Category Archives: Letters of recommendation

Woo Quin Lock – rejected/appealed/admitted

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before March 2020. thn]

Woo Quin Lock was born on 3 March 1920 at Kwong Tung, China. He was the son of a U.S. citizen. He arrived at the Port of Seattle on 2 February 1940 on the Princess Charlotte. He was denied admittance on 12 April 1940. His case was appealed on 10 May, and he was admitted on 10 August, more than eight months after his arrival. He received his Certificate of Identity No. 83265 two days later. The exhibits submitted in his case were an affidavit by his father, Woo Yen Tong, three letters written by the applicant to his father and their translations, a sample of the applicant’s handwriting, four Woo Seattle case files and eight San Francisco files for various Woos.

Woo Quin Lock’s father, Woo Yen Tong, swore in an affidavit that he was a United States citizen and that he had proved his citizenship to the Immigration Service after his arrival at the Port of San Francisco on 14 August 1911 and was issued a Certificate of Identity No. 4752. Three photos were attached to his affidavit.

Woo Quin Kwock, Woo Quin Lock, probably Woo Koon Sang
Son: Woo Quin Lock; Father: Woo Yen Tong

“Woo Yen Tong, affidavit,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Woo Quin Lock case file, Seattle Box 805, file 7030/12841.

During his 1940 testimony, Woo Quin Lock testified that his father sent him $1,200 in Hong Kong currency to cover his travel expenses. Chin Thick Gee a member of the Mow Fon Goon store in Hong Kong, purchased his ticket for him. His father owned two houses and a social hall in Wan Jew village. Overnight visitors stayed in the social hall which was the 8th house, 9th row, counting from the north. Gar Theung and Gar Thin, sons of his paternal uncle Get Tong were living in the building while they were guests of the family in 1938. The family owned an old house on the north side and a new house on the south side. The interrogator told Woo Quin Lock that his testimony about some of his uncles and cousins and the location of the houses did not agree with his father’s and brother’s testimony.

The case file contains more than sixty pages of documents and testimony. The following is an excerpt from the summary written by the Immigration Committee Chairman:

The alleged father, Woo Yen Tong, was originally admitted at San Francisco in 1909 as the foreign-born son of a native, Woo Gap.

Woo Yen Tong returned to China in 1919. He married Chen Shee and their son; Woo Quin Lock was born before he returned to the United States. He made several trips to China and four sons were born. Woo Quin Lock’s younger brother, Woo Quin Kwock arrived from China in 1939 and was admitted. He was a witness for Woo Quin Lock.

There were many discrepancies between the testimony of the applicant and his brother about their method and date of travel to Hong Kong, where they stayed on the way, and when they got there. The brothers did not agree on when and where their alleged younger brother attended school.

The interrogation committee decided that the relationship between Woo Quin Lock and his father and brother could not be established. They denied Lock admission to the United States, but he had the right to appeal. The case was reopened in April 1940 to reconsider the citizenship of the alleged father. Woo Yen Tong’s brother was called to testify. Woo Fong Tong (marriage name Sik Kew) presented his Certificate of Identity #10738 which was issued to him in San Francisco in 1913. He testified that he was forty-four, born (ca. 1894) in Wan Jew village, Toy San district, China. He was a laborer living in the Chicago Hotel in Spokane, Washington. He made two trips to China in 1921 and 1929 and returned through the port of San Francisco. He identified the photos that were attached to Fook Yen Tong’s affidavit and a photo of their father, Woo Gap, from his 1921 Certificate of Identify that was included in his San Francisco file. He correctly identified all the Woo photos from the Seattle and San Francisco files.

Woo Fong Tong described the burial ceremony for his father Woo Gap (the transcriber made a note that Gap was pronounced NGIP). Woo Gap died in 1929 and Woo Fong Tong took his remains, his whole body, not just his bones, back to China in a regular wooden casket which was placed in a wooden box lined with tin. After their arrival in Wan Jew village the shipping box was removed, and the casket was placed outside the village for a day for visitation by the family. Then the casket was opened briefly to give everyone one last look at the body. They had a regular burial procession with the whole family accompanying the casket to the burial place at Fong Ngow hill, about 2 lis (less than a mile) north of Wan Jew village. After Woo Gap was buried, the family worshipped at his grave.

Woo Gap was married three times and his father was married twice. There was much testimony in the case file about whether the Woo men were stepsons or half-brothers.

In May 1940, P. J. Hansen, wrote a reference letter for Woo Yen Tong, who he called Raymond Woo. Hansen stated that Woo had worked for him for nine years as cannery foreman and he considered him a conscientious and trustworthy employee. He offered his assistance in getting Woo’s son admitted to the United States.

The legal brief for the appeal on behalf of Woo Quin Lock conceded that Woo Quin Lock was a foreign-born son of Woo Yen Tong but left open the question of his father’s citizenship of the United States.  Woo Yen Tong derived his citizenship through his father, Woo Gap. Woo Gap and his second wife Lee Shee were the parents of Woo Yen Tong. Woo Gap married Lee Shee before the death of his first wife which was legal under Chinese law and custom. Woo Gap’s first wife, Chow Shee, the mother of his four sons, was ill for many years and required constant care. Woo Gap’s second wife moved into the household and cared for Chow Shee and the children. Woo Yen Ton was the son of Woo Gap and Woo’s second wife, Lee Shee. He was born before Woo’s first wife died.

Woo Quin Lock’s attorney, Edward E. Merges, brought forward a May 1918 letter written by Philip B. Jones, Immigration Officer at San Francisco to the Commissioner of Immigration at Angel Island stating the merits Woo Gap’s status as a merchant (one of the exemptions to the Exclusion Act). Woo Gap was born in the United States, a merchant in Santa Cruz, California, and well-known by the community and the immigration station. He resided with his wife and their son Woo Yen Tong. They provided a home and schooling for their son which Immigration authorities thought was sufficient proof of their relationship. They were also impressed that Woo Gap was honest about his dual marriage. Woo Yen Tong’s case was submitted to the Central Immigration Office in Washington, D.C. and it was determined that Woo Gap was a citizen of the United States. His son, Woo Yen Tong, had been admitted as the son of a citizen.  Finally, after an eight-month legal battle, Woo Quin Lock was admitted as the son a citizen on 20 August 1940. His new residence was 725 King Street, Seattle, Washington.

Li Kuo Ching – Chinese Financier Arrives in Seattle – Destination NYC

Li Kuo Ching (K. C. Lee 李國欽) received his Section Six certificate issued by Edwin S. Cunningham, Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, American Consulate-General, Shanghai, China, on 5 January 1926. His class status was “Traveler.” He was traveling with his wife, Grace Kuo Li, age 26 and their children, Majorie [sic], Mildred, Kuoching Jr., and Marie.

Li graduated as a mining engineer in 1914 from the Royal School of Mines of London University. He completed one year post graduate course before becoming the director of Hunan Mining Board, Changsha, China in 1915. He was president of Wah Chang Trading Corporation in Shanghai from 1916 to 1920. The company had branch offices in Tientsin and in the Woolworth Building in New York City. Li was going to visit the office in New York and return to China within six months. His expenses would be paid for by the company. He was worth about $750,000 Mexican and had an income of $25,000 a year. He had letters of recommendation from M.D. Currie, vice-president of the International Banking Corporation, S. C. Chu, P. V. Jui, David Z. T. Yui, F. R. Sanford, Jr., and J. B. Sawyer. F. W. Schmid and M. D. Currie were also witnesses for Li.

Li Kuo Ching 1916
“Li Kuo Ching, Form of Chinese Certificate,” 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Li Kuo Ching case file, Seattle Box 236, file 4725/3-4.

Li Kuo Ching’s was first admitted to the U.S. at San Francisco in 1916. He presented his “Form of Chinese Certificate” with his photo attached and signed by the Consul General of the U.S.A. It gave his date of birth as K.S. 16-9-24 (November 6, 1890).
In 1920 Li arrived on a diplomatic passport and the head tax was not assessed. T. S. Pierce, Immigrant Inspector, wrote a letter of introduction to Henry R. Monroe, immigration inspector in Seattle for Li’s wife, Mrs. Grace Kuo Li. She was taking the train from Santa Barbara, California to Seattle on her way to meet her husband in Victoria or Vancouver, British Columbia. Mrs. Li was staying at the El Mirasol Hotel in Santa Barbara.
The file contains an undated newspaper article from The [Seattle] Post-Intelligencer, ca. 1926, with a photo of Li. The headline is, “Li Luo-Ching, Prominent Chinese Financier, Here; Youthful Marvel of Celestial Kingdom Pays Visit to City With Wife En Route to New York from Orient.
[Volunteers Lily Eng brought this file to my attention and Hao-Jan Chang provided the Chinese characters for Li Kuo Ching’s name.]

Yee Ton Look – McKeesport, PA Petition

Affidavit photo of Yee Ton Look
“Affidavit photo of Yee Ton Lock,” 1898, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yee Ton Lock case file, Seattle RS Box 78, file# RS 14450.

In August 1898 Yee Hang applied to U.S. Immigration to have his thirteen-year old son, Yee Ton Lock (Look), join him in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Yee Ton Lock arrived in Port Townsend, Washington on 16 August. His uncle Yee Mow, a business owner on Water Street, filed his petition. Several people in McKeesport wrote letters of recommendation saying they were personally acquainted with Yee Hang and he was a good citizen. The Collector of Customs in Port Townsend received letters from Joseph A. Skelley, alderman and ex-officio Justice of the Peace; Homer C. Stewart, cashier of the First National Bank; Joseph R. Sean, Chief of Police; and Fred Steckel, business owner.

In an affidavit Yee Hang declared that he was a native of China and had been a resident of McKeesport for twenty-five years. He wanted to bring his son to the U.S. so he could receive an education in English and business.
The following people signed a petition with the hope of convincing Immigration authorities that because Yee Hang was such a good citizen his son should be allowed to come to McKeesport to receive an education:

S. J. Hutchison, ticket agent, B & O Railroad; J. E. Inghram, chief rate clerk; Mrs. Mary E. Inghram, S. S. teacher; R. T. Carothers, mayor, McKeesport; Homer C. Stewart, cashier, First National Bank; Charles A. Tawney, teller, First National Bank; Joseph A. J. Kelley, Justice of Peace; V. F. Geyer, retail merchant; Ada Page, Sabbath School teacher; Eugene Rodgers, grocer; S. B. Page, grocer; R. W. Ekin, secretary, Water Dept; Edwin Sales, superintendent, Water Dept; Henry A. Clante; F. B. Satterthwait, watchmaker; Adolph Schmidt, druggist; Charles William Kahl, drug clerk; J. W. Campbell, insurance agent; W. L. Laughlin, National Hotel; B. B. Cousin, real estate dealer; Edward Huber, clothier; F. W. Steckey, merchant; George W. Hartman, hardware ; William B. Fell, assistant postmaster; Erwin Meyer, postmaster; F. L. White, physician; James E. White, druggist; I. Wallis, accountant; Harry T. Watson, accountant; J. B. Shale, Surveyors Office; John N. Orth, florist; E. R. Donahue, pastor, West End Presbyterian Church; and Charles Tory, deputy surveyor.

yee ton look 1898 petition


“Petition for Yee Hang,” 1898, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yee Ton Lock case file, Seattle RS Box 78, file# RS 14450.
The cover sheet of Yee Ton Lock’s file says, “His father keeps a laundry in McKeesport and claims to have been born in U.S. No proof produced. Refused in the absence necessary proof.
Rejected 8 August 1898. By HVB”
There is no further information in the file to tell exactly when Yee Ton Lock was deported.