The Quock (Kwok) Family

In the mid-1800s, a young Chinese woman from the southern part of the Kwangtung Province named Loy So Mai, and her husband Bo Quock, joined a group of other Chinese who left China and immigrate to America.(9) The party set sail for America as part of a group of five (according to Lee, 2006), (10) or seven junks (according to Chen, 1980), (11) briefly stopping in the Philippines to further prepare for their extended overseas journey. (12) When the junks headed toward San Francisco, a storm hit off the coast of California, destroying several of the ships. Of the five or seven junks (depending on which historical account is correct) that departed from China, two landed in California. According to Chen (1980) one junk landed in Caspar Beach, Mendocino County in 1854 and the second one landed near the mouth of the Carmel River in Monterey County, presumably in 1854. (13) According to Ben Hoang, the grandson of Quock Mei, in an interview conducted by Judy Yung in Monterey on November 27, 1983, there were two fishing boats that arrived in 1852 near the mouth of the Carmel River in Monterey County carrying a total sixteen passengers. (14)

While the actual date of their arrival and the exact number of junks that arrived at each location may never be confirmed, what has been told was that the junk on which Loy So Mai and her husband Bo Quock were onboard, shipwrecked near Point Lobos a small inlet south of Monterey Bay. (15) According to the collective family history of the descendants, a Rumsien tribe of native Americans living in the area found the Quocks, and their Chinese companions, and took them into their homes to recover from the wreck and the arduous journey itself. These Chinese families, cast ashore on a shipwrecked junk, settled in the region and become fisher people. This small group of Chinese immigrants learned from the local people and shared their own knowledge about fish drying and preservation. (16) Quock Mui, the first child (second child of four children according to Ben Hoang, the grandson of Quock Mei, in the interview conducted by Judy Yung) of Loy So Mai and Bo Quock, was born in a fishing cabin at Point Lobos on August 13, 1859 (August 1858 according to the 1900 Federal Census) and believed to have been the first documented Chinese female born in California. Next, Loy So Mai and her husband Bo Quock had a second daughter born to them, Quock Sing Hing. Loy So Mai and her husband Bo Quock, not only had their daughters Quock Mui and Quock Sing Hing, born to them, but also had a son, Quock Tuck Lee, who was born at either one of three locations, the Point Lobos Chinese fishing community south of Carmel, the Pescadero Chinese fishing community located in Pebble Beach or the Point Alones Chinese fishing community in Pacific Grove, California.

QUOCK TUCK LEE

The earliest documented information related to Tuck Lee is a small comment published in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin in 1888:

Ah Tuck Lee, the only Chinese voter in Monterey county, will cast his first vote in November for Cleveland and Thurman. Tuck Lee was born in Monterey and follows fishing for a living. He is bright and can speak English and Spanish. (17)

The next bit of information related to Tuck Lee was provided by twelfth census of the United States for the year 1900, where one finds Lee living with his wife and three daughters at the Point Alones fishing village in Pacific Grove, California. According to the census Quock Tuck Lee was born in California in February of 1866, some seven years after the birth of his sister, Quock Mui. His wife, listed as Yen Tan Lee, was born in China in 1872, immigrated to the United States in 1880 and married in 1884. According to the census, the Lee’s had been married for sixteen years. The census makes record of Quock Tuck Lee and Yen Tan Lee’s three daughters, Ti Ti Kwok [Quock] born in March of 1885, Oy Kwok [Quock] born in May 1886 and Fung Kwok [Quock] and March 1890, presumably at the Point Alones Chinese fishing village.

Thus, from what information that has been gathered to date, suggests that for an unknown number of years, Tuck Lee, along with his wife and their children, resided at the Point Alones Chinese fishing village. One can only wonder if it was not a young Tuck Lee that David Starr Jordan refers to in his U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries Report of 1880 in his sentence:

“One of the Chinamen at Punta Alones is an American citizen and speaks English well.” (18)

If such is the case, then it’s quite possible that, at the time of the 1900 census, Tuck Lee had been living in the village for over 24 years.


Footnotes

(9) Lee, L. L. (2006). History Rewritten: The Story of Quock Mui Jeung. UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal. 11:75.

(10) Ibid.

(11) Chen, Jack. (1980). The Chinese of America. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

(12) Lee, L. L. (2006). History Rewritten: The Story of Quock Mui Jeung. UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal. 11:75.

(13) Chen, Jack. (1980). The Chinese of America. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

(14) Yung, Judy. (1986). Chinese Women of America: A Pictorial History. Seattle and London. University of Washington Press.

(15) Lee, L. L. (2006). History Rewritten: The Story of Quock Mui Jeung. UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal. 11:75.

(16) Ibid.

(17) San Francisco Evening Bulletin (1888). Monterey. October 12, 1888. 67 (5) 1.

(18) Jordan, D. S. (1887). The Sea Fishing Grounds of the Pacific Coast of the United States from the Straits of Fuca to Lower California. In Goode, G. B., ed. The Fisheries and Fishing Industries of the U. S. Section III. Washington. (1887). Pp.79-80. In U. S. 47th Congress, 1st Session Senate Misc. Doc. 124. Serial 2000.