Chun Afong -- Hawaii's First Millionaire

On his way to the California Gold Rush, a Chinese man would instead end up in Hawaii--and become Hawaii's first Chinese millionaire.

In 1849, Chun Afong left behind his wife and son in his hometown, Zhongshan (Xiangshan) village in China. He settled in the Kingdom of Hawaii, with about a hundred Chinese, and opened a shop near King Street. In only six years, the Chinese immigrant made a fortune in retailing, real estate, sugar, rice, and opium.

Afong married Julia Fayerweather, a seventeen-year-old granddaughter of a Hawaiian chief, and raised four sons and twelve daughters.

In 1889, Afong would return to China with his younger son Toney, to the village of Meixi. He earned more money through business and funded projects to improve the village. Afong died in 1906, and his family would fight for his fortune in court.

- Alice Kim

Note: Chun Afong's name was also spelled as as Chong Afong, Chun Ah Fong, and Chen Fang.

Articles from Chronicling America

"Capt. Whiting's Choice: Reminiscences Regarding the Ah Fong Family of Honolulu"
The Hawaiian star., April 11, 1893, Image 3

"A Mongol Father: Arrival of Chun Afong's Family"
The morning call., September 21, 1893, Page 7, Image 7

"The Ah Fong Family: Some of Them on their Way to the World's Fair at Chicago"
The Hawaiian star., September 29, 1893, Page 2, Image 2

"Story of the Chinese Croesus of Hawaii"
The San Francisco call., July 31, 1898, Page 23, Image 23

"The Pretty Ah Fong Girls of Honolulu: A Truly Wonderful Story That is Unparalleled Even in the World of Fiction"
The Opelousas courier., April 15, 1899, Image 2

"Arm of Federal Law Impedes Daughter of the Afongs"
The San Francisco call., June 09, 1904, Image 4

"Death of C. Afong: Former Resident of the Islands Dies in China at a Very Advanced Age"
The Hawaiian star., September 27, 1906, SECOND EDITION, Image 1
"Afong Family Is Much Divided"
The San Francisco call., November 21, 1906, Page 4, Image 4

"Mrs. Afong Loses on the Demurrers"
The Hawaiian star., June 10, 1907, SECOND EDITION, Image 1

"Daughter Wins First Point in Afong Suit"
The San Francisco call., June 19, 1907, Page 3, Image 3

"Charge Fraud and Collusion: Paving the Way for Reopening of the Afong Litigation"
The Hawaiian star., September 14, 1907, Page EIGHT, Image 8

"Whose Poker Yarn Is This?"
The Hawaiian star., October 04, 1907, SECOND EDITION, Page THREE, Image 3