On a hopeful September day in 1912, Gim Pon, a twenty-five year old Chinese man from Canton, boarded the steamship Siberia in Hong Kong harbor to sail west across the Pacific. The Siberia docked briefly in San Francisco, but Gim Pon's destination, and that of seven fellow Chinese travelers, was not California but the northern Mexican state of Sonora. In the early twentieth century, thousands of men like Gim Pon immigrated to Mexico, boosting the Chinese population there from slightly over 1,000 in 1895 to more than 24,000 in the mid-1920s. Sonora, which hugs Arizona at the United States/Mexico border, was a popular destination, and hosted the largest Chinese population of any Mexican state through the 1920s. Once in Sonora, Gim Pon adapted to life in Mexico: he changed his name to Francisco Gim, learned Spanish, and became naturalized as a Mexican citizen on February 27, 1920. Most importantly, he formed a family with Julia Delgado.
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