Wednesday, November 29, 2017

History of the Dai Loy Museum

When visiting Locke, California, you might wander into the Dai Loy Museum. This historic building was once one of several gambling halls that was popular, especially during the 1920's. The hall itself is said to have been constructed in 1916 and remained a gambling hall until it was shut down in the 1950's. This blog will not touch on the earlier times this building has seen as a gambling hall, but instead this blog post will primarily focus on the museum itself: when it was opened, who was involved and so forth.

According to archived newsletters from the Sacramento River Delta Historical Society (which I have obtained 40 years worth of copies of), I have been able to form a timeline and a brief history of the Dai Loy Museum and some of the people who made the museum possible. All notations below are compiled from said newsletters.



The Dai Loy Museum Project

A project that took over seven weeks and 40 members of the historical society to complete, "scrubbing, sorting, cleaning, sweeping, repairing, painting and fixing," the building to make it available to be used as a museum open to the public.

On April 29th and 30th, of 1977, the Dai Loy Museum celebrated its Grand Opening. The cost to enter was $5 per person, and it started at 6 p.m. and ended at 9 p.m.  It was opened every weekend until November and remained that way for many years.  All volunteers were members of the historical society (SRDHS).

By 1979, the River News Herald in Rio Vista reported that the town of Locke was awarded $140,000 history grant, which was the 5th largest grant from the Department of Interior's Historic Preservation Fund.

In 1980, Bob James, Galen & Maryn Whitney, Jim and Barbara Dahlberg, Loyal Mealer and Clarence Pratt worked hard to revamp the museum, keeping exhibits repaired and restored on a constant basis.  Clarence is mentioned a lot over the years, and it appears he was the one who spearheaded the project and became the No. 1 docent at the museum for many years (along with his wife, Emma).

By 1981, the museum had been opened for only 4 years, but had already seen a total of 45,000 visitors. In that season alone they received 11,443 visitors.

In 1982, Brother Dennis from St. Mary's College donated: an old straw hat, straw war shield, wooden spear and wooden flute to the museum.  Marie Camozzi, a former operator of the Tule's Restaurant in Locke,  donated a framed photo. Tim Wilson donated account books and Lind and Ed Dutra installed fire extinguishers to the building for safety. The 1982 season saw a total of 11,579 visitors.

In 1983, there are notations that three tour companies were making regular trips to Locke: Exploration Cruise Lines, Yankee Tours and Cherokee Tours. Clarence Pratt was always there at the museum to guide all the visitors around.  By that time there had been visitors from 40 states in the U.S. as well as 24 countries. There were also regular schools having field trips to Locke from all over the bay area.  During that season, other museum volunteers running the place were Paul and Lucy Barnes. By the end of the 1983 season, the museum had received a total of 15,000 visitors.

1984 saw 6,642 visitors between March and June, and the volunteers for that season included Jim Dahlberg, Jim Gualco, Don Quesenberry and Bob Peters.

By 1985, there had been 5,502 visitors between March and June, from 29 states and 23 countries. Donations to the museum included:  Chinese bench from the "old men's club" by Frances Armstrong, a soy jug for display from Kathie Graham, the Estate of Bob Suen donated a Chinese sign from the Locke Sportsmen's Club, Glyta Hedges (from Lake Tahoe) donated a photo of Locke and Walnut Grove. Iva Corder (from Isleton) donated newspaper clippings from 1972 about Isleton. Gregg Campbell donated a transcribed oral history about Portuguese and Japanese in Freeport, Jim Bullock donated an old highway map.  Steve Simmons donated a Delta Country book, and Edwin and Enid Wright donated four albums of the historical society's history.

Unfortunately, by 1987 there were some sudden changes within the museum.  By the 10th Anniversary, and after seeing a grand total of 115,000 visitors over the span of a decade, there were those who felt that the museum needed to change.  As the historical society's newsletter states, they "removed things that were not strictly applicable to the Chinese Experience in the Delta and Locke itself" -- those removed items were said to be incorporated in the Delta History Gallery at the SRDHS office. "Attention is once again clearly focused on the Gambling Hall motif."

