In late September 1938, Robert Quon/Quong, age 15, applied to go to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, to attend a Seattle Times Newsboys Excursion. It was a one day trip, up on Sunday morning and back to Seattle in the evening. Robert needed to get his Form 430, Native Return Certificate, approved before he could leave.
Robert’s father, Eng Ah Quan/Harry Quong Eng testified that he was forty-three years old, born in Dallas, Texas. He said he was an “American citizen, absolutely.” He had never been to China. He married Jessie Quong, a Caucasian, in Omaha, Nebraska. They had four children, all born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Their children were Erma, 22, born July 25, 1916; Dorothea Marie, born 1919; Harry, Jr., born 1921; and Robert, 15, born August 26, 1923. They were all living in Seattle. Erma and Dorothy were attending Wilson’s Business College; Harry, Jr. was going to Garfield High School, and Robert attended Washington Grade School. They lived 436 23rd Street South. The children’s birth certificates were registered at Okmulgee, Oklahoma but they only had Harry’s certificate. Robert’s certificate was on order.
Mrs. Jessie Ethel N. Quong, testified as a witness for her son, Robert Quong. Mrs. Quong was born in Omaha, Nebraska; she was white, and had been married twice. Her second marriage was to Harry Quong (Eng) at Sapulpa, Oklahoma in 1915.
Robert Quan testified that his father worked as a cook at Moose Club. He thought his father went to China as a member of a crew once. [The Immigrant Inspector ignored this discrepancy and recommended that Robert application’s application be approved.]
The Reference Sheet included in the file only gives the file number for Robert’s father—7030/5501 for Eng Ah Quan Harry.
[I thought there might be an article in the Seattle Times newspaper about the paperboys excursion to Victoria but I could not find one. Robert looked happy in the Form 430 photo. He was probably excited about his upcoming trip. thn]
Al Young – Chinese dragster driver, former teacher at Seattle Public schools, previous member of the board of directors for MOHAI, in a movie about car racing, ambassador at Bardahl headquarters and so much more to his family and friends.
In April, Al Young took Harry Chan to visit Angel Island. The two friends were visiting San Francisco for a Bruce Lee convention. But Young, a champion race car driver who shattered racial barriers through his daredevil and consistent winning, could not shed his role as an educator. Besides being the first Asian American to win a panoply of honors on the track, he was a beloved teacher who over a span of 50 years taught a variety of subjects at various schools, including auto shop, film studies, U.S. history, American government, Chinese cooking, martial arts, and the core curriculum to students at an alternative K-12 school.
So returning to his native California, he could not resist educating his longtime friend, the owner of the iconic Tai Tung Restaurant, about something simultaneously more shameful but at the same time a source of his lifelong fight against racism and injustice.
Touring the island, Chan was at first struck by the beauty.
“You could see the ocean everywhere,” he said in an interview.
But then Young showed him the cell where his grandmother was kept for a year when she first arrived from China.
“We saw where people had written on the wall in Chinese how much they missed their homes,” said Chan.
Such a “show and tell” approach—creating a form of experiential learning for his friend—epitomized the way that Young approached life. From the race track, to the classroom, to the open streets where he still performed the lion dance or martial arts into his 70s, or even through his tenure as a member of the board of the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), and perhaps most of all as a father, husband, brother, and son, Young exemplified the courage to bring out the best in others by taking risks himself and by remaining fully present and supportive with those around him.
Young died on Dec. 11 surrounded by family. He was 76. The cause was complications following a heart attack.
The outpouring of grief that has filled the many communities he touched and transformed seems endless. In the few days since his death, wave after wave of former students, friends, fellow activists, and fellow race car drivers poured out their sadness and longing for him to still be present with them, as he had been for so much of his life.
“He was a true renaissance man and reached many people throughout his life, as a teacher, mentor, activist, business owner, race car driver, kung-fu Si-Hing, coach, and friend,” said Chase Young, his son. “As a son, I’m so proud of him and thankful for everything he has taught me about life, fatherhood, family, love, responsibility, loyalty, respect, hard work, and bringing positivity to the world.”
Young was born on April 28, 1946 in San Jose, California to Col. John C. and Mary Lee Young.
A documentary created by Rick Quan, “Race: The Al Young Story,” describes his early struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which caused him to very nearly flunk out of school. It was not until one day, by accident, that he discovered he could read and concentrate on a book while walking, that his life transformed. Prior to that, the printed page was too demanding with the many distractions that his disorder sparked in him. But once he made this discovery, always an innovator, he began to take many-mile-long walks around a nearby lake, with a book open under his nose. He not only graduated high school, but he was accepted at the University of Washington and went on to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s in English Literature.
His boundless energy also found a channel in car racing, which began illegally on the streets in the Bay Area, but soon led him to the top of the heap and won him a sponsorship from Bardahl Manufacturing Company, formerly the largest company in Seattle.
Young described ADHD as an advantage on the track.
Waiting in his race car, watching the signal lights move from yellow to green, with his engine roaring and huge wheels spinning under him, a cloud of smoke enveloping the car, time would stand still for him, he said.
Whereas for most people, the succession of lights signaling the start of the race happened in rapid succession, for Young, he said it all occurred in slow motion, with each light filling up like a balloon being blown up—he indicated with his hands.
“One thing about having ADHD, when you concentrate, you really concentrate,” he said, in the documentary.
At times, he slipped out of the starting block one-thousandths of a second after the green light flashed.
But racing also demanded another type of concentration, one that all drivers shared, he observed, and one that united them in steering away from any kind of judgment-making based on race or anything else.
“When you’re in the car racing, if you’re thinking about your opponent—is it a man or a woman, or about what he or she looks like, or anything about him—you’ve already lost,” he said.
For years, Young was not only the first but the only Asian American race car driver, and his opponents never held it against him when he beat them.
Countless former drivers posted on his Facebook page remembering his glories and his acts of kindness and mentoring at races.
Perry Lee, a martial artist and owner of one of the largest collections of Bruce Lee memorabilia in the world, said that the study of martial arts had also contributed to Young’s concentration and confidence.
Moreover, Lee said Young was perhaps the most empathetic person he had ever known.
“You could feel it right away,” he said.
Young was also highly engaged in social activism. From the beginning, he painted his car with the symbol of a Chinese lion, to draw attention to racial stereotypes and how they needed to be broken.
“If you look at my face, you might be 80% wrong about me, based on common stereotypes, but if you look at my car, you’d probably be 80% right,” he said.
His later car, a green Dodge Challenger with the Bardahl slogan painted on, which led him to so many victories it was hard to count, he eventually donated to MOHAI, where it is on display.
In a tribute to his legend, the museum also sells miniatures of his car in the gift shop.
In working for social justice, Young was one of the most outspoken and courageous advocates for the downtrodden and his community.
Bettie Luke, who recounted that she and Young had both worked in Seattle Public Schools, said she was “pleasantly surprised” to see that Young, along with Chan, had made the long trip to take part in the 150th Golden Spike Ceremony, where his sister was giving the opening speech, to commemorate the completion of the trans-pacific railroad, built by Chinese laborers.
In articles for this newspaper, Young would not pull punches, but call out moves by authorities that he saw as racist as “bull—t” or “white supremacy.”
Vicki Young, his wife, said: “He spoke from his heart.”
Young was seemingly always available with his time and expertise and willingness to do virtually anything for anyone, as many friends and former students have shared.
“He would take care of you,” said Vicki.
Around the time he was on Angel Island, this reporter was visiting France with his wife. After getting lost and finding a small restaurant that was closed and wouldn’t serve food, I reached out to Young for help. The reason was this: the owner of the restaurant was a flamboyant French man who owned a Ford Mustang he rented out as part of his business. But he lamented that he could not find a carburetor for it in France, rendering it useless. I, in desperation, thought of Al Young (doubtless as many others had before). Because of his character and personality, I did not have the slightest hesitation about calling him up, without the slightest notice, from the middle of France, at an odd hour, and with a bizarre request. He instantly solved the problem. He told me about a special website on which foreigners could buy top-quality American-made auto parts for classic cars. I then told the French restaurant owner about this. He was thrilled.
