4/7/12

Ching Ming Remembrance in Los Angeles Included Visit to Miss Donaldina Cameron's Grave

    Ching-Ming, the annual spring Chinese 'sweeping of the graves' ritual remembrance of ancestors was held today at Evergreen Cemetery in East Los Angeles with a ceremony sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. It was an especially significant event now that the unearthed bones of about 100 unidentified Chinese immigrants from over a century ago have been given a respectful resting place in the cemetery after protests by the Chinese community when these remains were initially 'discarded'  when they were discovered during the excavation for a light rail line.
     Following the ceremony during which Daoist monks performed ritual chants, there was a Chinese lunch with roast pig, dim sum, and jook. Finally, we gathered at the nearby grave of Donaldina Cameron, a renown Presbyterian missionary who devoted her life to rescuing and helping young Chinese women who were essentially sold into slavery and prostitution in Chinatown during the early decades of the last century. Although this native of New Zealand served the Chinese of San Francisco, she is buried in Los Angeles where her relatives resided. We wanted to pay respects to her for the substantial contributions she made to Chinese women.
Donaldina Cameron (center back) in front of the Julia Morgan designed building at  920 Sacramento St., San Francisco with  Chinese girls that she rescued or who received daycare.

    Below is the 1920 Census Record listing Miss Cameron and her staff (in green) at the top of the sheet.  Note the ages of the girls, highlighted in the green column with some as young as 16.



       The census sheet below is also for 920 Sacramento and contains names of much younger girls, possibly children left for daycare by working parents.  The listing does not cover all the women that received shelter at Cameron House over many years, only the one residing there on the day the 1920 Census taker was there.


         The visit to her gravesite was meaningful to me in a personal way as I spent many hours at 920 Sacramento St., named Cameron House in her honor, during my high school and college years in the Bay area during the 1950s and made many friends among the Chinese youth who frequented this Chinatown service center.   



2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads up John - I didn't pick up that she was a New Zealander. Sounds like an amazing person.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I should have made that point clearer... if you click the link to Donaldina Cameron you will learn more: "Donaldina Cameron was born on a sheep ranch in New Zealand. At the age of two she emigrated to California with her parents, older brother, and four older sisters. In 1874, when Donaldina was five, her mother died, worn out from the hardships of ranching life. The family's ranch eventually failed and Donaldina's father supported his family by working for other ranchers. At nineteen, Donaldina was engaged, but for reasons unknown, did not marry. In 1895, Donaldina was persuaded by an old family friend to spend a year helping out at the Presbyterian Mission House in San Francisco's Chinatown. The acceptance of this offer was the turning point in Donaldina's life."

    ReplyDelete

About Me