Personal history of F.King Paget

Submitted by shamian on Tue, 05/14/2019 - 13:28

Here is the statement my father wrote about his life in China and Hong Kong and other points in Asia. I think it was written sometime between 1945-1947.

Personal History of F. King Paget

Both my parents were born in the United States of America of American lineage. My father, Charles Souders Paget, at Bridgeton, N.J. on Oct. 17, 1874 and my mother, Henrietta Augusta Mead, at Corona, Long Island, N.Y. on Aug. 27, 1878.

At the end of my father's second year at Lehigh University where he was studying Architecture & Civil Engineering, Class of 1899, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Engineer Corps. After brief training he was sent to the Philippines and saw active service there, both in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. When trouble subsided he applied for and received an honorable discharge. At Canton, China he went into partnership with an Australian in the Architectural & Civil Engineering profession. He became well known in Chinese circles and designed many of the prominent buildings in Canton. In February 1906 my parents were married in Canton.

I was born in Canton, China on April 3, 1907. My early childhood included the following events: a trip to America In 1909, end at the invitation of Admiral Salisbury, the U.S. Naval Governor of Guam, we visited there in the summer of 1911 and resided at the palace with him.

My formal education commenced in 1913 at Canton. Then for 3 years from Sept. 1915 I attended the British boarding school at Wei Hai Wei in Shantung. For 6 months in 1919 I went to Brent school in Baguio, P.I. Then for 3 years to Shanghai American School where I completed 1st year High School. My 2nd. year High School was taken at Lingnam University with Chinese students. The following year I taught High School Physics at Lingnam under Dr. Frank who commended my work.

In July 1924 I left China for America. I attended Flushing High School and graduated in June 1926. July 1 spent at the Citizens Military Training Corps at Plattsburg Barracks, N.Y. August I spent studying Solid Geometry by myself from a textbook. Not having had this course, I needed the credit to enter college, and received an excellent grade on the entrance examination.

Thereafter I duly entered Lehigh University in 1926 end graduated in June 1930 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and with the Commission of Second Lieutenant, Infantry Reserve. At Lehigh I joined Kappa Alpha Society, one of the oldest social fraternities. I was a member of the Soccer Team and the swimming squad. Other activities were: Business Manager of the "Epitome" (year book published by the Junior Class), Treasurer of my Senior Class - 1930, Secretary of Pi Delta Epsilon honorary Journalistic fraternity, and Secretary of Scabbard and Blade, honorary military fraternity.

During my senior year as chairman of a committee appointed by Pi Delta Epsilon to revamp the "Epitome" organization, I was instrumental in making certain fundamental changes which are effective today and for which I have been commended.

In June after graduation I devoted 2 weeks to active duty with the 27th. Infantry, at Plattsburg Barracks, N.Y. On July 1st I Joined Carrier Engineering Corp. at Newark, N.J. Because of the Illness of my father, my mother needed me closer to her. On Sept. 8, 1930 I Joined Standard Oil Co. of N.Y. for foreign service.

On Dec. 26, 1930 I arrived in Shanghai and was assigned to organise a Service Station Training School. The school was well under way when I was transferred in April 1931. My next post was Nanking, the erstwhile capital of the Central Government of China, where I was stationed nearly 2 years. Here I met many Chinese Government Officials and diplomats of other nations. I lived at the International Club; it was the hub of International social activity in the Capital.

My duties included travel to agencies in the interior, inspection of their markets and activity covering distribution and price, storage of stocks as to condition and quantity, competitive activity. Business conditions, including agriculture, industry and commerce, and the political and military situation were subject to scrutiny and reported. These trips took me to Kuyung, Mingkwang, Pengpu, Hauchow, Chinkiang, Changchow, and Hinghwa where Col. Lindberg's plane was nearly mobbed by people suffering from floods and consequent famine. The trips were in the way of training for the ultimate purpose of developing and maintaining a first class agency organization.

Early in 1932 the Japanese attacked Shanghai. Developments led to a concentration of Japanese naval guns at Nanking. Mr. Willys R. Peck, American Consul General asked the men to help the women to the evacuation ships. Among others, I volunteered and with the company truck moved many American & British women to the ships and safety. Several nights later Japanese warships shelled the City of Nanking. I and others proceeded to the American Consulate and made ourselves available to Mr. Peck.

In Feb. 1933 I was transferred to Tsingtao, Shantung. My work here was essentially the same as at Nanking but included more activity in the marketing of gasoline. Trips included Weihsien, Erhshihlipu, Sinpuchen, Haichow, the coastal terminus of the Lunghai Railway, and the site of the proposed deep water harbor near Haichow. My visit here was for the purpose of making s preliminary survey in respect to the selection of a suitable site for the erection of a proposed storage and handling terminal with ocean and rail facilities. My report on this proposed site included data required for the design and engineering of a petroleum storage plant, such as the depth of water, tidal conditions, aspects of terrain, maps and photographs. I submitted this report to Mr. C.J. Eskeline, our Tsingtao manager about March 1933.

