Category Archives: Affidavit

Tom Chon How – at detention center for almost a year and a half

Tom Chon How aff photo1939Tom Chon How aff Tom Bing Koon 1939

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tom Chon How and Tom Bing Koon affidavit photos,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tom Chon How case file, Seattle Box 799, file 7030/13041.

Tom Chon How arrived at the Port of Seattle on 20 November 1939. She was admitted almost a year and a half later on 10 May 1941. Her file was over 70 pages long. After her father, Tom Ngon Sing, died in China she decided to come to the U.S. to live with her brother, Tom Bing Koon, in San Diego, California. Since she was the daughter of a U.S. native-born citizen she would or should have been considered a citizen. She was born on 20 December 1907 in Seung Sing, Tin Hong, Toy San, China. Her step-mother paid for her passage over. Tom Chon How was a school teacher.

In 1938 her brother, Tom Bing Koon, of San Diego, California, swore in an affidavit that his father, Tom Ngon Sing, was a native born citizen. His citizenship was proved by record #9544 on file at the U.S. District Court of Northern California. Tom Bing Koon was 42 years old in 1939 and came to the United States at age thirteen. He swore that his sister, Tom Chon How, the daughter of Tom Ngon Sing, was coming to the United States to live with him.

During Tom Chon How’s arrival testimony she was asked about her extended family in the U.S. and in China, in particular her nephew Hom (Tom) Tung Hing. She claimed that he died in 1931 on his way back to China. The examiner said that the alleged Hom (Tom) Tung Hing was admitted at Seattle in December 1939.

A warrant of arrest was issued for Tom Tung Hing. He was found in Tucson, Arizona and he gave a statement. He claimed he was the true Tom Tung Hing and Tom Chon How was lying; that the information she gave the investigators was false. Immigration officials began an investigation in Minneapolis (the nephew’s father was living in Minneapolis at some point) and San Diego.

There were huge and small discrepancies in Tom Chon How’s and her brother’s testimony in the description of their native village. The examiner noted that Tom Bing Koon had not been in China for more than twenty-three year. He had never met his nephew so he could not identify him.

Tom Chon How was interviewed again in March 1940. Most of the questioning centered on her home village—how many rows of houses, how many houses in each row, who lived where, and details about the neighbors.

This is a section of a translated letter that Tom Chon How (also known as Tom Jung How or Jung Ho) wrote to the immigration officers after being at the detention center for many months:Tom Chon How letter Apr 1940
“Tom Chon How letter,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tom Chon How case file, Seattle Box 799, file 7030/13041.

After reading the transcription of the deportation proceedings for Hom Tung Hing, Immigration authorities decided to question Tom Chon How again. By July 1940, a decision had not been reached as to admit or deport her. Her case hinged on Hom Tung Hing’s case. A month later the F.B.I. was comparing the handwriting samples of the Hom Ting Hing who left the U.S. in 1931 with the Hom Ting Hing who was admitted to the U.S. in 1939. Which one was a forgery?

The hearings were resumed on 7 March 1941. Tom Chon How was asked to show the layout of her village. Her diagrams were compared to the maps she constructed in March 1940. She was asked about the differences. She said she couldn’t remember exactly how many houses there were in her village because she hardly ever walked in some parts of the village. [After being in detention since November 1939, she sounded weary.]

The next day she was transferred to Seattle Marine Hospital for examination and treatment. She was suffering from severe nausea.

Immigration decided to interview Yip Shee, the wife of Tom Bing Koon, Tom Chon How’s brother. Yip Shee and Tom Bing Koon married in 1916 and came to the U. S. in 1919. In 1941 Immigration officials interviewed her about her husband’s home village; over twenty years after they left the country. There were significant discrepancies about the village in Yip Shee’s testimony but she gave some helpful information. She remembered that Tom Chon How seriously cut the index finger of her right hand when she was about ten years old. Yip Shee bandaged it for her. The inspectors checked Tom Chon How’s hand. She had a scar that matched Yip Shee’s description. They now believed Tom Chon How was the person she claimed to be.

