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Chinese Immigrants in Cuba: Documents from the James and Ana Melikian Collection


The Chinese Immigrants in Cuba collection includes hundreds of original documents, manuscripts and photos covering the migration of 125,000 Chinese who signed up to be cheap labor in Cuba from 1847 until the later 1890s. The archive continues until the 1970s and records the Chinese community in Cuba and is rich with photos. This massive collection, from the archive of James and Ana Melikian Collection, is probably the largest one in private hands concerning Chinese in Cuba. At present the collection contains over 1341 records and about 8,000-9,000 pages.


Date Range
1832 1992


Notices issued by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Cuba. The first notice issued by the Chinese Pharmacy in Cuba. It indicated the instruction for buying drugs and enumerate the date that people in different places could buy drugs from it. The second notice issued by the department of oversea remittance. It listed the detail and instruction for remittance.

Created Date
1992

A contract between Fang-Achat, a Chinese settler, and L. Miguel Gonzalez. The contract does not state how long it was supposed to last, but it lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Contract signed by L. Miguel Gonzalez and two others, but not the settler. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Contributors
鄧, 七

The membership certificate of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Cuba (Zhonghua zonggonghui 古巴中華縂工會) This certificate belongs to Hang Zhifu 黃質父 with a Spanish name “Wong Man.” He was born on May 16th, 1899. According to the record, it seems that he married twice: His first wife was a Chinese who stayed in Taishan 台山 of Guangdong Province. His second wife was a local woman who lived with him and they had at least two kids: Jose and Maria. His wife’s name might be Liolida Gil.

Records for the ship Carmencita, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Troncaso Bustamante. The ship was captained by Captain Garcia.

Shipping records of Torices, Puentes y Co. regarding the ships they contracted to bring Chinese settlers from China to Cuba to work. Includes letters from captains of some of these ships detailing to the government their contracts with Torices, Puente y Co.

Shipping records for the frigates, Live Yankee and Wake, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Torices, Puente y Co. These workers were contracted in Macao. They were to be contracted out to other employers.

A contract between Aqui, a Chinese settler, and Carlo Flotard, who worked as an agent for Campbell and Caro. Campbell and Caro gave Carlo Flotard the ability to contract Chinese workers and bring them from China to Cuba to work. The contract lists the legal requirements of both the settler and the company. Aqui was originally from Poloe. Aqui did not negotiation or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Flotard, A. de Garza, and Cañete y Morales. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Contributors
亞, 之

This is a membership license of Cuba Chinese association. The holder's name is Huang Wenfen. On the first two pages is a record of medicine shopping, including dates and amount of money. On the last two pages is the record Huang's relatives. His wife had died in his hometown and his younger brother was living in Guangzhou at that time.

Created Date
1970

A contract between Narceso, a Chinese settler, and A. R. Ferran and Rafael R. Torices. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Signed by Narceso, who signed in Chinese. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Report on the efforts of Manuel B. de Pereda to bring Chinese settlers to Cuba to work. The Civil Government had to consider what ships could be allowed to import settlers, who could sponsor them, and the laws concerning their rights and work privileges.

Report on the efforts of Manuel B. de Pereda to bring Chinese settlers to Cuba to work. The Civil Government had to consider what ships could be allowed to import settlers, who could sponsor them, and the laws concerning their rights and work privileges.

A letter from Eugenio Ponton from the port of Havana to the mayor's office. It details a dispute between Gregorio Tejedor and the Society of Pereda, Machado y Co over compensation for some Chinese settlers that Tejedor contracted from the company.

Relates that Juan Ley Acheu, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Records for the ship Flora, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with D. I. M. Zangroniz. On this trip, Flora brought settlers from China to work.

Records for the ship Live Yankee, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Torices, Puente y Co.

The Superior Civil Government investigates the Society of Bustmante y Troncaso's hiring practices, relating to the illegal hiring of Chinese settlers under the age of 14. Many of their contracts did not mention the age of the settlers as to avoid the legal age requirements.

A contract between Damian, a Chinese settler, and Martin de Cardenas y Laya. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Martin de Cardenas and Damian, who signed in Chinese.

A blank contract for employees working with agents Mariano del Pielago and Merino Gelledo. It has two language versions: Spanish and Chinese. It indicates the instructions that the employees should follow.

