Ng Ah Yun – Port Townsend, Washington

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.

Ah Yun and Ah Don affidavit photos, 1907, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Ah Yun case file, Seattle Box 621, file 7030/6363.

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.


“Ah Yun, photo, Form 430,” 1913, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, #7030/6363.

To be continued in October 2022 blog post.

[1] “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.

[2]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.

Dorothy S. Luke Lee – born in Seattle

“Dorothy S. Luke Lee, 1912 Certified copy of 1910 Birth Certificate,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Dorothy S. Luke Dee (Mrs. Kaye Hong), Box 770, File #7030/11435.

Dorothy S. Luke Lee, daughter of Luke Lee and Down Cook, was born on 15 March 1910 in Seattle, Washington. She went to China with her family in 1912 and returned a year later.

When Dorothy and her family applied to go to China in 1912, Doctor Cora Smith (Eaton) King was a witness for the family. Dr. King, the family’s physician for the past five years, testified that Dorothy’s father, Luke Lee, was a merchant in Seattle. She knew that at least three of their children were born in the U.S. She was present at the birth of the two youngest, Dorothy and Edwin S. Luke Lee, and she assisted in obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate of Eugene Luke Lee, who was also born in the U.S.

In 1912, Dorothy’s mother, Down Cook (Mrs. Luke Lee), testified that she was 30 years old, and born in Quong Chaw village, Sunning district, China. She came to the U.S. in July 1907 through Sumas, Washington. At that time her husband was a merchant and member of Sing Fork & Company in New Haven, Connecticut. Their son, Luke Thick Kaye, (Dorothy’s older brother) born in Yen On village, Sunning district, China, came with them.  

Luke Thick Kaye testified in 1912 that he was seven years old. He had been going to school for three years. His teacher at the Main Street school in Seattle was Miss Sadie E. Smith, and his present teacher at Colman School was Miss Rock.

Dorothy S. Luke Lee Certificate of Identity Application 9975 

Dorothy S. Luke Lee, age 3, received Certificate of Identity #9975 as a returning citizen in 1913.

 

“Mrs Kaye Hong, Form 430 photo,” 1938

On 13 September 1938 Mrs. Kaye Hong, (Dorothy S. Luke Lee), age 28, applied to leave the U.S. from the Port of Seattle. She listed her address as 725 Pine Street, San Francisco, California.  She testified that she married Kaye Hong (Hong Won Kee Kaye) on 7 September 1936.

Dorothy, her husband, and some of his family were making a short trip to Canada.  They returned the next day through Blaine, Washington and were admitted.

Additional information not in the file:
Keye Luke attended the University of Washington in Seattle and was an artist/illustrator before becoming an actor for films and television. He got his movie start playing Charlie Chan’s Number One Son, Lee Chan.

Information about Keye Luke’s art career:
“Mary Mallory; Hollywood Heights – Keye Luke,” The Daily Mirror, 20 June 2022;

More about Keye Luke’s acting career:
Vienna’s Classic Hollywood, Keye Luke: Actor, Artist

Chinese American Eyes blog has 19 posts on Keye Luke covering his art and acting careers. 

Keye Luke Biography, Posted 12 Jan 2021 by lindaje2000:

Edwin Luke, Keye Luke’s younger brother, was also an actor. See this short biography of Edwin Luke

FYI: The CEA volunteers are still not back at NARA-Seattle but when we were all working together Rhonda Farrar called my attention to this file. Thank you, Rhonda!

Leung Man Hoi – Section 6 Merchant Certificate from Swatow

Leung Man Hoi arrived in the Port of Seattle on 15 May 1915. He passed his medical exam. He did not have hookworm or trachoma.

