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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Census Records and Citizenship Declarations of Some Early Chinese in Grand Rapids

Those recording the census had difficulty with the spelling of Chinese names and recognizing “first” and “last” names. The following are spelled as they are recorded and interpreted from the handwritten records. Not all of the names that appear in local newspaper articles or in Grand Rapids city directories can be located in the census records so this list does not pretend to be complete.

Several of the men recorded after the 1880 census entered the country after enactment of the Chinese Excluaion Act of 1882. They would have been relatives of those already here, or perhaps "paper sons." See the website link under the Bibliography that explains "paper sons."

1880 Census

The following are working in the laundry business in Grand Rapids

King Fu

Young Joe

1900 Census

The following are working in the laundry business in Grand Rapids

Len Chew Yon

Lene Ham

Nin Chan

Ping Chan

Sam Low Kee

(A Grand Rapids Herald article of 9/22/1902 lists owners of Chinese restaurants and laundries in the city)

1910 Census

The following are working in the restaurant business in Grand Rapids

Lem Ling George

Lem Harry

Lem Loane

Hong Joe

Lum Wei

Chung Fook

Loo How

Lee Pong

May Dum

The following are working in the laundry business in Grand Rapids

Lem Jay in Grand Rapids

Lem Join

Quang Lee

Lem Sam

Some of the Grand Rapids Chinese who filed their declaration of intent for citizenship

Chan Ball

Sing George Lam

Chang Chow

Sam Charlie

Nimsan Sam

A newspaper story dated April 23, 1882 from the Detroit Free Press indicates that Yung Joe Jouan was admitted to full citizenship and Chow Chang took out his first papers. They mistakenly state that these are "the first Chinamen ever naturalized in Michigan." The first was Wong Chin Foo in April of 1874. The court records do not show that Yung Joe Jouan received his naturalization papers, but spelling errors could have complicated that. Chang Chow is recorded as filing his declaration, but not his second papers granting citizenship.

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