Monthly Archives: September 2017

Lin Hay (Mrs. Wong Gai Kee) and family, Portland, Oregon

Portrait Wong Gai family
“Wong Gai family portrait” ca. 1903, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, (Chin) Lin Hay (Mrs. Wong Gai Kee) case file, Seattle Box 65, 32/2355.
Family Portrait, ca.1903: Wong Gut Bow (born ca. 1884), Wong Gai Kee, Lin Hay (Mrs. Wong Gai), Gut Fong/Tong (born July 4, 1897) Front: twins: Gut Tung and Louie Hie (born January 1899)
(Chin) Lin Hay was born about 1863 in Gong Ming Village, Sunning District, China and first came to the United State in 1893 landing at Portland, Oregon. She arrived with her son Wong Gut Bow and daughter, Wong Toy Gew.
Wong Gut Bow died in 1903 or 1905 on a ship en route to China. He was married to Lee Shee and they had a baby daughter, Ah Gui.
In May 1907 Mrs. Wong Gai applied for admission as the returning wife of a domiciled merchant, Wong Gai, of the Gai Kee Company of Portland, Oregon. Her status was upheld based the testimony of six credible white witnesses who swore that Wong Gai had been the head of the Gai Kee Company for over twenty-five years and that he was registered by the government as a merchant. The Caucasian witnesses interviewed by John B. Sawyer, Chinese Inspector, were William Bohlander, F. H. Saylor, O.P. S. Plummer, James B. Young, F.M. Anderson and W. R. Kerrigan. They testified that Wong Gai bought and sold vegetables. Mrs. Wong Gai admittance depended of proof of Wong Gai’s status as a merchant. Mr. Sawyer carefully investigated Wong Gai’s place of business. He noted that it looked like a junk shop and did not have much inventory of goods but it had once been a thriving business. And most importantly, Wong Gai did not engage in manual labor. He kept roomers and boarders to supplement his vegetable business. Sawyer reported: “Wong Gai says he will continue producing witnesses so long as the Government is not satisfied with those examined but that no one would be better qualified to testify than those already produced.” Wong Gai kept his status as a merchant.
Mrs. Wong Gai returned with her three children, Gut Fong/Tong (born July 1897) and Gut Tung and Louie Hie (born January 1899). The twins were admitted as returning native born citizens of Portland. Her son Gut Fong/Tong, was born during her temporary visit to China, and was admitted as the minor son of a domiciled merchant. An attempt was made to bring in Ah Wong, a substitute for Mrs. Wong’s deceased son Wong Gut Bow. He was declared an impostor and was deported.

The interrogator asked Mrs. Wong Gai what doctor, White or Chinese, delivered her children. She replied, “I didn’t have any, but just did it myself.”

In 1927 Mrs. Wong Gai Kee (Chin Lin Hay), age 64, was applying for a laborer’s return certificate. Mrs. Wong’s 23-year-old son, Wong Git (Gut) Fong, also known to white people as Nick Wong, testified for his mother. He worked as a waiter at Huber’s Restaurant in Portland, Oregon. The application was given a favorable endorsement.
Other case files listed in connection with the case include files for her husband, Wong Gai; their children and grandchildren.

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List of documents in file for Nelson Wah Chan King

In July 1938, Nelson Wah Chan King, age 27, applied to the U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration Service on Form 430 for a two-day visit Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His application created much paperwork and eventually was approved by Tom L. Wychoff of the Spokane immigration office but never used. Nelson cancelled his trip to Canada because he was transferred from his job in Spokane, Washington to New York City. This is a list of the documents that were in his file:

Documents listed in file
“List of documents in file for Nelson Wah Chan King” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, King Wash Chan Nelson case file, Seattle Box 767, 7030/11344.

