A 1908 statement by Modena Stewart Cue said she and Joe Que (Cue) were married at Greenwood, Mississippi by Rev. N. L. Lackey in March or April 1894. At that time Joe Que ran a general merchandise store at Clarksdale, Mississippi called Joe Que & Co. His partner, Ju Gong, sold his interest in the store to Joe Que about December 1894. Modena and Joe had three children. Charlie Stewart Cue was born 31 January 1895. A midwife called “Grandmother Oliver,” attended Modena during his’s birth. Modena’s daughter, Mabel Cue, was born 17 August 1896 in Webb, Mississippi; and Joe Lee Cue, was born 16 September 1898 in Bonham, Texas. Mabel died 18 December 1898 and was buried in Bonham. Modena left her husband in 1899 so she could live closer to her family in Mississippi. She married John Williams at Coahoma, Mississippi in 1904.
After Modena left Joe Que he moved to various places in Texas then went to Memphis, Tennessee. In December 1901 he decided to go back to China and take Charlie with him. James P. Newton, a photographer residing in Memphis, Tennessee and Modena Stewart Cue, the mother of Charlie Stewart Cue (周拃李), both swore that Charlie, age five, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of Joe Que, a merchant; Charlie and his father were not classified as “a laborer, huckster or peddler.” [Charlie received his classification by “being of tender years.”]
Joe Que returned to Chicago, Illinois in 1903 without Charlie. He left him with his mother in Man How Dewey, Hoy Ping District so he could learn Chinese. E. Sutcliffe, a ticket agent at the Frisco Railway System in Memphis and Will Hays swore in an affidavit that “Joe Que or Joe Cue” was a peaceable, law-abiding merchant and member of the firm of Joe Jim & Co., Dublin, Mississippi. His entry into the United States was approved.
In 1907 Joe Que’s mother died and he went back to China to bring Charlie back.
Charlie Stewart Cue was twelve years old in September 1908 when he arrived at Portal, North Dakota seeking admission into the United States. His mother had given him her photograph before he left for China in 1902; it was attached to the lapel of his coat. He described her as an American who did not look like his father, shorter than his father, and medium built.
When Joe Que was interviewed he said that Modena was a mix of white and Mexican blood. Joe Que testified that he married a Chinese woman in China in 1907 because Modena would not live with him.
Originally Joe Que was denied admission by the Board of Special Inquiry because they were concerned that he was married to two women. A. W. Brough, Immigrant Inspector, went to Mississippi to investigate. He interviewed Jim Gow, a laundryman at Clarksdale. Gow said Joe Que was “a gambler, a bum.” Brough also interviewed Modena Stewart Cue and described her as “an unusually intelligent colored woman.”
The Board concluded that Charlie Stewart Cue was entitled to admission since he was a native born citizen. Joe Que’s entry was denied and his case was appealed. Modena’ Stewart Cue’s 1908 affidavit she said she was not sure if Joe Que ever married in China. This information must have satisfied the Board; Charlie’s father, Joe Que, was admitted two days after Charlie in September 1908. They listed their destination as Chicago.
[Joe Que said Modena was of white and Mexican blood; Immigrant Inspector Brough said she was a “colored woman;” and her son Charlie said she looked American. All we know is that Modena was not Chinese.]
Robert Eugene Lee (Lee Quock Bong) was born on 24 February 1897 at 208 North 9th Street in Philadelphia. His parents were Lee Chong and Musetta Lee. His father was Chinese and his mother was “a negress.” In 1902 Lee Chong and his family visited his home village, Dong Nom Ho Village, Hok Dan District, China. Mrs. Lee died two months after arriving in China. Lee Chong returned to Philadelphia in 1903 and the children stayed in China with their father’s family.
In 1916 Lee Chong was applying to have his son, Robert Eugene Lee, join him in Philadelphia. He swore in an affidavit that he was a laundryman at 1939 East Sargent Street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a widower and father of three American-born children, Robert Eugene Lee, aged 18; Mable Luella Lee, age 16, and Gum Len Lee, age 13, who were living in China. His son was married but his wife would be staying in China.
Mary E. Moy, age 45, was a witness for Lee Chong and his son. She testified that her sister and Dr. Bates attended Musetta Lee at Robert’s birth. Mrs. Moy, a Caucasian, was married to a Chinese, Goon Moy. Her husband and Robert’s father, Lee Chong, were close friends.