A contract between Antonio, a Chinese settler, and Elias Lolano y Garcia. Antonio was originally from Macao. Noted that Antonio completed a contract with Juan Oxaca previously. Antonio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, Elias Lolano y Garcia, and two witnesses.

This is a second work contract that was shared between Antonio- a Chinese settler, and his owner, D. Martin de Cardenas y Layas. Prior to entering this agreement, Antonio was being held in the municipal deposit of the capital; according to the fourth and fifth articles in the contract, and it is possible that he was required to enter this contract as a punishment for past transgressions against his owner. The length of this contract was for six months. Signed in Chinese.

This is a document hiring Chinese settlers for public work projects. Not dated.

Records for the ship, Ville de Lima, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Bauraw, the agent for Pellier, Bastand and the Company of Marsella. On this trip, Ville de Lima brought 500 from China to work. The ship stopped in Macao before going to Cuba.

Records for the ship, Messenger, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Torices, Puente y Co. The Messenger stopped in Macao before going to Cuba.

This is the second contract between Ramon, a Chinese settler, and Martin de Cardenas y Layas for the period of six months. This contract is undated and signed in Chinese.

Permission to enter the island of Cuba in a shipment of Chinese settlers in the English ship “Carpentaria”. Contractual printed in Chinese and Castilian.

This is a story about a rich lady Josephine and her daily life.

This is a short story about love.

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Possibly the first Chinese ambassador from the Peoples Republic of China (post Chinese revolution) to Cuba, Shen Jian with Che Guevara.

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The back reads: "With Chou En-Lai, the first Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China

Created Date
1963

A contract issued by Cafeteria Wakamba S. A. It stated that the money saved in the company could be drawn by three persons only. And when two of them agreed to draw the money, then they might draw the money successfully.

Contributors
翁, 恳芳
Created Date
1961

This is a savings account book for the Bank of China in Havana that belonged to Santiago Crespo A. A few bank transactions were documented on the first page of the booklet. Bank of China, Havana, Cuba- 1957

Created Date
1957-07-11

A letter from the Japanese Emperor Meiji to Tomás Estrada Palma, the first President of the Republic of Cuba. It details the emperor's congratulations for this new country and the new president. The Republic of Cuba declared its independence from the United States and was established on May 20th, 1902.

Created Date
1902-12-29

A short story about the life of a fisherman named Philip. 鲨魚翅

Created Date
1898

Documents pertaining to the import of Chinese settlers to Cuba by the Cuban government and private companies, like the Society of la Alianza y Compania. One ship, a French frigate called Valace, captained by Andre, brought 265 settlers to Havana in one shipment. Many of the settlers were contracted in Macao.

Created Date
1892

The Chinese version of Cuban fiction "Protector". 保護者

Created Date
1889

This collection of documents pertains to the discovery of an illegal Chinese lottery in the home of a Chinese settler, and the ensuing investigation to determine the culprits and amass sufficient evidence against them to determine an appropriate punishment for the crime. An index was provided at the beginning of the packet to outline the various testimonies, minutes, evidence, and sentence included in the packet. Antonio Alli and Jose Alem were the two Chinese settlers who were charged with organizing the Chinese lottery and distributing the lottery ballots. The first document proceeding the index page is the testimony that was …

Created Date
1886-01-27

A letter to the judge of the District of Prado concerning Pedro Amador, a Chinese settler, as the judge investigates Pedro Amador's past records. He was originally from Canton, but was working in Havana. Bernardo certified that Pedro Amador appeared to complete a previous work contract.

Created Date
1886

Laws pertaining to the legal rights of of landowners living in a certain area and their obligations. This includes how owners are supposed to write their contracts with their Chinese workers, including informing them of their payment and the terms of their contracts.

Created Date
1886

A letter from an unnamed office of the port of Havana to the Royal Administration. It details the arrival of a ship in the harbor that brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba to work under contract with Manuel B. de Pereda.

Created Date
1882-02-05

Contracts of Lorenzo, a Chinese settler and his employer, Juan Moreno. Each contract was to last for six months and each lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Lorenzo had completed a previous contract with Juan Moreno not included in this document. Signed by Alejandro, Juan Moreno, and Jose Jorge.

