Category Archives: photo

Chin Hai Soon AKA Chan Mei Chen (1904 – 1982) by Kevin Lee

A big thank you to Kevin Lee of Australia for today’s blog post. Kevin summarized about 150 pages from three family Chinese Exclusion Act case files to give us a peek into his family history.

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19 but the staff is working on a limited basis. They are taking requests for copies of files so get on their waiting list. If you would like a file, call or send your request to Archival Research, 206-336-5115, seattle.archives@nara.gov – THN]

Chin Hai Soon, also known as Chan Mei Chen (photo courtesy of Kevin Lee)

Chin Hai Soon AKA Chan Mei Chen 陳美珍, home domestic (September 1904 – 29 March 1982)

She was the daughter, the granddaughter, the wife, the sister, the aunt, the great aunt, the grandmother, the great grandmother of Chinese Americans. 

One of the significant consequences of Congress passing the 1875 Page Act and multiple Chinese Exclusion Act (CEA) bills in 1882, 1892, 1902 and 1904 was that Chinese women were kept out of the United States. Female immigration to the U.S. was made extremely difficult, and it resulted in families being kept apart for years or decades. Without women, there would not be family, progeny, children, lineage – the Chinese population in the U.S. would just die off, which was the intention of the laws.

I learned more about my grandmother’s life 40 years after she passed away, than when she was alive, by visiting the National Archives at Seattle in November 2019, prior to the Coronavirus shutdown. The National Archives of Australia (NAA) operates similarly to the National Archives and Records Administration in the U.S., and Australia also had the ignominy of slavery (where the Indigenous / Aboriginal population suffered) and the White Australia Act (which excluded non-Europeans from immigrating; a policy just as discriminatory as the CEA).

Chin Cheo 陳超 and his family details, including daughter Chin Hai Soon, on an affidavit dated 26 December 1925, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, National Archives-Seattle, #7031/325.

From these 3 important CEA files in the National Archives facility at Sand Point Way, Seattle:

  • Great grandfather, CHIN Chear Cheo AKA CHIN Gon Foon (22 August 1871 – 6 March 1939 Seattle), case file no. 39184/2-12 (previously 682, 15844 and 30206)
  • Great uncle, CHIN Wing Quong 陳榮光 (5 September 1900 – 1918 Seattle), case file no. 28104
  • Great uncle, CHIN Wing Ung  陳榮棟 AKA Donald Wing-Ung CHIN (28 October 1913 – 5 September 2005), case file no. 7031/325 (previously 4985/10-3, 4989/10-3)

I was able to revive family members who had been long forgotten about or completely unknown, by constructing a family tree.

Chin family tree based on three Chinese Exclusion Act case files, National Archives-Seattle

By virtue of these 3 files at Seattle, I was able to establish my grandmother’s:

