Category Archives: application for citizen’s return certificate

Chin Hing Yee – File photos from 1901 to 1923

Chin Hing Yee Collage 1901 1923“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.

 

Bruce Lee – anniversary of his birth – 27 November 1940

Bruce Lee Form 430 Application
“Application for Citizen’s Return Certificate, Form 430,” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives at San Francisco, Bruce Lee (Lee Jun Fon) case file, SF file 12017/53752; https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5720262, image 8.

[The complete file (31 pages) for Bruce Lee is at National Archives at San Francisco and is available at https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5720262.]

Bruce Lee (Lee Jun Fon) was born on 27 November 1940 in San Francisco, California. In order to establish his son’s right to his United States citizenship and before the family returned to China in April 1941, his father, Lee Hoi Chuen, filed a Citizen’s Return Certificate on his son’s behalf. This would document his son’s birth, his American citizenship and enable him to return to reside in the United States at a later date. His father was an actor at the Mandarin Theatre in San Francisco; he was 27 years old and was born in Fat San City, Nom Hoy, China. He testified that he and his wife, Ho Oi Yee, were married ten years and had four living children—one son died in Hong Kong and one daughter was adopted. Ho Oi Yee’s mother was English. Lee Jun Fon (Bruce Lee) was the only child born in the United States. The doctor gave Bruce Lee his American name. His father couldn’t pronounce it but went along with it.

Bruce Lee Birth Certificate
Bruce Lee, SF file 12017/53752, corrected birth certificate, image 23.

A copy of Bruce Lee’s birth certificate and a corrected copy are included in the file. In the original document, Item 3B stated that his mother’s usual residence was China. This was corrected to say that she had been a resident of California for one year, two months.

[Bruce Lee returned to the United States at age 18 and attended the University of Washington in Seattle for three years. He became a celebrated actor and martial artist. Lee died of a brain edema on 20 July 20 1973 in Hong Kong and buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle, WA.]

Bruce Lee’s tombstone at Lakeview Cemetery

Little Dancie Wong and her mother Ng Dancie Yet

Photos
Photos of Little Dancie Wong and Ng Dancie Yet, affidavit, 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Little Dancie Wong file, Seattle, Box 742, Case 7030/10486.

Little Dancie Wong and her mother obtained an affidavit for the purpose of identification. They were applying to the U.S. Immigration authorities at Angel Island, California in 1933 for a Return Certificate, form 430, which would enable them to re-enter the U.S. after a trip to China.
Ng Dancie Yet, her husband, and several white witnesses were interrogated. Some of the information from the interrogation: Henry Wong, also known as H. Wong and Wong Ge Ye, was born in Gilroy, California on 22 Jan 1908. He and Ng Dancie Yet were married in Ft. Worth, Texas on 17 April 1925. He was a merchant at grocery and meat market called Wong Company in Rosedale, Mississippi.
One of their white witnesses was Dr. Charles W. Patterson, a practicing physician in Rosedale and a graduate of Tulane University. He delivered the Wongs’ three children: Pershing, born in 1926; Kellogg, born in 1928 and Little Dancie, born in 1931.
G. W. Heckert, the Immigration Inspector reviewed the Wongs’ marriage certificate and noted that it was recorded in the Ft. Worth, Texas 1925 marriage records, volume 58, page 242, number 59881. Heckert asked if they could keep the certificate in their permanent files. Ng Dancie Wong refused and the certificate was returned to her. She stated that she was born 18 January 1905 at Fort Worth, Texas.
[According to Heckert, they were trying to determine if H. Wong was Ng Dancie Yet’s first and only husband. They wanted to make sure she had not lost her U.S. citizenship by marriage to an alien ineligible to citizenship. ]
During Ng Dancie Wong’s interrogation she was asked if she was “an expectant mother.” She said that she was four or five months pregnant. Ng Dancie Yet was also known as Ng Yook Hong or Mrs. H. Wong.

Birth Certificate
Little Dancie Wong, Mississippi Birth Certificate, 26 September 1931, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Little Dancie Wong file, Seattle, Box 742, Case 7030/10486.