So, we do not know today what the SRDHS had originally displayed in the building. It seems as if perhaps at one point the museum actually had some relics and exhibits on display that showed there were others in Locke during its early days, but someone decided to "remove" those items. This was around same time period that Clarence Pratt resigned because of failing health of his wife, Emma. I wonder if some of the members waited until Clarence left to implement these changes?

By 1988, the newsletters mention that the second floor of the museum had to be closed due to a lack of fire escape and it had to do with insurance coverage. "The floor is spongy and needs repairs, the footing underneath the building needs replacement." Sadly, it appears the building is still in bad shape, the last time I was there I noticed the "spongy" floors and it's 2017, that was 29 years ago that this notation was published!

Clarence Pratt
1988 was the same year Clarence Pratt passed away as well.  Clarence was 85 years old. He grew up in Lodi, and worked on Dennis Leary's ranch as a carpenter and maintenance man for over 50 years. His obituary in the Lodi News Sentinel names him for the restoration effort to open the museum. He was interred in the Mausoleum at Lodi Memorial Cemetery alongside his wife, Emma.  To this day there is a plaque in the Dai Loy Museum honoring Clarence Pratt's efforts to the museum. You can see the photograph as you walk down the hall to the "Money Room."

The 1989 newsletters begin to mention Connie King as volunteering for special tours along with Carol Watson. I also found a notation that Senator John Garamendi (D) from Walnut Grove, had presented a "motion for a feasibility study to incorporate Locke into the State Parks System." It also adds that the motion passed by a unanimous vote.  The season total of visitors to the museum for 1989 was 9,000.

Between 1990-1992 we find changes to the newsletters' mentioning the museum. Where they once introduced each newsletter with positive comments about the museum and all the progress that had been made, by the early 1990's it seems there was a change in the wind. By June 1990, it mentions that an agreement had been made between the historical society and Clarence Chu (Locke Properties, Inc.) that Chu would take over the museum and staff it himself. It states the historical society would still remain responsible for the exhibits but that they would no longer be "involved" in the staffing of the museum.  The 1992 newsletters add that the "joint operation with Clarence Chu of  Asian City Development is working well. The museum building has been sold to the company with the provision that it remain a museum. The Society rents the artifacts to the corporation and the "complicated" arrangement seems to have everyone happy."

As time went on you find less and less mention of the museum since the historical society no longer ran it.  What has happened from 1992 to the present is anyone's guess, as I have yet to find anything in books or online documenting any changes or progress made. If by chance I do find it, I will post it here.

In ending this, I just wanted to give everyone a timeline of when the building became a museum, who was directly involved in the process and who helped keep it going over the years. In future posts I will be getting deeper into the stories of gambling, opium dens and of course the brothels in Locke. But today, I wanted to share with you all the information I discovered on the Dai Loy Museum's history.

(J'aime Rubio -- Copyright 2017 - www.jaimerubiowriter.com)

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Watchmen of Locke



During my research into Locke's truly captivating past, I have been able to identify at least two of Locke's watchmen. The first on record was of course, George Carlton. Not only was he listed as "Watchman" for the "Town of Locke" on the census records, he was also noted as the constable in both voting registries and in several newspaper articles of the time. George Carlton was living in Locke as early as 1916, which is when the town was being built up and officially recognized as a town with its very own post office. The post master was Clay Locke, heir to the Locke ranch, and grandson of George W. Locke, the man for which the town of Locke was named.

Carlton came from English/German born parents, so the idea of using the term "Watchman" would not have been a new one, especially if his father was from England. The "Watchman" or "Constable" from his father's time period went hand in hand.  The Dictionary defines a watchman as " a person who keeps guard over a building at night, to protect it from fire, vandals, or thieves." It also means "a person who guards or patrols the streets at night."

