A visit to North Adams, MA., site of the Sampson shoe factory that hired young Chinese as strikebreakers in 1870

            During my visit in 2016 to Williamstown, MA. in conjunction with a Williams College performance of South of Gold Mountain by the H.T. Chen Dance Center of New York, H. T. Chen took me to nearby North Adams, where in 1870 Calvin Sampson recruited 75 Chinese boys and men to work in his shoe factory rather than meet the demands of Crispin Irish workers who were on strike.

 H. T. Chen viewing the historical display in North Adams.
The original factory  building no longer exists and a new building is on the site.  Fortunately, a local historical museum had an informative display about the lives and experiences of these Chinese who travelled across the continent to a place where it is unlikely that any previous Chinese had ever been.

The young Chinese were quick to adapt to many American ways such as how to dress American style as illustrated in the photo below of three very dapper looking young Chinese.


           Lue Gim Gong, an Unusual 12 year old Chinese boy  

       When he was 12 years old, Lue Gim Gong sailed from China to San Francisco with his uncle and some other boys where they lived briefly before moving to North Adams, Massachusetts to work in the Sampson Shoe Factory with other young Chinese boys and men as strikebreakers.  
         Lue Gim Gong was frail and became ill. The daughter of a local farmer, Fanny Burlingame, took him in and nursed him back to health. Lue became a Christian and a US citizen while under her care. In1886, he and Miss Fanny moved to DeLand, FL because Massachusetts winters were too harsh for him. He and Miss Fanny's brother-in-law Mr. William Dumville planted oranges and other fruit trees. Lue was a promising horticulturist and in1888, he produced a new orange which ripened in the early fall and which was bright and sweet called the Lue Gim Gong orange, which helped develop Florida's citrus economy.  There is a monument in DeLand, FL., in tribute to his genius.


  1. This is a great museum, I will visit !

  2. yes, it is a small museum but of historic value

  3. Very important: these Chinese workers were the first to move east on transcontinental railroad, many followed them later to build Chinatown on east coast


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