Created Date
1879

A contract between At Atay Cayetano, a Chinese settler, and Luis Tapia. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Cayetano completed a contract with Florencio Tapia previously. Cayetano did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Luis Tapia, Domingo Garcia, Cecilio Lopez

Created Date
1879

A contract between Liborio or Yong-aun, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Leborio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Contract signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1878-07-15

A contract between Adan, a Chinese settler, and Juan Calisto Oxamendi. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Juan Calisto Oxamendi and Adan, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1877-09-16

A contract between Camilo, a Chinese settler, and Ricardo Alfonso. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes Camila completed a contract with Ricardo Alfonso previously. Signed by Ricardo Alfonso, the Administrator, Señor Ramos, and Camilo, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1877-08-27

This is a labor contract signed by Jobita, a Chinese settler, in which he agreed to work for a new owner for one year. This contract was issued between Jobita and his new owner after he completed an initial labor contract with another owner. Signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1877-05-05

A contract between Leon, a Chinese settler, and Telerforo Sotolonya. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Leon completed a contract with Leon Asan previously. Signed by Telerforo Sotolonya and Leon, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1877-03-15

A contract between Fabian, a Chinese settler, and Juan Laudaluca. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Fabian completed a contract with Domingo y Gener previously. Fabian did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Juan de Laudalua.

Created Date
1877

A contract between Dane Lao, a Chinese settler, and Tutan y Hijo, agents for the contract company La Alianza. La Alianza was to bring Dane Lao from China to Cuba to work and the contract lists the legal requirements for both the settler and the company. Contract issued in Macao. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Created Date
1876-11-22

A contract between Leon, a Chinese settler, and Telerforo Sotolonya. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Leon completed a contract with Leon Asan previously. Signed by Telerforo Sotolonya and Leon, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1876-05-14

A contract between Ambrosio, a Chinese immigrant and Jose Antonio Franco. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Jose Antonio Franco noted that Ambrosio completed a contract with Jose Hernandez previously. Ambrosio was original from Chon. Ambrosio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates someone else signed for him. Contract signed by Jose A. Franco, Joaquin Lerpona, Tenunte Gabor, and Manuel Rave

Created Date
1876-05-12

A contract between Jacinto, a Chinese settler, and Jose Olauo. The contract was to last for two years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Jose Olauo wrote a letter of good conduct for a future employer. Signed by Jose Olauo and Jacinto, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1875-10-26

Five Chinese settlers completed a contract with their original employer and were seeking to sign a new labor contract. Their owner agreed to sign a new one.

Created Date
1875-10-07

This is a request made to the Cuban government on the behalf of Trinidad Amador, a Spanish bussinessman, in which he sought permission to renew the contracts of five of his Chinese workers. 1875

Created Date
1875-10-07

A contract between Onofre, a Chinese settler, and El Marques Du Luerne. The contract was to last for four years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Onofre completed a contract with el Marques Du Luerne previously. Signed by Onofre, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1875-06-08

A contract between Paluas, a Chinese settler, and el Marques de Guesme. The contract was to last for four years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Paluas completed a contract with el Marques de Guesme previously.

Created Date
1875-06-08

5 Chinese settlers completed a contract with Trinidad Amador and was seeking to sign a new labor contract with his original owner. His owner agreed to sign a new one.

Created Date
1875-04-23

This is a response to a rehire request made by Trinidad Amador, the owner of Yela de Pinos, written and signed by the the count Lagunilla, governor of Cuba. It states that the contracts of five indentured servants, Bernarndo, Candido, Teofilo, Amado, and Alicio will be renewed. No date given.

Created Date
1875

A contract between Judas, a Chinese settler, and Manuel Bello. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Judas completed a contract with Manuel Bello previously. Signed by Manuel Bello, Jose Lopez Francais, and Judas, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1874

These are two death certificates that were issued for two Chinese settlers. The first one was signed on October 12, 1874, and pertained to a young girl named Brigida Fuentes who was the daughter of a Chinese settler named Celestina Fuentes. The second certificate was signed on October 5, 1874, and pertained to an unknown person. Havana.

Created Date
1874

Joribio Padron, a Chinese settler, fulfilled a contract with Juan Diez. Diez recommended that Joribio be given permanent residency in Cuba because he met the legal requirements of completing an eight year contract with one employer. The letter also states that Joribio always exhibited good conduct and behavior.

