The Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village

500 — 1853

The first inhabitants of Point Alones, the name for rocky outcrop where Hopkins Marine Station is located, were the Ohlone Rumsen, a Native American group that populated the central coast from northern Big Sur to the San Francisco Bay starting around the 6th century CE. The Ohlone thrived as hunter-gatherers and harvesters of the abundant coastal natural resources of this area until the Spanish colonizers arrived in the mid-1700s. The Spanish mission system implemented by Father Junipero Serra displaced the Ohlone people and destabilized their culture. The mission system, government influence, and the arrival of European immigrants to California all played significant roles in nearly decimating the Ohlone by the 1850s.

1853 — 1906

The Pacific Grove’s Point Alones Chinese fishing village was founded by a handful of immigrants came directly from China by junk or via San Francisco in the 1850s. They came to fish abalone and later expanded to fish squid and rockfish.Within several decades the village was recognized as unique for being one of the few Chinese communities in California where entire families of men, women, and children lived and worked for several generations.

"I remember it well, shacks built of scraps of wood, matting, pieces of tin. The district known as Chinatown, a street free of sewage disposal and very romantic. In it the Chinese kept alive the arts of gambling, prostitution, and the opium pipe. I remember the night the whole thing burned to the ground. We felt that a way of life was gone forever"

- John Steinbeck, Monterey Peninsula Herald. March 8, 1957.

John Steinbeck appears to have been correct regarding gambling (the game of chance, Fan-tan, and dominoes, Pai gow) and the use of opium (as mentioned by Robert Louis Stevenson and Franz Doflein), taking place within the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village but there has been found not one historically valid reference - to date - mentioning prostitution. It is always important to remember, Steinbeck was a novelist, not a historian.

Several decades after the burning of the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village, in 1906, New Monterey would host several houses of prostitution, including the establishment directly across from Ed Ricketts, Pacific Biological Laboratories, managed by "Madam" Flora Wood's and made famous in Steinbeck's Cannery Row. As for the drug of choice for the occupants of Monterey's Oceanview Avenue, alcohol reigned supreme.

"I have known so many of them. Remarkable people the California Chinese" -John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters.


With the Homestead Act of 1862, immigrants to California of Northern European ancestry were allowed to purchase or homestead property and establish a permanent residence in the State. A much different reception awaited immigrants who arrived in California not of Northern European decent. These new arrivals were often met with scorn, intimidation, the threat of deportation, and exclusion.

The first large wave of immigrants to California subjected to such prejudice were the Chinese, whom, from the time of their arrival during the Gold Rush of 1849, encountered discrimination, overt racism, and exclusion. In 1853, Chinese were denied the right to vote. A decade later Chinese immigrants were banned from testifying in court, and shortly thereafter subjected to a poll tax. Other discriminatory acts against the Chinese included their denial of U. S. citizenship, the right to lease or own property, and exemption from the opportunity to homestead land.

Before the twentieth century, most of the field workers in the Salinas Valley were the Chinese. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 put an end to Chinese immigration, which ultimately resulted in a shortage of field workers. The next influx of Asian immigrants to arrive and labor the agricultural fields, and eventually subjected to exclusion, were the Japanese and, to a lesser extent, Korean, Filipino, and Hindu.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves too much, we should consider the small township of Pacific Grove, where the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village was located until a fire in 1906.


Established as the Pacific Grove Methodist Camp Retreat in 1875, the community established blue laws rejecting many of the common practices among the residents of the Chinese fishing village, gambling and smoking opium. Yet, the Chinese had arrived in Pacific Grove nearly two decades before the Methodists had arrived and established the Camp Retreat.

In 1875, David Jacks, an unscrupulous man who owned much of the Monterey Peninsula sold one hundred acres to the retreat association for $1 and sold 300 acres to the newly built city of Pacific Grove at $1 per acre. Unfortunately, Mr. Jacks did not find it in himself to sell a few acres of the land he’d acquired to the Chinese who occupied Point Alones.

In 1880, Jacks sold 7,000 acres of land between Carmel and Pacific Grove (including the property known as Point Alones) to the Pacific Improvement Company, a company controlled by the so-called "Big Four" California railroad barons - Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Collis P. Huntington.

The Pacific Improvement Company and the Southern Pacific Railroad helped to build the town of Pacific Grove.The company contributed significant funds for the construction of Pacific Grove's Methodist Episcopal Church. The Chautauqua Hall was built in 1881 by the Pacific Improvement Company for the Pacific Grove Methodist-Episcopal Camp Retreat. In 1892, the Pacific Improvement Company gifted land and provided funds for the establishment of Stanford University's Hopkins Seaside Laboratory.

Even though the Chinese had settled into Pacific Grove several decades before it was a designated township and named Pacific Grove, purchasing the property they had selected for the fishing village was not an option, as Chinese immigrants were not allowed to own and hold title to property in America as a result of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. If the Chinese had been permitted to purchase the property where the families had settled, the story about to be told may well have ended much differently. And, of course, neither David Jacks nor the Pacific Improvement Company considered gifting property to the Chinese community.

The Point Alones village was the largest Chinese settlement on the Monterey Peninsula and it served as the social and cultural home base for many of the Chinese living in the Monterey. Though the fishing industry was clearly the dominant economic activity at Point Alones, the village also included general merchandise stores, religious structures, and a small cemetery.[1]


Pacific Grove’s Point Alones Chinese fishing village was founded by a handful of immigrants in the 1850s. Within several decades the village was recognized as unique for being one of the few Chinese communities in California where entire families of men, women, and children lived and worked for several generations.

The families living in the Point Alones fishing village were the first to recognize the potential for commercial fishing in the Monterey Bay. The Chinese fishermen built twenty-one-foot, flat-bottomed fishing sampans with a single triangular sail and caught abalone, cod, flounder, halibut, mackerel, rock fish, red and blue fish, yellow tail, sardines, and squid. Other delicacies - shellfish, sea slugs, sea urchins, and seaweed - were harvested from the shore.

To fish for squid at night, the Point Alones fishermen equipped their small sampans with “fire baskets" suspended by a long metal pole from the bow. In these "fire baskets," pine wood was burned. The squid, attracted by the fire, would rise to the surface, and scooped up with nets.

Along with other Chinese fishing communities scattered along the California coast, (San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and the offshore islands near San Francisco) the Point Alones fishing village contributed to the development of the west coast abalone industry. By 1864 the Chinese immigrants were on the shores of Monterey Bay gathering, drying, and shipping abalone to San Francisco for export to China.[2]

From the Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, Volume 9, Number 2, 18 June 1864, from a column titled Trip to Monterey appears on of the earliest mentions of the Chinese Fishing Village.

"Monterey, a magnificent sheet of water where all the shipping of this coast could have been secure. One is forceably reminded of how much a few stirring, energetic persons, when the town was at its zenith, could have accomplished in placing it above all others on this coast ; for surely nowhere has nature been more bountiful of her gifts. Just before entering the harbor are rocky points, palisades and towers, some covered with mosses, others bald and gray, the waves breaking in all their fury upon them truly grand and beautiful. A little farther on we come to a group of Chinese fishermen's huts, where they are quite extensively engaged in drying fish, spreading them on tables from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet in length, and turning them each day until thoroughly dry."[3]

A decade later, in 1874, the shells of the abalone, having been recognized as valuable, were shipped to San Francisco for the making of scarf-pins, sleeve-buttons, and other articles.[4]

By 1875, the Chinese fishing industry was preparing one hundred tons of dried and salted catch, each year, shipping the product to the Clay-street dealers in San Francisco who then distributed throughout the State and abroad. Cod, flounder, halibut, rockfish, red and blue fish, mackerel, sardines, yellow tail, octopus, and squid were counted among the catch.

Another interesting aspect was that the fishing village was home to several Chinese American citizens and their children. One popular periodical of 1875 mentioned a California-born man of Chinese descent named “Tim,” who was fluent in English and Spanish.[5] Five years later, David Starr Jordan, during his 1879-1880 survey of the fisheries of the Pacific Coast for the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries commented mentioned that one of the men of the Point Alones Chinese Fishing village was an American citizen who spoke English well “One of the [men] at Punta Alones is an American citizen and speaks English well.”[6]

See Also: "In A Chinese Fishing Village With A Hand Camera" in The Photographic Times. Volume 32 1900.

See Also: "Mid-Winter Days at Monterey" in The Overland Monthly Volume 10 1887

The families living in the Chinese Fishing Village were the first to recognize the potential for commercial fishing in the Monterey Bay. The Chinese fishermen built twenty-one-foot, flat-bottomed fishing sampans with a single triangular sail enabling them to fish the bay. To fish for squid at night, the Point Alones fishermen equipped their small sampans with “fire baskets" suspended by a long metal pole from the bow. In these "fire baskets," pine wood was burned. The squid, attracted by the fire, would rise to the surface and scooped up with nets.