Other witnesses were Lee Tong, manager of Chong Woh Company in Philadelphia and Agnes A. Ming, a Caucasian who knew Robert’s parents well. She testified that she had known Lee Chong since she was twelve years old and that Lee Chong married Zada Brown, “a colored girl,” who lived over his laundry at 18th and Wharton streets. After their three children were born the Lee family moved to China and Zada died there in 1903. Agnes went to school with Zada, a mulatto. Agnes’ husband was Chinese and a friend of Lee Chong. The Mings lived in Albany, New York.
Lee Chong (American name Joe Lee), (marriage name Lee See Tai), was 49 years old, a laundryman. He received his certificate of identity or residence 107002 in Philadelphia in March 1894. [The file sometimes refers to the certificate as identity and sometime as residence.]
In a letter recommending approval of Robert’s documents, Charles V. Mallet, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector at Gloucester City, New Jersey stated,
“The witnesses Mary Moy and Agnes Ming are both white women
who are or have been married to Chinese, and both of them
convince me of their credibility in connection with their
testimony affecting the applicant; Mrs. Moy being a woman
whose personality should place her way above the status of
one who ordinarily consorts with Chinese. I personally know
something about this witness and have to say for her that
she has raised a family of boys in a manner which should do
credit to any mother. The Chinese witness, Lee Tong, is one
of the most responsible and respected merchant in
Philadelphia Chinatown, and his testimony should be
accorded corresponding weight. The alleged father of the
boy gives the impression of one who is disposed to tell the
truth with his knowledge, and manifests a true parent’s
interest in the applicant…”
In a 1916 statement approving Robert Eugene Lee’s arrival, H. W. Cunningham, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector, Vancouver, B.C. said, “…the claims made are genuine, and in addition applicant’s features plainly indicate an admixture of negro blood. Applicant is admitted and furnished a certificate of identity.”
The file lists the following documents were examined: the baptismal cards for Robert Eugene Lee and Mabel Luella Lee at Philadelphia, 12 December 1901; a 1911 copy of a birth certificate for Chinese female Lee, [Gum Len Lee] born 21 July 1902; and passport 62682 issued 9 October 1902 to Musetta Lee accompanied by her three minor children. [Unfortunately these documents are not included in the file.]
Robert lost his certificate of identity in 1921 but was able to get it replaced.
Robert Eugene Lee made two more trips to China. He was gone from 1922 to 1924. His son, Lee Tong Chee, arrived in the U.S. in 1928. His wife, Chong See, and his other son, Lee You Kue, stayed in China. In 1936 Robert, age 39, applied to visit China and was approved. He returned in June 1937.
Lim Don Hing, a student, was 18 years old when he arrived in Port of Seattle on 22 August 1938 on the S.S. Princess Marguerite. His father, Lim Sin (Thin), had recently died in Detroit, Michigan and Lim Don Hing would be joining his extended family there. He was classified as the son of a citizen. He was originally denied admittance but was approved almost five months later. He was held in detention during that time.
The Immigration Board of Special Inquiry denied Lim Don Hing’s admission to the United States on the grounds that he was not the son of the man claimed to be his father and he was not a member of an exempt class according to the Immigration Act of 1924. The chairman of the board summarized the case and listed the discrepancies between the testimony of the applicant and his cousin, Lim Lin Foon, age 14; and his uncle, Lim Quong, the witnesses. The applicant’s testimony was taken in Seattle and the witnesses’ were interrogated in Detroit. The discrepancies listed were:
1. The location of his house in his village
2. The school he and his cousins attended
3. The space between the ancestral hall school and a vacant house in front of the hall
4. Who lived in the first house, third row of their village
5. If there was a wall on one side of the village
6. Who accompanied his cousin when they left the village for the United States
7. If he ever saw his cousins at Suey Boo market
8. Whether his cousins’ mother had any dental work done
9. If they cleaned the graves of their ancestors when they visited the cemetery in 1938
10. Whether his uncle, Lim Quong, sent money to their house three years earlier
11. Although the applicant and his cousin identified themselves in two photographs, neither knew when the photo was taken [The photo was taken when they were young boys.]
The documents used in his case were the photographs, his father’ death certificate, over forty pages of testimony by the applicant and two witnesses, two Seattle exclusion files, seven San Francisco exclusion files, an affidavit, and the testimony of his attorney, John J. Sullivan.
The case was sent to U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration and Naturalization Service for review. Lim Don Hing’s admittance was approved on 10 January 1939.
Mabel Kegiktok Long was born in Nome, Alaska on 4 June 1905. When she was twelve years old she came to Seattle with a missionary couple, Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin. After Mr. Miller, the Secretary to the District Attorney at Nome, was appointed her guardian she also spent time in Oklahoma and Texas, then lived with Mrs. Hamlin in Illinois, and finally went to live with Dr. and Mrs. Rigden, in Danville, Indiana. She attended the Friends Private School in Washington, D.C. before returning to Danville to attend Central Normal College where Dr. Rigden was president of the college. After college Mabel returned to Seattle then visited her mother in Nome in 1924. At some point she took the surname of her guardian and was known as Mabel Mae Miller.
