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 Ly Choo

Photo added by Gregory Kimm

Ly Choo

  • Birth Apr 1833 Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
  • Death 20 Aug 1908 Bakersfield, Kern County, California, USA
  • Burial Body lost or destroyed, Specifically: After his death, his body was returned to Northern Village, Poonyue County, Guangdong Province for burial. Years later, the grave was destroyed to make room for construction.
  • Memorial ID 126301126

Thanks to Art Moore, who created the first memorial for Choo Ly, a.k.a. Choo Li.

Choo (family name) Ly (personal name; married name Choo Jahm Leung) was born in April 1833 in Northern Village, Poonyue County (now located in Taihe Town, Baiyun District, Guangzhou), Guangdong Province, China. He was the son of Choo Hei Sui and Ngan Shee.

He came to the United States in 1853, arriving in Seattle, Washington. He worked as a shepherd and a miner as he continued to make his way on foot to Bakersfield, California, where he settled between 1866-1871. There he was employed as a laborer for Col. Thomas Baker, the founder of Bakersfield, on farmland that Baker reclaimed from the Kern River. In lieu of payment, Col. Baker gave Choo Ly farmland of his own, which formed the start of the substantial property holdings, including a butcher shop and 29 gambling houses, that he would eventually have in the city of Bakersfield. When Bakersfield became the county seat in 1874, he helped to transfer the records from the former county seat of Havilah.

As one of the earliest Chinese residents of Bakersfield, a founder of the Sam Yup Association (an organization for people originating in the area around the city of Canton, now known as Guangzhou), and a successful businessman, Choo Ly was respected as the unofficial “head man” or “mayor” of Old Chinatown, a position he held from 1890 to 1905.

He married three times. His third wife was Wong Yuet Ngor (a.k.a. Wong Yet Gow) , the daughter of Wong Yee Fat and Leong Ho of San Francisco. They married in 1893-94 and had one son, Charles Choo Way Ping (1895-1963), and one daughter, Rose Lung Choo Kimm (1897-1959), both lifelong residents of Bakersfield. The family lived in China Alley, once the center of Old Chinatown and the present location of a plaque designating it as a historical site.

A portrait of Choo Ly currently hangs in the Chinese “joss house” in Pioneer Village on the grounds of the Kern County Museum (see photo).


Family Members

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See more Choo memorials in:

  • Created by: Gregory Kimm
  • Added: 13 Mar 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 126301126
  • Gregory Kimm
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ly Choo (Apr 1833–20 Aug 1908), Find A Grave Memorial no. 126301126, ; Maintained by Gregory Kimm (contributor 48361471) Body lost or destroyed, who reports a After his death, his body was returned to Northern Village, Poonyue County, Guangdong Province for burial. Years later, the grave was destroyed to make room for construction..