It has often been stated that the glow from the Chinese sampans fishing on the Monterey Bay inspired Pacific Grove’s Feast of Lanterns, yet the literature from 1905 suggest the celebration was adopted from the Mother Chautauqua in upstate New York. There appears to have been no mention of the festival being inspired by the lantern-lit Chinese fishing boats that sailed the Monterey Bay in the literature until many years later, in the 1970s.

With four Chinese boats and sixteen Japanese boats hired for the illuminated fleet confirm the two immigrant communities took part in the event, though their involvement appears to have been limited to the boat parade.

Bashford Dean of Columbia University, in an article titled A Californian Marine Biological Station that appeared in Natural Science 1897 (Volume 11 No.6) the village was again described “The village itself looks as though it has been imported from China in its present condition, a huddled little town of unpainted shanties sprinkled closely along a crowded street. with a few shops, a joss-house and a sky-line of picturesque scaffolding for fish drying. There will be a crowd of mushroom-hatted fishermen, a din of chaffering, a mixture of nets, trawl lines and baskets, distinctly unpleasant odours, placards of crimson and tinsel spattered with Chinese characters. The people are Cantonese many of whom have been living here for two generations.”


Fishing by fire baskets extends back to the fifteenth century with Dutch fishermen use of the method to attract herring.[7] This ancient fishing practice was modernized in the latter half of the nineteenth century by the Chinese fishermen of Pacific Grove attracting squid at night on the Monterey Bay. For many years the Chinese used the property between the fishing village and Lighthouse Avenue to dry hundreds of tons of squid. Ordinary garden rakes were used to rotate the squid spread amongst the grass allowing for complete drying of the product. Just when the practice of drying squid at this location began can be found in the literature.

According to California Fish and Game the “fishermen from the Chinese Fishing village in Pacific Grove were catching and drying squid before 1870.”[8] A decade later, David Starr Jordan, during his survey of the Pacific coast fisheries in 1880 noted that the Chinese Fishing village was drying and shipping “many tons of different devilfish, squids.”

A mention in the Monterey Weekly published May 1886 described a significant portion of the village property as covered with drying squid. “About this time of year is the beginning of what is known to the Chinese fishermen as the "squid season." When the fishing is good, acres of ground around Chinatown will be plastered with this fish”


A following mention appeared on page five of the Monterey Cypress Newspaper on Saturday, May 17, 1890. “Residents of New Monterey have started out a petition protesting against the practice adopted by the Chinese of drying squid in that neighborhood. The petition has been liberally signed and will, no doubt, have the desired effect.”

Soon after the newspaper article complaining about the odor from the drying of the catch was published, other articles began to appear in a regular basis in the press. One can not help but recognize the condescending and derogatory language used to describe the village. An Eastern tourist, visiting Pacific Grove for the first time, remarked about the unpleasant odors arising from dried and decaying fish which the men of the fishing village have spread along their beach.

In his chapter “A Chinese village in California,” Franz Doflein, a German scientist visiting Stanford University’s Hopkins Seaside Laboratory, during the summer of 1898, mentioned that property downwind from the stench of drying squid has lost value because of the odor.[9]

Joel Franks in his book Crossing Sidelines, Crossing Cultures: Sport and Asian Pacific American cultural citizenship summarizes well the socially unacceptable behavior common amongst American-Asian communities, including the Point Alones Chinese fishing village.

“All sorts of problems related to gambling, substance abuse, and crime beset early Asian Pacific American communities. These problems were not just worrisome to the extent that they harmed people within Asian Pacific American communities. They also helped to represent Asian Pacific American Communities in a bad light to already very suspicious non-Asian Pacific Americans, who were often conveniently forgot about similar problems in their own communities."[10]


Several historians have written that gambling was nonexistent within the Point Alones Chinese Village, yet a review of the literature suggests otherwise. Bryn Williams (August 2011) during his archeological survey of the village located several “copper wen pieces” commonly used for gambling by Chinese. He goes on to suggests the likelihood that the coin may have been used for gambling.

The Pacific Grove Review reports the Chinatown of 1888: The Chinese fishing village in Pacific Grove, in spite of its maloriferous smells, has its full quota of sight-seers. To many it is simply curiosity that prompts the threading of its narrow streets, and peering into the open doorways. But some look upon the coming of the Chinese among us as a part of a great plan for evangelizing the world. Some pass by in sad wonder the heathen altars in every home, watch the idolatrous worship, and note the gambling houses. "This," they say, "in a Christian town!" On one house is the sign "Lum Qum Lee." In its front is a large table in a small room piled with bundles of dominoes. Here at any hour of the day or night may be seen men, women, and children gambling. Any person may enter. The stakes are small but raked in often. Sometimes there are excited crowds, maddened by losses, and shooting and cutting. There are some highbinders in Pacific Grove, but most of the inhabitants are of the Retreat type, and we welcome them. [11]

Pai Gow is a ancient Chinese Gambling game thousands of years old, and steeped in tradition played with the Chinese dominoes tile set.

Occasionally, as in any community, there were disturbers of the peace. The Pacific Grove Review reports in 1891: A shooting affair occurred in Chinatown yesterday afternoon when Poi Tai got into a dispute over a gambling game. Poi Tai caught up his little hatchet with the intention of using Ham Oon as a chopping block. Ham Oon took to his heels. Poi Tai pursued, and getting altogether too close for comfort, Ham Oon pulled his little gun and shot Poi Tai in the arm, shattering the bone badly. Ham Oon was arrested.[12]

Also in 1891, the Pacific Grove Review reported :The eleven fan-tan players arrested during the raid upon Chinatown were held in durance vile for two days in the Johnson block, awaiting their trial. They were fined $100. [13]

The phrase “Fan-tan,” refers to a form of a gambling game long played in China, is a game of pure chance which has similarities to roulette. Yes, there was gambling -games of chance – that were played in the Chinese fishing village. But, of course, there was gambling offered in most every large and small town throughout the West. San Francisco’s famous Barbary Coast was popular for its gambling halls, and houses of prostitution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Today, in the twenty-first century, gambling takes place legally in every State in the U. S. Banker’s Casino - on Monterey Street in Salinas - offers Bankers Casino offers Texas Holdem and Omaha Hi Low Split Poker games as well as a variety of Vegas style games such as Black-Jack, 3 Card Poker, Baccarat, and Pai Gow.


Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village held other illegal practices common to many Chinese communities- (and other communities of race, creed or color)--the use of opium. Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent four months on the Monterey Peninsula in 1879, wrote of his vivid impressions of the area's well established Oriental communities including the use of opium. Researchers today suggest the use of opium did not typically result in addiction as severe as the poppy derivative of morphine or heroin. Certainly not the level of addiction experienced in the United States over the last decade with the use of synthetic opiates, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Much of the use of opium in Chinese communities in the U.S, and aboard, was limited to fewer than twelve times a year for either medicinal or recreational purposes. See Also:…

In his Old and New Pacific Capital, Robert Louis Stevenson describes the village thus: You will come upon a space of open down, a hamlet, a haven among rocks, a world of surge and screaming sea-gulls. Such scenes are very similar in different climates; they appear homely to the eyes of all; to me this was like a dozen spots in Scotland. And yet the boats that ride in the haven are of strange outlandish design; and, if you walk into the hamlet, you will behold costumes and faces and hear a tongue that are unfamiliar to the memory. The joss-stick bums, the opium pipe is smoked, the floors are strewn with slips of coloured paper - prayers, you would say, that had somehow missed their destination - and a man guiding his upright pencil from right to left across the sheet, writes home the news of Monterey to the Celestial Empire (Stevenson 1880: 85)

In his chapter on the “A Chinese village in California” Franz Doflein describes in detail three times the use of opium during his visit with a Chinese fisherman. “The yield of the fishery is partly sold in the surrounding seaside resorts, partly brought to San Francisco on the market. This is a whole achieved a nice profit, so that the fishermen live in good conditions would have been, they would not be whole of the merchants and opium and even dependent…”[14]

“As in other countries, the alcohol, here the opium, the poorest to get in his dependency. If my fisherman had distributed his prey, he always invited me to step into his house and stay a while before my half-hour hike to Pacific Grove. Several times followed this request and entered a gloomy room, which of a flickering little flame or some paper dimly lit. Two piles were in the corner Crates mounted one above the other, like bunks in a ship. Otherwise, there was another kind of altar in the room, with some glare, Chinese paintings, gold baubles, lanterns, on which usually Smoker's plant, smelling of sandalwood, burned…” [15]

“Some stools, which stood around, serving the guests as seats; the host swung immediately on one of the bunkers and began to smoke opium.”[16]

So yes, there was the stench from the drying of squid, gambling (the game of chance, Fan-tan, and dominoes, Pai gow), and the use of opium associated with the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village, but there were also open ocean rescues that have seldom before mentioned, such as the following story published in the San Francisco Call in August 1899.


