Glenn Robert Lym Architect AIA/PhD

HERE7 Video Podcast:

Dogpatch Ranch - The Origins

of a Chinese American Family

This is the story of my Chinese great grandfather Lim Lip Hong and my great grandmother Chan Shee and the family they

raised in the late 1800’s on a ranch in Dogpatch, the Potrero, San Francisco on the then Bay shoreline.  Lim Lip Hong had returned to San Francisco after working more than a decade in the Sierra's and beyond, helping build railroads that criss-crossed the American West.

Why did they raise their family on a ranch in rural, outlying San Francisco instead of in protected Chinatown?  And how could they do this during a period of intense anti-Chinese discrimination in San Francisco and throughout the West?

The ranch was half a acre large and located at the front gate of the biggest Potrero factory at the time - Tubbs Cordage.  The ranch was intact for over 4 decades.  Yet the family was never run off the property.  Seven children and several grand children total were born at the ranch.

There are indications that the oldest son was employed at Tubbs as a teenager.  By 1910, he was in business, doing many of the same services for Asian ships that Tubbs Cordage had done for Caucasian interests.  

The 1906 Earthquake led to a dispersal of the family.  Most the older offspring relocated with their own families to East Bay.  The elders, the oldest son and his family and the youngest offspring remained in on the ranch.  But by the early 1920's, the ranch was demolished to make way for the construction of Minnesota Street.  With the end of the ranch came the death of Lim Lip Hong.  

Chan Shee and the remaining family members moved to two adjoining houses erected on a 1/10 of the original ranch land, lands post-deeded to the oldest son after the Earthquake destroyed City property records.  This transaction was never contested by the Tubb family, who in fact gifted one of the houses to the oldest son in exchange for moving it from its earlier location that blocked expansion of the nearby vinegar, yeast and fertilizer factory.

This six decade tale leads to interesting suggestions about the identify of great grandfather Lim Lip Hong.  Life at the ranch gave me a profound understanding of my own grandfather, Lim Lip Hong's second son.

HERE7 is 71 minutes long.  It was written, filmed and edited in 2014 through early 2016.

You can download a full verson of HERE7- Dogpatch Ranch: The Origins of a Chinese American Family directly within iTunes and subscribe to future episodes of HERE for free by clicking on the iTunes button below.

You can also view HERE7 on YouTube.  

C r e d i t s

The following individuals offered me advice and resources - Richard Lym, Andrea Yee, Sylvia Tsang, Kitty Wong Okamura, Marilyn Wong, Vic Lim, Jean Yee, Wendy Yee, Alton Sun, Joyce Chan, Peter Linenthal, Steven Herraiz, Gray Brechin, Sue Lee of the Chinese Historical Society of America

Mindy Lym & Tim Miller gave me valuable feedback on an earlier versions of this video.

Archives & Collections

County & City of San Francisco - Assessor’s Record Office 

Lim Sing Family Archive - Sylvia Tsang & Andrea Yee 

Vic Lim Family Archives

Peter Linenthal archive 

Glenn Robert Lym Archive

Richard Lym Archives

Prelinger Archives, Creative Commons License, 

San Francisco History Center SF Main Public Library  - SFDPW Photo Archive

San Francisco Maritime Museum Research Library - Charles W. Kellogg Album-Tubbs Cordage Collection

San Francisco Maritime Museum Research Library - Tubbs Cordage Collection

SFMTA Photo Archive!/geo:37.756415,-122.394859/zoom:16/

Alton Sun Photography

Wong Family Archives - Kitty Wong Okamura & Stephanie Wong Coupe 


Ruth Kretzler Billhimer “Pawns of Fate: Chinese/Paiute Intercultural marriages 1860-1920 Walker River Reservation Shurz, Nevada” Masters Thesis, Department of History, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, December 1998 

Robert H. Bowcock Butchertown: A Collage of A San Francisco Institution during 1850-1960  Falcon Books  2004 

Imogen Cunningham After Ninety 

Val J. Golding  SAN FRANCISCO: that was THE CITY that was

Gregg Lee Carter “Social Demography of the Chinese in Nevada: 1870-1880” Nevada Historical Society Quarterly  Summer 1975  pgs 73-89

Gordon H. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin “Fragments of the Past: Archaelolgy, History, and the Chinese Railroad Works of North America” in Barbara Voss editor Historical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Society for Historical Archaeology Vol 49, Number 1  2015

