Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

From Immigrant to Flower Grower

by Helen Leong

A life of hard work as a gardener in San Francisco leads Leong Quong to become a prize-winning flower grower in Milpitas, California.


Leong Quong was born on March 12, 1897 in China.  He was the fourth child and one of seven brothers.  They all lived in a small village called Dow Moon, Ha Jow region of China.  He was considered well educated in those days.  He learned to read and write in (Cantonese) Chinese.  He was a very good student and told he would become a successful person.

In those days, every family (those who could afford it) would have at least one family member; usually the son, go to “gold mountain.”  My dad was the chosen son by his father to make this life changing experience.  This was to provide for a better future for him and he would in return send money back to support his immediate family.  There was a strong hope that if he became a citizen, he could make arrangements to sponsor his immediate family members to America.

Prior to leaving for “gold mountain” to make his fortune, Leong Quong became a “paper son” of a family already in California.  He began saving his money for the trip and to pay for an intermediary to process the necessary documents, make travel voyage arrangements, and varies associated fees.  Numerous documents were prepared and processed before he could come to America.  He left with very little, no money but the clothes on his back and wherever he could fit in a small fleece bag and a trunk.

At the age of 17, with his documents in hand, Leong Quong boarded the steam ship named S.S. Mongolia.  Voyage No. 49, from Hong Kong to San Francisco,  sailing on February 17, 1915 and arriving May 16, 1915.  The trip took 3 months crossing the Pacific Ocean.  It arrived at the Port of San Francisco.  Then he and other passengers with the same immigration status were transfer to Angel Island for further processing, etc.

After clearing all the necessary paperwork, questioning sessions, health clearance, etc., he was given alien status to stay in America.  So, with little or no English, he started working doing numerous odd jobs in the San Francisco area.  Meanwhile, setting money aside to be forwarded back home (Ha Jow) to his family.

An opportunity lead him to be a on-the-grounds gardener for a California Senate representative who lived in San Francisco.  Leong Quong went to work in the San Mateo area as a flower grower laborer.  Later, he started his own chrysanthemum flower growing business in the bay area.  His flowers won blue and red ribbons at the San Mateo County Fairs during the mid to late 1950’s.

He saved all his money from the flower business profits and was able to purchase his own profits and was able to purchase his own property in Milpitas, CA.  Where he continued to grow flowers until his passing in 1959.

 

Photo of Leong Quong provided by Helen Leong

Place of Origin
Canton, China

Place of Settlement
San Francisco, U.S.

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