Miss Frances I. Chan (陳寬信)

I’m finishing up my posts on the Chan family this week, and I decided to post both Fanny’s and Ida’s posts today. These two youngest siblings were extremely difficult to trace; one of them died young and the other never became a US citizen, so there is comparatively little information about them. For that reason I’ve decided to post both biographies today, since the posts are shorter than my typical.

Fanny Chan (陳寬信, pinyin Chén Kuānxìn) was the youngest of the Chan family of siblings. Born on 10 April 1897 in Victoria, British Columbia, she lived in Canada with her family for the first 4 years of her life while her father was working in the Chinese Methodist Mission there. In 1901 the family moved to Portland, and Fanny took part in the church fundraisers by singing, dancing, and reciting poetry with her older siblings (Sunday Oregonian, 12 Apr 1903, plus all the other links from her sisters’ posts). She must have been incredibly cute; several articles talk about how beautiful the “Chan girls” or the “Misses Chan” are, and I assume they are talking about Ida and Fanny, the two Chan children who were still in grade school at the time. Ida and Fanny often appear together in these articles, and not just within the Chinese missionary sphere, either; one article describes the “Children’s Day” celebrations at Grace M. E. Church in Portland in which Ida and Fanny sing a song (“in English”, the article points out) among other, non-Chinese performances (Morning Oregonian, 13 June 1904).

Fanny was listed in the 1911 CSA Directory – despite being only 14 years old – at the same address as the rest of her family: 226 1/2 Morrison Street in Portland. By the 1914 Directory the family had moved to 133 1/2 First Street. In this directory she is specifically listed as a high school student with a “native” province of Kuangtung (Guangdong), referring to the native province of her family. The 1915 Directory has the same information, but after this she graduates from high school and does not continue on to college, so the 1918 Directory does not include her.

 

It is very probable that Fanny moved with her family to California in 1915, since she met the man she would marry in San Jose, California. He was a Chinese immigrant who worked as a merchant, managing a Chinese import shop in California. He had been in the US for about 12 years when he and Fanny married on 22 October 1918 (Evening News, 23 Oct 1918). Fanny and her husband lived in San Jose for about 10 years, and they had four children together. Sadly, when her youngest daughter had just turned two years old, Fanny died at her home in San Jose on 8 May 1928 (San Jose News, 09 May 1928). At that time, her parents and brother George were living in California, her sister Mary was still living in Portland, Bertie was in China, and Ida was living in Detroit.

Fanny’s husband quickly remarried, and he, his new wife, and Fanny’s four children continued to live in San Jose for a time. The family then moved to Utah, where Fanny’s husband opened another dry goods store and Fanny’s two sons joined the military. Fanny’s daughters seem to have stayed in California, as they were married by this time. But the family was to show up in the newspapers again, as Fanny’s husband was the first Chinese man in Utah to apply for and be granted citizenship after the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943 (Ogden Standard, 16 Jul 1944). Sadly, he was unable to enjoy the benefits of citizenship for very long, as he passed away on 19 Dec 1945 in Los Angeles (Ogden Standard, 24 Dec 1945).

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