Nelson Wah Chan King – Tie-in to Gum Moon: A Novel of San Francisco Chinatown by Jeffrey L. Staley

Jeffrey L. Staley recently published a book on his wife’s family. Although the book is fiction it is based on real people and true events. The Chinese Exclusion Act case file published in September 2017 on this blog for Nelson Wah Chan King mentions the Methodist Oriental Home in San Francisco, where Staley’s wife’s grandmother, Mei Chun Lai, was also raised.
The mother of Nelson Wah Chan King, the subject of the blog entry, was Lily Shem. She and her younger sister, May, were both raised at the Methodist Oriental Home. Mei (Maud/Maude) Chun Lai, Jeffrey Staley’s wife’s grandmother, and several other Chinese children including May Shem sang for President Theodore Roosevelt in the White House on November 5, 1908.

Shem May Oriental Home
Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Staley

The children who performed for President Roosevelt were Ruby Tsang, Pearl Tsang, Maud/Maude Lai, May Shem, Lydia Woo, Grace Woo, Ida Woo and Lum Wong. Nine-year-old Lum Wong was the musical director and Maude Lai was his accompanist on the piano. A fund-raising trip across eastern part of the United States was organized by Miss Carrie G. Davis, superintendent of the Oriental Home for Chinese Children and her assistant Mrs. D. S. Street. The home was located at 1918 University Avenue, Berkeley, California. The purpose of the trip was to raise funds to complete a new building to replace the old one which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Miss Davis thought the new building would cost $35,000.1
1 “Chinese Youngsters to Sing in English,” Salt Lake Telegram, 27 Feb 1909, p 1.


Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Staley.

Benjamin Chi’s long fight to stay in the United States

Chi Benjamin 1941 photo
“Photo of Benjamin Chi, Precis of Investigation,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chi Po Shen (Benjamin Exner Chi) case file, Seattle Box 365, file #7027/1110.
See blog entry for 3 December 2018 for information on Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Benjamin, Sylvia, and Vernon Chi who arrived at the Port of Seattle on 13 February 1941. Emily, Sylvia and Vernon were admitted as U.S. citizens; Benjamin was not. Benjamin’s case is complicated and this blog entry will explain what happened.

The Citizenship Act of 1934 was signed by President Roosevelt on 24 May 1934. The Act allowed any child born outside the limits of the United States, whose father or mother at the time of the birth was a citizen of the United States, to be a citizen of the United States.1 Benjamin was born in 1933. His siblings were born after 24 May 1934. Their mother was a U.S. citizen and they were all born in China. His siblings were considered U.S. citizen; Benjamin was not.

Benjamin Ch’i or Chi, Chinese name Po-Shen Ch’i, was born in Tientsin, China on 18 June 1933. He was issued Section Six Certificate #901 on 5 December 1940 by the Bureau of Police at Tientsin where he was attending Chiu Chen Primary School. When he entered the U.S. at Seattle in February 1941 he was classified as a temporary visitor under Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act of 1924.

Benjamin’s temporary visa was renewed several times. If his visa could not be renewed he could be deported. His mother and younger brother and sister were considered U.S. citizen and wanted to stay in the U.S. because of distressing conditions in China [World War II]. Benjamin was 12 years old; he could not be sent back to China on his own. If he was deported his mother and siblings would need to leave too.

In February 1946, Benjamin’s mother wrote to Immigration. She was trying, once again, to renew her son’s temporary visa. In December she had sent his Chinese passport to the Consulate in China to renew it. Three months later she still had not received the renewed passport and now she did not have the necessary papers to renewal his U.S. temporary visa.

Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, there was now an extremely restrictive quota—only 105 Chinese were allowed into the U.S. Letters between Mrs. Chi and Immigration went back and forth and a warrant of arrest was issued for twelve-year old Benjamin in May 1946. The deportation order was suspended four months later. In February 1947 the Central Office of Immigration informed the Seattle office that the alien was no longer a quota immigrant chargeable to the quota of China. Benjamin Chi was allowed to stay in the United States. The long struggle was finally over.

