RETURN to YEAR 1883
San Francisco Chronicle 7 April 1883
Miss Sarah Burke, a prepossessing looking damsel aged apparently 18 years, arrived here last Tuesday evening from Santa Cruz. Suey,the Chinese laundryman to whom Sarah was betrothed while in Santa Cruz, met her at the ferry landing, affectionately kissed and embraced her, and then entering a closed carriage, the loving couple were driven rapidly away in the direction of Chinatown. Sarah was a domestic in a hotel in Santa Cruz, where she was wooed and won by Suey. Sarah is an orphan without any competent advisers or guardians, but so determined was the opposition of the peoople of Santa Cruz to the union of a Chinese with a Caucasian that Suey and Sarah, the ardor of whose love may be likened to that of Romeo and Juliet, were compelled to leave that moral town and come to this wicked city.
Officer Travers brought to the city prison at 12:30 o'clock this morning a Chinaman on whose arm whose was hanging a pretty young girl of some twenty summers. The couple proved to be no others than Wong Suey Wong and Sarah Burke. The arrest was made at 728 Jackson Street, a house of ill-fame, being the abode of several Celestial courtesans. Here Sarah Burke was found, in one of the upper rooms, in a bed completely hidden by sheets used as curtains. At the police station she said that she had gone to the house on Tuesday last, knowing that it was a house of ill-fame, but not caring, since in a day or two she would be legally married to the choice of her heart, with whom she has been living for the past five months. On being parted from her Chinese lover she squeezed his hand, which he returned with equal fervor. In the Chinaman's pocket was found, besides a receipted bill for a bed and a spring mattress , a photograph of his fair amorata, from which he parted with evident reluctance. He was charged with felony in having lodged a girl under age in a house of ill-fame, while she was booked for residing in a house of prostitution.
To a Chronicle reporter the girl told her story in a way plainly indicating that she was wanting in mental capacity. She said that she was born in Illinois, coming West nine months ago with her father and sisters, all of whom live in Sonoma County. She went to live in Santa Cruz where she was working in the Franklin Hotel. Here she met her "Suey", who for a time boarded at the hotel, and before long she fell in love with the celestial, who, according to her idea, is wanting in no virtue and has no faults. "He loved me and I loved him," she said, "and so I proposed that we live together and marry when we had made plenty of money to go to housekeeping. He accepted my proposal and always worked for me and took great care of me, and we would have been married before had the people up there had not prevented us. So we decided to come down here, and Mr. Gibson told us he'd marry us as soon as we had our license, which we were after getting. If they take him away from me I don't want to get clear either, for I won't leave him. I love him better than any one I ever knew, and I never could love an American as I do him. Why not? Well, because – well, I can't, and he is all I have to take care of me", and her large black eyes filled with tears. "We were going to keep a store or restaurant, and when we had made plenty of money we intended going to China together. He treats me all the same as an American wife- not like a Chinaman at all, and has given me such lots of nice things. Yesterday he bought me this hat. Isn't it pretty? Oh! he is good to me, and I won't be parted from my Suey."
The girl claims to be 20 years of age, though the police discredit the statement. In appearance she is rather pretty, her large black eyes strangely illuminating her somewhat expressionless face. Her figure shows more plainly than her words why she is unable to take care of herself, being with child some five months. Wong Suey Wong has strong Caucasian features, and is by no means a poor specimen of his race.
San Francisco Chronicle 8 April 1883
Sarah Burke, who has unalterably set her mind upon a disgusting marriage with a Chinese laundryman, acknowledged that she had passed a dismally and frigidly cold night in prison on Friday. Wong Suey Wong, her Mongolian fiancée, coincided in this experience. About 11 o'clock yesterday morning some of the pair's Chinese friends obtained the release of the couple on bonds in $100 each. The trial of the woman on the charge of being a resident of a house of ill-fame and the examination of Suey on the charge of felony in enticing her therein, were continued by Police Judge Webb until Wednesday. When the bail bonds were sent down stairs to the prison-keeper Sarah and Suey locked themselves in a warm and fond embrace. Suey was for an immediate marriage, but the sober judgment of friends, and last, but not least, of a disciple of Blackstone and Kent, counseled an arbitration by the Chinese Consul. A hack was ordered and the party set off. A rumor then gained general circulation that a tug had been chartered to go out three marine leagues beyond the Golden Gate, where the nuptial knot was to be tied on the deep blue sea. As a matter of fact the Code was earnestly consulted at the Consulate, and it was fortunately discovered that for decency's sake a marriage between a white and an Indian, mulatto or Mongolian, was prohibited and therefore the County Clerk could issue no marriage license. The couple were driven back to the foul bagnio from which they were arrested on Friday night, and after more mutual protestations of undying love decided to rent a room somewhere, and at the same time consult some one skilled in the law, who would find in it some convenient loophole allowing them to marry. The skilled one found two in a moment, one under Section 75 of the Civil Code, admitting a marriage by the signing of a civil contract, and the other by Section 79, allowing a marriage by a minister without a license where both parties, as in this instance, have been cohabiting. As the couple had not at a late hour yesterday afternoon found a minister who would marry them, the probability is that they will take advantage of the process allowed them in the first section named.
