Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project

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The Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project will capture, preserve and aggregate the names of those Chinese Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces—Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine—and create the only database of its kind of the achievements and contributions of Chinese Americans during the Second World War. The perpetuation of their legacy enriches the history of this country.

If you have stories, documents, or other materials about the Chinese Americans in WWII, contact Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project  https://www.caww2.org/preservation to help preserve these memories.

See the website for registration instructions and contact information.

Chun Kim Shee – photos of Chun, his father, witnesses, and with his mother in China

In May 1913, Chun Kim Shee’s father, Chung Seung, applied for admission to the United States at San Francisco, as the son of Chun Poy, a U.S. citizen born in Los Angeles, California. Two years later he returned to China, married, and a son, Chun Kim Shee, was born on 23 April 1917 in Chew Gong, Sun Ning.
Chun Kim Shee Father aff 1939
Chun Seung swore in a November 1939 affidavit that he was a Section 1993 U.S. Revised Statutes citizen** and by virtue of the provision his son was also a citizen of the United States. The affidavit contained photos of Chun Seung and his son.
Chun Kim Shee M143 1940
Chun Kim Shee 陳錦樹 (married name Chun/Chin Yee Seung) arrived in Seattle on 26 August 1940 and was admitted three and one-half months later as the son of Chun Seung, a citizen. Chun Kim Shee was twenty-three years old, a student, and married to Lim Toy May. They had no children. His destination was Bakersfield, California. He had a tattoo in a Chinese character meaning “peace” 和平 on his back, left forearm. In Chun Kim Shee’s six-page interview he described his home village in great detail; his mother, Lee Shee; and his father’s extended family,
[The interviewer’s language was often intimidating: “describe the house where you claim you have always lived;” and “describe your alleged blood father”]

Chun Seung, Chung Kim Shee’s father, testified that his married name was Gwok Shew; and he was born at Gong Village, Toy San District, China. He lost his Certificate of Identity in San Antonio in 1932. It was locked in the safe at Wah Lee Restaurant when the company went broke and shut down. He never got his certificate back. His father and mother, Chun Poy and Pang Shee, were both 69 years old in 1940 and living in their home village in China. Chung Seung presented two photographs to Immigration: one of his son at about age 4 or 5 with his mother, Lee Shee; and a photo of the applicant when he was about 16 years old.
Chun Kim Shee young

 

Witnesses for Chun Kim Shee in December 1940 were Jew Ning Fook of Bakersfield,California and Fong Tai Yuey/Yui of San Antonio, Texas .Fong Tai YueyJew Lin Fook

“Photo of Chun Kim Shee and his mother,” ca. 1921; “Affidavit Photos and Witnesses photos,” 1939-40; “M143 photo of Chun Kim Shee,” 1940;  Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chun Kim Shee case file, Seattle Box 815, file 7030/13212.

Fong Tai Yuey (marriage name Fong Hong Dot) was born in Leung Boy, China in 1909 and he first entered the U.S. in 1929. He was known as Frank at the Alamo Grocery and Market in San Antonio and owned one-fourth of the store. In his interview he correctly identified the photos of Fong Ging Pawn, Fong Tai Dee, Dong Tai Jung, Chun Seung, Chun Lim, Chun Fat, and Chun Poy from their San Francisco files. Fong Tai Yuey had a Seattle file and a San Francisco file.

Jew Ning/Lin Fook who had a San Pedro file gave testimony and the record was forwarded to the Immigration Office in San Antonio, Texas.
In late November 1940 Chun Kim Shee, the applicant, was sent to Seattle Marine Hospital for examination and treatment. He was suffering from severe pain in his stomach. There is no mention of his diagnosis, but he was finally admitted on 18 December 1940.

** Section 1993 of the Revised Statutes, as originally enacted, applies to children born abroad to U.S. citizens prior to May 24, 1934, and states that:
The amended section 1993 (48 Stat. 797), went into effect on May 24, 1934, at noon eastern standard time.  It stated that:  Any child hereafter born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such child is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States; but the rights of citizenship shall not descend to any such child unless the citizen father or citizen mother, as the case may be, has resided in the United States previous to the birth of such child.  In cases where one of the parents is an alien, the right of citizenship shall not descend unless the child comes to the United States and resides therein for at least five years continuously immediately previous to his eighteenth birthday, and unless, within six months after the child’s twenty-first birthday, he or she shall take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America as prescribed by the Bureau of Naturalization.

See Jan (Ah Yen) – Port Ludlow, Washington

See Jan family Exhibit C

“Photos See Jan (Ah Yen), Ah Gooey family and Judge Joe A. Kuhn” 1903, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, See Jan case file, Seattle RS Box 37, file RS 1392.
[Judge J. A. Kuhn attached his own photograph to the court papers to be sure of the identification. This is the first time I have seen a judge do this. THN]

In 1903 Ah Gooey (married name Yee Fon) applied to Judge Kuhn, U.S. Commissioner in Jefferson County, Washington, to obtain the proper documents for himself, his wife, and their seven children to travel to China and be admitted to the United States upon their return. [This file is for his son See Jan but it has information on the whole family.]

Ah Gooey and Kee Toy’s children were Ah Lun, Ah Yen, Ah Len, Suie Yen, Fung King, Fung Sing, all born in Port Ludlow and a daughter, Fung Gall, born in Irondale, Jefferson County, Washington. The three eldest children attended public school in Port Ludlow. They could read, write and speak English. Ah Gooey was a steward at the Puget Mill Company’s cook house in Port Ludlow and had a brother, Ah Loy, living nearby.

The following Chinese knew of Ah Yen’s birth in Port Ludlow: She Gon of the Zee Tai Co., Port Townsend, Washington; Eng Yee Tung and Ah Yow. Ah Yen knew the following white people in Port Ludlow: Louis Poole, Mrs. Charles Guptill, Mr. Charles Parks, Mr. James Wilson, and Mr. Walker.

C. H. Hanford, Judge of the U.S. District Court, District of Washington issued a commission to Judge Kuhn to take their testimony and report back to him. H. Hallinger was their attorney. Louis Poole and Mrs. Charles Guptill were witnesses.

Louis Poole was 57 years old in 1903 and had resided in Port Ludlow for 38 years. He had known Ah Gooey since 1875. He testified that because he was in the mercantile business, he had seen Ah Gooey and his growing family almost daily as customers, especially the children who bought candy at his store.

Mrs. Charles (Elthea S.) Guptill, age 60, a resident of Port Ludlow since 1873, was also a witness for Ah Gooey. She was present at the birth of his three oldest children. She saw all the children almost daily until they moved to Irondale in 1902. Ah Yen was born in Port Ludlow on 9 April 1888.

His father, Ah Gooey, died in China in 1905. In June 1907 Yen (Ah Gong Yen) (married name See Jan) returned to Port Townsend, Washington by himself and was admitted to the United State after the court declared that he was a returning native-born Chinese person, son of Ah Gooey and Kee Toy.

Yee Ton Look – McKeesport, PA Petition

Affidavit photo of Yee Ton Look
“Affidavit photo of Yee Ton Lock,” 1898, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yee Ton Lock case file, Seattle RS Box 78, file# RS 14450.

In August 1898 Yee Hang applied to U.S. Immigration to have his thirteen-year old son, Yee Ton Lock (Look), join him in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Yee Ton Lock arrived in Port Townsend, Washington on 16 August. His uncle Yee Mow, a business owner on Water Street, filed his petition. Several people in McKeesport wrote letters of recommendation saying they were personally acquainted with Yee Hang and he was a good citizen. The Collector of Customs in Port Townsend received letters from Joseph A. Skelley, alderman and ex-officio Justice of the Peace; Homer C. Stewart, cashier of the First National Bank; Joseph R. Sean, Chief of Police; and Fred Steckel, business owner.

In an affidavit Yee Hang declared that he was a native of China and had been a resident of McKeesport for twenty-five years. He wanted to bring his son to the U.S. so he could receive an education in English and business.
The following people signed a petition with the hope of convincing Immigration authorities that because Yee Hang was such a good citizen his son should be allowed to come to McKeesport to receive an education:

S. J. Hutchison, ticket agent, B & O Railroad; J. E. Inghram, chief rate clerk; Mrs. Mary E. Inghram, S. S. teacher; R. T. Carothers, mayor, McKeesport; Homer C. Stewart, cashier, First National Bank; Charles A. Tawney, teller, First National Bank; Joseph A. J. Kelley, Justice of Peace; V. F. Geyer, retail merchant; Ada Page, Sabbath School teacher; Eugene Rodgers, grocer; S. B. Page, grocer; R. W. Ekin, secretary, Water Dept; Edwin Sales, superintendent, Water Dept; Henry A. Clante; F. B. Satterthwait, watchmaker; Adolph Schmidt, druggist; Charles William Kahl, drug clerk; J. W. Campbell, insurance agent; W. L. Laughlin, National Hotel; B. B. Cousin, real estate dealer; Edward Huber, clothier; F. W. Steckey, merchant; George W. Hartman, hardware ; William B. Fell, assistant postmaster; Erwin Meyer, postmaster; F. L. White, physician; James E. White, druggist; I. Wallis, accountant; Harry T. Watson, accountant; J. B. Shale, Surveyors Office; John N. Orth, florist; E. R. Donahue, pastor, West End Presbyterian Church; and Charles Tory, deputy surveyor.

yee ton look 1898 petition


“Petition for Yee Hang,” 1898, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yee Ton Lock case file, Seattle RS Box 78, file# RS 14450.
The cover sheet of Yee Ton Lock’s file says, “His father keeps a laundry in McKeesport and claims to have been born in U.S. No proof produced. Refused in the absence necessary proof.
Rejected 8 August 1898. By HVB”
There is no further information in the file to tell exactly when Yee Ton Lock was deported.

Nelson Wah Chan King – Tie-in to Gum Moon: A Novel of San Francisco Chinatown by Jeffrey L. Staley

Jeffrey L. Staley recently published a book on his wife’s family. Although the book is fiction it is based on real people and true events. The Chinese Exclusion Act case file published in September 2017 on this blog for Nelson Wah Chan King mentions the Methodist Oriental Home in San Francisco, where Staley’s wife’s grandmother, Mei Chun Lai, was also raised.
The mother of Nelson Wah Chan King, the subject of the blog entry, was Lily Shem. She and her younger sister, May, were both raised at the Methodist Oriental Home. Mei (Maud/Maude) Chun Lai, Jeffrey Staley’s wife’s grandmother, and several other Chinese children including May Shem sang for President Theodore Roosevelt in the White House on November 5, 1908.

Shem May Oriental Home
Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Staley

The children who performed for President Roosevelt were Ruby Tsang, Pearl Tsang, Maud/Maude Lai, May Shem, Lydia Woo, Grace Woo, Ida Woo and Lum Wong. Nine-year-old Lum Wong was the musical director and Maude Lai was his accompanist on the piano. A fund-raising trip across eastern part of the United States was organized by Miss Carrie G. Davis, superintendent of the Oriental Home for Chinese Children and her assistant Mrs. D. S. Street. The home was located at 1918 University Avenue, Berkeley, California. The purpose of the trip was to raise funds to complete a new building to replace the old one which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Miss Davis thought the new building would cost $35,000.1
1 “Chinese Youngsters to Sing in English,” Salt Lake Telegram, 27 Feb 1909, p 1.


Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Staley.