Created Date
1873-10-16

This is a list of 35 contracted Chinese workers who were working for a company in the jurisdiction of Trinidad in Cuba. The only personal details included for each settler were their names and origins. Trinidad- 1873

Created Date
1873-09-09

Shipping records for a frigate that brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba. These settlers were later contracted by other employers in Sagua la Grande.

Created Date
1873

Certifies that several Chinese settlers completed contracts with the Military Path of Este.

Created Date
1873

Relates that an unnamed Chinese settler was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1873

A letter to the Secretary of the Government of Cuba requesting naturalization of a Chinese settler, Leonardo Valdez. He was originally from Canton, but promises to renounce his rights as a citizen of China if he is make a Cuban citizen. Included are records of his past work contracts and letters of recommendation from past employers.

Created Date
1873

Records for the ship Juan, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with the agent of Aureliano Olano. On this trip, the Juan brought over eight hundred settlers from China to work.

Created Date
1873

A contract between Leopoldo, a Chinese settler, and D. Fernando Tuton, an agent for la Compania de Hacendados. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Leopoldo did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the agent and Manuel Mente.

Contributors
林, 士
Created Date
1872-12-05

6 Chinese settlers were hired to work. They landed in Cuba in the port of Matanzas and were housed in the Depot. These workers were hired to work for an unnamed employer.

Created Date
1872-09-18

Records of new Chinese settlers who arrived in Cuba ill. They disembarked from the ship and were treated at the Principle "Depot." Only their names are listed.

Created Date
1872-08-18

A contract between Timoteo, a Chinese settler, and Pedro Reynaldos. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. The contract is handwritten. Notes Timoteo was later granted a cedula, or identity card.

Created Date
1872-08-05

A contract between Hipolito, a Chinese settler, and Pedro Reynaldos. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Hipolito completed the contract at the end of its proposed term. Hipolito did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Carlos Catalan and Pedro Reynaldo. Handwritten.

Created Date
1872-08-05

This is a certificate that was issued for a Cuban businessman, named Bartolome, which granted him permission to renew the work contracts of thirteen of his Chinese workers who had just completed their work contracts with him. Havana, 1872.

Created Date
1872-07-10

This is a formal request that was made on the behalf of Pedro, a Chinese settler, who sought permission to be rehired by his original owner under a new labor contract. 1872.

Created Date
1872-04-20

Benigno, a Chinese settler, completed a contact with Antonio Handruga and was seeking to sign a new labor contract with his original owner.

Created Date
1872

Eight Chinese settlers completed contracts with Tedeo Morales and were seeking to sign new labor contracts with their owner.

Created Date
1872

These are four separate death certificates that pertained to four Chinese settlers who died in November of the year 1872. The first three certificates were issued at the same hospital- Real Hospital de Cardiad de S. Felipe y Santiago, and date that the settlers were admitted into the hospital, the number of days they remained in the hospital before they expired, and the cause of their deaths, were well documented. The fourth certificate pertained to a Chinese settler named Juan de Dios who was not assisted by a hospital when he died, and therefore not a lot of details were …

Created Date
1872

This is a first contract that was signed by Li Naiye, a Chinese settler, in which he agreed to travel to Cuba to work as an indentured servant for eight years. He was brought to Cuba on the patronage of Rosendo Mayos and the Company of Hacendados. Several contracts ares included and it is later states that the contracts were fulfilled.

Created Date
1872

Contract of a Chinese settler, born in Nam today, China. Written in Spanish and Chinese.

Created Date
1872

List of workers who were recently hired by various employers. It lists the name of the employer or company, the name of the settler and their personal details.

Created Date
1872

This is a first contract signed by a Chinese settler, in which he agreed to travel to Cuba to work as an indentured servant for eight years. Macao

Created Date
1871-12-02

A contract between Chan Qui, a Chinese settler, and Tuton y Hijo and the agents of La Alianza. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Chan Qui did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the agents of Tuton y Hijo. Also features the contract in Chinese.

Created Date
1871-12-02

A contract between a Chinese settler and La Alianza. The contract was to last for an undisclosed amount of time and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer.

