Ah Kong – Spokane, Washington – Oriental Café

Ah Kong 1907 photo
“Ah Kong photo, Eng Gin affidavit” 1907, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ah Kong case file, Seattle Box RS 195, file RS 29169.

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopen.  thn]

In 1907 Eng Gin swore in an affidavit that he had been living in Port Townsend, Washington for forty-three years. On the Chinese date of 11 February 1877 (American date in March 1877), he and his wife, Yet Yue, had a son, Ah Kong, in Seattle, Washington. Their son was born at his place of business and residence on Washington Street between Second Avenue and Occidental Avenue. In 1885 he sent Ah Kong to Her Ping village, District of Sun Ning, Canton Province, China, to be educated. By 1907 Ah Kong finished his studies and his father wanted him to join him in Port Townsend. Ah Kong’s mother, Yet Yue died in Port Townsend about 1888. A photo of Ah Kong was included on his father’s affidavit.

In January 1908 Ah Kong, the son of Eng Gin formerly of Seattle, applied for admission to the United States at the Port of Seattle as a returning native-born Chinese.

Ah June was a witness for Ah Kong. Ah June’s name at birth was Ng Tung June and his married name was Ng See Sing. He was forty-four years old and a merchant, the manager of Zee Tai Company in Port Townsend, Washington. He came to the U.S. in 1876. He lived in Port Townsend since his arrival except for nine years in Boise, Idaho (1894 to 1903). He made three trips to China during that time. On his third trip in 1904, he resided in the Village of Gim On in the Sun Ning district. He visited Ah Kong and his family and gave Ah Kong one hundred Mexican dollars from his father.

Ah June knew Eng Gin since 1882 when Eng was living in Port Townsend at the Zee Tai’s store on Water Street, later the location of the Palace Restaurant. Eng Gin was with his wife Shue Shee (Yet Yue) and his son Eng Kong who was about five or six at that time. Eng Gin and his family lived in Port Townsend for about six months before moving to Port Discovery where Eng Gin was employed as a foreman in a sawmill. They stayed there about two years then moved back to a house on Quincy Street in Port Townsend. Ah June thought Eng Gin had another son who was called Ah Wing or Eng Wing but did not know much about him.

Ah Kong was questioned after he arrived at the Port of Seattle on 8 January 1908. He said his other name was Yee Quay and his family name was Eng. He was thirty years old and married. He was born in Seattle on Washington Street between Occidental and Second Avenue. When he was about seven years old, he went to China from San Francisco with a distant cousin, Eng Fong Hock.

Aloysuis Harker was also a witness for Ah Kong. He was in the produce and commission business and had lived in Seattle since 1871, over thirty years. He was well acquainted with many Chinese and knew Chin Ching Hock, Chin Gee Hee, Lu Woo, Eng Gin and many others. He was asked in detail about the addresses for several Chinese businesses. Some of the street names had changed since the Seattle fire of 1889 so he drew a map to show where the businesses were and to explain the new street names. Although Harker had not seen Ah Kong in many years, he thought the photo Ah Kong on his identity card had “the appearance” of the boy he had known twenty years ago.

C. E. Carleton testified for Ah Kong. Carleton was a painter who came to Seattle in 1881. He knew Eng Gin, Wah Chong, Chin Pong and several other Chinese. He got to know Eng Gin when he painted the store Eng managed, Quong Yuen Long Company, on Washington Street. He said the store was on the south side of Washington Street next to the old Standard Theatre which was now the Lyric Theatre. He pointed placed out on the maps that Harker had drawn. He described Eng Gin’s wife as short, thickset, fat, and good looking with big feet. Ah Kong was a young boy when he met him. To the best of Carleton’s memory, the young man in the case file photo resembled the boy he met many years ago.

Ah Kong was admitted at the Port of Seattle.

Ah Kong Form 430 1912 photo
“Ah Kong, Form 430 photo” 1912, CEA files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Ah Kong case file, file RS 29169.

In April 1912 Ah Kong applied for pre-investigation of status as an American-born Chinese. He wanted to make a trip to China. Ah Kong was a restaurant keeper at the Oriental Café at 412 Riverside Street in Spokane, Washington. He gave his name as Ah Quong [usually spelled Kong] of the Ng [Eng] family. His married name was Yee Quay. He was thirty-five years old and was born in Seattle, Washington. He married Louie See of Wong Mo Hin village, Sunning district, China. She had bound feet.  Their two sons and one daughter, ages eight to twelve, were born in Sai On village, Sunning district, China.

Ah Kong’s Form 430, Application of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Preinvestigation of Status, dated 29 April 1912, states that officer in charge was prepared to approve the application. There is nothing in the file that shows that Ah Kong left the United States in 1912 or returned at a later date.

Long Tack Sam – Internationally Renowned Magician & Acrobat

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopens. THN]

There is not much information in Long Tack Sam Company’s file. The cover sheet shows that the file contains information on actors who were members of the Long Tack Sam Company. They were admitted at Blain [sic], Wn. [Washington], ex G. N. train [Great Northern Railway], June 17, 1923.  (See 10770/1-1 to 12). It was an inventory file. The subjects were listed as Long Tack Sam, Long Lieu (Lan Ludovika), Fang Ching Hai, Sih Qua Ling, Sang Chi Hwa, Wang Kuh Yong and Li Koy Dohien.

Page 1:  23 June 1920 letter from Pantages Theatre Company, Inc., Seattle, Washington to U.S. Immigration in Seattle, notifying them that Long Tack Sam Company of Chinese magicians would be returning to the port of Seattle on Sunday, 27 June at 9 p.m.

Page 2: 7 May 1923 letter on Long Tack Sam Company stationary to Seattle Immigration Service regarding Chang Chang Ching with an attached photo of Chang.


Photo of Chang Chang Ching

Page 3: photos 1-7 with names listed  [not dated]

Page 4: five photos of nine actors with names listed  [not dated]

Page 5: eight photos of eight actors with names listed [not dated]

“Long Tack Sam and members of the Long Tack Sam Co.” 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Long Tack Sam Company case file, Seattle Box 1306, files 38772/1-1 to 1-9.

John Jung posed this video of Long Tack Sam on Facebook:

Here’s the promo for it:
“This feature documentary offers a whimsical tour through the history of Chinese magicians and performers in the Western world. Long Tack Sam was an internationally renowned Chinese acrobat and magician who overcame isolation, poverty, cultural and linguistic barriers, extreme racism and world wars to become one of the most successful acts of his time. Filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming travels the globe searching for the story of her great-grandfather, the cosmopolitan Long Tack Sam. A celebration of the spirit of Long Tack Sam’s magic and art, this richly textured first-person road movie is an exhilarating testament to his legacy and a prismatic tour through the 20th Century.”

Finding Genealogical Data in the Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files Webinar

Legacy Family Tree Webinar
“Finding Genealogical Data in the Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files” – Wednesday, September 16, 2020 by Trish Hackett Nicola, CG

Chinese genealogical research is challenging. Even the names are confusing—a person could have two or three distinctly different names during his lifetime, and possibly an Americanized version. This webinar will give a brief history of the act, tell where the files are located, and how to access them. Examples of the rich genealogical information found in the files will be given—interrogations, affidavits, photographs, vital records, and more. The Act was in effect for 61 years—1882 to 1943. There are over 5 million Chinese Americans in the U.S. Many with ancestors who arrived in the United States before 1943 may have someone with a Chinese Exclusion Act case file.

The webinar is available at Legacy Family Tree

Operation: WWII Chinese American G.I.

Operation: WWII Chinese American G.I.
Webinar:  August 29th (Saturday). 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is proud to honor and remember the contributions of Chinese American WWII Veterans and join hands with the American Legion Cathay Post 384, Chinese American Citizens Alliance (C.A.C.A.), and Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) in being an official Commemorative Partner of the WWII Chinese American G.I. Program, an ongoing initiative that will host a series of virtual events to educate people around the world about this often forgotten and ignored generation of veterans.  The first event in this yearlong initiative is a live webinar titled Operation: WWII Chinese American G.I.
Keynote speaker:  Montgomery Hom, military historian, author, filmmaker
Panelists: Major Gen. William Chen (ret) & Connie Young Yu

Registration (seats limited so register now)

Find out more about the Chinese American Citizens Alliance and some of the veterans in the Digital Program Booklet 

Ah Yen, minor son of Port Townsend, WA Merchant

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopens.  THN]

Ah Yen, the minor son of She Get, a Chinese merchant from Port Townsend, Washington arrived in Port Townsend on 25 April 1904 on the S. S. Tremont. He was fifteen years old, weighed 108 pounds and had a large scar above the center of his forehead near his hairline.

