The store was built around 1855 and sold Chinese herbs during California’s Gold Rush era. During its early years, the store was operated by Dr. Yee Fong Cheung, who came to America to practice medicine for Chinese miners and railroad workers. In the 1880s a man known as “Chew Kee” owned the shop, selling herbal remedies, groceries, and supplies to the Chinese community. As Fiddletown’s Chinese population dwindled, Chew Kee deeded the property in 1922 to his “adopted” son, Fong Chow Yow (also known as Jimmy Chow), and moved away.
Jimmy Chow lived in back the old store until his death in 1965, and during those decades the shop in front remained largely intact. Today the store is a museum—a treasure chest of early 20th century Chinese culture in California’s gold country.
More views of the Chew Kee Store to follow….
Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
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