On 24 September 1938 the home of Won Suey Yuan, a farmer in The Dalles, Oregon since 1923, was broken into and his Certificate of Identity was stolen. Won immediately filed a claim with Harold Sexton, the Sheriff of Waco County in The Dalles and reported it to Immigration Inspector Howard P. Swetland, Portland, Oregon. The sheriff visited the scene of the robbery, believed the claim was legitimate and filed a report. Won testified that on the evening 24 September 1938 between six and eight, he took his son, Won Loy Duck, to town for a haircut. Upon their return he saw that someone had entered the house by cutting the screen in the back door. The house had been ransacked but the thief only took a black tin box which contained Won’s valuables– his Certificate of Identity, a New York Life insurance policy and a gold nugget watch charm. The certificate was by far the most valuable item in the box. Without it Won could not travel outside the U.S. and could be deported if he could not prove his right to be in the United States. The investigator asked Won Suey Yuan if he thought the robber specifically wanted his certificate. Won was the only Chinese person within eight or nine miles of his house so he did not think the robber was Chinese or that he wanted his Certificate of Identity or would know how valuable it was to a Chinese person. Shortly after the robbery Won had a friend, Ralph Welborn, notify the Seattle Immigration office of the incident.
When Won Suey Yuan applied for a duplicate certificate his case files were thoroughly investigated. He did not have a problem getting a replacement certificate but it created a great deal of paper work.
Won originally entered the United States through San Francisco in 1907 and that file, number 19768/12-7, was reviewed. It confirmed that he received his original certificate on 20 December 1920. Won Suey Yuan’s file showed that he had made several trips to China since his original entry at San Francisco as the son of U. S. citizen. His San Francisco file lists his father’s name, Won (Woon) Tong Wing, file 17472/20-8, and the San Francisco file numbers for three of his six brothers. Won also made a trip to China in 1921 departing and re-entering through Seattle and that created a Seattle file, number 35100/4302.
Won Suey Yuan’s marriage name was Won Suey Hop (Hock). He was born in Wun Bin Village, Sun Ning District, China on 28 March 1895. He and his wife, Seid Shee, had three sons, Wong Loy Duck (file 7030/4513), living in Portland or Salem, Oregon; Won Loy Sing (file 7030/12118), in the process of coming to the United States in 1939; and Won Lum Bing, in China.
On 29 August 1939 Won Suey Yuan was issued Certificate of Identity No. 80068 in lieu of his lost certificate No. 32415.
4 thoughts on “Won Suey Yuan – Certificate of Identification stolen – The Dalles Farmer”
The duplicate copy of the lost Certificate of Identity (no. 32415) is maintained at the National Archives at San Francisco, in a series originally created by the INS Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Thank you Marisa. Is there any notation about how or where they found the lost certificate?
Hi Trish: I was thinking of the copy of the certificate that would be part of the record series “Duplicate Certificates of Identity, 1908-1943” (NAID 1560125) which is in the holdings at NARA-SF. These are the duplicate copies that were created when the certificates were originally issued (I believe that the original was given to the certificate holder, a duplicate was sent to the Bureau of Immigration in Washington, DC, and a triplicate was kept by the local immigration office.)
Thank you. It is nice to know more about how the system worked. Seattle just has a list of CIs issued from 1903-1942. No copies.