Sue Fawn Chung with the Nevada State Museum Images of America: The Chinese in Nevada Arcadia Publishing 2011

Laverne Mau Dicker The Chinese in San Francisco: a pictorial history  

John Kau Wei Tchen, text and editor Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown

Him Mark Lai Becoming Chinese American - A History of Communities and Institutions Altamira Press 2004

Peter Linenthal, Abrigail Johnston and the Potrero Hill Archives Project Images of America: San Francisco’s Potrero Hill Arcadia Publishing 2005

National Archives - San Bruno CA, US Immolation Service Records

“Interview of Lim Lip Hong” September 24, 1917

Mary Praetzellis and Adrian Praetzellis “Commentary on the Archaeology of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America: Where Do We Go from Here?” in Barbara Voss editor Historical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Society for Historical Archaeology Vol 49, Number 1  2015

Renee Lym Robertson & Patty Gully Time Flys a DVD based on a book by Renee Lym Robertson on the Life of her father, Art Lym  2014

Andrew Robichaud 1 & Erik Steiner “The Movement of San Francisco’s Butchertown and the Spatial Transformation of Meat Production, 1849-1901”  Stanford University Spatial History Project 1 April 2010

David Warren Ryder  Men of Rope:Being the History of Tubbs Cordage Company; Together with An Account of Some of The Collateral Activities in Which Its Pinioned Founders Engaged  Historical Publications  San Francisco  1954

San Francisco City Guides  “Dogpatch and Potrero Point: A Self Guided Tour” 

Richard Schwartz Earthquake Exodus, 1906: Berkeley Responds to the San Francisco Refugees RSB Books 2005 

Charlotte K. Sunseri “Alliance Strategies in the Racialized Railroad Economies of the American West” in Barbara Voss editor Historical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Society for Historical Archaeology Vol 49, Number 1  2015

Barbara Voss editor Historical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Society for Historical Archaeology Vol 49, Number 1  2015

Herbert Wong “Video Interview with Herbert Wong & Richard Lym” 2010 Archives Sylvia Tsang

Interviews w Dr. Herbert H. Wong, regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

William Wong Images of America: Oakland’s Chinatown Arcadia Books 2004

Worley K. Wong Journal, 1979-  Archives of….

Sally B. Woodbridge San Francisco in Maps and View

Judy Yang and the Chinese Historical Society of America Images of America: San Francisco’s Chinatown Arcadia Press 2006

Andrea Yee “Lim Lip Hong: an indomitable pioneer”  from Sue Lee and Connie Young Yu editors Voices from the Railroad: Stories by Descendants of Chinese Railroad Workers  Chinese Historical Society of america  San Francisco  2014

Online References


“Anti-Chinese Sentiment the United States”

“Alien Land Laws”

“Chinese Exclusion Act”

“Louisiana Purchase Exposition”


Daily Alta California, Volume 39, Number 9779, 15 January 1877 pg1»e+on+th«+Potrero.———

The Evening Post  Monday December 23, 1912  “Chinese Belle Weds Reporter: Church Ceremony ala American”  

Los Angeles Herald 9 April 1902   “Pro-Chinese Men in Senate” 

Marysville Daily Appeal, Volume XV, Number 25, 30 January 1867 pg 3

The Oakland Herald  April 27 1906  pg 1c5  “Chinese Crowding Into Fashionable Districts” 

San Francisco Call, Volume 74, Number 25, 25 June 1893 pg 7

San Francisco Call, Volume 87, Number 130, 9 April 1902  “Protest from This City: Business Men Desire Changes Made to the Present Measure (Exclusion Act)”

San Francisco Call, Volume 111   Number 67   5 February 1912 pg 12  “Tongmen Drop Hatchet to Attend Wong You Funeral Fighting Stilled While Highbinders Follow Bier of Rich Chinese”

San Francisco Call, December 22 1912  “China Love God Works All Same American: Native Born Pair Plight Troth at Mission Last Night”

San Francisco Chronicle 11 April 1920  “Elaborate Funeral for Rich Lym Tye To Be Held Today”  

San Francisco Independent  November 13 1990  Matthew Brady “The Old Town: The Butchertown Saga”

Unidentified Newspaper clipping from the Society of California Pioneers Library   Russell Harper “Wong, King of the gamblers, is the richest Chinese outside of China”

M u s i c

by Glenn Lym