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Tong Yuen Chan


1.  As a student  2. 1919 CEM Reunion (LaFargue Collection)


Pinyin & Chinese characters Tang Yuanzhan 唐元湛

Variant Spellings & Other Names Tong Yuen Cham
Tang Yun Shin
Yen Chen Tong
Y. C. Tong
American nickname: "Number 3"1

Other Chinese Name(s) Tang Luyuan 唐露园

Detachment 2

LaFargue No. 53

Date of Birth 1861
Place of Birth Xiangshan (Macau), Guangdong
Age at Departure for US 13 (Lunar Calendar
Date of Death

10 November 19212

Place of Death


Place(s) of Residence in US (1) Springfield, MA3
(2) Lowell, MA (half-year 1874)3
(3) New Britain, CT4
American Host Family/ies

(1) Springfield, MA: Alexander S. & Rebekah R. (Brown) McClean3
(2) Lowell, MA: Daniel Webster3
(3) New Britain, CT: 1st, Henry G. Sawyer, 1878-79; 2nd, John N. Bartlett4

School(s), with dates  New Britain High School, New Britain, CT, 1878-80.4
Notable Activities/Awards in School  
College/University, with dates Columbia University5
Notable Activities/Awards in College  
Degree/Diploma Obtained (date)  
First Assignment in China  
Later Positions

1881-1913: Beginning as a Telegraph Operator eventually became the Director-General of National Telegraph Bureau of China6; one-time Director of Shanghai Telegraph Bureau7;

1905–06: As Superintendent of Imperial Chinese Telegraph Administration, accompanied Duanfang (端方), Viceroy of Liangjiang, and Dai Hongci (戴鴻慈), Vice President Board of Treasury, on a mission to U.S. and European countries to inspect systems of government8;

1908: In Impressions (1908), p. 532, listed among “Prominent Residents of Shanghai” as “..chief superintendent and acting general manager of the Imperial Chinese Telegraph Administration, Deputy to His Excellency the Viceroy of the Liang Kiang, Commissioner of the Inland Likins, a Director of the Canton Guild, a representative of the Kwangtung Province on the Chamber of Commerce, and a director or committee member of several companies and local institutions.”
Director of Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank;

1909: appointed by Office for Selection of Students for America (recipients of Boxer Indemnity scholarships) as its Commissioner at Shanghai9;

Representative of the Chinese Government at Shanghai6;

1913: On 21 July 1913, during the "second republican revolution," the pro-Constitution party sent Tong to take over the Shanghai Telegraph Company from the control of the pro-Yuan Shikai party.  But the foreign consulates deemed the act to be a violation of Treaty agreements; whereupon Tong was forced by the Shanghai Municipal Council to relinquish his position.10

Employment Sector(s) Telegraph/Banking

Final Rank, if in Gov't Service Qing era: Expectant Daotai

Father's Name Tang Yixun 唐意勳11
Mother's Name  
Wife/wives 邓凤 (1867-1930)

Family Relations w/ other CEM Students


Probably a near relation of other CEM students of surname Tong: Tong Kwo On (Tang Guoan 唐国安 II, 49); Tong Shao Yi (Tang Shaoyi 唐绍仪 III, 61); Tong Wing Ho (Tang Ronghao 唐荣浩 IV, 105); and Tong Wing Chun (Tang Rongjun 唐荣俊 IV, 106).12

Children's Names

 2 sons: Kyat [Albert] Tong; George Tong.  1 dau.2

"…Mr. Tong's two sons, Albert and George, are now [1908] being educated at St. Paul's School, London.  They have been in England for four years, and will enter Cambridge University in a year or two."13


Grandson, Tang Bing-Liang 唐炳良.
Great-Granddaughters: Daphne Tong Au (Tang Yuqin) 唐鈺芹; Constance Tong Goddard (Tang Yurong) 唐鈺蓉.
Great-Grandniece: Deng Jie 邓洁 (chief editor of television division of Urumqi Railways, Xinjiang 乌鲁木齐铁路局电视台主任编辑).

Other "While in the United States, he with Tsai Ting Kan [Cai Tinggan 蔡廷干 II, 31] was sent to work in the machine shops in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Because of the danger of working among the moving machinery, both of the lads were given special permission to cut off their pigtails." (LaFargue (1987), 9.1.)  In Lowell both boys "allegedly lived with a nephew and namesake of the statesman Daniel Webster." (Rhoads (2011), pp. 71; 150.) (LaFargue may be in error in asserting that Tong was “another one of the Hartford boys,” since no other source gives Hartford as Tong’s residence.)  Cf. Yung Shang Him (1939), 42: "In the latter part of 1874, Mrs. McClean gave up the care of us on account of ill health.  Tong Yuen Chan and Tsai Ting Kan went to Lowell, Mass."  (At the same time Yung and Chung Mun Yew (Zhong Wenyao 钟文耀 I, 2) were transferred to other families.)  In a letter from Yung Shang Him to Woo Yang Tsang (Wu Yangzeng 吴仰曽 I, 3), dated October 8, 1935, in LaFargue (Pullman), Yung wrote: "Tsai, Tong and myself were such mischievious [sic] imps that Mrs McClean washed her hands of us…"

Awarded the Precious Star Baoxing medal 宝星; decorated by the monarchs of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.6

1915 a founder member and Vice-President, Boy Scouts Association of China (Christian Literature Society of China, The China Mission Yearbook, 1919, Shanghai: Kwang Hsueh Publishing House, p. 196).