 According to the Parliament.uk's website going even as far back as the mid 1700's in England, many times towns allowed Acts to be passed that "often included provision for paid watchmen or constables to patrol towns at night," because of lack of policemen to watch over every area. Even the name "Constable" is a British term that was not often used in the U.S., even back in 1916. By 1930, George Carlton was still in Locke but now listed as Assistant Post Master. He eventually left at some point during 1930 because his death is listed in Los Angeles County by December of that year.

Besides George Carlton, there was only one other watchman I could find during my research into this subject. The other person's name was Hoy Key (sometimes also mentioned as Boy Key) and he was the Bok-Bok man of Locke. Hoy Key was born sometime around 1892, and when he immigrated to the U.S. is unknown. What we do know is that he eventually found his way to Locke, and made it his lifelong home.

How that term "Bok Bok" came about I am unsure, but some have speculated because of the sound he made while hitting a wooden box that he carried while walking the streets at night. He was keeping an eye out for fires, and the clicking sound he made on the hour every hour while he was working his nightly watch gave residents reassurance that their homes were safe.

According to the Sacramento Delta Historical Society's newsletter from June of 1985, Hoy Key passed away the spring of 1984, at the age of 92. It said he had been the Bok Bok man for many years until retiring in 1954. Perhaps he took over when George Carlton left?

Hoy Key remained in Locke the rest of his life until he passed away, and it was mentioned that during the creation of the Dai Loy Museum, he assisted with the curators and volunteers in setting up the gambling tables in the museum (along with Joe Chow and Ping Lee) to  make sure everything was set up authentically for the exhibit.

Over the years I have read several internet sites mention the "Legend of the Bok-Bok Man" as if he was some sort of scary spirit haunting Locke. That is not only ridiculous but very disrespectful in my opinion. This man must have really loved Locke to remain there all those years, and I am sure he was proud of the time he spent working as the night watchman for Locke, keeping the town safe from fires. We should honor both men's legacies for the work they did, and in no way disrespect their roles, downplay or attach fabricated lore to them, because they were real people with real lives, and they deserve that much, if not more.

Let us always remember the night watchmen of Locke, George Carlton and Hoy Key.

(Copyright 2017- J'aime Rubio, www.jaimerubiowriter.com)


Thursday, November 16, 2017

1920 Census Summarized

1920 Census

In 1920, Locke was still included on the Georgiana Township Census records. It was still a small town and so Ryde, Walnut Grove and Locke as well as Isleton were recorded in the census. There are 36 pages for that particular census, however, based on the names listed on the 1920 voting registry listing residents for Locke I was able to cross reference them along with other names of residents I recognized to narrow down the number of pages in the census that reflect Locke. By using that method of research the residents of Locke can be found between pages 18-23 on that particular census.

Right now I am in the process of making a database of all the residents listed in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 census' for Locke. Once I am done I will be making all this information available. Until then, this is a summarized blog post giving you an idea of the make up of Locke during 1920.

According to the stats on the census, there were:

179- Chinese living in Locke in 1920 (this included listed Chinese-Americans and Chinese Immigrants)

115- Caucasians living in Locke in 1920 (this included Americans (born within the U.S.) as well as European Immigrants from: Germany, Portugal, Holland, Switzerland, Scotland, and Russia.

29- Japanese living in Locke in 1920.

3 - Hindu, East Indians living in Locke in 1920.


To recap, there was a total of:

55% Chinese living in Locke as reported in the 1920 Census 
as well as 45% Non-Chinese residents living in Locke, too.

As always, this is further proof that shows the Locke was comprised of many different groups of people from its beginnings, and was not "Exclusively built by, for and lived in soley by Chinese" as many people will try to have you believe. Look, I have absolutely nothing against the Chinese people of Locke, in fact, I love everyone who lived there and contributed their culture and heritage to this unique little town. Everyone! I just do not like that a lot of  the history of Locke has been forgotten or purposely omitted. I believe that all of Locke's history should be remembered, from the Chinese to the Caucasian residents, the Japanese, the Hindu, the Italians, Portuguese and even the Russians who lived out on Locke Slough (out back behind Locke; near Snodgrass Slough), which was still considered part of Locke and was part of the Locke family estate. These people deserve to be remembered, too. And this town deserves to acknowledge ALL the former residents of this beautiful Delta hideaway.

