Chin Yick Thlew, 陳溢秀, age 15, took the long journey from China alone on the Princess Marguerite, arriving at the Port of Seattle on 11 January 1941. She would be living with her parents, Chin Yock Can 陳煜芹 and Dong Shee, at 1211 Cornwell Avenue, Bellingham, Washington. Her father was the son of Chin Tong, an American born citizen. Their older son was living in Lung Hing Village, Look Toon Section, Hoy San District, China, with his grandparents. Their son, Chin Yick Goon, and daughter, Fee Lon, and two younger children were living with them in Bellingham.
Yick Thlew’s file contains a long letter she wrote to her parents. The original letter is in Chinese and a translation is included. She wanted her parents to know that she missed them; that her education was extremely important to her; she told them several time she was not ready to get married; and she wanted to join them in the United States. She signed her letter, “I am, your little daughter.” (The translation was made by the Young China Morning Newspaper in San Francisco.)
Chin Yick Thlew was admitted in spite of the District Director of Seattle Immigration, R. P. Bonham’s claim that there was some unsatisfactory testimony. Several of the family members changed their interview answers so that everyone’s story agreed. Their attorney, Henry A. Monroe, explained that the parents were afraid that if their testimony did not agree completely with their daughter’s, she would be sent back to China. Chin Yick Thlew was held in detention for almost five weeks. She mis-identified a family member in one of the photographs presented during the interrogation. Everyone involved was questioned over and over. The parents were distraught and decided that whatever their daughter said they would agree with it in their testimony. Finally, Monroe who had been working with Chinese immigrants for thirty-five years, stepped in. He got everyone to tell the truth and straightened out all the misunderstandings. There were over thirty pages of interrogations from Chin Yick Thlew, her father, mother, and her brother, Chin Yick Guoon/Goon. Files for her father, mother, grandfather, two great uncles, three uncles, a brother and a sister were reviewed.
Lee Yuen Fay 李遠輝 (Albert Fay Lee) was nineteen years old and living in San Francisco when he applied to U.S. Immigration to go to Canada via Seattle in 1941. The purpose of his trip was to play basketball with the Wah Kue Basketball team. He was five foot, seven inches tall. Lee Yuen Fay presented his birth certificate showing that he was born in San Francisco on 10 May 1921 to Lee Koon 李坤 and Yep Shee (Yep Nguey Haw). His mother (SF file 19034/15-13) came to the United States in April 1920 and was admitted as the wife of a merchant. His father arrived in July 1912 (SF file 11120/254). Because his mother suffered from car sickness, H. Schmoldt, Immigrant Inspector, arranged to take her testimony at her home.
Yep Shee testified that she was fifty years old and born at Goon Doo Hong Village, Sunning District, China. She presented her Certificate of identity #30369. Albert had been touring with the basketball team for three or four months and his mother showed the inspector a post card Albert Fay sent to his brother Victor. It said, “Hi Vic: Play here tonite in the Corn Place. Feeling fine and enjoying good weather. Fay.” The card had a picture of Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota and was returned to Yep Shee. She showed the inspector the birth certificates for her other children: Lee Yuen Hay (Victor Lee), born 23 October 1922; Lee Haw (Etta Lee), born 18 October 1924; and Yee Yuen Min (Daniel Lee), born 27 August 1925. Dr. E. C. Lafontaine (female) attended the births of the children.
Snapshot of Victor, Etta and Fay, ca. 1925
A framed certificate hanging on the wall read, “School Traffic Patrol…this is to certify that Lee Yuen Fay as a member of the School Traffic Patrol of Commodore Stockton School has rendered distinctive service… 19 May 1933…(signed) Anna F. Crough Livell, Principal; J. M. Gwinn, Wm. J. Quinn, B. J. Getchell, and C. C. Cottrel.
Albert’s father, Lee Koon (other names: Lee Chung Mee and Lee Bing Koon) testified that he was fifty years old and born at Lew Long Village, Sunning District. He showed the interviewer the alien registration cards for himself and his wife. He had a brother, Lee Chew (Lee Chung Yee) living at Long Island, New York.
Lee Yuen Fay Albert play basketball in Canada with his teammates and returned to San Francisco by car through Blaine, Washington in April 1941.
Etta, Yep Shee (mother), Victor, Daniel, Lee Koon (father), and Lee Yuen Fay Albert
The group photograph was taken at May’s Studio, 770 Sacramento St., San Francisco, ca. 1925
“Lee Yuen Fay Birth Certificate,” 1921; “Snapshot of Victor, Etta and Fay, ca. 1925; Family Portrait, ca. 1925,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Yuan/Yuen Fay case file, Seattle Box 821, file# 7030/13396.
