Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Bobby Joe Moon family genealogy collection, ca. 1930-2010 MS 581

creator Moon, Bobby Joe, 1940-
Title: Bobby Joe Moon family genealogy collection
Dates: ca. 1930-2010
Abstract Family trees, notes, photographs, correspondence and newsclippings documenting the family history of Bobby Joe Moon, a Houstonian of Chinese American descent.
Identification: MS 581
Quantity: 0.5 linear ft. (1 box plus digital content)
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Biographical/Historical note

Bobby Joe Moon was born in Cleveland, Mississippi, in 1944, the son of Chou Guie Moon, whose name became anglicized as Jew Guie Moon, and Sue Wong, his father’s second wife, the first wife having died.

Since B. J. Moon is proud of his ancestry and has devoted substantial attention to preserving records of how his parents entered the U.S. from China, it is appropriate to summarize their stories of resettlement.

J. G. Moon was born in China in 1899, although his identity papers showed 1898. He arrived for the first time at the Port of San Francisco on September 3, 1908, but was denied admission on account of trachoma, an infectious eye condition. A Chinese Six Companies’ attorney drew up a document which helped Moon gain admission the following year. After returning to China and saving another $1,500 to pay for passage, he arrived at the Port of San Francisco on July 13, 1909, and was finally admitted to the U.S. on August 25, 1909. Settling in the Sacramento area, he attended school for seven months and then began working on farms and ranches, learning to read and write English using newspapers, with farm or ranch owners’ wives tutoring him after dinner. He also worked as a cook for 20 Mule Team Borax Smith’s Tonapah and Tidewater Railroad.

In 1913 J. G. Moon went to work for the Sun On Chong Company, a grocery business in Old Sacramento, joining several people with whom he remained in contact as the years passed, one of them being a cousin, Jew Han Lett (J. H. Lett). Intending to start his family in China in the Gor Doi Long Village, in 1920 he applied for the coveted “Merchant” status in order to be guaranteed re-entry to the U.S. He received the classification in February 1921 and immediately left for China through the Port of San Francisco. Before returning on October 12, 1922, he married Fong Shee, who gave birth to their first son in April 1923 in the Village. Several years later J. G. Moon moved to Boyle, Mississippi, to join cousin Jew Doy Lin and J. H. Lett with other Village cousins to form Joe Brothers Company. The business had stores in the Mississippi Delta towns of Boyle, Cleveland, and Shaw.

Between May 30, 1931, and November 7, 1932, J, G. Moon was in China again, having returned to build a house in the New Village, the house that Bobby Moon visited in 2000. The elder Moon was in China again from March 2, 1935 to June 9, 1937. His first wife having died, he married Wong Sui Yeung (anglicized as Sue Wong) in June 1936. He succeeded in arranging for the immigration of Sue Wong and their two daughters as well as their first cousin Joe Y. Sing (15 years old) via Hong Kong and the Port of Seattle on February 11, 1939. They reached Cleveland, Mississippi, in February 1939, traveling by train from Seattle through Chicago. A son, Roy, was born in December 1939 in Boyle, and Bobby Moon in 1944 in Cleveland.

Bobby Joe Moon attended Cleveland High School in Mississippi, then studied accounting and graduated from Mississippi State University, class of 1965. In Houston, he worked for Metro Transit, as Manager of Audit, COntracts and Internal Quality Assurance.

In 1993 Bobby Moon became active in publicly challenging the method used by the Houston Independent School District to distribute spaces for students in programs for the gifted and talented. Because these programs had originated as part of the school district’s response to federal desegregation requirements, race was initially a dominant factor in determining which students would be selected. The initial ratio was 30 percent black, 30 percent Hispanic, and 40 percent white or other races. When the Moons went through the testing and application process for their daughter, Laura Anne, to be considered for the gifted and talented program, she was not chosen. Bobby Moon was quoted in the Houston Post (May 25, 1993, p. A-10) saying, “We got a letter saying she qualified, but that there weren’t any spaces open. We were lumped in with whites. I know my daughter would have had a better chance if she was considered a minority.” He added, “I’d like to be called what we are—Asian Americans—but beyond that I’d just like to see things shake down more fairly. It’s really frustrating that our racial classification is holding her back while her intellect is pushing her forward.”

Subsequently two other parents sued the school district, charging that their children were denied entry in the gifted and talented program based on their race. In April 1997, the school district appointed a special Peer Examination, Evaluation, and Redesign committee which in July recommended that race be replaced as a criterion for selection with a matrix including test scores, teacher and parent recommendations, grades, and overcoming hardships. Research took place to determine how each of these factors should be weighted, and by November it was announced that the new process would be in place for the selection of students for the 1998-99 school year.

Bobby Moon traveled to China for the first time in 2000, April 22 through May 7. Among the places visited was his father’s home village, Gor Doi Long, in an area about thirty miles northwest of Taicheng in South China. With the help of a Chow family tree made in 1983 by Moon’s cousin T. Jack Chow of Cleveland, Mississippi, a villager led him to a cousin who, in turn, led him to another cousin. Together the two cousins led Moon and his fellow travelers (a party of four, including his wife, Jennie) to a compound of four homes constructed by the villagers who had gone to the U.S. and returned to build the compound known as the New Village. He found that none of the New Village homes were occupied and were locked. A fact he found interesting is that these homes are still considered the property of the respective owners in America and the property and contents are left for the most part undisturbed.

A key to his father’s home was obtained from the village chief. The most important outcome of his getting inside was that on a second story wall he found a framed watercolor portrait of his father, as he wrote, “nearly perfectly preserved at an age that I had never known him to look!” Moon succeeded in convincing the person with the key that he had legitimate claim to the painting, and he proceeded to take it from the wall and bring it back to Houston.