Rescued by Chinese in Fishing Boats.

Nearly a score of people prominent in Washington Township have just escaped losing their lives at Pacific Grove. A large party from Decoto, Centerville and Niles was at the grove and had chartered a gasoline launch to take them out to sea. There was half a gale of wind blowing, which was sending a heavy swell into the bay, and as soon as the little vessel had cleared the point and met the full force of wind and wave the party began to wish themselves on shore. After a few minutes battling with the waves the machinery broke down, and for a long time matters looked very serious. The boat swung off into the trough of the sea and the passengers expected to see every breaker roll over the side and send them and the boat to the bottom. The captain of the launch got into his fishing boat, which he towed astern, and which seemed better able to breast the waves than the launch, and succeeded in towing the launch out of the trough of the sea. By this time some Chinese fishermen had seen the danger to which the party was exposed. They at once sailed out and succeeded in bringing the wrecked launch to their wharf in Chinatown, near Del Monte. It was necessary to tow them over a mile to get them to a place of safety. The party rescued consisted of Ethel Tretheway of East Oakland, Mrs. J. L Beard and daughter, Mrs. Henry May, Mrs. Rudolf Vollmer and Misses Edna and Ella Whipple of Decoto, Mrs. F. O. Bunting, Miss Evelyn Bunting and Mrs. Hawley of Centerville, Mrs. H. D. Ellsworth, Miss Carrie Ellsworth, Miss Hazel Jocobus, Mrs. William H. Ford Mrs. J. R. Clough, Stewart Chisolm and Harry Mosher of Niles. The effect. caused by landing at the Chinese fishing station after their perilous trip to sea was sufficient to cause every one of the party to make a mild oath never to go to sea again.[17]


Within less than a decade of its being established in 1875, the Pacific Grove Retreat became a favorite Methodist convention headquarters for the hosting of religious, temperance and education conferences along the California coast. These conferences allowed Methodist and Protestant clergy from throughout California to gather in Pacific Grove, attend their annual convention and contribute to various religious and educational programs, including the community’s annual two weeklong Chautauqua program.

Missionary efforts reported upon by the clergy involved those within California and across the waters in China. Discussions often involved various clergies current and future missionary efforts, a bit their concern was the mistreatment of Chinese immigrants. Numerous articles of the period mention the efforts of various Methodist and Protestant clergy and the Methodist Woman’s Home Mission Society who worked to educate the Chinese and save Chinese girls from the slavery trade.

Several streets in Pacific Grove are named after Methodist ministers who contributed to Chinese mission efforts, Rev. Otis Gibson, founder of Community United Methodist Church in San Francisco, (Gibson Street), Rev. W. C. Evans, superintendent of the Pacific Coast Chinese Mission, in Oakland (Evans Avenue), Rev. M. C. Briggs, Minister of the Methodist Mission in San Francisco (Briggs Street).

Otis Gibson (1826 –1889) was a Methodist pastor best known for his missionary work among Chinese. In fact, Chinese work on the Pacific coast was first started by Gibson in 1868. A tireless worker for the Chinese, he protested constantly in the local press or from the platform about their often harsh and exploitative treatment. In 1877, Gibson published the book, The Chinese in America, as powerful a defense of the Chinese immigrant that appeared in print during the nineteenth century.

A decade later he founded the Chinese Community United Methodist Church (in 1887) as part of the chain of Methodist Chinese Missions in California, stretching from Sacramento to Los Angeles. These churches provided schooling and served as a refuge for Chinese women who were victims of slavery and worked as prostitutes.


In 1890 a Chinese Mission School was built near Pacific Grove’s Chinatown.

The citizens of Chinatown petition the Trustees for the right of their children to attend public school. The Trustees decide to build a separate school. This is placed on P.I. land and comfortably fitted. Mary E. Sackett, an Oberlin (Ohio) graduate, holder of a California Life Diploma, is hired. The school was opened October 27th [1890] with ·eighteen bright looking little ... (News of old Pacific Grove from the Pacific Grove Review (November-December 1890)

Several mentions from the newspapers of 1894 suggested that the Chinese children were having difficulties being accepted into the classroom.

The Pacific Grove school trustees have a hard nut to crack in the shape of Chinese native sons who desire to attend school. There are not enough of them to justify the conducting of a school exclusively for them, and as they insist on bringing their dogs, parents and minor brothers and sisters with them to look on, the teachers and white children do not relish the idea of having them in the school rooms. The board of trustees have issued orders that the .. may be admitted only when they present themselves clean and under the same conditions as white children. (Salinas Weekly Index Thursday, 19 July 1894)

In 1894 the city of Pacific Grove drew “about $500 from the public-school fund for thirty-three of [Point Alones Village’s] Chinese children, and [refused] to give them the benefit of a common school education”. When Chinese children tried to attend public school in Pacific Grove they were “stoned on their way to school”.[18]

See Also: Waifs From The Orient (School of Education. Volume 13, 1894)

See Also: Universal Stenography or Chinese Shorthand By Julia A. Barrett · 1902


The Joss House - an important religious building associated with the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village seldom gets mentioned. It’s location and atmosphere, as described by Tom Mangelsdorf in his book, History of Steinbeck's Cannery Row “Set back apart from the main village stood the joss house or shrine from which incense continuously wafted into the air.”

Joss House - Centered White Building in the Photograph Above

As reported in the Pacific Grove Daily Review, May 17, 1906, the Joss House, along with several other buildings survived the fire “Out of about 50 buildings, shed and shacks only 19 remain: 12 at the west end of the village, four at the east end, and the joss house and three small huts south of the railroad track."

That fact that the Joss House not only survived the fire, but was moved to a new location (McAbee Beach), was mentioned by Michael Hemp in his book, In Cannery Row: The History of John Steinbeck's Old Ocean View Avenue. “One of the few structures to survive the fire at China Point was the Joss House. After the fire, it was moved to McAbee Beach where it remained until construction of the Monterey Canning Company in 1917. In March 1942, it burned and was torn down on a Wave Street lot shared with a triplex for cannery workers, known by its inhabitants and neighbors as the "Palace Flophouse."


The Chinese invested hopes and dreams in the village; from 1853 to 1905, the community prospered. For many of these years the village was spared the anger and violence of anti-Chinese racism that swept the rest of California, the immigrant fishermen felt secure enough to bring wives to Point Alones, start families and bury their bones in the cemetery overlooking the sea.

The Chinese had their own cemetery. It was located almost directly under the present Hopkins Marine Station. When one of their members was buried, hundreds of pieces of paper filled with burnt holes were scattered between the starting point of the funeral procession and the burial plot. Their belief was that the devil had to pass through all the burnt holes before he could catch up with the departed. Roast chickens, pigs, cakes, and candies, as well as paper and wax decorations and many burning punks, were laid on the top of each grave at the time of burial. At certain periods all of the bones were excavated and placed in sacks or boxes and shipped to China.[19]

John Steinbeck wrote in a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Henry Jackson on October 26, 1948.

“Cabrillo may or may not have first sighted this point, but them [Chinese] raised hell on it for fifty years, yes, and even buried their people there until the meat fell off and they could ship them cheaper to China. Mary and I used to watch them dig up the skeletons and we stole the punks and paper flowers off the new graves too. I used to like that graveyard. It was so rocky that some of the bodies had to be slipped in almost horizontally under the big rocks.[20]

John Steinbeck also mentioned the Chinese cemetery in his book Cannery Row,

“For Lee Chong dug into the grave on China Point and found the yellow bones, the skull with grey ropy hair still sticking to it. And Lee carefully packed the bones, femurs, and tibias really straight, skull in the middle, with pelvis and clavicle surrounding it and ribs curving on either side. Then Lee Chong sent his boxed and brittle grandfather over the western sea to lie at last in ground made holy by his ancestors.”[21]


The fishing village, with all the structures built of wood, was often prone to fires. Many small western towns during this time were built of wood. In 1894, a considerable number of buildings were destroyed by fire on Main Street in Salinas. In 1898, a fire destroyed many of the wooden buildings along Main Street, in Templeton, California. In 1898, a fire destroyed many of the wooden buildings along Main Street, in Templeton, California. Unfortunately, arson fueled by racism against the Chinese plagued Chinese communities throughout California. Arsonists set fire to the Chinatown in Antioch in 1876, and downtown San Jose at Market and San Fernando streets in 1870 and again in 1877. In Armador County, Fiddletown's Chinatown was destroyed by arson in September 1884. A week later arsonists attempted to burn neighboring Jackson's Chinatown. In 1892, arsonists twice attempted to burn down the San Bernadino Chinatown and Santa Ana's Chinatown was torched by an arsonist in 1906. The following paragraphs present the newspaper announcements of the fires through the years that plagued the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village.