In May 1913, Chun Kim Shee’s father, Chung Seung, applied for admission to the United States at San Francisco, as the son of Chun Poy, a U.S. citizen born in Los Angeles, California. Two years later he returned to China, married, and a son, Chun Kim Shee, was born on 23 April 1917 in Chew Gong, Sun Ning.
Chun Seung swore in a November 1939 affidavit that he was a Section 1993 U.S. Revised Statutes citizen** and by virtue of the provision his son was also a citizen of the United States. The affidavit contained photos of Chun Seung and his son.
Chun Kim Shee 陳錦樹 (married name Chun/Chin Yee Seung) arrived in Seattle on 26 August 1940 and was admitted three and one-half months later as the son of Chun Seung, a citizen. Chun Kim Shee was twenty-three years old, a student, and married to Lim Toy May. They had no children. His destination was Bakersfield, California. He had a tattoo in a Chinese character meaning “peace” 和平 on his back, left forearm. In Chun Kim Shee’s six-page interview he described his home village in great detail; his mother, Lee Shee; and his father’s extended family,
[The interviewer’s language was often intimidating: “describe the house where you claim you have always lived;” and “describe your alleged blood father”]
Chun Seung, Chung Kim Shee’s father, testified that his married name was Gwok Shew; and he was born at Gong Village, Toy San District, China. He lost his Certificate of Identity in San Antonio in 1932. It was locked in the safe at Wah Lee Restaurant when the company went broke and shut down. He never got his certificate back. His father and mother, Chun Poy and Pang Shee, were both 69 years old in 1940 and living in their home village in China. Chung Seung presented two photographs to Immigration: one of his son at about age 4 or 5 with his mother, Lee Shee; and a photo of the applicant when he was about 16 years old.
Witnesses for Chun Kim Shee in December 1940 were Jew Ning Fook of Bakersfield,California and Fong Tai Yuey/Yui of San Antonio, Texas .
“Photo of Chun Kim Shee and his mother,” ca. 1921; “Affidavit Photos and Witnesses photos,” 1939-40; “M143 photo of Chun Kim Shee,” 1940; Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chun Kim Shee case file, Seattle Box 815, file 7030/13212.
Fong Tai Yuey (marriage name Fong Hong Dot) was born in Leung Boy, China in 1909 and he first entered the U.S. in 1929. He was known as Frank at the Alamo Grocery and Market in San Antonio and owned one-fourth of the store. In his interview he correctly identified the photos of Fong Ging Pawn, Fong Tai Dee, Dong Tai Jung, Chun Seung, Chun Lim, Chun Fat, and Chun Poy from their San Francisco files. Fong Tai Yuey had a Seattle file and a San Francisco file.
Jew Ning/Lin Fook who had a San Pedro file gave testimony and the record was forwarded to the Immigration Office in San Antonio, Texas.
In late November 1940 Chun Kim Shee, the applicant, was sent to Seattle Marine Hospital for examination and treatment. He was suffering from severe pain in his stomach. There is no mention of his diagnosis, but he was finally admitted on 18 December 1940.
** Section 1993 of the Revised Statutes, as originally enacted, applies to children born abroad to U.S. citizens prior to May 24, 1934, and states that:
The amended section 1993 (48 Stat. 797), went into effect on May 24, 1934, at noon eastern standard time. It stated that: Any child hereafter born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such child is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States; but the rights of citizenship shall not descend to any such child unless the citizen father or citizen mother, as the case may be, has resided in the United States previous to the birth of such child. In cases where one of the parents is an alien, the right of citizenship shall not descend unless the child comes to the United States and resides therein for at least five years continuously immediately previous to his eighteenth birthday, and unless, within six months after the child’s twenty-first birthday, he or she shall take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America as prescribed by the Bureau of Naturalization.
“Photos See Jan (Ah Yen), Ah Gooey family and Judge Joe A. Kuhn” 1903, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, See Jan case file, Seattle RS Box 37, file RS 1392. [Judge J. A. Kuhn attached his own photograph to the court papers to be sure of the identification. This is the first time I have seen a judge do this. THN]
In 1903 Ah Gooey (married name Yee Fon) applied to Judge Kuhn, U.S. Commissioner in Jefferson County, Washington, to obtain the proper documents for himself, his wife, and their seven children to travel to China and be admitted to the United States upon their return. [This file is for his son See Jan but it has information on the whole family.]
