The AACP Newsletter
Since 1970 Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages March 2004
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At a Glance

Lemm Ranch Murders In Chico California Remembered
Another look at an 1877 murder of four Chinese American workers.

Historical Retelling of the Lemm Ranch Murders
An article written by a near eyewitness to the Lemm ranch murder.

A Simple Child Custody Case?
An editorial on the He vs. Baker custody case.

He vs. Baker
A look at the details to the He vs. Baker case where the He family is trying to regain custody of their daughter.

Lemm Ranch Murders In Chico California Remembered
By Leonard Chan
This March 13th marks the 127th anniversary of the Lemm Ranch murders in Chico, California. On that day in 1877, four Chinese Americans were murdered merely for being Chinese and for working for a Caucasian landowner. (Read the historical account for more details)

In comparison to all the terrible crimes that we hear about everyday in the news, this may not seem like such a big deal. However, if you were to do a simple Google search on the Internet on Asian American history, you'll soon discover this event listed on several websites as being a noteworthy date in history. Clearly, this was much more than the murder of four innocent men. The incident was significant for it indicated the mood of the times.

Just as Vincent Chin's murder in 1982 will forever mark the economic doldrums and Japan bashing mood of the

late 70s and early 80s, so too the Lemm murders attest to the mood of its time.

The post-Civil War period was a time of economic and political turbulence. During this period, the Chinese in America became easy targets and scapegoats for many of the ills of that era. Five years after the Lemm murders, the anti-Chinese sentiments would culminate with the harshest immigration policy enacted up to that time - The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

A Small Editorial Postscript
Every rough era seems to have scapegoats. Whether it's the Chinese in the 1870s, the Japanese in the 1940s, the communists in the 1950s, or Muslims in the 2000s. Just because it isn't you or your group being persecuted this time doesn't mean you can look away. The enemy may not just exist elsewhere, but within our own hearts. Try not to give in to anger and hate.

Historical Retelling
of the Lemm Ranch Murders

An actual account by Sim Moak
The last of the Mill Creeks,
and early life in northern California
The anti-Chinese racial hatred in Chico in 1877 was the cause of a great deal of trouble…

They had torch light parades, and on some of the banners carried by the men were printed, "Send the Yellow Devils Away." "Down with the Chinese ." "The Chinese Must Go."

The greatest sight of all was quite a number of women wheeling their babies in baby buggies through the streets, nearly every baby had a banner in it's hand. One read, "We will have to stop having these unless the Chinese go."

The feeling against the Chinese had become so bitter it finally ended in murder. My wife's uncle, Chris Lemm had a piece of land he wanted cleared and he made a contract with the Chinese to clear it. The land was on Big Chico Creek about two miles east of Chico and extended to the main road leading to the mountains.

On the thirteenth of March, 1877, after their day's work was over and they had had supper they lay down on their bunks which were in a row. About nine o'clock five men and a boy came to the Chinese camp. They pulled their revolvers and ordered the Chinese to sit on the foot of their bunks, which were about one foot off the ground. Two of the men searched the camp and got a few dollars, then they placed themselves each in front of a Chinaman and at the word fired. One did not fire as quickly as the others and the Chinaman who was to be shot threw up his hands and the bullet just grazed his arm. This Chinaman fell back on his bunk and made believe he was dead. After firing the fiends poured coal oil on the blankets which they took from the beds and put in a pile and set fire to them and then hurried away. The Chinaman, who was wounded, threw a blanket over the fire and extinguished it. Then he ran to the Lemm home. My wife was there and she said he struck the porch with a bound and banged on the door, waking all in the house. Mr. Lemm got up and unlocked the door, the Chinaman rushed in and fell down on the floor and said, "White man come. Poo', poo' Chinaman, all sleep, sleep."

Mr. Lemm and the men on the place were going to find out what the trouble was but his wife and mine would not let them. The Chinaman then left and went to Chico and gave the alarm.

