HISTORY: Ing ‘Doc’ Hay is dead

HISTORY: Ing ‘Doc’ Hay is dead


Published on September 28, 2017 12:48PM

Last changed on September 28, 2017 1:04PM

Jan. 25, 1952 Blue Mountain EagleIng “Doc” Hay is dead.With his death in Portland last Saturday, a symbol of a past and colorful era in Grant County history passed on. Funeral services were held Thursday from Driskill’s with the Rev. Mrs. Bach in charge. Interment was in the John Day cemetery.Doc Hay’s life in Grant County is so interwoven with the old mining history and the history of the Chinese colony in Eastern Oregon that there are hundreds of stories and anecdotes brought to light by his passing. Because he always avoided publicity and talked little of the past even to relatives much of the lore of his life has been lost. There is enough, however, to make interesting reading for newcomers and to bring nostalgic reminiscence to old timers.His age was not exactly known. Relatives believe he was at least 89 and, for the official record, give his birthplace as Walla Walla in 1863. When the Chinese exclusion act was about to be enacted and Doc had to prove residence to establish citizenship, he went to Walla Walla and obtained an elector’s certificate to establish his status. This certificate bears the date of July 31, 1897, and attested that he had voted in election there prior to that date.His ability as a Chinese herb doctor became legendary in Eastern Oregon. Stories are recounted of the early days when he would travel as far as Prineville by horse and buggy to treat patients.A remarkable, almost phenomenal, memory was listed among the Doc attributes. Relatives tell of a huge volume of Chinese medicine he possessed. He practically had the contents memorized and, at the mention of any reference, would give the page number and paragraph in which to find the information. His eyesight began failing in the late ’20s, and for the past few years he has been totally blind. In his old historic quarters, among the medicines, personal mementos and relics he kept several radios and kept abreast of world and national news. Ropes were strung for him to use as guides when moving out of the house.Sometime in his youth he went to China to learn the age-old precepts of herb medicines. The time when he started living regularly in John Day is hard to establish. His father, Orr Hogg, established the Kam Wah Chung store and herb center here in 1871. His father had arrived in the valley in the early ’60s with the first rush of miners into the Canyon City diggings. He returned to China to spend his last year before the turn of the century and nothing further was known of him.Doc Hay, according to the best information available, settled here permanently in the early ’80s. He was not known to have visited China during this century, but on one of his trips to China, he married and was the father of a son he never saw and of whom no present trace is known.In the heyday of the Kam Wah Chung business operation, it had a greatly diversified stock of all kinds of merchandise. Gold dust was brought over the counter. A frontier bank was operated, and at one time or another, much of the land of Grant County had loans from this bank against it. Most of the debts were paid, but many were quietly written off. Among the contents of the old store where the Doc spent his last years are papers, letters and un-canceled checks, all of which provided a rich storehouse of research material in studying the early days of the county. Among this material are un-cancelled checks, many of them dating back to the early 1900’s, mostly in small amounts, and written by many pioneers of the county now gone. The amount of the un-cashed checks is estimated to total close to $20,000.Although the Doc was noted for always offering a helping hand to worthy needy and making modest charges for his service, he managed to accumulate a substantial estate. When his eyesight grew poor, he gradually discontinued his practice, and the bulk of the work has been carried on by his nephew, Dr. Bob Wah. Occasionally he would treat an old-timer but gradually made his retirement complete.Doc Hay was a devout Buddhist but with the decreasing number of original Chinese immigrants too few were left to hold regular services. He maintained, however, a Buddhist temple in his quarters where he worshipped regularly. Although the Chinese colony here, which at one time numbered above 600, did not have any designated leader, Ing Hay was regarded as a senior statesman to whom many went regularly for advice. His business partner, Lung On, reportedly about the same age as Ing Hay, died in 1940.Mining camp gamblers at one time tried to use Ing Hay as an instrument in filching money from the miners. Part of his stock of merchandise consisted of playing cards. At one time he had approximately 1,000 decks on hand from which the frontier places of amusement regularly made purchases for their games. The gamblers offered Ing Hay a substantial amount of money for the cards: They would only keep them for several days and return them to him intact. He refused the offer, which obviously was intended as a way to steam off seals, mark the cards and then return them to Doc Hay to be sold for use in the games. The cards, as a product of Doc Hay’s place would have been regarded as reliable, and the miners would have been taken to the cleaners more rapidly than usual.Members of the Chinese colony of good repute could always get credit backing from Ing. Mrs. Margaret Herburger O’Brien, a native of Grant County, knew Doc Hay in the earlier days. Before her death late in June she had written several columns on the old doctor in the Ukiah, California Press which she owned. In a column appearing in the issue of March 24, 1942, she reminisced:“It is a long time since I saw him last. His name is Doc Hay and he is a Chinese doctor. He lives on a famous placer mining creek in Eastern Oregon and he had done a lot of good. When you visited ‘Doc’ Hay he would not ask you what ailed you. He would take your hand and forearm and place them on a small pillow. Carefully feeling about the wrist he would find out himself what the matter was. He would then fuss around in a pot of herbs, leaves and roots – it looked like a woodrat’s nest – and he would fix you up some medicine that would ‘Catchem’. The Celestial was a smart old coot, too. I recall a cowboy who had a violent toothache, went in to try and fool him and told ‘Doc’ Hay he was plenty sick, ‘Doc’ Hay put his forearm on the pillow and quickly jabbed his thumb in the cheek of the patient beneath the tooth which was throbbing. ‘Pull him out’ was the diagnosis.”



