Category Archives: Certificate of Identity

Lee Quong On –1901 Discharge Papers

“Lee Quong On, Discharge Papers,” 1901
“Lee Quong On, Discharge Papers,” 1901, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Quong On case file, Seattle Box 823, file 7030/13484.

This file contains documents and photos of Lee Quong On from 1901 to 1941. Lee was born in San Francisco on or about 20 June 1879. He and his parents returned to his parents’ village in China when Lee was about seven years old. In 1898 Lee married Wong She in Chu Ging village, Sun Ning district. They had one child, a son, Lee Or Yuen, born in 1900.

In early 1901 Lee Quong On left China. He arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; then took a train to Montreal, Quebec and made his way to Burke, Franklin County, New York. He was immediately arrested. On 15 March 1901, he was brought before Hon. William V. S. Woodward, U.S. Commissioner of Plattsburgh, N. Y. and charged with unlawfully being in the U.S. A trial was held. He and three witness: Chin Sing, Chin Dan and Tsao Dong, testified in his favor. The evidence was considered, the charges were cleared, and Lee was released. He received his discharge certificate with his photograph attached in August 1901 at Port Henry, New York from Fred W. Dudley, a United States Commissioner, Northern District of New York.

When Lee Quong On applied to go to China in 1908, he swore in an affidavit that he was born in the United States to Chinese parents, went to China with his parents at a young age, and returned in 1901. He told how he was arrested at Rouse’s Point, New York in 1901 and taken to jail at Plattsburgh, New York but eventually was released and given his discharge certificate. His 1908 departure was approved, and a current photograph of him was attached to his affidavit. He left for China through the Port of Richford, Vermont.

Lee returned through Vancouver, British Columbia in August 1911. He was 32 years old, marriage name of Lee Doon Po, a laundryman, and living in Boston, Massachusetts. Lee exchanged is discharge certificate for a certificate of identity.

“Affidavit Photo of Lee Quong On,“ 1916
“Affidavit Photo of Lee Quong On,“ 1916

Lee’s next visit to China was in 1916. By this time, he was a merchant but still living in Boston. Charles V. Slane was a witness for him. Lee was issued United States passport #2220 before he left the U.S.

Affidavit Photos of Lee Quong On & Chin Hong Ark,” 1940
“Affidavit Photos of  Chin Hong Ark & Lee Quong On,” 1940

In 1940, Lee wanted to return to the United States. He was a merchant at the Ow Sang Market but because of the war with Japan, the market was being disturbed by the Japanese bombers. He felt it was dangerous to stay there. His Boston attorney, John G. Sullivan, wrote to the Director of Immigration in Seattle to make sure Lee’s papers were in order. Lee’s passport had expired many years ago. Chin Hong Ark, also known as Chin Ming, swore in an affidavit, that Lee Quong On, aged 60 years, was a U.S. citizen. Photos of Chin Hong Ark and Lee Quong On were attached to his affidavit. When Lee left for China in 1916 he left his discharge papers and his certificate of identity at the Seattle Immigration office. They were both in his file.
Lee Quong On was admitted to the United States at Seattle on 3 February 1941.

Chin Wing You – Seattle history in Interrogations

Chin Wing You Affidavit 1907
“Chin Wing You Affidavit Photo,“ 1907, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Wing You case file, Seattle Box 822, file 7030/13441.

Chin Wing You 陳榮耀 was born in Seattle, Washington in 1887. His parents Chin Gem (Jim) Wah and Me Wing Wah, had two older sons, Chin Wing Moy and Chin Ah Wing 陳阿榮 who were also born in Seattle. The family traveled to their family village Hing Lung Lay, Sun Ning district, China in 1888.
The father made several trips between China and Seattle between 1888 and 1907. His son Chin Ah Wing joined him at the Wa Chong Company in 1900. His son Chin Wing Moy died in in China in 1907.
Chin Wing You 陳榮耀 married Louie See in China in 1905 then prepared to join his father in Seattle in 1907. Since he was in China when the Exclusion Act was passed, he did not have a residence certificate. He did not have the required documentation to prove that he was born in the U.S. and was the son of a merchant, so he was required to have witnesses swear that he was the son of Chin Jim Wah and was born in Seattle.

