Category Archives: Caucasian witnesses

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.

 

Leong Yip – Pacific Northwest Pioneer

(Leong Yip is the father of Leong King Ying Rose who was featured on the blog on 30 July 2019.)

Leong Yip’s Seattle file starts in February 1912. His previous files were brought forward and there are no documents in this file before 1912 but 1917 and 1919 interviews tell about his earlier life.Leong Yip 1912

“Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1912, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Leong Yip case file, Seattle Box 1283, file 34847/5-3.

In 1912 Leong Yip 梁業 was 55 years old, manager of Hop Yick Shing Kee Company in Astoria, Oregon and could speak some English. His first wife died in China in 1911 and he married Chin See of the Shee Chong village, Sunning District, China, in 1912. His marriage name was Leong Seung Ging. Leong spent the last four and a half months at Canoe Pass Packing Company in Alaska acting as overseer of the workers and as bookkeeper and treasurer. In 1910 he gave half of his $1000 interest in the company to his son but retained all his duties.

J. D. Robb, son of W. L. Robb, age 27, and a foreman at the cannery in Canoe Pass, was a witness for Leong. As a child in Astoria, Robb knew Leong who contracted for Chinese labor and managed the Hop Yick Company. Robb testified that Leong did not engage in manual labor during the time he knew him.

W. L. Robb, president and manager of Canoe Pass Packing Co., testified that he had known Leong Yip for about twenty years. Robb was Collector of Customs at Astoria from 1902 to 1906 and frequently did business with Leong. He also testified that Leong was a merchant and did not do any manual labor.

The commission of Immigration in Seattle issued Leong Yip a merchant’s return certificate. Leong Yip 1913

“Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1913

In July 1913 when Leong Yip returned to the United States his Certificate of Identity was cancelled and he received Certificate of Residence #45383.Leong Yip 1917 Form 431

“Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1917

In 1917 Leong Yip applied for a return certificate for his next trip to China. He had a six- year-old adopted son and a biological son from his first wife, Leung Gim Lim. Gim Lim arrived in the U.S. in 1898, returned to China at some point, was readmitted to the U.S. in 1913 and was living in Astoria. About 1914 Leong relocated to Seattle and became the manager of Ying Shing Lung Co., a Chinese grocery business. There were eighteen members of the firm; three active—Go Gay and Young Fong Yee, both salesmen, and Leong.

Leong explained that he had been a laborer from 1881 to 1885 before becoming a merchant. He still owned his share of the Astoria firm. He paid $40 a month rent to his landlord, Goon Dip, the Chinese Consul. He paid about $9 to $10 a year in taxes. His white witnesses were James Shea, an exchange teller at the National Bank of Commerce and Peter Bremmeyr, [yes, that how he spelled his name] a plumber on Jackson street. Leong’s business made a little over $10,000 a year and his inventory was worth about $2000.

Shea testified that when Leong arrived in Seattle, he presented the Seattle bank with a letter of recommendation from the Astoria Savings Bank commending Leong very highly as a merchant who had conducted business with the bank of 25 years.Leong Yip 1919 Form 431

Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1919

In his 1919 pre-investigation interview Leong stated that he first came to the U.S. in 1881 and had made two trips back to China. His white witnesses to prove his mercantile status for this trip were Mr. Callahan of the National Bank of Commerce and Mr. Woods of Schwabacher Brothers. Leong planned on visiting China for about a year and bringing his wife back with him. Orley A. Williams, age 48, in the real estate business, also testified that Leong was a merchant and had not done manual labor in the last year. Charles Brotchi, age 54, testified that Leong was one of the best known in Chinatown; president of the Chinese Masonic in 1918; a man above reproach; and clean and honest in every respect.

Leong Yip returned to Seattle in July 1920 with his wife, Chin She and his son Jow Wah and was admitted.

Leong Yip’s 30 June 1943 Seattle Times’ obituary is included in his file.  “…Leong Yip, Chinese patriarch and one of the most colorful of Pacific Northwest pioneers died… His son, Pvt. Robert Leong, served in the army during World War II. Leong Yip was survived by his widow; two daughters, Rose Leong and Jean Leong of Seattle; three sons, Charles, of Astoria, Robert, stationed in California; and Jimmy of Seattle; and a grandson, Harry Leong.

Fong See – lonely and crying in detention

Fong See arrived at the Port of Seattle on the S.S. Iroquois on 22 May 1911. She was applying to be admitted to the United States as the lawful wife of Lee Yew, a merchant at On Lee Company in Portland, Oregon.  Ellis DeBruler, Immigration Commissioner, wanted to expedite her landing. She was forty-six years old with bound feet; the only Chinese woman in the detention house. She was suffering from extreme loneliness and cried a great deal.

Fong See & Lee Yew 1910 Affidavit photos
“Fong See & Lee Yew Affidavit Photos” 1910, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Fong See case file, Portland Box 13,file 2409.

On 10 September 1910 Lee Yew made an affidavit to establish his status as a Chinese merchant and that of his wife, Fong See, as the wife of a merchant so she could join him and his son in Portland.

E. Hussey, Acting Chinese Inspector in Seattle reported to J. H. Barbour, Inspector in Charge in Portland, that after inspecting the premises of the On Lee Company, reviewing its partnership list and interviewing two Caucasian witnesses, Thomas G. Farrell and John B. Coffey, he was satisfied with Lee Yew’s status as a merchant

Thomas G. Farrell, age 43, testified in 1911 that he had been living in Portland for almost 43 years. He was a merchant in wholesale groceries on Front Street. He knew many Chinese and was acquainted with Lee Yew for five or six years. Lee Yew bought his poultry and eggs from Farrell so he was at Farrell’s business at least once a week.

John B. Coffey was in the tailoring business in the Elks Building and had been living in Portland for twenty-five years. He knew many Chinese socially and through his work. He and Lee Yew were acquainted in Salem, Oregon before Lee Yew came to Portland. Coffey was a witness for Lee Yew when his son came to the U.S.

After Inspector Hussey was satisfied that Lee Yew’s mercantile status was established, he interrogated Lee Sun Hing, the son of Fong See and Lee Yew.

Lee Sun Hing was born in China and arrived in the U.S. at Sumas, Washington in 1908 and was admitted as the minor son of a merchant. He was a student and after his Lee Yew’s death he inherited his father’s interest in the On Lee Company.

Lew Yew was too sick to testify about his status as a merchant and his marriage to Fong See when she arrived in Seattle in 1911. He died within a few months after Fong See’s arrival.

Fong See was admitted as the lawful wife of Lee Yew and went to live above the On Lee Company store in Portland with her son.