In October 1908 May Sophie Lee, age ten, her mother and brother were preparing to leave the United States on the SS Siberia through San Francisco for a trip to China. The Immigration inspector examined May Sophie’s passport no. 64231, two affidavits with photos and a certified copy of her birth certificate. The birth certificate states that she is white.
Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s marriage certificate was examined, authenticated and returned to the Lees. Seven white residents from Philadelphia swore in an affidavit that they were not Chinese; they were well acquainted with Lee Toy, a merchant at Chong Woh Company; May Sophie Lee was his lawful daughter, and that she was born in Philadelphia. The signers of the affidavit were:
Peter Hackett, 50 So. 4th Street
Frederic Poole, Chinese Mission, 918 Race St.
William Gallagher, 1231 Arch Street
Thomas W. Cunningham, 2112 Cherry Street
Katharine A. Lacy, Principal John Agnus School
Florence B. Scott, First Baptist Church, 17th & Samson St.
Neida S. Gilman, teacher in John Agnus School
While in China May Sophie attended school until she was 21 then attended medical school in Canton City and received a medical degree. She practiced as a physician in Shanghai for over a year before returning to the U.S.
May Sophie Lee was admitted to the United States at the Port of Seattle on 15 December 1924 as a returning citizen. She was 27 years old and was on her way to the Chung Wah & Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with plans to continue her medical career.
[There are only a few Chinese Exclusion Act files where one of the parents is Irish. Here is one of them in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.]
Katherine Lillie Shan applied for her Native’s Return Certificate on 19 June 1930 in Portland, Oregon. She was working for the Orpheum Theatre circuit and they were performing in Canada. She gave the interviewer her Chinese name as Yick May Gum and said she was the daughter of Yick Bing Shan and Gertrude [maiden name not listed]. Katherine was born at 108 third Avenue, New York City on 11 June 1912. Her mother was a white woman of Irish descent who was born in Denver, Colorado. Katherine attended P.S. No. 60 grade school in New York City and then went on to Norfield Seminary [possibly Northfield Mount Herman School]. Her father was a witness for her. Her mother was working in their restaurant on the day of the interview. Katherine had two older brothers back in China whom she had never met.
R. P Bonham, Immigration District Director in Portland sent a telegram to Immigration Service in New York City on June 19 requesting Yick May Gum’s Native Return Certificate but they could not find her file. He interrogated her the next day.
Katherine’s Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, Form 430, is included in the file with a note saying “Application withdrawn and birth certificate returned to applicant on June 24, 1930.” Signed: R. J. Norene
[There is no more information in the file. Some files do not tell us very much. This one leaves us with more questions than answers. A cross reference sheet was not included in the file so there is no reference to her father’s file and he wasn’t found in the Seattle index.]
Yee Shee, age 27, arrived at the port of Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 28 September 1929. Her admittance status was “wife of merchant.” She was accompanied by her husband, Chan Sheung 陳相, and daughter, Chan Git Oy, age three. Yee Shee’s paper work consisted of a U.S. Consular certificate, an affidavit with photos of her, her husband and daughter, signed by her husband and sworn by a Washington State notary public; a Declaration of Non-Immigrant Alien sworn by Kenneth C. Krentz, Vice-Consul of the U.S. at Hong Kong; and Visa No. 118.
Yee Shee was born in 1902 in Lung Tin village, Toysan District and lived there until she married Chan Sheung in November 1920. After marrying she moved about 3 or 4 lis [about a mile or a mile and a third] to Sam Gong, her husband’s village, Hoy Ping district. Her father, Yee Won Jung, died when she was young and her mother, So Ho Shee, raised her with money he had left them. Now Ngon, a marriage go-between, arranged Yee Shee and Chan Sheung’s marriage; they were married under the new customs. They did not see each other until their marriage day. Yee Shee’s dowry was a dresser table, dining table, two chairs, leather trunk, wooden trunk, clothes cabinet, and a wash-stand. Chan Sheung gave her a gold ring after they were married. Their wedding ceremony consisted of worshiping her husband’s ancestors and serving him a cup of liquor. Their red marriage paper shows three generations of Yee Shee’s family. [mentioned but not included in the file]
Yee Shee’s interrogation describes her family, her husband’s family, their village and home—six pages in all. When Chan Sheung returned to China from the U.S. in May 1929 he brought with him an American trunk, suitcase, sea bag, one box of laundry soap and some eatables.
Their first son died shortly after his birth. A woman doctor, Dr. Look Ooh, attended Yee Shee for the birth of her second child. Their daughter, Chan Git Oy, born 17 June 1926 was accompanying them to the U.S.
