Gathering: Horse Collar

In Fun
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Horse collar used by Belle when plowing at the Fong family farm. Courtesy of Chinese History Project.
Horse collar used by Belle when plowing at the Fong family farm. Courtesy of Chinese History Project.

Our object is a collar used by Joshua Fong’s horse, Belle, when she was plowing at the Fong family farm in Centerville, California. Joshua grew up in the Washington Township in the late 1920’s to the 1940’s. His family came to California in 1917 from Guangdong province in China. They eventually settled in the east side of the San Francisco Bay. Their farm was in Centerville, now a district of the city of Fremont. Joshua wrote his memoirs in 1999 and from these memoirs and interviews, we get a glimpse of life in the community in the mid-1900s.

From Joshua’s memoirs: “Pa purchased a new horse to do the plowing and cultivating after we moved onto the new farm. It was a mare we called Belle, which had been bred between a saddle horse and a plow horse, so we were able to ride her occasionally. In the spring when she had not been working all winter, she was quite frisky and tried to throw us off.”

Jill Fong-Au, Joshua Fong’s daughter, notes: “Our Fong Family history continues to be told today in Fremont and surrounding communities. We are proud of our Dad’s many accomplishments. An optometrist for 40 years, he later founded the Bay Bank of Commerce, now part of Wells Fargo Bank. He served the Bay Area, a lifetime, in Wa Sung Chinese Service Club, as founder of the Oakland Chinese Golf club, active in civic positions in San Leandro. Student scholarships are given annually in Dr. Joshua Fong’s name and contain the Fong family history. His life continues to inspire us, even today.”

This object was featured in the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)'s exhibit, "Gathering: Collecting and Documenting Chinese American History," October 17, 2019 - March 22, 2020.

Place(s): Fremont, CA
Year: 1917

– Chinese History Project

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant