related to surface mining which came to depend on the familiar Chinese labor gangs. They were also employed by many of the ranches in the High Desert, cooking for the buckaroos both at the ranch and from the back of a chuck wagon.

By the closing years of the 19th century, the Chinese population centers in the desert began migrating to the large urban Chinatowns, changing the rural communities significantly. What had been lively centers of Chinese miners, railway workers, and laborers became isolated pockets of aging bachelors.



More Oregon Adventures

Some of our Miscellaneous Subjects ** More 2007 Travel Adventures



Mike & Joyce Hendrix

Mike & Joyce Hendrix who we are

We hope you liked this page. If you do you might be interested in some of our other Travel Adventures:

Mike & Joyce Hendrix's home page

Travel Adventures by Year ** Travel Adventures by State ** Plants ** Marine-Boats ** Geology ** Exciting Drives ** Cute Signs ** RV Subjects ** Miscellaneous Subjects


We would love to hear from you......just put "info" in the place of "FAKE" in this address:

Until next time remember how good life is.


    Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites




    Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites




Home ** Travel Adventures by Year ** Travel Adventures by State ** Plants ** Marine-Boats * * Geology ** Exciting Drives ** Cute Signs ** RV Subjects ** Miscellaneous Subjects