At 12:40 last night an alarm was rung for what proved to be a fire in Chinatown. How it originated we could not learn, but a two-story building, used as a restaurant, and several smaller ones were destroyed (Monterey Weekly ARGUS (September-October 1886)


Nearly one-half of the Chinatown at Pacific Grove was destroyed by fire on Sunday. (Scissors and Pens. Morning Union, Volume 43, Number 5884, 13 November 1889).


MONTEREY CHINATOWN FIRE. MONTEREY, Oct.. 25.— A fire started in Chinatown about 6 o'clock last evening. It originated in one of the huts at the northern end of the town owned by "Chinese Mary." and was caused by the overturning of a lamp or oil stove. In a few moments the whole section was on fire. The Monterey fire company was promptly on hand, but was unable to render much assistance, there being no hydrant to which hose could be attached. The flames were finally subdued by means of small hose and lines of bucket passers, and by 9 o'clock the fire was nearly out. About a fourth of the village was burned. the loss of nets, tackle and other fishing paraphernalia being considerable. The damage is estimated at between $500 and $800. (San Francisco Call, Volume 84, Number 148, 26 October 1898)


A fire started in Chinatown here at 2:30 o’clock this morning gaining considerable headway before flames were checked. The work of the Chinese aided by citizens prevented a serious conflagration . Three buildings were consumed, with a loss of $500. (Fire at Pacific Grove Early Today; The Evening News (San Jose, California) • 09-29-1900 • Page 4 )

For the fishing village, efforts to stop the fire over the years included not only local citizens, but the Monterey Fire Department and Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry.

In November 1902, the 425 black troopers of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, under the command of Captain G.W. Read, pitched their tents near the Chinese fishing village in Pacific Grove (near the present day Hopkins Marine Station) while their barracks at the Presidio of Monterey were under construction. The 9th Cavalry were among the first black soldiers stationed in California. With their horses left in the Philippines, the troop had to saddle break fresh horses and train recruits how to ride. Buffalo Soldiers were instrumental in building the Presidio of Monterey, where they were garrisoned from 1902 – 1904.


On Friday June 5, 1903 a fire, believed to have started from an overturned kerosene lamp, started between 10 pm and 11 pm destroyed nine of the better buildings in the settlement. Fortunately, African-American “Buffalo Soldiers” from the 9th Cavalry, who were camped near the fishing village, tore down several of the buildings, stopping the fires path of destruction. .(Monterey New Era, Volume 13 No. 5, Wednesday June 10, 1903.)

The 1900 U.S. Census recorded 175 Chinese living in Pacific Grove. In 1906, the Pacific Grove Review commented that 200 Chinese were displaced as a result of the fire, not including about 50 refugees from the San Francisco earthquake who had arrived and given shelter in Chinatown (Pacific Grove Review, May 18, 1906)


On the night of May 16, 1906, a disastrous fire swept through the Point Alones Chinese fishing village destroying almost every existing structure. Newspaper articles suggested that the fire hoses had been cut. Reports from the previous fires that occurred the Chinese Fishing village suggests there was never proper equipment available for fighting fires that occurred at the site. In the past, the most effective way to stop the spread of a fire through the village was to tear several structures down that were in path of the fire.


The burning of Chinatown Wednesday night was evidently of incendiary origin. The fire was discovered in a barn and little piles of hay had been scattered throughout the building in order that the fire would get a good start. The fire department from Pacific Grove was called out, but on account of the inadequate supply of the hydrant they were unable to use their hose. Buildings were torn down to check the flames, but as there was no water supply of any consequence the ruins took fire and the whole town was burned down with the exception of seven shacks, which were isolated from the rest.

Some one cut the water main during the fire and this shut off the meager supply of water completely. Many disgraceful acts of vandalism were witnessed and the looters had a merry time stealing from the stores. There seemed to be no order, and the officers from Monterey, who had no jurisdiction In Chinatown, did all they could to suppress the looters. Officer Birks at the conclusion of the fire had a wagon load of loot he had taken from the men who had ransacked Chinatown.

Two safes were thrown out into the street and the looters tried to break them open with hammers and any old Iron that they could find. The safes were removed to this city. They contained several thousands of dollars, it is said.

The residents of Pacific Grove and Monterey have been trying for years to have the town removed from its present location, but the Pacific Improvement Co. did not attempt to remove the Chinese. They were living on the property long before the company was in existence. The Chinese paid no rents or taxes. Their town was situated on a point of land jutting out into the bay and they made their living by fishing. The relief committee took charge of the turned-out [Chinese] as soon as possible, and will issue them provisions until some arrangements can be made for them. It is very probable that a new Chinatown will be located for them. (Evening Sentinel, Volume 10, Number 297, 21 May 1906)


Rough Element Loots Stores and Carries Away Valuables Belonging To the Celestials.

Pacific Grove Chinatown, on the shore line between Monterey and Pacific Grove, was destroyed by fire last night about 7:30 o’clock and of over a hundred houses and shack constitution the town but seven are standing. The place was crowded with Chinese and of late the population was greatly increased owing to the arrival of over a hundred refugees from ruined Chinatown of San Francisco. These were again driven from shelter and those who have saved any valuables from the fire in San Francisco lost them at Pacific Grove either by fire or robbers who turned out in large numbers.

There are two stories regarding the origin of the fire as told by the Chinese. One was that some squid fishers were burning some rubbish in the north end of the town and that from the sparks of this bonfire a barn caught fire. Others claim that there was no rubbish fire and the first seen of what developed into a great conflagration was when smoke and flames burst forth from a barn in the north end of town. The Chinese at once formed a bucket brigade, but the flames were fanned by a strong breeze which prevailed and their fight with the flames was an unequal one.

Pacific Grove was appealed to for aid and the volunteer department made all possible speed in reaching the scene of the conflagration, but Chinatown was a mile from the Grove and the fire was well under way before they arrived. At the scene an effort was made to attach a line of hose to the single hydrant in the [Chinese] village and then it was found that the hydrant was too small for the hose and it was impossible to connect. The Chinese had a short piece of hose which was attached, but it was too short by far to reach the fire and all that could be done was to stand idly by and watch the doomed quarter go up in smoke.

At first the residents were panic stricken and showed no presence of mind, but after they realized that the town was doomed they rallied and with the assistance of the white people began the work of rescue of their valuables. By this time hundreds of sightseers had assembled from the Grove and Monterey and many rendered very material aid in getting goods and valuables out of doomed building. These were carried to a place of safety and piled up.

It was at this stage of the game that the thugs and rough elements of the two cities got in their work and in comparison to size of the combined population of Monterey and Pacific Grove with that of San Francisco ,the former two places exceeds the great city for vandals. From an eye witness it is learned that the toughs would walk into a place of business some distance ahead of the flames, turn everything over and sort out what was valuable, and then disappear. A Chinese resident who was over today said that he and his countrymen realized that the town was doomed and that time was short in which to work. Accordingly they picked out only what was most valuable and piled it up in a place of safety from the fire. While aiding in the rescue of valuables from other stores a boat landed nearby and a crowd of men and boys came ashore, and carried the valuables to the boat and rowed away. Mayor Will Jacks of Monterey was at the scene of the fire and was disgusted at the scene of downright thievery that was carried on by men who are supposed to have standing in the community. Officer Birks of Monterey is entitled to commendation as is Officer Fred Tennant of Pacific Grove for the manner in which they got around among the looters and made many of them disgorge their ill-gotten plunder. Spectators say int is a disgrace to the decency of the two cities and more especially disgusting was the scene of drunkenness that attended the fire. Boys and men who had stolen liquor from the Chinese grog shops reeled about the scene with a bravado stimulated by the liquor.

