AH JIM

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AH JIM (fl. 1890s-1900s), Chinese abalone fisherman whose sponsored camp provisions at San Nicolas Island were stolen in March of 1900, resulting in the death by starvation of a Chinese fisherman, reported to have been Ah King. Ah Jim continued in the abalone business on the Channel Islands after this event.



In the News~

December 5, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “Ah Jim, a Chinaman working for Captain Forrest on the schooner Francine, returned yesterday from Geronimo with a black pearl worth at least $250, if not $500, which he found in an abalone… Ah Jim said he would sell it for $10, but the skipper did not have that much money…”


March 27, 1900 [SBMP]: “A tale of suffering and death from San Nicolas Island. Piratical crawfish catchers appropriate the only provisions in an abalone hunter's camp... While the three Chinamen were absent hunting abalones on the opposite side of the island, sailors who had been catching crawfish on San Nicolas Island raided the Chinamens' camp, stole their rice and 1500 pounds of abalone meat, and put out to sea. When the Chinamen returned, they found their provisions gone... During this time, Ah Jim, their employer at Santa Barbara, knew nothing of the robbery or of their suffering... Ah Jim says his agents endeavored to find an available vessel at San Pedro, San Diego and San Francisco, but could not... The dead Chinaman's name was Ah King, a cousin of Ah Jim. The latter does not know what steps will be taken to prosecute the crawfish catchers who robbed the camp...”


November 18, 1901 [LAT/SB]: “A Chinese merchant named Ah Jim was before Justice of the Peace Wheaton yesterday afternoon on a charge of having been vending abalones under the size required by law. He was found guilty, and was instructed to appear next Saturday for sentence. It is intended to make this a test case, and the matter will be heard by Judge Day on habeas corpus proceedings. Under a recent ruling by Judge Day, the abalone was declared not to be a fish, and the State fish law could, therefore, not be made to apply to it.”


December 6, 1901 [LAT/SB]: “Judge Day of the Superior Court is to decide whether or not an abalone is a fish. A Chinaman, Ah Jim, is under sentence of $20, or the alternative, for catching and having in his possession abalones of less size than allowed by State fish law. The defendant seeks release on the ground that an abalone cannot properly be classed a fish, and that therefore, the law does not apply to that species of game. The hearing of the case, under habeas corpus proceedings, came up yesterday, at the conclusion of which the court took the question under advisement. The decision will be of importance, as the crawfish, also, is included in the objection.”


December 8, 1901 [LAT/SB]: “Judge Day of the Superior Court rendered a decision in the habeas corpus proceedings of Ah Jim, convicted of taking abalones under size prescribed by law. The decision sustained the lower court. The question involved was the validity of the Penal Code referring to the protection of fish. The petitioners held that abalones are not fish, and cited Section 26 of Article IV as the basis of their contention. Judge Day denied the writ and remanded the prisoner to custody. The ruling on abalones affects crawfish as well.”


August 22, 1905 [LAT/SB]: “[State Fish and Game patrolman H. J.] Abels is making a general raid of all abalone camps on the Channel Islands, and is causing the wholesale arrest of Chinese abalone fishermen for having in their possession the shells of abalones that are under the required size of twelve inches in circumference. Ah Poy and Ah Jim were brought in by him on Sunday, and will plead before Justice Wheaton tomorrow. C. L. Jung, A. Que and Ton King have also been arrested on the same charge. Each of them was fined $25, and they have been released. Mr. Abels leaves today for San Miguel Island in search of others who are disobeying the game laws.”