  • Real name / birth name: CHIN Hai Soon (pronounced in the Toisan dialect as ‘Ah Soon’) or CHAN Tai Shin (in the Cantonese dialect). She was a member of the Chin or Chan family; the different spellings are used interchangeably.
  • Mother’s name: Love SEETO, also known as SEE TOW Shee.
  • Adolescent name: CHAN Mei Chen 陳美珍 meaning treasure, valuable, precious, rare, which she certainly was.
  • Place of birth: in the village of Mi Gong, also spelled as Mai Kong, in the town of Hong Gong Lee, in the county of Hoi Ping, in the province of Kwangtung, Imperial China
  • Conception date: December 1903. This was based on CHIN Cheo’s file, as he departed Seattle on 31 October 1903, to sail 3 weeks onto Hong Kong, and then a further day to travel to the village near Canton City, Kwangtung Province, to meet-up with his wife, Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee, whom he had not seen for over 3 years.
  • Date of birth: September 1904
  • CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen did not see her father when she was born, since he had already left Mainland China, travelled onto British Hong Kong in July 1904 to do business, as he was a merchant / co-owner / manager of Wing Sang Company, 412 Seventh Avenue, South, and Sang Yuen Company, 660 King Street, both in Seattle.
  • CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen grew up with her paternal grandfather CHIN Gin Heung (in the Toisan dialect) or CHAN Yen Hing (in the Cantonese dialect), as the only male influence in her life, because her father CHIN Cheo 陳超  lived 59 out of his lifetime of 67 years in the United States. Her grandfather CHIN Gin Heung / CHAN Yen Hing had come back to Mi Gong village from Seattle, 10 years prior to her birth. He had lived in the USA continuously for 12 to 13 years, firstly in San Francisco, then in Seattle, working as a laundryman from 1880 to 1892/1893, and heading back to the village in China prior to his 50th birthday, to celebrate with his family using his hard-earned wealth, and prior to the law requiring him to hold a U.S. Certificate of Residency. No CEA case file of CHIN Gin Heung / CHAN Yen Hing could be found in either San Bruno, California nor Seattle, Washington, as his arrival and departure dates from the USA were too early for Customs and Immigration to have kept records.
  • 1st time meeting father: 1912 as an 8-year-old girl, when CHIN Cheo sailed out of Mi Gong, via Hong Kong, to procreate again with Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee to produce a future brother and future Seattle resident CHIN Wing Ung (case file no. 7031/325).
  • 2nd and final time meeting father: 1919 as a 15-year-old adolescent when CHIN Cheo came back with a heavy heart from Seattle to Mi Gong to announce to Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee of the death of her older brother CHIN Wing Quong (case file no. 28104) in Seattle, and to bring back his remains. CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen remembers the hysteria and grief felt by her mother Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee over the loss of the number 1 son from accidental poisoning at the drug store co-located within the Wing Sang Company, a business managed and part-owned by her father, CHIN Cheo in Seattle.
  • Date of marriage: 1925, as a 21-year-old, to YU Fu Lok AKA YEE Wing Hon, of Num Bin / Nom Bing Chuen, who was a resident of Ohio and Michigan (case file not yet found). CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen, being in China, only met her U.S.-based husband 4 times during their marriage, and 3 of those occasions were to conceive a child, with the last pregnancy being the birth of my mother, YU Siu Lung (later known as Siu Lung YU LEE 李余小濃) in 1936.
  • Date of death: CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen died on 29th March 1982 in Num Bin / Nom Bing village, Hoi Ping county, surrounded by close family members, but separated by distance and time from her U.S.-based father CHIN Cheo, two U.S.-based brothers, CHIN Wing Quong and Wing Ung, and her U.S.-based husband, YU Fu Lok / YEE Wing Hon.

Living in China sadly meant my grandmother did not see these 4 U.S.-based family members for many years:

  • Father, CHIN Cheo from mid-1904 – January 1913 (the first 8 years of her life); from September 1913 – May 1919 (a gap of 5½ years); from mid-1921 – 6 March 1939 death in Seattle (the last 17½ years of his life)
  • Older brother, CHIN Wing Quong, from mid-1910 – late 1918 death in Seattle (the last 8 years of his life)
  • Younger brother, CHIN Wing Ung AKA Donald Wing-Ung CHIN, from September 1932 until late 1981 (a separation of 49 years or almost ½ a century, caused by firstly the Japanese invasion of China, then World War II and then the Communist regime in China closing its borders).
  • Husband, YU Fu Lok / YEE Wing Hon, from 1938 – 1961 (not seen for 23 years until his death in Detroit).

1982 letter sent from China to Donald Wing Ung CHIN in Seattle to advise of the death of his older sister, CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen (courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Seattle, item no. 2001_030_001b)

The damage of 60-plus years of the Chinese Exclusion Act was irreparable, as it split Chinese males living in the USA from their families back home in China. It meant daughters and wives did not have strong male influences, and family sizes were kept small. It was only by uncovering the CEA files at the National Archives that I learnt of the many facts that had been kept secret about my family for 140 years.

