Earliest known photo of Albert, aged about 5, taken most likely by Quon Mane (Arrival Case File 10410/060-56, Quan Hong Toy, RG85, NARA San Bruno)
Albert was the middle of three brothers, who all came to the US. Following in the footsteps of their father, four uncles and other male relatives, they were the second generation in their branch of Quons to do so.
Their youngest sibling, a sister, remained in China, and many family members are not even aware that Frank, Albert and Nathan had a sister. Daughters' names were not included in the family tree (although wives' surnames were), so we know her given name only as written in US immigration records: Ho Lee or How Lee. She died relatively young of leukemia or some other illness. But Albert was always grateful that she looked after their mother during wartime, and later made sure this sister's daughter and her family were able to emigrate to the US.
Only known photo of sister Ho/How Lee
The brothers were spaced out in age--no doubt in great part because of their father's infrequent visits from the US back to China, which was very typical.
Although they each made the journey from China to the US, given their age gaps and differences in age of emigration, they had separate and different childhood experiences.
Frank, b. 1895, to US in 1907 at age of 12
Albert, b. 1901, to US in 1910 at age of 9
Nathan, b. 1908 or 1909, to US in 1920s? around age of 15
James (far left), Frank (2nd from left), and Albert (2nd from right) with two other unknown cousins. Photo taken by Quon Mane with his own Kodak camera, c. 1906
Frank, for example, traveled to the US with Uncle Quon Mane and an older cousin James, who was presented to the US immigration authorities as Frank's older brother.
Albert traveled with his father. Seeing the following photo from a few years after his arrival, I cannot help but imagine that my Gung Gung treasured every moment aboard ship, with his father all to himself. I imagine him endlessly peppering his father with questions about life ahead in the US.
Albert, Frank and their father Quon Leon, c. 1912
Their father died when Nathan was at most 7. He would have known their father the least. By the time it was his turn to go to the US, without a father with merchant status to vouch for him, Nathan could only have entered the US with a purchased identity as someone else's son (ie, as a so-called "paper son"). The details of that journey remain unclear.
Earliest known photo of the three brothers together, c. 1925. From left: Nathan, Frank and Albert
Annotated Tree Page
The Quon tree was published in 1910 about a year after Nathan was born, so all three brothers were included (see lower left corner). By contrast, Uncle Quon Mane's second son King, who was born in 1911 or 1912, was not included, but had his name written in by hand.
Also note that the names used in the middle row for Albert's father and four uncles are formal "marriage" names, not their familiar names, e.g., Quon Leon, Quon Mane, Quon Tong, etc. which are mainly used on this site.
Father: Quon Leon
Albert's father Quon Leon was the youngest of five brothers, who all went to the US.
Note: Leon is a romanization for 良, which would more commonly be written "Leung" today. It is not the English name Leon.
c. 1893, age 27
(both images Chinese Partnership File 13546-5, Quon Mane Co, RG85, NARA San Bruno)
Quon Leon is believed to have gone to the US in 1881, at the age of 15, traveling with his next older brother Quon Mane, who was 16. They were following the example of their #3 brother, Quon Tong, who had gone to the US in 1876, also at the age of 15 or 16.
Quon Leon, c. 1900 (Arrival Case File 10410/060-56, Quan Hong Toy, RG85, NARA San Bruno)
It's not known for sure when the Brothers #1 and #2 went to the US. Possibly they only went after their younger brothers--which would imply they arrived in the US only after Chinese Exclusion legislation went into effect and therefore that they entered illegally. What is known is that their stays did not end up being as long or permanent as those of their younger brothers.
Quon Leon, c. 1907
Quon Leon joined his brother Quon Mane in running the store that all the brothers invested in, but which was named after Quon Mane. While Quon Leon appears to have been as committed as Quon Mane to remaining in the US, his stay was cut short by ill health. Returning to China in 1913 for health reasons, he died soon after, in about 1914 or 1915, in his early 40s.
Quon Leon, c. 1909, with 3rd son Nathan and niece Katherine (aka "Kum Goo")
Mother: Ah Nin
In a typical scenario, Quon Leon only made his first trip back to China in 1888 after seven years abroad. He promptly married a woman surnamed "Jair" 謝 (also romanized Dair, Dea, etc.; in Mandarin pinyin: Xie).
A number of other family members are also known to have married people with the 謝 surname, so presumably there was a close connection between the clans.
Within the family, she was known simply as "Ah Nin" - i.e., "Mom". Her given name appears in immigration records as Chia Kam Tai or Lan Jair.
Ah Nin, c. 1910, with 3rd son Nathan
Ah Nin was roughly five to ten years younger than her husband, and would survive him by half a century, living into her 90s.
It's said that when visiting his mother after she could no longer see well, Albert would jangle a can of coins, and she would know it was him and cry out, "Ah Toy!"
Ah Nin in her 40s, around the time of her husband's death, c. 1915 (courtesy of San Diego History Center)
Ah Nin with some of eldest son Frank's daughters, 1920s
Ah Nin with Albert (front row), Nathan and wife (far right), daughter Ho/How Lee (btwn Nathan and wife), Frank's wife (2nd left) and two of Frank's daughters, 1929
Ah Nin with Albert's wife Lily, Nathan's wife Elaine, and Frank's eldest daughter Jennie (Gum Wen), Canton 1935, two years before Japan's full invasion. The two little girls are Lily and Albert's daughters
Ah Nin with Frank and Albert, 1950s
Ah Nin with Albert and his 3rd daughter Jeannette, Hong Kong 1950s
Ah Nin with Lily and her eldest daughter Albert and husband Ben, Hong Kong 1960s