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.
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:
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.
[The complete Form 430 includes Mollie’s finger prints.]
Yee Mollie (余瑪琍) arrived in the Port of Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 4 October 1938. She was with her parents, brother and two sisters. They were on their way home to Ambridge, Pennsylvania.
Molly’s mother, Chin Shee, (陳氏), [SF file 16954/4-1], whose maiden name was Chin Ah Yee, was born in Hung Gong village, Hoy Ping district, China on 10 April 1895. She married Yee Doo Coon (余祖群) on 25 November 1913 in her village. Her husband was born in San Francisco [SF file 13955/11-36]. After they married they lived in his village, Au Mee in Sunning district. Chin Shee came to the United States in 1917 with her husband. His marriage name was Lim Wah.
The family lived in the United States until August 1929 when they left for China with their four U.S. born children–three sons and daughter Mollie. Mollie’s 1927 birth certificate was used as proof of citizenship when the family left in 1929. Yee Doo Coon returned to the U.S. through Seattle in January 1938 with his second and third sons, Yee Ning Young and Yee Ning Don. His eldest son, Yee Nin Yum, had returned to the U.S. in October 1937. Four more children were born to the Yee family while they were in China. Yee Doo Coon made a special trip to China in June 1938 to accompany his wife, daughter Mollie and the three youngest children, Yee Ma Soo (余瑪素), Yee Ning June (余年注) and Yee Ma Far to the United States. Their son Yee Ning Foo was staying in China with his aunt.
There were twenty pages of interrogation of the family upon their arrival in Seattle in November 1938. The questioning of Mollie, age 11, went on for four pages. She gave many details of their life in China and told how they moved from Canton City to Ai Hong Fong village because of the Chinese Japanese war. They heard the bombing but did not see it. They lived there until they could return to the U.S.
Although the interrogations were lengthy, the board concluded that the testimony from all parties agreed and the relationships claimed were reasonably established. The Yee family was admitted to the United States one month and four days after their arrival.
Robert Eugene Lee (Lee Quock Bong) was born on 24 February 1897 at 208 North 9th Street in Philadelphia. His parents were Lee Chong and Musetta Lee. His father was Chinese and his mother was “a negress.” In 1902 Lee Chong and his family visited his home village, Dong Nom Ho Village, Hok Dan District, China. Mrs. Lee died two months after arriving in China. Lee Chong returned to Philadelphia in 1903 and the children stayed in China with their father’s family.
In 1916 Lee Chong was applying to have his son, Robert Eugene Lee, join him in Philadelphia. He swore in an affidavit that he was a laundryman at 1939 East Sargent Street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a widower and father of three American-born children, Robert Eugene Lee, aged 18; Mable Luella Lee, age 16, and Gum Len Lee, age 13, who were living in China. His son was married but his wife would be staying in China.
Mary E. Moy, age 45, was a witness for Lee Chong and his son. She testified that her sister and Dr. Bates attended Musetta Lee at Robert’s birth. Mrs. Moy, a Caucasian, was married to a Chinese, Goon Moy. Her husband and Robert’s father, Lee Chong, were close friends.
Other witnesses were Lee Tong, manager of Chong Woh Company in Philadelphia and Agnes A. Ming, a Caucasian who knew Robert’s parents well. She testified that she had known Lee Chong since she was twelve years old and that Lee Chong married Zada Brown, “a colored girl,” who lived over his laundry at 18th and Wharton streets. After their three children were born the Lee family moved to China and Zada died there in 1903. Agnes went to school with Zada, a mulatto. Agnes’ husband was Chinese and a friend of Lee Chong. The Mings lived in Albany, New York.
Lee Chong (American name Joe Lee), (marriage name Lee See Tai), was 49 years old, a laundryman. He received his certificate of identity or residence 107002 in Philadelphia in March 1894. [The file sometimes refers to the certificate as identity and sometime as residence.]