Rose Chin – Born in Seattle, lost her U.S. Citizenship when she married a Chinese Native in 1927

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the Archives reopens. THN]

Rose Chin had never been out of the United States and in 1927 she and her husband wanted to make a trip to Canada.  Rose applied with immigration services to make a temporary visit abroad.

Rose Chin, form 430 photo,” 1927, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, national Archives-Seattle, Rose Chin case file, Seattle Box 22, #30-3706.

In her application, Rose Chin Kee testified that she was born on 15 April 1911 to Mr. and Mrs. Chin Kee of 219 Washington Street in Seattle. Rose’s  father, Chin Kee, was a merchant and interpreter at Immigration Service at Seattle. He died in China about 1920.  Her mother was born in San Francisco and had been to China sometime before Rose was born in 1911. Rose’s birth certificate says her mother was born in China, but the interviewer did not ask her about the discrepancy. Evidently Rose was comfortable with the English language; she approved of her interview being conducted in English. Rose had five brothers and four sisters who were all born in Seattle, and one adopted sister. Her oldest brother, Tom Chin Kee, was the only one of her siblings to visit China. He left and returned when Rose was a small child.

“Rose Chin, Birth Certificate,” 1911, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Rose Chin case file, Seattle Box 22, file 30-3706.

Rose married Pong Mon on 15 May 1927 at home in Seattle. They obtained their license from the county clerk and a white man performed the ceremony.  Mr. Lysons helped them get their license.

Rose Chin lived in Seattle all her life and knew Inspector Mangels, Interpreter Quan Foy and Mr. Monroe from Immigration Service. She attended Main Street and Pacific public schools. She provided her birth certificate for inspection.

Although the inspectors verified Rose’s birth certificate, knew her family, and knew her since she was a small girl, they could not approve her application. Her husband, a Chinese native, could not prove that he was a U.S. citizen. According to the 1922 Cable Act, Rose Chin lost her U.S. citizenship when she married a Chinese native.

Rose Chin’s application was disapproved.

Additional information not included in the file:
The Expatriation Act of 1907 stated that women assumed the citizenship of their husbands.  U.S.-born women lost their citizenship when they married non-citizen immigrant men.

The Cable Act of 1922 said that an American woman who married a non-U.S. citizen would no longer lose her citizenship if her husband was eligible to become a citizen. However, if she married a Chinese ineligible for citizenship, she would lose her U.S. citizenship.

The 1931 amendment to the Cable Act allowed women to retain their American citizenship even if they married a person ineligible for naturalization.

For more information about the Cable Act go to:

Meg Hacker, “When Saying ‘I Do’ Meant Giving Up Your U.S. Citizenship,” Prologue, National Archives and Records Administration, Spring 2014, p.56-61.

Donald A. Watt, “Cable Act of 1922,” Immigration to the United States, Citizenship and Naturalization, Laws, Cable Act of 1922

Lee Chung – Ashland, Oregon

“Lee Chung, Form 432 photo,” 1912, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Chung case file, Box RS 215, file RS30227.

In Lee Chung’s December 1912 application for a laborer’s return certificate he testified that he was single, had no other names, and was 46 years old, a cook in Ashland, Oregon for Mr. Wolf, Mr. Hardy and Wah Chung. He was born in China. Lee presented a Chinese memorandum book to R. P. Bonham, the examining inspector, which showed an entry for a loan Lee had made to Wong Gon Szue.

Wong Gon Szue, marriage name Leong Jee, was a witness for Lee Chung. Wong was 60 years old, born in China and a railroad labor contractor in Ashland, Oregon. He arrived in San Francisco in 1871 and had never been back to China. His wife, Jin Shee, age 29, had released feet, and was born in San Francisco. They had a son, Wong Gim Men, born in 1910 in Ashland and a daughter, Wong Loy Hai, born about 1892 at Happy Camp, California. He owed Lee Chung $1,000 in gold coin with an interest rate of 4%. The loan was made at his store, Wah Chung Company, in Ashland and was to be paid to Lee Ching when he returned from China. Wong Sheh Hen and Ng Dock were witnesses to the loan.

