Pioneer Asian Indian
Immigration to the Pacific Coast

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Historical Photographs

Most of the photos displayed here illustrate mainly Sikh immigration owing to the fact that early settlement from Punjab was predominantly Sikh. In the early part of this century all immigrants from India were indiscriminately called "hindoo" or "hindu" regardless of religious affiliation. The term "hindoo" was also sometimes used in a pejorative sense for anyone from that continent. Permission to reproduce any of these photographs must first be obtained from the archive shown in the photo credits.

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U.S.

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Railroad workers

ca. 1900. Sikh railroad workers, Washington (state). (Oregon Historical Society. #OrHi 52788)

1909 Pacific & Eastern Railroad construction
ca. 1909. Pacific & Eastern Railroad construction. (Photo courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Medford, Oregon. Photo #1603.)

1909 Workers on the Pacific & Eastern Railroad construction.
ca. 1909. Workers on the Pacific & Eastern Railroad construction. Lunch break? (Photo courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Medford, Oregon. Photo #1706.)

Sikhs at Calapooia Lumber Company ca. 1909. Sikhs from India at the Calapooia Lumber Company, Crawfordsville, Linn County, Oregon, 1905-1915. (Crawfordsville is about 30 miles north of Eugene, Oregon). (Photo courtesy of Stephen Williamson www.efn.org/~opal/indiamen.htm)

Sikh on bicycle at Calapooia Lumber Company 1909 ca. 1909 Crawfordsville, Linn County, Oregon, 1905-1915. Man on bicycle. (Crawfordsville is about 30 miles north of Eugene, Oregon). (Photo courtesy of Stephen Williamson www.efn.org/~opal/indiamen.htm)

Citizens Group Picture 1910
Citizens: Group Picture: Sikhs 1910. Studio group photo; their turbans are distinctive but not otherwise identifiable. No more is known about the group. Source:California State Library Photograph Collection Neg. GL#1912.

SS Minnesota
1913. SS Minnesota, Seattle, June 23, 1913. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma. Photo by Curtis, negative #27255)

Sikh Temple Stockton  


1915. Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) in Stockton, California, dedicated November 21, 1915. This photo was taken by V. Covert Martin and appeared in the Stockton Record November 22, 1915, showing the new home of the Stockton Temple (Gurdwara).This structure became the first permanent Indian religious building in the U.S. Photo courtesy of the Holt-Atherton Dept., University of the Pacific Library, Stockton, California. Click on this image to obtain a larger magnification.

Temple Service in 1960?
(Photo courtesy of Dr. Harbhajan S. Shergill)
 


 El Centro Gurdwara

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Harbhajan S. Shergill)
 



Stockton Temple 1929.
1929. Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) in Stockton, California, which replaced the earlier building dedicated in 1915. Photo courtesy of the Bank of Stockton.

1908 Western Pacific RR near Quincy JCT
1908. Immigrant laborers on the Western Pacific RR near Quincy JCT, California. (Photo courtesy Plumas County Museum, Quincy, CA, PCM 4-1984).

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Immigrant  track workers  building  Western Pacific RR.
1906. Immigrant track workers building Western Pacific RR. Notice the medals, probably awarded by the British government or military, and worn as was the custom by new immigrants. Medals and insignia were later disabused by Sikhs. The meagre Christmas tree shows that they still retained some sense of humor. (Photo courtesy Plumas County Museum, Quincy, CA.) .

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1922. Puna Singh Chima
1922. Puna Singh Chima engaged in agriculture in Yuba City, California. (Courtesy of the Uppal family)

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Turbaned farmer
1930. (?) Turbaned farmer. (Source: Takaki in Bibliography.

Bhagat Singh Thind
Bhagat Singh Thind, a native of Punjab entered the United States in 1912. Thind was attending college and working in a lumber mill when he was inducted into the US army. He was honorably discharged from the army on 16th December 1918. In 1920 Thind applied for citizenship which was granted to him in Oregon by the district court. A naturalization examiner objected to the court's decision and sought for Thind's citizenship cancellation on the grounds that Thind was not white. An appeal was taken to the "Ninth circuit court of appeals" and the U.S. Supreme Court decided against granting Naturalization to Thind on February 10th 1923. It was a landmark decision in United States Vs Bhagat Singh Thind.


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Thakarar Singh Johl, 1878-1978
Thakarar Singh Johl, 1878-1978, also known as Tuly Singh Johl, came from Canada to the U.S. in 1906 to work on the railroad. At age 99 he was still driving an automobile and worked on his Yuba City, California peach farm until his death in 1978.

Immigrants on Angel Island, California
c. 1916. Immigrants on Angel Island. Photograph of a group of Sikh immigrants wearing turbans. Posed beside the covered recreation yard to the east of the detention barracks. (Photo courtesy of California Department of Parks and Recreation. Angel Island State Park Files. DPR Photo File #311-86.)