Nelson Wah Chan King was born on 10 June 1911 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Harry N. King and Lily Dorothy Shem (maiden name: Shem Mowlan). His parents were both born in San Francisco. His father owned the Kwong Nom Low Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah before moving to Los Angeles, California to become a merchant. Although Nelson’s grandparents were born in China, Nelson, his parents, and his brother had never been to China. Nelson’s only sibling, Paul Ming King, was born 21 January 1918 in Salt Lake City and by 1938 was a student at University of California in Los Angeles.
Nelson was working as a floor manager for the National Dollar Stores in Spokane, Washington, making $90 a month in 1938. His mother’s brother, Bruce Shem, was living in San Francisco with his wife and two sons. His father did not have siblings but he had four cousins in Salt Lake City– Walter G. King, a reporter for Salt Lake City Tribune; Ernest Q. King, M.D., a Reserve Flight Sergeant, U. S. Army and connected with a C.C. C. Camp; Raymond S. King, newspaper photographer; and Ruth King Chang, M.D. Nelson Wah Chan King’s paternal grandparents were Chan Mun Lok Way and Chan Lau Shee. His maternal grandfather was William C. Shem. Nelson could not remember his grandmother’s Chinese name—he just called her grandmother. She was living in San Francisco with her son Bruce Shem.
Nelson Wah Chan King graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1933.
Nelson’s mother, Lily S. King, testified that her father was Shem Yow Ching and her mother was Leang Shee.
In his sworn statement, Nelson’s father, Harry N. King, (Chinese name: Chan Hong), stated that he was an art dealer with the Tom Gubbins Company and his father’s name was Chan See Gern.
Anna C. Stevenson also testified in Nelson’s behalf in 1938. She was a 70-year-old widow who had lived in Salt Lake City for 35 years. She had owned the apartments on Vissing Court where the King family had lived. She stated that Nelson’s mother was brought up in a Methodist home in California. Anna had last seen Nelson in 1936 on her birthday, 6 August. He brought her a present from the King family.
On 23 August 1938 Nelson Wah Chan King notified the Immigration office in Seattle that because of his transfer to New York City he would not be making his trip to Canada. It is the last document in his file.
[Although Nelson Wah Chan King and his parents were all born in the United States and never left the U.S., his grandparents were Chinese immigrants and therefore Nelson was subject to the Chinese Exclusion Act. On the positive side, there is a tremendous amount of family information in the file.]

Update on Arthur Chin (Chin Suey Tin) from his grandson, John Gong

Arthur Chin –Chinese-Japanese War Pilot and WW II Hero

Excerpts from notes from John Gong, a grandson of Arthur Chin (Chin Suey Tin):
There is information in the article that I had no idea existed or things that happened to him. I am truly amazed; I have never seen that photograph of my grandfather previously. I was very fortunate to have inherited my grandfather’s entire Chinese Air Force and China National Aviation Corporation collection from 1932-1950. I spent many summer in Portland with my grandparents and from a very early age took interest in my grandfather’s military career…so he instructed my grandmother to give me the collection.
After reading the blog, I was so emotional. I had no idea this happened to my grandfather, I shed a few tears and had a difficult time sleeping last night. I shared the blog entry with family members and they were equally surprised. I cannot imagine making such a decision (at a young age) to leave his home/family to go fight a war in a foreign country and then lose your citizenship! On a side note, my grandfather did not graduate high school because he left to fight the Japanese. My grandfather and I graduated high school the same year in 1986!
The Chinese Exclusion Act case file enlightened our family on what happened to my grandfather. He kept this chapter of his life a secret and I can now understand his distrust of the government.
Forever grateful, John Gong

Look See, wife of Chin Quong, a manager of the Wa Chong Company

Look See (Mrs Chin Quong)to
“Photo of Look See (Mrs. Chin Quong),” 1904, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Look See case file, Seattle Box 1236, 35205/1-4.

Look See, wife of Chin Quong, a manager of the Wa Chong Company, 719 King Street, Seattle, Washington, made two trips in China—one in 1904 and another in 1917.

