Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

Life in America

by his grandson David Gee

After immigrating to the U.S. in 1915 at age 11, Wong Quock Gee settled in Montgomery, Alabama where he owned a laundry and restaurant.  His grandson describes the hardships of Mr. Gee’s life.


Our grandfather, Wong Quock Gee came to the US aboard the S.S. Korea in 1915 at the age of 11. (from the ships documents it seems he was accompanied by a couple).  Friends who were brothers

Interestingly he was correctly listed with Chinese family surname Wong on ship documents, but his family became transposed to gee from his immigration documents (identity card).
He came to US already a citizen, by virtue of his father (our great grandfather, who was living in Sacramento).

Little is known about his father other than that he had worked as a railroad laborer.
Wong Quock Gee ended up in the laundry trade and thus his occupation was listed as laundryman in later documents.

He traveled back to Canton, China in 1926, to take a Chinese wife and then returning to US in 1928.

He then met his future American wife Lillie Mae and they got married in Chicago in 1931 and they traveled immediately to China, with himself returning in 1936 to the US.  During this period his son (my father) and daughter (my aunt) were born.

He then ended up settling down in Montgomery, Alabama where his wife was from.  There he pursued the American dream and became a businessman, first opening up a Chinese laundry with a partner, and then subsequently a Chinese restaurant, but both required hard work and long hours.

In 1941 just before WWII broke out, he sent for his son (my father) aged 8, to join him in US.  So his wife Lillian accompanied both his son, and his daughter to US, where they settled in San Francisco.  After 3 years, he sent for his son to join him in Montgomery to help with the businesses.

Unfortunately Wong Quock Gee passed away relatively young just a few years later in 1949 from medical issues related to unhealthy diet and hard work, when my father was still in high school.

Place of Origin
Guangzhou, China

Place of Settlement
Montgomery, Alabama

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