South Pasadena played a minor role in the 1911 revolution that brought down the Imperial Qing Dynasty in China, and introduced Dr. Sun Yat-sen as the first democratic president of the Chinese republic. What really happened?
In 1910, a young Chinese revolutionary, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, spent two weeks in South Pasadena at the Boothe Mansion at the corner of Garfield Ave. and Oak Street. Oneonta Congregational Church now occupies this property.
Charles Boothe, at that time the mayor of South Pasadena, had befriended Sun and had agreed to raise funds for the revolution in China against the Qing Dynasty. Charles Boothe became the head of the secret fund-raising “Red Dragon Society.”
In return, Charles Boothe was supposed to enjoy banking and railroad rights in the new China. The story is very complicated, but Sun Yat-sen went on to become the first democratic President of China. Charles Boothe did not raise the funds, and did not become banker and railroad tycoon in China.
This year represents the 150th anniversary of Dr. Sun’s birth. The Cantonese Society of Southern California commemorates this event during the regular 9:30 a.m. worship service on Sunday, August 21, at Oneonta Congregational Church.
Sally Kilby, president of the Chinese-American Club of South Pasadena and Dan Evans of Oneonta Congregational Church, were among those who participated in a press conference on Monday, August, at the church.
In 2011, Oneonta hosted a centennial celebration of Sun’s visits to South Pasadena. As you enter the church grounds, you see a bronze plaque which commemorates the events, and bronze plaques celebrate two trees which Sun Yat-sen probably planted in 1910.
The old magnolia tree, near the entrance to Gray Hall, was named the “Death to the Qing” tree. Sun, a Christian, probably worshipped in Oneonta’s Redwood Chapel, which is one of the few remaining structures from the Boothe Mansion days.