My wife and I got our meal.
Young is survived by his wife, Vicki; son, Chase Young; daughter, Ashley Durant’ grandchildren Caden, Isa, Lilly, Peyton, Jacob, and Solomon’ daughter-in-law Kelly’ son-in-law Joel’ sister Connie Young Yu and her husband, John Yu; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
According to his son, he was acutely aware of funding drying up for automotive and other shop classes, where many students really gained confidence and a sense of themselves.
In his memory, and to honor his wishes, the family has started a Gofundme page for the Seattle Skills Center of the Seattle Public Schools.
“Al Young was a firm believer in public education. He felt strongly that vocational education classes needed more funding and attention,” said Chase.
Any donations to honor his legacy and continue the work he pursued for a lifetime can be made at: https://bit.ly/3uS18dS
Elena B. Wong Viscovich, Ed.D, sent me a clarification and update on the original 3/21/2016 blog entry on Donaldina Cameron and the children at the Ming Quong Home.
Ming Quong Home was established 1925 for girls that were orphans, half-orphans, children of divorce, unwanted by a step-parent, or because of mental, physical health of parents, and of refugee status, etc. The children at Ming Quong Home were not prostitutes, orphans of prostitutes, nor illegitimate children.
For a more complete story about the Ming Quong Home, please go to “The Story of the Ming Quong Homes” and its citations by Elena B. Wong Viscovich, Ed.D, a Ming Quong alumna. While researching the Ming Quong Home, Dr. Wong Viscovich found the original log listing the names of the girls at Ming Quong. She then helped redesign the contents of the Ming Quong Museum Room at the Pacific Clinics property in 2021. The log listed the reasons for placement which is mentioned above.
The U.S. Mint began The American Women Quarters Program in 2022 and will feature five women each year until 2025. Anna May Wong, a Chinese American actress, was on the first coin introduced in October 2022.
Anna May Wong, was born in Los Angeles in 1905 to Chinese immigrants. Her birth name was Wong Liu Tsong. She appeared in over sixty movies and had the lead role as a Chinese detective on a U.S. TV show. Because of the discrimination she faced in the U.S., she also worked in European films. In 1960 she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Author Mark Johnson & Certified Genealogist Trish Hackett Nicola present:
PIECING TOGETHER THE PAST: THE CHINESE EXPERIENCE IN THE AMERICAN WEST
Sunday, January 8, 2023 2:00PM: Presentation 3:15PM: Reception & Book Signing Fr. Healy Chapel Theater Seattle Preparatory School. 2400 11th Ave East Seattle, WA 98102
From 1882-1943 the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the United States, the only group singled out so specifically for exclusion. Yet, the very process used to discriminate against this group has produced a rich documentary record that archivists and historians use today to describe this aspect of American and world history.
Join Trish Hackett Nicola, genealogist and expert on the Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, and historian Mark Johnson, Prep faculty member (2003-2007)* and author of The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky to learn about the preservation, interpretation, and use of these sources in telling the history of the Chinese experience in America.
This event is sponsored by the Prep student-run Asian/Pacific-Islanders Club (APIC). *Mark taught Collegio at Seattle Prep and is the recipient of the 2007 Ignatian Educator Award.
Mark T. Johnson is an associate professor with the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives. Author of the recent book The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana, Johnson focuses on telling the history of Chinese communities in the American West in their own words and through a global lens. Details on these projects are available at www.BigSkyChinese.com
Trish Hackett Nicola is a Certified Genealogist® with over thirty years of family history and genealogical research experience. She has conducted historical research for authors and published many articles on her own research. Her main interest is the Chinese Exclusion Act case files located at the National Archives at Seattle. Her blog contains a sampling of interesting files is located at ChineseExclusionFiles.com
In January 1938 Lee Yok Tin swore in an affidavit that he was the son of a native of the United States and was last admitted at the port of San Francisco. Photos of Lee Yok Tin and his son were attached to the affidavit. In September 1938 he was applying to have his son, Lee Gum Sing, who was a citizen through him, come to the U.S.
“Lee Yok Tin affidavit with photos of Lee Gum Sing and Lee Yok Tin,” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Lee Gum Sing file, Seattle Box 769, 7030/11419.
Lee Gum Sing, age 5, the son of Lee Yok Tin, a U.S. citizen, arrived at the Port of Seattle on 6 September 1938 with his aunt, Lee Ah Yee, and his father. Their destination was San Francisco. Gum Sing had a scar on his forehead over his right eyebrow, a scar on the back of his right ear and another scar on the right side of his neck. [There was no explanation for the scars, and interrogators did not ask about them in the interviews. THN]
His file contains twenty-nine pages of interrogations. Most questions were directed at his father and aunt but there were four pages of interrogation and two pages of re-interrogation for five-year old Lee Gum Sing. The father and aunt, the son and daughter of Lee Lock, also have separate files.
Gum Sing’s aunt, Lee Ah Yee, was twenty years old when she arrived in Seattle. She had a large brown burn scar on the right side of forehead which she said was from a boil and that no one in the family had had smallpox. She was born on 11 March 1919 in Macao City, China and lived in Sheuk Kee city from the time she was two or three years old. Her citizenship status at her arrival was as the daughter of a native citizen. According to the Chinese Exclusion laws it was necessary for her to prove her right to enter the U.S. She told the interrogator that her father, Lee Lock, marriage name Poy Lum, died in July 1936 at the age of 58. Her father’s funeral was held at their home, but she did not attend it. Her mother, Wong Shee, age 52, had released feet and was still living in the family home in China. Japanese warplanes bombed the business section of their village but not the residential section. [In 1938 the Japanese launched several military campaigns in China.] Ah Yee’s brother brought her to the U.S. to take care of his son, Gum Sing, and told her she could go to school if she was interested.
Lee Gum Sing’s mother, Ow Young Shee, died in 1938. Gum Sing identified his mother’s photo from her San Francisco file #12033/7572 and his father’s photo from his Seattle file 7030/10699. Gum Sing was born in Jung San on 4 October 1933. He had two older brothers and a younger brother. After his mother died his father married again to Leung Shee.
The interrogators asked Gum Sing about his family, home, street, and neighborhood. Gum Sing spoke in a mixture of Heung San and Sam Yip dialect and told them that the family lived in a small house with no upstairs. It had three bedrooms and three parlors, a clock with a pendulum, red tile floors, no courtyard, a toilet near the kitchen, no outside windows, no framed pictures, one outside door in one of the parlors, and a skylight. There was a round wooden table in the kitchen and a clay stove. The house was lit with kerosene lamps at night. He described who slept where. His grandmother had small feet and walked slowly. His father smoked cigarettes. His father’s new wife, Leung Shee, had bobbed hair and wore earrings, rings and bracelets. On their way to Hong Kong to start their trip to the United States they traveled by autobus and boat. The interrogators asked the same questions and more to his father and aunt.
Gum Sing’s father, Lee Yok Tin, marriage name Jock Sang, testified that he was 32 years old and born in Shauck Kee city, Jung San district, China. He was first admitted to the United States at San Francisco in 1922. He lived in Rockport near Walnut Grove. Since then, he had made three trips to China through San Francisco and one through Seattle. His most recent address was at the Hai Goon Grocery Store, 740 Jackson Street, San Francisco. He worked as a truck driver for the store. Lee Yok Tin’s first wife, Ng Shee died in 1923. They had no children together. His second wife, Ow Young Shee died in early 1938. They had four sons and no daughters. Lee Yok Tin married Leung Shee, age 21, a few months after Ow Young Shee died.