After the first trip Look See was re-admitted to the United States at Port Townsend, Washington on 22 June 1905. She testified that she was thirty-six years old and first came to the United States with her sister, Mrs. Chin Gee Hee, in about 1882 or 1883 when she was around thirteen years old. When asked if she knew any white men in Seattle, she replied that she knew Mr. Whitlock, a lawyer; and three white ladies: Mrs. Hambeck, a Christian teacher; Mrs. Thomas, an old lady, also a teacher; and Mrs. Greene. Chin Kee was her Chinese witness. He testified that Look See and Chin Quong had been married according to the Chinese custom for at least twenty years; they had six children—three sons and three daughters, all born in Seattle. Her maiden name was Ah Quan. Chin Gee Hee, a merchant, labor contractor, and well-known early settler in Seattle, performed their wedding ceremony in October 1886.
Look See’s husband Chin Quong testified that he had been a member of the Wah Chung (Wa Chong) firm since about 1890. There were seven partners whose capital stock equaled $60,000 [worth almost  $1,600,000 in 2017]. The partners were Chin Quong (himself), Chin Quok Jon, Woo Jen, Chin Wing, Chin Wing Mow, Chin Wing Yon, Chin Yen Gee, and Chin Ching Hock. [That adds up to eight partners but the John H. Sargent, Chinese Inspector did not ask about the discrepancy.] Chin Quong was also a manager at the Wah Chung Tai Company in Butte, Montana.
John C. Whitlock, testified that he was forty-eight years old, had lived in Seattle more than sixteen years–arriving in the spring of 1898, and since he collected the rent from the Chinese tenants of the Wah Chung building he was well acquainted with Chin Quong. Whitlock usually had to go to the building night after night to find all of the tenants. He was aware that Look See was in the detention house in Port Townsend when this testimony was taken. Whitlock, Samuel F. Coombs, Justice of the Peace; and Chin Quong all testified in affidavits in Look See’s favor in 1904 before she left for China.
Look See left Seattle again in September 1916 with her sons Chin Dan and Ah Wing, and her daughter Ah Lan. She was returning in June 1917 with her son, Chin Dan, and her daughter, her daughter’s husband, Pang Chung Cheong; and their infant son. They were admitted.
The Reference Sheet lists these files: RS 910 & 34,380, Look See; 35205/1-1, Archie Pang, son-in-law; 35205/1-2, Annie M. Chin, daughter; 35205/1-2, Victor Ernest Pang, grandson; 35205/1-5, Chin Dan, son; 36918/3-8, Chin May Goon, daughter of husband by secondary wife; 40231/2-16, Anna Pang (Annie M. Chin) Chin May Young, daughter; RS 2033, Chin Quong, husband.

Soong May Ling – the future Madame Chiang Kai Shek

photo of Soong May Ling 1907
“Photo of Soong May Ling, Chinese Certificate for Section 6 Student Exemption,” 1907, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Soong May Ling case file, Seattle RS Box 39, RS 1483.

Soong May Ling (sometimes spelled Soong Mai-ling) age 9, and her sister, Soong Ching Ling, age 14, (Seattle RS Box 39, RS 1479) arrived in Port Townsend, Washington on the S.S. Minnesota. They came from their home in Shanghai, China as Section 6 students and were admitted.
The 1907 Section 6 Certificate is the only document in the file. The file contains correspondence from 1943 between Earl G. Harrison, Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Raphael P. Bonham, District Director of Immigration and Naturalization in Seattle, Washington. Harrison asked Bonham to confirm that Soong May Ling was admitted into Seattle as a student in 1907. Bonham replied that “a charming little Chinese maid” had arrived with her sister “now also a lady of renown.” Bonham asked a local Chinese Consul to examine the document for its authenticity. It passed his scrutiny. Bonham concluded that Soong May Ling “was the now world-famous and accomplished Madame Chiang Kai Shek.” Bonham had the photo from the 1907 certificate copied and sent three prints and the negatives to Harrison hoping that he would forward one to Madame Chiang Kai Shek.
Bonham received this letter dated 5 May 1943 from Harrison:

Letter from Harrison to Bonham
“Correspondence between Harrison and Bonham,” 1943, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Soong May Ling case file, Seattle RS Box 39, RS 1483.

Information not in the file:
Soong May Ling1 and her sister graduated from Wesleyan College. Soong Ching Ling became the second wife of Sun Yat-sen, one of the leaders of the 1911 revolution that established the Republic of China.2
In 1943, Madame Chiang Kai Shek “became the first Chinese person, and only the second woman, to address a joint session of the United States Congress as she sought to have the United States repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act, which had been in effect since 1882 and prohibited new Chinese immigration.”3

President Franklin D. Roosevelt repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act on 13 December 1943.
Madame Chiang Kai Shek lived to be 105 years old and had a fascinating life. Read more about her!
1.“Soong Mei-ling,” Wikipedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_Mei-ling : accessed 2 September 2017.)
2. “Soong Ching-ling,” Wikipedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_Ching-ling : accessed 2 September 2017.)
3. “Madame Chiang Kai-shek Biography,” Encyclopedia of World Biography, (http://www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2005-La-Pr/Madame-Chiang-Kai-shek.html : accessed 2 September 2017.)