American-born Yee Ho Lee left the United States for China with her family in 1918 when she was almost four years old. When she returned fifteen years later as the bride of Wong Shew Leung, a Boston merchant, the immigration inspectors did not think she was the person she claimed to be. They wanted her deported. She looked younger than her stated age; her ears did to not match the ears of the child in the photo. According to experts ears of a certain type do not change as one gets older. It was noted that the child had large flat lobes sticking out from the checks but the young woman did not have a distinct earlobe and the ear tapered “gradually from the top to the bottom and coming to a point at the cheek.” They also thought there was a difference in the eyes, the lower lip, the eyebrows and the nose.
Included in the files are exhibits of photographs, her birth certificate, and witness statements from twenty-two Chinese, many of them siblings of Yee Ho Lee. A summary of the case is five pages long.
Chinese Immigration Inspector Ira L. Hazleton was called before the review board. He considered himself an expert in Bertillon work and had about fifteen years’ experience in identification of photographs regarding questioned documents. [See Edward J. “Ed” Steenberg, Saint Paul Police Historical Society, The Bertillon System of Identification”] According to the website,
“Bertillon System was an improvement of identification over simple mug shots and basic physical measurements, and was a forerunner to fingerprinting. It was developed by French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon in the early 1880s to increase the accuracy of criminal identification by measuring certain bony portions of the body, including the skull, foot, cubit, trunk and left middle finger. This identification method spread throughout Europe and was introduced into the United States in 1887.”
Yee Ho Lee arrived in Seattle on 21 March 1933 and was held in the Immigration Detention Center on Seattle Boulevard [1933 address]. She was denied admittance on 25 April. It was appealed. There were “Page 1” articles in the Seattle Times about the case on 22 April, 26 April and 16 May 1933 and other unidentified articles in the file. At the bottom of two of the articles there was an ad- –Buy American!— [Oh, irony!]
An appeal was made by Fred H. Lysons, attorney for Yee Ho Lee’s husband and the decision was reversed. The contours of the lips of the young woman were compared to those of the child and it was decided that they belonged to the same person. Yee Ho Lee was finally admitted on 13 May 1933.
Rose Yip Woo, her husband, Shu Tai Woo, and their children Robert Kuotao, age 3 ½; and Ruth Kuochen Woo, age 1 ½ years, arrived in Seattle on 20 June 1927 on the S.S. President Madison. Rose was born on 27 May 1892 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Woo family was scheduled to stay one year but they applied to stay another year and their application was approved. Rose and the children had traveler’s exemptions and her husband had a student exemption from the Peking Union Medical College in Peking, China. Dr. Woo had a fellowship with the Rockefeller Foundation. They were residing in New York City.
Rose Yip Woo’s visit was approved and extended to 20 July 1928. More information about the length of stay for her husband, Dr. Shu Tai Woo would be found in his file.
It is unusual for affidavits in these files to include photos of witnesses. It is rare to see a photo of a woman included with her affidavit and it is extremely rare to have an affidavit from an African-American and have his photograph included. The affiants were swearing that they were personally acquainted with Yee Jung Sam, the father of Yee Yook Poy, the subject of this file. Yee Jung Sam had a Sec. 6 certificate as a merchant and was trying to get approval for his son to enter the U.S. as the minor son of a merchant.
Mrs. Cleo Barnes, age 40, a stenographer and saleslady, residing at 67 S. Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, had known Yee Jung Sam since 1924. He was a tea merchant at 148 East State Street in Columbus.
Ben J. Miller, age 30, a porter who cleaned the floors and washed the windows of the business was residing at 1400 Hawthorne Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.
Other affiants (photos not included):
Charles S. Boyd, Superintendent of the Capital City Laundry and Dry Cleaning company, residing at 75 Whitethorne Avenue, Columbus.
Thomas B. Johnson, engaged in the fish business at 116-118 S. Fourth Street, residing at 340 Northridge Road, Columbus, Ohio.
Yee Que Jock, also known as Yee San, was manager of Yee San Company.
The mercantile status of Yee San Company was investigated by Thomas Thomas, District Director, Immigration Service, Cincinnati, Ohio and found to be a bona fide mercantile establishment. Thomas was impressed by the reputable and creditable witnesses and recommended that the application be granted yet Yee Yook Pay’s was denied admission and was placed on board the S.S. President McKinley on 5 December 1927 for return to China.
[Most affidavits in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files do not include photos of the affiants, especially if they are Caucasians. It is even more unusual to find a photo of a white, female affiant. Caucasians were frequently called upon to be witnesses for the Chinese because their testimony was considered more credible than a Chinese witness.]
Information from the Jock Dock Quong birth affidavit dated 25 January 1929: Mrs. N. Hanley was 78 years old. She was a resident of Placerville, Idaho from 1881 to 1904. She became acquainted with Jock Yat Kee in the early 1880s. Jock Yat Kee owned and operated a large mercantile establishment in Placerville. By 1904 his family consisted of three boys and two girls, one of them being a son, Jock Dock Quong.
[Mrs. Hanley’s full name was Napina Hanley.]
According to John H. Myer’s affidavit he was 80 years old and had known Jock Yat Kee since 1881. Myer was present at Jock Yat Kee and Hu Shee’s wedding in 1898 in Placerville. Jock Yat Kee was the father of Jock Dock Quong who was born in 1901 in Placerville.
Jock Foo Quong was the son of Jock Yat Kee and Hu Shee. He was born about 1900 in Placerville, Idaho. He was also known as Fulton Yat Kee or Fulton Dick Kee. In 1938 he was living in Detroit, Michigan
Much of the information in this file pertains to Jock Foo Quong’s alleged brother, Jock Dock Quong. He was born on 14 June 1901 in Placerville, Idaho. There was no physician in Placerville at that time of his birth so his grandmother, Leong Shee, assisted at his birth as midwife. Jock Dock Quong did not have a birth certificate therefore when he wanted to visit to China he needed affidavits attesting to his birth in the United States.
Sworn affidavits were provided by his grandmother, Leong Shee; his father, Jock Yat Kee; and two Caucasians who knew him and his family since he was an infant: John H. Myer and Mrs. N. Hanley.
In an affidavit sworn on 4 January 1929, Leong Shee, age 83 years, stated that she emigrated to San Francisco when she was fourteen years old and that she moved to Placerville five or six years later. Jock Yat Kee married her daughter Hu Shee and they had seven children, including a son, Jock Dock Quong, born in 1901. Hu Shee died about 1911. Leong Shee took care of her grandchildren after her daughter died.
Photo of Jock Yat Kee,
Jock Yat Kee was about 60 years old in 1929. He emigrated to the United States in 1881. In 1898 he married Hu Shee at Placerville. This photo was attached to his 26 January 1929 birth affidavit for his son, Jock Dock Quong.