Samuel L. Crawford, was a witness for Chin Wing You in 1907. His affidavit stated that he had been a resident of Seattle for thirty years; he knew Chin Wing You’s father, Chin Jim Wah, prior to 1887; Chin Jim Wah was a merchant, partner and bookkeeper for the Wa Chong Company; he and his wife lived in the store and had several small children. In Crawford’s interrogation he stated that he was in real estate business. From 1875 to 1888 he was in the newspaper profession with the Post Intelligencer. He knew and had dealings with all the Chinese businessmen. He was acquainted with Chin Ching Hock, Woo Gen, Wan Lee, Chin Gee Hee, and Ah Wah. Crawford saw Chin Jim Wah, Wa Chong Company’s bookkeeper, every month when he conducted business with the store. Crawford identified photos of Chin Jim Wah and Chin Ah Wing.

Chin Ah Wing, marriage name Chin Hui Quock, a U.S. Citizen and resident of Seattle, swore in a 1907 affidavit that he was born in Seattle on 1 October 1885 and his brother, Chin Wing You, was born at the Wa Chong Company store in Seattle on 10 May 1887. Chin Ah Wing left Seattle in 1888 and returned in 1900. He made another trip to China in 1904 and returned the next year through Port Townsend.

In George Harman’s 1907 affidavit he swore that he was a citizen of the United States and a resident of Seattle and Kitsap County for 56 years; that Chin Wing You was born in Seattle at the Wa Chong Company on the corner of South Third and Washington Streets where the Phoenix Hotel was standing in 1907; and that the family went to China in 1888 when Chin Wing You was about one year old. In Harman’s interrogation he testified that he had been in Washington state since 22 August 1866 when he “got paid off in the navy yard from the navy.” In 1907 he was living on a ranch about twelve miles south of Seattle. He was asked what he was doing in Seattle five years before the 1889 fire. He replied that he had been working in various places in the woods hauling out wood. He knew the Chinese at Wa Chong Company especially the manager, Chin Ching Hock, who at one time was a cook in a logging camp. Chin Ching Hock’s wife and Harman’s wife were sisters.
excerpt from George Harman 1907 interrogationExcerpt for George Harman’s 1907 interrogation

Chin Ching Hock’s second wife was Chinese, and their children were born in Seattle. When asked if he had been a witness for other Chinese, Harman said he was only a witness for his nephews, the sons of Chin Ching Hock and his sister-in-law. The interrogator disagreed and told him that he had affidavits showing that Harman had been a witness for Woo Ah Moy in 1901 and Chin Ah Wing in 1900.

After considering the evidence from the applicant and the witnesses, John H. Sargent, Immigration Inspector in Charge, ordered that Chin Wing You be admitted to the United States as a returning native-born American citizen on 19 November 1907.
Chin Wing You made another trip to China in 1912. When he returned, he had no proof of citizenship, so he produced a duplicate of his 1907 admittance into the Port of Seattle as an American-born Chinese. With this information he received his certificate of identity #45476. He made trips back to China in 1922, 1929 and 1941 and sired many children.

Albert Fay Lee –Member of Wah Kue Basketball team in San Francisco


Lee Yuen Fay 李遠輝 (Albert Fay Lee) was nineteen years old and living in San Francisco when he applied to U.S. Immigration to go to Canada via Seattle in 1941. The purpose of his trip was to play basketball with the Wah Kue Basketball team. He was five foot, seven inches tall. Lee Yuen Fay presented his birth certificate showing that he was born in San Francisco on 10 May 1921 to Lee Koon 李坤 and Yep Shee (Yep Nguey Haw). His mother (SF file 19034/15-13) came to the United States in April 1920 and was admitted as the wife of a merchant. His father arrived in July 1912 (SF file 11120/254). Because his mother suffered from car sickness, H. Schmoldt, Immigrant Inspector, arranged to take her testimony at her home.
Yep Shee testified that she was fifty years old and born at Goon Doo Hong Village, Sunning District, China. She presented her Certificate of identity #30369. Albert had been touring with the basketball team for three or four months and his mother showed the inspector a post card Albert Fay sent to his brother Victor. It said, “Hi Vic: Play here tonite in the Corn Place. Feeling fine and enjoying good weather. Fay.” The card had a picture of Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota and was returned to Yep Shee. She showed the inspector the birth certificates for her other children: Lee Yuen Hay (Victor Lee), born 23 October 1922; Lee Haw (Etta Lee), born 18 October 1924; and Yee Yuen Min (Daniel Lee), born 27 August 1925. Dr. E. C. Lafontaine (female) attended the births of the children.