Yee Shee described their trip to the United States: they left the village about 7 a.m. and walked to the landing, took a row boat to Chung Sar market, transferred to another boat to Bok Gai, then boarded a steamer to Hong Kong. They were in Hong Kong a little more than two weeks at the Ung Nom Hotel, room number 13 before sailing for the U.S. While in Hong Kong they went to see a Chinese show and made several trips to the American consul to get the necessary forms and photographs.
The testimony of Chan Sheung (marriage name Chan Leung Park) was also six pages long. He stated that he was 31 years old, a salesman and member of the Wing Wah Chong Company in Cleveland, Ohio. He first came to the U.S. at San Francisco in July 1912. He had made three trips to China since then; once as a student, then as a laborer, and currently as a merchant. Chan Sheung described his family in great detail.
The village of Sam Gong had nine houses and one lantern house. Their home, which he inherited from his father, was “a regular five-room brick building; tile floor in every room; court is paved with cement; two outside windows in each bedroom with five iron bars, wooden shutters and glass door in each window.” There was an alarm clock on the table in the bedroom and several photographs hanging on the west side wall of the sitting room. The village had a brick wall about six feet high at both ends with bamboo trees in the back. A granite stone road ran in front of the village. Beyond the road was a stream where they obtained their household water.
After lengthy interviews of Yee Shee and Chan Sheung there were only a few minor discrepancies—the exact houses their neighbors Chin Yoon Ying and Chan Wee Lee lived in the village; the number of suitcases they had when they left their village; and Yee Shee forgot that her husband bought her a brown purse in Hong Kong. The inspectors asked Yee Shee about these inconsistencies and her new testimony agreed with her husband’s statements. They were admitted to the United States.
“Yee Shee Visa Application” 1929, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yee Shee case file, Seattle Box 1155, 11627/3-3.
[The complete Form 430 includes Mollie’s finger prints.]
Yee Mollie (余瑪琍) arrived in the Port of Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 4 October 1938. She was with her parents, brother and two sisters. They were on their way home to Ambridge, Pennsylvania.
Molly’s mother, Chin Shee, (陳氏), [SF file 16954/4-1], whose maiden name was Chin Ah Yee, was born in Hung Gong village, Hoy Ping district, China on 10 April 1895. She married Yee Doo Coon (余祖群) on 25 November 1913 in her village. Her husband was born in San Francisco [SF file 13955/11-36]. After they married they lived in his village, Au Mee in Sunning district. Chin Shee came to the United States in 1917 with her husband. His marriage name was Lim Wah.
The family lived in the United States until August 1929 when they left for China with their four U.S. born children–three sons and daughter Mollie. Mollie’s 1927 birth certificate was used as proof of citizenship when the family left in 1929. Yee Doo Coon returned to the U.S. through Seattle in January 1938 with his second and third sons, Yee Ning Young and Yee Ning Don. His eldest son, Yee Nin Yum, had returned to the U.S. in October 1937. Four more children were born to the Yee family while they were in China. Yee Doo Coon made a special trip to China in June 1938 to accompany his wife, daughter Mollie and the three youngest children, Yee Ma Soo (余瑪素), Yee Ning June (余年注) and Yee Ma Far to the United States. Their son Yee Ning Foo was staying in China with his aunt.
There were twenty pages of interrogation of the family upon their arrival in Seattle in November 1938. The questioning of Mollie, age 11, went on for four pages. She gave many details of their life in China and told how they moved from Canton City to Ai Hong Fong village because of the Chinese Japanese war. They heard the bombing but did not see it. They lived there until they could return to the U.S.
Although the interrogations were lengthy, the board concluded that the testimony from all parties agreed and the relationships claimed were reasonably established. The Yee family was admitted to the United States one month and four days after their arrival.
Page 2 photos: Mon, 36, Sun-You (Johnny), 6, Fay-lun, 7, and another of Ho Shee
This week’s blog entry is by Darby Li Po Price. He researched his family in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files at the National Archives-Seattle and found many family files. This file is for his grandmother and her family.
Ho Shee (Ho Sue-Young)’s Precis of Investigation, issued in 1940 by the American Consulate in Hong Kong, permitted Ho to travel to Seattle with two children to reside with her husband Chin Mon in Bonneville, WA.
Ho’s Seattle file no. 7033/251 also includes Mon’s petition for Ho’s immigration visa, a Pre-Investigation of status of citizenship interview of Mon, interviews of Ho, Mon, Sun-You, and Fay-lun conducted in Seattle, Summary for admission, and Ho’s application for Certificate of Identity.
