Monthly Archives: March 2018

Hazel Ying Lee – Portland Female Aviator

Hazel Ying Lee – Portland Female Aviator
“Lee Yuet/Yut Ying (Hazel) Affidavit photo” 1937, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Yuet Ying (Hazel ) case file, Seattle Box 582, 7030/5149 & Box 710 7030/10411.

[The amazing thing about Hazel Lee’s file is that it does not mention that she was a member of the Chinese Flying Club of Portland and graduated from aviation school at Swan Island, Portland, Oregon in 1932. Hazel Ying Lee was one of the first female pilots in the United States. Her file ends in 1938. After she returned to the United States in 1938 she became one of the first Chinese-American female military pilots. See the links at the end of this article to find out more about her. The blog entry for Virginia Wong tells how the connection was made between Virginia Wong and Hazel Ying Lee, Arthur Chin and the other Chinese-American pilots.]
The file for Hazel Ying Lee (Lee Yut-Ying 李月英) tells us that she left for China on 4 March 1933 and returned on 12 December 1938. While she was visiting her father’s village in the Toyshan District, Kwangtung Province, she received word that her Form 430, Citizen Return Certificate, was destroyed in a fire in Hong Kong. When Lee wanted to return to Portland she went to the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong for help with her documentation of her U.S. citizenship. They advised her to obtain an affidavit with a current photo swearing to her citizenship.

Hazel Lee’ s brother [the file does not say which brother] went to the Immigration office in Portland to assure that the paper work was in proper order so that Hazel Lee would be admitted when she arrived in the Port of Seattle. The Portland immigration office had a copy of Hazel’s original approved 1933 Form 430 on file. When Hazel arrived in Seattle in 1938 the 1933 information was compared to the new affidavit prepared in Hong Kong and Hazel Lee was admitted to the United States.

Hazel’s 1933 interrogation stated that Hazel attended Atkinson school and High School of Commerce; she was employed at H. Liebes & Company doing stock work and elevator operation; her father, Lee Yet 李乙died in 1930; and her mother was living in Portland. Hazel had nine siblings: Harry Lee, Victor Lee, Howard Lee, Daniel Lee (Lee Wing Doong 李榮宗), Rose Lee, Florence Lee, Gladys Lee, Frances May Lee. Harry and Rose were born in China and the others were born in Portland. Hazel was going to Canton City to visit and study.
Hazel’s mother, Wong Shee, maiden name Wong Seu Lan, was a witness for her. Dr. Jessie M. McGavin, a Caucasian female physician, attended to Wong Shee for Hazel’s birth on 25 August 1912. Her birth certificate is included in the file. The reference sheet in Hazel’s file includes the name, relationship and file number for Hazel’s parents, four brothers and three sisters.
To find out more about Hazel Ying Lee go to:
1. Oregon Encyclopedia
2. First Chinese-American Woman to Fly for Military
3.Historical Amnesia
4. Wikipedia

May Sophie Lee – Physician from Philadelphia

May Sophie Lee 1924
“May Sophie Lee, Form M143 photo” 1924, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, May Sophie Lee case file, Seattle Box 178, 2850/6-2.May Sophie Lee 李美(Chinese name Lee Soon Wah) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 18 May 1898. Her parents were Lee Toy 李才and Chee Fung. She had a younger brother named John Paul Lee 李進普, born on 9 May 1900.

In October 1908 May Sophie Lee, age ten, her mother and brother were preparing to leave the United States on the SS Siberia through San Francisco for a trip to China. The Immigration inspector examined May Sophie’s passport no. 64231, two affidavits with photos and a certified copy of her birth certificate. The birth certificate states that she is white.

May Sophie Lee passport

May Sophie Lee passport seal
May Sophie Lee’s passport
1908 Affidavit with photos of Lee Toy and May Sophie Lee
1908 Affidavit with photos of Lee Toy and May Sophie Lee
May Sephie Lee's 1898 birth certificate
May Sephie Lee’s 1898 birth certificate

Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s marriage certificate was examined, authenticated and returned to the Lees.  Seven white residents from Philadelphia swore in an affidavit that they were not Chinese; they were well acquainted with Lee Toy, a merchant at Chong Woh Company;  May Sophie Lee was his lawful daughter, and that she was born in Philadelphia.  The signers of the affidavit were:

Signatures on Affidavit
Signatures on Affidavit

Peter Hackett, 50 So. 4th Street
Frederic Poole, Chinese Mission, 918 Race St.
William Gallagher, 1231 Arch Street
Thomas W. Cunningham, 2112 Cherry Street
Katharine A. Lacy, Principal John Agnus School
Florence B. Scott, First Baptist Church, 17th & Samson St.
Neida S. Gilman, teacher in John Agnus School

While in China May Sophie attended school until she was 21 then attended medical school in Canton City and received a medical degree. She practiced as a physician in Shanghai for over a year before returning to the U.S.

May Sophie Lee was admitted to the United States at the Port of Seattle on 15 December 1924 as a returning citizen. She was 27 years old and was on her way to the Chung Wah & Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with plans to continue her medical career.

[There is no further information in the file.]