Immigrants on Angel Island, California c. 1916. Immigrants at Angel Island Immigration Station. Group of immigrants photographed in an open area between the detention barracks and the covered recreation yard. Support posts for the covered recreation yard are in the upper right corner of the thumbnail. (Photo courtesy of California Department of Parks and Recreation. Angel Island State Park Files. DPR Photo File #311-71.)

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Funeral  of Utam Singh.
c 1945. Funeral of Utam Singh, Yuba City, California. Although most of the outward signs of faith were practiced among only the most religious of the early Sikh immigrants, like their fellow Muslims they were strict about death rituals. When a Sikh died, a funeral photograph was taken of the deceased wearing a turban, whether or not he had worn one in the United States. The photo was then sent home to assure family members of the man's orthodoxy. (Photo courtesy of Isabel Singh Garcia, Yuba City, California.)

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1947. Wives and daughters of Punjabi immigrants duing first India Independence Day celebrated in the Yuba City-Marysville, California, area.
1947. Wives and daughters of Punjabi immigrants during the first India Independence Day celebrated in the Yuba City-Marysville, California, area. With few exceptions, all the wives were of Mexican descent (Photo Courtesy of Isabel Singh Garcia, Yuba City, California.)


Funeral of Dharm Singh Jian in Arizona. Died June 19, 1937.
Source: Hari Singh Everest (Yuba City).

Isabel Garcia
1996. Mrs. Isabel Singh Garcia Mrs. Garcia is very active in documenting and promoting Hindu-Mexican heritage in the Yuba City and Marysville, California area. (Photo by author T.S. Sibia, taken at the Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County.)

1989. Sikh field workers, Huron, CA
1989. Sikh field workers, Huron, California. (Photo from California Farmer, "Ethnic Farmers", 270(2):9, by Richard Steven Street, Jan. 21, 1989. Permission requested.)

Author T.S.Sibia (on the right) and friends
Author T.S. Sibia, (on the right) and friends working in peach orchards in Yuba City-Marysville area, California.

D.Singh Poonian family
(c.1927)Dhana Singh Poonian family. (l.-r.): Paritem S. Poonian, Dhana S. Poonian, Dalip S. Poonian, Raj Kaur Poonian.
D.S. Poonian came to California in 1906. He eventually settled in Loomis, California, where he established the Poonian Nursery in 1911. In 1923 Poonian returned to India to marry Raj Kaur, his brother's widow. He brought her and her two sons back to California. Raj Kaur Poonian's son Paritem married Janie Diwan, the daughter of a successful Arizon farmer, Diwan Singh.(Photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Donald and Thanti Powers.)

Diwan Singh and Poonian families
(1939) Marriage portrait of Janie S. Diwan and Paritem S. Poonian. (l.-r.): Raj Kaur Poonian, Janie S. Diwan, Paritem S. Poonian, Isabel (Mrs. Diwan) Singh, Diwan Singh, Nora Singh. (Photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Donald and Thanti Powers.)

Poonian family
(1950s) Paritem S. Poonian family. Back row (l.-r.): Santi Poonian, Janie Diwan Poonian, Thanti Poonian, Raj Kaur Poonian, Bhanti Poonian. Front row: Dalip Poonian, Irene Poonian, Paritem S. Poonian, Sr., Paritem Poonian, Jr. (Photo courtesy of Mr.and Mrs. Donald and Thanti Powers.)

Sutter County Field Workers
(1938) Sutter County, California, field workers. (l.-r.) Kartar S. Bahawal, Lal S. Rai, Kitshen Rahana, Gurbachan S. Purewal, Chanchal S. Rai. (Photo courtesy of Mary S. Rai.)
Chanchal Singh Rai left home in Boparai, Punjab, India with his cousin Lal Singh Rai in 1927 to work their way to America through the Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Panama, Central America and Mexico. Chancal left behind his wife and two small sons. Due to immigration laws and other difficulties, Bhani Kaur Rai was unable to come to the U.S. until 1989, when she was reunited with her husband. Chancal Singh Rai was a farmer and philanthropist who became a major donor to Fremont and Rideout Medical Centers and dontaed land for the Sikh Temple on Bogue Road (Yuba City, California). He helped many East Indian students attent Yuba College (California) and loaned money to others to start businesses.

Courtsey Of Mr.Hari Singh Everest Yuba City, California.

Congregation I March 1966

 

Congregation II 1966

Congregation IV July 196

 

Congregation III

Inside temple

 

Marriage Party

Small party with visitor June 1965

 

Stockton temple with congregation

Visitor II June 196

 

Visitors I

PunaSinghFamily. Male members of the Puna Singh Family, Yuba City, California, c. 1945

   


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Contact T.S. Sibia
tssibia@sikhpioneers.org