Chong Wong Chong – Portland import-export merchant

Guest blogger: Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Chong Wong Chong (b. ca. 1863, immigrated KS 8 = 1882; pinyin:
Zhang Huangchang 张黄昌)

Chong Wong ChongIn 1928 Chong Wong Chong’s deposition to the INS described his situation and provides insight into the life of a Chinese American merchant and Chinese labor contractor.  This file is found at the NARA Seattle, RS 2870, File 12860/14-1.  He stated that he was also known as Chong (pinyin – Zhang) Ho Song, a Portland import-export merchant with the married name of Jung (pinyin – Zhang) Song Lung, who was born in Sui Soon Village, Hoy Ping (pinyin – Kaiping), Guangdong, China.  He had other names: Sam Sing and Chung (pinyin – Zhang) Sam Sing.  A later investigation using the NARA Seattle index of individuals with their occupation and birthplace led to the papers of Sam Sing, a laborer, who obviously was the same man as Chong Wong Chong.  I found Sam Sing because his birthplace was the same as Chong’s and the Seattle index notes birthplace and occupation whenever feasible.

Chong immigrated around 1882 (KS 8), landing in Portland on a small steamer from Vancouver, British Columbia, as a laborer and visited China in 1890 and 1891. On his 1891 trip, he landed in San Francisco as a merchant instead of Portland or Seattle. In 1908 he visited Canada and returned 1909.

Chong was married twice, the first time when he was seventeen and living in China.  Lee Shee, his first wife, died in ST 1 (1908) in China. From his first marriage he had two boys, Chong Shew Lun, who lived in Portland and was in the oyster business, and the older boy who remained in China; and two girls, one named Chong Choy Lun (b. 1893), who was married to a Wong and living in Helena, Montana with her husband, and the older girl, Jung Sou Lun (b. 1884), who remained in China. Within six months after the death of his first wife’s death, he married Lee Shee (b. ca. 1888; Certificate of Identity 6640)) in ST 1 (1908) of Gow How Village, Sunning (pinyin – Xinning) in his home village and his wife and two children came to the U.S. in ST 2 (1909).  Lee Shee and the children were refused admission because Chong was listed as a laborer so Chong returned to his store in Portland, then applied again for his wife and two children in ST 3 (1910) as dependents of a merchant and was successful in getting their admission on December 20, 1911. Years later, through Ancestry.com. Lee Shee gave her husband’s name as Chong Luk Dak.  They lived at 264 Flanders Street, around the corner form her husband’s store on North 4th.

Chong and his second wife had two children, a boy and girl, both born in Portland. Chong Seid Foon (September 6, 1912, American name – Charles) and Chong Heung Lon (1909-1927). The girl’s death caused his wife much grief and led to the decision to adopt Chong May Yoon (original Chinese name Jun Mui), who was born in Los Angeles to Toy and Jennie Chung (pinyin – Zhang) on April 13, 1919 and was adopted in March or April 1927 when she was eight years old.  (NARA Seattle files #30/5270, 12860/14-2, and 7030/5200). Toy Chung died in 1925 and finding herself in financial difficulties, Jennie decided to allow the Chongs to officially adopt May Yoon (later called Helen Chong Yep). Jennie brought her daughter to Portland for the adoption proceedings.  The adoption had been suggested by a Zhang clansman in San Francisco who knew of Jennie’s plight – a large family of young children without a father – and arranged the contact.

After nine years of working for the Quon Shew Lun Company, in 1909  Chong became the manager of Quon Shew Lun Company, a general merchandising firm on at 94 North 4th and later on North 3rd Street, Portland.  The firm’s capitalization was $10,000 and Chong’s share was $2,000.  He and the bookkeeper, Jung Ho Yip ($600 investment), each earned $60 per month plus room and board.  The other active member was the salesman, Jung Gow ($600 investment).  The inactive shareholders were primarily of the Jung (Zhang) clan, with a few other surnames – Wong, Ng, Leong, and Lee – who lived in China, Portland, elsewhere in Oregon, and New York. This was typical of large merchandising firms and all of the men were usually related or came from the same village in China. The company made about $2000 or more in profit annually. The store was located on rented property owned by Euro-Americans for the last ten years.