Leung Man Hoi (Yum Gong), Medical Examination, 1915, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Leung Man Hoi (Yum Gong), box RS193, # RS29097

He was interviewed by Immigration Inspector Henry A. Monroe. He testified that his marriage name was (Leung) Yum Gong, he was 30 years old, and born on 10 March 1886 in Kai Gock village, Moy Yuen District, China. He was married to Chin She and they had two sons, Sik Chee, age 6; and Sik Yuen, age 2. Leung was in the rice and wine business at Bo San Wo Co., Chung Sar Market, China. He had a friend, Wong Shu Tong, who was living at the King Chong Lung Co. Leung Man Hoi was admitted to Seattle on his day of arrival as a Section 6 Merchant and received his certificate of identity #20276. His destination was the King Chong Lung Company, 217 Washington Street, Seattle.

When questioned by Inspector Henry A. Monroe, Leung Man Hoi said that he was examined in China by a consular representative at Swatow. Leung did not know the interviewer’s name, but he said he answered his many questions truthfully. Leung did not have any relatives in the U.S., only a friend, Wong Shu Tong, who he had not seen in ten years. Wong worked for the King Cheng Lung Company. Leung only had $10 in cash with him and a bank draft for $1,000 in gold drawn on Wah Young Company issued in Hong Kong.  Inspector Monroe concluded that it was not a bank draft but only an order for the Wah Young Company to extend credit to Leung.

Leung, Section 6 Certificate for Merchant, Swatow, 1914, CEA, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, #RS29097

Inspector Monroe asked Leung if he knew Chin Tan in China. Chin solicited men of means to secure Section 6 certificates so they could enter the United States [illegally]. Leung denied knowing Chin Tan. At the conclusion of the interrogation Monroe reminded Leung that under no circumstances could he work as a laborer, or he would be subject to arrest and deportation.

Leung Man Hoi applied to leave the U.S. in May 1920 from San Francisco. He filed his application for a return certificate as a merchant and it was approved on 12 June 1920 by the commissioner at Angel Island Station in San Francisco, California, but with some reservations. This is an excerpt from a letter to Immigration in San Francisco from the Seattle immigration office on May 28, 1920:

              “Please note that Leung Man Hoi is a so-called Swatow Section 6
merchant. A couple of years ago this office established to the
satisfaction of the Department at Washington and the U.S. Court here,
on Writ of Habeas Corpus, that all Swatow cases were fraudulent, and
the last twenty-two from that place holding papers were returned to
China, after Judge Neterer of the District Court here had discharged
a Writ of Habeas Corpus obtained in their behalf. Since that time
no Chinese holding Swatow certificates have applied at this port for
admission. Testimony of the applicant given May 15, 1915, in interest-
ing reading, in view of the subsequent developments in Swatow cases.”

In spite of the letter from the Seattle office about their doubts of the validity of Section 6 merchant certificates issued in Swatow, Leung Man Hoi’s papers were approved.

If someone wants a project on the Chinese Exclusion Act case files, it would be interesting to find the files or the court cases on a 22 Chinese with Swatow papers who were returned to China.
The CEA volunteers are still not back at NARA-Seattle but when we were all working together Rhonda Farrar called my attention to this file. Thank you Rhonda!

Arthur Henry Wong Dock (Wong Bock Cheung) – Professional Wrestler

Arthur was a professional wrestler. He was 27 years old and 6 feet 1-1/2 inches tall in August 1933 when he applied for his Native Return Certificate to leave the U.S. to wrestle in Vancouver, British Columbia; and Honolulu, Hawaii. He planned to stay in Honolulu about three months before returning through San Francisco.

 “Arthur Henry Wong Dock, Return Certificate photo,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Arthur Henry Wong Dock (Wong Bock Cheung), Portland case file, Box 96, file 5017/739.

Arthur (Wong Bock Cheung) was born on 11 January 1906 in Chicago, Illinois, to Wong Dock and Anna Josephine McGarry. His mother was Caucasian and he had twin sisters, Victoria, and Gladys.

He married Margaret Chipley, a Caucasian, in Chicago  in June 1929. He used his mother’s maiden name on the marriage certification, so he is listed as Arthur McGarry. They had a daughter, Victoria about 1930.

When interviewed, Roy J. Norene, the examining immigration inspector in Portland, Oregon, commenting on an article about Arthur that appeared in the Sunday, May 14, 1933, Oregonian. The article said that Arthur was born in China. In Arthur’s interrogation, he said he was born in Chicago. Arthur told Norene that it was all publicity, just a publicity stunt. [According to the Cook County, Illinois birth certificate index on Ancestry.com Henry Wong Dock was born in Chicago.] Nothing in the file indicates that the inspector verified Arthur’s place of birth.

Arthur testified that he made a brief trip to British Columbia, Canada in 1932 for a wresting exhibition. He had a Boston file #2500/9543 from 1932 when he made a trip to Montreal, Canada; and a Seattle file 7030/5432 for his trips to Vancouver, B.C.

Arthur must have been very charming. He did not have any problem getting his immigration papers. The Immigration Inspectors all gave him favorable recommendations.

In this excerpt from The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon from 14 May 1933, that was included in the file. The author of the article comments on (Arthur) Wong Bock Cheung’s attractive personality and keen sense of humor. How many of the details in the article are true? Could he really speak four or five languages beside English and Chinese?  Was his father an interpreter for the Chinese and United States governments and weigh 250 pounds? His case file does not mention any of these details.

Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files – NGS Conference, Sacramento, CA

On Friday, 27 May 2022, Marisa Louie Lee and Trish Hackett Nicola, CG gave two presentations on the Chinese Exclusion Act case files, “Researching Chinese American Family History Using Chinese Exclusion Records – Part I & II” at the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, Sacramento, California.

Part I – Covered the historical background of the Chinese Exclusion Act through its repeal in 1943, the documents in the files, how and where to find the files, women in the files, Chinese naming conventions, paper sons and daughters, merchant partnership case files, other records of genealogical interest, and the 1965 Immigration & Nationality Act which ended race-based quotas.

A list of NARA facilities with Chinese Exclusion Act case files

Part II – See the Case Studies by Marisa Louie Lee and Trish Hackett Nicola, CG

(These case study files will only be available to June 30, 2022.)

Marisa Louie Lee – Case Studies
Louie Family of Fresno, California
Der Quock and the Chinese Confession Program

Trish Hackett Nicola, CG – Case Studies
Ng Yat Chin born in China
Benjamin Exner Chi’s Long fight to stay with family in Minnesota


Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟 AKA Donald Ung CHIN (1913 – 2005) by Kevin Lee

Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟 AKA Donald Ung CHIN (1913 – 2005) by Kevin Lee

[Thank you Kevin Lee for sharing your family story.]

Note the English spelling variations of the same Chinese family name 陳 of Chin, Chinn, Chan, Chen.

It was eerily quiet in the reference room of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Seattle, as the bound manila folder of # 7031/325 was handed to me by staff on 7 November 2019. There, in front of my eyes, laid 100 years of history, which was of my great uncle (kauh gung) – the younger brother of my maternal grandmother CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen 陳美珍 (who featured in this website on 17 May 2021).

Donald CHIN was the minor son of a merchant (where “M/S/Mcht” was marked on the front of his file) when he arrived in Seattle, from Hong Kong, on 5 April 1926.

Donald was also the grandson of a laundryman Gin Heung CHAN, also known as (aka) Yen Hing CHIN, who arrived in 1880 at the port of San Francisco, and who then lived in Seattle until 1894, however, no NARA file could be found for this gentleman because paperwork generally kept by the U.S. Immigration Service prior to 1895 was sparse.

Donald was named CHAN Wing Dung at birth, and was born on 28 October 1913, in the village of Mi Kong (also spelt Mai Gong), in the town of Hong Gong Lee (also spelt Hin Gong Lee), in the county of Hoiping 开平市 (also spelt Hoy Ping, now Kaiping, one part of Sze Yup – one of the 4 Districts), in the province of Kwangtung (now spelt Guangdong), in the Republic of China – 2 years after the overthrow of the Qing / Manchu Dynasty.

