Random 411: Chinese immigration

Sundays are the days I usually talk family with my grandmother. She shares an interest in family history with me and since we’ve started converting paper records to electronic ones, it’s been fun trying to link my huge family together in my brain.

Today I worked on a basic matriarchal timeline from me back to my great great grandparents, around  the 1860s. During this fun research project, I started questioning my grandmother about how my great great grandfather immigrated to Hawaii. I knew he came to work in the rice fields but I was curious to know what boat he came in and what it may have been like for immigrants who were contracted to work for any type of plantation, in this case rice. It turns out no one has records.

I found this a bit odd. My family has already done a lot of research and no one has any records on what boat he may have come on? After talking through my great great grandfather’s time in Hawaii, applying for a Certificate of Residence and such, my grandmother mentioned he was “shanghaied.” When I asked her what that means she said kidnapped.

My jaw nearly dropped! Kidnapped?! She said “that’s what papa (my great grandfather) said. Came on a Russian ship. Maybe Russian ship. That’s why we don’t have records.” Mind blown. Seriously. As long as I’ve been doing family history, it’s the first time I’ve heard of this. I don’t mind not knowing until now, but I’ve always wanted to link my family back to our Chinese roots and now my research just got harder!

And more interesting.

Fascinating stuff, this family history. It’s going to be fun trying to hunt down that ship.


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