Inspector J. P. Sanderson, chairman of the inquiry, wrote in his three-page summary of the case that Tom Tung Hing’s arrest warrant was canceled. Although Sanderson did not agree with the determination of Tom Tung Hing’s admittance in 1939, Tom Tung Hing was not deported.

Tom Chon How’s case was delayed considerably because she consistently maintained that Tom Tung Hing died in 1931. The immigration inspectors agreed that if the information on Tom Tung Hing was ignored, the applicant should be admitted. Tom Chon How was admitted at the Port of Seattle on 10 May 1941.

Fong See – lonely and crying in detention

Fong See arrived at the Port of Seattle on the S.S. Iroquois on 22 May 1911. She was applying to be admitted to the United States as the lawful wife of Lee Yew, a merchant at On Lee Company in Portland, Oregon.  Ellis DeBruler, Immigration Commissioner, wanted to expedite her landing. She was forty-six years old with bound feet; the only Chinese woman in the detention house. She was suffering from extreme loneliness and cried a great deal.

Fong See & Lee Yew 1910 Affidavit photos
“Fong See & Lee Yew Affidavit Photos” 1910, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Fong See case file, Portland Box 13,file 2409.

On 10 September 1910 Lee Yew made an affidavit to establish his status as a Chinese merchant and that of his wife, Fong See, as the wife of a merchant so she could join him and his son in Portland.

E. Hussey, Acting Chinese Inspector in Seattle reported to J. H. Barbour, Inspector in Charge in Portland, that after inspecting the premises of the On Lee Company, reviewing its partnership list and interviewing two Caucasian witnesses, Thomas G. Farrell and John B. Coffey, he was satisfied with Lee Yew’s status as a merchant

Thomas G. Farrell, age 43, testified in 1911 that he had been living in Portland for almost 43 years. He was a merchant in wholesale groceries on Front Street. He knew many Chinese and was acquainted with Lee Yew for five or six years. Lee Yew bought his poultry and eggs from Farrell so he was at Farrell’s business at least once a week.

John B. Coffey was in the tailoring business in the Elks Building and had been living in Portland for twenty-five years. He knew many Chinese socially and through his work. He and Lee Yew were acquainted in Salem, Oregon before Lee Yew came to Portland. Coffey was a witness for Lee Yew when his son came to the U.S.

After Inspector Hussey was satisfied that Lee Yew’s mercantile status was established, he interrogated Lee Sun Hing, the son of Fong See and Lee Yew.

Lee Sun Hing was born in China and arrived in the U.S. at Sumas, Washington in 1908 and was admitted as the minor son of a merchant. He was a student and after his Lee Yew’s death he inherited his father’s interest in the On Lee Company.

Lew Yew was too sick to testify about his status as a merchant and his marriage to Fong See when she arrived in Seattle in 1911. He died within a few months after Fong See’s arrival.

Fong See was admitted as the lawful wife of Lee Yew and went to live above the On Lee Company store in Portland with her son.

Lee Gang Bong – family portraits

Lee Gang Bong M143 1940

Lee Gang Bong 李境垹 arrived at the Port of Seattle on 1 January 1940 and was admitted as the son of a native, Lee Fook Loy, deceased. He was 17 years old, born 30 March 1923, and he was coming to live with his brother, Lee Chong Yin 李長恩, in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

“Lee Gang Bong, M143 photo, ”ca. 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

His father, Lee Fook Loy, returned to China in November 1935 and died there in 1937 after a brief illness.Lee Fook Loy 1935

“Lee Fook Loy,  Form 430 photo, ”ca. 1935, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

Lee Gang Bong married Louie Shee in China against his wishes on 15 June 1938 when he was fifteen years old. His mother wanted someone to wait on her and she also thought he should be married before he came to the United States.

