The Friends of Kam Wah Chung is a non-profit 501c3 organization run by volunteers whose mission is to provide public access to the historic site. In addition, we educate and inform future generations about the importance of the Chinese immigrants whose influence and contributions helped define the culture and history of the American West.
As a lover of museums, Kam Wah Chung ranks at the top of my list because it is a unique and amazing time capsule. It gives a rare glimpse into the Chinese culture in a frontier setting. As a local teacher, my class and I toured the museum on a yearly basis since it opened. Each year, it was a treasured experience for my students. Now that I am retired, it is an exciting opportunity to serve on the Friends of Kam Wah Chung board.
I consider it a great honor to serve as a board member for the Friends of Kam Wah Chung. This museum is a crown jewel of Oregon state heritage sites. It has such a wealth of past and present information waiting for the visiting public to explore.
Kam Wah Chung offers a most rewarding historical experience that includes educational displays at the interpretive center and a fascinating park ranger-led tour of the actual 1860s building. If you have heard about Kam Wah Chung and never visited, please stop by and see this amazing piece of Oregon history.
About 6 years ago Jeanne Day, President of Friends of Kam Wah Chung, at the suggestion of Ken Bremner, asked me if I would take minutes of the Friends Group meetings until they could find someone. I said yes, temporarily. I’ve lived in John Day for many years but, as do many Grant County residents, knew nothing of the Kam Wah Chung museum and its history. I went to many meetings and really enjoyed working with a great group of dedicated people and I did what I could to help. After several years I realized they were not looking for any one to replace me so I decided to join the Friends of Kam Wah Chung and became a Board member. In 2013 I was honored to receive the Carolyn Micnhimer Award for helping out.
I moved to John Day several years ago and one of the first places I visited was the Kam Wah Chung Museum. It was an amazing experience to be in this place that just exuded history and mystery of a time gone by. Friends and family who have visited me are always in awe of this incredible place. We are very fortunate to have such a gem here in Grant County to bring history to life.
When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived across and down the street. I think my grandmother, Florance Woods, instilled all the history of the Chinese and this valley in me. I knew it was a Chinese building and that it was off limits to everyone.
In the 70’s when I moved back here, my brother Wayne Woods worked on the audio for a documentary about KWC. I have always had a special connection with the building. I have enjoyed all the years I have worked with Kam Wah Chung. The first two curators , Evelyn Stienmetz and Carolyn Micnhimer were my friends.
I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine in John Day, following in the footsteps of Doc Hay. I first learned of KWC in 1980 before going to China to study. Ing Hay was, and is, an inspiration to how I practice today.
The legacy of Kam Wah Chung goes beyond historical interest for me. It is very timely and applicable to our lives today. We can learn so much from how they lived in this beautiful place.
I enjoy talking with visitors about the historical stories of a very different Chinese culture in an isolated area, like Eastern Oregon. Imagine living in a small village in China. How would you 'fit in'?
Ever since I could remember, I have had a passion for western history, even through college. What I like about Kam Wah Chung is not only what we have already learned about this national treasure with the unique archival written histories and documents and unique items in the Kam Wah Chung building, but what we have yet to learn. The archaeological potential to add more to the story of the local Chinese history in John Day and to the Chinese experience in the west is quite exciting!
As Park Manager I was involved with the 2005 restoration campaign of Kam Wah Chung and have seen the building and collection come to life due to the many preservation projects that were completed. The most fascinating things to me are all the artifacts and apothecary area.
Having worked with a number of friends groups I would say the Kam Wah Chung Friends group are very compassionate about their mission and have contributed many hours of volunteer time and sought funding for a number of projects. The most recent and ongoing project involves the translation of documents written in Chinese. These documents once translated could tell many more stories of Doc Hay and Lung On and their prominence in the John Day community and region.
Kam Wah Chung is the amazing place it is because of the many volunteers who have contributed time, donations and energy to preserve it. Click on Volunteers to meet some of these wonderful people.
© 2018 Friends of Kam Wah Chung
Chinese Year of the Earth Dog 4716