Interviews spanning 22 pages describe Ho, Mon, and other family in China and the U.S. Their marriage in Sun Wui Village (Xinhui) was arranged by their parents and a go-between woman in 1922. Ho and Mon did not meet until their marriage ceremony 1 June 1 1922. A few months later, Mon immigrated to North Bonneville, WA and became owner and operator of the Kong Chew Restaurant. Ho lived with Mon’s mother in China the next 16 years. Mon returned to Sun Wui November 1928-April 1930, and April 1932-May 1934, and bought a brick house at 32 Ng Ming Chung highway for Ho. Ho, Sun-You, and Fay-lun lived in Hong Kong from 1938 until their 1940 immigration. When they left Hong Kong, Japanese planes strafed their ship and they had to duck for cover. Sun-You (Johnny) was adopted by his godfather, Jack Lee, in Portland.
Ho was born 28 December 1904 in Sun Wui to her mother Lum Shee, and father Ho Hon Jone. Ho spoke the See Yip (Siyi) dialect of Sun Wui. Mon, despite growing up in Sun Wui, spoke Yip Wui Ping dialect because in the U.S. he had mixed with Hoi San and Hoi Ping speakers.
Mon, born 28 February 1904 in Sun Wui, lived with his mother, Tom (Hom) Shee, born 1880 Sun Wui, until entry to Seattle 1922 as the oldest son of Chin Jan (Yock Kong), a citizen by 1881 birth in Portland. In 1939, Jan was a cook at the New Cathay Cafe at 82nd and Division. Mon’s mother was Hom (Mock) Shee. Jan’s parents were Chew (Joe) Chin, and Leong Shee. Mon’s siblings were: Soon, On, Quay, Wing, Hoe, and Kin. Jan’s brothers were: Quong, Jip, Choe, Hoy, Hom; sisters: Sing Choy, and Lin Choy.
Ho and Mon claimed two other sons: Gok Hing (George), born 1923, entered Seattle 1934 with Mon, then lived with Wong On, owner of the Hung Far Low Restaurant, 112 NW 4th Ave., Portland. Gok Hing (George)’s mother (whom stayed in China) was the sister of Wong On’s first wife Yee Shee. Gim Foon (Kim), was born 1929 in Ark Hing Lai, Kwangting by Mon’s first wife, whom Mon left after an affair with and impregnating her younger sister, Ho. Gim was in the care of Mon’s cousin Chin Gong (Young Yuke Jee) owner of the Kwong Ching Chong store, Hong Kong until 1941, when due to Japanese invasion he was sent to Gow How, Hoy (Hoi) Ping District to reside with a friend until returning to Hong Kong 1948. He entered Seattle in 1951.
A 1908 statement by Modena Stewart Cue said she and Joe Que (Cue) were married at Greenwood, Mississippi by Rev. N. L. Lackey in March or April 1894. At that time Joe Que ran a general merchandise store at Clarksdale, Mississippi called Joe Que & Co. His partner, Ju Gong, sold his interest in the store to Joe Que about December 1894. Modena and Joe had three children. Charlie Stewart Cue was born 31 January 1895. A midwife called “Grandmother Oliver,” attended Modena during his’s birth. Modena’s daughter, Mabel Cue, was born 17 August 1896 in Webb, Mississippi; and Joe Lee Cue, was born 16 September 1898 in Bonham, Texas. Mabel died 18 December 1898 and was buried in Bonham. Modena left her husband in 1899 so she could live closer to her family in Mississippi. She married John Williams at Coahoma, Mississippi in 1904.
After Modena left Joe Que he moved to various places in Texas then went to Memphis, Tennessee. In December 1901 he decided to go back to China and take Charlie with him. James P. Newton, a photographer residing in Memphis, Tennessee and Modena Stewart Cue, the mother of Charlie Stewart Cue (周拃李), both swore that Charlie, age five, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of Joe Que, a merchant; Charlie and his father were not classified as “a laborer, huckster or peddler.” [Charlie received his classification by “being of tender years.”]
Joe Que returned to Chicago, Illinois in 1903 without Charlie. He left him with his mother in Man How Dewey, Hoy Ping District so he could learn Chinese. E. Sutcliffe, a ticket agent at the Frisco Railway System in Memphis and Will Hays swore in an affidavit that “Joe Que or Joe Cue” was a peaceable, law-abiding merchant and member of the firm of Joe Jim & Co., Dublin, Mississippi. His entry into the United States was approved.
In 1907 Joe Que’s mother died and he went back to China to bring Charlie back.
Charlie Stewart Cue was twelve years old in September 1908 when he arrived at Portal, North Dakota seeking admission into the United States. His mother had given him her photograph before he left for China in 1902; it was attached to the lapel of his coat. He described her as an American who did not look like his father, shorter than his father, and medium built.
When Joe Que was interviewed he said that Modena was a mix of white and Mexican blood. Joe Que testified that he married a Chinese woman in China in 1907 because Modena would not live with him.