According to Lee Gang Bong’s interrogation his home village of Pon Lung in the Sui Low section of Toy San, China had 30 or 40 houses arranged in 11 rows facing west. His brick house had five rooms and tile floors with stone in the court. Each bedroom had two outside windows with on glass but fitted with iron bars and wooden shutters. They had a rice mill. Three wooden carved ancestral tablets painted green with gilt character representing their general ancestors were hanging on the back wall of the shrine loft in the living room. The village had a brick wall about five feet high on the head side and bamboo running from the back to the tail with a pond in front.

Lee Chong Yin Affidavit
“Lee Chong Yin Affidavit,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

Upon his arrival at the Port of Seattle, Lee Gang Bong’s brother, Lee Chong Yin, was a witness for him. His interrogator asked him confrontational questions, such as: “Do you know of any American Chinese citizen that ever had a daughter born in China?” and “Insofar as you know are all children born to American citizen Chinese in China sons?” Chong Yin married Leow Shee and had a three-year old son in China whom he had never seen. He was born after Chong Yin returned to the U.S.

These family portraits are included in the file:

Lee Gang Bong Family Portrait
“Lee Gang Bong, family portraits,” ca. 1927, 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

Mee Lin, servant girl; Ng Shee, mother; Lee Gang Bong, applicant; Lee Fook Loy, father; Lee Chong Yin, brother

Lee Gang Bong Family Portrait ca. 1930

Leow Shee, Chong Yin’s wife; Lee Gang Bong, applicant; Ng Shee, mother holding Lee Ging Shek, brother, Lee Ngook Guey, brother; Lee Fook Loy, father, Lee Chong Yin, brother

Lee Gang Bong was admitted at the Port of Seattle on 9 February 1940.
[This file researched by Hao-Jan Chang. Hao-Jan also does the Chinese characters for the blog.]

Chin Shik Kuey (James) – Yakima, Washington

Chin Shik Kuey photo, age 3
“Photo of Chin Shik Kuey, Form M143,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Shik Kuey case file, Seattle Box 807, 7030/12930.

[It must have been very cold the day his photo was taken. James is wearing a big heavy coat and he doesn’t look very happy.]
[Researched by Lily Eng, Data Entry Volunteer, for the Chinese Exclusion Act files. Chin Shik Kuey is her uncle.]

Chin On 陳安 made a trip to China in November 1935 and upon his return in June 1937 he claimed his son, (James) Chin Shik Kuey, was born on 2 January 1937 at Wah Lok village, Hoy San, China.
In November 1939 Chin On swore in an affidavit that he was born in Seattle, resided in Yakima, and was in the restaurant business. He had made six trips to China since 1893. His intention was to bring his son, Chin Shik Kuey, to live with him in Yakima. The affidavit contained photos of Chin On and his son. He was seeking admission for his son with the status of son of an American citizen which would make him an American citizen in his own right under Section 1993 of the Revised Statues of the United States.

1939 Affidavit Photos of Chin On and Chin Shik Kuey,
“Affidavit Photos of Chin On and Chin Shik Kuey,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Shik Kuey case file, Seattle Box 807, 7030/12930.

At the age of three, Chin made the trip from his village to Hong Kong with his father’s Yakima business partner, Ng Mon Wai, and his wife. From there they boarded the (Empress of Asia) Princess Charlotte and arrived at the Port of Seattle on 13 April 1940. Chin was admitted three days later as the son of Chin On, a citizen. Since James was so young the interrogators only asked him his name and then quizzed his father. Chin On, marriage name Dee Bon, was 52 years old and born in Seattle. He was the cashier and buyer for the Golden Wheel Restaurant in Yakima, Washington. He had four sons with his first wife. They were Chin See Wing, married and living in Ellensburg; Chin See Chong, married and living in Yakima; Chin Fon Yung, married and attending school in Yakima; and Chin Moy On, age 11, attending school in Ellensburg. The wives and children of his three older sons were living in China. Chin On claimed the mother of Chin Shik Kuey died in 1939. Chin On planned to take his son, who he now called James, to Yakima and hire a nurse to take care of him until he was old enough to go to school.