Scope and Contents note

The Bobby Joe Moon family genealogy collection contains immigration documents, photographs, newsclippings, notes, maps and more which document the Moon family's immigration to the US from China, and their life in the States since then.


Conditions Governing Access note

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center, woodson@rice.edu.

Index Terms

genealogies (histories)

Related Archival Materials note

Bobby Joe Moon oral history interview and transcript, 2013, available online at http://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/72193.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

Bobby Joe Moon family genealogy collection, 1930-2010, MS 581, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

This material was donated by Bobby Joe Moon, October 2013.

Detailed Description of the Collection

1 Series I: Immigration files
Item 1. Immigration naturalization file for Shee Wong, mother of Bobby Joe Moon, filed in Boyle, Mississippi, 1939 (photocopy of official document from NARA)
Item 2: Immigration naturalization files for Jew, Goey Moon, father of Bobby Joe Moon, filed in Boyle, Mississippi, 1910-1947 (photocopies of official document from NARA)
Item 3: Immigration naturalization files for Jew, You Sing, first cousin of Bobby Joe Moon, brought over as 15 yr. old son of Jew, Goey Moon, filed in Boyle, Mississippi, 1939 (photocopies of official document from NARA)
Item 4: Immigration naturalization files for Jew, Yiu-Yuen, first son of Jew, Goey Moon (Bobby Joe Moon's father), filed in Boyle, Mississippi, 1939 (photocopies of official document from NARA)
Item 5: Jew, Goey Moon (father of Bobby Joe Moon) first entry papers at San Fransisco, 1910 (printed records acquired via Ancestry.com in 2013)

1 Series II: Photographs, maps and documents
Item 6: Map and related notes for Bobby Joe Moon's trip to ancestral village in China (father came from Hen Gong Gor Doi Long Village, BJM stays in Changsha in Kaiping County, BJM's wife's family is from Taicheng in Toisan County. Also includes Jimmy Lee's map (family friend)
Item 7: Images of Bobby Joe Moon attending a children's birthday party for Hardy Doty Jr. in Boyle, Mississippi, 1948. BJM can be seen at the left, with his friend the late Arnold Gong next to him, who died in a train accident in February 1952, not long after this time. (Prints of images which were e-mailed to BJM)
Item 8: Image of Joe Bros. store, Cleveland, Mississippi, 1920s. BJM's friend Barbara Schuleman scanned and sent the image to BJM - her father owned Leo Schoenholz store, next to Joe Bros. store. (wrc03899)
Item 9: Newsclipping on Laura Moon, daughter of Bobby Joe Moon, Jan. 13, 1993, Houston Chronicle (photocopy)
Item 10: Newsclippings related to race issues in Houston ISD schools (1992-1993, BJM at U.S. White House 1991, and BJM's travels to ancestral home in China, 2000
Item 11: Newsclipping featuring parents of Bobby Joe Moon in front of J.G. Moon Hardware & Dry Goods store, Boyle, Miss., waiting at the time for BJM's brother to return from college, 1975 (wrc03900)
Item 12: Image of J.G. Moon and Company store, Boyle, Mississippi, previously was J.H. Lett & Co. Store, 1971
Item 13: Images of Moon siblings at a wedding, with first born Sue Wong (b. 1936) seated in center (scanned from photocopy)
Item 14: J. G. Moon family tree notes as collected by cousin T. Jack Chow, 1983
Item 15: Image of portrait made of father of BJM. Original portrait located in BJM's Houston home, but was found by BJM in ancestral home in China, 2000. It is customary to have a portrait made upon building a new home.
Item 16: Image of BJM's first cousin Joe Sing (on the right) and Joe SIng's brothers, Canada, 1945 (scan made from original photograph)
Item 17: Image of BJM's maternal grandmother, "Grandma Wong," Wang Pai Village (scan made from original photograph)
Item 18: Mr. and Mrs. J.G. Moon, parents of BJM, 1954, Cleveland, Miss. (scan made from original photograph)
Item 19: Image of Moon family at time of arrival in Cleveland, Miss., 1939. Left to right: Sue on lap of J.G. Moon, Joe Sing standing behind, Yuen (b. 1923) standing behind mother, Lillie on lap of mother.(scan made from original photograph) (wrc03901)
Item 20: Image of Moon family, circa. March 1944, Cleveland, Miss., with Bobby Joe Moon in utero
Item 21: Henry Joe family, neighbors, who owned Washington Market, Boyle, Miss., 1941 (scan made from original photograph)
Item 22: Joe Sing wedding portrait (first cousin to BJM), 1950 (scan made from original photograph)
Item 23: J.G. Moon family portrait, circa 1936, Gor Doi Long Village, Hoi-ping District, Guangdong Province, China. Left to right: Baby Sue in caretaker's arms, Mrs. J.G. Moon, Ping, Jew Yiu-Yuen, J.G. Moon. (scan made from original photograph)
Item 24: Parents of BJM's cousin Joe Sing, Canada, late 1950s (scan made from original photograph)
Item 25: Bellaire High School graduation program, 2001, featuring Bobby Joe Moon's daughter Laura Moon as graduate, and including BJM's notes highlighting names of Asian graduates
Item 26: Recollection of "Quest for Roots" trip to China, 2000, written by BJM
Item 27: Photographs from "Quest for Roots" trip to China, April-May 2000, BJM, his wife and her parents, distantly related kin, images of the ancestral home exterior and interior (scanned from original photographs)
Item 28: Photographs and documents related to BJM's visit to the White House, Washington DC, in May 1991, representing the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA)