“Chin Hing Yee file photos, 1901-1923, and Partnership lists,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Hing Yee case file, Seattle Box 162, file 2355/21-16. 2006
The first document in Chin Hing Yee’s file is his July 1900 Application for Readmission of Chinese Merchant form. It includes an affidavit by John Thompson and Edward Maus. They swore that they were citizens of the United States and residents of the State of Washington; that they had been residing in King County more than ten years; that they personally knew Chin Hing Yee 陳天宇, whose photograph was attached to the affidavit; that Chin was thirty years old; that he resided in Seattle for more than six years in the past; that he was not a laborer; that he was a merchant at Coaster Tea Company; that he had a $500 interest in the company; that prior to his departure for China he was engaged in the business of buying and selling merchandise for the firm; and he did not perform manual labor in the twelve months before his departure.
When Chin Hing Yee returned the U.S. In November 1901 John Thompson and Edward Maus again swore in an affidavit to the same information they had sworn to when Chin left for China in 1900.
Thomas M. Fisher, Chinese Inspector for the Customs District of Puget Sound, Washington, reported to Col. F. D. Huestis, the customs collector in Port Townsend, Washington, that he had examined the witnesses for Chin Hing Yee and believed the applicant was entitled to admission. Chin Hing Yee was readmitted in November 1901 at Port Townsend.
In 1909 Chin Hing Yee, sometimes known as Chin Hing, applied to go to China again. He swore in an affidavit that he was born about 1870 in Chin Bing village, Sun Ning District, China. He had been a resident of Seattle for many years and that he was a merchant doing business at Bow On Drug Company at 216 Washington Street. He was formerly a member of the Coaster Tea Company at 1305 Second Avenue. Fred R. Harvey and Edward Mauss [sic] swore in an affidavit that they were white citizens residing in Seattle for several years; they knew Chin was a merchant at a fixed place of business; he was not a laborer; and for the last twelve months he had not perform any manual labor. Edward Mauss was in the fire insurance business and had lived in Seattle since about 1888. He had known Chin Hing Yee fifteen years. Fred Harvey, a resident of Seattle for ten years, was a contractor at the Collins block and knew Chin for about five years.
Chin Lai, a manager of Bow On Drug Company, was asked to draw up a partnership list for the company. He swore that Chin Hing Yee invested $500 in the company and became a partner. Other partners were Louie Hay, Chin Sang, Hong Sing and Toy Sam. Sales were about $600 or $700 a month and rent on the store building was $120 a month. They rented out part of the building for a restaurant and receive $60 a month in rent.
In 1911 Chin Hing Yee was working as a bookkeeper and was admitted as a returning merchant.
Chin Hing Yee was asked to prepare a partnership list also.
Chin Hing Yee signed his name in English and Chinese on all of his documents.
When Chin went back to China in early 1915, he was a laundryman and was owed $1,000 by Chin Lai. When he returned to Seattle in October 1915, he claimed he had two sons and one daughter, and his wife was “in the family way.”
In 1919 Chin Hing Yee testified that he was originally admitted in the United States in 1885 at the Port of San Francisco as the minor son of a merchant. He was 14 or 15 at that time. Henry A. Monroe, the examining inspector in Seattle, thought Chin must be mistaken “because that was before the court had decided that minor sons of exempts could be admitted without being in possession of the certificate required by Section 6 of the Act of 1884.” Monroe thought Chin was first admitted in 1901 as a member of the Coaster Tea Company. Monroe suspected that Chin was still a laborer but since Chin had previously been admitted as the son of a merchant, a laborer, and as a merchant; Monroe could only recommend that his application be approved.
When Chin Hing Yee applied to leave in 1919 he had been issued Certificate of Identity No. 4416. He was applying for a return certificate as a laborer. He had $1,000 on deposit in the University State Bank of Seattle and showed his bank book as proof. Chin was reminded that he would be entitled to readmission only if the money was still on deposit upon his return.
Before making another trip to China in 1923, Chin Hing Yee testified that he was fifty-three years old, his wife’s name was Lim Shee and they had five children, four sons and a daughter. Their ages ranged from four to twenty-four. Two sons were living in Canada. He was unable to return within the allotted year because his wife was seriously ill so he obtained a Chinese Overtime Certificate that allowed him to stay up to one more year. Chan Yee and Chan Go gave corroborating statements and Maurice Walk, American Vice Consul at Hongkong approved Chin’s overtime certificate. Chin Hing Yee returned to Seattle in September 1924, just two months over his original one-year deadline. He was admitted. There is no mention of the health status of his wife.