[The Scott Act of 1888 “…forbade the immigration of all Chinese laborers for twenty years, including prior residents unless they had parents, wives, or children living in the United States or property or debts worth at least $1,000.”]1

Lee Chung 李昌 arrived at the Port of Seattle on 1 December 1913 on the S.S. Titan and was admitted the same day, as a returning registered laborer of Ashland, Oregon. His certificate of residence was No. 130341. While in China he married a 24-year-old woman from the Ng family with bound feet. His marriage name was Sing Jock. They had a son born four days before he returned to the U.S.

[There is no more information in the file.  The interrogation of the witness is longer than the interview of the applicant. THN]

 

  1. Lucy Salyer, “Chew Heong v. United States: Chinese Exclusion and the Federal Courts,” Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History (2006); Federal Judicial Center (https://www.fjc.gov/sites/default/files/trials/exclusion.pdf : accessed 28 October 2019), 42.

 

Thomas C Tong – KSAN radio engineer and manager in SF

Tong Chun Choy Business Card Radio
“Tong Chun Choy, Form 430 photo and business card,” 1943, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tong Chum Choy (Thomas C. Tong) case file, Seattle Box 828, file 7030/13667.
In January 1943 Thomas C Tong, age 33, of San Francisco, CA, applied for approval of his Form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, so he could spend a long weekend in Canada. The San Francisco immigration office forwarded Thomas’ file 14726/11-23 and his Certificate of identity #63178 to Seattle for review.
Thomas Choy Chun (Tong Chun Choy 唐春才) was born in Lung Gan village, Yin Ping District, China on 16 January 1912 and arrived in the U.S. in 1915. He married May Chin, a native of San Francisco. They had a son, Byron Tong, born 27 November 1935. Thomas was a radio engineer and manager with “Chinese Hour” at KSAN, 1420 kc, 846 Clay Street in San Francisco.
Tong presented his permit to depart from the United States for a period of 30 days, Order No. 4128, Serial No. 4997, Local [Draft] Board No. 76, San Francisco, dated, 27 January 1943 to San Francisco Immigration; the permit was noted and returned to him.
According to R. P. Bonham, Seattle Immigration District Director, Tong Chun Choy left San Francisco on 9 Feb on the SS Princess Alice, destined for Canada only. Tong returned and was readmitted at Blaine, Washington on 13 February 1943.

Wong Yook Yee in 1913 – Engineer Graduate from MIT in 1925

“Photo of Wong Yook Yee, consular number 21/1913,” 1913, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Yook Yee case file, Seattle Box 73, file 32-3614.

In 1913 Wong Yook Yee 黃玉瑜 was a student applying for a Section 6 certificate to allow him to come to United States through Seattle, Washington. He was eleven years old, born in Chung Hen Lee village, Hoy Ping district, China. His father, Wong Lon Seong, died in China in 1910. His mother, Jew Shee, was living in their native village. He had a younger brother, Nook Nay, and two younger sisters, Chuey Cit and Fong Gay. Wong Yook Yee attended school in his village for five years before going to Hong Kong for two months to study English. He planned to attend Ng Lee school in Oakland, California. His cousin, Ngong Suey, a merchant at Kwong Yuen Co. in Hong Kong, would be paying his expenses. Ngong gave Miss Ida K. Greenlee five hundred dollars in gold to cover the cost of school expenditures. Wong’s local contact was Know Ong Sow, a merchant at Chung Lung Co. in San Francisco. Wong was cautioned that if he did any manual labor during his stay in the United States he could be returned to China. Wong was admitted and started attending school at Pierpont School in Boston, Massachusetts. [change of schools explained in 1929 testimony] He was directed to confirm his school attendance to Mr. Monroe at the Seattle Immigration office via a post card signed by his teacher every three months.