Ng Mon Wai, marriage name See Suey, was a witness for James Chin Shik Kuey. Ng was a merchant and manager of the Golden Wheel Restaurant. He and his wife brought the boy on the ship from China to Seattle. Ng Mon Wai’s wife, Chan Yuen Mui, also testified. Her status for entering the U.S. was as the wife of a merchant. She was not interested in caring for a three-year old child and did not interact with James on their voyage to Seattle.
Chin Shik Kuey was admitted to the United States as a U. S. citizen, son of Chin On, a native. The notice of his admittance into the United States was signed on 16 April 1940 by Marie A. Proctor, District Commissioner of Immigration, Seattle District. Chin Shik Kuey’s finger prints were included in the file with this cautionary note.

cautionary note
“Form M-490,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Shik Kuey case file, Seattle Box 807, 7030/12930.

Look Fee – Columbus, Ohio

Look Fee Look Yuen Affidavit 1938
“Look Fee and Look Yuen, affidavit photos” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Look Fee case file, Seattle Box 794, 7030/12331.

In October 1938 Look Yuen 陸元 swore in an affidavit that he was a citizen of the United States who was admitted at the Port of San Francisco in October 1922 and granted Certificate of Identity 40415. His son Look Fee wanted to come to the United States to live with him. Photos of father and son were attached to the affidavit.

Look Fee 陸惠 arrived in the Port of Seattle on 23 August 1939 on the SS Princess Marguerite with the status of a son of a citizen. He was admitted to the U.S. almost two months later. He was a student, age 18 years Chinese reckoning; 16 years 9 months per American calculation. He would be joining his father, Look Yuen, in Columbus, Ohio. Look Fee was born in Sun Chong City, Toy Shan District, China on 4 January 1923. His family lived there one year and then moved to Sam Gong in Hoy Ping. His father was born in Look Bin village and had six brothers and one sister. During his interview Look Fee enumerated all of his father’s siblings, the names of their spouses and children and where they were living. He described his paternal grandfather and gave the names of his paternal great grandparents. His mother, Lee Shee, was the daughter and only child of Lee Wah and Chin Shee. Her parents both died prior to 1939. Look Fee was questioned about the village, the location of his neighbors’ houses and details about their extended families.

Some of the questions during the interview were: Who lives in the 8th lot, 3rd row from the east? What is his occupation? Who lives with him? What are their ages? Where do you get the water which you use for household purposes? Is there any space between the houses in the rows other than the cross alleys? Do you cross any streams or bridges going to the market? Which way does the door in the ancestral hall open? His interrogation was over seven pages long.

Look Fee’s father, Look Yuen, (marriage name Look Wing Bing) waited in Seattle almost two months for his son to be admitted. Look Yuen testified that he was a part owner of the Nan King restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. He first arrived in the U.S. though San Francisco in 1922 three months before Look Fee was born. He made one trip back to China in May 1929, returning to Ohio in September 1930. His other son, Look Wee, was born in March 1930 and was presently attending school in their home village. Look Yuen was asked many of the same questions as his son but in more detail about his siblings. Look Fee was called back to clear up some discrepancies. Although his father had left China sixteen years previously and had only spent one year there, six years prior to this interrogation, the interviewers expected their testimony to agree in most aspects.

Look Fee and Look Wee
“Look Fee and Look Wee photo” ca. 1934, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Look Fee case file, Seattle Box 794, 7030/12331.

Look Yuen gave the interrogators this photo of Look Fee and his brother Look Wee which was taken about 1934 or 1935. They wondered why Look Fee had a tennis racket and Look Wee had a basketball. Look Fee explained that their mother had a photographer at the Shung Sar Market take the photo. The props were just for fun.

After the interrogations the chairman of the immigration committee concluded that the relationship between the alleged father and his son was satisfactorily established. They were impressed that the father came from Ohio to testify for his son and stayed so long. They discounted the minor discrepancies because it had been so long since the father had been in China. They were satisfied that Look Fee knew when and where the photo of him and his brother was taken. Look Fee was admitted into the United States as a U.S. citizen.

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.]