Snapshot of Victor, Etta and Fay, ca. 1925

A framed certificate hanging on the wall read, “School Traffic Patrol…this is to certify that Lee Yuen Fay as a member of the School Traffic Patrol of Commodore Stockton School has rendered distinctive service… 19 May 1933…(signed) Anna F. Crough Livell, Principal; J. M. Gwinn, Wm. J. Quinn, B. J. Getchell, and C. C. Cottrel.
Albert’s father, Lee Koon (other names: Lee Chung Mee and Lee Bing Koon) testified that he was fifty years old and born at Lew Long Village, Sunning District. He showed the interviewer the alien registration cards for himself and his wife. He had a brother, Lee Chew (Lee Chung Yee) living at Long Island, New York.
Lee Yuen Fay Albert play basketball in Canada with his teammates and returned to San Francisco by car through Blaine, Washington in April 1941.

Etta, Yep Shee (mother), Victor, Daniel, Lee Koon (father), and Lee Yuen Fay Albert
The group photograph was taken at May’s Studio, 770 Sacramento St., San Francisco, ca. 1925

“Lee Yuen Fay Birth Certificate,” 1921; “Snapshot of Victor, Etta and Fay, ca. 1925; Family Portrait, ca. 1925,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Yuan/Yuen Fay case file, Seattle Box 821, file# 7030/13396.

Chin Wah Pon (Frank) – School teacher, Portland, Oregon

Chin Wah Pon Birth Certificate 1916“Chin Wah Pon birth certificate,” 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Wah Pon  (Frank) case file, Seattle Box 810,file 7030/13041.

In 1921, Wong Ah Look applied for a return certificate for her son, Chin Wah Pon 陳華泮. She presented his Oregon State birth certificate stating that he was born on 6 July 1916 in Portland. She was leaving for China with Chin Wah Pon and her other children, Chin Wah Ching (James), age 3; and Chin Oy Gim (Marguerite), age 2 months. It was alleged that her husband, Chin Ten/Ton, the father of the children, absconded with a large sum of money and his whereabouts were unknown. Wong Ah Look did not plan on returning to the U.S. so she gave the immigration office her Certificate of Identity to be cancelled. Chin Wah Pon 1921

“Chin Wah Pon Form 430 photo,” 1921, CEA case files, RG 85, NA-Seattle,  Chin Wah Pon  (Frank) case file, Seattle file 7030/13041.

Their applications were approved and they left for China on 15 October 1921.

James Chin and Marguerite Chin both returned to the U.S. in 1939; were married and living in Seattle, Washington. Chin Wah Pon, also known as Frank Chin, [marriage name Moon Sin] arrived in the United States via Seattle in June 1940. He was a school teacher in China and hoped to continue teaching in the U. S. He married Wong Shee and they had three sons. J. P. Sanderson, Immigration Inspector, asked the following questions about their sons:
“Is it your understanding that it is customary for American Citizen Chinese to claim that all their children are sons, until after five sons are born?” [Answer: “I don’t know about that.”]
“What are the names of your three alleged sons?”
“Do you expect that another son will be born to your wife in the near future?” [Answer: “No.”]
Chin Wah Pon was admitted to the U.S. at Seattle. The Immigration Chairman concluded that his birth certificate was legitimate; he had some of the same identification marks as the person in the 1921 application; and the ears in the 1921 photo appeared to be the same as those of the applicant in the 1940 photo.Chin Wah Pon 1940

“Chin Wah Pon Form M143 photo,” 1940, CEA Act case files, RG 85, NA-Seattle,  Chin Wah Pon  (Frank) case file, Seattle 7030/13041.