Contributors
鄭, 清
Created Date
1871-11-29

This is a first contract signed by an unknown Chinese settler, in which he agreed to travel to Cuba to work as an indentured servant for eight years.

Contributors
杜, 美
Created Date
1871-11-28

A contract between Pablo, a Chinese settler, and Dolores Reynaldos. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Signed by Dolores Reynaldos and Pablo, who signed in Chinese.

Created Date
1871-10-05

This collection of documents pertains to the death of Zenon Porto; he was a free Chinese settler in Cuba who owned his own fish frying business. The first document in this group is an announcement of his death on July 28, 1971, that was made by a Cuban police official. Within the same document, the official explained that an investigation and interrogation into the matters of his death would take place. Several records of the interrogations are included in this collection. Three Chinese settlers who were familiar with Zenon Porto including his brother Nicolas, and two neighbors- Domingo and Pedro, …

Created Date
1871-07-28

Records for the ship Encarnacion, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with La Alianza. On this trip, the Encarnacion brought 325 settlers from China to work.

Created Date
1871-07-12

A contract between Blas, a Chinese settler, and Jose Basquet. The contract was to last for eight years and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Notes that Blas completed a contract with Jose Basquet previously. Blas did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by the governor, two witnesses, and Jose Basquet.

Created Date
1871-05-06

This is a second labor contract that was shared between Blas, a Chinese settler, and his owner, Jose Maria Bosquet y Cara. Blas was brought from China to Cuba to work as an indentured servant and the length of the contract was for two years. This is signed by the governor, Jose Maria Bosquet y Cara, and two witnesses.

Created Date
1871-05-06

Records for the ship Encarnacion, which brought Chinese settlers from China to Cuba under contract with Fernando Tuton, an agent for La Alianza. On this trip, the Encarnacion brought 327 settlers from China to work. The ship was captained by Juan A. Gardoqui.

Created Date
1871-03-08

This is a ship manifest that detailed the 361 Chinese settlers who were taken to Cuba aboard the Spanish ship "Altagracia". Each settler on the ship was destined to work as an indentured servant for eight years under a strict contract with an owner. Prior to boarding the ship, each of them signed an eight year labor contract. Upon arrival in Cuba, their contracts would be ceded to various owners throughout Cuba. Included in the list are the ages, assigned numbers, names and origins of each settler.

Created Date
1871-01-16

A contract between Francisco, a Chinese settler, and Jose de la Portilla, a Cuban landowner. The contract was to last for one and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Francisco completed a contract with Jose de la Portilla previously. Jose de la Portilla then assisted Francisco in gaining permanent residency in Cuba

Created Date
1871

A contract between Justo, a Chinese immigrant, and Gaspar Vinals. The contract was to last for six months and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Justo did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Jose Lopes Francas, Manuel de la Fuente, and Gaspar Vinals.

Created Date
1871

Certifies that Valentin, a Chinese settler, completed an eight-year-contract with his employer. He was eventually granted permanent residency after fulfilling the legal requirements.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Pablo, a Chinese settler, and Juan Hernandez. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Noted that Pablo completed a contract with Juan Hernandez previously. Pablo did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Contract signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Melanio, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Melanio completed a contract with Juan Poey previously. Melanio did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him. Signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Fernando, a Chinese settler, and Jose de la Espinoza. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Noted that Fernando completed a contract with Jose de la Espinoza previously. Signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Chan-Asan or Rufino, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements of both the employee and the employer. Noted that Chan-Asan completed the contract at the end of its proposed term and that he completed a contract with Juan Poey previously. Contract signed by Enrique Morales.

Created Date
1871

A contract between Achung, a Chinese settler, and Juan Poey. The contract was to last for a year and lists the legal requirements for both the employee and the employer. Notes that Achung completed this contract and was granted a cedula or identity card a few years later. Achung did not negotiate or sign the contract as the signature stipulates that someone else signed for him.

Created Date
1871

Relates that At Atay Cayetano, a Chinese settler, was granted permanent residency in Cuba after fulfilling the legal requirements. He had worked for Pedro Larronde of the Descauso Sugar Factory, Florencio Tapia, and Luis Tapia. He completed an eight-year contract with Pedro Larronde.

Created Date
1871

This is a rehire request for Bernardo, a Chinese settler, and Amado, a Chinese landowner.

Created Date
1871