From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Dock, Pong [Chinese in Covington, KY]

(born: 1899) 

Pong Dock was a Chinese-American in Covington, KY. He was said to have been born in the United States where he lived for the first three years of his life before his family moved back to China. As a teen, Pong Dock was sent back to the U.S. and was the charge of Sing Lee, according to an article in The Hartford Herald, "State officials ponder very vexing problem: shall Chinese boy go to the white or colored schools of state?," 11/12/1913, p.1. Pong Dock was 14 years old when he registered for school in Covington, KY. The registration threw the city education system into a quandary; in Covington, there were schools for whites and schools for coloreds. The school system did not consider Pong Dock as colored or white. The matter was sent to the Kentucky Attorney General Marvel M. Logan [info at]. Logan sent the question back to the Superintendent of Covington Public Schools for a final decision. Pong Dock's caretaker did not want him to attend the schools for colored children. Kentucky school laws only pertained to the segregation of white students and colored students, but not Chinese students; though there were Chinese persons identified in the U.S. Census as "colored" and as "white." Concerning Pong Dock, the final decision about his education was that he would attend the First District School for whites on Scott Street in Covington. It is not known how long he attended the school. There were other Chinese-American children in Covington who attended classes at a Chinese Language program that was held at St. Xavier Catholic School in Cincinnati, OH. According to The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, Covington once had the largest population of Chinese in Kentucky, though no year or time period is given for when this was the case. The article goes on to say that the first mention of a Chinese person in Covington appeared in the Ticket newspaper in 1877, announcing the marriage of John Naw Lin to Mary Ann Morgan who was colored [of African descent]. Kentucky has never had a large Chinese population. Looking at the census records, it was found that the largest population of Chinese persons in Covington, KY, was 17 in the year 1900 and all were born in China. In 1910, there were 13, with 3 born in the U.S. The spelling of "Pong Dock" was not listed among the names in the U.S. Census records for Covington, KY in 1900, 1910, or 1920. For Kentucky overall, in the year 1900 there were about 52 residents who were born in China. A word of caution when looking in the census records for individuals who are Chinese, the letter "C" [for colored] was used to designate race for African Americans as well as other non-whites, especially Chinese persons. Sometimes there are made up notations such as "Yellow," or an individual who was born in China, and has parents who were born in China, is listed in the census as "white" or "black". The official instructions for both the 1900 and the 1910 census enumerators was to note persons who were Chinese with "Ch." For more about Pong Dock see "What shall be done with Pong Dock?" in the Los Angeles Herald, 11/25/1913, p.3; the Kenton County Public Library Chinese Americans website; and see "Asian Americans" on pp.40-41 in The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky. See also the Instuctions to Enumerators (1910) [.pdf] and Instructions to Enumerators (1900) [.pdf], both published by the Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census.


Kentucky County & Region

Read about Kenton County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Covington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Hartford herald (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Encyclopedia of northern Kentucky
NKAA Source: Los Angeles herald (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Encyclopedia of northern Kentucky

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Dock, Pong [Chinese in Covington, KY],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 21:04:00