He was the 3rd child of Love SEETO 司徒愛 also known as SEE TOW shee 司徒氏,who lived in China throughout her entire life, and (Chear) Cheo CHIN 陳超 aka Don Foon CHIN (NARA file # 39184/2-12, previously 682, 15844 and 30206) – “a well-known domiciled merchant of the city (of Seattle)” as described by Henry A. Monroe on 26 April 1926, a Seattle immigration lawyer and notary public.

Donald was only 5-years-old and living in China when his older brother, CHIN Wing Quong 陳榮光 (who featured in this website on 31 July 2021), died in Seattle at the tender age of 18, in late 1918, from an accidental drug poisoning at the Wing Sang & Company premises co-owned by their father, Cheo CHIN 陳超.

Cheo CHIN 陳超 most likely brought the cremated ashes of Wing Quong CHIN 陳榮光 back to China for reburial, during his lengthy trip abroad from May 1919 – September 1921. This was the first time that young Donald had ever met his father.

Donald’s mother, Love SEETO 司徒愛/ SEE TOW shee 司徒氏, was distraught at the loss of the number 1 son, Wing Quong 榮光, and never fully recovered. She was a broken woman and “divorced” Cheo CHIN 陳超.

Cheo CHIN 陳超 wrote to her in 1925 requesting that their 12-year-old son, Donald, join him in Seattle. She relented, knowing that she would never see her son again.

As the Chinese New Year celebrations lasted for 1 week from Saturday 13 February 1926, Donald would have travelled in mid-February 1926 from Mi Kong village to the terminal at Sanbu 三埠 (meaning “ the 3rd district”) for a 4-hour river ferry to British Hong Kong with his cousin CHIN Yin Duk. He was both excited and nervous at what the future lay ahead…

Signed & sealed page 1 declaration of a non-immigrant alien, that also serves as visa no. 130, granted on 16 March 1926 by the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, in readiness for his departure to the United States the following day and to reside at the Wing Sang Company, Seattle that his father co-owned, held in the National Archives-Seattle file of Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟, #7031/325
Signed & sealed page 2 declaration of a non-immigrant alien & visa no. 130 granted on 16 March 1926 by the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, with a photograph of 12-year-old Donald Wing Ung CHIN, held in the National Archives-Seattle file of Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟, #7031/325

He obtained U.S. immigration visa no. 130 from the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong on 16 March 1926. The next day, he boarded the U.S. steamship “S.S. President Grant” and arrived in Seattle, Washington, 19 days later on 5 April 1926. He then spent 15 days locked-up in quarantine because he had hookworm disease, in a room he shared with 20 other people, and also underwent questioning by Immigration officials – with the assistance of a translator – to verify his status as the son of a merchant. Belatedly, after an arduous trip and then being put in detention, he was finally released into the waiting arms of his relieved father Cheo CHIN 陳超, whom he hadn’t seen for 4½ years, on 20 April 1926.

As a teenager in a new land and to fulfill the huge ambitions/investment by his father, he gradually adjusted to the different language, culture and way-of-life. He began attending English classes at Broadway High School on the corner of Broadway and East Pine Street in Capitol Hill with distant cousin Anne Wing (née Chinn). Anne later became President of the female auxiliary branch of Gee How Oak Tin – the oldest and largest family association in north-west America. Donald also continued his Chinese (Cantonese) studies whilst growing-up in Seattle, as he never forgot his roots.

He resided with his father firstly at 412 (and later across the street at 415) 7th Avenue South, Seattle, in an upstairs apartment of the Wing Sang Company (Wing Sang Tong). He occasionally helped behind the counter, or in the storage basement to unpack boxes of items for sale, in-between his studies.