While it will be hard at this time to fix an estimate on the loss the more intelligent Chinese residents figure that the destruction of the buildings will be in the neighborhood of $20,000 and the loss of valuables and household effects will be nearly double that amount. The glow from the flames could be plainly seen in Salinas. (Salinas Daily Index May 17, 1906)


A fire could be seen across the Bay in the direction of Monterey on Wednesday night and on enquiry over long distance telephone it was learned that practically the whole of Monterey's Chinatown was destroyed during the evening. About 200 Chinese shacks were burnt to the ground, only seven remaining. There were no casualties. A Chinese woman was confined, as a result of fright, in off the laundries during the fire and a young lady school teacher, Miss Ethel Mainfell through a trestle while looking at the fire and was badly bruised but not seriously.

Monterey’s Chinatown is situated at the extreme edge of the corporate limits of Pacific Grove and by the time the alarm was sent in for the Monterey fire department the entire Chinese settlement was in flames Added to this handicap was the fact that the plugs in Chinatown were not the size off the department's hose and the Chinese hose, which had to be used instead, was not, long enough to fight the flames effectively. The settlement (took two hours to burn and the- Chinese were dreadfully frightened. The loss to the buildings and their contents is estimated at $20,000. The cause of the fire is yet unknown (Evening Sentinel, Volume 10, Number 294, 17 May 1906)

Regulations were promptly put into place that prohibited the Chinese community from rebuilding their homes on the property. A few Chinese families relocated to McAbee Beach, but Quock Tuck Lee resisted any such move for as long as possible. According to a newspaper article, the Evening News, San Jose California, dated May 16, 1907, Tuck Lee would be the last resident to leave the fishing village: "Only one [man] remains at the old Pacific Grove Chinatown, and that is Tuck Lee, says the Monterey Cypress. All the others have been ejected and have take up their home at McAbeeville. Many of the old shacks have been removed from the once popular bathing beach. Tuck Lee has promised to move, and in a few days will do so. As soon as he moves all of the old remaining shack will be razed and the grounds cleaned. The Pacific Improvement Company will then turn the grounds over to the Regents of the University of California, who will begin the erection of the buildings for the biological college, which will cost $200,000".

Almost exactly 365 days after the 1906 fire, Quock Tuck Lee, the last to depart the Chinese fishing village, left Point Alones forever. The construction of a “biological college” by the University of California at Point Alones never commenced and the property sat vacant for more than ten years. In an article for the Monterey Peninsula Herald, John Steinbeck, whose family owned a summer cottage in Pacific Grove, wrote of his memories of the Chinese fishing village. A remarkable memory considering he was little more than 4 years when fire swept through the village.


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.[22] The party set sail for America as part of a group of five (according to Lee, 2006),[23] or seven junks (according to Chen, 1980),[24] briefly stopping in the Philippines to further prepare for their extended overseas journey.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

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.[28] According to the collective family history of the descendants, a Rumsen 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.[29]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 Mui was born in Point Lobos in 1859. She was the first documented Chinese American female born in the Monterey Peninsula area, lived in the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village. Growing up in a diverse multi-lingual community, Quock Mui learned to speak five languages: Chinese, English, Rumsen Indian, Portuguese and Spanish. Her language skills earned her the name 'Spanish Mary' and enabled Quock Mui to facilitate communication among the multiple ethnicities who worked along the Monterey coastline. At age seventeen she married Jone Yow Hoy and they moved across the bay to Pescadero Point, visible in the distance. She would give birth to four children. This would become the second of four locations of Chinese fishing villages and Quock Mui had the distinction of living at all four sites. The third and fourth would come later on the Monterey Bay at Point Alones and lastly McAbee Beach. Her son Chin Yip was a noted collector of marine specimens for Ed Ricketts. From McAbee Beach, descendants of the Quock family founded Regal Seafood Company in 1947, which was later named Royal Seafood. Quock Moi's son purchased a home at 744 Wave Street, which now lives on as the Quoc Mui Tea Room.

Quock Tuck Lee and Family


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.[30]

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 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 [men] at Punta Alones is an American citizen and speaks English well.”[31] 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.

Photograph by Franz Doflein

A visiting scientist from Germany named Franz Doflein, who was conducting research at the nearby Hopkins Seaside Laboratory, and depended on Tuck Lee for specimens related to his studies wrote of his visit with the family. "When I said goodbye, the whole family was strangely affectionate towards me. Just as I was egging, I took a photograph... For this purpose they wore festive clothes: the women wore dresses of shiny black fabric resembling taffeta, with white and light-blue undergarments, as well as bright striped boots and embroidered shoes. Her hair was parted stiffly and plaited back into a long plait; the smallest girl, whose plait was still quite small, had lengthened her hair by a plait of heavy red silk, which, much longer than the cute creature, trailed long after him. All three women wore pendants in their ears and held silk towels in their hands. The man himself did not indulge in holiday garb. Yes! once he had attained his goal of being free of the merchant and made much money, then he would go to San Francisco, be a merchant there, and become rich, and then he would also have holiday garb as much as his heart desired . When we went back into the house after the cumbersome act of photographing, they held a small farewell party, which they asked to be prepared. They offered me sherry and fruit. gave me some boxes of the precious Chinese teas, a box of Chinese cigarettes, and a red and a white silk handkerchief. They set off all sorts of fireworks and made a lot of noise. It 's good against evil spirits, said the philosopher Ah Tack all of a sudden, as he handed me a pack of sandalwood smokers. In his experience, he taught me, sometimes use it, it does harm never! The reason people were so attached to me, apart from the fact that I had given them a lot of money to earn, was because I was kind to them and treated them like human beings and not like depraved animals like that do the majority of young Americans who seek them out. There is certainly no reason for such treatment."

Photograph of Chinese woman with the faculty and students at Hopkins Seaside Laboratory


With that bit of introduction to Quock Tuck Lee, we now turn our attention to describing the biology of hagfish, and the research interests of a select group of scientists, those comparative embryologists, interested in understanding vertebrate evolution. The following paragraphs describing hagfish is taken from the book Fish Stories Alleged and Experienced: With a Little History Natural and Unnatural, written by Charles Frederick Holder and David Starr Jordan, and published in 1909.


The hagfish or slime-eel looks very much like a lamprey, which is indeed its nearest neighbor in the system of classification. It is long, slim, cylindrical, worm-shaped, without limbs and without jaws, without eyes and without scales. Its skin is loose, like a scarf, and its surface is covered with slime. The different species live in the cold seas, Arctic and Antarctic, and some of them go down to great depths. One species is common along the coast of California and is abundant in Monterey Bay. To this point naturalists from the east and from Europe have sometimes come to the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory of Stanford for the special purpose of studying its structure and development. It lays its large egg, enclosed in a flattish egg-case, on the bottom of the sea. To each end of the egg are attached barbed threads, which serve to anchor the eggs to the bottom of the sea. Curiously enough, the male fish at once proceeds to devour these eggs wherever he can find them. For a long time all the eggs, which were secured, were found in the stomachs of the male fish.

The hagfish is the only fish which lives wholly as a parasite. It fastens itself to the throat or eye or other soft place of a large fish; with the knife-like hooked teeth on its tongue it rasps a hole into the muscles of the fish. It then proceeds to devour the great lateral muscles which constitute the great part of the flesh of the fish, always avoiding the nerves and never breaking through into the body cavity itself. I have seen large fishes still alive with half their weight gone, living husks, floating about in the sea. When one of these husks is lifted from the water, the hagfishes inside of it slip out almost instantly and hide themselves in the sea. The hagfishes are especially likely to attack fishes held in the gill nets, and in this way they do considerable injury.

