March 5, 1907: Monrovia Woman Defies Family, Marries Chinese Man and Moves to Hong Kong


Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
March 5, 1907
Los Angeles

What shall we do with Emma? She’s gone off to New Mexico and married a Chinaman. Her horrified mother hopes to get the marriage annulled, but Emma is an independent-minded young lady.

Emma’s mother, Mary Culver of Monrovia, says she will do everything she can to undo her daughter’s marriage to Frank Chew, which The Times describes as “a sort of missionary revivalist,” noting that “Miss Emma had longings to help the heathen herself.”

Chew asked Culver for permission to marry Emma, but “it was bluntly refused,” The Times says. “Emma had a mind of her own and her answer was ‘yes,’ regardless of her mother’s wishes.”

Even worse, Chew could be an illegal immigrant and if he’s deported, Emma says she will be willing to go to China with him. She made this vow, even though she was warned that Chew would sell her into white slavery as soon as he got her to China.

Emma isn’t the only one in trouble. Members of the Chinese Baptist Mission are equally furious, saying that Chew borrowed jewelry from members of the congregation under the pretense of defending himself against deportation when in fact he used the money for his elopement.

In August 1907, Emma sent a letter from Hong Kong to her family, saying that their fears were baseless and that she and her husband had opened a day school where they taught English.

The next year, Emma mailed a photograph of her students and tried to recruit more women to come to China.

“With her husband, Frank Chew, she has established an English school which is attended by the sons of well-to-do, educated Chinese gentlemen. The Chews have prospered beyond their wildest dreams,” The Times says.

“Every family in Hong Kong seems anxious to have its children learn English and the pupils themselves study the language eagerly.”

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1907, Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, Education, Immigration, LAPD, Photography, Streetcars and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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