Mabel’s father was Charley Long (marriage name Dong Hop Long) a full-blooded Chinese. He moved back to China in the late 1920s. Her mother was Lucy Otongana, a full-blooded Eskimo who was born on Diomede Island, Alaska. Mabel first met her father in 1924 in Seattle. Her father’s friend, Chin Ben, arranged the meeting. She always thought she was full-blooded Eskimo and was shocked to see that her father was Chinese. In 1939 Mabel testified that her mother told her that Father La Fortune had married her parents at the Catholic Church in Nome in 1903 or 1904. They were divorced a year or two later and Mabel had no memory of her father. A few years later her mother married Frank Martin in Nome and they had eight children together.
Mabel had been married twice. Her first husband was Harry Fong Lee. They had a daughter, Joan Lee, born 15 August 1930 in Vancouver, Washington. Mabel and Harry divorced in 1935 and she married Clarence C. Coble, a Caucasian of German and English ancestry, on 7 September 1935 in Seattle. Clarence was a movie projectionist.
Mabel was a dancer and worked with the Fisher Booking Agency in Seattle. In 1939 she was applying for a return certificate to visit Canada for a week’s engagement at a night club. The certificate would enable her to cross the Canadian border and return to the United States a week later.
Chin Ben (marriage name Sui Wing) was a witness for Mabel Kegiktok Long’s application. He was a friend of her father and knew her from the time of her birth. A 1939 transcript of her certificate of birth is included in the file. Her mother swore in an affidavit that her daughter’s birth wasn’t recorded at the Recorder’s Office because in 1905 there was no systematic record of birth kept throughout the Territory of Alaska. She stated that the records of the Catholic Church in Nome and the Probate Records of the Cape Nome Precinct, Nome, Alaska where W. R. Miller was appointed guardian of Mable, agreed with the affidavit.
Mabel’s application was approved but there is no indication in the file that she made the trip to Canada.
The reference sheet in the file includes the names and file numbers of Mabel Kegiktok Long’s father, uncle, step-mother, step-brother, and witness Chin Ben.
Edwin Mah Lee, (李孟賢) the mayor of San Francisco, died unexpectedly on 12 December 2017. He was born on 5 May 1952 in Seattle, Washington, the son of Gok Suey Lee and Pansy Chin Lee (Chan Ngar Ching).
[See the many tributes to Edwin Mah Lee on the Internet and in newspapers. The following is a brief summary of some of documents in Chinese Exclusion Act case files for his father, grandfather and great grandfather.]
Lee Gok Suey (Edwin Mah Lee’s father) In August 1937 Lee Ling Hung swore in an affidavit that he was a citizen of the United States and the holder of Certificate of Identity No. 34552 issued when he entered the Port of Seattle on 9 February 1921. He was applying to bring his son, Lee Gok Suey, into the United States.
Lee Gok Suey arrived in Seattle, Washington on 20 December 1937 on the Princess Marguerite and was admitted four months later after a difficult but successful appeal. He was 17 years old, a student and the son of Lee Ling Hung, a United States citizen and Luey Shee. He was born on 9 May 1921 in Taw Long village, Suey Low Section, Hoy San District, China. Originally Lee Gok Suey was denied admission by a board of special inquiry because he was not able to prove to their satisfaction his relationship to his father.
Seattle’s Inspector-in Charge, Joseph H. Gee, re-opened Lee’s case so additional evidence could be obtained. Affidavits from his father, uncle and grandfather were submitted to the board for their review. The applicant’s attorney filed a letter and an affidavit of the applicant’s alleged grandfather, Lee Share Young, and included a photograph with a satisfactory resemblance to Lee Gok Suey. Because of several discrepancies in the witnesses’ testimony the board voted unanimously that Lee not be admitted. His attorney argued that it had been fifteen years since the grandfather had been to China so it was not unusual that his testimony might not completely agree with his two sons who had been to China recently. After more than four months, Lee Gok Suey’s arrival was approved.
