Lai Man Kim whose American name was William K. Lai was born on 5 September 1887 in Portland Oregon, the son of Lai Fong and Foong Ho. He had no siblings. His father died when he was about four years old and his mother went to live in China in 1906. Lai Kim obtained a certificate of residence in 1894 when he was seven years old. On his 1913 pre-investigation of citizenship status he listed several witnesses: Mr. Sanborn of Van Schuyver & Co., and several prominent Chinese: Lee Mee Gin, Seid Back, Moy Back Hin, Seid Back, Jr. (Said Gain) and Moy Bow Wing. Lai Kim was a charter member of the American Born Chinese Association in Portland and held certificate number 21. After his mother left Portland he lived with the Moy Bow Wing family. He listed his occupation as vocal soloist at the Majestic Theatre in Portland. Lai Kim was a student at Chinese and English schools in Portland before attending the University of Oregon at Eugene, Oregon. Lai Wai, Lai Kim’s cousin and godfather, help support him and his mother after his father’s death.
Lai Man Kim’s application was approved by the Seattle Immigration Office but he didn’t leave the country at that time. About a year later, in 1914, Martin Beck, General Manager of the Orpheum Circuit in Chicago wrote to Immigration Service in Portland to tell them that Lai Man Kim would be leaving Chicago for Canada, then returning to Seattle from Vancouver, B.C. There is no more information in the file.
Information not included in the file:
[These entries are from my 2009 blog on the Chinese at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle. The newspaper articles tell a little bit more about William Lai’s earlier musical career.]
Portland student at AYPE and Harry Ding and William Lai Perform
In 1916 Lee Chung Hing, a laborer, applied to leave the United States from his home in Chicago, Illinois for a visit to China. His application for a laborer’s return certificate was rejected because he could not prove that he was a lawful resident of the United States. He had lived in the U.S. for about 36 years but did not have the required certificate of residence. When he originally entered the U.S. he was classified as a merchant. He presented his original merchant identification paper in 1916. It was not accepted.
John G. Sullivan, Immigration Inspector in Boston, interviewed those who Lee Chung Hing listed as his business partners at Quong Suey Lung Company in Boston in the 1890s. Chin Sing had been a partner of the firm for over thirty years but did not remember Lee Chung Hing. He had heard that Lee was a member of the firm but didn’t know him. Lee Chung Hing’s Caucasian witnesses, Luther Gaddis and William K. Jones, were both deceased by 1916. According to the inspector both witnesses had signed hundreds of affidavits for Boston Chinese years ago. They were not the most credible witnesses.
Lee Chung Hing was sixteen years old in 1880 when he first came to the United States. It was two years before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. He lived in San Francisco as a merchant until about 1892, Boston for seven years, then Chicago where he was a laborer working in a laundry. Lee had a hard time getting the proper paper work for his return certificate. There was a lot of confusion about what documents were needed when the Act was first passed; Lee switched from being a merchant to a laborer; and different documents were required for each classification. Over thirty years had passed since he first arrived in the U.S. His witnesses couldn’t remember him and two had died.
On Lee’s application for a return certificate he claimed his friend of over twenty years, Dea Poon Suey borrowed $1050 from him to buy a laundry in Aurora, Illinois. In fact, the loan was only for $500. [The Scott Act 1888 severely restricted Chinese laborers who were already residing here from returning to China for visits. They could not reenter unless they owned property or held a business investment of $1,000 or more.1] The amount of his loan wasn’t enough to satisfy the law’s requirements. He did not have enough evidence to obtain a return certificate and was denied because lawful residence in the country had not been shown. He was giving the right to appeal. There is no indication that he appealed.
1 John Jung, Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain (Yin & Yang Press), 2007, 31.
[See CEA Blog entry for Virginia Wong on 1 May 2017 for more information on the World War II Chinese combat pilots who trained in Portland, Oregon.]
Arthur Chin (Chin Suey Tin) was born on 22 October 1913 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon, the son of Chin Fon and Eva Wong (Wong Gue Tai). In 1922 at age eight, he visited China with his family. They stayed fourteen months. He attended Atkinson Grammar School and Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland.
He applied to visit China in August 1932 to visit his sick grandmother. In his application he stated he had three sisters: Mildred, Dorothy and Evelyn, and two brothers; Harold and Norman. He left for China in August. A few months later, in November, he enlisted as a fighter pilot for the Chinese Air Force to fight in the Japanese-Chinese war. He became a war hero.
Although Arthur Chin was born in Portland, Oregon, he lost his U.S. citizenship when he joined the Chinese Air Force. He married in China and his two sons were born in Hong Kong. Because of his lost citizenship, his sons, Gilbert and Stephen, were not considered U.S. citizens.
His wife was killed in the war. Major Chin was injured with severe burns and was returned to the United States at Miami, Florida on 25 July 1942 as a war casualty. He was hospitalized for over two years. He was released from the service of the Chinese Air Force on 1 February 1945.
In 1944 his 1922 Certificate of Identification was returned to him. He was repatriated in July 1945 in the U.S. District Court, Portland, Oregon. According to his second wife, Frances, in 1945 Arthur Chin was flying for PanAm Airlines and based in Calcutta, India.
Arthur Chin’s 1945 naturalization #D-376 is mentioned in the file.
[ Much is written about Arthur Chin but his Chinese Exclusion Act case file usually is not mentioned.]
Charlotte Chang lost her U.S. citizenship when she married a China native.
Charlotte Ah Tye Chang, mother of Ora Chang [see June 19, 2017 blog entry] and Oliver Carrington Chang, was married to Hong Yen Chang, the Chinese Consul at Vancouver, British Columbia. When Mrs. Chang and her children applied to leave the United States in May 1910, the Commissioner of Immigration wrote,
“…I am not prepared to approve her application, as under section 3 of the act of March 2, 1907, in reference to the expatriation of citizens and their protection abroad it would seem that this woman is not now a citizen of the United States she having been married to an alien, and which marital relationship has not been terminated. Of course Mrs. Chang being the wife of a consular representative is permitted to accompany her husband into the country at any time.“
Charlotte Chang and her children were all born in California. Although Charlotte lost her citizenship when she married a Chinese native, she was allowed to leave the U.S. and return because of his position as the Chinese Consul at Vancouver, B.C.
In 1935 Charlotte Chang petitioned for the restoration of her American citizenship (Naturalization file No. 22 X 6304). In her statement she said that in January 1910, accompanied by her mother, Chan Shee, she gave testimony at Angel Island station, California to receive return certificates in order to proceed to Vancouver, B. C. The Chang family took a train from San Francisco to Seattle and then a steamer to Vancouver. Mrs. Chang claimed that she lived in Vancouver from 1910 to about January 1913.
[The file refers to Charlotte Chang’s San Francisco file #12041/62 and her citizenship restoration but doesn’t give any more information.]
[What huge bows in Ora’s hair and fine detail on her dress.]
Ora Chang, the daughter of Hong Yen Chang, the Chinese Consul at Vancouver, British Columbia, was admitted to the United States at the Port of Seattle on 5 April 1912 with her mother Charlotte Chang They were making a brief trip from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle accompanied by Chin Keay of the Quong Tuck Company.
Ora Ivy Chang’s initial application to travel to China was in 1910. The family was living 2330 Fulton Street, in Berkeley at the time. Her birth certificate stating that she was born at Laporte, California on 8 November 1898 is included in the file. She was visiting China with her mother and brother Oliver Carrington Chang. The San Francisco Chinese Inspector interviewed Ora Chang, age 12; Charlotte Ahtye Chang, her mother; Chun Shee, her grandmother; Dr. Elizabeth Keys, the physician who attended at the birth of her brother Oliver; and D. R. Rose, another white witness who knew Mrs. Chang since 1884. Chun Shee, Ora’s grandmother, testified that she was 68 years old and the widow of Yee Ahtye. They had five children, all born in Laporte, California: a daughter Fook Yow living in Oakland; a son, Yee Jock Sam living in San Francisco; daughters Yee Ah Oy and Yee King Lan, living in Berkeley; and a son Yee Jock Wai (Dilly), living in San Francisco.
[This file gives lot of names and places of residence but doesn’t have a lot of other personal information.]
“Wong Quai Yin, alias Virginia Wong, dies while serving as a commissioned lieutenant in the National Commission of Aeronautical Affairs.”
In 1930 Virginia applied to Immigration to visit Vancouver, B.C. as a member of a theatrical troupe. She had two brothers, George (Wong Gong Ho) and Gordon; and four sisters, Betty, Margaret, Alice, and Myrtle. They were all born in Portland. George was a witness for his sister. Nancie D. Singleton, a teacher at Atkinson Public School in Portland, swore in an affidavit that she taught George, Virginia and Gordon Wong and had a general acquaintance with the entire family.
On 9 February 1933 Wong Quai Yin (Virginia Wong), age 21 years, of Portland, Oregon, applied to visit China. She was born on 15 November 1911 to Wong Chock Way and Jung Shee. She had just finished her preliminary training as an aviator. [She was not asked anything about this training.]
