Rhonda, one of National Archives at Seattle’s volunteers, has been looking for documentation on her Chinese/Native American father for years hoping to prove his Native American heritage. While processing records from the Chinese Exclusion files, Rhonda came across a case labeled “Low Yow Edwin” and checked to see if it could possibly be about her father.
Her father, Edwin Law Yow, was a mechanic for the Flying Tigers during the World War II. Before he enlisted he applied for permission to travel abroad, and during the application process his stepmother, Mrs. Law Yow, and other witnesses were called to testify on his heritage. Listed below is his and his stepmother’s testimony where she speaks of her husband’s deathbed confession—just the information Rhonda had been seeking. The interrogation also references a birth certificate in Alaska.
The Seattle file also lists a National Archives at San Francisco file number. Rhonda quickly emailed a request for the search. John Seamans, Archive Technician, at the San Bruno facility found the file. It contained the birth certificate for Low Yow Edwin!
[The Chinese Exclusion Act case files frequently contain a variety of spellings for an individual’s name. Sometimes one of the names might be left out. The Chinese custom is to list the surname first before the other names. At different times an individual may have been referred to by another name–sometimes a school name, a married name, an alias, or an Americanized name.]
Yip Fay was Yep Sue’s father. His Certificate of Residence #49999 was included in Yep Sue’s file. The certificate had pale green ribbons and a gold seal. It was signed by A. Caminetti, Commissioner General of Immigration and Louis F. Post, Assistant Secretary of Labor.
Gay Sic Wy, born 10 November 1894, San Francisco, CA, was working as a U. S. Postal Clerk in Oakland, CA in 1936 when he applied for a native’s return certificate, Form 430. His birth had never been officially recorded.
He presented an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army which showed that he was born in San Francisco.
Affidavits on his behalf were presented with photos by his uncle, Herman Lowe; Herman’s wife, Mamie H. Lowe; and his mother, Lo How. Herman Lowe was an official interpreter for U.S. Immigrant Services.
Hong Chow (Hong Chon Deow) P. M. G. O. Form No. 68, Registration Certificate
To whom it may concern, Greetings:
THESE PRESENTS ATTEST. That in accordance with the proclamation of the President of the United States, and in compliance with law, Hong Chow, 431 South Clark St., Chicago, Ill. has submitted himself to registration and has by me been duly registered this 12th day of Sept. 1918, under the supervision of the Local Board designated on the back hereof. [signed] O. C. Wells, Registrar
Local Board Division No. 1, Room 122 county Bldg., Chicago, Illinois
Hong Chow’ file shows that he was born in San Francisco about 1874. His most recent entry to the U.S. was at the Port of Seattle on 17 October 1930 on the Princess Marguerite. He was living in Pocatello, Idaho at that time.