Lee Ling Hung (Lee Gok Suey’s father; Edwin Mah Lee’s grandfather)
Lee Ling Hung first arrived in the United States at Seattle on 21 January 1921 and was admitted as a citizen son of a native. He visited China in 1926 and returned in 1928. During his pre-investigation examination before leaving in 1926 he stated he had one son, Lee Gok Sui, born in 1921. On his return he claimed a second son born while on that trip, Lee Gok Foo. In an application for another trip to China in 1930 he claimed that his second son’s name was Lee Gok Gong and his third son was Lee Gok Foo. Because Lee Ling Hung’s father, Lee Share Young (sometimes spelled Lee Shere Yung)’s citizenship had been granted in 1888 through U. S. District Court discharge papers, Immigrant Inspector Roy M. Porter recommended that Lee Ling Hung’s application for pre-investigation of status be approved. [The confusion over the names of the second and third sons and their dates of birth caused the inspectors to distrust Lee Ling Hung’s testimony and combined with other discrepancies made Lee Gok Suey’s arrival approval so complicated in 1937.]
Before moving to Seattle Lee Ling Hung lived in Portland, Oregon for about six years and he was a baker for Coffman’s Candy Shop at 152 Broadway.
Lee Share Young (Lee Gok Suey’s grandfather; Edwin Mah Lee’s great grandfather)
In March 1938 Lee Share Young (You Yuey, marriage name) testified that he was a bookkeeper at the Quong Tuck Company in Seattle. He was the father of Lee Gim Jeow and Lee Ling Hung and the grandfather of Lee Gok Suey. He was re-examined regarding some of the questions where there was some confusion—were there twelve rows of houses in his village or thirteen? Lee Share Young said, “There are thirteen rows but the first row at the head is not a regular row because there is only a small house and some toilets there.” [It is easy to see how this trivial fact could be confusing.] Lee Share Young’s son sent him a photo of Gok Suey Lee in 1932. The interrogator asked how he could identify his grandson since he had not seen him since he was two years old. He replied, “I have to trust my son who sent me the picture.” There were other discrepancies about the extended family and deceased ancestors, the location of neighbors’ houses in their home village, and the applicant’s school experience. Eventually the board of special inquiry decided that there was enough information where the all the witnesses agreed and they admitted Lee Gok Suey. There were over fifty pages of interrogation. The witnesses were asked about the village, the location of roads, paths, hedges, ponds, shrines, the school, cemetery, stores, and many other minor details. They gave detailed descriptions of the houses, buildings and the people who lived in them. [There were over one hundred houses in their village so this could not have been easy.]
In 1920 Lee Share Young swore in an affidavit that he wanted to bring his son Lee Ling Hung over to the United States. At that time he was a merchant for the Quong Sang Wo Kee Company in Portland, Oregon. He produced his 1888 discharge papers for the interrogators inspection.
When Lee Shere [Share] Yung left for a visit to China in 1900 he obtained an affidavit with his photo attached to assure his reentry into the United States. He swore that he was a member of the Wau Yune Lung Kee Company, dealers in Chinese merchandise and provisions doing business at 739 Commercial Street in San Francisco. He had four witnesses: Chas. E. Harris, O. R. Beal, Frank B. Hoyt and Edgar A. Greenblatt. Lee returned on 2 May 1902.
Lee Share Young, Lee Gok Suey’s grandfather, was born in San Francisco, California on 7 December 1871 to Lee Yeu May and Hong Shee. His marriage name was Lee Yeow You and he was sometimes known as Lee Yung. He married Toy Shee and they had two sons, Lee Gim, born 14 February 1889 and Lee Ling Hung, born 28 November 1901. Lee Share Yung’s paternal grandparents were Lee Sing Tem and Lew Shee. He had an older brother, Lee Seah Fook, living in California. The parents of his wife, Toy Shee, were Toy Lem Tick and Low Shee.
The family of Edwin Mah Lee found in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files: Parents:
Gok Suey Lee and Pansy Chin Lee (Chan Ngar Ching) Grandparents:
Lee Ling Hung and Luey Shee Great Grandparents:
Lee Share Young and Toy Shee G G Grandparents: (Lee Share Young’s parents)
Lee Yeu May and Hong Shee G G Grandparents: (Toy Shee’s parents)
Toy Lem Tick and Low Shee G G G Grandparents: (Lee Share Young’s grandparents)
Lee Sing Tem and Lew Shee
The Reference Sheets in the files also contains Seattle file numbers for Lee Gok Suey’s cousin, Lee Gwok Ying (7030/13310); uncle, Lee Gim Jeow (7030/4521); Lee Gwock Ying, Lee Gim Jeow’s son, (7030/13310).
Look Ah Pong, an American-born Chinese citizen died on 7 January 1921 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Seattle, Washington on 10 January. His son, Look Gom Hong, born at Sing Shu Village, Fook Chung, Sun Ning, China, originally entered the United States through the Port of Seattle in 1923. He received his Certificate of Identity #50610 upon arrival. After his entry was approved he joined his older brother, Look Gim Yook (York), in New York City.