The firm also acted as the labor contractors for the cannery Libby, McNeil, and Libby [established in 1912 in Sacramento, CA and closed in 1980], and had two canneries under the management of Lee San Toy ($500 shareholder from Portland) in Alaska:  Nushagak and Ekuk.  These were fish canneries in present-day Dillingham.

Nushagak Cannery, Alaska
Nushagak Cannery, Alaska

Although Chong did not go into details, he noted that he owned property in Portland and had a Euro-American rent collector since he rented out the property.

Chong spoke English and had two Euro-Americans testify on his behalf:  the owner of the building in which his store was located and a member of the bank he used. Their depositions and long-time acquaintance with him as Chong Ho Sang put Chong in a favorable light from the perspective of the immigration officials. He was granted a permit to re-enter the United States from China. On this trip he took his wife and his recently adopted daughter, now called Helen Chong, but keeping the name May Yoon Chong in accordance with the adoption papers (NARA Seattle file #27272). They were accompanied by others, including Helen’s natural brother, Chung Gee Kay (1911-1980) (NARA Seattle files #28160/238 and 10797/10-25).

Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.
Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.

The family made several other trips to China, presumably because of business concerns of Chong Wong Chong.  Below is Helen Chong’s 1933 application from NARA Seattle.

Helen Chong
Helen Chong

Chong Wong Chong frequently traveled to China and owned a general store there.  Presumably that store supplied the Portland store with goods.  He passed away in Hong Kong In the 1950s.

In 1951 Helen returns from Hong Kong to San Francisco with her family.  (Certification of birth of Anna Chung aka Helen C. Yep, State of California Department of Public Health, dated 10-29-1962, State Fil 19-015292):  husband Yep Wing Sing, age 30 of 421 W Brand St., Richmond, Virginia; Chong (Yep) Helen, age 31, at the same address, Yip Won Yue, age 13, born in China, Yip Duck Lai, age 23, born in China, Yep Grace Woon Yuen, age 9, born in New York, Yep Ruby Woon King, age 2, born in China, and Yep Theresa Woon King, age 5, born in Hong Kong.  There is the possibility that Anna/Helen had twin boys, Henry and Douglas.  Helen passed away in San Francisco.

By Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal (Magnuson Act of 1943)

Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal
(Magnuson Act of 1943)

排華法案廢除75週年紀念(1943年的沃倫 馬格努森法案)
DATE:  Sunday, December 16      12月16日 星期日
PLACE:  Wing Luke Museum,  陸榮昌亞洲博物館
719 S. King St. Seattle, Washington
CONTACT: info@cacaseattle.org
FREE : Open to the Public
EVENT SCHEDULE:
11:00—11:30 am     Ceremony of Commemoration 紀念儀式
11:30—noon            Light snacks 簡易點心
Noon—2:00 pm       Stories from the past 來自過去的故事

On December 17, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943, also known as the Magnuson Act. The Magnuson Act of 1943 was proposed by Senator Warren G. Magnuson when he was a member of the House of Representatives WA-1.  Join us in commemorating the Repeal of the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act.

Thank you to our COMMUNITY PARTNERS:
Cathay Post #186, China Club of Seattle, Chinese American Forum, CISC, CIE Seattle, Ho Nam Luke Family Association, The Jade Guild, Kin On, Northwest Kung Fu and Fitness, OCA Greater Seattle, Seattle Chong Wa Benevolent Association, Seattle Lee Family Association, Seattle Yee Fung Toy Association, Society of Chinese American Aerospace Association

Emily Green Exner Chi, Sylvia and Vernon Chi – Northfield, MN

Chi Emily Sylvia Vernon 1941
“Photo of Emily Green Exner Chi with Sylvia and Vernon Chi ,” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chi Sylvia B case file, Seattle Box 825, file #7030/13532.

Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Benjamin, Sylvia, and Vernon Chi 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 will be dealt with in a later blog entry.

