Category Archives: Application for return certificate as merchant

Ah Soon – Merchant/broker to Laborer 1913-1915

This is a continuation of Ah Soon’s 1899-1907 file posted on the blog on 27 April 2023

Quick summary of the earlier post:
Ah Soon’s file starts in 1899, when as a cook (laborer) living in Helena, Montana, he is applying to visit China. He returns in 1900. In 1907 he was a merchant living in Seattle working for Ah King Company. He visited China again in 1907 and returned in 1909.

There is no activity in Ah Soon’s file from 1909 to February 1913.

28 Feb 1913
Ah Soon applied to travel aboard under the provisions of Rule 15 of the Regulations of the Department of Commerce and Labor with the status of a domiciled broker. He had merchant status and claimed that he owned 2,000 shares of the Canton Province Mining Company in Seattle.

Ah Soon, Form 431, Application of Lawfully Domiciled Chinese Merchant, Teacher, or Student, for Preinvestigation of Status, 28 Feb 1913, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Ah Soon file, Seattle RS Box 219, RS30384.

3 March 1913
White witness, George F. Ober, a thirty-nine-year-old mining engineer in Seattle, testified that he had lived in Seattle for over three years. He knew Ah Soon was a merchant and real estate broker who bought and sold restaurants and laundries. Soon worked with Wong Shin How at a curio exhibit for an Ah King concern at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle in1909. Ah Soon was a stockholder in the Canton Province Mining Company and sold shares of the company on commission. The Mining Investment officers and trustees were President: Ah King; Vice President: Thomas W. Snaith; Secretary and Treasurer: George F. Ober; Trustee L.L. Thorp; Managers: Yee Onlai, Assistant Secretary: Louie Kee.

Ah Soon, “Mining Investment,” CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, RS Box 219, RS30384.

Joseph H. Beaven, another white witness, stated that he was fifty-four years old and a superintendent of Baptist mission work. He had known Ah Soon about twenty years. Ah Soon was employed and a stockholder at the Ah King Company. About twenty years ago Ah Soon was a cook at a restaurant in Spokane but presently had an interest in his brother’s store, the Ah King Company.

Later that day, Ah Soon testified that he had misplaced his certificate of residence but was classified as a merchant. He was a mining stockbroker, living at the Ken Chung Lung Store in Seattle. He owned 2,000 shares in the Canton Province Mining Company. He paid $.06 to acquire a share and got 15% commission on every dollar’s worth of stock he sold. He had sold over $2,000 worth of stock in a little over two years. He also sold goods on commission from the Ken Chong Lung Company. He denied doing any manual labor in the past twelve months. He signed his statement in Chinese characters.

12 March 1913
A letter from the Ellis DeBruler, Immigration Commissioner, stated that he was not satisfied that Ah Soon met the requirements to receive a return certificate as a domiciled exempt broker. DeBruler thought Ah Soon’s white witnesses also could not testify that he met the requirements.

20 March 1913
J. V. Stewart, Chinese Inspector, put a note dated 20 March 1913, into Ng Ah Soon file saying that he found Ng Ah Soon acting as cashier in the Peking restaurant in Tacoma, Washington. And J. A. Wilkens, A.S. Fulton, and watchman Sylvester, were witnesses also.

Ah Soon, “Stewart Note,”1913, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, RS Box 219, RS30384.

8 July 1913
Ah Soon testified that his “baby name” was Gong Sen, Hock (Hok) Fong was his marriage name, and his American name was Ah Soon. He was fifty years old, born in Har Ping village, Sun Ning District, China. He originally came to the U.S. through San Francisco. He had been back to China twice, in KS 24 or 25 (1898 or 1899), returning KS 26 (1900) through Port Townsend as a laborer. He went to China in KS 33(1907)  and returned in 1909 through Seattle as a merchant and a member of Ah King Company. In 1913 he was living in Tacoma and working as a laborer at the New York Laundry. He earned $40 per month. Charley Dan owned the laundry. He based his claim for a return certificate on his loan to Charley Dan for $1,100 so Charley could buy an interest in the Peking Café and buy a laundry. Ah Soon got the money from his brother, Ah King, [sometimes he says Ah King was his cousin] when he sold his interest in the Ah King Company store in Seattle. 

Ah Soon was married to Lou Shee. They had two children, a boy and a girl. Their son, Gong Sen/Kwong Sin was born in 1908, was six years old and their daughter, Ah Que, was about fourteen years old.

Ah Soon was cautioned that he should not collect any part of his loan to Charley Dan while he was in China because it would change his status and he would not be able to return to the U.S. Ah Soon signed his statement in Chinese and English. Charley Dan, baby name Men Dan, was his witness. Dan was married and twenty-eight years old. He and his wife and fifteen-month-old daughter, Annie Dan, were living at the laundry at 1508 South D Street in Tacoma. Dan was a native-born citizen. He went to China when he was six years old, returning when he was nineteen years old and was admitted at Port Townsend.