Ah Gooey and Kee Toy’s children were Ah Lun, Ah Yen, Ah Len, Suie Yen, Fung King, Fung Sing, all born in Port Ludlow and a daughter, Fung Gall, born in Irondale, Jefferson County, Washington. The three eldest children attended public school in Port Ludlow. They could read, write and speak English. Ah Gooey was a steward at the Puget Mill Company’s cook house in Port Ludlow and had a brother, Ah Loy, living nearby.
The following Chinese knew of Ah Yen’s birth in Port Ludlow: She Gon of the Zee Tai Co., Port Townsend, Washington; Eng Yee Tung and Ah Yow. Ah Yen knew the following white people in Port Ludlow: Louis Poole, Mrs. Charles Guptill, Mr. Charles Parks, Mr. James Wilson, and Mr. Walker.
C. H. Hanford, Judge of the U.S. District Court, District of Washington issued a commission to Judge Kuhn to take their testimony and report back to him. H. Hallinger was their attorney. Louis Poole and Mrs. Charles Guptill were witnesses.
Louis Poole was 57 years old in 1903 and had resided in Port Ludlow for 38 years. He had known Ah Gooey since 1875. He testified that because he was in the mercantile business, he had seen Ah Gooey and his growing family almost daily as customers, especially the children who bought candy at his store.
Mrs. Charles (Elthea S.) Guptill, age 60, a resident of Port Ludlow since 1873, was also a witness for Ah Gooey. She was present at the birth of his three oldest children. She saw all the children almost daily until they moved to Irondale in 1902. Ah Yen was born in Port Ludlow on 9 April 1888.
His father, Ah Gooey, died in China in 1905. In June 1907 Yen (Ah Gong Yen) (married name See Jan) returned to Port Townsend, Washington by himself and was admitted to the United State after the court declared that he was a returning native-born Chinese person, son of Ah Gooey and Kee Toy.
Jeffrey L. Staley recently published a book on his wife’s family. Although the book is fiction it is based on real people and true events. The Chinese Exclusion Act case file published in September 2017 on this blog for Nelson Wah Chan King mentions the Methodist Oriental Home in San Francisco, where Staley’s wife’s grandmother, Mei Chun Lai, was also raised.
The mother of Nelson Wah Chan King, the subject of the blog entry, was Lily Shem. She and her younger sister, May, were both raised at the Methodist Oriental Home. Mei (Maud/Maude) Chun Lai, Jeffrey Staley’s wife’s grandmother, and several other Chinese children including May Shem sang for President Theodore Roosevelt in the White House on November 5, 1908.
The children who performed for President Roosevelt were Ruby Tsang, Pearl Tsang, Maud/Maude Lai, May Shem, Lydia Woo, Grace Woo, Ida Woo and Lum Wong. Nine-year-old Lum Wong was the musical director and Maude Lai was his accompanist on the piano. A fund-raising trip across eastern part of the United States was organized by Miss Carrie G. Davis, superintendent of the Oriental Home for Chinese Children and her assistant Mrs. D. S. Street. The home was located at 1918 University Avenue, Berkeley, California. The purpose of the trip was to raise funds to complete a new building to replace the old one which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Miss Davis thought the new building would cost $35,000.1
1 “Chinese Youngsters to Sing in English,” Salt Lake Telegram, 27 Feb 1909, p 1.
Guest blogger: Marie Sheallene Lim-Yeo
Inspired by the CEA blog essay on Chinese basketball players, Marie started tracking down the games her grandfather, Lim Chuan Teck 林川澤, played on tour in China, Canada and the United States in the late 1920s. He played guard and was also known as Charles Lim.
The Chinese basketball team played in Hubei, China in 1926 and won all the matches. Lim did not join them in Japan in 1927 but he was there for their Canadian tour which started in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on 23 January 1929. In the next three weeks they played Victoria, Montreal, New York, Seattle, University of Southern California, and Indianapolis, Indiana; ending their tour in Honolulu, Hawaii on 14 February 1929. Some of the players continued on for a total of three months playing many of the leading college basketball teams in the U.S.
The squad was led by Captain Choa Itsan; Enyang Siok Huy was their tallest member. He and Lee Dah Chen were forwards. Lim Chuan Teck and Co Teck Eng were guards. An article in the Bismark Tribune on 6 February 1929, said the guards were as hard to stop as their names were to pronounce.
