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Contributions of Chinese in this county revisited in new book
By Staff Writer   - 02/12/2009

The Mendocino Beacon

More Info on This Book: Chinese in Mendocino County

The first-ever broad history of the Chinese in Mendocino County is now available. The Chinese were instrumental in the county's development in the 1800s, but little has been written documenting their contribution to local history until now. "Chinese in Mendocino County" is new from local author Lorraine Hee-Chorley and boasts more than 200 vintage photographs.
The photographs date from the early 1800s to the 1970s, painting a vivid picture of the Chinese presence in Mendocino County. The county is known as a scenic destination for its panoramic views of the sea, parks, wineries, and open space. Less well known are the diverse cultural groups who were responsible for building the county of Mendocino.

The author hopes "Chinese in Mendocino County" keeps the spirit and the history of the Taoist temple, Temple of Kwan Tai, alive.

Highlights of the book include the anti-Chinese sentiment in Mendocino County, the generosity of Grace Hudson and other citizens who supported the Chinese in Mendocino County, a look at the only historical structure that gives evidence of the Chinese's presence in the county, and early Chinese settlers.

Profits will be donated to the Temple of Kwan Tai, Mendocino, for the continued education and restoration of the Taoist temple.

Hee-Chorley, 56, is a native of Mendocino County. Her family lived the history of the Chinese in the area. Her great-grandfather, Lee Sing John, was the founder of the Taoist Kwan Tai Temple in the village of Mendocino in 1854.

Hee-Chorley has a master's degree in communications from Humboldt State University in Arcata and is currently an associate professor at College of the Redwoods, Mendocino Coast Campus.

She is the president and a director of the Temple of Kwan Tai and the chef for the Temple's annual Chinese New Year's fund-raising dinner. She also works as a docent at the temple twice a month.

She always has seen preserving the temple as keeping the promise that her father made to his mother. She researched and wrote this book as a memorial to the several hundreds of Chinese that used to populate the area.

Meet the author

- Feb. 14, dinner at 6:30 and lecture at 7:30 p.m., Crown Hall, contact lheechorley@sbcglobal.net to make a reservation

- Feb. 19, 6 p.m., lecture and book signing, College of the Redwoods, Room 111

- March 7, 3 p.m., book signing and personal tour of the Temple of Kwan Tai (after the book signing), Gallery Bookshop, 937-BOOK (2665).

Parade, banquet mark Chinese New Year

The bright red and green Temple of Kwan Tai stands out like a beacon among the pale-colored buildings of Mendocino and is a reminder of the large ethnic community of Chinese that once lived in the village. Honoring the contributions of these people the town celebrates Chinese New Year in February with a parade and an evening of oriental delicacies for the Year of the Ox.

School children from up and down the coast arrive to form marching units in the parade with Oriental decoration. From Ukiah and Lansing streets at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 13 they wind through the village until they reach the Temple where they are greeted by the caretakers, given lucky candy and tour the Temple.

Saturday night, Feb. 14 the major yearly fund-raiser for the Temple takes place with a buffet banquet of oriental delicacies. There is a silent auction of items with an Asian theme including quilts, ceramics, glassware, art works and surprises. Music is presented by Jack and Melinda Leung. Seating is limited at Crown Hall and the event is often a sellout so reservations are suggested at 937-5123.

Debuting that night and on sale for the first time will be the new book "Chinese in Mendocino County" written by Lorraine Chorley-Hee. Part of the "Images of America" series by Arcadia Publishing it features more than 200 photos and its sales benefit the Temple.

Buy It Now: Chinese in Mendocino County $21.99

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