Originally Joe Que was denied admission by the Board of Special Inquiry because they were concerned that he was married to two women. A. W. Brough, Immigrant Inspector, went to Mississippi to investigate. He interviewed Jim Gow, a laundryman at Clarksdale. Gow said Joe Que was “a gambler, a bum.” Brough also interviewed Modena Stewart Cue and described her as “an unusually intelligent colored woman.”
The Board concluded that Charlie Stewart Cue was entitled to admission since he was a native born citizen. Joe Que’s entry was denied and his case was appealed. Modena’ Stewart Cue’s 1908 affidavit she said she was not sure if Joe Que ever married in China. This information must have satisfied the Board; Charlie’s father, Joe Que, was admitted two days after Charlie in September 1908. They listed their destination as Chicago.
[Joe Que said Modena was of white and Mexican blood; Immigrant Inspector Brough said she was a “colored woman;” and her son Charlie said she looked American. All we know is that Modena was not Chinese.]
Robert Eugene Lee (Lee Quock Bong) was born on 24 February 1897 at 208 North 9th Street in Philadelphia. His parents were Lee Chong and Musetta Lee. His father was Chinese and his mother was “a negress.” In 1902 Lee Chong and his family visited his home village, Dong Nom Ho Village, Hok Dan District, China. Mrs. Lee died two months after arriving in China. Lee Chong returned to Philadelphia in 1903 and the children stayed in China with their father’s family.
In 1916 Lee Chong was applying to have his son, Robert Eugene Lee, join him in Philadelphia. He swore in an affidavit that he was a laundryman at 1939 East Sargent Street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a widower and father of three American-born children, Robert Eugene Lee, aged 18; Mable Luella Lee, age 16, and Gum Len Lee, age 13, who were living in China. His son was married but his wife would be staying in China.
Mary E. Moy, age 45, was a witness for Lee Chong and his son. She testified that her sister and Dr. Bates attended Musetta Lee at Robert’s birth. Mrs. Moy, a Caucasian, was married to a Chinese, Goon Moy. Her husband and Robert’s father, Lee Chong, were close friends.
Other witnesses were Lee Tong, manager of Chong Woh Company in Philadelphia and Agnes A. Ming, a Caucasian who knew Robert’s parents well. She testified that she had known Lee Chong since she was twelve years old and that Lee Chong married Zada Brown, “a colored girl,” who lived over his laundry at 18th and Wharton streets. After their three children were born the Lee family moved to China and Zada died there in 1903. Agnes went to school with Zada, a mulatto. Agnes’ husband was Chinese and a friend of Lee Chong. The Mings lived in Albany, New York.
Lee Chong (American name Joe Lee), (marriage name Lee See Tai), was 49 years old, a laundryman. He received his certificate of identity or residence 107002 in Philadelphia in March 1894. [The file sometimes refers to the certificate as identity and sometime as residence.]
In a letter recommending approval of Robert’s documents, Charles V. Mallet, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector at Gloucester City, New Jersey stated,
“The witnesses Mary Moy and Agnes Ming are both white women
who are or have been married to Chinese, and both of them
convince me of their credibility in connection with their
testimony affecting the applicant; Mrs. Moy being a woman
whose personality should place her way above the status of
one who ordinarily consorts with Chinese. I personally know
something about this witness and have to say for her that
she has raised a family of boys in a manner which should do
credit to any mother. The Chinese witness, Lee Tong, is one
of the most responsible and respected merchant in
Philadelphia Chinatown, and his testimony should be
accorded corresponding weight. The alleged father of the
boy gives the impression of one who is disposed to tell the
truth with his knowledge, and manifests a true parent’s
interest in the applicant…”
In a 1916 statement approving Robert Eugene Lee’s arrival, H. W. Cunningham, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector, Vancouver, B.C. said, “…the claims made are genuine, and in addition applicant’s features plainly indicate an admixture of negro blood. Applicant is admitted and furnished a certificate of identity.”
The file lists the following documents were examined: the baptismal cards for Robert Eugene Lee and Mabel Luella Lee at Philadelphia, 12 December 1901; a 1911 copy of a birth certificate for Chinese female Lee, [Gum Len Lee] born 21 July 1902; and passport 62682 issued 9 October 1902 to Musetta Lee accompanied by her three minor children. [Unfortunately these documents are not included in the file.]
Robert lost his certificate of identity in 1921 but was able to get it replaced.
Robert Eugene Lee made two more trips to China. He was gone from 1922 to 1924. His son, Lee Tong Chee, arrived in the U.S. in 1928. His wife, Chong See, and his other son, Lee You Kue, stayed in China. In 1936 Robert, age 39, applied to visit China and was approved. He returned in June 1937.