Austin History Center

Sing Family Papers

An Inventory of the Collection



Overview of the Collection

Creator: Sing family
Title: Sing Family Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1894-2010
Bulk Dates: 1894-1960
Abstract: Joe Sing was a Chinese immigrant who settled in Austin, Texas and opened a laundry business. The collection includes correspondence with relatives and business contacts, family photos, business receipts, laundry equipment advertisements, and a book from China.
Identification: AR.2008.002
Quantity: 0.4 linear feet (1 box)
Language: The records are in Chinese (Mandarin) and English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Joe Sing was born “Jo Feng Sheng” in China, possibly in the region of Guangdong Province. He came to the United States as a young man to seek employment and to support his family back in China. He worked in New Orleans in the laundry business and eventually settled in Austin, Texas. Joe Sing owned Hong Lee Laundry initially located on 5th Street. He married Francis Moreno and had four children: Senovia, Joe Jr., Rumalda and Margaret. Joe Sing died on Nov. 30, 1927, at the age of 67 in a car accident.

Following Joe Sing's death, Francis Moreno Sing closed the original Hong Lee Laundry and opened up another location. Her youngest daughter, Margaret, took care of her until she passed away in 1962. As a single woman who was half-Chinese and half-Mexican, Margaret Sing saved up her earnings and purchased the home on 1705 Willow Street.

The family has since expanded with many marriages and births among Joe Sing's descendents. Senovia's daughter, Mary Frances Aguallo, has retained many of the stories and historical information about Joe Sing and his family and donated the items in this collection.


Scope and Contents

Joe Sing was a Chinese immigrant who settled in Austin, Texas in the early 1900’s and opened a laundry business. The collection includes correspondence with relatives and business contacts, family photos, business receipts, laundry equipment advertisements, and a book from China. Many of the letters are appeals from Sing’s family in China asking for financial help. Additional photographs and documents of Joe Sing's descendants as well as photographs from the Sing family historical marker dedication ceremony are also included in the collection.


Arrangement

Arranged into 6 series:
I. Documents
II. Photographs
III. Correspondence
IV. Financial Records
V. Advertisements
VI. Audio/Visual Materials

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Persons:
Aguallo, Ana.
Aguallo, Mary Frances.
Aguallo, Raul Hernandez.
Aguallo, Terry.
Sing, Joe, 1860-1927.
Laguna, Roberta.
Moreno, Frances.
Sing, Joe, Jr.
Sing, Margaret.
Sing, Mauricia.
Sing, Senovia.
Sing, Rumalda.
Places:
Austin (Tex.)
Mississippi
New Orleans (La.)
Boston (Mass.)
Hong Kong
Quebec (Province)
Guangdong Province (China)
Subjects:
Chinese Americans
Laundry - Equipment and Supplies
Laundry - Clothing and Dress
Laundry - Laundry Cleaning
Laundry Workers
Immigrants - Employment
Immigrants - Texas - History
Alternative Medicine - Medicine, Oriental
Finance, Personal
Advertising - Advertising cards
Automobile - Purchasing
Mexican American - Families
Asian American - Families
Asian Americans in business
Chinese Americans - Families
Chinese Americans in business
Asian American - Texas - History

Related Material

AF- Biography File – Joe Sing


Administrative Information

Custodial History

Materials were kept in a box in the home of Margaret Sing and donated by Mary Frances Aguallo to the Austin History Center on October 30, 2007.

Preferred Citation

Sing Family Papers (AR.2008.002). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2008/004

Donation Date: 2007, 2010

Processing Information

Initial Inventory and Preliminary Processing by Dior Chen/Esther Chung/2008 March

Final Processing and Finding Aid by Dancy Zhou/Esther Chung/2008. Additional donation processing Dancy Zhou/Esther Chung/2010.


Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Documents, 1894, undated

Joe Sing, 1894, undated
Box Folder
1 1 Item 1: Chinese name, undated
1 Item 2: Certificate of Residence , 1894 April 09
Joe Sing, Jr., 1918-1984
Box Folder
1 20 Item 1: Receipts, 1918
20 Item 2: Receipts of auto repair, 1938
20 Item 3: Receipt for car loan, 1933 June 13
20 Item 4: Receipt for car payments, 1938 August 31
20 Item 5: Contract for car loan, 1933 June 13
20 Item 6: Copy of contract for car loan, 1933 June 13
20 Items 7 and 8: Certificate of honorable discharge, 1945
20 Item 9 and 10: Certificate of recognition of service and envelope, circa 1980
20 Prayer card, 1984
Francis Moreno Sing, 1962
Box Folder
1 21 Item 1: Obituary, 1962
21 Item 2 and 3: Memorial record and envelope, 1962
Assorted Documents, 1922, 1947, unknown
Box Folder
1 19 Item 1: Unknown, unknown
19 Item 2: Prescription for Chinese medicine, unknown
19 Item 3: Address book, unknown
19 Item 4: Unknown, unknown
19 Item 5: Book (New Chinese) , 1922
Translated summary of the book: This book was first printed in 1911. There were a total of 8 volumes of this Chinese textbook for elementary schools. During that period, the government in China tried to unify all the different dialects and use Mandarin as the formal language in China
19 Item 6: Card, unknown
19 Item 7: Card, unknown
19 Item 8: Postcard, circa 1920
19 Item 9: Postcard, unknown
19 Item 10: Newsletter, 1947