They were hated of the fishermen until Pacific Grove was made the seat of a scientific station, and scientific men as George Clinton Price, Bashford Dean, Franz Doflein and Howard Ayres, ready to pay more for these slimy, repulsive creatures than good fishes are worth. Now the pursuit of the hagfish at Pacific Grove has become something of an industry of itself. The California hagfish is plum-color or purplish, and on the sides of its neck it has about ten gill holes, instead of seven, found in lampreys. Other hagfishes, similar in character, are found in Chili, Japan and New Zealand…By the study of such forms we get the key to the understanding of the complex structures of the higher forms. [32]

As previously mentioned, hagfish embryos are notoriously difficult to locate in the marine environment within which inhabit. As described by Nicholas D. Holland (2007): In spite of more than a century of effort by numerous biologists, hagfish embryos have only rarely come to hand. In California, embryos of E. stouti were first collected from Monterey Bay in the closing years of the nineteenth century when several biologists—most notably Bashford Dean of Columbia University—dredged up embryo-containing eggs with the help of the local Chinese fishermen. When the bottom-dwelling hagfish were hooked, they secreted copious mucus that sometimes ensnared deposited eggs, such that the fish, slime and eggs could be brought to the surface together. [33]

Those scientists mentioned by Holder and Jordan, who were successful in obtaining hagfish embryos from the waters of the Monterey Bay during the 1890’s, George C. Price, Howard Ayers, Franz Doflein, and Bashford Dean, acquired them through the skillful efforts of Tuck Lee. Professor MacFarland mentions that Dr. George C. Price, Professor of Zoology, Stanford University, was the first to secure embryos from Tuck Lee.[34] Next, Howard Ayers, then Director of the Lake Laboratory, Milwaukee, Wisconsin visiting the lab in 1893, secured several embryos through the efforts of Tuck Lee. According to Ayers (1894): On arriving at the station, it became at once apparent that I should depend upon the Chinese fishermen for the collection of my material.[35] Next, Bashford Dean, a Professor of Zoology, Columbia University, New York who visited the lab during the summer of 1896 and 1899, obtained hagfish embryos during his first summer visits. Dean obtained, through the services of Tuck Lee and the Chinese fishermen from the Point Alones fishing village, a total of approximately 800 eggs, the largest number of embryos to ever be collected from the Monterey Bay. To Dean’s good fortune approximately 150 of those 800 eggs contained developing embryos. On the basis of these specimens, Dean was able to provide over 130 drawings outlining the stages of development of Eptatretus stouti.[36] According to Holland (2007): These embryos, which Dean studied primarily as whole mounts, were the basis for his extensive monograph on hagfish embryology, which is still the definitive treatment of the subject.[37]Dean’s acquisition of hagfish embryos was followed by Franz Doflein, a scientist visiting from the University of Munich, Germany, during the summer of 1898, who obtained several embryos of Eptatretus stouti through the services of Tuck Lee.[38]

These comparative embryologists who were successful in obtaining hagfish embryos, conducted their scientific investigations and published their research findings in scientific journals. Within many of these scientists published writings’, there is mention, and often much praise, of the fishing skills and character of the Chinese fisherman, Tuck Lee (Doflein, 1900),39, [40], 41,42.[43] According to these researchers, it is Tuck Lee who possessed the necessary skill to locate and retrieve the very elusive and much coveted specimens of hagfish embryos. In fact, through the efforts of this skillful and knowledgeable Chinese fisherman, Tuck Lee, was secured, for the noted naturalist Bashford Dean, the most important collection of specimens of hagfish embryos that exist to this day. Much of our current understanding of hagfish embryology is the result of the embryos that Tuck Lee and the Point Alones Chinese community collected for Dean and other scientist who were conducting research at the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory.

In his writing, Dean (1904) explains that his success at obtaining this collection of embryos is clearly the result of the skillful efforts of Tuck Lee: Hitherto the bay of Monterey has provided all myxinoid embryos recorded, but in the latter locality, one may add in parenthesis, the collection of hag-fish eggs has been due to the labors of practically a single fisherman, Ah Tack Lee, whose energetic help is thus almost a sine qua non.[44] According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of “sine qua non” is the following: as being something absolutely indispensable or essential. Not only were Tuck Lee’s efforts indispensable and essential for locating hagfish embryos for Dean, but his skill also proved critical in efforts associated with locating the eggs of a cartilaginous fish, known as Chimaera.


The following opening remarks written by William K. Gregory in The Bashford Dean Memorial Volume (1930) provide a grand description of a summer day that revolved around the efforts of Bashford Dean, the wife of Tuck Lee and the “zoological treasures” that were the results of Tuck Lee’s fishing skills.

On a certain bright California day in the summer of 1899, I looked out of the window from my table at the Hopkins Marine Laboratory at Pacific Grove and saw Dr. Bashford Dean swinging rapidly up the path leading to the laboratory. A few steps in front of him was a dumpy little Chinese woman, the wife of Ah Tak the fisherman, and from Dean's square shoulder to hers stretched a stout bamboo pole. Between them was slung a large tin can full of water and evidently containing some zoological treasure brought in from the waters of the bay by Ah Tak. I rushed out to meet them and assisted in turning the can gently over so that its contents poured slowly into a large wooden trough containing fresh seawater. Then out came a living Silver Shark {Chimaera colliei) glistening in silver and black, waving its gossamer wing-like pectorals and staring vacantly with great round eyes. At that moment I caught for the first time a spark from Dean's ardor, which had already sent him into many parts of the world in pursuit of chimaeroid fishes and their development.”[45]

As described by Dean, The first eggs of Chimaera were obtained on the California coast during the latter part of the same summer (1896). The writer is greatly indebted to President Jordan for his invitation to visit the Hopkins Marine Laboratory at Monterey, and for his suggestion as to the value of the Chinese fisher-people as zoological collectors. Among the fishermen Ah Tack Lee was found to be of the utmost service, skillful [sic], persevering, accurate in locating Chimaera grounds, and keen in observing. He had even noticed that Chimaera has the curious habit of carrying temporarily its pair of eggs hung freely in the water attached only by elastic threads, and that the terminal filament of the egg-case is provided with an end-bulb which secures its attachment. [46]

With the help of Tuck Lee and the Chinese fishermen from the Point Alones fishing village, Dean took fishing trips off the coast each day. In doing so, he obtained more than three hundred Chimaera fish. Of these three hundred Chimaera, thirty females contained eggs, and among these eggs were presented the stages of early development. To obtain the later stages of development, a hatching case was stocked with eggs and held at three fathoms of water, directly off the beach of Hopkins Seaside Laboratory. From these submersed eggs, several later stages of development were acquired.[47]


In the publication Development of a Chimeroid, which discusses his research findings associated with Chimaera development, Bashford Dean expresses his indebtedness to, not only the Directors of Hopkins Seaside Laboratory and David Starr Jordan but also his indebtedness to both Ray L. Wilber and Ah Tuck Lee.

The writer is greatly indebted to President Jordan and to the directors of the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory, at Pacific Grove, for many courtesies extended him during two summers at the laboratory; and to Dr. Ray L. Wilbur for much generous and skilful [sic] cooperation in securing material from the Chinese fisher-people during the years 1897, 1898 and 1899. Dr. Wilbur made numerous trips from San Francisco to Monterey during this time, and to his interest in my work and to his boundless energy I am indebted for many of the later and rarer stages of this interesting fish. To Ah Tack Lee, most skillful and intelligent of local fishermen, I owe my best thanks for his services as a collector.[48]

At this point, you might be asking yourself, who was Ray Lyman Wilbur, and what connection does he have to the history of Hopkins Seaside Laboratory. RL Wilbur was a Stanford undergraduate (1892-1896) and graduate (1897), who spent three summers at the Seaside Laboratory as part of his program in the Department of Physiology. Wilbur received from Stanford University, a B. A. degree in 1896 and an M. A. degree in 1897; he then studied at Cooper Medical College, receiving a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1899. RL Wilbur then served as the Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine from 1911 to 1916, and as President of Stanford University from 1916 until 1943. During his time as President of Stanford University, Ray Lyman Wilbur also served as Secretary of the Interior of the United States (1929-1933) during the Hoover administration. Beyond these accomplishments, Wilbur served as Chancellor of the University from 1943 until his death in 1949. Ray Lyman Wilbur, Stanford's third president, described in his memoir his summers at the seaside laboratory as being one of the great experiences of my University career.[49]

During the time spent at Hopkins Seaside Laboratory as a Stanford undergraduate, Wilbur assisted the research interests of Bashford Dean and his efforts to acquire “hen sharks” (i.e. chimeras). In his memoirs Wilber writes the following of his friendly interactions with Tuck Lee in the summer of 1896 in relation to this effort: In my collecting work for the Seaside Laboratory one of my best friends was Ah Tock, a Chinese fisherman near Monterey. He was a skillful fisherman and collector. I paid him 10 cents a piece for "hen sharks." Once he had a field day and brought in seventy-one of them. His boat was loaded down with them, his lines were broken. It was a sight. This was before the days of vitamins and shark livers. We were looking for eggs maturing within the body of the shark [50]

Also within his memoirs, Wilber writes that in December 1898, directly after his wedding, he and his new bride Marguerite (May Blake) took their honeymoon in Pacific Grove, which included a visit with Tuck Lee. Wilber writes the following of their visit to the Chinese village: Since I wanted to start in to collect some specimens anyhow, one of the first things I did was take my bride over to the Chinese fishing village, near Monterey, to see Ah Tock. My Chinese friends gathered about us. Mrs. Ah Tock was particularly pleased and [indicating Marguerite] asked me “Him your wife?” When I answered yes, she said, “Ah, him very nice, you smart!” To all of which we agreed.[51]

From an article that appeared on the front page of the Monterey Trader on Friday, May 26, 1933 we learn that Tuck Lee owned and operated the first motorized fishing boat to dock in Monterey harbor

“Ah Tak Lee, by the way, was a fisherman who became well to do, and bought the first large motorboat in the harbor. “People around here, who had no motorboat experience thought he was crazy. They said a 45 horsepower engine in a large launch would jump overboard or run the nose of the boat under sea.”[52]

From an article that appeared on the front page of The Californian on Tuesday September 29, 1908, we learn of an accident that occurred with the motorized fishing boat Tuck Lee owned and operated.