The next morning after the murder I was going to Chico and met a great many wagons and people on horseback going in the direction of the Lemm ranch. Finally I met Henry Mansfield, the Marshal of Chico. I asked him where all the people were going. He said, "Why don't you know, some fiends murdered those innocent Chinese on the Lemm ranch." I turned and went back with him. When we got to the camp, it was a horrible sight. The first Chinaman we saw was lying partly across the door, dead, with his brains oozing out. We had to step over him to get in. The next two lay on their bunks dead, the fourth had been shot in his head and his brains were oozing out and he lay moaning. He died while the inquest was being held. The fifth Chinaman we found across the slough under a buckeye bush. He was shot in the breast, the bullet ranging downward and lodging in his back. He had a jack knife and had cut seven gashes trying to cut the bullet out. Dr. Watts took the bullet out. I afterwards heard that the Chinese doctor of Chico cured him. The names of the victims were: Ah Lee, Ah Gow, Shu In and Ah Quen.

H. T. A. Smiser was foreman of the jury. The people of Chico and vicinity could not imagine who the perpetrators of the crime could be, so, Bidwell hired a young man by the name of Radcliffe to watch the postoffice and when a letter was dropped in the box he would take it and compare the signature to the threatening letters received by the citizens. On the second day a letter was dropped and in the same hand-writing as the letter he held. He went out and saw the man who had dropped it, and followed him down to the Slaughter home. Those Slaughters were not related to the Reverend Slaughter. When he saw the man go in the house he hurried back to town and notified the officers. They went as quickly as possible and found H. C. Wright, John and Charles Slaughter, who they arrested. In the meantime there had been quite a number of arrests made of men who did not have a very good character. The first three confessed and implicated the others, who had burned Bidwell's soap factory and murdered the Chinese. They were T. E. Conway, Eugene Roberts, H. T. Jones, Adam Holderbaum, J. Mahony and Thomas Steinbrook. S. L. Daniels was sheriff, he got Conway's confession after he had been in jail two days. They were tried and five were found guilty of arson and four of murder. Their sentences were from five to twenty-five years and this ended the reign of terror in Chico.

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
Mar. 13-14 Reading the World VI USF
2130 Fulton St.
March 27 ShinenKai Northern California JA Senior Centers Alameda Buddhist Temple
Union City, CA
April 7-9 APAHE Conference 2004 Radisson Miyako Hotel
Other Events of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
Mar. 4-21 22st San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, CA
Mar. 20-22 Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development New Orleans, LA
Mar. 24-28 Association for Asian American Studies National Conference Boston, MA
April 24 Manzanar Grand Opening and Pilgrimage Manzanar National Historic Site
Independence, CA
May 2 Nikkei Matsuri Arts and Crafts Festival San Jose, CA
May 13 ADI's Asian Diversity Career Expo 2004 Madison Square Garden
May 22-24 NAAPAE 26th Annual Conference Loews Hotel
Philadelphia, PA

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

Editor's Message

Hello everyone. I'm writing this from the University of San Francisco where the Reading the World Conference is being held. There are a bunch of authors floating around the area. I met Eric Chock (editor and writer with the publisher
Bamboo Ridge Press), Anthony Robles (writer of Lakas and the Manilatown Fish), Debbie Yamada (writer of Striking It Rich: Treasures from Gold Mountain), Milly Lee (writer of Earthquake and Nim and the War Effort), Stanley Terasaki (writer of Ghosts for Breakfast), and Philip Lee (founder and editor of the publisher Lee and Low Books). If you are an educator or librarian with interests in multi-cultural education, this is probably one of the best events of its kind in Northern California. Take note and make your plans to go next year.

On to My Usual Business
Thank you to all the new subscribers. We appreciate your interest in what we do and we hope you enjoy our newsletter. To you and all readers, feel free to write to us and give us feedback, reviews, suggestions, articles, and editorials.

A cautionary note to everyone - there are lots of computer viruses being passed around right now. If you get a suspicious email supposedly from me that has an attachment and you are not expecting an email with attachment from me, please do not open it. This is probably good advice for all email that you receive.