9 July 1913
A letter from the Immigrant Inspector in Tacoma to the Commissioner of Immigration in Seattle, confirmed that Ah Soon was issued a Certificate of Residence #14906 as a laborer at Helena, Montana on 24 Feb 1894. [Ah Soon status was changed from a merchant to a laborer.]

Ah Soon, “Letter 30,564,”1913, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, RS Box 219, RS30384.

5 August 1913
Ah Soon made another trip to China.

8 April 1915
Ah Soon was unable to return within the allowed one-year period because he was sick with rheumatism. He provided corroborative statements by Chin Gee Hee and Ng Kun. Ah Soon obtained a Chinese Overtime Certificate.

Ah Soon, “Overtime Certificate 25/1915,”1915, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, RS Box 219, RS30384.

9 May 1915
Ah Soon returned from China in May. Upon his arrival he testified that a son, Quong Ock was born after he left China in July 1913. He now had two sons. His daughter died about 1912.

12 July 1915
Ah Soon applied for the laborer’s return certificate to return to China. He recently had made a loan of $1,000 to Mah Fook Hing, a merchant at Yik Fong Company at 705 King Street in Seattle. Hing was interviewed and although he did not sign a promissory note, he substantiated Soon’s testimony. Ah Soon planned to leave for Hong Kong on the July 17 and would be staying at the Sam Yik Company. This is the last document in his file, so he probably did not return to the U.S.

Ah Soon – Laborer then Merchant – Member of Ah King Company in Seattle

Ah Soon’s Chinese Exclusion Act case file starts in 1899. His affidavit, sworn on 12 April 1899 to the Honorable Collector of Customs in Port Townsend, Washington, states that he was a laborer applying for a certificate of departure. Ah Soon was a cook living in Helena, Montana when he applied.

“Ah Soon Affidavit,” 1899, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Ah Soon file, Seattle Box RS219, File RS30384.

He returned to the U.S. on 14 March 1900 with the status of laborer and was admitted.

By 1907 Ah Soon’s life had changed. He was now living in Seattle, Washington, and a merchant at the Ah King Company. In April 1907 he started the process of obtaining the necessary documents to make a trip to China. He swore in an affidavit that he was a bona fide merchant for the Ah King Company and that he had been a member of the firm for one year and did no labor except that was necessary in the conducting of business. He was visiting China to bring his wife, Louis She, and his seven- year-old daughter, Ah Keo, back with him. He would retain his interest in Ah King Company. His photo was attached to the affidavit.

“Ah Soon Affidavit,” 1907, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Ah Soon file, RS30384.

On 26 April 1907, G. W. Upper testified concerning the application of Ah Soon for a certificate of departure and return. Upper lived at 213 18th Avenue, Seattle. His business was in the Colman Building at West and Wheeler. He had been living in Seattle for seventeen years. The Ah King Company was formerly called Wah Yuen Company and Ah King had always been the head of it. Ah Soon managed the company while Ah King was in San Francisco on business. Soon did not do manual labor. Upper was formerly a teller at the National Bank of Commerce where Ah King Company did business and Ah Soon had the authority to sign checks on the company account. Upper did not know the amount of capital stock of the company but Ah King owned the building and paid more than $30,000 for it. They had a wholesale business and supplied Chinese camps throughout the West and Northwest.

The next day, witness Charles I. Lynch was interrogated. He had been living in Seattle for twenty-two years and was employed at the Post Office for the last eight years. He recognized a photo of Ah Soon and identified him as a member of the Ah King Company. He had known him about nine months. Some of the members of the firm were Ah King, Charley Sing, Ah Foon, and Ah Soon. Besides selling Chinese merchandise, they took contracts for cannery help for five canneries. They also sold produce from a 30-acre farm south of Seattle at Duwamish Junction.

Ah Soon was re-interviewed on 2 May 1907. He said he was 44 years old; born at Har Pong Village, San Ning, Canton, China. His other name was Hock Fong. He first came to the U.S. in KS 8 (1882), arriving in California. He was married and had one daughter. He was a laborer working for his brother, Ah King in Seattle for about two years. He was in Helena, Montana before that for over ten years working as a cook at French Charlie’s. He had a $1,000 interest at the Ah King Co. which sold Chinese groceries and general merchandise. He named ten of the members of the firm who each owned a $1,000 interest in the company.

Ah Soon said there were two other people in Seattle who were from his village, Har Pang. They were Hock Hung, in Wah Yuan’s store and Ah King. He said they were cousins. [In other interviews Ah Soon said that Ah King was his brother.] Ah Chung, a farmer, was another cousin  from Har Pong living in Waitsburg, Washington.

G. W. Upper was recalled to testify on 6 May 1907. He swore that he had known Ah Soon at least four years and that he still believed that Ah Soon had been a member of Ah King Co. for more than a year. Although he had known who Ah Soon was for four years, he knew him more intimately on a business level for the last two years.

A few days later, Ah Soon was recalled to testify. He was asked how long he knew Charles I. Lynch (about two years) and G. W. Upper (about five years). The Inspector pointed out that in his previous statement, Ah Soon said that he had only known Upper for two years. Ah Soon agreed that two years was incorrect; it was about five years.