Wong wrote to Mr. Monroe at Seattle Immigration and asked him to help get his Certificate of Identity. He adopted the Christian name of Perry Wong.



In 1929 Wong Yook Yee applied for a return certificate as a laborer. He was 29 years old and a draftsman in Boston. He married Lee Sue Doy (Boston file No. 2500/7819) on 11 March 1929 in Boston. During his interview there was some confusion about the place Wong was born. His family moved when he was three years old.
Wong testified that after he arrived in Seattle in 1913 he went to Ng Lee School in Oakland for six months then about six months in San Francisco before moving to Boston to attend Quincy School until 1917. He went to Northeastern Preparatory School for one years, then served one year in the U.S. Army at Camp Eustis in Virginia. He worked at an architectural firm and attended Tufts College in structural engineering, then Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he graduated in 1925. He then went back to work at Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch & Abbott (called Coolidge & Shattuck when he worked for them previously)

In March 1929 Wong Yook Yee was granted his laborer’s return certificate. There is no more information in his file.

Alex Jay’s maternal step-grandfather was  Wong Yook Yee.  Alex has a blog, Chinese American Eyes about visual and performing artists. It includes links about Wong.

Some of the other articles about Yook Yee Wong on Alex Jay’s blog are:
Y.Y. Wong and S. Howard Jee’s Entry in the Capital Plan for Nanjing, China

Yook Yee Wong in the Journal of the Lingnan Engineering Association

Yook Yee Wong and Sun Yat-sen University

Yook Yee Wong’s / Huang Yu-yu’s Daughters Visit China 黄瑜瑜的女儿们访问中国

Other links provided by Alex Jay:
China Comes to MIT Bringing “Tech” to China
Early Chinese MIT: Wong Yook Yee

Leong Yip – Pacific Northwest Pioneer

(Leong Yip is the father of Leong King Ying Rose who was featured on the blog on 30 July 2019.)

Leong Yip’s Seattle file starts in February 1912. His previous files were brought forward and there are no documents in this file before 1912 but 1917 and 1919 interviews tell about his earlier life.Leong Yip 1912

“Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1912, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Leong Yip case file, Seattle Box 1283, file 34847/5-3.

In 1912 Leong Yip 梁業 was 55 years old, manager of Hop Yick Shing Kee Company in Astoria, Oregon and could speak some English. His first wife died in China in 1911 and he married Chin See of the Shee Chong village, Sunning District, China, in 1912. His marriage name was Leong Seung Ging. Leong spent the last four and a half months at Canoe Pass Packing Company in Alaska acting as overseer of the workers and as bookkeeper and treasurer. In 1910 he gave half of his $1000 interest in the company to his son but retained all his duties.

J. D. Robb, son of W. L. Robb, age 27, and a foreman at the cannery in Canoe Pass, was a witness for Leong. As a child in Astoria, Robb knew Leong who contracted for Chinese labor and managed the Hop Yick Company. Robb testified that Leong did not engage in manual labor during the time he knew him.

W. L. Robb, president and manager of Canoe Pass Packing Co., testified that he had known Leong Yip for about twenty years. Robb was Collector of Customs at Astoria from 1902 to 1906 and frequently did business with Leong. He also testified that Leong was a merchant and did not do any manual labor.

The commission of Immigration in Seattle issued Leong Yip a merchant’s return certificate. Leong Yip 1913

“Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1913

In July 1913 when Leong Yip returned to the United States his Certificate of Identity was cancelled and he received Certificate of Residence #45383.Leong Yip 1917 Form 431

“Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1917

In 1917 Leong Yip applied for a return certificate for his next trip to China. He had a six- year-old adopted son and a biological son from his first wife, Leung Gim Lim. Gim Lim arrived in the U.S. in 1898, returned to China at some point, was readmitted to the U.S. in 1913 and was living in Astoria. About 1914 Leong relocated to Seattle and became the manager of Ying Shing Lung Co., a Chinese grocery business. There were eighteen members of the firm; three active—Go Gay and Young Fong Yee, both salesmen, and Leong.