The reference sheet in his file includes the file numbers for his parents, three brothers and a sister.

Benjamin James – 1923 Certificate of Identity sold on EBay

[Amy Chin brought this to my attention in a few weeks ago. The Certificate of Identity for Benjamin James was being offered for sale on Ebay. She did a quick Ancestry search and found a ship manifest and a U.S. Consular application. Mr. James’ record showed that he was born in Philadelphia. His Certificate of Identity was issued in Seattle so she thought there may be a file at Seattle NARA on him. The indexes for San Bruno and NY show they both have files on him.  Amy searched the Social Security Death Index and found a Benjamin James who died July 1969. NARA-NY has files on Benjamin and siblings Harry, Lillie and Arthur. In 1911 Benjamin and at least 2 other siblings returned to China for 10+ years.]

[Amy asked if I could check the Seattle files to see if we could connect a descendant to Benjamin James so they could obtain the Certificate of Identity from Ebay. Unfortunately the certificate sold quickly, before I had a chance to make this blog entry on Benjamin James’ file. ]

Benjamin James 1898 Birth Certificate
“Benjamin James, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1898 birth certificate,” 1908, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Benjamin James file, Seattle Box 109, 734/2-1.”

Benjamin James was born 6 July 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Joe and Tillie James. His birth certificate was presented to immigration in 1911 as proof of his U.S. citizenship before the family left for China.

Instead of inteBenjamin James photo 1911rviewing each of the children individually only Benjamin’s parents were interviewed before they left the U.S. in 1911. Joseph James’ Chinese name was Chu Gee Cim [Gim] and his married named was Chu Chuck. He was born in Ling Yung village, Sun Ning, China about 1852 and came to the U.S. through San Francisco in 1868. He stayed there about eleven years working as a merchant and sometimes a laborer then went to New York City until 1880. He lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New York, New York; and Paterson, New Jersey. He was in Atlantic City in 1894 when he registered as required by the Chinese Exclusion Act and obtained his merchant’s papers. He married Chung Suey Ping, (English married name: Tillie James). She was born in California. They had three sons and five living daughters and a daughter, Sou Ying, who died at age four. Their children, all born in the United States, were Lillie James (Mrs. Lee), Mamie James (Mrs. Bing), Harry James, Annie James, Margaret James, Benjamin James, Alice James, and Arthur James. In 1911 the older children stayed in the U.S. and Joseph and Tillie took Harry, Benjamin, Alice and Arthur to China so they could attend school there.

Benjamin James photo 1923
“Benjamin James, form 430 M143 photos,” 1911 & 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Benjamin James file, Seattle Box 109, 734/2-1.

In 1923 Benjamin James informed Immigration that he would be returning to the U.S. via Seattle in the near future. He gave the immigration officer three photos for his certificate of identity and asked that the certificate be sent to him in San Francisco. In January 1924, writing on stationery from Washman Co., importers and Exporters at 259 Fifth Avenue in New York City, he requested that the certificate be sent to the Washman address. His Certificate of Identity #49650 was forwarded to him there.

[There is no more information in the file.]

Harry Chinn – WW II Veteran and POW in Germany

Harry Chinn, a World War II veteran, died in 1951 from complications of frostbite of both feet and pulmonary tuberculosis which he developed when he was a prisoner of war in Germany.

Chinn Harry Birth Cert 1922
“Harry Chinn – Seattle, Washington Birth Certificate of Birth,” 1922, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Harry Chinn file, Seattle Box 734, 7030/10246.

Harry Chinn 陳光漢 (Chin King Ging), son of Shaw Chinn (married name Chin Shu Num 陳召南) and Moy Shee (Moy King Sam or May Sem), was born in Seattle on 25 August 1922. He attended Bailey Gatzert School, Washington School and Broadway High School in Seattle. Harry, his parents, and his four brothers and sister visited China in August 1937 and returned in November 1938. While in China Harry married Til Wui Lee (Lee Tie Win) according to the old Chinese custom in May Hong Tune, How San Province in January 1938.
Harry Chinn obtained his Certificate of Identity in 1942 a few days after he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Harry Chinn – Certificate of Identity
“Harry Chinn – Certificate of Identity #84891,” 1942, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Harry Chinn file, Seattle Box 734, 7030/10246.

