Early Chinese Students in Maine (1909-29)

By Gary Libby

Gary Libby, who was instrumental in establishing the Chinese Archive at the Maine Historical Society, has continued his research into Chinese in Maine. The most recent result of these investigations is the following account of the very first Chinese college students in Maine institutions. This is the first part of a two-part series.

One of the consequences of the Boxer Uprising of 1900 was the arrival of Chinese students at Maine colleges.

Prior to that time, small numbers of Chinese students had come to America (as well as to Europe and Japan). The first to earn a degree was Yung Wing (Yale, class of 1854). By 1870 a Chinese Education Mission was established, at the urging of Yung Wing, now an Imperial official. In that year the first group of boys arrived in Connecticut. However the Chinese government abandoned the Mission in 1881 because the American government refused visas for its students to study at West Point and the Naval Academy (in violation of the 1868 Burlingame Treaty), and also because cultural conservatives in China had long been appalled at the students’ Americanization. More

The Pekin Restaurant, Bangor, and Raymond Huang

By Gary Libby

Wong Jack June opened the Pekin Restaurant in Bangor, Maine in the 1920s. He and his wife, Chin Ngan Kee, had one daughter and five sons. One of those sons, Raymond Li Min Huang, is the subject of this article.

Raymond’s parents gave all of their children Chinese names. Their “American” names were selected to sound like their Chinese names. “Li Min” became “Raymond.” His sister, “Fee,” became “Fay.” His brother, “Ang,” was called “Don” and his brother “Wey” was “Wade.”

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The Pekin Restaurant, Bangor

By Gary Libby

Raymond Jones

Raymond Jones

CAFAM recently acquired four photographs of the former Pekin Restaurant in Bangor. These 1920s vintage photos, showing the exterior and interior, complement an oral interview of Raymond Li Min Huang, the son of the Pekin’s founder. CAFAM also obtained a photo of Raymond, then known as Raymond Jones, as a 6-year-old child in 1929 taken outside the Pekin, as well as a 1930s menu. All these items now reside in the Maine Chinese Archive at the Maine Historical Society.

The Pekin was established by a man named Wong Jack June (“Jack June” being a rather loose spelling of his personal name). He was born in the Toishan District of Guangdong Province in 1893. (Toishan – or Taishan — is a place from which large numbers emigrated in the 19th and 20th centuries.) At 16 or 17 he immigrated to Seattle to join some cousins there. When he arrived, the authorities declared him to be Wong Jack Jones, and “Jones” he remained thereafter. He worked for about a year in the Washington salmon canneries before joining other relatives in New York City and becoming a waiter in a Manhattan Chinese restaurant. More

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Who We Are

The Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine provides forums and outreach to promote awareness of and appreciation for Chinese culture. We promote friendship between non-Chinese Americans, Chinese-Americans, and Chinese people, whether from the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, or elsewhere.

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Some rights reserved. Please share content responsibly. Banner image: Peonies, Yun Shouping (1633–1690), Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons. Produced by The Compass LLC.

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