Category Archives: Application for Certificate of Identity

Lee Gum Sing – Interrogations of five-year-old, his father and aunt

In January 1938 Lee Yok Tin swore in an affidavit that he was the son of a native of the United States and was last admitted at the port of San Francisco. Photos of Lee Yok Tin and his son were attached to the affidavit. In September 1938 he was applying to have his son, Lee Gum Sing, who was a citizen through him, come to the U.S.

Lee Yok Tin affidavit with photos of Lee Gum Sing and Lee Yok Tin,” 1938

Lee Yok Tin affidavit with photos of Lee Gum Sing and Lee Yok Tin,” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Lee Gum Sing file, Seattle Box 769, 7030/11419.

Lee Gum Sing, age 5, the son of Lee Yok Tin, a U.S. citizen, arrived at the Port of Seattle on 6 September 1938 with his aunt, Lee Ah Yee, and his  father. Their destination was San Francisco. Gum Sing had a scar on his forehead over his right eyebrow, a scar on the back of his right ear and another scar on the right side of his neck. [There was no explanation for the scars, and interrogators did not ask about them in the interviews. THN]

His file contains twenty-nine pages of interrogations. Most questions were directed at his father and aunt but there were four pages of interrogation and two pages of re-interrogation for five-year old Lee Gum Sing. The father and aunt, the son and daughter of Lee Lock, also have separate files.

Gum Sing’s aunt, Lee Ah Yee, was twenty years old when she arrived in Seattle. She had a large brown burn scar on the right side of forehead which she said was from a boil and that no one in the family had had smallpox. She was born on 11 March 1919 in Macao City, China and lived in Sheuk Kee city from the time she was two or three years old. Her citizenship status at her arrival was as the daughter of a native citizen. According to the Chinese Exclusion laws it was necessary for her to prove her right to enter the U.S. She told the interrogator that her father, Lee Lock, marriage name Poy Lum, died in July 1936 at the age of 58. Her father’s funeral was held at their home, but she did not attend it. Her mother, Wong Shee, age 52, had released feet and was still living in the family home in China. Japanese warplanes bombed the business section of their village but not the residential section. [In 1938 the Japanese launched several military campaigns in China.]  Ah Yee’s brother brought her to the U.S. to take care of his son, Gum Sing, and told her she could go to school if she was interested.

Lee Gum Sing’s mother, Ow Young Shee, died in 1938. Gum Sing identified his mother’s photo from her San Francisco file #12033/7572 and his father’s photo from his Seattle file 7030/10699. Gum Sing was born in Jung San on 4 October 1933. He had two older brothers and a younger brother. After his mother died his father married again to Leung Shee.

The interrogators asked Gum Sing about his family, home, street, and neighborhood. Gum Sing spoke in a mixture of Heung San and Sam Yip dialect and told them that the family lived in a small house with no upstairs. It had three bedrooms and three parlors, a clock with a pendulum, red tile floors, no courtyard, a toilet near the kitchen, no outside windows, no framed pictures, one outside door in one of the parlors, and a skylight. There was a round wooden table in the kitchen and a clay stove. The house was lit with kerosene lamps at night. He described who slept where. His grandmother had small feet and walked slowly. His father smoked cigarettes. His father’s new wife, Leung Shee, had bobbed hair and wore earrings, rings and bracelets. On their way to Hong Kong to start their trip to the United States they traveled by autobus and boat. The interrogators asked the same questions and more to his father and aunt.

Gum Sing’s father, Lee Yok Tin, marriage name Jock Sang, testified that he was 32 years old and born in Shauck Kee city, Jung San district, China. He was first admitted to the United States at San Francisco in 1922. He lived in Rockport near Walnut Grove. Since then, he had made three trips to China through San Francisco and one through Seattle. His most recent address was at the Hai Goon Grocery Store, 740 Jackson Street, San Francisco. He worked as a truck driver for the store. Lee Yok Tin’s first wife, Ng Shee died in 1923. They had no children together. His second wife, Ow Young Shee died in early 1938. They had four sons and no daughters. Lee Yok Tin married Leung Shee, age 21, a few months after Ow Young Shee died.

Lee Yok Tin explained that his sister, Ah Yee, was not allowed to attend their father’s funeral in 1936 even though it was in the family sitting room, because she was a girl. [Ah Yee would have been about 18 at the time of her father’s death. It is not known If she could have attended if she was older or if she was not allowed to attend simply because she was female; her age may not have mattered. Does anyone know the customs for females attending funerals? TNH]

The interrogator asked Lee Yok Tin why he did not bring his two older sons to the U.S. Yok Tin said he wanted them to attend school in China. The interrogator was also troubled by some of the discrepancies between the family’s description of the neighborhood. The three agreed on most of the details about the house and neighborhood but did not agree on whether the building directly to the right of the family home was an ancestral hall or if a fruit stand and grocery store stood at that place. And they disagreed about how much space there was between the buildings.

When Lee Ah Yee was being reexamined about some of the discrepancies between her statements and her nephew’s, she said Gum Sing’s answers might be different because he was only five years old and probably too young to know the answers.

In the summary of the interrogations by Roy C. Matterson, chairman of the Board of Special Inquiry, he explained the citizenship of Lee Look, the father of Lee Ah Yee and paternal grandfather of Lee Gum Sing. Lee Look’s file stated that when he was leaving San Francisco for China in March 1906, he claimed he was born in San Francisco. An affidavit from his mother and another witness confirmed his birth. After an investigation he was admitted as a citizen. In May 1922 Lee Yok Tin, the son of Lee Look, applied for admittance as the son of a U.S. citizen and was admitted. They both had made several trips to China and were readmitted each time. Although there were several discrepancies in the testimonies for this trip, when all the evidence, testimony and records were reviewed the discrepancies were not enough to detain Lee Ah Yee and Lee Gum Sing. They were admitted to the U.S. on 24 October 1938.  Lee Gum Sing received Certificate of Identity #78259. His application includes his photo at age 3.

“Lee Gum Sing, form M143,” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Lee Gum Sing file, Seattle Box 769, 7030/11419.

The reference sheet in the file included file number 7030/12466 for Gum Sing’s older brother, Lee Mai Hing.

Ho Shee (Ho Sue-Young) – Bonneville, WA

“Ho Shee (Ho Sue-Young), Precis of Investigation, 1940“
“Ho Shee (Ho Sue-Young), Photo, Precis of Investigation, 1940“ Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ho Shee case file, Seattle Box 1015, 7033/251.

Page 2 photos: Mon, 36, Sun-You (Johnny), 6, Fay-lun, 7, and another of Ho Shee

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. This file is for his grandmother and her family.

Ho Shee (Ho Sue-Young)’s Precis of Investigation, issued in 1940 by the American Consulate in Hong Kong, permitted Ho to travel to Seattle with two children to reside with her husband Chin Mon in Bonneville, WA.

Ho’s Seattle file no. 7033/251 also includes Mon’s petition for Ho’s immigration visa, a Pre-Investigation of status of citizenship interview of Mon, interviews of Ho, Mon, Sun-You, and Fay-lun conducted in Seattle, Summary for admission, and Ho’s application for Certificate of Identity.

Interviews spanning 22 pages describe Ho, Mon, and other family in China and the U.S. Their marriage in Sun Wui Village (Xinhui) was arranged by their parents and a go-between woman in 1922. Ho and Mon did not meet until their marriage ceremony 1 June 1 1922. A few months later, Mon immigrated to North Bonneville, WA and became owner and operator of the Kong Chew Restaurant. Ho lived with Mon’s mother in China the next 16 years. Mon returned to Sun Wui November 1928-April 1930, and April 1932-May 1934, and bought a brick house at 32 Ng Ming Chung highway for Ho. Ho, Sun-You, and Fay-lun lived in Hong Kong from 1938 until their 1940 immigration. When they left Hong Kong, Japanese planes strafed their ship and they had to duck for cover. Sun-You (Johnny) was adopted by his godfather, Jack Lee, in Portland.

Ho was born 28 December 1904 in Sun Wui to her mother Lum Shee, and father Ho Hon Jone. Ho spoke the See Yip (Siyi) dialect of Sun Wui. Mon, despite growing up in Sun Wui, spoke Yip Wui Ping dialect because in the U.S. he had mixed with Hoi San and Hoi Ping speakers.

Mon, born 28 February 1904 in Sun Wui, lived with his mother, Tom (Hom) Shee, born 1880 Sun Wui, until entry to Seattle 1922 as the oldest son of Chin Jan (Yock Kong), a citizen by 1881 birth in Portland. In 1939, Jan was a cook at the New Cathay Cafe at 82nd and Division. Mon’s mother was Hom (Mock) Shee. Jan’s parents were Chew (Joe) Chin, and Leong Shee. Mon’s siblings were: Soon, On, Quay, Wing, Hoe, and Kin. Jan’s brothers were: Quong, Jip, Choe, Hoy, Hom; sisters: Sing Choy, and Lin Choy.

Ho and Mon claimed two other sons: Gok Hing (George), born 1923, entered Seattle 1934 with Mon, then lived with Wong On, owner of the Hung Far Low Restaurant, 112 NW 4th Ave., Portland. Gok Hing (George)’s mother (whom stayed in China) was the sister of Wong On’s first wife Yee Shee. Gim Foon (Kim), was born 1929 in Ark Hing Lai, Kwangting by Mon’s first wife, whom Mon left after an affair with and impregnating her younger sister, Ho. Gim was in the care of Mon’s cousin Chin Gong (Young Yuke Jee) owner of the Kwong Ching Chong store, Hong Kong until 1941, when due to Japanese invasion he was sent to Gow How, Hoy (Hoi) Ping District to reside with a friend until returning to Hong Kong 1948. He entered Seattle in 1951.

Ho Shee’s application for Certificate of Identity
Ho Shee’s application for Certificate of Identity

The Ancestors of Edwin Mah Lee, recently deceased mayor of San Francisco (1952-2017)

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 Lee and Ling Hung AFF 1937
“Affidavit with photos of Lee Gok Suey and Lee Ling Hung,” 1937, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gok Suey case file, Seattle Box 747, 7030/10684.

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 CI App 1921
“Certificate of Identity Application, Lee Ling Hung,” 1921, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Hing Hung case file, Seattle Box 433, 7030/719.

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 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.

Lee Share Yung 1920 Aff
“Lee Share Yung Affidavit with photos of Lee Share Yung and Lee Ling Hung,” 1920, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Yung case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

Lee Share Yung 1902 Aff
“Lee Share Yung Affidavit,” 1902, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Yung case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

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 Yung Habeas Corpus Petition 1888
“Lee Share Yung, Habeas Corpus Petition,” 1888, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Young case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

Lee Share Yung Discharge 1888 photo
“Lee Share Yung, Habeas Corpus Judgment Roll, page 2,” 1888, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Young case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

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).

For more information see:
Wikipedia
Seattle Times
New York Times

Chin On family file

Chin Jan Affidavid
“Chin Jan Affidavit with photos of Chin Jan and Chin On,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin On case file, Seattle Box 594, 7030/5510.

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.

Chin On Application for Certificate of Identity
“Chin On Application for Certificate of Identity with photo,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin On case file, Seattle Box 594, 7030/5510.

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.

House diagrams
“Four house diagrams of house in Sun Woy City,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin On case file, Seattle Box 594, 7030/5510.


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.