(Copyright 2017- J'aime Rubio, www.jaimerubiowriter.com)


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Sad Suicide In Locke

View of the Sacramento River (near Walnut Grove/Locke)


On Sunday, September 11, 1921, fishermen on the Sacramento River near Locke discovered the body of Toi So Hoy, 45, resident of Locke. Upon arriving, Deputy Sheriff's Cook and Johnson started an investigation into the cause of death as well as establishing the identity of the man.  According to the Sacramento Union Newspaper, "The discovery of the body and its condition led the authorities to believe the Chinese had been slain. The throat had been slit and there was every evidence of a crime. Officials declared yesterday, however, that it was a case of suicide, as they learned the Chinese had long been in ill health and had threatened self destruction repeatedly."

As it turned out he was suffering with an advanced case of tuberculosis and had been ill for some time. It was determined that Hoy cut his throat and then flung himself into the river.

There are no records that I could find of that mention if he was buried at a cemetery or not. So as far as we know, this newspaper mention of his death is the only record we have that he existed.  Let us remember Mr. Toi So Hoy, and the painful and very tragic way he died.


(Copyright, 2017- J'aime Rubio - www.jaimerubiowriter.com )

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

1926 Voting Registry Reveals Even More History


On this blog so far I have shown the names of registered voters living in Locke going as far back as 1916-1918, 1920-1922 and now I have the list from 1926, and trust me folks, I am far from being done here! I am going to keep digging and keep posting all the documentation that is out there, so the world can know the all encompassing history of Locke. Not just the history that others want to present to you. The world deserves to know all of it.

According to the 1926 Voting Registry which was noted as "Precinct 89 of Assembly District 15" the registered voters living in Locke were as follows:


  1. Charlie Adams, Laborer 
  2. Fred Bard, Merchant
  3. Kai Chan, Rancher
  4. Lin D. Chan, Merchant
  5. Chin King, Merchant
  6. Gan M. Chow, Merchant
  7. Kam Chun, Merchant
  8. Mrs. Helen Clarke, Hotel Keeper
  9. Edward J. Danfrath, Foreman
  10. Ernest Everly, Clerk
  11. Herbert Fox, Ranch Hand
  12. Dai B. Gan, Merchant
  13. Frank R. Gomes, Jr., Laborer 
  14. Chester S. Heath, Ranch Hand
  15. Cleveland Hill, Carpenter
  16. Mrs. Daisy Jones, Housewife
  17. Edward H. Jones, Bridge Tender
  18. Lee Bing, Merchant
  19. Mrs. Dorothy E. Lewis, Waitress
  20. Miss June B. Moore, Singer
  21. Alfred L. Muller, Warehouse Manager
  22. Mrs. Pinkie I. Muller, Housewife
  23. Mrs. Betty Parkison, Housewife
  24. Clement G. Parkison, Merchant
  25. Guy Read, Clerk
  26. Max J. Reese, Laborer
  27. Samuel W. Sanfillipo, Clerk
  28. William Schaak, Laborer
  29. James T. Slater, Mechanic
  30. Henry B. Starr, Barber

What I gather from this list is some pretty interesting people. For instance, we have a singer, a hotel keeper, a barber,  and many more people, including several couples who were living there in Locke, who were not Chinese. Again, this is more proof that Locke was a town full of diversity from its beginnings, with both Chinese & Caucasian, as well as many others. In this list we even see an Italian and Portuguese man registered as a voter/resident as well. 

