Category Archives: San Francisco file

Tam Sing – native-born U.S. citizen returns after 31 years in China

In May 1894 Tam Sing 譚勝 registered in the first district of California as a native-born Chinese person and received certificate of residence No. 81,385.

In 1897 Tam Sing visited China and married Wong Shee at Wing Wah Toon village. His marriage name was Hoy Gui. He returned to the U.S. four years later. In 1902 he visited China again.Tam Sing 1902 MerchantBefore he left San Francisco in 1902, Tom Sing [this is the only document where he is referred to as Tom instead on Tam] swore in a Declaration of Chinese Merchant that he was

“a merchant in good standing, and a member of the firm of Lun Chong & Company, engaged in buying and selling Chinese Mdse. and Provisions, at a fixed place of business, to wit: at 819-821 Dupont Street, San Francisco…”

His witnesses were Henry Mohr, Charles N. Peck, and William M. Dye.

Tam Sing returned to the U.S. in 1905.

Tam Sing [of the Hom Clan] swore in an affidavit in Salt Lake, Utah in July 1908 to the following information:

Tam Sing, son of Tam Shuck Dip, a San Francisco merchant, and Lee Shee, was born in San Francisco on 29 September 1876.  He stayed in the U.S. when his parents returned to China with his brother in 1886. His father died at his home in Wing Wah Toon, Sun Ning, Canton, China the following year. His mother and brother remained in their village.

On this trip to China Tam Sing was hoping to bring back his two minor sons. Unfortunately, his wife and two sons died in 1908 during an epidemic. It isn’t clear if Tam Sing arrived in their village before or after their deaths.

Later Tam Sing married Jee Shee. They moved to Toy San City and had five sons and two daughters. He worked at Sai Ning market.

Thirty-one years later Tam Sing was applying to return to the United States.

When he arrived in Seattle in 1939, he was interviewed before a Board of Special Inquiry. Tam Sing testified that when in the U.S. he lived mostly in San Francisco but was in Ogden, Utah and Montello, Nevada from 1906 to 1908. He satisfied his interrogators by answering several questions about the history and topography of San Francisco. Because he had been away in China for so many years, Tam Sing did not have any witnesses who could vouch for him. He presented a 1908 certificate of membership in the Native Sons of the Golden West with his photo attached; a letter from the Citizens Committee dated 1906; a receipt for Red Cross funds dated 1906; and a 1906 acknowledgement receipt of money from Chinese residents of Montello, Nevada.

After careful consideration the Board members believed the applicant to be the same person as the photograph and description on his certificate of residence. Tam Sing was admitted thirty-seven days after he arrived in Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 23 August 1939. He surrendered his 1894 Certificate of Residence and was issued a Certificate of Identity in 1941 when he was planning a temporary trip to China.

Tam Sing’s Form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Preinvestigation of Status, lists his San Francisco file number 53828.

“Tam Sing/Tom Sing, photos and documents” 1902, 1908, 1941; Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tam Sing case file, Seattle Box 794, file 7030/12347.

 

Albert Fay Lee –Member of Wah Kue Basketball team in San Francisco


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.