Also, if you at some point stop receiving our newsletter for multiple months in a row, you may have filtering software that screens out our emails being sent to you. You can check to see if you received the latest newsletter by going to our website archive newslet.htm. If there is a newsletter that you did not receive that is posted on this page, then you may have this filtering problem. Please inform me to the problem and we will try to work something out.

Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

A Simple Child Custody Case?
An Editorial by Leonard Chan and Philip Chin

A court case being heard in Memphis, Tennessee pits American parents against Chinese parents and highlights a possible clash of national values. Shaoqiang 'Jack' and Qin Luo 'Casey' He have been fighting Jerry Baker, a mortgage broker, and Louise Baker, a part-time Sunday school teacher, for custody of their child, Anna Mae He, for the past five years. (Read He vs. Baker for details)

Barring any imminent danger to the child and because both parties knew that the arrangement was temporary, this should be a clear case where the natural parents should gain custody of the child.

What I find offensive with this case is the Baker's stance that Anna Mae He would be treated poorly if she were to return to China with her parents because she is female. The implication is culturally bigoted. Although my knowledge of China and Chinese culture and life is limited, I find the Baker's position to be a stereotype of a whole country of over a billion people. Just as you will find both the stereotypical short person and people of Yao Ming's size (7'5") in China, I am sure that China is not a completely misogynistic society as portrayed in the Western media.

How can China be painted with such a broad condemning brush by anyone here when considering the fact that women were treated as property for a large portion of our American history? While other countries around the world have had women heads of state, the odds of electing a woman president in this country still seems a very remote possibility. Even Pakistan has had a woman leader. And what about our Congress? A handful of women senators out of one hundred? It's not even close to representative of our population where women outnumber the men.

If custody rights were based on who had superior culture, what is the measuring stick by which we use to say which is better? If custody rights were based on how wealthy the parents are, wouldn't all poor families be in trouble of losing their children?

Some Americans seem to presume our way of life is so far superior to others that it trumps the basic logic that a child should be raised by their natural parents. Using the Baker's arguments one could argue that every African American child in the US should be raised by white parents simply based on the statistically greater possibility that African Americans are more likely to live in poverty or be in jail than whites. Imagine the same arguments being used to say that Asians should raise white children. Aren't these positions just as much utter nonsense no matter what race or group uses them?

He vs. Baker
By Philip Chin

According to both parties and signed legal documents presented in court, the custody arrangement was a temporary situation. Anna Mae was born prematurely, in 1998, at a time that Jack and Casey He were in difficult financial circumstances and couldn't afford the medical treatment that she needed. Jack had been studying and working at the University of Tennessee as a graduate assistant when he was accused of sexual harassment, a case that eventually ended with him being found not guilty. As a result of the accusation, he lost his job and had his academic stipend cancelled. The INS also started deportation procedures against him because he no longer qualified to hold a student visa. Through the assistance of Mid-South Christian Services, a private adoption agency, the He's found a wealthy couple, the Bakers, to agree to take custody of the baby and add her onto their insurance for medical care.

Employees at the agency, the court employees, and a Chinese language translator testified later that no one explained the complex nature of the agreement to the He's. The couple also weren't advised to hire a lawyer. According to the Baker's, there was a separate verbal agreement at that time to grant them permanent custody, a contention that the He's absolutely deny. As Mrs. He said, "Why would we visit our daughter every week if we wanted to give her away?"

Soon after Anna Mae's first birthday the He's formally asked for the return of their baby. Under Tennessee law, returning the child to the He's required the consent of both a judge and the Bakers. Although both parents were now working in Chinese restaurants, their request was turned down by a court on the ground that they were financially unstable and the then pending sexual assault case.

Tensions increased to the point where the Baker's refused to allow Anna Mae to leave the house with her parents on her second birthday to take a family portrait. The Baker's called the police, who warned the He's to stay away from the Baker home. Fearful of more trouble with the law, the He's ended their weekly visits with Anna Mae. Under Tennessee law, failure to visit children for four months constitutes abandonment, an ingredient in terminating parental rights.