Nearing adulthood and desiring to get married, as well as desperately missing his mother, sister and (adopted) brother after 5½ years in America, Donald and his father Cheo CHIN 陳超 sought legal advice for a trip back to China. They again approached immigration lawyer Henry A. Monroe, who wrote to the Commissioner of Immigration on their behalf on 5 October 1931. They faced interviews with U.S. Immigration Service inspectors on 13 October 1931 to determine their status. Two days later, the U.S. Immigration Service favourably granted Donald a re-entry permit, enabling him to depart for China but to come back within 365 days.

Sworn affidavit on 9 October 1931, made on his behalf by his father Cheo CHIN 陳超 seeking an indorsement from the Immigration and Naturalization Service so that the nearly 18-year-old Donald Wing Ung CHIN could obtain a U.S. return visa if he was allowed to visit his mother, brother and sister in China and also to get married, held in the National Archives-Seattle file of Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟, #7031/325

On 17 October 1931 he sailed out of Seattle on the steam ship “President Taft” to head towards Hong Kong, and onto then a smaller ferry to Sanbu 三埠 in Hoiping / Kaiping city 开平市.

Aged 18-years-old, he married someone whom he had only just met – 17-year-old Suey Tong YEE – at his father’s Mi Kong village house. Donald knew that he had to spend as much time with his new wife as possible, hence they conceived a child quickly. With Chinese Exclusion Act (CEA) restrictions in place, he didn’t know when he could return to China, or if/when the law could be amended to allow him to sponsor his wife to America.

He arrived back in Seattle on 12 October 1932 – just days before his return visa expired – after being on-board 2 steamships (the Empress of Canada and the Princess Alice) over the past 19 days. It was a long, exhausting, cramp journey and he felt reluctant to ever go through this again.

Two months after arriving back, he received the joyous news that his one-and-only child – a son – Ying Keong CHIN aka Kent Ying Keung CHAN was born in Mi Kong village on 19 December 1932.

During that moment in time, with a severe economic downturn worldwide – the Great Depression – leading to high unemployment, he had to put his head down and work very hard in America, to save and send money back to his wife and child in China. He worked as a houseboy for a white family in Seattle, at a fish cannery/processing plant in Bellingham, in Chinese laundries, grocery stores, chicken farms, and as a waiter in restaurants.

Meanwhile, at his father Cheo Chin’s 陳超 Wing Sang & Company, business was very tough, and the partnership unravelled/dissolved. However, Cheo Chin 陳超 was a silent partner in another mercantile business called “Sang Loon Co.”, also known as Sang Yuen Company, since 1923. Cheo Chin 陳超 then became an active partner on 2 June 1930, which operated from 660 King Street, where they both lived in an apartment above the store.

Donald, sometime later, moved into his own apartment within Chinatown.

Other than his father, who lived nearby him in Seattle until dying of bowel cancer on 6 March 1939, Donald wasn’t able to see any other family member for an extremely long time. The following events, one-after-the-other, made it impossible for Donald to visit his family in China:-

  • the 1882 – 1943 Chinese Exclusion Act / strict U.S. immigration laws,
  • the 1929 – 1933 Great Depression,
  • the 1937 – 1945 Sino-Japanese War which meant that China and Hong Kong were occupied, and thus travel was very dangerous,
  • the 1966 – 1976 Chinese Communist Party’s Cultural Revolution which tightened border controls.

