Chinese History Project

of the Washington Township Museum of Local History


Image of Alvarado Chinatown, on postcard dated July 15, 1922, from archives of the Washington Township Museum of Local History

A Subcommittee of the Washington Township Museum of Local History

 Our Mission:

To tell the stories of the early Chinese immigrants and citizens who helped build our community from the 1860s and on. 

To find their stories among the history of our railroads, nurseries, wineries, farms, salt and sugar factories, domestic service, and trade and commerce.

To research, preserve, and present the history for exhibits and talks and for school curriculum and field trips for the old towns of the Washington Township, today's cities of Fremont, Union City, and Newark. 

The Chinese Railroad Workers in Alameda County 1869-1870

Four months after the Golden Spike ceremony, work on various sections between Sacramento and Alameda/Oakland were completed. Dr. Victor Wong has been researching the final connection of the railroad to the San Francisco Bay. See his presention in 2023 here. Read A brief tale of three Chinese gangs (1865-1869) and A tale of two junctions: the birthing of Niles, 4 June 1869 to 28 April 1870.

The Chinese History Project at MOCANYC October 17, 2019 

Our final project pre-pandemic was a visit to New Your City. The Chinese History Project was thrilled to be part of the Gathering exhibit at the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City. 

We sent materials that represented our two related projects, the Chinese History Project at the Museum of Local History and the Chinese Bunkhouse Preservation Project at Shinn Park.

As part of the project, MOCANYC partnered with the Tenement Museum on the online exhibit Our Stories Your Stories. Look for the horse collar that Belle wore on the Fong Family farm. Look for the bunkhouse at Shinn Park that was used by the Chinese workers at the Shinn Ranch.

Grant from the CBC

Charles Liu of the CBC (Citizens for Better Community) in June 2019 presented the team with a grant of $2500 to continue our work preserving and presenting the forgotten histories of early Chinese pioneers in the Washington Township. Alvin Minard and Jill Au accept the check. Mike and Meghan Au look on.

Certificate of Recognition Feb. 24, 2019

We received a certificate of recognition from Kanson Chu for organizing the exhibit in our community to showcase the importance of Chinese immigrants in building the Washington Township.

Received February 2019

Events at Shinn Park & Elsewhere

The Chinese History Project has participated at several events at Shinn Park - the Ice Cream Social, the National Night Out, a house and garden tour. We brought our posters and connected with the public.

We also took a train ride through Niles Canyon for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the final portion from Sacramento to Alameda/Oakland. 

The "Chinese Roots" exhibit January 2019

"Chinese Roots: Sketches of life in the Washington Township" opened in January 2019 for 6 weeks at the Fremont Main Library

For hundreds of years, our area has attracted immigrants from all over the world. Records of Chinese immigrants show up in our local archives at least as early as the 1860s. Stories of the early Chinese immigrants are held in many museums, in archives, and in the personal collections of local families.

Our Goals

We hope that other families will be inspired to find ways to share this information with the community - with this museum or elsewhere.

Some of the comments in our Guest Book at the Chinese Roots Exhibit

“So very interesting! Such a joy to live in a place birthed by individuals from all over the world. Grateful that these stories have been preserved.”


“Thank you for sharing these stories. As new immigrant (2002) these stories I look up to when I feel down when I study. Please compile it into ONE BIG WEBSITE SO PEOPLE can add more of their stories and it doesn’t disappear with time/generations. Great Jobs.

‘Wonderful exhibit. It’s great to see the Chinese history of Fremont and the Bay Area. My great uncle was Fred Weibel. He took over the vineyards and shares a part of this history from the Leland Stanford family.   The relationship of the Chinese and Portuguese settlers goes back a long way in California. Together they created wonderful farms by working side by side to develop what became Fremont.  I would love to see more of this original history of native Californians who made our community a beautiful place! God Bless 

“I could imagine also my roots [Philippines] who came to California …similar to the Chinese Roots. They have contributed somehow for the progress of America in many ways which we are enjoying nowadays. I salute them! 

“This is an absolutely beautiful exhibit. Thank you so much for letting me learn more about the history of my home.” 

“Great to see so much history presented here - to honor and inform current residents of Fremont/Union City/Newark about those who came before, and who have been hidden away in family memories and museum archives. Thanks for all the hard work!” 

“Enjoyed the exhibit. Great job by the team that put it together including my sister Betty. Loved the photo of my brother Milton in the airplane. The Patterson Ranch was my birthplace in the late 30’s” 

“Wonderful exhibit! So much history in our “own backyards.” Thank you to all who had a part in the preservation as well as this exhibit.” 

“Loved viewing the photos, reading the stories of Chinese immigrants who contributed immensely to the agricultural history of Alameda County” 

“I very much enjoyed the exhibit. I was not aware of the Chinese presence here in Fremont. It will be shared with my family. Appreciate the thoughtful work that was done to tell this story.” 

“Amazing exhibit. Thanks for putting it together. Should be a permanent exhibit so students can come and have research projects.” 

“History that powerful occurring in my own first-generation hometown feels special to me.”