Saiboat on the San Francisco Bay as seen from the California Palace of the Legion of Honor
Lincoln Park Golf Course as seen from the California Palace of the Legion of Honor
Entry in Log Book of Presbyterian Occidental Board Mission Home
September 12, 1882
At 10 oclock this (Tuesday) night came to the Home Dr. Loomis accompanied from the Mission House Cor Stockton and Sacramento Sts, where she had first applied for help. Ah Yute says she is 15 yrs old, and is owned by a Chinese Pawn broker, named Cheng Gooie Leng at 765 Dupont St. She was pale and trembling, and seemed to be in great fear, said she had received a beating. Ah Yutes history as related by herself is that when she was 10 years of age her mother sold her to a Chinese woman from California, her mother was a widow and very poor. The woman who bot her sent her to California by a man named Ah Ti and wife Tai So. After a time Ah Ti and Tai So were going to return to China, and they placed mein the care of Lee Bong Mun, a Chinese boarding house keeper. When Lee Bong Mun went to China, he sold Ah Yute to Cheng Gooie Leng for $300, perhaps more. Ah Yute further states that about two months ago, Cheng G. L. wished to take her for a wife, or as the Chinese term it, half wife, and half a servant, and punished her to compel her obedience to his wishes. Cheng G. Leng desires Ah Yute to return to him, which she refuses to do.
Nov 18, 1882 Was served with a writ to bring Ah Yute to the Law Library Sat evening at half past seven oclock. I went without her, and was then ordered by the Judge to place her in the custody of the Chinese Consul Genl till Tuesday the 21st, when her case was to heard in court. Taylor, att for the Pawn broker was in a half drunken state, and very abusive, because I did not bring Ah Yute to the Law Library
Nov 21st Went to court, case postponed till Tuesday 28th
Nov 28th Took Ah Yute to court. Judge Barstow our Att, a number of the ladies of the society were present in court Mrs. Barstoro, Dickey, Henshelwood, Makensie, Michell and Street from the Home Ah Tsun, Ah Moie and Tai Choie. Ah Yute was not produced in court, and the Judge issued an order to have her returned to the Home. In company with Mr. Hunter I went to the Consuls and brot Ah Yute to the Home again, much to her delight Case continued till Dec 1st 11 a.m.
Dec 1st Went to court with Ah Yute. The pawn broker did not appear, but was represented by a friend, who stated that he would abandon the case. Ah Yute sent back to Home.
Dec 13th Letters of guardianship granted me today, in case of Ah Yute.
May 9th, 1886 Ah Yute died of consumption, Sabbath afternoon at 8 o’clock. She had been sick for nearly 9 months.
May 10th Funeral of Ah Yute at 1:30 P.M. conducted by Rev Dr. Loomis and Rev A. J. Kerr.
Ah Yute was laid to rest in the Chinese Christian Cemetery
San Francisco Chronicle
November 29, 1882
Disputed Possession: A Legal Quarrel over the Custody of a Chinese
Judge Halsey was called upon yesterday afternoon to determine the question as to who is the proper custodian of Ah Good, a Chinese girl 13, years old. The hearing was based on a writ of habeas corpus issued upon the petition of Chang Goy. Lang, who represented that he was the rightful custodian of the girl by virtue of her father, Pong Buc, having placed her in his care five years ago. It seems that the girl left Lang’s protection, and sought admission to the Chinese Women’s Mission Home, where she was taken care of by Miss Maggie Culbertson, the matron of the institution. When the case was part heard last Friday, Judge Halsey ordered the girl removed to the custody of Colonel Bee temporarily, to be produced in Court at the hearing yesterday afternoon.
Colonel Bee Delinquent
The order was not obeyed, as far as producing the child was concerned, and after a wordy crossfire F. F. Taylor, counsel for the petitioner, succeeded in getting the case postponed until Friday. Immediately after the postponement George Barstow, counsel for Miss Culbertson, asked the Court for an order remanding the custody of the child to his client. Mr. Taylor objected to the issuance of the order, and Mr. Barstow indignantly informed the Court that there was a deep-laid purpose in the non-attendance of the child.
The Court directed the order to issue as prayed for by Mr. Barstow, whereupon Mr. Taylor desired to argue the matter, but the Court remained obdurate, and announced that the ruling had been made, and would not be changed under any consideration.
Deaf to all Argument
“Well,”said Mr. Taylor, persistently, “will your Honor hear any argument?”
“No,” replied the Court. “I have made my ruling.”
“Well, will your Honor hear anything about it?” next asked Mr. Taylor.
“No,” emphatically replied the Court.
“You can argue, but it shall not change my ruling.”
With this the order was issued and the matter disposed of until Friday morning at 11 o’clock.