Lee Yok Tin explained that his sister, Ah Yee, was not allowed to attend their father’s funeral in 1936 even though it was in the family sitting room, because she was a girl. [Ah Yee would have been about 18 at the time of her father’s death. It is not known If she could have attended if she was older or if she was not allowed to attend simply because she was female; her age may not have mattered. Does anyone know the customs for females attending funerals? TNH]
The interrogator asked Lee Yok Tin why he did not bring his two older sons to the U.S. Yok Tin said he wanted them to attend school in China. The interrogator was also troubled by some of the discrepancies between the family’s description of the neighborhood. The three agreed on most of the details about the house and neighborhood but did not agree on whether the building directly to the right of the family home was an ancestral hall or if a fruit stand and grocery store stood at that place. And they disagreed about how much space there was between the buildings.
When Lee Ah Yee was being reexamined about some of the discrepancies between her statements and her nephew’s, she said Gum Sing’s answers might be different because he was only five years old and probably too young to know the answers.
In the summary of the interrogations by Roy C. Matterson, chairman of the Board of Special Inquiry, he explained the citizenship of Lee Look, the father of Lee Ah Yee and paternal grandfather of Lee Gum Sing. Lee Look’s file stated that when he was leaving San Francisco for China in March 1906, he claimed he was born in San Francisco. An affidavit from his mother and another witness confirmed his birth. After an investigation he was admitted as a citizen. In May 1922 Lee Yok Tin, the son of Lee Look, applied for admittance as the son of a U.S. citizen and was admitted. They both had made several trips to China and were readmitted each time. Although there were several discrepancies in the testimonies for this trip, when all the evidence, testimony and records were reviewed the discrepancies were not enough to detain Lee Ah Yee and Lee Gum Sing. They were admitted to the U.S. on 24 October 1938. Lee Gum Sing received Certificate of Identity #78259. His application includes his photo at age 3.
“Lee Gum Sing, form M143,” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Lee Gum Sing file, Seattle Box 769, 7030/11419.
The reference sheet in the file included file number 7030/12466 for Gum Sing’s older brother, Lee Mai Hing.
This is a continuation of the blog entry for !5 September 2022.
In October 1913 (Ng) Ah Yun filed an “Application of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Preinvestigation of Status” to visit China. His photograph was taken, and this description was listed as: age: 24; height: 5 ft. 6 in; occupation: cannery man; mole on chin below lower lip; left ear pierced; pit– right forehead. He said his correct name was Young, not Yun and that he lived at Wa Young Company store, 416 Eighth Avenue South, Seattle. [He was probably living above the store.] Ah Yun considered himself a general laborer. Although he worked in the cannery, he also worked as a cook and sometimes in laundries. [Even Chinese who were born in the U.S. had to go through this whole investigation process every time they left or re-entered the country.]
(Ng) Ah Yun returned from China on the Ex S.S. Ixion in April 1915. While there he married Wong She and they had a son, Bak Sing. Ah Yun was asked about his brother, Ah Don. He told the interviewer that Ah Don had married Lin She, who had natural feet. They had one son, age two.
Chinese were usually asked if their wife or mother had bound or natural feet. This was probably one of many questions asked to see if his answer was consistent each time he left or entered the U. S.]
In May 1915 (Ng) Ah Yun received his certificate of identity. This certificate contained his photo, was made of sturdy paper and, at 4-by-9 inches in size, fit into a durable storage sleeve; making it much easier and safer for him to carry than court discharge papers. He was required to carry the certificate with him at all times.
