Ah Kong – Spokane, Washington – Oriental Café

Ah Kong 1907 photo
“Ah Kong photo, Eng Gin affidavit” 1907, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ah Kong case file, Seattle Box RS 195, file RS 29169.

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopen.  thn]

In 1907 Eng Gin swore in an affidavit that he had been living in Port Townsend, Washington for forty-three years. On the Chinese date of 11 February 1877 (American date in March 1877), he and his wife, Yet Yue, had a son, Ah Kong, in Seattle, Washington. Their son was born at his place of business and residence on Washington Street between Second Avenue and Occidental Avenue. In 1885 he sent Ah Kong to Her Ping village, District of Sun Ning, Canton Province, China, to be educated. By 1907 Ah Kong finished his studies and his father wanted him to join him in Port Townsend. Ah Kong’s mother, Yet Yue died in Port Townsend about 1888. A photo of Ah Kong was included on his father’s affidavit.

In January 1908 Ah Kong, the son of Eng Gin formerly of Seattle, applied for admission to the United States at the Port of Seattle as a returning native-born Chinese.

Ah June was a witness for Ah Kong. Ah June’s name at birth was Ng Tung June and his married name was Ng See Sing. He was forty-four years old and a merchant, the manager of Zee Tai Company in Port Townsend, Washington. He came to the U.S. in 1876. He lived in Port Townsend since his arrival except for nine years in Boise, Idaho (1894 to 1903). He made three trips to China during that time. On his third trip in 1904, he resided in the Village of Gim On in the Sun Ning district. He visited Ah Kong and his family and gave Ah Kong one hundred Mexican dollars from his father.

Ah June knew Eng Gin since 1882 when Eng was living in Port Townsend at the Zee Tai’s store on Water Street, later the location of the Palace Restaurant. Eng Gin was with his wife Shue Shee (Yet Yue) and his son Eng Kong who was about five or six at that time. Eng Gin and his family lived in Port Townsend for about six months before moving to Port Discovery where Eng Gin was employed as a foreman in a sawmill. They stayed there about two years then moved back to a house on Quincy Street in Port Townsend. Ah June thought Eng Gin had another son who was called Ah Wing or Eng Wing but did not know much about him.

Ah Kong was questioned after he arrived at the Port of Seattle on 8 January 1908. He said his other name was Yee Quay and his family name was Eng. He was thirty years old and married. He was born in Seattle on Washington Street between Occidental and Second Avenue. When he was about seven years old, he went to China from San Francisco with a distant cousin, Eng Fong Hock.

Aloysuis Harker was also a witness for Ah Kong. He was in the produce and commission business and had lived in Seattle since 1871, over thirty years. He was well acquainted with many Chinese and knew Chin Ching Hock, Chin Gee Hee, Lu Woo, Eng Gin and many others. He was asked in detail about the addresses for several Chinese businesses. Some of the street names had changed since the Seattle fire of 1889 so he drew a map to show where the businesses were and to explain the new street names. Although Harker had not seen Ah Kong in many years, he thought the photo Ah Kong on his identity card had “the appearance” of the boy he had known twenty years ago.

C. E. Carleton testified for Ah Kong. Carleton was a painter who came to Seattle in 1881. He knew Eng Gin, Wah Chong, Chin Pong and several other Chinese. He got to know Eng Gin when he painted the store Eng managed, Quong Yuen Long Company, on Washington Street. He said the store was on the south side of Washington Street next to the old Standard Theatre which was now the Lyric Theatre. He pointed placed out on the maps that Harker had drawn. He described Eng Gin’s wife as short, thickset, fat, and good looking with big feet. Ah Kong was a young boy when he met him. To the best of Carleton’s memory, the young man in the case file photo resembled the boy he met many years ago.

Ah Kong was admitted at the Port of Seattle.

Ah Kong Form 430 1912 photo
“Ah Kong, Form 430 photo” 1912, CEA files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Ah Kong case file, file RS 29169.

In April 1912 Ah Kong applied for pre-investigation of status as an American-born Chinese. He wanted to make a trip to China. Ah Kong was a restaurant keeper at the Oriental Café at 412 Riverside Street in Spokane, Washington. He gave his name as Ah Quong [usually spelled Kong] of the Ng [Eng] family. His married name was Yee Quay. He was thirty-five years old and was born in Seattle, Washington. He married Louie See of Wong Mo Hin village, Sunning district, China. She had bound feet.  Their two sons and one daughter, ages eight to twelve, were born in Sai On village, Sunning district, China.

Ah Kong’s Form 430, Application of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Preinvestigation of Status, dated 29 April 1912, states that officer in charge was prepared to approve the application. There is nothing in the file that shows that Ah Kong left the United States in 1912 or returned at a later date.

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