In 1935 Look Gom Hong filled out his Form 430, Application for Pre-investigation of Status, for his upcoming trip to China. He was 25 years old and a waiter at Li Chee Gardens Restaurant in New York City. In over five pages of interrogation Look Gom Hong described his father’s and mother’s siblings, his grandparents on both sides of the family, their extended families, and many details about their village.
Look Gim Yook (York) testified on behalf of his brother. He swore that he was with their father when he died at Hai Ping Fong in Seattle. He did not have his father’s death certificate but he gave the interrogator a bill addressed to the Hip Sing Company from Collins Brothers Undertaking Company for $125 for the burial of his father. He surrendered his father’s Certificate of Identity #2671 which was issued in 1911. The interrogators then asked Look Gim Yook (York) the same questions about the family and village as his brother. [His father’s Certificate of Identity was valuable proof of the family connection.]
Look Kim Fun who was admitted to the U.S. in 1922 was from their village and testified for Look Gom Hong. He was asked the same questions about the family and village and also stated that the village had thirteen houses and a watch house. [Since it was such a small village everyone knew each other’s families making Look Kim Fun a credible witness.]
The Inspectors reviewed the interrogations and decided that the testimony of the three witnesses agreed. Look Gom Hong made a favorable impression; the brothers resembled each other and they were prompt and frank in their testimony. Look Gom Hong’s application was approved.
The Reference Sheet in the file includes the names, relationships and file numbers for Look Gom Hong’s father, brother, two nephews, two uncles, two cousins, and a “distant relative.”
Guest blogger –Darby Li Po Price
This week’s blog entry is by Darby Li Po Price. He researched his family in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files at the National Archives-Seattle and found many family files. The following information is from a file on his great aunt, Chin On. It includes an affidavit and testimony by his great grandfather, Chin Jan; Chin On’s application for her certificate of identity and maps of the family home in China.
The 1933 immigration application and photos were submitted by Jan Chin (great grandfather) for his daughter On Chin. She was detained three days. There are diagrams of their house in China which both drew as part of their interrogations. Jan had U.S. citizenship by native birth of immigrants.
Such documents of Chinese women are rare compared to those of men. Even though the subject of the file may be a woman most of the interrogations and affidavits are usually by the men of the family. It is also nice to see Chin On and her family together.
1933 photos of Chin Jan, and daughter Chin On, age 22, for On’s application for admission to the US. Jan requested “to have my said daughter, Chin On, come to America, so that I can give her the benefits of an American education.” Chin On had written her father the year before to ask to come to America. On arrived in Seattle via President Taft June 6, 1933, and was placed in detention.
The affidavit and application are accompanied by 30 pages of testimonies of On, Jan, and Jan’s sister Len Toy, drawings of their home in Sun Woy [Sun Wui], and detention release are in Seattle file no. 7030/5510. Interviews include extensive details on family members’ relations, lives, and homes in China and the U.S.
Jan, age 53, resided at 124 Ninth St., Portland, OR, and was a native U.S. citizen by birth from Joe Jew Chin and Dew Shee. Jan described his wife Hom Shee, age 47, and their sons in Sun Woy as Mon, age 30, Kway, 12, Wing, 7, Haw, 5; and Soon, 29, living in Chicago whose wife with their two sons lived in Sun Ning. Mon lived with his wife and two sons in another house. Mon was admitted to the U.S. in 1922; Soon in 1923. Len Toy was born in Portland, and spent a year and a half with the family in Sun Woy.
Interviews were translated between English and Chinese. The Chins spoke See Yip dialect. There were discrepancies regarding existence or placement of: a house number above the front door, ladders, stairways, doors, windows, a mirror, an alarm clock, Jan’s pocket and wrist watches, where two of On’s brother’s slept, and where Len slept. On did not remember a prior house Jan said they moved from when On was 11. On said Jan’s mother’s name was Yee Shee, Jan said Leung Shee.
On June 9, 1933 Roy Matterson, Chair of the Board of Special Inquiry concluded: “while there are a considerable number of discrepancies in the record that have not been cleared up, applicant testifies in a frank, unhesitating manner and seems to be testifying from facts and not from coached testimony and I am of the opinion that she has established her claim to being a daughter of CHIN JAN, and I therefore move to admit her to the United States as a citizen.” Admission was concurred by inspectors John Boyd and Earl Botts.
The Reference Sheet in Chin On’s case file contains the file numbers and names of her father, grandfather, three brothers, five uncles, an aunt, sister-in-law, two nephews, cousin, and a niece.
Darby will be telling us more about his family in the coming weeks.