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Weaverville Chinese family
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



Early Contacts

Historic Sites
Selected References


A History of Chinese Americans in California:

L. T. Sue Herb Co.
Hanford, Kings County

China Alley is a short street in the city of Hanford which served as the major center for Chinese Americans in Kings County. Chinese Americans who settled in the Hanford area were employed in railroad construction and the production of fruits and vegetables in the San Joaquin Valley.

The Taoist Temple, an historic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in China Alley. Several of the brick buildings along China Alley stand vacant today including the L. T. Sue Herb Co. shop.

The L. T. Sue Herb Co. was the first and longest surviving herb company in Hanford. The two-story brick building is characterized by symmetry, engaged piers at the corners of the building, and a wooden second-floor balcony. The verticality of the piers is offset by the double border of bricks along the flat roof. The second floor has a central door, flanked by two windows. All three openings have brick sills and are crowned with decorative brick arches. The first floor has been renovated with large store windows surrounding a central door. The building extends from Seventh Street to China Alley with entrances on both streets.

The herb company was founded by Lok Ting Sue, a famous Chinese American herb doctor who had many patients, both Chinese and White, and was very successful financially. It is estimated that 80% of Dr. Sue's patients were Caucasians. Since Dr. Sue was not fluent in English, he employed Richard Do as an interpreter when he visited his Caucasian patients.

The reason so many Caucasians patronized Chinese herb doctors in the nineteenth century was that western medicine was not always reliable, and its methods were often extreme, such as the practice of bleeding. Chinese herbal medicine, though not always effective, was not harmful, and it had centuries of use behind it. Today, many of our "wonder" drugs are synthesized forms of traditional herbal medicines that are natural, and tend to have fewer side effects than the synthesized forms.

L. T. Sue Herb Co.
L. T. Sue Herb Co., Hanford, Kings County

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