District associations (Hut Guan) were made up of immigrants who had a common dialect and originated from the same area. As the community became established some wives were brought over and family associations based on a common surname were established. People with the same surname tended to congregate in the same cities. For example, those with the surname of Hom were the predominant families in early San Diego.
In San Francisco the “Six Companies” was the most influential organization. Its name derived from the six district associations that existed at the time. The Six Companies considered themselves to be the supreme authority over all Chinese in America. Because of the proliferation of associations, an umbrella organization was needed; thus in the early 1880s the Six Companies became the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA).
This name emphasized the benevolence and philanthropic goals of the organization making it more acceptable in dealing with American society.