(J'aime Rubio, Copyright 2017-- www.jaimerubiowriter.com































Monday, November 13, 2017

1920's Voting Registries Show Diverse List of Residents in Locke



According to the 1920-1922 Voting Registry for Precinct 63 of Assembly District 15, the registered voters living in the town of Locke are as follows:

1. Fred Bard, Clerk,  Locke  (Republican)
2. John Barnholdt, Sea Faring, Locke  (Republican)
3. Matilda Barnholdt, Housewife, Locke (Republican)
4. Lau Bow, Butcher, Locke  (Republican)
5. Lee Bing, Merchant, Locke  (Republican)
6. George Blue, Laborer, Locke (Republican)
7. Fred Brown, Fisherman, Locke (Republican)
8. Edward A. Callopy, Agent, Locke (Republican)
9. George Carleton, Constable, Locke (Republican)
10.  Chon Chong, Laborer, Locke (Republican)
11.  Gan Moon Chow, Merchant,  Locke (Republican)
12.  Walter E. Davis, Chauffeur, Locke  (Republican)
13.  Cheun Duck, Laborer, Locke  (Republican)
14. Albert S. Fong, Butcher, Locke  (Republican)
15. Cleveland Hill, Carpenter, Locke  (Republican)
16.  Chan S. Hing, Farmer, Locke  (Republican)
17. Chung Hoy, Farmer, Locke  (Republican)
18. James E. Hunter, Wharfinger, Locke  (Republican)
19. William E. Islip, Clerk, Locke  (Republican)
20. Frederick C. Jacob, Superintendent, Locke (Republican)
21. Chun Kam, Merchant, Locke (Republican)
22. Chin King, Merchant, Locke (Republican)
23. Nate Kinkead, Bartender, Locke  (Democrat)
24. Pong Lum, Laborer, Locke (Republican)
25. Martin L. Malley, Laborer, Locke (Democrat)
26. Charles E. Mehner, Clerk, Locke (Republican)
27. Albert E. Munsey, Laborer, Locke (Republican)
28. Ray J. Osborn, Mariner, Locke (Republican)
29. Davis Owyang, Farmer, Locke (Republican)
30. Joseph R. Pimental, Superintendent, Locke (Republican)
31. Julia R. Pimental, Housewife, Locke (Republican)
32. Francis P. Riley, Drayman, Locke (Republican)
33. Mary B. Sato, Domestic, Locke (Republican)
34. William J. Shearer, Laborer, Locke (Republican)
35. Margaret M. Thatcher, Laborer, Locke (Democrat)
36. Chun Tin, Laborer, Locke (Republican)
37. William E. Turner, Bridge Tender, Locke (Republican)
38. Edna D. Walthall, Housewife, Locke (Democrat)
39. William H. Walthall, Foreman,  Locke (Democrat)
40. Ong Yip, Laundry, Locke (Republican)
41. Tong Yong, Farmer, Locke (Republican)
42. Wong Fin Yuen, Bookkeeper, Locke (Republican)

So as you can see, to recap, there were:

62% Caucasian Registered Voters living in Locke &
38% Chinese Registered Voters*** living in Locke, proving that even in its early years, Locke was a small but diverse town.

      ***It is also good to remember that in order to be listed as a registered voter 
      you had to prove citizenship. Thus each and every one of these people listed had to provide documentation showing they were citizens (whether the documentation they provided was real or not). This is an important factor to remember because if you could vote, you could buy land or own businesses because the Alien Land Law of 1913 did not bar citizens from owning property, only aliens. So if you had papers saying you were a Citizen, that law did not apply to you. Just an FYI. 


    Copyright 2017- J'aime Rubio  www.jaimerubiowriter.com 
    Sources: California 1920-1922 Voting Registries, Public Records.  







1910 Census Shows Georgiana Township Was Incredible Mix of Cultures!



I have pondered for several years now, trying to figure out how many people fled to Locke after the Walnut Grove fire in 1915. No one has given a set number of people, but over the years there have been outrageous claims that there were hundreds of displaced Chinese that moved to Locke after the fire. This simply isn't possible, and I will explain why.

First, you have to go back as far as you can with primary sources, and then comb over those sources to give yourself an idea of how things were there, back then. Guessing is not an option, and speculating isn't any better. No, the only way we can have an accurate estimate is by doing the actual math and then we can form our opinions.

Before we get to that, let me tell you something, the Delta region in Sacramento is one of the most beautiful areas in California (In my humble opinion). There was also a huge need for workers in the area, whether it was building levee's, working on farms, in factories or on the railroad lines. It is no wonder then why so many people from all over the world flocked to this one particular little place known as the Georgiana Township.