Yick May Gum (Katherine Lillie Shan) – Chinese and a wee bit of Irish

Yick May Gum Katherine Shan photo
“Yick May Gum (alias Katherine Lillie Shan) Form 430 photo” 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yick May Gum (Katherine Shan) case file, Portland Box 92, 5017/552.
[There are only a few Chinese Exclusion Act files where one of the parents is Irish. Here is one of them in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.]
Katherine Lillie Shan applied for her Native’s Return Certificate on 19 June 1930 in Portland, Oregon. She was working for the Orpheum Theatre circuit and they were performing in Canada. She gave the interviewer her Chinese name as Yick May Gum and said she was the daughter of Yick Bing Shan and Gertrude [maiden name not listed]. Katherine was born at 108 third Avenue, New York City on 11 June 1912. Her mother was a white woman of Irish descent who was born in Denver, Colorado. Katherine attended P.S. No. 60 grade school in New York City and then went on to Norfield Seminary [possibly Northfield Mount Herman School]. Her father was a witness for her. Her mother was working in their restaurant on the day of the interview. Katherine had two older brothers back in China whom she had never met.
R. P Bonham, Immigration District Director in Portland sent a telegram to Immigration Service in New York City on June 19 requesting Yick May Gum’s Native Return Certificate but they could not find her file. He interrogated her the next day.
Katherine’s Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, Form 430, is included in the file with a note saying “Application withdrawn and birth certificate returned to applicant on June 24, 1930.” Signed: R. J. Norene

[There is no more information in the file. Some files do not tell us very much. This one leaves us with more questions than answers. A cross reference sheet was not included in the file so there is no reference to her father’s file and he wasn’t found in the Seattle index.]

Yee Shee, Chan Sheung and Chan Git Oy – Cleveland, Ohio

Yee Shee, Chan Sheung and Chan Git Oy
“Chan Sheung 陳相 Affidavit photos,” 1929, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yee Shee case file, Seattle Box 1155, 11627/3-3.

Yee Shee, age 27, arrived at the port of Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 28 September 1929. Her admittance status was “wife of merchant.” She was accompanied by her husband, Chan Sheung 陳相, and daughter, Chan Git Oy, age three. Yee Shee’s paper work consisted of a U.S. Consular certificate, an affidavit with photos of her, her husband and daughter, signed by her husband and sworn by a Washington State notary public; a Declaration of Non-Immigrant Alien sworn by Kenneth C. Krentz, Vice-Consul of the U.S. at Hong Kong; and Visa No. 118.

Yee Shee was born in 1902 in Lung Tin village, Toysan District and lived there until she married Chan Sheung in November 1920. After marrying she moved about 3 or 4 lis [about a mile or a mile and a third] to Sam Gong, her husband’s village, Hoy Ping district. Her father, Yee Won Jung, died when she was young and her mother, So Ho Shee, raised her with money he had left them. Now Ngon, a marriage go-between, arranged Yee Shee and Chan Sheung’s marriage; they were married under the new customs. They did not see each other until their marriage day. Yee Shee’s dowry was a dresser table, dining table, two chairs, leather trunk, wooden trunk, clothes cabinet, and a wash-stand. Chan Sheung gave her a gold ring after they were married. Their wedding ceremony consisted of worshiping her husband’s ancestors and serving him a cup of liquor. Their red marriage paper shows three generations of Yee Shee’s family. [mentioned but not included in the file]

Yee Shee’s interrogation describes her family, her husband’s family, their village and home—six pages in all. When Chan Sheung returned to China from the U.S. in May 1929 he brought with him an American trunk, suitcase, sea bag, one box of laundry soap and some eatables.

Their first son died shortly after his birth. A woman doctor, Dr. Look Ooh, attended Yee Shee for the birth of her second child. Their daughter, Chan Git Oy, born 17 June 1926 was accompanying them to the U.S.

Yee Shee described their trip to the United States: they left the village about 7 a.m. and walked to the landing, took a row boat to Chung Sar market, transferred to another boat to Bok Gai, then boarded a steamer to Hong Kong. They were in Hong Kong a little more than two weeks at the Ung Nom Hotel, room number 13 before sailing for the U.S. While in Hong Kong they went to see a Chinese show and made several trips to the American consul to get the necessary forms and photographs.

The testimony of Chan Sheung (marriage name Chan Leung Park) was also six pages long. He stated that he was 31 years old, a salesman and member of the Wing Wah Chong Company in Cleveland, Ohio. He first came to the U.S. at San Francisco in July 1912. He had made three trips to China since then; once as a student, then as a laborer, and currently as a merchant. Chan Sheung described his family in great detail.

The village of Sam Gong had nine houses and one lantern house. Their home, which he inherited from his father, was “a regular five-room brick building; tile floor in every room; court is paved with cement; two outside windows in each bedroom with five iron bars, wooden shutters and glass door in each window.” There was an alarm clock on the table in the bedroom and several photographs hanging on the west side wall of the sitting room. The village had a brick wall about six feet high at both ends with bamboo trees in the back. A granite stone road ran in front of the village. Beyond the road was a stream where they obtained their household water.
After lengthy interviews of Yee Shee and Chan Sheung there were only a few minor discrepancies—the exact houses their neighbors Chin Yoon Ying and Chan Wee Lee lived in the village; the number of suitcases they had when they left their village; and Yee Shee forgot that her husband bought her a brown purse in Hong Kong. The inspectors asked Yee Shee about these inconsistencies and her new testimony agreed with her husband’s statements. They were admitted to the United States.

“Yee Shee Visa Application” 1929, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yee Shee case file, Seattle Box 1155, 11627/3-3.