Category Archives: Certificate of Identity

Hom Sit – many details about his home and village in China

Hom Sit, Form M143 photo, 1938

Hom Sit, the 24-year old son of U.S. citizen Hom Tin, arrived in Seattle on the SS Princess Marguerite on 22 August 1938. Although he was married (marriage name Soong Choo) he arrived alone and was going to live with his father in Butte, Montana. His testimony for his admittance was in his native dialect, See Yip. Fung Ming was the official government interpreter. Hom Sit was born on 7 September 1914 in Ung Sing Village, Chuck Hom Section of Hoy Ping District in China. He gave the following information about his father: Hom Tin (marriage name Gwong Ai) was 50 years old, born in San Francisco, California; living in Butte, Montana; and working in the restaurant business. Hom Tin visited them in Ung Sing when Hom Sit was eight years old and stayed for two years. That is the only time they spent together. The Hom ancestral village was Check Suey. Hom Sit’s father’s deceased father was Hom Goon Bow. He was buried at Bok Dook Hill, about a mile from their village. Hom Sit’s mother was Lee Shee, a native of Wing On village. His maternal grandfather, Lee Len Ock, had died but his grandmother, Ow Shee, was 70 years old, living in Wing On. Hom Sit had three brothers, one older and two younger. He was married to Dea Shee from Choo Heung village and they had one son, Hom Ngin, born in 1937.

Ung Sing Village faced east and had eight houses in five rows. Their house was the third house in the first row counting from the north. It was a brick house with five rooms, tile floors, a court paved with stone, had two outside doors with the large door was facing south. Each bedroom had an L-shaped loft along the outside walls and had two outside windows opening above a balcony. They were fitted with iron bars and glass panes with wooden shutters on the inside. The bedrooms and kitchen had skylights fitted with glass. There was a shrine in the parlor; a partitioned room in the parlor was made of wood.

Map of Ung Sing Village
Map of Ung Sing Village

Hom Sit described who lived in the other houses, their extended families, and where they worked. There was a bamboo hedge surrounding the village with a gateway on each end. A river about 200 feet wide was in front of the village and a dirt highway was nearby. The village did not have an ancestral hall or social hall. There weren’t any fruit trees near the village but there was a banyan tree. Hom Sit attended Gung Yee School in the village for twelve years. Won Wing Hop was the principal of the school and there were three other teachers.
Hom Sit said that his father sent $800 for his wedding expenses which included putting in the wooden partition in the parlor and erecting a pavilion for the wedding.

Photos of Hom Tin and Hom Sit, 1938 Affidavit

Jack Chan was the interpreter for interrogation of Hom Tin, the alleged father of Hom Sit. Hom testified that he was a partner at the Idaho Café in Butte, Montana at 799-1/2 Utah Avenue. He was born in San Francisco and had made three trips to China–in 1907, 1913, and 1921. He went through the Port of San Francisco each time. He presented his Certificate of Identity for inspection. He had a brother, Hom Foot, living somewhere in the U.S. They were separated during the San Francisco earthquake and fire and never heard from each other again.

Hom Tin said he did not bring his son over to the U.S. earlier because of the Depression but was bringing him over now to work in his restaurant. He was asked the same long list of questions that his son had been asked. His answers were consistent with his son’s testimony, but the interrogator ended the interview by saying, “Isn’t it a fact that the applicant is not your blood son?” [The interrogators frequently asked this question, even if it was obvious that there was a blood relationship.] Hom Tin stated that Hom Sit was his blood son and the interview ended.

The Board of Special Inquiry reviewed Hom Tin’s San Francisco file and recalled Hom Sit to question him about a few discrepancies in the interviews. They considered that the alleged father had not been in China for nearly fifteen years. They concluded that the alleged father and applicant both ”testified in a straightforward manner” and there was a physical resemblance between them. The board determined that the relationship had been established. Hom Sit was admitted to the U.S. as a United States Citizen, son of an American born Chinese, on 10 October 1938, one month and a half after his arrival.

“Form 143 photo of Hom Sit; Hom Tin Affidavit; map of village” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Hom Sit case file, Seattle Box 767, file 7030/11371.

Thomas C Tong – KSAN radio engineer and manager in SF

Tong Chun Choy Business Card Radio
“Tong Chun Choy, Form 430 photo and business card,” 1943, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tong Chum Choy (Thomas C. Tong) case file, Seattle Box 828, file 7030/13667.
In January 1943 Thomas C Tong, age 33, of San Francisco, CA, applied for approval of his Form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, so he could spend a long weekend in Canada. The San Francisco immigration office forwarded Thomas’ file 14726/11-23 and his Certificate of identity #63178 to Seattle for review.
Thomas Choy Chun (Tong Chun Choy 唐春才) was born in Lung Gan village, Yin Ping District, China on 16 January 1912 and arrived in the U.S. in 1915. He married May Chin, a native of San Francisco. They had a son, Byron Tong, born 27 November 1935. Thomas was a radio engineer and manager with “Chinese Hour” at KSAN, 1420 kc, 846 Clay Street in San Francisco.
Tong presented his permit to depart from the United States for a period of 30 days, Order No. 4128, Serial No. 4997, Local [Draft] Board No. 76, San Francisco, dated, 27 January 1943 to San Francisco Immigration; the permit was noted and returned to him.
According to R. P. Bonham, Seattle Immigration District Director, Tong Chun Choy left San Francisco on 9 Feb on the SS Princess Alice, destined for Canada only. Tong returned and was readmitted at Blaine, Washington on 13 February 1943.

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.]