1. Orfield, Lester B. (1934)”The Citizenship Act of 1934,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 7. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol2/iss1/7

Pang Jin-Feng – update with parents’ information

Update of 10/08/2018 blog post for Pang Jin-Feng–Photo retake–ears not showing

The original photos of two-year old Pang Jin-Feng did not meet Immigration Services requirements regarding photos.  Pang Jin-Feng ears coveredSince the child would probably not be returning to the U.S. for many years, a photo showing her ears was needed for identification.  She was traveling with her parents Tse Sun Pang and Pao Chi Hau of Corvallis, Oregon.
“Pang Jin-Feng Form 430 photos” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Pang Jin-Feng case file, Portland Box 100, file 5017/921.

Additional information:
In July 1941 R. J. Norens, Immigration Divisional Director, returned passport No. 404999 to Tse Sun Pang, Pan Jun-Feng’s father. His student Chinese certificate and his wife’s Alien Registration Receipt Cards were also returned.

Tse Sung Pang testified that he was also known as Jin Chung Pang. He was born on 22 March 1909 in Nanchang, China and admitted into the United States on 12 January 1938 at Seattle, WA as a student. He obtained his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN. His wife, Pao-Chi Hau, was born 16 April 1910 in Peiping, China and was admitted in January 1938 at Seattle as a student. They married on 22 March 1938 in Minnesota. Their daughter was born on 15 June 1939. In July 1940 they moved to Corvallis, Oregon so they each could work on a doctor’s degree in the soils division at Oregon State College.

Tse Sung Pang and Pao-Chi Hau both had their fingerprints taken for their files. A copy of Pang Jin-Feng’s birth certificate was submitted to Immigration but was not included in the file. Pang Jin-Feng’s application was approved.

Chong Wong Chong – Portland import-export merchant

Guest blogger: Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Chong Wong Chong (b. ca. 1863, immigrated KS 8 = 1882; pinyin:
Zhang Huangchang 张黄昌)

Chong Wong ChongIn 1928 Chong Wong Chong’s deposition to the INS described his situation and provides insight into the life of a Chinese American merchant and Chinese labor contractor.  This file is found at the NARA Seattle, RS 2870, File 12860/14-1.  He stated that he was also known as Chong (pinyin – Zhang) Ho Song, a Portland import-export merchant with the married name of Jung (pinyin – Zhang) Song Lung, who was born in Sui Soon Village, Hoy Ping (pinyin – Kaiping), Guangdong, China.  He had other names: Sam Sing and Chung (pinyin – Zhang) Sam Sing.  A later investigation using the NARA Seattle index of individuals with their occupation and birthplace led to the papers of Sam Sing, a laborer, who obviously was the same man as Chong Wong Chong.  I found Sam Sing because his birthplace was the same as Chong’s and the Seattle index notes birthplace and occupation whenever feasible.

Chong immigrated around 1882 (KS 8), landing in Portland on a small steamer from Vancouver, British Columbia, as a laborer and visited China in 1890 and 1891. On his 1891 trip, he landed in San Francisco as a merchant instead of Portland or Seattle. In 1908 he visited Canada and returned 1909.

Chong was married twice, the first time when he was seventeen and living in China.  Lee Shee, his first wife, died in ST 1 (1908) in China. From his first marriage he had two boys, Chong Shew Lun, who lived in Portland and was in the oyster business, and the older boy who remained in China; and two girls, one named Chong Choy Lun (b. 1893), who was married to a Wong and living in Helena, Montana with her husband, and the older girl, Jung Sou Lun (b. 1884), who remained in China. Within six months after the death of his first wife’s death, he married Lee Shee (b. ca. 1888; Certificate of Identity 6640)) in ST 1 (1908) of Gow How Village, Sunning (pinyin – Xinning) in his home village and his wife and two children came to the U.S. in ST 2 (1909).  Lee Shee and the children were refused admission because Chong was listed as a laborer so Chong returned to his store in Portland, then applied again for his wife and two children in ST 3 (1910) as dependents of a merchant and was successful in getting their admission on December 20, 1911. Years later, through Ancestry.com. Lee Shee gave her husband’s name as Chong Luk Dak.  They lived at 264 Flanders Street, around the corner form her husband’s store on North 4th.

