Andrew Soo Hoo (司徒歡得)

Happy fall semester, everyone! Back to school and back to studying. And that means back to my profiles of the Soo Hoo family! I last left you with the father, Nam Art Soo Hoo, who was not a student himself, but the father of several students in the American university system. Usually when I profile several family members, I start with the parents and then proceed with the children in birth order. It is usually easiest and also gives the sense of progressing in linear order when you put the posts together. But for the Soo Hoo family, instead of proceeding on to oldest son Peter Soo Hoo from his father Nam Art Soo Hoo, I’m going to jump to the fifth child and second son of Nam Art, Andrew Soo Hoo, because he is an integral part of the end of his father’s story.

Nam Art Soo Hoo and family in 1902. Andrew is dead center, aged about 4.
Nam Art Soo Hoo and family in 1902. Andrew is dead center, aged about 4.

Andrew Soohoo (司徒歡得, pinyin Sītú Huāndé, Jyutping Si1tou4 Fun1dak1) was the first member of the Soo Hoo family to be born in America, on 25 August 1897. His name as listed on the 1900 Census was “Fun Doc SoHo”, and therefore is the only one of the children not to share the name Yu or Yut. He lived with his family at 920 Washington Street in San Francisco (1900 Census, copy). He would have been 9 years old during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, after which he moved with his family to San Rafael, where they all show up on the 1910 Census, this time under their Western names (1910 Census). He shows up in the 1914 and 1915 Directories as a high school student, specifically in the 1915 Directory at Berkeley High. However, there are other sources that name him as a San Rafael High graduate, which would make more sense (Marin Journal, 22 Jan 1920).

When Andrew filled out his World War I draft registration in 1918, he was 21 years old and living with his family at 2114 Channing Way in Berkeley. He listed his occupation as “Farm Work” and “Student” ( copy); in fact, it was his freshman year at the University of California, an institution which his two of his older sisters had already attended. He was a student in the college of mechanics, meaning he studied mechanical engineering. During his sophomore year of 1919-1920, his younger brother Lincoln (the baby in the photo above) had just entered UC Berkeley as well, as a freshman in the college of mining.


The 1920 Federal Census was collected, at least in the Soo Hoo’s part of California, right at the beginning of the year, on 6 January 1920. Nam Art was the one who responded to the census taker, and he didn’t know it then, but he was registering his life as a resident of the US a mere week and a half before he passed away on 18 January 1920. In this census, the Soo Hoo family was living at 2114 Channing Way, and Andrew was the oldest child still living at home (1920 Census). Things had become difficult for Nam Art in his older years. He was an invalid due to his chronic struggles with gangrene in his left foot, and he wasn’t taking his declining health well. He was constantly irritable, demanding that his family wait on him and becoming enraged when they delayed. (Oakland Tribune, 19 Jan 1920). Then again, there were reports of his temper from several of his work colleagues and superiors from years back, before his health had taken such a downward turn. The superintendent of the Chinese Presbyterian Mission in San Francisco described how he would terrorize the pupils in his Sunday School class, threatening them with a stick (Oakland Tribune, 22 Jan 1920).

On 18 January 1920, Nam Art flew into just such a rage and beat Andrew with his crutches as the latter was cutting bread in the kitchen. One account states that Andrew and Nam Art were arguing over the League of Nations (!) (Marin Journal, 22 Jan 1920). Andrew grabbed a chair from the kitchen table and attempted to knock the crutches out of his father’s hands. Instead, he clocked Nam Art upside the head, and the older man fell unconscious. Four hours later, he was dead from a blood clot in his brain. Andrew Soo Hoo was arrested for the assault of his father, and seemed affected by the news of his death, according to the January 19th article from the Oakland Tribune. He was charged with his father’s murder and faced a judge in a preliminary hearing a few days later. His version of events was corroborated by his brother Lincoln,  as well as his two younger sisters Mansie and Minnie. Three days later, he was exonerated thanks to their testimony and that of the missionary colleagues mentioned before.


Despite having the charges dismissed, the experience seems to have marked Andrew deeply. There’s no record of him ever returning to UC Berkeley, and in 1930 he was living at 2116 Channing Way with his mother, Minnie, and youngest brother Carroll and working as a truck driver on a farm. His younger brother Lincoln, the one who testified on Andrew’s behalf during his hearing, had also died in 1924 in a mining accident (Livermore Journal, 8 Aug 1924). In 1928 he was in a motorcycle accident and broke his leg (Modesto News-Herald, 24 Oct 1928). In 1933 he was convicted of failure to cede the right of way to a pedestrian during another motorcycle accident in which he fatally injured a woman (Berkeley Daily Gazette, 5 Sep 1933). He moved away from the Berkeley area after 1937 – at least, he wasn’t living in the family home at the 1940 census. There’s no evidence that he married or had any children – he disappears off of the record until his death in Sutter County, California in 1984.

5 thoughts on “Andrew Soo Hoo (司徒歡得)

  1. Greetings Andrew, or Andy, was my great uncle on my maternal side. I am one of his sister Lily’s decedents. I believe Uncle Andy worked as a worker in the naval shipyards at Mare Island, CA. Although not with his brother Carol. Andrew was a sportsman and liked to hunt, towards the later part of his life, he would line up the deer in his sights and just say “bang”. I remember him visiting his sisters (Lily and Nettie) and staying in his camper in the driveway. lol.


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