Emily’s Chinese name was Chi Ne Mei Lan; Sylvia Blythe Chi was Chi Po Ya; and Vernon Longstreet Chi only had a Chinese surname. They all had valid U.S. passports issued at the consulate general at Tientsin, China. Emily Green Exner, a Caucasian, was born on 8 November 1904 in Northfield, Minnesota. She married Chi Shou Yu (English name: Hilary) on 18 September 1932 at Northfield. Her husband, a citizen of China, was admitted at the Port of Seattle in 1929 with student status. They left for China a few days after their wedding. Emily did not lose her citizenship due to her marriage to an alien ineligible to citizenship because of the 1922 Cable Act and a 1931 update.

“… That no woman who was a national of the United States shall be deemed to have lost her nationality solely by reason of her marriage to an alien on or after September 22, 1922, or to an alien racially ineligible to citizenship on or after March 3, 1931, or, in the case of a woman who was a United States citizen at birth, through residence abroad following such marriage, notwithstanding the provisions of any existing treaty or convention1…”

Sylvia and Vernon Chi were born in Tientsin, China in 1937 and 1940, respectively. The Citizenship Act of 1934, Section 1993 said that a child could acquire U.S. citizenship through the mother, not just the father. There are other provisions but this was the part of the Act that pertained to them at their young ages.2

(More about this Act in Benjamin Chi’s upcoming blog entry.)

Mrs. Emily Chi does not have a separate file but since her children were so young, ages 3 and 1, she was interviewed. This information was gleaned from her interview: Her father, three brothers, and brother, Frederick S. Exner and his wife were present at her wedding. For the past eight years her husband was a manager for a manufacturer of sporting goods and they planned to employ up to 100 men. The factory was broken into three parts because of the Japanese occupation. His salary was a hundred Tientsin dollars a month with an annual bonus of 10,000 Tientsin dollars. Emily was coming to visit her elderly parents before they died and the State Department was insisting that women and children leave China [because of the war]. She and her husband owned a farm outside of Tientsin that they rented out. She was planning on visiting her brother, Dr. Frederick B. Exner, in Seattle and her father Franz Exner, a Ph.D. and her mother Hannah Blithe Exner at 100 Nevada Avenue, Northfield, Minnesota. Her mother was in poor health and Emily hope to stay about a year; applying for an extension if needed. Emily originally went to China when she was about 20 to teach in the Yu Ying School in Peking. She taught there three years and met her husband there. Her husband, Chi Shou Yu, (Seattle file 11476/1-1) was born in Wu Ching Hsien district, Man Shuang Miao village, Ho Pei providence. He studied chemistry at Cartleton College in Northfield, MN for the three years before they married.

Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Sylvia, and Vernon Chi were admitted as U.S. citizens on their day of arrival. There is no further information in the file.

1. “Title 8 – Aliens and Nationality, Chapter 12 – Immigration and Nationality, Subchapter Iii – Nationality and Naturalization, Part III – Loss of Nationality, § 1489. Application of treaties;  exceptions,”  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/pdf/uscode08/lii_usc_TI_08_CH_12_SC_III_PA_III_SE_1489.pdf

2. 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.)

You Choi – rejected, appealed, appeal dismissed

In 1910 Go Hip King applied for admission to the U.S. for his minor son Yao Chow or You Chow (You Choi).

You Choi Go Yao Chow Aff 1910
“Affidavit photos of Go Hip King and You Choi,” 1910, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, (Go) Yao Chow (alias Go You/Yow Choi) case file, Portland Box 7, file 1949.

Go Hip King’s interview did not go well. He admitted that two members of his firm were laborers not merchants; that he had attempted to have attorney Hemple bribe an immigration official; and that although there was an accusation that his rental property was being used as a place of ill repute he did not know what kind of people lived there. There were many discrepancies between the father’s and his alleged son’s testimony.

In his summary, Chinese Inspector in Seattle, Raphael P. Bonham wrote:

“The testimony given when applicant sought admission in 1910 is permeated with inconsistencies, contradictions, and falsehoods…”

“The witnesses, Go Leong and Go Quong, of Astoria, Oregon, are not believed to be in good faith or worthy of full credit.”

“Go Hip King has proved himself an unconscionable prevaricator, and now admits being a bribe-giver…”

“Yow Choi is the victim of the unscrupulous advice of Attorney Hemple, since decamped, whose motive must have been solely that of his fee.”

