Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Early Voting Registries Tell A Different Story

I have been researching the history of the town of Locke for quite some time now. Over the course of my research, I have found that the presented history that you find in books and online in regards to Locke, only tell a one-sided part of Locke's past, and that isn't fair.

Historians cannot simply on one hand omit pieces of  history and then on the other hand claim that they stand for preserving the origins of the town.  The plain and simple fact is documented, Locke had many residents, some Chinese, some Caucasian, some Japanese and some Portuguese. As time went on the population also had East Indians, Italians, Spanish, Russian, etc. These are the facts.

I have found no concrete evidence that shows that the Chinese "founded" the town, although it is evident they made up a large portion of it. The person who owned the land, George G. Locke (and his heirs) were the ones who allowed commercial buildings to be erected and later residences to form the town of Lockeport/Locke. The town is named after the Locke family who owned the land the town was built on.

It is evident that a large population of Chinese came to Locke in early 1916 after the Walnut Grove fire that occurred on October 7, 1915. There is also evidence claiming that the Japanese approached Mr. Locke first in regards to building a "new living quarter," in Locke before the Chinese had the idea. Apparently, things didn't work out as expected for the Japanese, although several families did move to Locke anyway.  It is also fact that there were some people already living in Locke (Lockeport) before the Walnut Grove fire, although most of the buildings were originally for commercial use.

Searching For Clues...

While researching primary sources, I fell upon the voting registries of the area. I could not find a voting registry prior to 1916 that had the name Lockeport or Locke in it, but  I did find several dating from 1916 and up. Below is a list of "registered voters" listed as living in Locke or Lockeport.  I have printed two of the voting registries for 1916-1918, 1920 & 1926, and I am still not finished yet.  From that documentation alone, I find evidence that Locke was multi-cultural, not just one set group of people.

In the 1916-1918 Sacramento County, California Voting Registry I found an anomaly. There were two lists, although the page headings were almost identical, but the names were different. I checked the registry, and both had the same dates, and were from the same microfilm.  The first one listed on page 538, and the second one on page 1135. Both state "Precinct 54" of "Assembly District 15."

First List of Registered Voters in Lockport [SIC]:

1.       Chew Lum Chan, Merchant
2.       Kai Chan, Merchant
3.       Lam Choy, Farmer
4.       Yut Kin Chun, Merchant
5.       Chan Lin Dung, Merchant
6.       Mar Fook, Merchant
7.       Jee Gee, Farmer
8.       Lum Ho, Farmer
9.       Low Jung, Farmer
10.   Low Kim, Merchant
11.   Ow Young Kow, Merchant
12.   Mar Leong, Merchant
13.   See Too Quong, Merchant
14.   Joseph Parry Rowland, Carpenter
15.   Sear Choy Son, Farmer
16.   Bing Choy Soon, Farmer
17.   Toy Soon, Farmer
18.    Lee Wing, Farmer
19.   Sim Yuen Wong, Merchant
20.   To Young, Farmer
21.   Chan Yuen, Merchant
(all residents listed as "Republicans" except for Joseph Parry Rowland, whose party was left blank.)

Second List of Registered Voters in Locke:

1.  George Carlton , Proprietor
2. Gan Moon Chew , Merchant
3.  John Henning, Clerk
4. James Hunter, Wharfinger
5.  Chun Kam, Salesman
6.  Chin King, Merchant
7.  Alice Locke, Housewife
8. Clay Locke, Farmer 
9. Lloyd Locke, Farmer 
10.  Martin  Malley, Laborer
11. Grace Melbourne, Housewife
12.  Mat Reese, Laborer  
13. John Rhine, Laborer
14. Francis Riley, Drayman
15. William Turner, Bridge Tender
16. Wong Fin Yuen, Bookkeeper

( 11 listed as "Republican", 4 listed as "Democrat" and one declined to state).

Why Two Lists?

Are these two registries for two different years, being that the registry covers from 1916-1918? That is quite possible. 

Another question that popped in my head was "could it be possible that Lockeport and Locke were at one time two different communities in the same place?"  This is just a thought I have pondered, but at the present time I have no conclusive evidence showing this. Either way, it does not take away from the fact that on that land, in that town there were residents of all walks of life, not exclusively one race or ethnic group. 

It also shows there was a lot of registered voters living in Locke or Lockeport, and the Chinese listed in both registries could NOT be listed as registered voters without paperwork showing they were Citizens. If they were "paper sons" and they had documentation saying they were born here, whether the papers were fraudulent or not, it would have given them the right to vote, to own businesses and also own land.  That is a very important point to make here being that one of the biggest arguments you will find in books and online was that the Chinese immigrants were denied rights to own property or have basic rights back then. 

Although that is true, that the Alien Land Law of 1913 forbid the owning of property by Japanese, Chinese, Korean and East Indian immigrants, the law only prevented immigrants, not citizens.  These directories are a crucial piece of evidence that show that not only were many Chinese listed as registered voters, but legally they could not have been listed had they not proven citizenship (legal or not).

In upcoming blog posts I will go further in depth into more of these voting registries.

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

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