This file contains nine floor plans for the schoolhouse and family home in Gong Mee Village, China and an affidavit with photos of Yee Ton Wing and his father, Yee Gim Cheow. Yee Ton Wing was coming to live with his father in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
Additional information: 11/17/2018
Yee Ton Wing was 16 years old when he arrived in the Port of Seattle with his 12- year old brother, Yee Ton Yow, on 2 February 1940. They were students joining their father in Ohio. The transcript of Yee Ton Wing’s first interrogation was nine single-spaced typed pages long. (Eventually there were almost fifty pages of questioning.) Most of the inquiry pertained to his extended family and their village. He correctly identified photographs of his alleged father, grandfather, and uncles. He was asked things like: Where does your mother keep the rice that she cooked for your family? Who lives in the house on the first lot in the 4th row in your village? What are that person’s occupation, age, and the names of his children?
There were five diagrams of the floor plan of the schoolhouse in Gong Mee Village. They were made by the applicant, his younger brother, their grandfather, Yee Bock; their paternal uncle, Yee Gim Gin (Gane); and Yee Gim Cheow, a witness. The witness’ diagram looked considerably different than the other four. There were four diagrams of the floor plan of the 1st and 2nd floors of the family home. They were all in agreement.
Yee Ton Wing and his brother Yee Ton Yow were interrogated on 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 March 1940 and finally admitted to the United States on 25 April 1940 as citizens and as the sons of Yee Gim Cheow, a citizen.
The reference sheet in the file contains the file numbers, names, and relationships for Yee Ton Wing’s bother, grandfather, four uncles, aunt-in-law, cousin, and his mother.
Guest blogger –Darby Li Po Price
This week’s blog entry is by Darby Li Po Price. He researched his family in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files at the National Archives-Seattle and found many family files. The following information is from a file on his great aunt, Chin On. It includes an affidavit and testimony by his great grandfather, Chin Jan; Chin On’s application for her certificate of identity and maps of the family home in China.
The 1933 immigration application and photos were submitted by Jan Chin (great grandfather) for his daughter On Chin. She was detained three days. There are diagrams of their house in China which both drew as part of their interrogations. Jan had U.S. citizenship by native birth of immigrants.
Such documents of Chinese women are rare compared to those of men. Even though the subject of the file may be a woman most of the interrogations and affidavits are usually by the men of the family. It is also nice to see Chin On and her family together.
1933 photos of Chin Jan, and daughter Chin On, age 22, for On’s application for admission to the US. Jan requested “to have my said daughter, Chin On, come to America, so that I can give her the benefits of an American education.” Chin On had written her father the year before to ask to come to America. On arrived in Seattle via President Taft June 6, 1933, and was placed in detention.
The affidavit and application are accompanied by 30 pages of testimonies of On, Jan, and Jan’s sister Len Toy, drawings of their home in Sun Woy [Sun Wui], and detention release are in Seattle file no. 7030/5510. Interviews include extensive details on family members’ relations, lives, and homes in China and the U.S.
Jan, age 53, resided at 124 Ninth St., Portland, OR, and was a native U.S. citizen by birth from Joe Jew Chin and Dew Shee. Jan described his wife Hom Shee, age 47, and their sons in Sun Woy as Mon, age 30, Kway, 12, Wing, 7, Haw, 5; and Soon, 29, living in Chicago whose wife with their two sons lived in Sun Ning. Mon lived with his wife and two sons in another house. Mon was admitted to the U.S. in 1922; Soon in 1923. Len Toy was born in Portland, and spent a year and a half with the family in Sun Woy.
Interviews were translated between English and Chinese. The Chins spoke See Yip dialect. There were discrepancies regarding existence or placement of: a house number above the front door, ladders, stairways, doors, windows, a mirror, an alarm clock, Jan’s pocket and wrist watches, where two of On’s brother’s slept, and where Len slept. On did not remember a prior house Jan said they moved from when On was 11. On said Jan’s mother’s name was Yee Shee, Jan said Leung Shee.
On June 9, 1933 Roy Matterson, Chair of the Board of Special Inquiry concluded: “while there are a considerable number of discrepancies in the record that have not been cleared up, applicant testifies in a frank, unhesitating manner and seems to be testifying from facts and not from coached testimony and I am of the opinion that she has established her claim to being a daughter of CHIN JAN, and I therefore move to admit her to the United States as a citizen.” Admission was concurred by inspectors John Boyd and Earl Botts.
The Reference Sheet in Chin On’s case file contains the file numbers and names of her father, grandfather, three brothers, five uncles, an aunt, sister-in-law, two nephews, cousin, and a niece.
Darby will be telling us more about his family in the coming weeks.
1924 Family Portrait of Lee Kim Hoy, his mother, Hom Shee; his maternal uncle, Hom Jik; and his father, Lee Ben (Charley) [This is a thick file.] Lee Kim Hoy, age 19, arrived in Seattle on 22 August 1938 on his way to join his father, Lee Ben, in Canton, Ohio. His status was listed as the son of U. S. citizen. He was denied entry on 14 October and finally admitted on 29 December more than four months after his date of arrival. The file contains two floor plans of the family home in Bow Ngin (Bo Yuen) Village, Hoy Ping District, China—one of the first floor and one of the second floor, an affidavit with photos of Lee Kim Hoy and his father, several witness statements and a family portrait. The immigration commissioner also reviewed three Seattle files and four San Francisco files of other family members.
When Lee Kim Hoy was first interrogated he was reminded that the burden of proof was on him to prove that he was not subject to exclusion under any provision of the immigration or Chinese exclusion laws. His father and brother testified on his behalf.
On day two of Lee Kim Hoy’s interrogation he was asked to describe his house in detail. Here is part of his answer:
“First floor contains four bedrooms, two parlors, two kitchens and a court; entire first floor paved with tile; court paved with cement and edge of stone; two outside doors, large door faces West; as you enter large door you go into kitchen, beyond kitchen is the court.”
He was asked to describe the windows in great detail—how many, what they are made of, and what direction they faced. Next he was asked about the bedrooms—who sleeps where, then to describe his school experience and his brother’s; to describe the village—the number of houses in each row and where the public buildings were located. He was asked about specific houses–“who lives in house on the 3rd lot, 2nd house and row from the head?”
There were many more questions; this interrogation was seven pages long. His father’s interrogation was six pages long and his brother’s was four pages. Lee Kim Hoy and his father, Lee Ben, were recalled for more questioning. They were asked about several discrepancies. The most serious one was that Lee Ben told them twice that he was single when he returned from China in 1918. In his 1938 interview he said that his son, Lee Kim Hoy, was born 3 May 1919. Lee Ben’s interrogators did not believe that Lee Kim Hoy was his son.
The conclusions of H. Z. Smith, the chairman of the inquiry, were three pages long. He noted that Lee Kim Hoy’s correct name was Lee Gim Hoy. His alleged father, Lee Ben (Charley), was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on 14 January 1902 and his birth certificate was included in his San Francisco file 17555/10-5. Lee Ben testified on two different occasions in 1918 that he had never been married. The chairman did not believe that the relationship between Lee Ben and Lee Kim Hoy had been satisfactorily established. Lee Kim Hoy was denied admission into the U.S. in October 1938 but given the option to appeal.
The application was reviewed by Immigration & Naturalization Service in Washington, D.C. Lee Gim Hoy’s attorneys were Edwards E. Merges of Seattle and Parker & Parker of Washington, D.C. A transcript of the appeal is not included in the file. Lee Kim Hoy was admitted on 29 December 1938.
[The similarities between the father and son in the 1924 portrait and the 1938 affidavit photos may have helped in the appeal.]