Steam Launch Burned: Gasoline Explodes and Two of the Crew Severely Scorched.

This morning about 3:30 o’clock the new gasoline launch Sagamore, owned by Tuck Lee, was totally destroyed in Monterey Bay, by an explosion of gasoline. The boat was anchored off the depot wharf. The flames shot high in the air and the vessel was burned to the water’s edge

Five Chinese were on board. Two were badly burned but all got to land in a skiff. The launch cost nearly $3000. The machinery is all ruined, and what is save of the boat will be little more than a hulk.[53]

And just two months later we learn of Tuck Lee's passing mentioned on the front page of the Monterey Daily Cypress on November 12, 1908.

Tuck Lee Dead:

Tuck Lee, one of the most influential Chinese in the city, died at his home in Chinatown last evening. Death resulted from a cancer, from which he had been a sufferer for a long time. The deceased was almost sixty years of age, and leaves a wife and two children.

Tuck Lee was a Chinese of more than ordinary intelligence. He had lived in Monterey and Pacific Grove nearly all his life. He was interested in a number of enterprises with his countrymen, among them being that of fishing and a general merchandise store.

The funeral, which has been in charge of Undertaker Freeman, will be held on Friday morning.[54]

According to the California Death Index, Tuck Lee died November 11, 1908 in Monterey California at the age of forty-three.[55]


Another thread to the Tuck Lee story winds its way through the former President of the U.S., Barack Obama. The case below, which shows up often when discussing Barack Obama's legitimacy as a U.S. citizen, involved Tuck Lee’s son, Quock Jan Fat, as with the following publication: Qualifications for President and the “Natural Born” Citizenship Eligibility Requirement.

In Kwock Jan Fat v. White (1920), the "petitioner" (Kwock Jan Fat) was born in Monterey, California. At the time of Fat's birth, his father, Kwock Tuck Lee, was presumed to be a U.S. citizen, based on the facts that (a) Lee was born in the United States, and (b) he was registered to vote in Pacific Grove (the Chinatown district of Monterey) where he lived. Moreover, Lee's wife, Tom Ying Shee (Fat's mother), was presumed to be a U.S. citizen by marriage.

Since Fat was born in the United States, of parents (Lee and Shee) who were presumably both U.S. citizens, Edward White, the Commissioner of Immigration, concluded that Kwock Jan Fat was a "natural born American citizen". When Fat departed on a trip to China, the Commissioner assured him that, when he returned, he would be readmitted to the United States.

While Fat was in China, Commissioner White received an anonymous tip that Fat had committed identity fraud, that he was really Lew Suey Chong, who was admitted to this country in 1909, as a son of a Chinese merchant, Lew Wing Tong, of Oakland, California. Consequently, upon his return from China, Fat was barred from reentering the U.S.; and a lawsuit ensued.

The Supreme Court found that the anonymous tip was not credible. But even if we assumed that Fat's parents were not U.S citizens, they were still "permanently domiciled" in the United States. According to U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), the U.S.-born children of permanently-domiciled alien parents acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.

It is not disputed that if petitioner is the son of Kwock Tuck Lee and his wife, Tom Ying Shee, he was born to them when they were permanently domiciled in the United States, is a citizen thereof, and is entitled to [re]admission to the country. United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 , 18 Sup. Ct. 456. (Kwock Jan Fat v. White, 1920).

The Supreme Court did not suggest that mere birth on U.S. soil was sufficient to confer U.S. citizenship. The Wong Kim Ark ruling conferred U.S. citizenship to the U.S.-born child of alien parents only if the parents were "permanently domiciled" in the United States at the time of the child's birth.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kwock Jan Fat, commenting that:

It is better that many Chinese immigrants should be improperly admitted than that one natural born citizen of the United States should be permanently excluded from his country. (Kwock Jan Fat v. White, 1920).


From Richard Astro's and Donald Kohrs' book, Ed Ricketts and the Making of Between Pacific Tides, we learn of Quock Tuck Lee's nephew, Chin Yip.

"Jeung Chin Yip and a number of other Chinese fishermen form an interesting backstory to the saga of Between Pacific Tides. Chief among the characters is Quock Tuck Lee, one of the more entrepreneurial members of the small Chinese fishing community once located on the property where Hopkins Marine Station stands today. Quock collected specimens for several Hopkins resident and visiting scientists. For help he taught his nephew, Chin Yip, how and what sorts of critters to collect. Chin Yip, in turn, collected for Ed. Jeung’s home was at 774 Wave Street [today's Wave Street Studios] in New Monterey, just a block up from Pacific Biological Laboratories. Over time he and Ed became good friends. Numerous Pacific Biological Laboratories (PBL) survey cards mention Chin Yip and identify the many specimens he collected for Ricketts."

In her “Recollections,” Nan Ricketts tells us how indispensable Chin Yip was to Ed and how they befriended the Jeungs every Christmas:

“One of our most dependable shark collectors was Chin Yip, a Chinese fisherman. He wanted to be paid once a year, and only the week of the Chinese New Year. We understood that according to their religion, all debts were to be paid before the New Year. On that day our family was invited to their house to partake of their specially prepared foods and drink their liquor, which was pretty potent. John Steinbeck occasionally saw Chin Yip at Ed’s lab and likely used him as the model for the “old [man]” character in Cannery Row.”[56]

Gerry Low-Sabado, 5th Generation Chinese Fishing Village Descendant provided further context to Ed Ricketts friendship with Chin Yip

From: Gerry Low Sabado

Date: Friday, September 19, 2014 9:10 AM

Subject: Re: Chin Yip

Hi Don,

It is fantastically amazing that you have uncovered this information about my Grandfather Chin Yip's relationship with Ed Ricketts!! All I knew was that Ed came to the house to ask Grandpa to catch "eels" for him. The children that Ed speaks about includes my mother! The boy who translates would be my Uncle Albert. My Auntie Helen would be the one who later would be handed the bucket of sea specimens to bring to Ed Rickett's lab.

So interesting to read that Ed Ricketts experienced the same Chinese New Year celebration and traditions as I did at Grandma and Grandpa's house! The potent liquor Ed speaks about is a special liquor. While I have never tasted it, I have a small collection of those bottles. I have an old empty bottle that was my grandparents!

When we look at the close and convenient proximity of Ed's Pacific Biological Laboratories and Chin Yip's 774 Wave Street home, this all makes sense.

So happy to learn of this aspect of my family's history and experiences. I love to hear of the friendly and welcoming relationships with members of the surrounding community. I believe this contradicts a common belief that the Chinese were an "isolated" community.

Thank You, Don!! Good Research!

Profound Gratitude!

Gerry Low-Sabado

5th Generation Chinese Fishing Village Descendant

Community Preservationist

And from John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, a description of the neighborhood and the character

Down the hill, past the Palace Flophouse, down the chicken walk and through the vacant lot came an old [Chinese man]. He wore an ancient flat straw hat, blue jeans, both coat and trousers, ...John Steinbeck, Cannery Row.

Ed Ricketts also recounted the following story recalling Jueng Chin Yip and Quock Tuck Lee by different names in an article for the Monterey Peninsula Herald, titled Ed Ricketts Covers the Waterfront for 20 Years, 7th Annual Sardine Edition, which appeared on February 27, 1942.

"A Buck To A Dime: The fresh fish market was supplied mostly by the Chinese, whose squid drying activities were olfactory horrors on the road to Salinas. Even then, the Italians controlled the sardine fishing; I cannot recall any Jug-Slavs, now important in the industry. I was eager to get specimens of hagfish (appropriately called slime eels by the fishermen) from deep water offshore, and was referred to a Chinese who became afterwards a good friend. He wanted a scandalous price, one dollar apiece. Finally we settled on the more sensible rate of 10c each, and he got me quickly all he could. Years later I pieced together the answer. In the late 90s, when the Chinese village was located where Hopkins Marine Station now stands, a wealthy scientist from Columbia University visited here. He had offered the Chinese anglers one dollar each for hagfish, and a man named Otac had supplied him, first having to devise suitable gear. Some twenty years later when I came along I encountered Otac’s nephew who, then a boy, had helped to fish for specimens of this sort. In all those years, that shining price stuck in his mind. Later, a British biologist, hoping that I might procure eggs of this hagfish for him, ransacked the European second-hand bookstores to find and send Dr. Dean’s paper on the development of these animals, then out of print. There Otac was mentioned, and there were illustrations of the equipment he devised for this purpose – equipment used again probably for the first time since to supply my similar needs."[57]

In a letter to George MacGinitie, written February 16, 1938, Ricketts the ongoings in his life, mentioning that his primary collector, Chin Yip, born 1881 had retired due to age. Jueng Chin Yip would have been 57 years old.