Mrs. Chinn arrived at the Port of San Francisco on 6 March 1947 as the wife of a U.S. citizen and a war veteran. She was admitted twenty-two days later. Harry Chinn was a patient in the U.S. Marine Hospital in Seattle when she arrived so his father and brother went to San Francisco to meet her. They asked Immigration Services to expedite their investigation of Mrs. Chinn. They had been waiting three weeks for her release and it was very expensive for them to stay in San Francisco. Paul D. Mossman, Medical Director of the U.S. Public Health Service in Seattle verified that Harry Chinn, a patient in the hospital since 2 January 1947, was bed-ridden and unable to leave the hospital. His prognosis was guarded and it was expected that he would be in the hospital for some time.

[There is no information in the file about Harry Chinn’s length of time in the hospital but he died in July 1951.]
The Reference Sheet in the file contains the name and file number for Harry Chinn’s grandfather, parents, four brothers, one sister, and his wife.

[Information not included in the file: According to The Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, Washington, 21 July 1951, page 4: Harry Chinn, age 30, of 1 Canton Alley, Seattle, died 18 July 1951 in Vancouver, Washington. The funeral was under the direction of the Cathay Post No. 186 and burial was in Washelli Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and parents and six brothers, Howard Chinn, Haley Chinn, Hopkin Chinn and Hansing Chinn, all of Seattle and Horace Chinn, Fort Lewis; and Henning Chinn, Fort Hood, Texas; and two sisters, Hannah Chinn, Seattle; and Toy Su Chinn, China.]

Lynne Lee Shew – Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital

Shew Lynne Lee collage
“Lynne Lee Shew photos, Form 430,” 1922 -1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lynne Lee Shew case file, Seattle Box 796, 7030/12446.

Lynne Lee Shew 蕭悔塵 was born in San Jose, California on 27 September 1890 to Chu [Chew] Wing Shew and Shee Nee. Her Chinese name was Shew Fuey Chun. She attended public grammar schools at San Jose and Pajaro, California; high school at Watsonvillage, and received her B. A. and M.A. degrees at University of California at Berkeley, majoring in education and philosophy. Her brother, George Shew, a medical student at the University of California at Berkeley, was killed by an automobile in 1917 when he stepped from a street car. He planned to give medical treatment to the poor in China. Miss Shew gave up her advanced studies at Berkeley to obtain funds for Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital, a hospital to carry out his goals.
Miss Shew made several trips from the U. S.—three to Canada and one to Cuba. She traveled throughout the United States and Canada to raise funds to build the Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital at Shekki, Heung Shan District, Kwang Tung Province, China.
Shew was well known to the immigration officials and she was readily re-admitted on each of her trips. She obtained U.S. passport No. 4031C and Certificate of identity No. 49662 in 1924. She had files in Seattle, Cleveland, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Jacksonville. She showed the immigration inspector a certified copy of her birth certificate but requested that it be returned to her so no copy is in her file. In February 1925 Miss Shew made her first trip to China with a layover in Honolulu, Hawaii and did not return to the U.S. until June 1939. While in China she helped build and manage the Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital.

Letterhead for Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital Fund in San Francisco, California and Vancouver, B. C., Canada

Letterhead for Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital Fund
“Letterhead for Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital Fund,” 1923 & 1924, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lynne Lee Shew case file, Seattle Box 796, 7030/12446.

Yale University Library has information about Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital at http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/wmicproject/node/2279
Western Medicine in China, 1800-1950 Guide to Collections at Yale University
Additional reports related to hospitals, medical schools, and organizations:
Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital.  Records of the Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital, (Proposed) n.d. Yale Divinity School Library HR547

[Unable to find any information on Lynne Lee Shew after 1943.]
[This file was researched by Hao-Jan Chang, Volunteer at National Archives at Seattle.]