It was In Tsingtao where I met my wife, the former Miss Elva Jo Nelson in 1933 when she was teaching at the Tsingtao American School. She became principal the following year. We were married on May 26, 1935, in New York City.

At Tsingtao I was appointed and served as Scoutmaster of the American Troop of Boy Scouts. Development of scout activity and training proceeded apace and I was commended by the elders of the American community for my work here.

In Dec. 1933 I was transferred to Tsinan, the capital of Shantung. I was Branch Manager with a staff of 20 Chinase Employees, a selling organization of some 27 agents and physical properties consisting of 3 storage plants and a large 2 family residence, partly used as an office. Here I had the opportunity of acquiring some experience in the marketing of Industrial Lubricants. I met General Han Fu Chu (now deceased) the former Provincial Governor of Shantung and his staff at a party given by the American Consul.

In Aug. 1934 I was transferred to Tientsin where I was assigned to the Chingwantao & Kalgan Districts as Marketing Assistant-in-Charge. This included several storage plants and 18 agencies covering some 150,000 sq. miles. The Chingwantao District comprised 6 agents situated from Lwanchow to the Great Wall of China at Shanhaikwan and was included in the Demilitarized Zone established by the Tangku Armistice of 1933 between China and Japan. Here I had the opportunity of observing Japanese brutality and their trade in narcotics. Reports were made to the American Consulate at Tientsin. The Kalgan District while extensive in area and sparsely settled is interesting sociologically, politically, and economically from the point of view of trade development with China’s Northwest.

During this period I had the opportunity of appointing a new agent. As is the practice of the company great care was exercised in the selection. It has been the custom to select the leading merchant of the community. This generally involved considerable investigation and careful consideration, particularly as to the prospect's integrity and character, financial and social standing, leadership, accomplishment, prestige, recognition and experience.

Before leaving Tientsin the Agents in our Chingwantao District came 150 miles to Tientsin to give me a Farewell Dinner. It was attended by some 100 people including my colleagues. My Agents led by the elderly Mr, Li of our ChangLi Agency presented me with a silver shield inscribed in Chinese with the names of the donors, their good will and wishes for a successful future. I departed on home leave in March 1935.

It was during this leave that I was married and my wife and I left America arriving in Hongkong Sept. 26, 1935. I was assigned to work with Mr. T.B. Williams as Marketing Assistant in the Hongkong District. My work included the development and control of our agency organization and necessitated my traveling to the following agencies, namely, Wuchow, Tamshui, Cheungmuktao, Kongmoon, Sunning, Macao, Kwangchowwan, Liuchow, Pakhoi, Hoihow, and Kachek.

In Sept. 1936 I was transferred to Singapore. The work was similar but with greater emphasis on gasoline marketing. I visited all the important towns in the States of Johore, Pahang, Trengganu, Kelantan and Sarawak and the Settlements of Malacca and Singapore. My contacts were with our agents, dealers, commercial customers such as operators of tin mines and rubber estates and government officials.

In Sept. 1937 I was transferred to Kuala Lumpur as District Manager. This city is the capital of the Federated Malay States. The District included the States of Selangor, Negri Sembilan, and parts of Pahang, Johore and Perak, all of which I covered on several occasions during my 8 months here. This is one of the most important tin and rubber producing areas in British Malaya. Among my several duties I maintained contact and cultivated important individuals in these industries, government, and the F.M.S. Railway. An important immediate objective was the attainment of increased participation in the oil fuel business.

My supervisory responsibility concerned 20 members of the company's staff, including a Britisher as Lubricating Oil Sales Representative, some 20 agents, 25 service stations, and physical plant and equipment which included an importing terminal at Port Swettenham bulk plants at Klang, Seremban, and Kuala Lumpur, about 15 railway tank cars, several tank & package trucks, and a manager's residence where my family resided, and an office.

Upon Mr. Phipps return from leave, I went back to Singapore in May 1938. Mr. F.X. Lee Territory Manager at Singapore commended for my work in Kuala Lumpur. Here, in addition to my regular duties which included considerable travel up the East Coast of Malaya and the Island of Borneo, I studied new methods in organization and management developed by the home office.

During my second home leave, commencing October 1939, I attended Socony-Vacuum's Merchandising course at Buffalo, N.Y. and the Lubricants course in New York City, Jan.-March 1940.

Om May 26, 1940 I arrived back in Hongkong. Two weeks later I went to Kwangchowwan (a French colony on the South China coast) and eliminated the bottlenecks that were delaying shipments of contract gasoline to the Free Government of China through that port.