The Story of Ah Yute
Eleventh Annual Report
Occidental Board Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society
Our “Home” duties have differed but little materially from those of preceding years, except that they have been lightened by the aid of our assistant teacher, Miss Honn, who has relieved us of the care of the school, conducting it with marked ability and advancing her pupils in their studies. It is a pleasure to witness the developing of intellect of those young girls. Take the case of Ah Yute, who eighteen months ago chose a life of freedom rather than remain the chattel of a Washington street pawnbroker. You will all remember how ably our friend, the late Judge Barstow, plead her cause when the pawnbroker put in a claim based on the plea of unlawful detention, and by his earnest appeal for justice and humanity, gained the cause for us, even when it seemed that all odds were against us. How vividly we recall the morning we met Mr. Hunter, and with what a sinking heart we listened as he said, “I fear we shall lose the case. We have only this child’s testimony against a long list of names offered by the plaintiff as evidence of his good standing and right to proprietorship.” We came home weary and disheartened, well knowing the fate that awaited the child should the pawnbroker be victorious. In our perplexity there seemed to be repeated these words: “And having done all to stand.” Taking up the Bible, it opened, seemingly by accident, to the 71st psalm. We read it over and almost instantly the cloud that overshadowed us was gone; a mountain had been lifted. Ah Yute had meantime, by an order of the Court, been placed in the family of the Chinese Vice-Consul. The following day we went to Court accompanied by a large delegation of the ladies of our “Occidental Board”. The case was again heard, the verdict rendered in our favor, the Court giving Mr. Hunter an order to place the child again in the “Home” and gave us letters of guardianship. Ah Yute is making good progress in learning to read, write and speak English, and at family worship joins with us in reading the lesson for the day. We have the guardianship of eleven of these young girls.
Fourteenth Annual Report
Occidental Board Women’s Foreign Missionary Society
We give a brief sketch of her life:
On the night of September 13, 1882, Ah Yute, a Chinese girl fifteen years old, sought the protection of our Mission Home. Pale and trembling with fear she stated that her master, a Chinese pawnbroker, was very cruel to her, and on that night had given her a severe beating. Ah Yute’s story briefly told, is this:
When about ten years old, a Chinese woman living in California returned to China. Ah Yute’s mother was a poor widow and sold her child to this woman, and she was soon after brought to California. After passing through several different hands she finally became the property of the pawnbroker for consideration of $300.
As soon as her flight was discovered and her whereabouts known, her owner began to make overtures for her return, going to Oakland to see our President, Mrs. Browne, and sending a suit of silk clothes. Failing to accomplish his purpose in this way, he sought an interview with our Occidental Society at a monthly meeting. He was accompanied by Col. Bee and a number of his Chinese friends. Well do we recall the events of that day. On one side were the ladies of the society, on the other the pawnbroker, dressed in silken robes, surrounded by his friends. There was a hush as Ah Yute, pale and shrinking, was brought into the room. Her late master, bland and serene, proposed that she return home with him, promising kind treatment in the future. This proposition she resolutely declined. We also recall Mrs. Barstow’s words,”If that girl elects to become an American citizen, that privilege should be accorded her, and there is no law in the land to compel her to a life of servitude.”
Disappointed and displeased he left the Home, and what he had failed to accomplish by persuasion, he resolved to do by the force of law, and through his attorney summoned us to appear at the Law Library one Saturday night, with Ah Yute, whom we were said to be holding as a prisoner. Accompanied by Mr. Kerr, we went to the Library, leaving Ah Yute in the Home. The pawnbroker with his friends (one of whom as an ex-Jesuit priest), and his drunken attorney were there. When they learned that Ah Yute was not present, their rage knew no bounds, and the attorney poured on us a storm of invectives, for what he termed our contempt of court. After a time we succeeded in convincing the Judge that we meant no disrespect to him or the law, but the summons at such an unseasonable time and hour, had been pretty hastily read without fully comprehending its meaning. The Judge bade us go home and place the girl in the care of the Chinese Consul-General, till the case was called in court. Almost by force we took there there, for she cried bitterly and refused to stay alone. As there were no ladies in the Consul-General’s house, the Vice Consul was sent for, and it was proposed that she be taken to his home across the street. A number of families with children were living here, and while the children were talking with her we quietly left the house. When she learned that we had gone she threw herself upon the floor, wringing her hands and weeping long and bitterly. The next morning when we went to church, she stood at the window, the picture of despair, begging to go with us. The Tuesday following we went to the court but Ah Yute was not brought there, and the case was continued for another week. In the meantime the pawnbroker was sending presents of clothing to her, and getting American and Chinese to testify to his good character. One day a list with hundreds of name was brought us, with the hope no doubt, that so formidable a document would cause us to abandon the contest, but this only strengthened our resolve to put forth greater effort to save her, if possible. We went to Mr. Hunter, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who had made for us an application for guardianship. He said: “I fear we shall lose the case. You have only this girl’s testimony against hundreds of witnesses for the pawnbroker.” These words seemed like a death knell to our hopes. Weary and disheartened we came home and sat down to think what we should do next, when it seemed as though a voice said “and having done all, to stand.” The Bible lay upon the table, and as we took it up, it opened to the 71st Psalm and these words were