In June 1917, Ah Yun registered for the military draft in Hartford, Connecticut. His registration lists him as “Wah Young,” although he signed his name “Wu Ah Young” and he gave his date of birth as 29 October 1889, instead of 23 August 1889. The rest of the information agrees with previous facts about him. At that time, he was working as a waiter at a Cantonese Restaurant and living at 257 Asylum Street. The physical description of him says that he had lost a toe
[Note: The draft registration card is not included in his case file, but it is referred to in the file. Without this information in the file, it would be hard to know that he had registered for the draft. This is the only document that says he was living in Connecticut at that time. Because of the differences in the spelling of his name and in his date of birth, it would have been difficult to make the connection between Ah Yun and his draft registration. There is no additional information given about his missing toe.]
In November 1919 Ng Ah Yun again applied to leave the U.S. He went through an interrogation process similar to the interview he had had in 1913. New information revealed that his father, Yee Kong, had died in 1912 in Song Leung village; his mother’s brother, Si Chuck, who lived in Gow Ngok Won, had also died. Ng Ah Yun said he had married in 1913 and his son, Ng Bok Sen, was born in 1914. His marriage name was Ng See Tong. He stated that he was in poor health at that time.
Ah Yun was in New York City at the time he applied for his passport. James V. Storey, Customs Broker at William A. Brown & Co. was his identifying witness. Ah Yun paid a $2 application fee.
In December 1919 Ng Ah Yun received his passport so he could go to Hong Kong to visit his mother and family. The passport had a current photo, gave his age and a physical description.
Ng Ah Yun returned to the port of Seattle on the S.S. Bay State in May 1922. His life had changed. He had a second son, Ng Bok Chung (Teung), and his wife had died, probably in childbirth. He had remarried, to a woman named Chin She, who also had natural feet. She remained in China.
Ng Ah Yun applied for his third trip back to China in August 1926. His third son, Bok Wong, was born a few months after his return to Seattle in 1922, and he was probably anxious to see him. Ng Ah Yun returned to the United States through Seattle in July 1927, on the SS President McKinley.
At age forty-five, Ng Ah Yun once again went to visit his family in China. He was still living in New York City and working as a laundryman. His oldest son, Ng Bok Sing, had been living in the United States as well, but went back to China through Seattle in 1933. His other son (by his first wife), Bok Chung, was living in Song Lung village in China. Ng Ah Yun’s second wife had given birth to another son, Bok Teung, born in 1927 after her husband’s last visit. Bok Teung was almost seven years old before his father met him for the first time.
Ng Ah Yun returned to Seattle on the SS President Jackson in November 1936. He now had six children, all sons, and one son, Ng Bok Sing, was living in the United States.
Not all Chinese Exclusion Act case files give this much information, although some give even more. This case file provided information for a four-generation genealogy chart, contained six photos of Ah Yun from 1907 to 1934, a photo of his brother in 1907, addresses where Ah Yun had lived over the years, information about his extended family in China, and a 1919 passport. More family information could be obtained from Charley Quong’s case file and the files of his siblings who were born in the United States. The file refers to other documents easily obtained–passenger lists, World War I draft registration information, and the file of the son who was living in the United States. The file has a wealth of genealogical information and gives clues to finding much more information on the extended family.
This information was obtained from Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files ca. 1895-1943, Record Group 85; National Archives- Seattle, Ng Ah Yun, Case 7030/6363.The case study was originally published in the Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin. The citation for the complete article is: Trish Hackett Nicola, CG, “Chinese and the Northwest,” SGS (Seattle) Bulletin, 64-1 (Winter 2014) 39-47.
United States, Selective Service System, “World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database on-line, National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, Ancestry.com (:accessed 22 August 2022), Wah Young, Hartford, Conn, No. 1597;citing FHL, Roll1561897; Draft Board 2.
 Ng Ah Yun, 1919 Passport Application #4551, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications for Travel to China, 1906-1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 1244180 / MLR Number A1 540; Box#: 4448; Volume#: 35; Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007; accessed 22 August 2022.
Ng Ah Yun was born in Port Townsend, Jefferson County, Washington on 23 August 1889. He was the son of (Ng) Yee Kong and Wong Shee. Yee Kong had come to the United States from China about 1877 and married Wong Shee in San Francisco in 1882. Shortly after they married, they moved to Port Townsend, Washington and resided at the corner of Madison and Water Streets. Their first son, Ah Don Ng, was born there in 1885 or 1886.