The 1910 application for admission under the name of Yao Chow and was rejected; he appealed but withdrew his appeal the next day.
You Choi (Yao Chow) tried again the following year. In June 1911 You Choi, age 19, married name Go Kum Lun, arrived in the Port of Seattle.
Transcripts of translated letters from Jue Shee, Go Hip King’s wife and from his sons, Yow Choi and Yow Lee, are included in the file.

Edward E. Gray, Go Kip King’s attorney in 1911 reviewed every item of contention in the 1910 case with the Immigration Commissioner trying to show his client in a good light. Gray said that Hemple, Go Hip King’s previous lawyer convinced Go that paying off an official was a necessary part of business.

Witness John C. Montgomery, who worked in a plumbing and tin shop, testified in July 1911, that he was born in Astoria and lived there forty years except for ten years when he was away. He had known Go Hip King for over six years, saw him on a regular basis as manager of his store, and didn’t think he ever worked as a laborer in a cannery.

Witness A. E. P. Parker, collector agent and hotel man leased to Go Hip King the Eagle Drug Store property on 51 & 57 Bond Street in Astoria in 1910; part of the property to be used for a restaurant and part for a grocery story with the upstairs rooms rented out. He knew Go Hip King as a merchant of the Wing Yuen Company and had not seen him doing manual labor. (Charles Verschueran was a witness on the 1910 affidavit but no more information on him is included in the file.)

Attorney Gray thought that You Choi was the innocent victim of his relatives and friends who mixed up the records so much that it was hard to ascertain the truth.

Once again, You Choi was rejected; his case was appealed, and the appeal was dismissed. He was sent back to China. There is no more information in the file.

Quan You Hing – U.S. Navy – Killed in Action, December 1944

Quan You Hing’s father, Quan Foo 關富(marriage name Soong Woo 崇護) was born in San Francisco on 3 August 1889. By 1939 he had made four trips to China—in 1911, 1923, 1928, and 1932, and was living in Chicago, working at Hugh Sam Laundry. His wife, Moy Shee, was living in China with their four sons and one daughter. Their youngest son, Quan You Hing, was born in Lum Hing village, Hoy Ping, China on 13 October 1924. [His date of birth is also listed as 15 September 1924.] The family moved to Joong Wah Li, Hoy San district in 1930.

There were eight dwelling houses and a school house in the village of Jung Wah Li; four rows with two houses in each row with the school house at the head of the village. This is how Quan Foo described his house:

“It is a regular five-room Chinese house, built of grey house bricks, tile gable roof; tile floors in all the rooms; the open court is paved with stone; two outside doors; large door faces east; two outside windows in each bedroom; one L-shaped loft in each bedroom, along the outside and rear wall and also a cross loft along the rear wall of the sitting-room. One double built-in stove in the small-door side kitchen and also a portable earthen stove in the small-door side kitchen. A rice pounder is located in the sitting room near the west wall and also a rice mill located in the large-door side kitchen. One double skylight in each bedroom covered with glass; no skylight in the kitchen.”

Quan You Hing Aff photos
“Affidavit Photos of Quan Foo and Quan You Hing,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Quan You Hing (Hugh) case file, Seattle Box 792, file 7030/12240.

Quan Foo was bringing his son to the United States in 1939 because the Japanese were invading south China near their village and his son wanted to get away from the war. Ironically only four years later, Quan You Hing joined the U.S. Navy and died serving his adopted country.

There is a note in front of his file, “Killed in action, December 1944, U.S. Navy, Hugh [Quan] You Hing.” There no mention in the file of why or when Quan You Hing joined the U. S. Navy.

According to the muster roll of the U.S.S. Leutze You Hing Quan enlisted on 14 October 1943 and was received on board on 4 March 1944.1 His death is listed under Illinois in the U.S. Navy Casualties Books2: Quan You Hing, Electrician’s mate 3C, USNR. Father, Mr. Foo Quan, 2252 South Wentworth Ave., Chicago.

1. U. S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Ancestry.com, p. 7, Image 24, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group: 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798 – 2007; Series ARC ID: 594996; Series MLR Number: A1 135.
2. Ancestry.com. U.S., Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.