Leong explained that he had been a laborer from 1881 to 1885 before becoming a merchant. He still owned his share of the Astoria firm. He paid $40 a month rent to his landlord, Goon Dip, the Chinese Consul. He paid about $9 to $10 a year in taxes. His white witnesses were James Shea, an exchange teller at the National Bank of Commerce and Peter Bremmeyr, [yes, that how he spelled his name] a plumber on Jackson street. Leong’s business made a little over $10,000 a year and his inventory was worth about $2000.

Shea testified that when Leong arrived in Seattle, he presented the Seattle bank with a letter of recommendation from the Astoria Savings Bank commending Leong very highly as a merchant who had conducted business with the bank of 25 years.Leong Yip 1919 Form 431

Form 431 photo of Leong Yip,” 1919

In his 1919 pre-investigation interview Leong stated that he first came to the U.S. in 1881 and had made two trips back to China. His white witnesses to prove his mercantile status for this trip were Mr. Callahan of the National Bank of Commerce and Mr. Woods of Schwabacher Brothers. Leong planned on visiting China for about a year and bringing his wife back with him. Orley A. Williams, age 48, in the real estate business, also testified that Leong was a merchant and had not done manual labor in the last year. Charles Brotchi, age 54, testified that Leong was one of the best known in Chinatown; president of the Chinese Masonic in 1918; a man above reproach; and clean and honest in every respect.

Leong Yip returned to Seattle in July 1920 with his wife, Chin She and his son Jow Wah and was admitted.

Leong Yip’s 30 June 1943 Seattle Times’ obituary is included in his file.  “…Leong Yip, Chinese patriarch and one of the most colorful of Pacific Northwest pioneers died… His son, Pvt. Robert Leong, served in the army during World War II. Leong Yip was survived by his widow; two daughters, Rose Leong and Jean Leong of Seattle; three sons, Charles, of Astoria, Robert, stationed in California; and Jimmy of Seattle; and a grandson, Harry Leong.

Tye Leung Schulze – 1912 – 1st Chinese American woman to vote in U.S.

Tye Leung Schulze NAPAWFNational Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

Tye Leung was born in California in 1887 to a family of Chinese immigrants. At 14, she escaped an arranged marriage in Montana by joining a Presbyterian Mission in San Francisco. There, she learned English and became an interpreter, helping the mission rescue trafficked Chinese women from local brothels.

In 1910 she was hired as a translator at Angel Island Immigration Station; Leung was the first Chinese American to pass the civil service exam and become a government employee. Here, she met Charles Schulze, an immigration inspector, and they fell in love.

Charles Schulze was white. At the time, interracial marriages were illegal in California. They went to Washington state to get legally married, knowing that the intense racism and prejudice from their coworkers would force them to lose their jobs.

To support their family of four children, Tye worked as a night shift telephone operator. Charles was a mechanic and repairman until he died in 1935. She was also the first Chinese woman hired to work at Angel Island. Tye continued to be an interpreter, social worker, and an involved community member in San Francisco’s Chinatown until she died in 1972.

(Shared from Facebook)

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.

Benjamin Chi’s long fight to stay in the United States

Chi Benjamin 1941 photo
“Photo of Benjamin Chi, Precis of Investigation,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chi Po Shen (Benjamin Exner Chi) case file, Seattle Box 365, file #7027/1110.
See blog entry for 3 December 2018 for information on Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Benjamin, Sylvia, and Vernon Chi who arrived at the Port of Seattle on 13 February 1941. Emily, Sylvia and Vernon were admitted as U.S. citizens; Benjamin was not. Benjamin’s case is complicated and this blog entry will explain what happened.