Yee Kong operated the Yee Wah Laundry. Its original location was across the corner from the sailors’ boarding house. In December 1888, Yee Kong’s cousin, Charley Quong, who was born in California, joined them in Port Townsend. Charley’s father and Yee Kong’s father were brothers. About 1890 the laundry burned down, and the building was replaced. Eventually that building also burned and the family moved over to the King Tai Company building. About 1892, discouraged after twice losing their business, Yee Kong, his wife, and their two sons moved back to China.
In June 1907 the two brothers, (Ng) Ah Don and (Ng) Ah Yun, returned to Port Townsend on the Ex. S. S. Shawmut and applied to be admitted to the United States as U.S. citizens. Over a ten- day period they were interrogated and eventually admitted.
The file does not indicate where they stayed those ten days. The Port Townsend U.S. Customs House may have made some arrangements for them. Charley Quong, another Chinese man, and two Caucasian witnesses swore in affidavits about their knowledge of the brothers. They were shown photographs and asked to identify each one. Frank A. Bartlett said he had been a resident of Port Townsend for more than forty- two years. He was a member of C. C. Bartlett & Company, his father ’s general merchandise store, and sold laundry supplies to Yee Kong. C. C. Bartlett also rented a lot and a building to Yee Kong. After the building burned down, Yee Kong rented the land from Bartlett and built a two-story frame building for his laundry business. The Bartletts had a good working relationship with Yee Kong, and they both remembered seeing his young sons playing around the laundry.
Joseph Steiner also swore in an affidavit that he was acquainted with Yee Kong. Steiner owned a cigar store and had been a resident of Port Townsend since February 1888. Steiner patronized the Yee Wah Laundry, and Yee Kong brought his sons with him to the cigar store when he came to collect Steiner’s laundry fees and visit with him.
In Eng Yee Tung’s affidavit he testified that he was forty-four years old and was born in Pen On, Har Pang County, Sunning district, Province of Canton, China. He was the manager of the Yee Sing Wook Kee Company in Port Townsend. Around 1885 there were about one hundred Chinese in Port Townsend. Eng Yee Tung testified that he and about thirty or forty other Chinese attended a “shaving feast” to celebrate the birth of each of Yee Kong’s sons. This was a Chinese ritual in which a barber would shave off all but a small tuft of hair on the front of a male baby’s head about a month after the birth, then family and friends would gather to celebrate.
Ah Don, age 21, was interviewed on 13 June 1907. Even though he was only five or six years old when he left Port Townsend for China, he was asked many of the same questions asked of the other adults. He testified that his uncle, Charley Quong, whose Chinese name was Bing Quong, lived next door to his father ’s house in China and that Charley’s father was Jet Hock, the brother of Hen Hock. In the interview Ah Don described his house—it had had two sleeping rooms, two kitchens and a worship room. He stated that his mother had a brother named Wong Sai Chuck, a farmer in China. The interviewer then gave Ah Don a genealogy lesson. He explained that Charley and Ah Don’s fathers were first cousins; therefore, Charley could not be his uncle. When asked if he had any first cousins, Ah Don responded: “Under the Chinese custom I call Bing Quong my uncle, but according to the American custom he is my cousin, but not my first cousin.” (He had learned his genealogy lesson and how to deal with interviewers.) He had no other cousins. His father had given him about $1,000 to come to the United States.
Ah Yun, age 18, was interviewed the next day; ten days after the brothers had arrived in Port Townsend. He was only three or four years old when he left the U.S. for China. He told the interviewer that the family name was Ng, although it was not always used. When Ah Yun called Charley Kong (Quong) his uncle, Mr. Monroe, the interviewer, gave him the same genealogy lecture he had given his brother. Ah Yun gave the same answers to the interview questions as his brother had. As one would expect, they both correctly identified the photographs of each other and of Charley Quong.