Photos provided courtesy of Marie Sheallene Lim-Yeo:
Fannie Seto More (Lew Tue or Lew York Lue) was born on 9 July 1890 in Olympia, Washington. In 1913 she married Seto More; a Canadian citizen and a Canadian Pacific Railways passenger agent. Because Fannie married a Canadian citizen she lost her U.S. citizenship. When she traveled to the U.S. from her home in Vancouver, B. C. her classification under the Chinese exclusion laws was “traveler.” Her two children, Wilfred and Maysien were both born in Vancouver. Wilfred Bientang Seto was born 21 August 1915 and Maysien Geraldine Seto was born 30 April 1918. The three traveled from Vancouver to Blaine, Washington via train many times, had Canadian certificates of identity, and became well known to immigration officials.
Fannie’s file starts in 1909 and covers her many trips between Vancouver, B. C. and Seattle, WA until 1940. The following is some of the information gleaned from her file. Her parents were Lew King and Lee Shee. She had three brothers and one sister; Lew Geate Kay, Lew Get Soon, Lew Get Don, and Lew York Lon, (Mrs. Tom Shue Wing). Lew King, a member of Jong King Company and Wah Hing Company in Seattle, died in August 1908. Her mother, Lee Shee, was born in Kin Ham village, Sunning district. She was admitted to the U.S. in 1873 as the wife of a merchant about seven months after she married Lew King. She died in Seattle in 1914.
In 1909 Fannie was traveling from Seattle with student status. Her mother, Lee Shee, and brother, Lew York Lon, were witnesses for her. Lee Shee testified that she and her husband moved to Seattle in 1883. Seven months after they arrived, someone set fire to their store on old Third Avenue South. They moved nearby to the apartment above Hong Yee Chung Company store and stayed there until the Great Fire of Seattle in 1889. After the fire they lived in Olympia for a few years until they returned to Seattle.
S. L. Crawford was a Caucasian witness for Fannie Seto More in 1909. He testified that he had been living in Seattle for thirty-four years [since 1875]. Crawford was a reporter for the Post Intelligencer during the Chinese riots in 1886 and city editor for many years. He had frequent dealings with Lew King and knew him intimately. Lew King had been a Chinese interpreter for the court when Judge Lind was on the bench. [Judge Lind was a Thurston County judge in the early 1900s] Crawford identified photos of Lew King’s children including the applicant.
Witness Louie Kay, also known as Yin Lim and Hong Po, testified that he was a member of the Lew family but not related to Lew King. He came to Seattle in 1879; was away for the riots; and came back about two months after the 1889 fire. He was questioned about many things concerning the extended Lew family but most of the information did not pertain to Fannie.
Fannie’s mother underwent a serious operation in Seattle in 1913 but because Fannie had lost her U.S. citizenship she was unable to secure a Section 6 certificate so she could cross the border to visit her. The consul at Victoria refused to approve her certificate on the grounds that she was not a Canadian citizen even though her husband was a member of the exempt class in Canada. Her brother, Lew Gate Kay, of the Chinese Consulate in Seattle, made an appeal to the immigration authorities and Fannie was allowed to land without a Section 6 certificate. Commissioner White informed the Commissioner-General of Immigration in Washington, D.C. about what had happened. His letter of explanation is in Fannie’s file. [It never hurts to know the right people and pull a few strings.]
A 1921 letter from Frederick M. Ryan of the American Consular Service in Vancouver, B.C. confirmed that Mrs. Fannie Seto More acquired British citizenship through the naturalization of her husband.
“Seto More Fannie passport visa” 1927, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Seto More Fannie (alias Lew Tue Fannie) case file, Seattle Box 787,file 7030/12060.
In 1921 Fannie and her children were issued Section 6 certificates by the Controller of Chinese Immigration in Vancouver, B.C. John J. Forester, of Vancouver, swore in a 1927 affidavit that he knew Fannie Seto More and her children and could identify them.
By 1933 Mr. Seto More was manager of the Chinese Department of the Canadian Pacific Railways in Vancouver.
In 1938 Fannie was traveling to visit her brother, Lew G. Kay, a staff member of the Chinese Consulate in Seattle, and stopover in Oakland, California to see her sister.
“Seto More Fannie Form 430 photo, Consular photo, Admittance photo” 1909, 1914, 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Seto More Fannie (alias Lew Tue Fannie) case file, Seattle Box 787,file 7030/12060.
The file ends with Fannie’s and her daughter’s visit to Seattle in February 1939.
[Tamia Duggan, CEA volunteer at NARA-Seattle, indexed this file and brought it to my attention.]