These aforementioned events greatly impacted his life:-

  • He couldn’t obtain U.S. citizenship based on race and had the threat of deportation hanging over his head, and he couldn’t buy a property or a place to call home but constantly rented.  He was a law-abiding resident of the U.S. for a very long 27 years, until he was finally naturalised at the Western District Court of Washington in Seattle on 30 September 1953;
  • He hadn’t seen his 83-year-old mother Love SEETO 司徒愛/ SEE TOW shee 司徒氏 for 26 years, when she died in Mi Kong village on July 1958;
  • He had been “separated from my bride for 32 years” (in a speech to family and friends at his 80th birthday party on 12 July 1992), and thus robbed of the prime of their lives together, consequently only producing 1 child. As a U.S. citizen, he still had to wait many years before he could sponsor his wife, Suey Tong YEE, who was 50-years-old when they reunited in 1964.
  • He hadn’t met his then 33-year-old son before, nor his daughter in-law, and 5 small grandchildren aged between 1-9 years, until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1 December 1965 (the Hart-Celler Act) became effective, and they all arrived in Seattle, from Hong Kong, via plane – not ship like he previously did – on 8 January 1966;
  • In late 1981, he made his 1st trip back to China in 49 years – almost half a century – to visit his cancer-stricken and beloved 77-year-old elder sister, CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen 陳美珍. Donald loved his sister immensely, as they were both linked by blood, but separated by time apart, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and the tight border controls in both the United States and China. She died exactly 40 years ago, on 29 March 1982.
74-year-old Donald Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟 visited his late sister CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen’s 陳美珍 matrimonial house in Num Bin Toon/Chuen (the Yee village), October 1987 on what would have been her 83rd birthday.
Standing from left to right are: Hon Ming YU (grandnephew), Donald (himself), Hon Hung YU (grandnephew), So Chung SEETO (niece-in-law), Mrs Suey Tong YEE CHIN (wife), Anne Yim Man YU (grandniece, now in Columbus, Ohio), and Kwong King YU (nephew) [photo courtesy of Kevin Lee]

Conclusion:
Donald managed/owned the Riceland Café for many years, located firstly at 606 12th Avenue, South Seattle, and then moving it to 4144 University Way, Seattle. Early morning trips to the fresh food markets, preparation of ingredients, managing his staff, and cleaning-up after the last diners left late at night, became his regular routine.

He was a pillar of the Chinese community in Seattle, and an active member of the Gee How Oak Tin and Suey Sing Chinese Benevolent Family Associations for almost 80 years.

Donald Wing Ung Chin 陳榮棟 passed away peacefully on 5 September 2005 at the Swedish Medical Center, Providence Campus, 500 – 17th Avenue, Seattle, only 1 block away from where his father died 66½ years earlier at the Providence Hospital. He was just a few weeks short of his 92nd birthday, living 79 of those years in the United States, having not gone back to China for 49 years, and despite many hardships and sacrifices, he was determined to prove himself as an inspirational immigrant success story and a proud family man.

National Archives at Seattle is re-opening!

The research room at the National Archives at Seattle is open on a limited basis, by appointment only, Monday thru Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

 Research visits are by appointment only and require a virtual consultation prior to the onsite visit.  Email seattle.archives@nara.gov to request an appointment using Request for Appointment – [your name] in the subject line.

Or call 206-336-5132 for a virtual consultation appointment prior to requesting a research visit.

Researchers should monitor the NARA web page archives.gov/seattle for details and updates, as the situation can change quickly.  To plan your visit, see archives.gov/seattle/plan-your-visit

Amy Chin – Jail Ledgers at Port Henry, NY

Amy Chin knew her grandfather entered the United States through the Port of Seattle in 1911. While searching for more records on him, she found he had been in northeastern New York state near the Adirondacks by 1903. She found more information about him in a jail ledger at a museum in Port Henry, New York, near the Canadian border. Read about Amy Chin’s discovery of the jail ledgers and her collaboration with the NYSCA Museum Program, Iron Center Museum, Town of Moriah Historical Society, North Star Underground Railroad Museum, and the Museum of Chinese in America, and how they got the jail ledgers digitized and available online. Thank you to Amy Chin and everyone involved in the project for making this information available to families and researchers.

Here’s the story. You can see the 719 images at MoCA’s online archive. The ledgers belong to the Iron Center Museum/Port Henry-Moriah Historical Society in Port Henry, NY. They and the Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA) in New York City jointly own the digitized records.