Ing ‘Doc’ Hay, c. 1890

This portrait of the Chinese doctor Ing Hay was taken when he was nineteen years old. Doc Hay, as he was best known, was a prominent medical practitioner in the eastern Oregon town of John Day for more than sixty years.

Ing Hay was born in Taishan County, Guangdong Province, in 1862. He came from a long line of herbalists and likely learned traditional Chinese medicine from family members. In the 1870s five of Ing’s uncles emigrated to the United States in search of opportunity. Ing and his father soon followed, probably arriving in the U.S. in 1883, a year after Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act.

In 1885 Ing and his father moved to Walla Walla, which had a thriving Chinese community. Ing’s father returned to China in 1887, but Ing remained in the United States. He relocated to John Day, where he became acquainted with a fellow Chinese immigrant by the name of Lung On. Ing Hay and Lung On would become lifelong friends and business partners.

In September 1888, Ing Hay and Lung On opened a store in the Kam Wah Chung building, a stone structure probably built in the late 1860s as a trading post and temporary fort along The Dalles Military Road. Catering primarily to the large Chinese community in John Day, Kam Wah Chung & Co. sold goods imported from China as well as canned food, bulk goods, tobacco, and other items to white miners and residents of John Day. It also served as a social center and hiring hall for eastern Oregon’s Chinese community.

In addition to the general store, Ing Hay practiced traditional Chinese medicine. He specialized in herbalism and pulsology, a technique that measures the pulse to diagnose medical problems. He became widely known for his ability to cure diseases that baffled American-trained doctors, and both whites and Chinese would travel from throughout the region to visit the modest office of the “China doctor.” When the Kam Wah Chung building was reopened in the late 1960s after being boarded up for more than a decade, over 500 herbs and other medicines were discovered, one of the largest collections of traditional Chinese medicine in the United States.

Ing Hay continued to practice medicine until 1948, when he retired to a nursing home in Portland. He died in 1952 at the age of eighty-nine. He is buried in the Restlawn Cemetery in John Day.

Further Reading:
Barlow, Jeffrey G. and Christine Richardson. China Doctor of John Day. Portland, Oreg., 1979.

McCunn, Ruthanne Lum. Chinese American Portraits: Personal Histories, 1828-1988. San Francisco, Calif., 1988.

Written by Cain Allen, © Oregon Historical Society, 2005.



Ing Doc Hay

Born in Walla Walla, Washington, per his death certificate and in Canton China from other sources. Famous herbal doctor “Doc” Hay; partner with Lung On in the Kam Wah Chung & Co., general store, in John Day, Grant County, Oregon, USA; Go to this link:

The Kam Wah Chung site was designated a National Historic Site in 2005.

By Angel Carpenter
Blue Mountain Eagle newspaper
July 28, 2010

JOHN DAY – Time stands still at the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site, where the rooms appear just as they were around the turn of the 20th century.

Oranges, dried with the passing of years, grace a Buddhist/Taoist altar; hundreds of small boxes of herbs and other Chinese medicines are neatly stacked; and containers of food sit on shelves, their contents left undisturbed.

On the walls are epigrams written in Chinese on red paper -one reads, “Good friends make good business; good business makes good friends.”

Kam Wah Chung, which translates “Golden Flower of Prosperity,” was the home and business operation of Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On, who bought the building in 1885.

Gold was discovered in nearby Canyon City in 1862, and the area saw an influx of people who came to work in the mining industry, including Chinese immigrants.

In the heart of Chinatown in John Day stood Kam Wah Chung, a center of activity for the Chinese population of Grant County.

Hay and On, both born in 1862, had talents which enriched the community.

Doc Hay was widely known for his unique ability to cure diverse ailments.

It is believed he learned his trade in China as an apprentice, but he also kept medical books.

Pulsology was his method for diagnosing medical problems for his patients who included the local Chinese and white people, as well as those who traveled miles to see him.

The patient placed their wrist on a pillow while Doc Hay felt their pulse.

If the patient was well he would send them on their way saying, “Go home, and have a happy life.” But if a cure was needed he had everything at hand – a pinch of this, a sprinkle of that – which was then packaged in paper.

Instructions were given, and the patient would take the medicine home to make a tea, or for some wounds make a paste, to bring relief.

In 1936, one young newlywed from Burns visited Doc Hay with her mother who needed a treatment. The younger woman didn’t know she was pregnant, yet Doc Hay, after feeling her pulse, predicted that she would have multiples.

Several months later the young woman had triplets – two boys and one girl.

Uncashed checks totaling about $23,000 – which would have been worth about $250,000 today – were found under the mattress of Doc Hay’s bed.

