Emmeline, Toney, Nancy, Mary, Julia, Elizabeth, Marie, Henrietta, Alice, Caroline, Helen, Martha, Albert, Melanie, Henry and James
These are the sixteen children (4-boys and 12-girls) of Chun Afong and his wife, Julia Fayerweather Afong (15 would live into adulthood – James died as an infant.)
But wait … we need to step back a few years to get a better perspective.
A legal notice signed by Dr. Gerrit P. Judd, the former missionary doctor, appeared in the newspaper in March 1857. Titled “Julia Fayerweather,” it read: “Having eloped or been enticed away from my guardianship, I forbid all persons harboring or trusting her, under penalty of the law.”
No, wait; let’s go back a little farther.
Julia Hope Kamakia Paʻaikamokalani o Kinau Beckley Fayerweather was the daughter of Abram Henry Fayerweather and Mary Kekahimoku Kolimoalani Beckley (daughter of Captain George Beckley and High Chiefess Elizabeth Ahia) (February 1, 1840.) The Fayerweathers had three children.
Julia’s grandmother, the chiefess Ahia, married Captain George Beckley, one of “Kamehameha’s haoles” and the first commander of the Fort of Honolulu. (Dye)
The Fayerweather daughters, Julia (age 10,) Mary (8) and Hanna (7,) were orphaned in 1850. They were raised by foster parents.
Julia’s foster father was Keaweamahi Kinimaka. (Another hānai child raised in the same family was David Kalākaua (later, King of Hawaiʻi.))
Julia was later placed under the guardianship of missionary Gerrit P Judd.
Julia met Chun Afong (he was a Chinese national who came to Hawaiʻi in 1849 – leaving his Chinese wife and son in China.) By 1855, Afong had made his fortune in retailing, real estate, sugar and rice, and for a long time held the government’s opium license. He was later dubbed, “Merchant Prince of the Sandalwood Mountains” and is Hawaiʻi’s first Chinese millionaire.
When Julia was 15, Chun Afong began to ask for permission to marry from her guardian, Dr. Judd.
The Grand Ball of 1856, celebrating the marriage of King Kamehameha IV and Emma Rooke, was a combined effort of the Chinese merchants of Honolulu and Lāhainā communities; Afong attended.
The March 1857 newspaper proclamation posted by Judd (noted above) was done when Julia was sixteen.
In May 1857, Chun Afong became a naturalized Hawaiian citizen, a requirement for foreigners who wished to wed native Hawaiian women; shortly thereafter, he married the teenager, Julia.
The ceremony took place on June 18, 1857 at Afong’s Nuʻuanu home and was performed by the Reverend Lowell Smith of Kaumakapili Church. (Afong also had a house on the water in Kālia, Waikīkī, where Fort DeRussy is now located.)
Over the following years, the Afongs had 16-children. They sent their firstborn son of his Hawaiian wife to his Chinese wife in Zhongshan in exchange for his China-born son, who was brought to Honolulu to be reared.
Emmeline Afong, their first child, became the hānai child of Keaka (a retainer at Princess Ruth’s home) and Haʻalilio. Emmeline married J. Alfred Magoon, a lawyer – they had seven children.
Alfred Magoon helped found the Sanitary Steam Laundry, invested in Consolidated Amusement Co. and the Honolulu Dairy. He died and Emmeline took over leadership of his business interests. In her 70s, she moved to South Kona and managed the Magoon Ranch at Pāhoehoe – riding horseback and overseeing the cattle ranch. She died in 1946 at age 88.
Eldest son, Toney, decided to live as a Chinese in Asia. Toney married a Chinese woman and became a prominent Hong Kong businessman, the governor of Guangdong for a time and a philanthropist.
All of Afongs’ daughters, with the exception of Emmeline, moved to California, most of them to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Chun Afong returned to China and died peacefully on September 25, 1906 in his home village and is buried there; Julia remained in Hawaiʻi, died February 14, 1919 and is buried at Oʻahu Cemetery, surrounded by many of her descendants.
In 1912, Jack London published a short story called “Chun Ah Chun”, based on the life of Chun Afong and his family. An Afong great-grandson, Eaton Magoon Jr., updated the capitalistic context of London’s story by having Chun market his daughters by “merchandise packaging” them in a musical comedy called Thirteen Daughters.
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