Soong Ching Ling's father
At the age of nine, still called Han, Soong Ching Ling's father went to become an apprentice for a relative in Java. The adopter had a shop selling silk and tea in Boston, Massachusetts, and was one of the earliest Chinese settlers in New England. After taking with Niu and Wen, two of the first international students in the United States in 1871, young Soong was soon keen to quit the shop and go to school.
When his uncle objected, he slipped down to Boston Harbor and stowed away on the coastal revenue cutter Albert Gallatin. Instead of turning him over to police, the captain signed him on to the crew. Soon he enrolled in Trinity College in Wilmington, studying theology.
In 1882, Soong shifted to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 1885. Soong was eventually put out to preach, at only $15 a month, in the rural suburbs of Shanghai. This led him to switch, in 1892, from missionary to businessman. His first company was a Bible publisher.
By 1894, when Ching Ling was only two, her father had met Sun Yat-sen, become his confidant, and entertained him at his home. Then, on a number of occasions over many years, Sun visited the Soong residence. There followed not only the printing of revolutionary pamphlets in his Bible publishing company but a host of money-raising and other efforts in the cause.
Soong Ching Ling's mother
Ni Guizhen was Soong Ching Ling's mother.
The family stemmed from an old and unique local elite, which was the posterity of Xu Guangqi, a high scholar-official of the Ming Dynasty. She was good at mathematics, played the piano and knew some English.
In 1887, only a year after the groom (Charlie Soong) came to Shanghai, the pair were married.
Someone described Guizhen as a "strict, virtuous, puritanical, undefeatable model wife".
The marriage was harmonious and produced six children, including the renowned three Soong sisters (the others were boys).
Guizhen was keen for the children to be cultured, self-reliant, useful and good.
Ching Ling was her mother's favorite. She returned that love, not the least by cherishing and taking on many features of Guizhen's character, notably placing duty above self.