II. Photographs, circa 1890-1999

Box Folder
1 2 Joe Sing, circa 1890-1990
3 Francis Moreno Sing, circa 1930-1962
4 Joe Sing Jr., circa 1949-1980
5 Margaret Sing, circa 1940-1999
6 Mary Francis Aguallo, circa 1940
7 Aguallo family, circa 1953-1968
24 Sing family historical marker dedication ceremony, 2010 October 23



III. Correspondence, 1912, 1926-1931, 1968, unknown

Letters from Grandson, 1926-1927
Box Folder
1 8 Item 1: Translated Summary of Letter: Yao Yuan (grandson’s name) said that he was working in a grocery store. He wished that his grandfather would take care of himself and not worry about Yao Yuan. Yao Yuan expressed that he hoped his grandfather would come back to his hometown. He also asked that his grandfather send some money to him for his wedding, 1926 March
8 Item 2: Translated Summary of Letter: Yao Yuan said that he had received the 20 dollars from his grandfather. He also told his grandfather that he was doing well and not to miss him. He still worked in that grocery store. He asked his grandfather to send a photo back home, 1927 July
8 Item 3: Translated Summary of Letter: This letter is to his Uncle. Yao Yuan told his uncle he was doing well and that he worked in a grocery store. However, the salary was very low. He hoped that he could earn more money. He wished that his uncle could help him and give him some travel money, 1927 March
Letter from Grand-nephew, circa 1926
Box Folder
1 9 Item 1: Translated Summary of Letter: Yao * (Sing’s Grand-nephew) went back to China several months ago. He visited the whole family and all of them were doing well. He also asked that he send back two or three hundred dollars to Yao Yuan (Sing’s Grandson) for his wedding, 1926 July or 1927 July
Letters from Son-In-Law, 1927
Box Folder
1 10 Item 1: On-Chao Huang’s Address, undated
10 Item 2: Translated Summary of Letter: On Zhao (Son-In-Law) mentioned that Yao Yuan (Sing’s Grandson) was working in a grocery store and the salary was very low. He hoped that Yao Yuan could go abroad too. However, the Canadian government refused new Chinese immigrants at that time, 1927 June
10 Item 3: Translated Summary of Letter: On Zhao (Sing’s Son-In-Law) said that he received a letter from his nephew Yao Yuan (Sing’s Grandson). He wished that Sing could send hundreds of dollars back to China for Yao Yuan’s wedding. On Zhao suggested that his father-in-law go back to China whether he was rich or not, 1927 September
10 Item 4: Translated Summary of Letter: On Zhao (Sing’s Son-In-Law) received a photo from his father-in-law. He thought his father-in-law looked very good. He also received the four hundred dollars which Sing sent back to Yao Yuan for his wedding. However, On Zhao suggested that Sing should send more back home. Because at that period, the cost of living in China was very high, 1927 October
10 Item 5: Translated Summary of Letter: This letter is to Sing’s wife (Francis Moreno Sing). On Zhao was so sad that his father-in-law was died in a car accident. He felt sorry that he could not come because he was in Canada. He encouraged Mrs. Sing to work hard for the laundry business in order to raise Sing’s children, 1927 December
Letters from Nephew, 1894, 1926-1927, undated
Box Folder
1 11 Item 1: Note, undated
11 Item 2: Translated Summary of Letter: Yi Jin (Nephew) told to his uncle that his business was not doing well because of the winter. He exchanged money every 2 to 3 days at that time. However, the conversion rate was a little low at that moment because it was the end of the year, 1926 December
11 Item 3: Translated Summary of Letter: Yi Jin told Sing that his family was fine and the city where he lived was fine too. He told Sing that his business was not so good because of the flood. He was in debt over 3,000 dollars at that time, 1927 May
11 Item 4: Translated Summary of Letter: This letter is to Sing’s wife (Francis Moreno Sing). In this letter, Yi Jin felt very sorry to hear that his uncle died in a car accident. Yi Jin lived far from Austin so he could not come to help them. He suggested that they should ask for compensation from the driver for his uncle’s death, 1927 December
11 Item 5: Translated Summary of Letter: In this letter, Yi Jin told to Sing that their hometown was not safe at that time. There were some thieves who were committing robbery in the area where their family lived. He also told Sing that his business was doing poor, undated
11 Item 6: Translated Summary of Letter: Dao Bao (Nephew’s name) thanked Sing for finding a job for him. Unfortunately, he became ill so that he could not continue his job. Some friends donated some money for him to help him go back to his hometown, undated
11 Item 7: Translated Summary of Letter: Dao Bao told his uncle, Sing, that he had received the money and put it into the bank. He said he did not have a photo of Joe Sing. He hoped Joe Sing would send a photo to him if he had one. He also mentioned how the other three business partners were doing. Although the first two months were not good, the business got better and they had earned some money. Unfortunately, those three partners found the work hard and closed their business. So Yi Jin lost some money. Because of this, he was very sad, unknown
Letters from Brother, 1915
Box Folder
1 12 Item 1: Translated Summary of Letter: Sheng Yu (Brother) went back to home for New Year’s holiday. He visited Sing’s Chinese Family. Sheng Yu said the whole family was fine and asked Sing not to worry about them. He also enclosed a letter from Sing’s family member, Shi Bing, 1915 January
Letters from Mother, undated
Box Folder
1 13 Item 1: Translated Summary of Letter: Sing’s mother told him that his father died on August 8 (year unknown). His mother said that they were poor. She hoped Sing could send some money home for his father’s funeral, undated
Letters from a Friend, 1929
Box Folder
1 14 Item 1: Letter from Dick Lim, 1929 October
Other Letters, 1927, undated
Box Folder
1 15 Item 1: Translated Summary of Letter: Dao Chao (name) said that the business was doing very poorly. He was talking about the difficulty about the business. He could not continue the business. He wanted to borrow some money from Sing, undated
15 Item 2: Translated Summary of Letter: A man named Yuan Hai wrote to his father He said he and his mother missed his father very much. He asked for some money from his father. He told his father they lived a very difficult life. Lastly, he wished his father good health, 1927 October
15 Item 3: Translated Summary of Letter: Yuan Hai’s mother Lei Chi wrote the letter to Yuan Hai’s father. She stated that Yuan Hai’s father left home over 16 years ago. She told him they had a baby boy named Yuan Hai. After Yuan Hai’s birth, the family was happy and invited some relatives to eat together. She also asked money from her husband to help them live better, 1927 November
22 Postcards, circa 1920
Envelopes, 1912, 1926-1931, 1968, undated
Box Folder
1 16 Item 1, 1912 May
16 Item 2, 1926 October
16 Item 3, 1928 February
16 Item 4, 1929 January
16 Item 5, undated
16 Item 6, undated
16 Item 7, undated
16 Item 8: Chinese envelope, undated
16 Item 9, 1968 February
16 Item 10, 1931 June