Ng Dancie Yet provided Little Dancie’s birth certificate. It says the Little Dancie’s father was born in Getlow, California instead of Gilroy. Ng Dancie said that the doctor “put it down Getlow because it sounds like that when we pronounce it.”
More about Little Dancie next week…

Leong Hoey – Portland, Oregon Store Proprietor

Photo of Leong & Co. Store
Leong & Co. Store Photo, 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Leong Hoey file, Seattle, Box 950, Case 7032/2037.

Leong Yuen and Leong Hoey at Leong & Co. store, 230 1/2 Third St., Portland, Oregon

According to a newspaper article included in the file [Oregon Journal, Portland, Oregon, Nov, 11, 1923, p. 1, col. 1] a gang robbed the store and shot, Leong Hoey, the proprietor, early in November. Judge Stapleton sentenced C. H. Jackson, leader of a gang, to ten years in the penitentiary and Vito Dellino  received a 2-1/2 year sentence.

In October 1932 Leong Hoey [sometimes spelled Huey or Houie] applied for a laborer’s return certificate. He owned a $1000 Fourth Liberty Loan Bond, worked in a fish cannery, was married, and had a son, See Gok, who was 8 years old. Leong Hoey arrived in the U.S. in 1910 and was admitted as the minor son of a merchant.

His file also contained a letter from his brother, Leong Yuen, answering a charge by the city Attorney that the store at 230 1/2 had been used for gambling. He explained that the rear of the building had been leased to a Chinese society to be used as a meeting place.

Leong Hoey’s application was denied. He appealed and it was approved. He left for China from Seattle on 7 October 1932 and returned the following year.

[More about the robbery and the gambling charge next time…]

Jick Chan – Interpreter

Jick Chan interpreter
Ham Go, Application for Laborer’s Return Certificate, 9 August 1933; Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Case 7032/2380.

Jick Chan [James Jick Chan] was a Cantonese translator/interpreter for the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Seattle for many years. The obituary for his son, Warren Chan, who died in Seattle on 15 June 2015, mentions his father’s service.

See Obituary: “Former judge Warren Chan, 92, Wing Luke Museum co-founder” for more information on the family.
Warren Chan’s obituary appeared in The Seattle Times on Monday, June 29, 2015, page B1 & B2.

Ham Go – Application for laborer’s return certificate

Ham Go Return Certificate Application
Ham Go, Application for Laborer’s Return Certificate, 9 August 1933; Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Case 7032/2380.

As a laborer, Ham Go received Certificate of Residence #143225 in 1894 when he was living in Boston, Massachusetts. He owned a $1000 Liberty Loan Bond that he purchased on 8 August 1933, one day before filing his application for a laborer’s return certificate.

Low Yow Edwin – Seattle volunteer finds her father’s file

Low Yow Edwin
Low Yow Edwin, photo, Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Seattle file Box 783, #7030/11920.

Rhonda, one of National Archives at Seattle’s volunteers, has been looking for documentation on her Chinese/Native American father for years hoping to prove his Native American heritage. While processing records from the Chinese Exclusion files, Rhonda came across a case labeled “Low Yow Edwin” and checked to see if it could possibly be about her father.
Her father, Edwin Law Yow, was a mechanic for the Flying Tigers during the World War II. Before he enlisted he applied for permission to travel abroad, and during the application process his stepmother, Mrs. Law Yow, and other witnesses were called to testify on his heritage. Listed below is his and his stepmother’s testimony where she speaks of her husband’s deathbed confession—just the information Rhonda had been seeking. The interrogation also references a birth certificate in Alaska.
The Seattle file also lists a National Archives at San Francisco file number. Rhonda quickly emailed a request for the search. John Seamans, Archive Technician, at the San Bruno facility found the file. It contained the birth certificate for Low Yow Edwin!

[The Chinese Exclusion Act case files frequently contain a variety of spellings for an individual’s name. Sometimes one of the names might be left out. The Chinese custom is to list the surname first before the other names. At different times an individual may have been referred to by another name–sometimes a school name, a married name, an alias, or an Americanized name.]

Application for citizen’s return certificate (1939),  Low Yow Edwin
Low Yow Edwin, Application for citizen’s return certificate (1939), Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Seattle file 7030/11920.
Interview with Mrs. law Yow
Low Yow Edwin, Mrs. Law Yow (Chin Suie Heung) Interview (1939), Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Seattle file 7030/11920.