Chong and his second wife had two children, a boy and girl, both born in Portland. Chong Seid Foon (September 6, 1912, American name – Charles) and Chong Heung Lon (1909-1927). The girl’s death caused his wife much grief and led to the decision to adopt Chong May Yoon (original Chinese name Jun Mui), who was born in Los Angeles to Toy and Jennie Chung (pinyin – Zhang) on April 13, 1919 and was adopted in March or April 1927 when she was eight years old.  (NARA Seattle files #30/5270, 12860/14-2, and 7030/5200). Toy Chung died in 1925 and finding herself in financial difficulties, Jennie decided to allow the Chongs to officially adopt May Yoon (later called Helen Chong Yep). Jennie brought her daughter to Portland for the adoption proceedings.  The adoption had been suggested by a Zhang clansman in San Francisco who knew of Jennie’s plight – a large family of young children without a father – and arranged the contact.

After nine years of working for the Quon Shew Lun Company, in 1909  Chong became the manager of Quon Shew Lun Company, a general merchandising firm on at 94 North 4th and later on North 3rd Street, Portland.  The firm’s capitalization was $10,000 and Chong’s share was $2,000.  He and the bookkeeper, Jung Ho Yip ($600 investment), each earned $60 per month plus room and board.  The other active member was the salesman, Jung Gow ($600 investment).  The inactive shareholders were primarily of the Jung (Zhang) clan, with a few other surnames – Wong, Ng, Leong, and Lee – who lived in China, Portland, elsewhere in Oregon, and New York. This was typical of large merchandising firms and all of the men were usually related or came from the same village in China. The company made about $2000 or more in profit annually. The store was located on rented property owned by Euro-Americans for the last ten years.

The firm also acted as the labor contractors for the cannery Libby, McNeil, and Libby [established in 1912 in Sacramento, CA and closed in 1980], and had two canneries under the management of Lee San Toy ($500 shareholder from Portland) in Alaska:  Nushagak and Ekuk.  These were fish canneries in present-day Dillingham.

Nushagak Cannery, Alaska
Nushagak Cannery, Alaska

Although Chong did not go into details, he noted that he owned property in Portland and had a Euro-American rent collector since he rented out the property.

Chong spoke English and had two Euro-Americans testify on his behalf:  the owner of the building in which his store was located and a member of the bank he used. Their depositions and long-time acquaintance with him as Chong Ho Sang put Chong in a favorable light from the perspective of the immigration officials. He was granted a permit to re-enter the United States from China. On this trip he took his wife and his recently adopted daughter, now called Helen Chong, but keeping the name May Yoon Chong in accordance with the adoption papers (NARA Seattle file #27272). They were accompanied by others, including Helen’s natural brother, Chung Gee Kay (1911-1980) (NARA Seattle files #28160/238 and 10797/10-25).

Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.
Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.

The family made several other trips to China, presumably because of business concerns of Chong Wong Chong.  Below is Helen Chong’s 1933 application from NARA Seattle.

Helen Chong
Helen Chong

Chong Wong Chong frequently traveled to China and owned a general store there.  Presumably that store supplied the Portland store with goods.  He passed away in Hong Kong In the 1950s.

In 1951 Helen returns from Hong Kong to San Francisco with her family.  (Certification of birth of Anna Chung aka Helen C. Yep, State of California Department of Public Health, dated 10-29-1962, State Fil 19-015292):  husband Yep Wing Sing, age 30 of 421 W Brand St., Richmond, Virginia; Chong (Yep) Helen, age 31, at the same address, Yip Won Yue, age 13, born in China, Yip Duck Lai, age 23, born in China, Yep Grace Woon Yuen, age 9, born in New York, Yep Ruby Woon King, age 2, born in China, and Yep Theresa Woon King, age 5, born in Hong Kong.  There is the possibility that Anna/Helen had twin boys, Henry and Douglas.  Helen passed away in San Francisco.

By Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal (Magnuson Act of 1943)

Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal
(Magnuson Act of 1943)

排華法案廢除75週年紀念(1943年的沃倫 馬格努森法案)
DATE:  Sunday, December 16      12月16日 星期日
PLACE:  Wing Luke Museum,  陸榮昌亞洲博物館
719 S. King St. Seattle, Washington
CONTACT: info@cacaseattle.org
FREE : Open to the Public
EVENT SCHEDULE:
11:00—11:30 am     Ceremony of Commemoration 紀念儀式
11:30—noon            Light snacks 簡易點心
Noon—2:00 pm       Stories from the past 來自過去的故事

On December 17, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943, also known as the Magnuson Act. The Magnuson Act of 1943 was proposed by Senator Warren G. Magnuson when he was a member of the House of Representatives WA-1.  Join us in commemorating the Repeal of the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act.