The Georgiana Township was established on August 14, 1854. Prior to that, the area was considered within the boundaries of the Sutter Township. It consists of the Sacramento Islands, including the "southern portion of Sutter Island, almost all of Grand Island, all of Andrus, Tyler, Twitchell, Brannan, Sherman and Wood islands. There are about 110 miles of levee in the township." -- An Illustrated History of Sacramento County, Winfield J. Davis.

So the areas of Courtland, Walnut Grove, Isleton, Grand Island, Ryde and the area we know today as Locke, were considered to be within the Georgiana Township. In fact, the Georgiana Township goes all the way up to the southern part of the Franklin Township, which is pretty far north east.This is very important to remember, because by counting all the people listed on the 1910 census for this township, you get an idea of just how diverse this area along the Delta was.

According to Census records of 1910, there were:

338 Caucasians living in the Georgiana Township of those 338; 127 consisted of European immigrants. The rest of the 211 were American Citizens of all states within the U.S. (Caucasian). The European immigrants consisted of: 53 Portuguese, 22 Italians, 9 Germans, 5 Danes, 5 Dutch, 10 English, 14 Swedish, 1 Irish, 1 Welsh, 1 Polish, 1 Yiddish, 2 Russian, 2 Norwegian, 1 Scottish, and 1 Spanish.

There were also 337 Chinese living in the township as well as 335 Japanese, too. The other residents consisted of: 20 - East Indian (Hindu), 1- Puerto Rican, and 1-Mexican.

This information, especially in regards to the population of Chinese in this area, is vital to give us an idea of how many people might have moved to Locke after the Walnut Grove fire in 1915. Now remember, this amount of people is not the people in Walnut Grove, but is a total of all the people within the entire township that covered many hundreds of square miles, so that covers an even larger area in the region.

So now you have an idea of how many people lived in the Delta area of the Georgiana Township just before the fire in Walnut Grove that displaced many Chinese and Japanese. And now we know that there were not hundreds of people who came to Locke, but perhaps only a fraction of that amount. We also see how diverse the area was at the time, with people from all over the country and all over the world, all working near one another in such a beautiful region.

As time goes on I will be posting even more documentation I have found in my research on Locke's history to provide the public with real facts, and real history.

(Copyright 2017 - J'aime Rubio  www.jaimerubiowriter.com)

Sources:
United States Census, California, Sacramento, Georgiana Township, 1910.
Illustrated History of Sacramento County, Winfield J. Davis.


New Locke Barber Shop Business Card Found!

Here is a photo of an interesting little piece of history found at an antique shop in Stockton back on August 6, 2016. Take a look at this old business card. 






According to my research, a haircut in the 1920's and 1930's was anywhere between .40 and .50 cents...and by the 1950's it was about $1.42. Given this information, I am guessing that this business "New Locke Barber Shop" operated around the mid to late 1920's in Locke, California. 


This only further proves, as I have stated many times in my various blogs, that Locke was not exclusively inhabited by Chinese, but was a mix of Chinese, Caucasian, Japanese and other European immigrants from its very start.


By the way, the little arrows pointing to the part that says "Two White Barbers" was done by the antique shop owner, who encased the card in plexiglass. He was adamant that Locke was not solely Chinese either, and made it very clear that was why he put the arrows below the card to show proof.


According to Locke resident and business owner, Martha Esch, Al Adami started the "New Locke Cafe" in 1934, which was later changed to Al's Place aka Al the Wops, so that name "New Locke" must have meant something for the residents at that time period. 

(Copyright 2016-2017, J'aime Rubio, www.jaimerubiowriter.com


Photo by J'aime Rubio (copyright 2016)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Alien Land Law of 1913 - Did Not Apply To Residents of Locke





This blog is meant to be an unbiased look at Locke's history, and I stand by that whole-heartedly. One thing that really bothers me is that certain people who claim to be the "official" ones preserving Locke's history in Locke, have been promoting a very one-sided approach to sharing its history.

