Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum

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Kam Wah Chung & Co. Building. For more information, visit the Oregon State Parks Website here: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=5
Kam Wah Chung & Co. Building. For more information, visit the Oregon State Parks Website here: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=5

When gold was discovered in Canyon City, Oregon in 1862, the Chinese followed right behind.  After a fire in 1885, the Chinese rebuilt Chinatown near John Day, with an estimated 2,000 Chinese immigrants, making it the third largest Chinatown in the United States only after San Francisco and Portland. 

At the center of Chinatown in John Day was a stone structure called Kam Wah Chung & Company.  In 1888, Lung On and Ing “Doc” Hay purchased the building from another Chinese businessman. It flourished under their leadership, serving both the American and Chinese populations in the Pacific Northwest.  The business ran by On and Hay was multifaceted: they had a mercantile, an apothecary, and doctor's office, and a boarding house for migratory workers. In addition, Kam Wah Chung served as a religious and community center. 

On and Hay emigrated from Guangdong China separately in the early 1880s. They were well-educated, but On was fluent in English and was influential for both Chinese and non-Chinese populations.  On passed away in 1940.  Hay lived in Kam Wah Chung until 1948 when he broke a hip. The business of Kam Wah Chung officially closed its doors in 1948 after Hay was sent to Portland to recover.  Hay passed away in 1952 in Portland, Oregon.  Both are buried in John Day.  Kam Wah Chung became a National Historic Landmark, owned and operated as the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in Oregon State Parks and Recreation, in 2006. 
 

Place(s): John Day, Oregon

– Donald Merritt, Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site

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