A copy of a 3 June 1935 letter to the editor of the Oregonian newspaper was added to the file. Elizabeth Wong, Virginia’s sister, was correcting an error in a 12 May 1935 Oregonian article, “Portland-Trained Chinese Flying to Oriental Fame.” [article not included in the case file] The original article stated that “Miss Wong died in Canton from malaria before the start of a campaign to exploit the air corps through these two women fliers” (Virginia Wong and Hazel Lee). Elizabeth explained that her sister Virginia died in the fall of 1934 at Nanchang while serving as a Commissioned Lieutenant in the National Commission on Aeronautical Affairs and was buried at the National Cemetery of the Air Force at Nanking.
[In the next few weeks there will be more information on the blog about the Al Greenwood flying school for Chinese, where Virginia trained, and other Chinese who trained there. It is surprising that the interviewer did not ask Virginia more about her flight training.]
The website, Disciples of Flight, has an article about the school and the aviators, “World War 2 Flying Ace Arthur Chin’s story is an incredible story of courage and survival during wartime” World War 2 Flying Ace Arthur Chin’s story is an incredible story of courage and survival during wartime” by Andy Chan, John Gong and Michael Little. It tells about flight training at Al Greenwood flying school in Portland and its connection to the “Flying Tigers.”
The articles has footnotes and a list of sources—books, articles, and websites.
Leong Gain, son of Leong Poy and Lee Shee, was born on Oak Street in Portland, Oregon on 24 September 1893. When Leong Gain was about five or six years old, his mother returned to China with his baby sister.
Leong Gain visited his family in China in 1912. He received his Certificate of Identity in San Francisco, California upon his re-admission to the United States as a native-born citizen in 1914.
Leong Gain’s most challenging application came in 1917 with his interview for re-entry into the United States. He stated that Mr. Frasier and Billy Fook knew about his birth. The examining inspector, W. F. Watkins, questioned Leong Gain’s honesty because Leong did not mention his sister when he was interviewed in 1912. The 1917 interview went on and on. Recorded on page 3 of the interview, Watkins said, “You mean to say now, do you, that the first knowledge you received of your having a sister was when you returned to China in 1912…?” Leong Gain answered, “That’s correct.” The inspector wanted to know if Gain’s sister was born in Portland or China. Although he thought his sister was born in Portland, Gain explained that he just too young to know the details of his sister’s birth. He would have been 5 or 6 when she and his mother returned to China. (It was probably traumatic to be motherless at that young age.)
Later in the interview, the point of the questioning finally becomes apparent. Watkins said, “Isn’t it true and you and your sister were both born in China?”
The next nine pages of the interview involve witnesses testifying that Leong Gain was born in Portland.
Haw Ah Fook, also known as Billy Fook, was about 64 years old in 1917, when he testified that Leong Gain was born in Portland. He didn’t know Leong Gain as a small child but knew his father, Gong Poy. As far as he knew, Gong Poy lived on the east side of Portland and had a wife and son there. When Watkins pressed him for more information, he said, “Mr. Watkins, I can’t remember those things. I attend to my business and I don’t keep track of the Chinese. I can’t remember those things.” On the third page of Billy Fook’s interview, Watkins asked him if Leong Gain ever told him if he had a brother or sister. Fook replied, “No, never said a dam’ word to me.”
Charles R. Frasier, a merchant at Crescent Paper Company, testified that he had known Leong Gain all his life, since he was born. He was a week or two old when Frasier saw him for the first time. Frasier said he and his parents took an interest in the family. He saw the family frequently until he went away to college. After he got married and opened his own business, Leong Gain and his father would visit his business every few months. At Christmas they would bring Chinese nuts; they never forgot the family on Christmas. Mr. Watkins asked Frasier over and over if he was certain that Leong Gain was born in Portland. Frazier said, “I would gamble my last dollar on it.”
George J. Kadderly worked in the hardware business in Portland. He easily recognized Leong Gain from his photograph. He remembered “this little chap was around in swaddling clothes around on the sidewalk.” He saw Leong Gain off and on over the years on the street or in Chinatown. Whenever he ran into Leong Gain he always said, “Hello, George.”
Because Frasier and Kadderly were well-known, respected White witnesses and their statements were clear cut and positive in Leong Gain’s favor, Inspector Watkins approved the application in spite of some inconsistencies.
Leong Gain made another trip to China in 1923; returning in 1926. During his 1923 interview he presented his Portland draft registration card dated 5 June 1917. He was classified as 1-A but was not called for active military duty because he was under weight.
In October 1932 Leong Gain was applying for his fourth visit to China and was approved. Each time he traveled outside of the United States he went through the whole process of being interviewed and photographed.
There is no more information in the file.