Daily Alta California, Volume 35, Number 12037, 8 April 1883
Consul Bee suggested a solution for Sarah Burke, a white woman and Wong Suey Won, a Chinese man, who wanted to get married.
April 12, 1883 Daily Alta California
Sarah Burke arrested.
San Francisco Bulletin 12 April 1883
Sarah Isabella Burke, the wayward Santa Cruz domestic, who became infatuated with the manager of seaside wash house named Wong Suey, and followed him to this city with the intention of marrying him, was before the Commissioners of Insanity yesterday morning. She had been arraigned on the complaint of her father, Winifred Burke, who deemed the fact of her infatuation for a repulsive Chinese sufficient grounds for believing that she had lost her reason.
The father was present at the examination, as was a large crowd of spectators and City Hall clerks. The father testified that his daughter had always been possessed of ordinary common sense until about the first of last January, when she conceived her unhallowed desire to wed Wong Suey, since which she had acted as though possessed of the Infernal One. He had never had any reason to doubt that she was a chaste and moral girl until now. Sarah Isabella was also examined. She again reiterated her love for Wong Sue, and desires to marry him. During the examination of other witnesses Wong put in an appearance in the room to the great interest, of the spectators. Sarah at once fell into his arms and the two began an osculatory exhibition of the most violent description. The process was no sooner commenced than a stalwart policeman grabbed Wong by the nape of the neck and small of the back, and hurled him into the hallway adjoining the Commission. During the rest of the examination Wong stood outside, wistfully looking at the entrance of the lower corridor.
The Commissioners, however, concluded that they could not commit the girl as insane. She was evidently suffering from a moral eclipse, but her mental trouble did not, in their opinion, come within the meaning of the law. A report to that effect was made to Judge Finn, who had been asked to conduct this examination, and thereupon she was discharged. Judge Finn said that perhaps the girl could be found to be incompetent, and that any rate he would entertain a motion to appoint a guardian for her, at the proper time.
Sarah joined Wong and her father outside, and followed by a large crowd, the trio left City Hall.
Daily Colonist 11 April 1883
Article in British Columbia newspaper
Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 17, Number 48, 18 April 1883
Sarah Burke was married by Reverend Vrooman.
Daniel Vrooman was a missionary. Civil code allowed a man and woman who had been living together to be married.
Civil code - marriage
Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 17, Number 48, 18 April 1883
Charges dismissed against Sarah Burke
Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 17, Number 58, 30 April 1883
Sarah Burke sailed for China with lover.
Fresno Weekly Republican 1 July 1887
Sarah Burke, the white woman who married Wong Lee in San Francisco five years ago, is living in Los Angeles with her husband and child. They occupy squalid quarters in Nigger alley.
Information about Nigger Alley
San Francisco Examiner 25 August 1889
Sarah Burke, the Santa Cruz servant who ran off with a Chinese domestic and married after their arrival, is living on Clay Street, near Stockton. Her husband has gone to Seattle, where he is employed on the railroad.
Los Angeles Herald, Volume 39, Number 54, 4 December 1892
White women who married Chinese men
Sarah Burke in Racial Frontiers: Africans, Chinese, and Mexicans in Western America, 1848-1890
A good article about servant girls, female employment and the Anti-Chinese movement:
Publication Information: Article Title: Working on White Womanhood: White Working Women in the San Francisco Anti-Chinese Movement, 1877-1890. Contributors: Martha Mabie Gardner - author. Journal Title: Journal of Social History. Volume: 33. Issue: 1. Publication Year: 1999. Page Number: 73. COPYRIGHT 1999 Journal of Social History; COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group
Daily Alta California, Volume 42, Number 14354, 23 December 1888
Another white woman and Chinese man married.