The earliest social organizations of Chinese immigrants in America had their origins in the 1850s in San Francisco. They were created to accommodate the needs of the immigrants, mostly men, in a strange and sometimes hostile environment. The first associations were based on areas of origin, the villages and the districts.
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.