IV. Financial Records, 1911, 1922-1928, undated

Box Folder
1 17 Item 1: Book record for personal debt, undated
17 Item 2: Receipt for payment, 1928 June 7
17 Item 3: Receipt for payment , 1922 December 23
17 Item 4: Receipt for Payment, 1925 November 14, 1927 August 1
17 Item 5: Bank register, undated
17 Item 6: Record of debts, undated
17 Item 7: Record of debts, undated
17 Item 8: Record of debts, undated
17 Item 9: Record of debts, undated
17 Item 10: I.O.U. from supplier, undated
17 Item 11: I.O.U. from supplier, 1911 November 12
17 Item 12: I.O.U. from supplier, undated
17 Item 13: I.O.U. from supplier, undated
17 Item 14: I.O.U. from supplier, undated
17 Item 15: I.O.U. from supplier, undated
17 Item 16: I.O.U. from supplier in New York, 1926 October 08
17 Item 17: I.O.U. from supplier in New York, 1927 August 18
17 Item 18: I.O.U. from unknown supplier, undated
17 Item 19: I.O.U. from unknown supplier, undated
17 Item 20: Receipt for payment, undated
17 Item 21: Personal debt, undated



V. Advertisements, 1934, undated

Box Folder
1 13 Item 1: Advertisement, undated
18 Item 2: Advertisement, undated
18 Item 3: Letter, undated
18 Item 4: Advertisement for Chinese medicine. Translated Summary: The medicine is called “Wan Ying Ru Yi You”. This medicine was developed during the Qing Dynasty. It could treat several ailments such as a cold, stomachache, toothache, heart disease and others. It is suitable for everyone, undated
18 Item 5: Advertisement, undated
18 Item 6: Advertisement booklet, undated
18 Item 7: Envelopes, undated
18 Item 8: Advertisement, undated
18 Item 9: Advertisement, undated
18 Item 10: Ad for Department Store, undated
18 Item 11: Department Store Catalogue, 1934



VI. Audio/Visual Materials, 2009-2010

Box Folder
1 23 "Five Generations" - documentary DVD about the Sing family by University of Texas students, 2010
Location TapeNo
Oral History Cabinet 3111 Mary Frances Aguallo oral history, 2009