In various plaques within the town you will see their mentioning of the Alien Land Law of 1913, and how it discriminated against Chinese in Locke. First and foremost let's make two things clear:

The Alien Land Law of 1913, which is also known as the Webb-Haney Act prohibited ANY aliens from owning property in California. From the beginning, it focused on Japanese immigrants first. It was not specifically against Chinese, but branched out to include all Asians (except Filipinos) and even included East Indians who were not eligible for citizenship.

Still, there was always a way to skirt around the law, which is exactly what happened.

"The intent of the law was to restrict land ownership by Japanese immigrants. However, by assigning ownership of land to second generation children, born in the United States and thus citizens, or by the use of extended leases the law could be evaded."---(http://www.intimeandplace.org/Japanese%20Internment/reading/constitution/alienlandlaw.html)


Back to Locke 

Secondly, the law has never applied to Locke and never will. Why? Because Locke was private property owned by the Locke family long before it became a town, and it remained in the Locke family estate until the last of all the Locke heirs passed away. 

So because no part of Locke was ever for sale when owned by the Locke family, and no part of Locke was offered for sale to any other persons the law could never apply to Chinese residents in Locke. In other words, the Chinese were not refused the opportunity to purchase land in Locke, it was just that no part of Locke was ever for sale when the Locke family owned it.

This was simply private property owned by a family who at one point in time very generously allowed people of all races and ethnic backgrounds to build homes and businesses on their land, and they were considered tenants of said property owners (The Locke family) whose tenants paid rent monthly to their landlords. So you see, the Locke’s never had any intention to sell their land at any point in time so they could never be guilty of withholding property from anyone based on their ethnic background or nationality. So the Alien Land Law of 1913 cannot apply.

The residents of Locke didn’t own the property they lived on, not because of racial prejudice, but simply because the owners of the property never had any intention to sell it, to anyone. They preferred keeping their property in their family estate. There is nothing discriminatory about that.  The late Connie King was quoted in an interview for the Locke Oral History Project for the Parks Department, when she mentioned speaking to Mr. Locke (I am assuming Clay Locke, grandson of George W. Locke, who lived on his ranch there until his death in 1963) and in regards to being asked why residents in Locke (after 1952) could not own their homes in town, she stated:   “See, I talk to Mr. Locke several times because I help him collect rent, see, so I said, “Why can’t you?” He said, “Because this land is owned by the Locke family and the family’s too big and not everybody agreed to sell.”  So that’s what happened.”--- quoted from transcript in  “Locke Oral History Project,” written by Maya Beneli, interviewed by Patrick Ettinger, Ph.D.,page 206.

In reality, and you can check the property records on this, Locke belonged to the Locke family from its beginnings all the way until the last of the Locke heirs passed away in 1969. It wasn’t until after the Locke’s had all passed away and the estate went into probate that a Chinese businessman from China came in and purchased the entire parcel in the 1970’s, which they intended to create a Chinese Amusement Park where the town is. That businessman Ng Tor Tai, is the brother-in-law of Clarence Chu.  No one ever brings up the fact that from the 1970’s until the County stepped in over 25 years later, the homes in Locke were unavailable for residents to own as well. It is a well-known fact that during that time period it was Ng Tor Tai who owned the town, and the entire parcel that once was the Locke Estate, and he had not offered the properties to residents to own, but in fact allowed the town to fall into such disrepair during that time the town was about to be condemned.

Local government had to get involved to save Locke and then eventually those who had homes in Locke had the opportunity to own each individual property.  Why then is it that this part of Locke’s history is never is mentioned? Yet, this false narrative that somehow residents were deprived of owning their homes between 1916-1953, because of some archaic land law or discrimination against Chinese is what is constantly pushed, when that simply wasn’t so. There seems to be double standards in this case since no one seems to complain that the later owner of Locke, Ng Tor Tai, for all the years of him owning the land, he didn’t offer the properties to residents either. Where is the outrage about that?