Charles I. Lynch was also recalled on 9 May. Lynch was asked about his earlier statement that he knew Ah Soon for about nine months. Lynch said that was incorrect. He knew Ah Soon for more than a year. [To qualify as a reliable witness, the witness was required to know the affiant for one year or more.] He was sure Ah Soon still had an interest in the Ah King Co.

On 10 May 1907 Ah Soon’s Application for Preinvestigation of mercantile status for his trip to China was approved. Two days later Ah Soon left on a train for Vancouver. BC to start his trip.

Ah King, manager of Ah King Company, testified on 16 June 1908 that Ah Soon was still a member of his company. Ah Soon’s re-admittance application was approved.

Ah Soon’s 1909 Application for Admission as a Merchant included the following information: Ah Soon, Hok Fong (marriage name), age 46, height 5 feet 3-3/4 inches, scar on back of left hand, wife and two children born in Har Ping, Sun Ning, China; residence at Ken Chung Lung Company, Seattle, member of company for one and one-half years, $1,000 interest in company, twelve partners, position in firm: “traveling man;”

Mar Hing, a merchant for the Ah King Company, testified that Ah Soon was a member of the company with $1,000 interest whose name appeared on the partnership books.  Ah Soon was a temporary salesman, assistant to Ah King, and sometimes a traveling salesman for the store.

Ah Soon returned to the U.S. on 13 March 1909 and was admitted at Seattle as a returning domiciled Chinese merchant.

[Ah Soon’s file from 1912 to 1915 will continue in the next blog entry.]

Leung Man Hoi – Section 6 Merchant Certificate from Swatow

Leung Man Hoi arrived in the Port of Seattle on 15 May 1915. He passed his medical exam. He did not have hookworm or trachoma.

Leung Man Hoi (Yum Gong), Medical Examination, 1915, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Leung Man Hoi (Yum Gong), box RS193, # RS29097

He was interviewed by Immigration Inspector Henry A. Monroe. He testified that his marriage name was (Leung) Yum Gong, he was 30 years old, and born on 10 March 1886 in Kai Gock village, Moy Yuen District, China. He was married to Chin She and they had two sons, Sik Chee, age 6; and Sik Yuen, age 2. Leung was in the rice and wine business at Bo San Wo Co., Chung Sar Market, China. He had a friend, Wong Shu Tong, who was living at the King Chong Lung Co. Leung Man Hoi was admitted to Seattle on his day of arrival as a Section 6 Merchant and received his certificate of identity #20276. His destination was the King Chong Lung Company, 217 Washington Street, Seattle.

When questioned by Inspector Henry A. Monroe, Leung Man Hoi said that he was examined in China by a consular representative at Swatow. Leung did not know the interviewer’s name, but he said he answered his many questions truthfully. Leung did not have any relatives in the U.S., only a friend, Wong Shu Tong, who he had not seen in ten years. Wong worked for the King Cheng Lung Company. Leung only had $10 in cash with him and a bank draft for $1,000 in gold drawn on Wah Young Company issued in Hong Kong.  Inspector Monroe concluded that it was not a bank draft but only an order for the Wah Young Company to extend credit to Leung.

Leung, Section 6 Certificate for Merchant, Swatow, 1914, CEA, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, #RS29097

Inspector Monroe asked Leung if he knew Chin Tan in China. Chin solicited men of means to secure Section 6 certificates so they could enter the United States [illegally]. Leung denied knowing Chin Tan. At the conclusion of the interrogation Monroe reminded Leung that under no circumstances could he work as a laborer, or he would be subject to arrest and deportation.

Leung Man Hoi applied to leave the U.S. in May 1920 from San Francisco. He filed his application for a return certificate as a merchant and it was approved on 12 June 1920 by the commissioner at Angel Island Station in San Francisco, California, but with some reservations. This is an excerpt from a letter to Immigration in San Francisco from the Seattle immigration office on May 28, 1920:

              “Please note that Leung Man Hoi is a so-called Swatow Section 6
merchant. A couple of years ago this office established to the
satisfaction of the Department at Washington and the U.S. Court here,
on Writ of Habeas Corpus, that all Swatow cases were fraudulent, and
the last twenty-two from that place holding papers were returned to
China, after Judge Neterer of the District Court here had discharged
a Writ of Habeas Corpus obtained in their behalf. Since that time
no Chinese holding Swatow certificates have applied at this port for
admission. Testimony of the applicant given May 15, 1915, in interest-
ing reading, in view of the subsequent developments in Swatow cases.”

In spite of the letter from the Seattle office about their doubts of the validity of Section 6 merchant certificates issued in Swatow, Leung Man Hoi’s papers were approved.

If someone wants a project on the Chinese Exclusion Act case files, it would be interesting to find the files or the court cases on a 22 Chinese with Swatow papers who were returned to China.
The CEA volunteers are still not back at NARA-Seattle but when we were all working together Rhonda Farrar called my attention to this file. Thank you Rhonda!