Benjamin Chi’s long fight to stay in the United States

Chi Benjamin 1941 photo
“Photo of Benjamin Chi, Precis of Investigation,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chi Po Shen (Benjamin Exner Chi) case file, Seattle Box 365, file #7027/1110.
See blog entry for 3 December 2018 for information on Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Benjamin, Sylvia, and Vernon Chi who arrived at the Port of Seattle on 13 February 1941. Emily, Sylvia and Vernon were admitted as U.S. citizens; Benjamin was not. Benjamin’s case is complicated and this blog entry will explain what happened.

The Citizenship Act of 1934 was signed by President Roosevelt on 24 May 1934. The Act allowed any child born outside the limits of the United States, whose father or mother at the time of the birth was a citizen of the United States, to be a citizen of the United States.1 Benjamin was born in 1933. His siblings were born after 24 May 1934. Their mother was a U.S. citizen and they were all born in China. His siblings were considered U.S. citizen; Benjamin was not.

Benjamin Ch’i or Chi, Chinese name Po-Shen Ch’i, was born in Tientsin, China on 18 June 1933. He was issued Section Six Certificate #901 on 5 December 1940 by the Bureau of Police at Tientsin where he was attending Chiu Chen Primary School. When he entered the U.S. at Seattle in February 1941 he was classified as a temporary visitor under Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act of 1924.

Benjamin’s temporary visa was renewed several times. If his visa could not be renewed he could be deported. His mother and younger brother and sister were considered U.S. citizen and wanted to stay in the U.S. because of distressing conditions in China [World War II]. Benjamin was 12 years old; he could not be sent back to China on his own. If he was deported his mother and siblings would need to leave too.

In February 1946, Benjamin’s mother wrote to Immigration. She was trying, once again, to renew her son’s temporary visa. In December she had sent his Chinese passport to the Consulate in China to renew it. Three months later she still had not received the renewed passport and now she did not have the necessary papers to renewal his U.S. temporary visa.

Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, there was now an extremely restrictive quota—only 105 Chinese were allowed into the U.S. Letters between Mrs. Chi and Immigration went back and forth and a warrant of arrest was issued for twelve-year old Benjamin in May 1946. The deportation order was suspended four months later. In February 1947 the Central Office of Immigration informed the Seattle office that the alien was no longer a quota immigrant chargeable to the quota of China. Benjamin Chi was allowed to stay in the United States. The long struggle was finally over.

1. Orfield, Lester B. (1934)”The Citizenship Act of 1934,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 7. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol2/iss1/7

Pang Jin-Feng – update with parents’ information

Update of 10/08/2018 blog post for Pang Jin-Feng–Photo retake–ears not showing

The original photos of two-year old Pang Jin-Feng did not meet Immigration Services requirements regarding photos.  Pang Jin-Feng ears coveredSince the child would probably not be returning to the U.S. for many years, a photo showing her ears was needed for identification.  She was traveling with her parents Tse Sun Pang and Pao Chi Hau of Corvallis, Oregon.
“Pang Jin-Feng Form 430 photos” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Pang Jin-Feng case file, Portland Box 100, file 5017/921.

Additional information:
In July 1941 R. J. Norens, Immigration Divisional Director, returned passport No. 404999 to Tse Sun Pang, Pan Jun-Feng’s father. His student Chinese certificate and his wife’s Alien Registration Receipt Cards were also returned.

Tse Sung Pang testified that he was also known as Jin Chung Pang. He was born on 22 March 1909 in Nanchang, China and admitted into the United States on 12 January 1938 at Seattle, WA as a student. He obtained his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN. His wife, Pao-Chi Hau, was born 16 April 1910 in Peiping, China and was admitted in January 1938 at Seattle as a student. They married on 22 March 1938 in Minnesota. Their daughter was born on 15 June 1939. In July 1940 they moved to Corvallis, Oregon so they each could work on a doctor’s degree in the soils division at Oregon State College.

Tse Sung Pang and Pao-Chi Hau both had their fingerprints taken for their files. A copy of Pang Jin-Feng’s birth certificate was submitted to Immigration but was not included in the file. Pang Jin-Feng’s application was approved.