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In search of Dean Lung, a Chinese person

By Zhao Xu in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2020-08-01 13:40


Carpentier's letter to Dean Lung on Sept 17, 1907.It is believed to have been penned by Caroline Crocker, Carpentier's household assistant.[Photo by Li Bing/China Daily]

Following his donation, Dean Lung also appeared in a New York Tribune article that said:"He was 16 years old when Mr. Carpentier engaged him at San Francisco to do light work, and he has been in his employment constantly since that time."

In all likelihood, the man known as Dean Lung traveled to the US west coast following the footsteps of his compatriots, 27 years after gold was discovered in California and six years after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad linking America's west with its east, half of which was built by Chinese immigrant laborers.

There he met Carpentier, 33 years his senior, who had sought and found his fortune in California, after graduating from Columbia.

Equipped with vision and entrepreneurial streak, Carpentier presided over the construction of the western portion of the transcontinental telegraph, and launched ferry services between San Francisco and Oakland.

Yet the daring man was equally known for his utter lack of scruples paired with coldblooded cunning when it came to accumulating wealth at the expense of others or the public.

In 1852 Carpentier persuaded the new California state legislature to incorporate Oakland as a town. Days later the new town's trustees passed an ordinance that in effect gave him complete, lucrative control of Oakland's waterfront to Carpentier. This was discovered in 1855, a year after Carpentier had been elected Oakland's first mayor.

Anderer says it is believed that from 1888 Carpentier lived mainly in New York, having "left Oakland for good in 1868". Apart from the building at 108 East 37th Street in Manhattan, he maintained two summer homes in Galway, a small town in Saratoga county, about 280 kilometers north of New York.

A thoroughfare connecting the two homes in Galway "was built at Carpentier's expense through what was formerly swamp land", Anderer says, and was named Dean Lung Road.

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