In his interview with Thomas M. Fisher, the Chinese Inspector in Charge at Port Townsend, Ah Yen stated that he lived in Cha Chung village in the district of San Ning, China. He lived with his older brother and his wife and his younger brother. Their mother died in 1901. There were about thirty houses in their village. Their house was a few blocks from a large stream. When his father, She Get, visited about 1898, he stayed for one year. After She Get returned to the U.S., they received letters from him. Ah Yen described his father as a tall, fat man who was a member of the Get Gee Company. [He was only about 8 or 9 when his father visited, so maybe his father seemed tall.]

Inspector Fisher interviewed witness, James W. Stockand, who had lived in Port Townsend for forty years and was a clerk in a store.  Stockand said She Get had a legitimate store with a small stock of goods and he never saw any gambling there. He thought She Get was likely to provide for his son financially.

Another witness, Max Gerson, was a merchant in Port Townsend.  He had lived there since 1882 and knew She Get for over two years. Gerson stated that She Get had a Chinese general merchandise store on Adams Street between Washington and Water. Gerson felt confident that if She Get’s son was admitted, he would not become a public charge. He thought She Get was a man of some means; a gentleman who would support his son. Stockand and Gerson gave the same information in an affidavit and described She Get. They said he was 47 years old, about 5 feet 4 inches, heavy build, weighed about 180 pounds, spoke English very well, seemed to be a very good businessman, and the photo of She Get attached to the affidavit was a good likeness on him.

“She Get photo in Garson-Stockand Affidavit,” 1904, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ah Yen case file, Seattle Box RS 55, file RS 2168.

She Get testified that he was forty-seven years old and had lived in Port Townsend for a littleover two years. Previously he lived in Spokane for fifteen years and Colfax before that. He had been in the U.S. for twenty-five years. She Get sold Chinese merchandise at Yee Yuen Company in Spokane at 513 Front Avenue and had about $1,000 in stock. He sold his Spokane store and started new store in Spokane and also a business in Port Townsend in March 1902 with nine partners. Their stock on hand is worth $3,900.  His share is $500.  His share in the new Spokane store was about $500. He registered as a merchant and had been back to China twice. He brought his son Ah Yen to the U.S. so he could attend school here and help in the store. In his affidavit he swore that was married to Sin Lim for twenty-seven years until she died in 1901.

Ah Gee swore in a 1904 affidavit that he was a resident of Port Townsend and a member and bookkeeper of the Zee Tai Company. He was originally from Dow Dung, Sin Ning, Canton, China. On a 1901 to 1903 trip to China, he visited Sha Chung [Cha Chung] to see She Get’s son and give him and his brothers money from their father.

Another witness Eng Gay testified that She Get had three sons. He stated that the village of Cha Chung was a one-day, eighty-cents steamboat trip from Hong Kong.

[Witnesses were  questioned when the applicant arrived or departed. Frequently their testimonies also appeared in affidavits at some point during the application process.]

In September 1908, Ah Yen planned a trip to China. Max Garson and Milson Dobbs, citizens of the United States and residents of Port Townsend, swore in an affidavit that they were acquainted with She Get; he was a merchant not a laborer, a member and manager of Get Kee Company at 109 ½ Adams Street, Port Townsend; he performed no manual labor; that no laundry, gambling establishment or restaurant was connected with the firm; and that they knew Ah Yen, son of She Get, who was admitted 30 April 1904. Ah Yen’s photograph was attached so he could be identified when he returned.

“Ah Yen photo, Garson-Dobbs Affidavit,” 1908, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ah Yen case file, Seattle Box RS 55, file RS 2168.

She Get swore in an affidavit that his son, Ah Yen, was about to depart for China. The purpose of the affidavit was to secure his readmittance into the United States.

Ah Yen returned on 31 May 1909, arriving on the S.S. Princess Victoria in Seattle, and was admitted.

Added new page: Indexes to CEA case files at NARA

Indexes to Chinese Exclusion Act case files at NARA Seattle

Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files
Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files

This page includes links to the indexes of the Chinese Exclusion Act case files at the National Archives at Seattle. It includes everything that has been indexed up to February 2019.
[Although the Seattle files have been indexed through mid-March 2020, this copy only goes through February 2019. The National Archives at Seattle is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When it reopens, the indexing project will continue where we left off in March 2020 and I will post an updated version on the index.]