Update on Dr. Wo

Dear Liza,

About two years ago, I wrote to you about a Chinese herbalist who had worked and lived in Portland around 1903. His name was Dr. C. Gee Wo.

img_7754.jpg
Doctor Wo’s ad from the early 1900s

Back then, I learned that the doctor was from China and had studied herbal medicine both there and in Nebraska. He married a woman named Saide Celestine Starbuck and then they moved to Portland, Oregon, where he ran offices and sold medicines until he retired around 1921.

Last summer I went in a walking tour of Chinatown here in Portland, and learned that Dr. Wo had been very well known in the city, and had a clientele that included both Chinese and White people.

And then, this morning, it got even more interesting. Kol Shaver, a collector and dealer of antique and rare books in Vancouver, Washington, contacted me. Kol has been looking for information about Dr. Wo to help categorize some of his writings, and found information in my old blog! It made me ridiculously happy to be useful.

Kol runs an on-line shop at zephyrbook@gmail.com and was also able to give me more information about Dr. Wo.

Dr. Wo issued a series of books entitled “Things Chinese” through his Company Chinese Medicine, which had testimonials about his medical treatments. The testimonials within the book indicate he was still living as of 1926. He was also present at the baptism of his grandson Kenneth, born to his daughter Celestine (her mother’s middle name) in 1925.

Kol told me that there is still no information about the Doctor’s burial, but Mrs. Wo and their daughter are buried right here in our own Lone Fir Cemetery, even giving me the section and plot numbers! I could go visit!

Paying my respects to Mrs. Wo….

But, as Kol told me, if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d never find it. Mrs. Wo’s tombstone reads “Sadie Leo, 1868-1927”. Maybe because of anti-Chinese prejudice, they chose not to use their surname “Wo”. Close by is Celestine “Guie” Tongue Cooke, their daughter, who was born in 1898 and died in 1971.

Their daughter Celestine…

Also nearby is the smaller grave marker of Henry Leo, a son, who was born on August 27, 1903, and only lived two days. I mourned for his parents and little Guie, who would have been just five years old when she lost her baby brother.

And little Henry, who only lived for two days.


I am so happy to have been in contact with someone who is interested in Dr. Wo.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

2 thoughts on “Update on Dr. Wo”

  1. Evening Judy,
    Hate to tell you but that photo is very, very old for the old store which closed in 2006. Moved to an antique mall a block away which burned out in 2007. I’ve been by appointment only, and then exhibiting at 12-14 book fairs and trade shows a year until 2020 and the pandemic.

    Thanks for the thought,

    Kol

    Like

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