Lee Quong On’s entry in the jail ledgers

Lee Quong On’s file featured on April 29, 2019 blog post, contains information from 1901 to 1941. After hearing about the jail ledgers from the Port Henry area and that they were digitized, I searched and found an entry for Lee Quong On.

In early 1901 Lee Quong On left China. He arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; then took a train to Montreal, Quebec and made his way to Burke, Franklin County, New York. He was immediately arrested. On 15 March 1901, he was brought before Hon. William V. S. Woodward, U.S. Commissioner of Plattsburgh, N. Y. and charged with unlawfully being in the U.S. A trial was held. He and three witness: Chin Sing, Chin Dan and Tsao Dong, testified in his favor. The evidence was considered, the charges were cleared, and Lee was released. He received his discharge certificate with his photograph attached in August 1901 at Port Henry, New York from Fred W. Dudley, a United States Commissioner, Northern District of New York. For the complete post, see  https://chineseexclusionfiles.com/2019/04/29/lee-quong-on-1901-discharge-papers/

Lee Quong (On), the jail ledger at the Iron Center Museum/Port Henry-Moriah Historical Society in Port Henry, NY. He is the top entry on page 49. (These are copies of the same image; the second is darker so you can read all of the words.)

“Courtesy of Town of Moriah Historical Society, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection”.
“Courtesy of Town of Moriah Historical Society, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection”.

Chin Jan – Great-Grandfather of Darby Li Po Price

Darby Li Po Price’s guest blog entry for Chin Jan, his great-grandfather, is based on Chinese Exclusion Act case file No. 7030/263, Record Group 85, National Archives at Seattle.

1905 letter acknowledging Chin Jan’s admittance, NARA-Seattle, RG 85, 7030/263.
Photo attached to 1905 letter, NARA-Seattle, RG 85, 7030/263.

Chin Jan’s 90 page file contains a 1905 letter confirming admission to the U.S. by Chinese Inspector in Charge, H. Edsell, at Sumas, WA to Inspector in Charge, J.H. Barbour, at Portland, OR, and 1910 and 1920 Application(s) of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Pre-Investigation of Status to leave the U.S. and return through “the Chinese port of entry of Seattle.” Jan’s file also contains: 1903 letter confirming departure to China on steamship Indrapura, 1905: Application and Examination of Applicant to land in the U.S. port of Sumas, as a Native Born Citizen, Supplementary Examination, Application for Re-admission, and Medical Examiner report “free from contagious disease,” 1911 Application case for Admission to the U.S. as a Returning Native Born Citizen, 1920 Pre-Investigation for Native’s Return, and a Reference Sheet with 15 case numbers corresponding to names of relatives used in connection with Jan’s case.

The 1905 Examination and Supplementary Examination to land in the U.S. Port of Sumas was conducted by Chinese Inspector H. Edsell, Chinese Interpreter Eng Chung, and Reporter Charles Crouch. Jan arrived on the C.P. Railway from Vancouver, B.C., June 2, 1905, arrived Vancouver, May 29, 1905, on SS Empress of Japan. Age 24, height 5’4”, large scar on right temple near ear, scar on right wrist, speaks some English. Born 130-1/2 Second St., Portland, Aug. 29, 1881, in a 2-story brick building of the Gen Wah store of his father Chin Chew (Joe). Chew was still in China after bringing Jan there in 1903. Jan’s mother Leong Shee died in China after returning for over 10 years. Jan’s brother of the same mother, Chin Foon, age 26, in China. Chew’s second wife Deu She died March 1903 in Portland and was buried in the New Mission Cemetery. Chew and Deu She had 3 children–two in Portland: Chin To, 25, and Chin Hui [Hoy], 3 ½. Chew gave Hui to “a white woman” two years ago to care for, whom he paid; one in China: Chin Dip [Jip], 10, taken there by Chew in 1903. Chew’s partner of the Gim Wah firm, Hui Gui, was in charge while Chew was in China.

