This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
Mr. H.Y. Moh was born, in 1876, in the humble home of his father, a Shanghai merchant. His youth was spent in private schools. When he was fourteen, he began to work in his father’s cotton store. At the age of twenty-five, after three years’ hard study of English, he passed the examinations to serve as a clerk in the Maritime Customs. He remained in this position for six years, during which time he continued his study of English. He became supervisor and English instructor of the Loong Meng Normal School. After one year at this position, he accepted an offer, by the Kiangsu Railway Co., to investigate the railway and police systems of North and Central China; and was made chief of the police department of the railway. He was not satisfied with his limited knowledge, and by strict economy and saving he was able, at the age of 33, to sail for the United States. Though short of funds, and past the student age, he managed to finish his schooling. He took a course of two years in agriculture, at the University of Wisconsin, and obtained his B.S. degree from the University of Illinois. After a summer course in soap-making, at the Armour Institute, he studied cotton planting and manufacturing, at the Agricultural and Mechanical College, Texas, from which institution he received he degree of M.S., in 1914. He returned to China, at the age of 39, and with the aid of his brother, launched the Teh Dah Cotton Mill, with a capital of Tls. 200,000. This was the first mill in Shanghai to turn out 42 count yarn and thread. In order to improve the fibre of the Chinese cotton, he introduced several varieties of American seeds, and in 1914 inaugurated a cotton experimental station. He was appointed Chairman of the Cotton Extension and Improvement Committee, of the Chinese Cotton Mill Owners’ Association, and upon his recommendation, several experimental stations were established throughout the country. In 1918, he established a modern cotton gin, equipped with American machinery. In 1917, several wealthy Chinese friends solicited his aid in organizing the Hou Sung Cotton Mill, capitalized at Tls. 2,000,000. This was the first mill to manufacture shirtings and jeans in China. It was then suggested that a mill be erected in the interior. The Yu Foong Mill, with a capitalization of Tls. 2,000,000, was built in Chengchow, Honan, under Mr. Moh’s directions. For the welfare of the 5,000 workers of the plant, a Y.M.C.A. was established, in which was a savings department, to encourage saving, and a reading room for the use of all residents of the city; also a laborers’ school, and poor children’s home. In 1920, he organized the Chinese Industrial Bank, and for the purpose of stablizing market values, the Chinese Cotton Goods Exchange, capitalized at Tls. 300,000. It is planned to co-operate with similar exchanges in Europe and America, as well as Japan. Mr. Moh also serves as a director in several other cotton mills; and because of his notable achievements in this industry, has become known as “The Cotton King of China”. He is a Director of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and the Vocational Schools of China; advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce; and a member of the Chinese Advisory Committee to the Shanghai Municipal Council. He is also President of the American Returned Students, and American University Clubs. The Returned Students’ Club was organized under his direction in 1922. Mr. Moh is generous in his contributions to philanthropic, public welfare, and educational enterprises, having sent ten students to America at his own expense. His pleasing personality has won him many friends, both foreign and Chinese. His ideas and judgment are farsighted and shrewd.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925), 61.