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.

Register  (Free – be sure to register before 9/14.)   https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5597569020404699138

  • 2:00pm Eastern, 1:00pm Central, 12:00pm Mountain, 11:00am Pacific, 6:00pm GMT

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.]

National Archives at Seattle Closures Updates

July 28, 2020
Added “NARA Seattle Closure Updates” page to the blog.

The National Archives at Seattle is still closed because of COVID-19.  I will let you know when it reopens.

10 July 2020
“Fate of Seattle National Archives facility still in limbo,” by Feliks Banel

The following article was posted in a local real estate newsletter recently:
“The last five months of the pandemic have thrown nearly all aspects of life into limbo, and the federal sale of Seattle’s National Archives is no exception. The sale of the city’s National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), located in Northeast Seattle, was first made public in January, and has been fraught with controversy and delays ever since.

Despite efforts by local organizations to slow the process in order to keep historic archival materials in the region, it seems likely that the sale of the property will eventually move forward, whether or not the contents of the archive find a new home in the state.

The archive itself is located on a sprawling 10 acre property — a rare find in a city as densely packed as Seattle. Specifically, NARA is nestled on the eastern edge of Hawthorne Hills, an affluent neighborhood with Seattle’s second-highest median household income and the lowest crime of any neighborhood in the city.

The property NARA sits on is also historic to the region, as the archives are housed in a World War II-era warehouse that was converted for use as an archive in the 1960s.

Despite the controversy over the sale and disbursement of the historic collection, the federal property NARA currently occupies is an attractive, high-value parcel. It will likely be slated for redevelopment as a residential area similar to the surrounding neighborhood and is anticipated to sell for multiple millions of dollars.

Whether or not the archives’ contents remain in Washington State, the potential for a large new development in one of Seattle’s most sought-after neighborhoods is likely to turn some heads. With both Magnuson Park and the Burke-Gilman trail nearby, future residences will certainly be attractive to buyers looking to invest in one of Seattle’s prime neighborhoods, complete with a storied past.”1

  1. W[REPORT] by Windermere, “SALE OF SEATTLE ARCHIVES COULD OPEN UP 10 ACRES FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT,” July [2020] Issue.

 

Connecting families to the files…

There is a new page on this website/blog, It is exciting when someone connects their family to a Chinese Exclusion Act case file and it is even more exciting when they have made a connection through the blog. Check out the new page and read about some really special finds in the files. See Connecting families to the files…

Family members and researchers found these connections to the Chinese Exclusion Act case files for Edward Artick,  Woo Gen’s Wa Chong Co. letterhead, Lou Yick Ming (in front), and Arthur Chin

 

 

 

 

Edward J. Ar Tick/Artick – correspondence in the file

In December 1913 Edward J. Ar Tick/Artick testified that he was the son of Hee Ar Tick (John Ar Tick) and Margaret Sullivan, born on 1 November 1891 at 114 Orleans St., East Boston, Massachusetts. He presented a 1906 certified copy of his birth certificate to the immigration inspector for his review. [The certificate is not in the file.]

When Edward was about three years old, his father left his mother, and they went to live nearby with Robert S. and Lottie Ar Foon and their son Henry S. Ar Foon. Edward was not told exactly when or why his parents separated but when Edward was about eight years old, his father told him that his mother had died recently. Robert Ar Foon died in 1901. Edward and his father continued to live at the Ar Foon home. Edward’s father was a cook on the tugboats, Marguerite Dunbar and Robert S. Bradley.

Edward and his father left Boston for China in August 1906. Edward thought of Henry as his brother and called Henry’s mother “Ma.” They corresponded while Edward was in China. Henry brought a packet of Edward’s letters to his immigration interview as a witness for Edward. The letters were to be returned to Edward when he arrived in the U.S., but they are still in the file.

The file contains seven letters Edward wrote to Henry from Hong Kong from 1908 to 1913.

Ar Tick Letter 7 Apr 1908

 

 

 

7 Apr 1908:  [Edward’s uncle died; hard up for money; how is mother?]
Ar Tick Letter 1 June 1908
[Chelsea fire of 1908; Henry and his friends in a yachting club]

Ar Tick Letter 22 Aug 1912

“Poor father died last Sunday…”

Excerpts from other letters:
10 October 1911: Edward had job as machinist in the machine shop at Oriental Brewery Ltd.; “fortunate that I owe you for teaching me about gasoline engines;” “talking about getting married;” “There is still another book that I should like and that’s Tulley’s Handbook: On the Care and Management of Machinery…;” ”Please get a Morses Catalogue for me…;” “…take good care of Mother.”
8 January 1912: “…hard times;” “see if you cannot raise a passage for me;” “The war in China has not yet affected here but for the last month or so they were down as far as Canton City…;”
24 February 1913: …my birth certificate insufficient…” “…imperative that you obtain affidavits…” “I have still got about $50 to pay up for my father’s burial expenses.”
25 September 1913: “…I purchased two 3rd class tickets cost $300.00 g. [gold] and $631. Mex. These are through tickets. They cover berth & meals on the steamer and only berth on the train, the food being brought out of your own pocket.” Aunt going to live with her daughter; all of the property is sold.

After his father died, Edward started planning his return trip to Boston. In April 1913 Henry S. Ar Toon wrote to the commissioner of Immigration in Boston to try to make Edward reentry into the United States go smoothly. He obtained the signatures from fourteen American citizens who swore they knew Edward J. Ar Tick personally before 1906 and five schoolmates who went to public school with Edward in Chelsea, Massachusetts. [See 9 May 2015 blog entry for Edward J. Ar Tick for details.]

When Edward returned to the U.S, he was accompanied by his wife, Mary Tsang. Edward and Mary were married in the Chinese tradition in 1907. They lived in Kwai Chung, his father’s village. They did not have any children by 1913. They were married again before leaving China at St. Peter’s parish in Hong Kong, China, on 5 November 1913 by D. B. Reynolds, Chaplain Missions to Seamen. Their witnesses were Charles Bradstock and Samuel Arthur Mills. Their marriage certificate was reviewed by Immigration officials; it was decided that it looked genuine, and it was returned to the applicant. Edward swore that he was bringing Mary as his lawful wife and not for immoral purposes.

Edward and Mary were admitted at the Port of Seattle on 13 December 1913, their day of arrival. [There is no more information in the file.]

“Edward J. Ar Tick/Artick Correspondence,” 1908-1913. Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Edward J. Ar Tick case file, Seattle Box 240, file 31,323.

Additional information NOT included in the file:
According to the 1930 U.S. census, 1 Edward Artick, age 38, was living with his wife, Mary, age 35, and their three children, Robert J., age 15, Margaret E., age 14, and Edward, age 9. Edward and the children were all born in Massachusetts; Mary was born in China.

Edward F. Artick died on 22 April 1987 and his wife Mary died 19 December 1987. They are both buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 2

1. 1930 U.S. census, Suffolk Co., Mass., pop. sch. Chelsea, ED 13-522, p. 10B, dwell. 114, fam. 219, Edward Artick household, NARA microfilm T626, roll 959.

2. Find a Grave, (https://www.findagrave.com), memorial 151137811 & 151137819, digital images, 23 Aug 2015, by Sam Stoddard, gravestone for Edward F Artick and Mary T Artick, (Mount Hope Cemetery, Scituate, Plymouth Co., Mass).

[A special thanks to NARA volunteer, Lily Eng, who urged me to update this blog entry and include some of the letters. THN]