Historical Accuracy --The Census records for Locke going back to its early beginnings show that Locke was inhabited by a lot of different people, not solely Chinese. I have been researching Locke’s history for several years now and I have many of my findings on this blog which is backed up by primary source materials. Please feel free to read more about it, here are just a few links:





Yes, many Chinese lived in Locke, there is no denying that, but it was NOT exclusively lived in, built for and ran by Chinese. To say that Locke was exclusively a Chinese town would be revising the facts and that is history revisionism, and that is morally wrong. 

 Also, many of the Chinese living in Locke had fake papers (“Paper Sons”), meaning they had obtained fraudulent identification to show they were “Citizens” and not immigrants.  What did that mean for them?  It meant some of them could vote, own businesses and yes, even own land! 

 I have seen page by page lists of the voting registries of Locke going so far back as 1916 and census records from 1920 to the 1930’s showing there was diversity in Locke. Chinese and Caucasian residents, as well as Japanese in its earlier years, and later Russian, Italian, Portuguese as well as many other residents of various ethnic backgrounds.  Going back to the early 1916-1918 voting registries, a registered VOTER on the list meant they were listed as Citizens. 

Lee Bing was one of the people in Locke’s earlier history. The book “Bitter Melons” by Jeff Gillenkirk and James Motlow quoted Lee Bing’s son as saying his father “bought a lot of land” because, as it reads, “That law [ about Chinese not owning land] was pretty flexible.” – page 34.  Another thing to note, Lee Bing was an immigrant from China, who was using fake papers, and yet he owned land all over California, including Walnut Grove. As the book plainly states, the law was pretty flexible.


So in ending, I hope that you will see that the narrative that somehow the former residents of Locke were prevented from owning their homes because of some archaic land law is actually false. Locke was never for sale and was never going to be for sale as long as the Locke family had ownership of it, therefore there was no discrimination against anyone. In fact, it was quite the opposite. When in other areas of the state if Chinese or Japanese immigrants who might have wanted to purchase land but were denied because of the law, at least in Locke the Locke family allowed Chinese, Japanese and all sorts of other immigrants to rent from them and live there in peace.

 Again, you must remember, the law only applied if (a) you were an alien and (b) if you were attempting to purchase land or property that was actually for sale. This did not apply in Locke because the Locke family never had any intention to break up their estate and sell it. Another thing to mention was that there were plenty of residents within Locke who had the ability to purchase land or property elsewhere if they wished to, because they used false identification (Paper Sons) in order to claim citizenship. If you were considered a citizen, you could vote, own businesses and yes, even own land or property. So not all Chinese immigrants were barred from owning land or property, as even Ping Lee mentioned in his quoted interview in "Bitter Melons." 


(Copyright 2017) - J'aime Rubio  www.jaimerubiowriter.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Locke's Earliest Inhabitants: Junizumne Plains Miwok

Historical evidence shows the earliest inhabitants of what later would be known as Locke were Junizumne Plains Miwok. This was prior to George Locke purchasing the land in the 1800s. 

Miwok- Paiute Ceremony (example photo; public domain)
 "Sometime during the 1920s and 1930s, human remains representing, at minimum, one individual were removed from CA–SAC–075 (also known as Locke Mound #1, Locke Mound #2, S–76, CA–SAC–047, CA–SAC–076), located a half mile from the east bank of the Sacramento River approximately one mile north of Walnut Grove in southwestern Sacramento County, CA. The human remains were in the possession of Anthony Zallio, a private collector, who posthumously donated his collection in 1951 to the Department of Anthropology at Sacramento State College, CA (now California State University, Sacramento). No known individuals were identified. No associated funerary objects are present. Ethnohistoric accounts indicate that the site was occupied by the Junizumne Plains Miwok. The Junizumne resisted baptism during the Mission period, and were attacked in 1813 and again in 1830, for harboring fugitive neophytes. Historic occupation at the site lasted until at least the Mission period when the malaria epidemic took hold in the region. Archeological data indicating the earliest occupation at the site is currently unavailable."---- Federal Register /Vol. 80, No. 25


---Copyright 2017, J'aime Rubio -- www.jaimerubiowriter.com