Category Archives: Certificate of Identity

Wong Ming Bow – 1897, arrested, held two months, tried, declared U.S. citizen, released

Wong Ming Bow 1897 Discharge papers
“Discharge Papers – Wong Ming Bow,” 1897, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Ming Bow case file, Seattle, Box 577, 7030/4947.

Wong Ming Bow was born in San Francisco about 1876. His parents took him back to China when he was four years old. In 1882 while the family was in China the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. Wong Ming Bow returned to the United States in 1897 when he was 21 years old. He entered at Malone, New York and was immediately arrested. He did not have the proper papers and could not prove he was a United States citizen. Wong and about nine or ten other Chinese were held in a three-story brick building for about two months. Wong was finally issued his discharge papers by U. S. Commissioner William P. Badger at Malone on 27 July 1897. Unlike most discharge papers, his did not include his photograph. This document was the only proof he had of his citizenship. It was very precious—without it he could be deported.
Wong made trips back to China from Buffalo, New York in 1907 and 1911. Each time his discharge papers were reviewed. The “discharge certificate was sent to Inspector George W. Ketchum at Malone who compared it with the docket and found it genuine. Commissioner Badger identified the signature on the certificate as his own.”
In an interview with Wong on 7 July 1911 he said his father came to get him when he was arrested in 1897. This is the only detail given about the 1897 arrest and it does not mention what documents his father used to prove the Wong was born in San Francisco and a citizen of the United States. Evidently it was enough for the commissioner to issue the discharge papers.
There were several correspondences between Buffalo, Boston and Vancouver, B.C. immigration offices trying to locate the necessary paper work in Wong’s file. On 10 July 1911, the commissioner in Boston wrote to the Inspector in Vancouver, B. C. saying, “the papers in this case can be easily located, no doubt, by reference to the large books entitled “Record of arrivals and disposition of Chinese Persons,” at Malone, which were packed in the box marked M 6, from which the serial number can be ascertained. Inasmuch as the card index at Malone was not started until January 1, 1909, this case cannot be found by reference to that.” [It is not known who underlined these passages.]
In 1913 Wong Ming Bow was issued a certificate of identity No. 10150. It was a sturdy document and much easier and safer to carry around than his discharge papers. Wong’s certificate is not included in the file but to see an example see (Chin) Lin Hing’s certificate .
[There is much more information on Wong Ming Bow and his family in the files. Get more details on next week’s entry.]

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Yung Hin Lun – Chinese Prince Visits Seattle

Yung Hin Lun Certificate of Identity
“Yung Hin Lun, Certificate of Identity, #22775” 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yung Hin Lun file, Seattle, Box1211, Case 35100/1731.

Yung Hin Lun was admitted to the United States as a Section Six student at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut in 1918. He made several trips back to China and returned again in 1920 with a merchant status. Henry M. White, U.S. Commissioner of Immigration in Seattle said that although Yung Hin Lun was not in the U.S. long enough to obtain merchant status “there appears to be absolutely no question that Yung Hin Lun is in no sense a laborer but is on the contrary a Chinese of unusually high class…”
Yung Hin Lun was an electrical engineer for China Metals and Welding Company with offices in Hong Kong and New York. His white witnesses were Mr. L. Fowle and Mr. Merle Walker, Guarantee Trust Company, New York City. Fowle said Yung Hin Lun’s family owned a large bank in China with a branch on Wall Street.
A Seattle Times article on 2 September 1919 had this headline, “Chinese Prince Visits Seattle, Acts as Secretary to Mission, Scion of Imperial Kwang Hsu, Family Perturbed Because identity is Discovered. Spends 2 Years in U. S.” With the article are photos of Prince Hin Lun and B.M. Chan.
Yung Hin Lun served in a secretarial capacity for Dr. T. Hsieh, representative of the Chinese Merchants’ Guilds, who was in the U.S.to promote Chinese diplomatic and commercial interest. They were accompanied by B. M. Chan, a multi-millionaire banker from Havana, Cuba.

Certificate of Identity for (Chin) Lin Hing

(Chin) Lin Hng Certification of Identity
(Chin) Lin Hing, Certificate of Identity, 12572, 27 June 1913, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Case 7030/5069.

(Chin) Lin Hing, Age:30, Height 5 ft., Occupation: laundryman, Admitted as returning citizen going to #14 Oxford St.,
Boston, Mass.
Physical marks and peculiarities: large read left temple, faint vertical scar on left cheek.
Issued at the port of Seattle, Washington, this 27th day of June 1913
signed by Ellis D. Bruler, Immigration Official in Charge
There are several file numbers and dates from Boston listed on the certificate.