Fong Wan

Herb Lore. Oakland, 1936.

"Fong Wan, who is now middle aged, has long been recognized as the most successful herbalist in the Western Hemisphere. Thousands of persons on the Pacific Coast give him credit for their restoration to health. He is perhaps the most widely recommended Chinese herbalist in the United States…The foundation of Fong Wan’s remarkable success was laid years ago, when, while yet a school-boy, he lived and worked with his uncle, Dr. Wan, otherwise known as Wan See Mon. Dr. Wan was one of those who successfully passed the old Imperial Chinese literary examinations of the first degree of Medicine. Later, he passed other examinations by which he gained the first and second military degrees. Consequently, his official standing was higher than that of any other Chinese herbalist in America. Dr. Wan came to the United States as a member of the diplomatic corps of the second Chinese minister to Washington. After the expiration of his official commission, he conducted a herb business at 1133 Stockton Street, San Francisco, at which place Fong Wan resided and studied with him for several years. The establishment was totally destroyed by the fire that followed the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Dr. Wan did not again set up in business, but accepted the appointment of Chinese Consul at New York. Fong Wan continued his study of English in California for some time and then went back to China. Upon his return to the United States,, he established the Fong and Lee Herb Co., at 209 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, with which concern he was associated for five years. Seeking a wider field, he founded the Fong Wan Co. in Oakland in 1915. At the time that Fong Wan came to Oakland, none of the Chinese Herbalists were doing much business. Many had been driven out of town by the interference of the Medical Board, while others, owing to their inability to relieve an appreciable percentage of the sufferers who came to them, had been unable to gain the confidence of the public. With Fong Wan it was different. He was successful from the beginning. That success attracted numerous herbalists to Oakland, who sought in vain to imitate his methods. Since 1918, more than 14 new herbalists have opened establishments in Oakland; 80 per cent of them have failed to make good and have left town. Before Fong Wan began to serve the people of Oakland, there were very few Chinese herb companies in that city, but at the present time, although San Francisco is three times as large as Oakland, it has but half as many Chinese herbalists. There’ is no Chinese herbalist in San Francisco whose success has been so outstanding as that of Fong Wan. Consequently, herbalists have not been attracted to San Francisco as being a place where the people have received great benefits from the use of Chinese herbs". (Source : Herb Lore. Oakland, 1936).