Chang Woo Opens Chinese Laundry in Rising Sun

Earlier this year, a post on the Delmar Dustpan about “the Chinese on Lower Delmarva in 1900” caught my attention.  As I read the informative article, I remembered an old Elkton businessman from the 1960s, Rodney Frazier, talking about meeting the first Chinese resident of Elkton as a youngster, when the laundry opened here.  The recollection of that long ago conversation and the recent piece about the newly arrived immigrants in Delmar, caused me to do a little digging into the subject in Cecil County. 

While working on investigations since that time, I have kept an eye out for additional mentions of Chinese laundrymen on the Upper Chesapeake.  As this subject didn’t command headlines, it is hard to find the mentions in the small local columns, but from time to time I do come up with those elusive traces from the past.

I have found mentions of the businesses in Havre de Grace and Rising Sun.  Here is what I have on Rising Sun.

“Chang Woo, a Chianman, had rented the storeroom in the Cecil Farmers’ Telephone building on South Queen Street in Rising Sun and was in the process of fitting it up for a laundry in October 1918, the Midland Journal Reported.  “This will be good news for our community, as every housewife knows what a knotty proposition getting someone to do the weekly wash has become.”

When cartographers from the Sanborn Company visited the town in Oct. 1921 to prepare a detailed fire insurance map of the town, they showed a Chinese Laundry near the intersection of Walnut and Queen Streets. It was a modest one story frame dwelling in back of Jos. S. Pogue Sons & Comany Hardware and Farm Machinery Store.  They came back in 1933 to update the product, and indicated that a Chinese laundry was still at that that location.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1921 show Rising Sun's Chinese Laundry.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1921 show Rising Sun’s Chinese Laundry.

The Birds Eye View of Rising Sun from 1907, the decade before the laundry opened.

The Birds Eye View of Rising Sun from 1907, the decade before the laundry opened.

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