read: “In thee, O Lord, do I trust let me never be put to confusion, deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape, incline thy ear unto me and save me. Deliver me, O God, out of the hand of the wicked, and out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For thou art my hope, O God. “ From that moment a great burden seemed lifted, and a light seemed to break through the clouds as the clear shining of the sun after rain. We felt that if God were for us, all the powers of the adversary could not prevail against us. The 28th came, and we went again to court. The late Judge Barstow was our advocate. By his advice we invited all the ladies of our Occidental Society to be there too. “Let them see,” said Judge B—“ that your cause is supported by the best ladies in the land. All these things will have an influence.” From the Home we took Ah Tsun, Ti Choie, and Ah Moie as specimens of those who had been rescued from bondage. At 2 o’clock the case was called. Neither the pawnbroker nor Ah Yute were there, but only his attorney, who was still half intoxicated, asking for a continuance of the case. Judge Barstow at once arose to his feet, requesting for an order to remand Ah Yute to our care, saying “there was no doubt in his mind, that there was a deep laid purpose in the non-appearance of the child.” All who were there will recall the earnestness with which he argued the case so effectively as to move the court to grant his prayer. With Mr. Hunter we brought Ah Yute again to the Home, to remain till Friday when there was to be another hearing of the case. On that day we were promptly in court again, but strange to say, the pawnbroker was absent, his attorney and a Chinese friend representing him instead, saying that he would abandon the case, if we would do the same. Letters of guardianship were then granted us, and Ah Yute happy at being set free, came to the Home again. What at the beginning of the contest, may have seemed like our contempt of court in not taking her to the Law Library seems now to have been the intervention of Providence, for had she gone there that night of the 18th of November, she might never have returned to the Home again.
Ah Yute was of a quiet and reserving nature. She always wore a sad face, and often seemed oblivious to what was passing about her. Miss Greene, her teacher, won her by way to her heart, by telling her that “She wanted to do her good and to love every girl that would let herself be loved.” This seemed to unlock the door of her affections.
Nearly four months before her death she manifested symptoms of disease. Our family physician was at one called, and after an examination pronounced it lung difficulty, he gave no encouragement that she ever would be well again. Her delicate constitution was not able long to withstand the inroads of the fell destroyer, consumption. She had expressed a wish to be baptized, but was too feeble to go to the church at the last communion when four of her companions were received to the church membership. On the following Sabbath, Dr. Loomis, Mr. Kerr, and the Elders of the church with other Christian friends, came to the Home. Ah Yute was placed in an easy chair, and taken to the parlor, where she publicly professed her faith in Christ. It was a solemn and touching scene, for we well know that before another communion season arrived, she would have gone to be with the Savior she now for the first time publicly professed. Day by day she failed in health, till on Sabbath morning the 9th of May, we saw th that the Death Angel was near. She was resting and in great pain, and to give her relief we had carried her to another bed. Soon a sinking spell came on, and she said, “I shall die.” Bending over her, we said, “Yes, Ah Yute, we think that you are soon to go to your Father’s house in heaven. Can you think about Him and ask Him if it is His will to take you now?” With an inclination of the head she made us understand that she could. We had been afraid that when the hour of death drew near, the heathen superstitious fear of death might overcome the girls, and cause them to leave the room, but happily it did not. With tearful eyes they gathered around and sang her favorite hymns, “Have you any room for Jesus,” and “Saviour more than life to me.” While we sang she fell into an easy slumber. Miss Greene watched beside her while the family went to church. When we returned she had awakened, and was able to talk with Ah Yane, to whom she expressed sorrow for all of the care she had occasioned her teachers and friends during her illness, and for a moment expressed a fear that God might not accept her. Ah Yane assured her that if she was truly sorry for her sins, and asked Him to forgive them, He surely would, for he had promised this. “Oh if He would only come and take me now, I want to go to Him.” Soon her prayer was answered.
At 3 o’clock, about the same hour when three weeks before she had received the elements of His “broken body and shed blood,” her freed spirit took its flight, as we believe to that “city that hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the Lamb is the light thereof.” Two of her companions prepared her for burial. The funeral services took place the next afternoon. Kind friends brought beautiful flowers and placed them upon her casket. The services were conducted her pastors, Dr. Loomis and Mr. Kerr, being very simple and impressive. Four Christian Chinamen bore her to the waiting hearse. In the Christian Chinese cemetery, out beside the Golden Gate, we laid her to rest, covering the little mound with the wreaths and crosses that had adorned the casket. As we stood beside the grave, a vista of the sea met our eye, one white sail floating calmly upon its bosom, fitting emblem of the soul at rest “after life’s fitful fever is over.”
There is much that we went through in the effort to save her which cannot be portrayed with pen and ink, but which we count as naught, at joy in the thought that she is now of “that great redeemed throng which no man can number.” Ah Yute was supported by Mrs. Capt. Ainsworth of Oakland.
Thank you to the San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California
From the July 12, 1887 San Francisco Chronicle, page 11
"The Christian Chinese have quite a large plot, in which a number of Japanese are also buried. The inscription on the headstones all state that the deceased died in the Christian belief.
Near that of the Christian Chinese is the plot of the Improved Order of the Red Men, in which few graves are found."