Thank you to our COMMUNITY PARTNERS:
Cathay Post #186, China Club of Seattle, Chinese American Forum, CISC, CIE Seattle, Ho Nam Luke Family Association, The Jade Guild, Kin On, Northwest Kung Fu and Fitness, OCA Greater Seattle, Seattle Chong Wa Benevolent Association, Seattle Lee Family Association, Seattle Yee Fung Toy Association, Society of Chinese American Aerospace Association

Emily Green Exner Chi, Sylvia and Vernon Chi – Northfield, MN

Chi Emily Sylvia Vernon 1941
“Photo of Emily Green Exner Chi with Sylvia and Vernon Chi ,” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chi Sylvia B case file, Seattle Box 825, file #7030/13532.

Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Benjamin, Sylvia, and Vernon Chi arrived at the Port of Seattle on 13 February 1941. Emily, Sylvia and Vernon were admitted as U.S. citizens; Benjamin was not. Benjamin’s case is complicated and will be dealt with in a later blog entry.

Emily’s Chinese name was Chi Ne Mei Lan; Sylvia Blythe Chi was Chi Po Ya; and Vernon Longstreet Chi only had a Chinese surname. They all had valid U.S. passports issued at the consulate general at Tientsin, China. Emily Green Exner, a Caucasian, was born on 8 November 1904 in Northfield, Minnesota. She married Chi Shou Yu (English name: Hilary) on 18 September 1932 at Northfield. Her husband, a citizen of China, was admitted at the Port of Seattle in 1929 with student status. They left for China a few days after their wedding. Emily did not lose her citizenship due to her marriage to an alien ineligible to citizenship because of the 1922 Cable Act and a 1931 update.

“… That no woman who was a national of the United States shall be deemed to have lost her nationality solely by reason of her marriage to an alien on or after September 22, 1922, or to an alien racially ineligible to citizenship on or after March 3, 1931, or, in the case of a woman who was a United States citizen at birth, through residence abroad following such marriage, notwithstanding the provisions of any existing treaty or convention1…”

Sylvia and Vernon Chi were born in Tientsin, China in 1937 and 1940, respectively. The Citizenship Act of 1934, Section 1993 said that a child could acquire U.S. citizenship through the mother, not just the father. There are other provisions but this was the part of the Act that pertained to them at their young ages.2

(More about this Act in Benjamin Chi’s upcoming blog entry.)

Mrs. Emily Chi does not have a separate file but since her children were so young, ages 3 and 1, she was interviewed. This information was gleaned from her interview: Her father, three brothers, and brother, Frederick S. Exner and his wife were present at her wedding. For the past eight years her husband was a manager for a manufacturer of sporting goods and they planned to employ up to 100 men. The factory was broken into three parts because of the Japanese occupation. His salary was a hundred Tientsin dollars a month with an annual bonus of 10,000 Tientsin dollars. Emily was coming to visit her elderly parents before they died and the State Department was insisting that women and children leave China [because of the war]. She and her husband owned a farm outside of Tientsin that they rented out. She was planning on visiting her brother, Dr. Frederick B. Exner, in Seattle and her father Franz Exner, a Ph.D. and her mother Hannah Blithe Exner at 100 Nevada Avenue, Northfield, Minnesota. Her mother was in poor health and Emily hope to stay about a year; applying for an extension if needed. Emily originally went to China when she was about 20 to teach in the Yu Ying School in Peking. She taught there three years and met her husband there. Her husband, Chi Shou Yu, (Seattle file 11476/1-1) was born in Wu Ching Hsien district, Man Shuang Miao village, Ho Pei providence. He studied chemistry at Cartleton College in Northfield, MN for the three years before they married.

Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Sylvia, and Vernon Chi were admitted as U.S. citizens on their day of arrival. There is no further information in the file.

1. “Title 8 – Aliens and Nationality, Chapter 12 – Immigration and Nationality, Subchapter Iii – Nationality and Naturalization, Part III – Loss of Nationality, § 1489. Application of treaties;  exceptions,”  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/pdf/uscode08/lii_usc_TI_08_CH_12_SC_III_PA_III_SE_1489.pdf

2. Orfield, Lester B. (1934) “The Citizenship Act of 1934,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 7. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol2/iss1/7