The Chen family, Melbourne, 1928
The Chen family
Photo courtesy of Mabel Wang
At rear, standing: Andrew Wong Yen (second husband of Lum Gum's first daughter Mary, who is seated in front of him), Mary's daughter (name unknown) and son Robert Lee by Mary's first marriage to a Mr Lee in China. Standing to the right of Robert Lee are the four Chen brothers: George Wing Dann, Matthew Wing Tang, William Wing Young, and Peter Wing Shing.
Middle row seated: Mary Wong Yen (Lum Gum's daughter), Lee Siu Kum (Mrs Wing Dann) holding her son Philip, Lum Gum, Mrs Wing Tang, Mrs Wing Young holding her son Tom, Mrs Wing Shing (holding her son Jack).
Front Row: (children on floor): Esther Wong Yen, David Wong Yen, Vena Wong Yen, unknown girl (possibly an adopted daughter of Matthew Wing Tang), Ida Wong Yen, James Wong Yen, Mabel Wing Dann, unknown girl (adopted daughter of Matthew Wing Tang), Ruby Wing Young, Edward Wing Shing.
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Lum Gum (middle row, third from left), was the wife of Chen Ah Kew, a goldminer who came to Victoria in the 1850s. In 1887, Lum Gum came to join him, by then a storekeeper in Wahgunyah on the Murray River, as an arranged bride. He was 52; she was 22. They had six children before they all returned to China in 1901, where Chen Ah Kew and the youngest baby daughter died shortly after. The rest of the children grew up in their father's village of Hwang Chun in Guangdong province. As young adults the four sons and surviving daughter came back to Australia one after the other, allowed to settle, having been born here. They went into business together, setting up Wing Young & Co, with interests in banana plantations and wholesaling, fruit and vegetables, furniture making and food manufacturing. Each of the brothers returned again to China to marry. As Australia's immigration policy in the 1920s attempted to reduce the growth of the Chinese community in Australia by forbidding Chinese-born wives from staying in Australia for more than six months at a time, many of the Chen wives spent years of their marriages alternating between living in China or Hong Kong and Melbourne. Lum Gum returned to Australia in 1923. The use of photo montage allowed Mrs Wing Shing Chen (far right, middle row) and her sons Jack and Edward to be included in this group photograph even though they were not in Australia at the time.