Lawyers for the He's argue that the Baker's intended to keep Anna Mae all along. They point to a journal kept by Mrs. Baker titled, "Visits from Jack and Casey." Mrs. Baker documented mounting distress over the bonding of mother and child and frustration as the birth parents demanded more time with their daughter. "We would like to get visits to every other week," she wrote when Anna Mae was 8 months old. "We feel like they would wean away, but the last two visits we could see Casey is wanting to come more."

In their case to terminate the Hes' parental rights, the Bakers depict Mr. He as untrustworthy and his wife as prone to hysterics. Mrs. He once picketed the Bakers' home, and on another occasion, they say, tried to take Anna Mae away during a chance encounter at Wal-Mart. "To me, if Casey truly loved her daughter, she would leave her with us," Mrs. Baker said. She added that a life in China, where female babies are sometimes deemed inferior to males, would be a hardship. The Bakers also argue that the He's failed to provide child support or to visit Anna Mae and that being separated from their own four children would be too traumatic. They have also said that the He's are deliberately prolonging the legal process to forestall deportation back to China.

The He's argue that their daughter was "kidnapped by white Christians" using their wealth and the courts to their own advantage. They also point to the two children born to them subsequently and the fact that no complaints have been raised about their parenting skills by anyone.

The He's haven't seen Anna Mae since 2002 when the Baker's obtained a court order preventing them from doing so. Mr. He says "If we do not have a reunification, I'm afraid our daughter will grow up thinking we abandoned her," he said. "I think that is worse than anything else."

Final arguments in the case are due on March 22nd. The Chinese community and the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC are closely following this case.


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end April 12, 2004

Nisei Voices
Japanese American Students of the 1930s - Then & Now

Edited by Joyce Hirohata and Paul T. Hirohata
2004, 262 pages, paperback.

Nisei Voices documents and celebrates the lives of the first Japanese American valedictorians of California public schools in the 1930s...

In the 1930s Paul T. Hirohata first published the valedictorians' speeches in a book called Orations and Essays. Seventy years later, Hirohata's granddaughter, Joyce Hirohata, has updated and expanded her grandfather's work. In this new edition, she documents the valedictorians' lives and adds a collection of poignant photographs to the original 1930s material.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3197, Price $24.95

Cooper's Lesson

By Sun Yung Shin
Illustrated by Kim Cogan
2004, 31 pages, hardback,
written in English ahd Korean.

Cooper's Lesson is an engaging story of how a young biracial Korean American boy learns from the local grocer to like his Korean cultural roots. This is another marvelous book from Children's Book Press.

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ORDER -- Item #3209, Price $16.95

The Tao of Yao
Insights from Basketball's Brightest Big Man

By Oliver Chin
2004, 256 pages, paperback.

"Oliver Chin uses the modern phenomenon of Yao Ming to illustrate the ancient wisdom of Taoism and Sun Tzu's The Art of War. By deftly bridging the cultures of East and West, by drawing inspiration from sports heroes, warriors, and philosophers over thousands of years of history, The Tao of Yao transcends both time and space, highlighting universal principles of leadership essential to victory."
Iris Chang, the New York Times bestselling author of The Rape of Nanking and The Chinese in America: A Narrative History

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3203, Price $13.95

Sumi's First Day of School Ever

By Soyung Pak
Illustrated by Joung Un Kim
2003, 32 pages, hardback.

Sumi's First Day of School Ever is a charming book about a Korean American girl named Sumi and her first day of school. Learn how she overcomes her initial issues of not knowing how to speak English, looking different, and just being the new kid in class.

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ORDER -- Item #3201, Price $15.99

Dream Jungle

By Jessica Hagedorn
2003, 325 pages, hardback.

Dream Jungle is a story of a tumultuous country in crisis that evokes the desperate beauty and the rank corruption of the Philippines from the height of the Marcos era in the mid-1970s to the end of the twentieth century. Like the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it explores the many sides of culture, identity, and class through the eyes of larger-than-life characters with diverse yet equally compelling voices.

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ORDER -- Item #3208, Price $23.95

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