In addition to the storm, and our [man] being out of the running due to age, the Cal Pack had started making liver oil from Squalus and Mustelus and they have tied up all the fish companies in contracts so that it has been difficult for me to get a single specimen. [Ricketts, E. F. Letter to George MacGinitie. February 16, 1938.]

In a letter to Vernon Bogard, then President of University Apparatus Supply Company, written on February 26, 1938, through the help of Jeung Chin Yip, he was able to secure a limited number of sharks.

Got the [man], simply thru friendship and good previous relations, to divert a limited quantity illegally from his contract with the shark liver oil cannery… So anyway, I don't want that good [man] to get into legal difficulties thru [a] gentleman's agreement with me, so I wrote the cannery, putting things up to them strongly but kindly, and they've been very cooperative. [Ricketts, E. F. Letter to V. E. Bogard February 26, 1938]

For another story written by a descendent of the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village see link below.


[1]. Lydon, Sandy. (1985) Chinese Gold. Capitola, California. Capitola Book Company.

[2]. David Starr Jordan. (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.

[3]. Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, Volume 9, Number 2, 18 June 1864.

[4]. The Handbook to Monterey and Vicinity, 1875.

[5]. The Handbook to Monterey and Vicinity, 1875.

[6]. Jordan, David Starr. (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.

[7]. Ben Yami M. (1976) Fishing with light. FAO fishing manuals. FAO, Rome (Italy).

[8]. Scofield, W. L. (1924) Squid at Monterey. California Fish and Game. Volume 10, No. 4. Page 176-182.

[9]. Doflein Franz. (1899). Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte von Bdellostoma stouti Lock. Verh Deutsche zool Gesellsch 1899: 21–30.

[10]. Franks, Joel S. (2000) Crossing Sidelines, Crossing Cultures Sport and Asian Pacific American Cultural Citizenship. University Press of America.

[11]. McLane, Lucy Neely. (1975) A piney paradise : a pictorial story of Monterey Peninsula. Monterey, Calif. : Herald Printers.

[12]. McLane, Lucy Neely. (1975) A piney paradise : a pictorial story of Monterey Peninsula. Monterey, Calif. : Herald Printers.

[13]. From the Pacific Grove Review: September 1891 - April 1892 a by E. C. Davis, Board and Batten October November 1998.

[14]. Doflein, Franz. (1900). Von den Antillen zum fernen Westen: reiseskizzen eines naturforschers. XII. Kapitel Die Meeresfauna von Kalifornien.

[15]. Doflein, Franz. (1900). Von den Antillen zum fernen Westen: reiseskizzen eines naturforschers. XII. Kapitel Die Meeresfauna von Kalifornien

[16]. Doflein, Franz. (1900). Von den Antillen zum fernen Westen: reiseskizzen eines naturforschers. XII. Kapitel Die Meeresfauna von Kalifornien

[17]. San Francisco Call, Volume 86, Number 77, 16 August 1899, page 9.

[18]. Dillian, Carolyn D. and White, Carolyn L. (2009) Trade and Exchange Archaeological Studies from History and Prehistory. New York : Springer.

[19]. McLane, Lucy Neely. (1975) A piney paradise : a pictorial story of Monterey Peninsula. Monterey, Calif. : Herald Printers.

[20]. Steinbeck, John. (1975) Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Henry Jackson. October 26, 1948, Steinbeck A Life in Letters. New York : Viking Press.

[21]. Steinbeck, John. (1945). Cannery Row. New York, The Viking Press.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[29]. Ibid.

[30]. San Francisco Evening Bulletin (1888). Monterey. October 12, 1888. 67 (5) 1.

[31]. Jordan, David Starr (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.

[32]. Holder, Charles Frederick and Jordan, David Starr. (1909). Fish stories alleged and experienced: with a little history natural and unnatural. New York, H. Holt and Company.

[33]. Holland, Nicholas D. (2007). Hagfish embryos again—the end of a long drought. BioEssays. 29 (9) 833-836.

[34]. MacFarland, F. M. (1902). The Hopkins Seaside Laboratory. Journal of Applied Microscopy and Laboratory Methods. 5 (7) 1869-1875.

[35]. Ayers, Howard. (1894). Bdellostoma Dombeyi Lac. Biological Lectures Delivered at the Marine Biological Laboratory of Wood's Holl. Summer Sessions of 1893 and 1894. Boston: Ginn & Company

[36]. Dean, Bashford. (1899). On the embryology of Bdellostoma stouti. A general account of myxinoid development from the egg and segmentation to hatching. In Festschrift zum 70ten Geburststag Carl von Kupffer 220–276 (Gustav Fischer, Jena).

[37]. Holland, Nicholas D. (2007) Hagfish embryos again—the end of a long drought. BioEssays, 29 (9) 833-836.

[38]. Doflein F. (1899). Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte von Bdellostoma stouti Lock. Verh Deutsche zool Gesellsch 1899: 21–30

[39]. Doflein, Franz. (1900). Von den Antillen zum fernen Westen: reiseskizzen eines naturforschers. XII. Kapitel Die Meeresfauna von Kalifornien.

[40]. Dean, Bashford. (1903). An Outline of the Development of a Chimaeroid. The Biological Bulletin. By Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, Mass.) 4 (5): 270- 286.

[41]. Dean, Bashford. (1904). Notes on Japanese Myxinoids With 1 plate Publ Jan 28th 1904. The Journal Of The College Of Science, Imperial University Of Tokyo, Vol. 19. Published By The University. Tokyo, Japan.

[42]. MacFarland, F. M. (1902). The Hopkins Seaside Laboratory. Journal of Applied Microscopy and Laboratory Methods. 5 (7) 1869-1875

[43]. Greene, C. W. (1925). Notes on the Olfactory and Other Physiological Reactions of the California Hagfish. Science. 61 (1568) 68-70

[44]. Dean, Bashford. (1904). Notes on Japanese Myxinoids With 1 plate Publ Jan 28th 1904. The Journal Of The College Of Science, Imperial University Of Tokyo, Vol. 19. Published By The University. Tokyo, Japan.

[45]. Gregory, William K. (1930). The Bashford Dean Memorial Volume : Archaic Fishes / edited by Eugene Willis Gudger.

[46]. Dean, Bashford. (1906). Chimæroid Fishes and Their Development. The Carnegie Institution Of Washington, Washington DC Publication 32: 1-194.

[47]. Dean, Bashford; Harrington, Nathan R; Calkins, Gary N; Griffin, Bradney B. (1897). The Columbia University Zoological Expedition of 1896 with a Brief Account of the Work of Collecting in Puget Sound and on the Pacific Coast, Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences: New York Academy of Sciences, New York. 16:33-42.

[48]. Dean, Bashford. (1903). An Outline of the Development of a Chimaeroid. The Biological Bulletin. By Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, Mass.) 4 (5): 270- 286.

[49]. Wilbur, R. L. (1960). The Memoirs of Ray Lyman Wilbur, 1875-1949. Stanford, California. Stanford University Press.

[50]. Wilbur, R. L. (1960). The Memoirs of Ray Lyman Wilbur, 1875-1949. Stanford, California. Stanford University Press.

[51]. Wilbur, R. L. (1960). The Memoirs of Ray Lyman Wilbur, 1875-1949. Stanford, California. Stanford University Press.

[52]. Calle de Alvarado, Volume 1. No. 16. Monterey Trader, Monterey California, May 26, 1933

[53]. The Californian. 29 September 1908, Tuesday Page 1.

[54]. Monterey Daily Cypress and Monterey American (Monterey, California). 12 November 1908 Page 1.

[55]. "California Death Index, 1905-1939," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 23 February 2021), Tuck Lee, 11 Nov 1908; citing 28369, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento; FHL microfilm 1,686,045.

[56]. Ricketts, Anna Maker. (1984) Recollections (Ts. Stanford University Library)

[57]. Ricketts, Edward F. (1942) Ed Ricketts Covers the Waterfront for 20 Years by Edward F. Ricketts. Monterey Peninsula Herald, 7th Annual Sardine Edition, February 27, 1942.