In July I was appointed Sales Manager, Hongkong District. My responsibilities included the development and control of our sales organization in the foreign colonies of Hongkong, Macao, Kwangchowwan and Hainan Island, consisting of some 15 members of the staff, 15 agents, 22 service stations and 3 storage plants, for the purpose of marketing all petroleum products including gasoline, kerosene, automotive and industrial lubricants, wax, isopropyl alcohol, asphaltum, oil fuels, mobil specialties, and marine business, including the bunkering of ships.

In Sept. 1940 the company ordered all families back to America. Tension ran high particularly upon the re-opening of the Burma Road In October. We carried on.

On Monday morning December 8, 1941 we were attacked by the Japanese, shortly after pearl Harbor. Sir Mark Young, the Governor of Hongkong, was forced to surrender the Colony to the enemy on Christmas Day. Civilians were interned Jan. 5, 1942 and we Americans left Hongkong on repatriation June 30, 1942 arriving in New York City two months later.

During the Battle for Hongkong I volunteered and served the British Government in the defence of the Colony by keeping our service stations open for military and essential vehicles, serving as an Air Raid Tunnel Entrance Warden, and serving with the Food Control Administration in an endeavor to save and distribute the Colony's food reserves.

After a period of recuperation in the United States in order to regain weight and vitality lost as a result of malnutrition during internment, I secured a transfer to Socony-Vacuum's West Coast Subsidiary, General Petroleum Corporation as of Jan. 13. 1943. Although the company has changed its name several times I have a continuous record of employment with the same company from Sept. 2, 1930 to the present time.

I have experience in the following fields: l) Marketing of petroleum products, 2) Organization & management, 3) development and administration of District Sales organization, 4) the storage, shipping and handling of petroleum products 5) the use of fuels and lubricants, 6) the selection of personal for staff end for Agency representation, 7) representing the company in negotiations with government 8) Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay, 9) some knowledge of the design and engineering of service stations and petroleum storage plants, 10) the handling of credit.

I am personally acquainted with the following Chinese Officials, among others, Dr. T.C. Yen, Ministry of Railways; Dr. Frank Lee, former Political Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. C.T. Wang, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; General Ho Yin Ching, Minister of War; Dr. J. Hong Liu, Minister of Health; Dr. W.W. Yen, former Chinese Ambassador to Russia. The T.V. Soong’s and H.H. Kung’s, Madam Sun Yat Sen, and Madam Chiang Kai Shek are acquainted with my parents and I have met the on occasion.

Book type
Diary / Memoir
Dates of events covered by this document


Hi Peter,

Thank you so much for sharing the Paget family's information with us!!

I did investigation with my friends on the historic buildings in Canton, together with some history research related to this city. Mr Charles S. Paget is very famous in our community because he has made a tremendous contribution to the city. He designed a lot of fascinating architectures cooperating with Mr Arthur Purnell from Australia, and most of them are still in use. His residential mansion in Fati is so nice and still in good condition, even though it has been abandoned for years.

Previously we just had the information about him and Mrs Henrietta Mead Paget, and they had children in Canton. So your information and those photos are very helpful! I really appreciate it!

In doing research on the history of Canton, we still have a lot of unsolved questions related to Mr Charles S. Paget. I think maybe you have some resources knowing the answers.

I want to start with this case:

In a letter from Mr William Henry Grant to Mr Andrew H. Woods in Lingnam University/Canton Christian College on May 13, 1913, he mentioned he and Mr Paget had been for a call on Mr Horace Walpole Carpentier. I was doing an investigation on Horace W. Carpentier and Dean Lung, Mah Chung Dean. From the letter, it seemed that Mr Charles S. Paget knew William Henry Grant, Horace W. Carpentier, Mah Jim, Mah Chung Dean and Andrew H. Woods. But there was no other information about it.

I don't know whether you know anything about it or keep some archives about your grandfather. If you do, would you mind sharing with us? Thanks a million!

Here is my E-mail address:

Stay safe and healthy!

Best regards,


Greetings. I am an architect from Hong Kong and currently working on restoring one of the historic buildings in Shamian, namely, the four-storey block with giant column open verandah, No 3 Shamian First Street, Banque L'Indochine building. I am writing historic and architectural research on this building, which of course, would appreciate to know moe about Mr Charles Paget himself, who designed this building. Appreciate if you can contact me via email: Much appreciate and looking forward. Edward Leung, Heritage Conservation Architect in Hong Kong, Jan 2022.


Dear Mr. Paget, 

I am Yvonne, the architectural conservationist student from HKU who had contacted previously.  You have previously left a message and your email contact to me. 

I further sent you emails to your gmail account and wonder if you received them. 

I now left my mobile number my latest email and hope to reach you. 

I am really interested about the work by your father and want to investigate about it. Hope to hear you soon!