In a letter recommending approval of Robert’s documents, Charles V. Mallet, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector at Gloucester City, New Jersey stated,
“The witnesses Mary Moy and Agnes Ming are both white women
who are or have been married to Chinese, and both of them
convince me of their credibility in connection with their
testimony affecting the applicant; Mrs. Moy being a woman
whose personality should place her way above the status of
one who ordinarily consorts with Chinese. I personally know
something about this witness and have to say for her that
she has raised a family of boys in a manner which should do
credit to any mother. The Chinese witness, Lee Tong, is one
of the most responsible and respected merchant in
Philadelphia Chinatown, and his testimony should be
accorded corresponding weight. The alleged father of the
boy gives the impression of one who is disposed to tell the
truth with his knowledge, and manifests a true parent’s
interest in the applicant…”
In a 1916 statement approving Robert Eugene Lee’s arrival, H. W. Cunningham, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector, Vancouver, B.C. said, “…the claims made are genuine, and in addition applicant’s features plainly indicate an admixture of negro blood. Applicant is admitted and furnished a certificate of identity.”
The file lists the following documents were examined: the baptismal cards for Robert Eugene Lee and Mabel Luella Lee at Philadelphia, 12 December 1901; a 1911 copy of a birth certificate for Chinese female Lee, [Gum Len Lee] born 21 July 1902; and passport 62682 issued 9 October 1902 to Musetta Lee accompanied by her three minor children. [Unfortunately these documents are not included in the file.]
Robert lost his certificate of identity in 1921 but was able to get it replaced.
Robert Eugene Lee made two more trips to China. He was gone from 1922 to 1924. His son, Lee Tong Chee, arrived in the U.S. in 1928. His wife, Chong See, and his other son, Lee You Kue, stayed in China. In 1936 Robert, age 39, applied to visit China and was approved. He returned in June 1937.
Florence Wong received her Certificate of Identity #49347 when she was seven year old. She and her family were returning to their home in Seattle from a trip to China on s.s. President Jefferson on 17 May 1923. They left Seattle in September 1921.
In 1938 her husband Chin Tsee Foo, marriage name Chin Mon Bing, American name Harold Chin, was applying to visit Canada for a few days. Florence’s brother, Wong Oak Wing, would be accompanying them in their drive to Canada. Harold was born in Chicago, Illinois on 6 January 1914 to Chin Kong Fong and Chin Woo See. He had two sisters Stella Chin (Chin Chuey Hai) and Georgia Chin (Chin Yin Hai). Harold was a student at Aeronautical University in Chicago. His family still lived in Chicago.
Harold and Florence were married in Seattle on 14 January 1935. They had a daughter, Rosalind Maye Chin (Chin Lai Goon) who was born in Chicago on 6 March 1936.
Florence Wong Chin, daughter of Wong Fook and his first wife Ong Shee, testified that she was born on 7 November 1916 in Seattle. A certified copy of her birth certificate is included in the file.
Florence was the eldest child in the family and had three brothers: Wong Oak Yen, Wong Oak Wing (Homer Wong), and Wong Oak Foo (Walter Wong). After their mother died her father married Soo Hoo Shee; they had four children together and lived in Seattle.
The files for Florence, her husband, daughter and brother were approved. They left for Canada by auto from Blaine, Washington on 5 September 1938 and returned on the 12th.
According to the Reference Sheet the files examined for the case were those of Florence Wong Chin’s husband, three brothers, mother, father, step-mother and daughter. Their file case numbers are listed. [The next time you across the border into Canada, remember Florence Wong Chin and her family. This was a straight forward case with no hitches but because of the restrictive laws it still necessitated interrogations of several people, documents and an examination of many files.]
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.
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.]
Mable June Lee, a princess for the 1939 Oregon Winter Sports Carnival, was applying to leave Portland to publicize Oregon and Mount Hood in Mexico. She and the royal court traveled to Nogales, Arizona, then spent five days in Mexico City and returned via El Paso, TX. The trip was made by train and would take three weeks.
Mable was 21 years old and born in Portland. She was a checker at the Orange Lantern Tea Room in Portland.
Mable’s brother, Lee Shear Nuey, also known as Louis Lee, was a witness for her. Their parents were both dead and were buried River View Cemetery in Portland. According to C. J. Wise, the examining inspector, Lee spoke English perfectly. Lee did not know much about his grandparents; they had all died in China many years ago. Besides Mable he had two sisters and three brothers: Lee Lin (Mrs. Chin Chow), Lee Tai Hai (died of the flu in Portland in 1919 and buried in the Lone Fir Cemetery), Lee Tommy Shear Gong (born on the boat crossing from China about 1914 on his parents’ one visit to China. He was now living in Stockton, CA), Lee Shear Gum, a chef at Green Mill in Portland and another brother living in Cuba.
