Category Archives: Application for Pre-investigation Status

Tam Sing – native-born U.S. citizen returns after 31 years in China

In May 1894 Tam Sing 譚勝 registered in the first district of California as a native-born Chinese person and received certificate of residence No. 81,385.

In 1897 Tam Sing visited China and married Wong Shee at Wing Wah Toon village. His marriage name was Hoy Gui. He returned to the U.S. four years later. In 1902 he visited China again.Tam Sing 1902 MerchantBefore he left San Francisco in 1902, Tom Sing [this is the only document where he is referred to as Tom instead on Tam] swore in a Declaration of Chinese Merchant that he was

“a merchant in good standing, and a member of the firm of Lun Chong & Company, engaged in buying and selling Chinese Mdse. and Provisions, at a fixed place of business, to wit: at 819-821 Dupont Street, San Francisco…”

His witnesses were Henry Mohr, Charles N. Peck, and William M. Dye.

Tam Sing returned to the U.S. in 1905.

Tam Sing [of the Hom Clan] swore in an affidavit in Salt Lake, Utah in July 1908 to the following information:

Tam Sing, son of Tam Shuck Dip, a San Francisco merchant, and Lee Shee, was born in San Francisco on 29 September 1876.  He stayed in the U.S. when his parents returned to China with his brother in 1886. His father died at his home in Wing Wah Toon, Sun Ning, Canton, China the following year. His mother and brother remained in their village.

On this trip to China Tam Sing was hoping to bring back his two minor sons. Unfortunately, his wife and two sons died in 1908 during an epidemic. It isn’t clear if Tam Sing arrived in their village before or after their deaths.

Later Tam Sing married Jee Shee. They moved to Toy San City and had five sons and two daughters. He worked at Sai Ning market.

Thirty-one years later Tam Sing was applying to return to the United States.

When he arrived in Seattle in 1939, he was interviewed before a Board of Special Inquiry. Tam Sing testified that when in the U.S. he lived mostly in San Francisco but was in Ogden, Utah and Montello, Nevada from 1906 to 1908. He satisfied his interrogators by answering several questions about the history and topography of San Francisco. Because he had been away in China for so many years, Tam Sing did not have any witnesses who could vouch for him. He presented a 1908 certificate of membership in the Native Sons of the Golden West with his photo attached; a letter from the Citizens Committee dated 1906; a receipt for Red Cross funds dated 1906; and a 1906 acknowledgement receipt of money from Chinese residents of Montello, Nevada.

After careful consideration the Board members believed the applicant to be the same person as the photograph and description on his certificate of residence. Tam Sing was admitted thirty-seven days after he arrived in Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 23 August 1939. He surrendered his 1894 Certificate of Residence and was issued a Certificate of Identity in 1941 when he was planning a temporary trip to China.

Tam Sing’s Form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Preinvestigation of Status, lists his San Francisco file number 53828.

“Tam Sing/Tom Sing, photos and documents” 1902, 1908, 1941; Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tam Sing case file, Seattle Box 794, file 7030/12347.

 

Wong F. Pershing – Seaman on the U.S. S. Explorer

In 1917 Wong F. Pershing’s father, Wong Chun Wah, applied to Immigration for pre-investigation as a merchant intending to visit China. The examining inspector believed that the place Wong was working, W. J. London Company, was involved in gambling. The inspector did not believe Wong qualified as a merchant according to the exclusion law. Wong abandoned his connection with this employer and became a merchant for the Quan Yuen Chong Company, a legitimate and bona fide mercantile concern. His status as a merchant was reinstated.

1921 Form 430 of Pershing Wong with Hersheys Chocolate bar.
Form 430 Photo of Wong F. Pershing,” 1942, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong F. Pershing case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13628.

Wong Chun Wah again applied to take his wife and three sons, Raymond, Pershing and Chester, to China with him in 1921. Wong showed Immigration Inspector B. A. Hunter the Seattle birth certificates for his children.

On 14 February 1942 Pershing F. Wong was applying to visit Vancouver, British Columbia by bus via Blaine, Washington. His Chinese name was Wong Gok Way. He was born on 27 October 1919 in Seattle, the son of Wong Chun Wah (Wah Fat) and Ann Quan Gee. His mother died in Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle in 1930. Pershing had five brothers and one sister. He attended Garfield high school and was a seaman on the U.S. S. Explorer, Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship. Ensign John Guthrie of the Explorer verified that Pershing F. Wong was the correct name for W. F. Pershing Wah, the name Pershing used on his original application.

The last document in Pershing Wong’s file shows the he was admitted at Blaine, Washington. The Reference Sheet list the file numbers for his father, mother, two brothers, and sister.

