Pioneer Chinese emigrant, missionary stories told


— Two members of the Fort Walla Walla Museum’s Living History Company will give presentations this weekend.

Galen Tom will portray Charles Tung, who tells a story of emigration to the area on Saturday.

Tung rose above prejudices to become a community leader. He was born in San Francisco and moved to Walla Walla in 1880. Fluent in both English and Chinese, he often translated for local Chinese people.

Walla Walla was similar to many communities in the United States of that era, placing harsh restrictions on its Chinese population. Tung’s accounts are filled with a perspective from those difficult days.

Through his Kwong Chung Sing Company, he imported Chinese silk, porcelain and tea to Walla Walla.

He was secretary-treasurer of the Chinese-operated Pacific Enterprise Corporation that built a two story structure at Fifth Avenue and Rose Street in 1911.

In 1930, Tung departed the United States for China to enroll his daughter in Chinese schools, and did not return until 1939 because of the war there. While in China, he operated a bank in Canton province.

Galen Tom is a fifth-generation Walla Wallan. His grandfather was the last president of the Tong, a local Chinese society. Tom encourages audience participation and questions.

The life of pioneer missionary Cushing Eells will be portrayed by Whitman College religion professor Rogers Miles at 2 p.m. Sunday.

With his wife Myra, Rev. Eells and several other missionaries joined Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and Henry and Eliza Spaulding in their work with the Indian people of the Inland Northwest.

The Eells met when Cushing was teaching school in Massachusetts and it was a requirement of the American Board that its missionaries be married. The day after their wedding, the couple began a six-month journey to the West into what was considered wilderness.

They lived among the Spokane Indians until the Whitman massacre of 1847, when they eventually relocated to the Willamette Valley.

They returned to the Walla Walla area at the close of the Indian Wars and it was their intention to reclaim the old mission grounds at Waiilatpu. While there, Cushing decided to found an educational institution to honor Marcus Whitman, and he received a charter to that end from the territorial legislature the same year.

The first building was completed in 1866 and classes began later that year. In 1883, what was first known as Whitman Seminary became Whitman College, as a result of the constant work, guidance and sacrifices by both of the Eells.

Cushing also helped establish Walla Walla’s First Congregational Church. After a house fire in 1872, the Eells moved to the residence of their son, who was Indian agent at Skokomish on Puget Sound.

The museum, 755 Myra Road., is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

Admission is free to members and children under 6; $3 for children 6-12 years; $6 for seniors and students and $7 for adults. For more information, call 525-7703.


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