Lee Lin, Mable’s older sister, was also a witness for her. Lee Lin was born in San Francisco in 1894. She was married to Chin Chow and they had seven children—two boys and five girls. Her daughter Dorothy Chin Kum was adopted out to Mrs. Sing Ho. She also had a daughter, Ah Me, who died of the flu.
Mable’s file includes a certified copy of her birth certificate and her itinerary for her trip to Mexico City.
According to an article [not included in the file] in the Oregonian on 25 February 1939, the royal court consisted of Queen Fern Lorenzini, Crown Princess, Dorothy Olivera; and princesses: Norma Cowling, Maryanne Hill, Mable Jean Lee and June Long.
Photo Exhibit D & E – “taken in Boston” ca. 1900
Exhibit D – Moy Gee Pon (Henry), Moy Sam Sing holding Gee Hung, Moy Yut Gum (Annie)
Exhibit E – Moy Yut Gum (Annie), Moy Gee Hung, Moy Gee Pon (Henry)
In 1901 when he was five years old Moy Gee Hung, his parents, Moy Sam Sing and Kong Jung Chun, and his older sister, Annie, left Boston, Massachusetts and return to his parents’ home village at San How, Sun Ning District, China. His older brother Henry stayed in the U.S. with an uncle. His father didn’t stay in China long and returned to the U.S. to Portland, Oregon. His mother died in February 1906 and in 1909 Moy Gee Hung returned to the U.S. to join his father and brother in The Dalles, Oregon.
The interviews in the file focus on his father’s life. In the 1880s Moy Sam Sing was a merchant at Quong Sang Lung Company and San Sing Company in Boston, Massachusetts. He visited China, married Kong Jung Chun, and bought her back with him to Chicago. They had two children there, Annie Moy (born 1890) and Henry Moy (born 1893). After about five years in Chicago they moved to Washington, D. C. where according to Moy Gee Hung’s birth certificate in the file, he was born on 27 July 1894. Two years later they moved to Boston, Massachusetts.
Moy Sam Sing testified that when he originally came to the U.S. around the 1870s he lived in Portland, Oregon; St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Providence, Rhode Island; returned to China (one year); Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; returned to China (about one year); returned with wife to Chicago (6 or 7 years), Washington, D.C. (one year), Boston, returned to China, traveled on East Coast for three months, Tacoma (3 years), Seattle (one year), Vancouver, Washington (one year); The Dalles, Oregon (3 years to 1909).
He applied for naturalization in Atlanta, Georgia (ca. 1883-84) and took out his second papers in Jacksonville, Florida. (ca. 1888). The interrogator asked if he knew at the time that naturalization of Mongolians was forbidden by law. Moy didn’t know but thought if the court was willing to issue the papers to him he would find two citizens to act as witnesses. With the help of Mr. Jones, a lawyer in Boston, Moy Sam Sing applied for and obtained his U.S. passport. He paid a $5 fee.
Much of the nine-page interview of Moy Sam Sing refers to events in his life which did not pertain to his son, Gee Hung. The interrogator was bringing up in great detail old, serious wrongs that Moy Sam Sing had allegedly committed but had not been proven. Moy offered to produce two consuls of China, Moy Back Hin of Portland and Goon Dip of Seattle as sponsors of his credibility.
When Moy Gee Hung arrived in Seattle In September 1909 he was joining his father and brother in The Dalles, Oregon. They were his witnesses. Neither had seen Moy Gee Hung in over ten years when he was five years old. His father, Moy Sam Sing, did not have a good reputation. He was well-known to Immigration Service for suspected perjury, smuggling and other unlawful schemes involving prostitution.
Moy Sam Sing didn’t really know his son very well but he had the proper paper work—a birth certificate, family photos, and the potential backing of two prominent Chinese citizens of Portland. According to the Portland Inspector J. H. Barbour, “I have minutely scrutinized with a magnifying glass exhibits D and E, [the photos] and have compared the alleged presentments thereon with the photograph affixed to Gee Hung’s present papers. I find a considerable resemblance between the two….”
Seid Back Jr., a well-known attorney from Portland, Oregon wrote to Immigration Service in Seattle to let them know that he was representing Moy Gee Hung upon his arrival in the U.S. in 1909.
After considering oral and documentary evidence, Moy Gee Hung was approved for admission to the United States as a native born citizen.
In 1919 Moy Gee Hung was applying to leave the United States for a visit to Canada and had no problem getting his application approved.