The firm’s name changed 4 times, was previously Bow Wah Cheong. Jan worked and slept in the store to age 17. The Hop Cheong Co. collected the rent. Jan was asked if and confirmed knowing Leong Jew Hing of the Tong Duck Chong Co., and Cheok Quay, of Yuen Wah. Questions and analysis of Jan’s “Native born paper” confirm it was signed by “white men” B.B. Acker, and Jim Sinnott, and stamped in Portland.

The 1905 Application for Re-Admission, Sumas, WA, conducted by Inspector John Sawyer and Interpreter Seid Gain, includes witness Wong Lim, former partner of Jan, witness letter of L.E. Juston owner of Juston’s Restaurant, whom employed Jan as a cook, and letter by Inspector J.H. Barbour of Portland stating “inclosed [sic] photograph of a Chinaman applying for admission represents Chin Jan.” Jan’s son Chin Moon Taw [Tall], age 5, under the care of Wong Lim and Mrs. Wong, recognized a photo of “brother Jan.” Wong Lim took Inspector Barbour to 130 ½ 2nd St., the prior location of Wing On [Wong On?] firm and showed 3 photos on one frame of Chin Joe and his children, Chin Jan, and another son.

1910 Form 430, Application of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Preinvestigation of Status, NARA-Seattle, RG 85, 7030/263.

The 1911 Application for Admission to the U.S. as a Returning Native-Born Citizen via SS Princess Charlotte Nov 26, 1911 was conducted by Inspector Henry Monroe, Interpreter Q. Foy, and Stenographer W. Stahs. Jan was 30, height 5’5 ½” with shoes, occupation: cook, address: 97 ½ 4th St., Portland, marks, large scar right temple, scar center forehead, scar right forehead. Married name: Jock Gow [Yock Kong]. 3 children: Chin Man [Mon], born 1904, Ah Sen [Soon] born 1906, Ah On, 4 mos. old born 1911. Jan’s father Chin Jew was still in China. Brother Chin Dip [Gip, Jip] came to Portland last year via port of Sumas, WA by boat with Jung Chung’s wife.

Certificate of Identity, 1912, NARA-Seattle, RG 85, 7030/263.

1920 Record of Pre-Investigation for Native’s Return Certificate, Portland, was conducted by Inspector H.P. Schweitzer, Chinese Interpreter Herman Lowe, Junior Clerk Margaret A. Scott. Married name Yook Gong [Yock Kong], age 39, Certificate of Identity #6674 issued Seattle 1912. Wife: Ham [Hom] Shee, 33, son Chin Mun [Mon], 16, son Chin Sun [Soon], 14, daughter Ah Oon [On], 9, all living in China. Cook for Lange and Kruse, 145 Park St. China address: c/o Kwong, Ching, Chong Co., 14 Connaught Rd., Hong Kong. Registration Certificate 1918 w/85 Park St. address, stamped and signed by Frank J. Streiisig.

1920, Form 430, Application of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Preinvestigation of Status, NARA-Seattle, RG 85, 7030/263.
Jan Chin, 1939, NARA-Seattle, RG 85, 7030/263.

Reference Sheet no. 7030/263 for Jan Chin lists file numbers and names of relatives used in connection with his case: father Chin Joe; brothers: Chin Jip, Chin Tall, Chin Hoy, Chin Man Ham; sister Chin Lin Choy (Mrs. Young Gar); sons: Chin Mon(d), Chin Soon, Chin Quay; nephew Chin Yee Pon; daughter in-law Ho Sue; grandsons: Chin Gok Hing, Chin Sun You, granddaughter Chin Fay Lun.

Thank you Darby Li Po Price for contributing your great-grandfather’s story from the Chinese Exclusion Act case files!