Monthly Archives: June 2016

Choy Ling Hee Troupe – hair-raising and daring feats

Choy Ling Hee Troupe photo
“Choy Ling Hee Troupe newspaper article, photo, and ad, 1919” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chow You Chun file, Seattle, Box1260, Case 36171/1-1.

Choy Ling Hee Troupe articleChoy Ling Hee Troupe Ad
[Many Chinese actors and performers entered the U.S. in the late 1880s through the early 1920s under the Section 6 Traveler section of the Chinese Exclusion Act. They were usually performing in theatres, circuses and world fairs and were allowed to stay up to one year. The manager of the troupe would obtain a bond typically for $500 for each member. If a troupe member did not return to China on the expected date the bond amount was forfeited.]
The Choy Ling Hee Troupe was under contract with the Ringling Brothers Circus for five years. The five members of the troupe were Chou You Chun, Mon Gow, Choy Ten, Yah Ching and Choy Wan. The Choy Ling Hee Troupe of Chinese jugglers and magicians was an exception to the usual procedure. Their bonds were renewed annually.
When the circus wasn’t active the troupe worked on the Hippodrome Circuit and played in theatres throughout California, Kansas and other places. The troupe got in trouble because they left the U.S. without notifying immigration authorities. In January 1919 Mr. Edward B. Kellie, manager of the Hippodrome Circuit, told the troupe and the eight white members to go to Vancouver, British Columbia for a performance at the Columbia Theatre, so the troupe went. They didn’t realize that they had to notify the local Immigration authorities before they could travel between the U.S. and Canada. After a brief interrogation their re-entry into Seattle was approved.
[The article, ad, and photo from The Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, Sunday edition, 5 January 1919, page 7 are included in the file.]

Doctor Yamei Kin – Soybean Researcher and Lecturer

Yamei Kin 1917 photo
“Photo of Yamei Kin, Form 431,1917,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yamei Kin file, Seattle, Box1241, Case 35398/2-1

Yamei Kin was admitted to the United States in Seattle on 16 October 1917, as a returning teacher or doctor. Mrs. Kin was sent to China by her employer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture “to make certain very important investigations and researches regarding food for said Department, especially with regard to the food value and methods of preparing and using the soy-bean.” According to the report she would be living in New York City and was a well-educated and accomplished woman.
In the report Kin is referred to as “Mrs. Doctor” and sometimes “Mrs.” On this trip she was accompanied by Wie Chuan Liang, 19-year-old, Section 6 traveller. He worked with his father on his farm until he was 17 then worked for Mr. Hansen at a Methodist Mission. He came to the U.S. to assist Dr. Kin in preparing or compounding different soybean preparations. Although the Chinese inspectors didn’t think Wie Chuan Liang was properly admissible under the Chinese exclusion law they admitted him because of instructions from the American Consul-General at Shanghai to the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Agriculture.
A letter from the Commissioner-General was sent “directing all immigration officials, and requesting all other Government officials with whom she may come in contact either in this country or abroad, to assist her in every needed and possible manner…”

[To find out more about Dr. Yamei Kin, Google “Yamei Kin and soybeans.” Or go to Biography of Yamei Kin M.D. (1864-1934) compiled by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi at ]

1922 Menu from Far East Tea Garden, Washington, D.C.

Tea Garden Menu cover
“Menu from Far East Tea Garden,” Washington, D.C., 1922, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Benjamin D. Fong file, Box 1225, Seattle Case 35100/4945.

Tea Garden Menu inside
Tea Garden Menu Chinese

In 1922 Benjamin D. Fong also known as Der Ben Fong filed for pre-investigation of his claimed status as a domiciled Chinese merchant of Wilmington, North Carolina. He wanted to accompany his ill father, Der Foo Sam, back to China. There was some question about Fong’s status as a merchant and rather than jeopardize his exempt status he withdrew his application. A family friend went back to China with Fong’s father.
Fong showed the interrogators his 1910 Certificate of Identity and his 1917 military registration certificate issued in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. His white witnesses were L. Stanford McCarthy and Leonard W. Degast of Washington, D.C. A menu from Far East Tea Garden, 1412 New York Avenue, Washington, D.C. is included in the file. In spite of all this information the inspectors thought Fong might be a laborer not a manager or merchant.

Law Lai – Portland, Oregon

Law Lai family photo
Law Lai family group photo, ca. 1901, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Law Lai file, Box 1224, Case 35100/4720.

Exhibit A, ca. 1901
Back row: Mrs. Gong Woo (Law Ho) , Law King (died before 1921), Law Gun, Law Lai (William Law)
Middle row: Leong Soon (mother), Law San Charlie (father), Law Ning (Fred Law), Law Toy (Jeffry Toy Law)
Front row: Law Haw Hong (died before 1921), Helen (Law Hing).

Law Lai made an affidavit in 1901 to prove the he was a citizen of the United States; had the right to reside in the United States without a certificate of registration and he included a photo of himself for the purpose of identity.
In 1922 Law Lai and three of his brothers applied to visit China. His application was approved.
Law Lai, also known as William Lai Law, was born on 13 March 1888 at 2nd between Alder and Washington Street, Portland, Oregon, son of Law San, a tailor. Later on his father went into the cigar business and then owned the King Joy Grille in Vancouver, Washington until his death on 7 March 1921 in Portland. He is buried at Mt. Scott Cemetery in the Chinese section. Law Lai’s mother. Leong Soon, had bound feet. Law Lei had five brothers and three sisters. One brother and one sister died before 1922. They were all born in the United States except the oldest daughter, Law Ho.
William Lai Law and his siblings had a private Chinese teacher, Fung Yin. William also went to Atkinson School, Portland Trade School, known as Benson Polytechnical School in 1922, and finally Lincoln High School.
William registered for the draft in Chatham, Alaska on 1 September 1917. He was discharged at Ft. McDowell, California on 10 July 1918.
In 1921 a white witness, Fred Gullette, physician and surgeon, testified that he had lived in Portland since 1897. He took care of the Law daughter who died of diphtheria and later the father who died of Brights’ disease about 1918. Dr. Locke attended to the birth of the children born in Portland.
Another white witness was Michael Joseph Driscoll who lived in Portland since 1891 and was a neighbor of the Law family for many years.