Lung On had an entrepreneurial spirit, and ran about 12 businesses in his 50-plus years in John Day.

He ran a general store, housed in Kam Wah Chung. Besides food items and fireworks, alcohol and tobacco were his biggest sellers – typical of a gold rush town.

When the building was “rediscovered” in the 1970s after being closed up for at least 20 years, 95 bottles of whiskey were found boxed up under the floorboards.

In the room next to the general store, Lung On rented out four bunks at 25 cents for one week – three or four to a bunk.

He had the first car dealership in town – the Tourist Garage.

Other services he offered included reading and writing letters for people, selling catalog clothing and fortune telling.

With mining and other jobs available in the 1870-90s, the Chinese population in the area was about 2,000; however, only three to five of the 2,000 were women due to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prevented Chinese men from bringing their families with them to the U.S.

As the local job market dried up in 1910, the Chinese population in the John Day/Canyon City area dwindled to less than 20.

Still, Doc Hay and Lung On stayed at Kam Wah Chung.

Both were married, their wives and children living in China.

Lung On’s wife once wrote, “It’s been over 30 years. Don’t you love me anymore? Why don’t you come home?”

Lung On died in 1940 at the age of 78. He insisted on being buried locally.

“I will always be an American,” he said.

Ing Hay suffered a broken hip in 1948 and moved to Portland to receive care. He died at the age of 89 and is buried next to Lung On in the John Day Cemetery on Valley View Drive.

The museum’s interpretive center is at 116 NW Bridge St.; to reach the building, turn north from Main Street to Canton Street, and travel half a block. The center is on the right across from the United Methodist Church. Kam Wah Chung is farther up the street within walking distance near the city park and Gleason Pool.

Chinese Americans leave legacy
By Tina Cook
The Blue Mountain Eagle 9/26/2007

JOHN DAY – Grant County is filled with historical riches. One such treasure was left by two Chinese immigrants, who came to John Day, started several profitable businesses, offered services to the community and were respected by both cultures.

Lung On and Ing “Doc” Hay immigrated to America and found their way to Grant County during the gold rush era. They formed a partnership and leased the building that is now the Kam Wah Chung Museum in 1888. The building served as a Chinese trading post, a hang out for Chinese immigrants, an herbal medicine practice, a Buddhist temple and their home.

Chinese and caucasian patients alike sought “Doc” Hay’s expertise. His specialty was pulsology, diagnosing ailments by the strength and rhythm of a person’s pulse. He mixed and sold herbal medicine to cure patients from all over eastern and central Oregon. He became well-respected by many as the “China doctor of John Day.”

Hay broke his hip and spent his last four years at a retirement home in Portland. He went blind several years before he died at age 89, but he continued to practice medicine.

On, an entrepreneur, ran the general store. He sold merchandise shipped from China, tobacco, American-made foods and products, and even Western medicines. He kept the store stocked with merchandise that would appeal to his Chinese and American patrons.

Fluent in English and well-educated, he was considered an upperclassman in China. He served as a labor contractor for the white people and Chinese. He also served as the letter writer and reader for the Chinese. On owned the first car dealership in Eastern Oregon.

“Basically, anything he thought he could make money at, he tried,” said the museum’s curator, Christina Sweet.

Lung On died when he was 78. He left his half of the business to his partner, Hay, who later left the entire business to his nephew, Bob Wah.

In 1955, Wah donated the building to the city to use as a museum. The building remained locked up until the 1970s.

In 1976, the building had its first restoration and museum officials made several interesting discoveries.

When one portion of the floor was pulled up, they found 96 bottles of Prohibition-era whiskey under the floorboards.

Under Doc Hay’s bed they found $23,000 worth of uncashed checks. Replicas are on display at the Interpretive Center.

Several documents, including letters to and from China were found, detailing the lives of a lost society.

“It’s kind of a forgotten history and here we have all aspects of the Chinese-American culture,” Sweet said.

Both men spoke Cantonese, as did most of the Chinese in Grant County.

“Chinese grouped together by province, because they spoke the same dialects,” Sweet said.

On and Hay became respected members of John Day society, at a time when Chinese people were usually persecuted.

“These folks were way ahead of their time and they were providing a service to the community,” said Deborah Wood, cultural resource manager for the National Park Service.

Kam Wah Chung means “Golden Flower of Prosperity.”

The museum is extraordinary because it holds artifacts from Chinese-American culture that are virtually untouched by time. From the homemade Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling to the unopened canned goods in the kitchen, there is a wealth of history to be uncovered throughout the building.

The museum is in the national register of historic places and has been listed as a national historic landmark since 2004.

Gravesite Details Row 13 along with Bob Wah, Rose Wah and Lung On

Flowers • 2

Left by Bonnie Rickmanon 24 May 2017

Visited the Kam Wah Chung museum and the graves this past weekend. These were amazing men.

Left by GraveWalker on 8 Sep 2009

  • Created by: Pam R.
  • Added: 24 Sep 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21735924
  •  Pam R.
  • Source citation

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