The Citizenship Act of 1934 was signed by President Roosevelt on 24 May 1934. The Act allowed any child born outside the limits of the United States, whose father or mother at the time of the birth was a citizen of the United States, to be a citizen of the United States.1 Benjamin was born in 1933. His siblings were born after 24 May 1934. Their mother was a U.S. citizen and they were all born in China. His siblings were considered U.S. citizen; Benjamin was not.

Benjamin Ch’i or Chi, Chinese name Po-Shen Ch’i, was born in Tientsin, China on 18 June 1933. He was issued Section Six Certificate #901 on 5 December 1940 by the Bureau of Police at Tientsin where he was attending Chiu Chen Primary School. When he entered the U.S. at Seattle in February 1941 he was classified as a temporary visitor under Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act of 1924.

Benjamin’s temporary visa was renewed several times. If his visa could not be renewed he could be deported. His mother and younger brother and sister were considered U.S. citizen and wanted to stay in the U.S. because of distressing conditions in China [World War II]. Benjamin was 12 years old; he could not be sent back to China on his own. If he was deported his mother and siblings would need to leave too.

In February 1946, Benjamin’s mother wrote to Immigration. She was trying, once again, to renew her son’s temporary visa. In December she had sent his Chinese passport to the Consulate in China to renew it. Three months later she still had not received the renewed passport and now she did not have the necessary papers to renewal his U.S. temporary visa.

Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, there was now an extremely restrictive quota—only 105 Chinese were allowed into the U.S. Letters between Mrs. Chi and Immigration went back and forth and a warrant of arrest was issued for twelve-year old Benjamin in May 1946. The deportation order was suspended four months later. In February 1947 the Central Office of Immigration informed the Seattle office that the alien was no longer a quota immigrant chargeable to the quota of China. Benjamin Chi was allowed to stay in the United States. The long struggle was finally over.

1. Orfield, Lester B. (1934)”The Citizenship Act of 1934,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 7. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol2/iss1/7

Yee Ah Jin – 1891 Writ of Habeas Corpus

Writ of Habeas Corpus, Order of Discharge
“Writ of Habeas Corpus, Order of Discharge, No. 10036,” 1891, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives at Seattle, Yee Ah Jin case file, Seattle Box 706, file #7030/9143.
According to the 1891 findings of S. C. Houghton, Special Referee and Examiner of the District Court, Yee Ah Jin was born in the United States and was a citizen entitled to re-enter and remain in the U.S.

Yee Ah Jin 余亞振 was born in San Francisco in 1869, the son of Yee Look Long and Lee Shee. He left San Francisco on 6 January 1882, before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed on 6 May 1882 and returned on 25 September 1890. Yee Ah Jin applied to land at the port of San Francisco and his application was denied. His uncle Yee Gum Jung signed the petition for his Writ of Habeas Corpus and it was filed by Southard Hoffman, Clerk.

Hon. Judge Ogden Hoffman of the District Court of the United States, Northern District of California District, declared that Yee Ah Jin had been illegally restrained of his liberty by Captain Pearne, Master of the S.S. Gaelic. Yee was discharged from custody of 18 September 1891 and admitted to the United States.

Yee Ah Jin, Form 430 photo
“Yee Ah Jin, Form 430 photo,” 1936, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives at Seattle, Yee Ah Jin case file, Seattle Box 706, file #7030/9143.
Yee made several trips between China and the United States landing in San Francisco in 1910, 1918, 1922, and 1930. The final trip recorded in his file was on 15 December 1937 arriving at the Port of Seattle. He was 68 years old, living in Detroit, Michigan; married to Soo Hoo Shee. His marriage name was Shew June. They had six children–five sons and one daughter. Three sons were living in the United States.

(This file was researched by CEA volunteer, Tamia Duggan.)