Category Archives: Form 431

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.]

Gee G. Baine (Gee Quock Bin) – law student at Suffolk Law School, Boston

Photo of Gee G. Baine
“Photo of Gee G. Baine from Form 431,“ 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Gee G. Baine (Gee Quock Bin) case file, Seattle Box RS 285, RS 34,340.

Gee G. Baine was studying law at Suffolk Law School, Boston, Massachusetts in 1916 when he applied for pre-investigation of status so he could visit China.
After a careful investigation Henry M. White, Commissioner of Immigration in Boston approved Gee’s application. White agreed with Inspector McCabe saying that the application “requires a liberal interpretation of the law to approve this application…”

“The applicant was lawfully admitted to the country and so far as developed has maintained an exempt status during the last past year. He thus has met the requirement of rule 15. True, in years gone by, he was a laborer within the meaning of the law, and at times might have been arrested on the charge of being unlawfully with the United States. It is doubted, however, that because of his doings at that time he should now be denied the right to visit his home county.”

Gee G. Baine originally entered the U.S. under the name Gee Quock Bin in San Francisco in June 1896. He lived with his uncle Dr. Gee in New York City, before moving to New Brunswick, New Jersey where he was tutored by a private teacher. He attended several schools over the years: the Thirteenth Street School In New York City, School #11 in Brooklyn, Horace Mann School in Newtonville, Massachusetts; a public school in New York City, and Berkeley Preparatory School in Boston. He was sick with pneumonia one winter then went to Boston where he worked for Mr. Monerly as a chauffeur. When his uncle Dr. Gee returned to China he gave Gee a partnership interest in the Royal Restaurant in Boston. Before Gee was accepted to law school he sometimes worked at the restaurant.

Gleason L. Archer, an attorney, the Dean and founder of the Suffolk Law School in Boston, swore in a statement that Gee Baine had been a student since August 1915 and attended classes three evening a week. He had a good attendance record and good grades having completed courses in contracts, criminal law, torts, agency, legal ethics, and real property. His personal history record showed that his references were Joseph F. O’Connell and Dr. C. H. Thomas of Cambridge.

Edgar S. Monroe, an optometrist in Boston, testified that he had known Gee about twelve years and he had seen him studying law for the last year or two. Monroe did not have personal knowledge that Gee had not worked as a laborer in a restaurant or laundry in the last year but he felt that Gee was worthy and always a gentleman—one that he would not feel ashamed to associate with in any society.

George A. Douglas, an attorney and instructor at Suffolk Law School, attested that he had known Gee since 1915 as a student in his classes in criminal law and agency. Gee attended classes faithfully. Although Douglas could not swear that Gee had not done any manual labor in the last year he knew that his attendance at school and the time needed for studying must have kept Gee extremely busy.
Gee testified that he arrived in 1896 when he was twelve years old and was admitted as a section 6 student. In the past year his only work for the Royal Restaurant was as an interpreter for the business.
In Henry M. White, Commissioner of Immigration’s letter approving Gee’s application he refers to Section 6 Exemption; rule 15 of the Chinese Exclusion Act. See Rule 15 (b)1 below:

Section 6 Exemption; rule 15 (b)
Section 6 Exemption; rule 15 of the Chinese Exclusion Act. See Rule 15 (b)

[The interviewers overlooked the fact that over the years Gee had sometimes found it necessary to work as a laborer. Because he was in the U.S. as a student he could have been deported if this became known to the authorities. The interviewers decided to concentrate on Gee’s previous year. It appeared that he was a full time student and was only associated with the restaurant in a managerial capacity.]
[Although Gee’s application was approved there is no indication in the file that he ever left the country.]

1. Chinese rules : treaty, laws, and regulations governing the admission of Chinese. [Electronic resource] https://u95007.eos-intl.net/U95007/OPAC/Details/Record.aspx?BibCode=8745586; Media #6, (1911 January 10) approved April 18, 1910, edition of January 10, 1911; ChiLR 1911.1

Jung John – Merchant – did not perform manual labor…

Jung John
“Jung John, Form 421 photo,” 1922, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Jung John file, Seattle, Box 1327, Case 39555/2-3.

Jung John, a returning merchant, arrived in the port of Seattle on 31 January 1922. He was accompanied by his wife, Mok Shee. They were on their way to their home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their witnesses were Lee Ho, Dr. George C. Taggart and Peter Hackett. [Peter Hackett – no relation but fun to see in the files.]
Jung John was a salesman at the Chong Wah Company in Philadelphia. He was admitted as the son of a merchant. His father had worked at Chong Wah Company and when he died in 1916 he left his share in the company to his son. The average annual sales for the company were $50,000 to $60,000. They sold Chinese groceries, drugs, fancy goods and chinaware. For $87 a month they rented most of the building at 909 Race Street. They subleased out the second floor to Far East Restaurant and the third floor was used for sleeping quarters. There were twenty members in the firm.
Before leaving the U.S.in 1921, Jung John swore that for at least one year proceeding the date of his application he had not performed any manual labor other than was necessary in the conduct of the business. He was going back to China to visit his mother and get married.
Witnesses:
Lee Ho, age 29, was the manager of Chong Wah Company. He and Jung John both came from Hok San district in China.
George C. Taggart, age 52, physician and druggist at the northeast corner of 9th & Race Streets and knew most of the Chinese in the area.
For the last 26 years, Peter Hackett, age 46, was a custom house broker with Vandegrift & Company at 400 Chestnut Street. He had seen Jung John at the funeral of his father and knew them both through Chong Wah Company. Jung John impressed Mr. Hackett as a clean-living young man of good habits.

Doctor Yamei Kin – Soybean Researcher and Lecturer

Yamei Kin 1917 photo
“Photo of Yamei Kin, Form 431,1917,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yamei Kin file, Seattle, Box1241, Case 35398/2-1

Yamei Kin was admitted to the United States in Seattle on 16 October 1917, as a returning teacher or doctor. Mrs. Kin was sent to China by her employer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture “to make certain very important investigations and researches regarding food for said Department, especially with regard to the food value and methods of preparing and using the soy-bean.” According to the report she would be living in New York City and was a well-educated and accomplished woman.
In the report Kin is referred to as “Mrs. Doctor” and sometimes “Mrs.” On this trip she was accompanied by Wie Chuan Liang, 19-year-old, Section 6 traveller. He worked with his father on his farm until he was 17 then worked for Mr. Hansen at a Methodist Mission. He came to the U.S. to assist Dr. Kin in preparing or compounding different soybean preparations. Although the Chinese inspectors didn’t think Wie Chuan Liang was properly admissible under the Chinese exclusion law they admitted him because of instructions from the American Consul-General at Shanghai to the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Agriculture.
A letter from the Commissioner-General was sent “directing all immigration officials, and requesting all other Government officials with whom she may come in contact either in this country or abroad, to assist her in every needed and possible manner…”

[To find out more about Dr. Yamei Kin, Google “Yamei Kin and soybeans.” Or go to Biography of Yamei Kin M.D. (1864-1934) compiled by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi at soyinfocenter.com/pdf/175/ki.pdf. ]