1919: Appointed Director of Operations (?) 理事长 of Chinese Red Cross14

Served on numerous boards and committees, incl. American University Club, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Committee of Harvard Medical School, various hospitals, World’s Chinese Students’ Federation, The International Institute (founded by Rev. Gilbert Reid); Fu Dan College, Chi-Sue Girls' School, etc.6

In 1921, Mrs. L. Hoyt Pease, daughter of Henry G. Sawyer (associate principal of the “Normal school” in New Britain, CT), with whom Tong Yuen Chan and Tsai Ting Kan (Cai Tinggan 蔡廷干 II, 31) had lived while attending New Britain High School in 1878-79, recalled:  “…they were good boys. I well remember the dinners they used to have in our dining room.  They would ask if we had any objection to their having a Chinese dinner and of course, we were pleased to have them enjoy themselves.  They would go up street and buy their liquid salt and Chinese sauces, and provisions and of course they had to cook them, because I did not know how to do it.
   After, they would have several Chinese boys from Hartford down to dinner, and once, I recall, we girls ate with them.  We could not manage the chop sticks as deftly as those boys could, but we certainly enjoyed the dinner.  Always after those dinners, the boys would wash the dishes and clean up the dining room.
   When they came to our home, they could speak some English and after two years at school their English was perfect.  You could sit in this room and hear them talking in the next room, and you could not tell but that they were native born Americans.  They were excellently mannered, perfect gentlemen.  In fact, I often pointed them out as an example for my own boys to follow.”15

Tong Yuen Chan’s manuscript list of the 120 students of the Chinese Educational Mission, titled Youmei Liuxue Tongren Xingminglu 遊美留學同人姓名錄, provides valuable information on the names, places and dates of birth for all of the students, with some additional details on parentage and careers subsequent to the CEM for many of the students.  (See Tang Yuanzhan under Mss. Chinese for full citation.)  Two other CEM students, Young Shang Him (Rong Shangqian 容尚谦 I, 6) and Wong Bing Chung (Wen Bingzhong 温秉忠 II, 36), compiled similar lists with comparable information about the students.
Notes and Sources

1. Kao (1986), 94.

2. Hartford Courant, 12 Dec. 1921, 10:6, "Yen Chen Tong Dies at Home at Shanghai."

3. Rhoads (2011): Springfield and host family, p. 52, Table 5.1; at Lowell, MA, and Daniel Webster, p. 71.

4. H. G. Sawyer: Hartford Courant, 28 Nov. 1921, 13:3-4, "N. Britain Recalls Chinese Student"; Rhoads (2011) p. 97, Table 7.2. J. N. Bartlett:  U.S. Census records, 1880. John Newton Bartlett was a maternal uncle of Mary L. Kellogg, wife of Yung Wing.

5. Dr. Gilbert Reid, “Graduates of Our Colleges in High Posts in China,” New York Times, 16 Oct. 1910, 12: “He studied for only a few months at Columbia, when he, like the rest of his fellows, had to take sudden departure to the home land.  He has been connected more with mercantile life than with political, but he is a student of political science and is familiar with the new methods for advancing the interests of his country.”

6. Who’s Who (1917; 1978), 100-01.

7. Qian & Hu (2003), 173, Qian & Hu (2004), 183.
8. Impressions (1908), p. 532.  Cf. Arthur W. Hummel, ed., Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1944), Vol. II, p. 781; and Sze (1962), pp. 34-37.  Another CEM alumnus, Won Bing Chung (Wen Bingzhong 温秉忠 II, 36), accompanied the special mission as Secretary and Advisor to Duanfang.

9. Boundless Learning (2003), 115, item 99.

10. Website of Shanghai Region Historical Records 上海市地方志: http://www.shtong.gov.cn/node2/node2245/node63852/node63860/node63963/node64484/userobject1ai58010.html (accessed 9 Jan. 2012).

11. Information kindly provided by Daphne Tong Au, great-granddaughter of Tong Yuen Chan (email 8 Oct. 2012).

12. Rhoads (2011), p. 24.

13. Impressions (1908), p. 532.  (A triptych photograph of Tong and his two sons appears on page 530.)  The two boys are listed as "Masters Alberto and Jorge Tong" (together with an unidentified "A. J. de Souza") among passengers outward bound from Shanghai for Marseilles on the steamer "Chusan" ("Outward," in The North China Herald, 6 May 1904, p. 954).  These names are grouped with those of officials accompanying the special embassy despatched to Europe by the viceregal government of Sichuan Province and headed by Kee Tsu Yi (see profile of Qi Zuyi 祁祖彞 III, 82, "Later Positions," entry for 1904).

14. 浙江瑞安红十字会: http://www.raredcross.org/zlzx/hhdsj/254706.shtml (accessed 9 January 2012)

15. Hartford Courant, 28 Nov. 1921, p. 13: 4.