Additional information not included in the file:
A newspaper article from the 6 February 1945 issue of the Seattle Daily Times, states that Pershing Wong was the only Chinese deck officer sailing out of Seattle in the American merchant marines; he was a member of the Masters, Mates & Pilots’ Association; and joined the merchant marines in 1941. Wong had just spent 110 days in the Pacific combat area.  It was a turbulent time, besides the heavy WW II bombing, three navy craft were sunk by a typhoon.

According to Pershing F. ‘Perky’ Wong’s obituary in the 14 July 1999, Oregonian newspaper, he retired as a captain in 1985.

George and James Mar – brothers of Roy Sing Mar and Ruby Mar Chow in Seattle

Mar Jim Sing M143 1933

Mar King Sing andMarJim Sing

“Photos of George and James Mar, Form 430,” 1932, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Mar King Sing (George King Sing) and Mar Jim Sing (James Mar) case files, Seattle Box 538, 7030/3747 and 7030/3748.

George and James Mar – brothers of Roy Sing Mar, DDS (1927-2018) and Ruby Mar Chow (1920-2008), owner of Ruby Chow Restaurant and first Asian American elected to Seattle King County Council in 1973.

Mar King Sing 馬日勝 (Chinese name Mar Yet Sing) was the eldest son of Mar June (Jim Sing) and Wong Shee黃氏; (黃)巧云 . They had ten children; all born in Seattle, WA: George Mar, Jim Sing Mar, William Mar, Ruby Mar, Mary Mar, Alice Mar, Henry Mar, Roy Mar, Edwin Mar, Coleman Mar.

Birth Certificate, 12788, George King Sing,.
1915 Seattle, WA Birth Certificate, 12788, George King Sing,. File 7030/3747

George Mar was born on 19 February 1915 but his birth certificate incorrectly states that he was born on 29 March 1915. He was applying for his citizen’s return certificate so he could be employed by the Dollar Steamship Line on their steamers to the Orient.

James Mar (Mar Jim Sing), George’s younger brother, was born 29 May 1916. He presented his Seattle birth certificate #12786 as evidence of his citizenship. He was applying for employment with American Mail Line and hoping to go to China with the company.

When they applied their father was visiting China and their mother, home in Seattle, was a witness for both of her sons. Their Form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, was approved. They visited their father in Hong Kong and returned to Seattle on the S.S. President Taft on 12 July 1932.

Additional information not in the file:
Their brother Roy S. Mar, DDS, died in Seattle on 14 March 2018. According to his obituary in the Seattle Times, 25 March 2018, page B4, Mar served in the U.S. Navy and became the first Chinese American to graduate from the University of Washington Dental School.
Obituary of Roy S. Mar

Their sister, Ruby married Edward Shue Ping Chow. They established the celebrated Ruby Chow’s restaurant in Seattle in 1948. Ruby helped create the Wing Luke Museum and became the first Asian American elected to the King County Council in 1973. She died in 2008.

See Seattletimes.com, seattlepi.com, HistoryLink.org, Wikipedia.org for more information on Ruby Chow.

 

Yick May Gum (Katherine Lillie Shan) – Chinese and a wee bit of Irish

Yick May Gum Katherine Shan photo
“Yick May Gum (alias Katherine Lillie Shan) Form 430 photo” 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yick May Gum (Katherine Shan) case file, Portland Box 92, 5017/552.
[There are only a few Chinese Exclusion Act files where one of the parents is Irish. Here is one of them in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.]
Katherine Lillie Shan applied for her Native’s Return Certificate on 19 June 1930 in Portland, Oregon. She was working for the Orpheum Theatre circuit and they were performing in Canada. She gave the interviewer her Chinese name as Yick May Gum and said she was the daughter of Yick Bing Shan and Gertrude [maiden name not listed]. Katherine was born at 108 third Avenue, New York City on 11 June 1912. Her mother was a white woman of Irish descent who was born in Denver, Colorado. Katherine attended P.S. No. 60 grade school in New York City and then went on to Norfield Seminary [possibly Northfield Mount Herman School]. Her father was a witness for her. Her mother was working in their restaurant on the day of the interview. Katherine had two older brothers back in China whom she had never met.
R. P Bonham, Immigration District Director in Portland sent a telegram to Immigration Service in New York City on June 19 requesting Yick May Gum’s Native Return Certificate but they could not find her file. He interrogated her the next day.
Katherine’s Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, Form 430, is included in the file with a note saying “Application withdrawn and birth certificate returned to applicant on June 24, 1930.” Signed: R. J. Norene

[There is no more information in the file. Some files do not tell us very much. This one leaves us with more questions than answers. A cross reference sheet was not included in the file so there is no reference to her father’s file and he wasn’t found in the Seattle index.]