On 14 June 1907, the Acting Chinese Inspector in Charge interviewed Charley Quong about Ah Yun and Ah Don. An interpreter was present. Quite a bit of genealogical information was obtained in that interview. Charley Quong/ Bing Quong was by this time thirty-five years old and was working in a saloon in Port Townsend that was owned by Henry Rothschild. Quong was born in San Francisco, the son of Hen Hock and Chin Shee, the former being the son of Mon Fee. Hen Hock was born in China and his mother in San Francisco. His father died in Fresco, California about 1900, but his mother was still living there. His four sisters and three brothers were all born in the United States and were living in Fresno.
Charley Quong had married in San Francisco. Quong had made two trips to China, once in 1895 and again in 1901. He had registered each time before he left the country. The interviewer asked him why he had registered, since he was born in the United States. He replied, “Because every Chinaman was registering, and I thought I would do the same.” [It was odd that the interviewer asked Quong why he had registered, because in 1892 the Geary Act was passed, which expanded the 1882 exclusion act. It now required all Chinese to register and obtain a certificate of identity as proof of their right to be in the United States and to safely return when they left the country.]
The interviewer asked Quong many questions about his family in China. Charley Quong and his cousin Yee Kong had lived in the village of Song Cheong, sometimes called Song Clen, Song Lung or Song Leung. There were only two houses in the village and they each owned one of them. Quong lived there with his wife, his stepmother (his father ’s first wife), and his two sons.
Caucasians were considered more credible witnesses than Chinese, so it was important for returning Chinese to have white witnesses who could swear that they were respectable citizens. Even though information on Caucasians in the files is incidental and rarely indexed, there are sometimes tidbits of information about people who had working relationships with Chinese. Sometimes a witness might tell where they were living in the 1890s when no census records were available. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to find this information.
Three months after Frank A. Bartlett and Joseph Steiner gave sworn statements about their knowledge of Ah Don and Ah Yun, the affiants gave witness testimony. Mr. Monroe asked Steiner how long he had lived in Port Townsend and Steiner replied that it had been a little over twenty years. Monroe came back with, “How much over twenty years?” Steiner replied that it had been twenty years in February. [Monroe was getting testy. He may have been feeling that he was wasting his time trying to disprove that the brothers were U. S. citizens.]
Steiner was asked to give the names of any Chinese that he remembered. He named six Chinese. He said he had never been to Yee Kong’s laundry because Yee Kong always called for it and delivered it back to him when done.
When Yee Kong’s former landlord, Frank A. Bartlett, was interviewed, he reported his occupation as both bookkeeper and merchant. He recounted that Yee Kong had paid various rents to him for his laundry–starting out at $15 a month, then $25 and finally $100, the latter being paid during boom times in Port Townsend. The first laundry was in a one-story building that was about twenty feet wide by 30 feet long. According to Bartlett, that building burned down about 1886. Bartlett then leased the land to Yee Kong for $100 a month and Yee Kong built a new laundry. He was there about five or six years until that building also burned down. [The dates were not always consistent from one person to another, but that did not seem to matter to the interviewer.]
After considering the evidence, Henry A. Monroe decided that Ah Don and Ah Yun were born in the United States. They were admitted to the country as returning native-born Chinese persons.
To be continued in October 2022 blog post.
 “Chinese Customs: Interesting Rites are Connected with Birth—Vary According to Province,” The Burlington Free Press and Times, Burlington, New Jersey, 4 March 1920, p.8; accessed Chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, 22 August 2022.
Waverly B. Lowell, compiler, Chinese Immigration and Chinese in the United States: Records in the Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration, NARA, Reference Information paper 99, 1996, 1.
This case study was originally published in the Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin. The citation for the complete article is: Trish Hackett Nicola, CG, “Chinese and the Northwest,” SGS (Seattle) Bulletin, 64-1 (Winter 2014) 39-47.