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.
Chin You’s file covers the years 1906 to 1940 and has several photos of him at various ages. He lived in Washington, D.C.
Additional information 12/10/2018:
Chin You 陳耀 was born on 3 January 1885 on a fruit farm in San Jose, California and went to China with his parents, Chin Jin 陳真 and Goon She, and his younger brother, Chin Guey, when he was six years old. They lived in Ai Wan Village in the Sun Ning District. Chin You returned when he was 21 years old. He arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from China and after making his way across Canada to Montreal he was admitted to the United States at the Port of Richford, Vermont on 24 November 1906. He was held in detention for four or five days but was admitted after his father Chin Jin who worked at Quong Ying Tung Co in Boston, Massachusetts, swore in an affidavit that Chin You was his son.
Chin You made several trips to China between 1906 and 1940. This is some of the information garnered from his interrogations: His marriage name was Chin Kun Char. His father, whose marriage name was Chin See Thun, came back to the United States about 1897 and died in Boston in 1908. His brother came to the United States a couple of months after their father died.
Chin You married Yee Shee and they had a son, Chin Doon, born in 1912 in China. Chin You registered for the draft on 12 September 1918 in Patterson, New Jersey. The war ended the day after he received his draft card in the mail. Yee Shee died and Chin You remarried Lillian Lerner in 1920 in Baltimore, Maryland.
In 1921 communications from A. R. Archibald the Immigrant Inspector in Baltimore to the Commissioner of Immigration stated that they received an anonymous, rambling letter saying that Chin You was manager of the Royal Restaurant and that he was a bigamist and a draft evader. They investigated, discounted the charges and recommended that Chin You’s application be approved.
Chin You left for China in 1921 and returned in November 1939. On his immigration form he states that his first wife died and the whereabouts of his second wife are unknown. He married again in China to Leong Shee and they had six children, five sons and one daughter. He applied to leave from San Francisco for China in January 1941. His file was approved but there is no further information in the file.
Lee Hong Tun arrived in the Port of Seattle on 1 November 1939. He was accompanied by his mother, Ng Shee. Their destination was Washington, D.C.
Lee Loon testified that he was born in Stockton, California. As a citizen he could bring his wife, Ng Soon Hey and his son, Lee Hong Tun, from China to the United States. Lee Hong Tun was born at Mong Kong Village, Toishan, Kwangtung, China on 23 June 1936.
Although Immigration believed the Lee Loon and Ng Soon Hey were married they were not sure if Lee Hong Tun was their blood son. They had been married fourteen years before their son was born. The Board believed that such a thing could be possible but thought it was very improbable. Also, there were several discrepancies in the parents’ testimony. The Lees did not agree if there had been a shaving ceremony or when Lee Hong Tun had been vaccinated and if he had measles. Their attorney, Edwards Merges, argued that they both agreed that their son was born in the morning at home in the small door-side bedroom with no physician in attendance and the applicant was both bottle and breast fed. Merges believed the differences in Ng Soon Hey’s testimony were because of fear, nervousness misunderstandings and exasperation.
Merges reasoned that Lee Hong Tun, age 3-1/2, was too young to testify on his own behalf, his parents were U.S. citizens and excluding their son would tear the family apart. Lee Hong Tun could not live on his own in China. If he was deported one of his parents would have to go with him.
There were 39 pages of testimony and conclusions. Three Seattle files and three San Francisco files were reviewed. Lee Hong Tun was admitted into the U.S. on 5 February 1940, more than three months after he and his mother arrived at the Port of Seattle.
“Tom Chon How and Tom Bing Koon affidavit photos,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tom Chon How case file, Seattle Box 799, file 7030/13041.
Tom Chon How arrived at the Port of Seattle on 20 November 1939. She was admitted almost a year and a half later on 10 May 1941. Her file was over 70 pages long. After her father, Tom Ngon Sing, died in China she decided to come to the U.S. to live with her brother, Tom Bing Koon, in San Diego, California. Since she was the daughter of a U.S. native-born citizen she would or should have been considered a citizen. She was born on 20 December 1907 in Seung Sing, Tin Hong, Toy San, China. Her step-mother paid for her passage over. Tom Chon How was a school teacher.
In 1938 her brother, Tom Bing Koon, of San Diego, California, swore in an affidavit that his father, Tom Ngon Sing, was a native born citizen. His citizenship was proved by record #9544 on file at the U.S. District Court of Northern California. Tom Bing Koon was 42 years old in 1939 and came to the United States at age thirteen. He swore that his sister, Tom Chon How, the daughter of Tom Ngon Sing, was coming to the United States to live with him.
During Tom Chon How’s arrival testimony she was asked about her extended family in the U.S. and in China, in particular her nephew Hom (Tom) Tung Hing. She claimed that he died in 1931 on his way back to China. The examiner said that the alleged Hom (Tom) Tung Hing was admitted at Seattle in December 1939.
A warrant of arrest was issued for Tom Tung Hing. He was found in Tucson, Arizona and he gave a statement. He claimed he was the true Tom Tung Hing and Tom Chon How was lying; that the information she gave the investigators was false. Immigration officials began an investigation in Minneapolis (the nephew’s father was living in Minneapolis at some point) and San Diego.
There were huge and small discrepancies in Tom Chon How’s and her brother’s testimony in the description of their native village. The examiner noted that Tom Bing Koon had not been in China for more than twenty-three year. He had never met his nephew so he could not identify him.
Tom Chon How was interviewed again in March 1940. Most of the questioning centered on her home village—how many rows of houses, how many houses in each row, who lived where, and details about the neighbors.
This is a section of a translated letter that Tom Chon How (also known as Tom Jung How or Jung Ho) wrote to the immigration officers after being at the detention center for many months:
“Tom Chon How letter,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tom Chon How case file, Seattle Box 799, file 7030/13041.
After reading the transcription of the deportation proceedings for Hom Tung Hing, Immigration authorities decided to question Tom Chon How again. By July 1940, a decision had not been reached as to admit or deport her. Her case hinged on Hom Tung Hing’s case. A month later the F.B.I. was comparing the handwriting samples of the Hom Ting Hing who left the U.S. in 1931 with the Hom Ting Hing who was admitted to the U.S. in 1939. Which one was a forgery?
The hearings were resumed on 7 March 1941. Tom Chon How was asked to show the layout of her village. Her diagrams were compared to the maps she constructed in March 1940. She was asked about the differences. She said she couldn’t remember exactly how many houses there were in her village because she hardly ever walked in some parts of the village. [After being in detention since November 1939, she sounded weary.]
The next day she was transferred to Seattle Marine Hospital for examination and treatment. She was suffering from severe nausea.
Immigration decided to interview Yip Shee, the wife of Tom Bing Koon, Tom Chon How’s brother. Yip Shee and Tom Bing Koon married in 1916 and came to the U. S. in 1919. In 1941 Immigration officials interviewed her about her husband’s home village; over twenty years after they left the country. There were significant discrepancies about the village in Yip Shee’s testimony but she gave some helpful information. She remembered that Tom Chon How seriously cut the index finger of her right hand when she was about ten years old. Yip Shee bandaged it for her. The inspectors checked Tom Chon How’s hand. She had a scar that matched Yip Shee’s description. They now believed Tom Chon How was the person she claimed to be.
Inspector J. P. Sanderson, chairman of the inquiry, wrote in his three-page summary of the case that Tom Tung Hing’s arrest warrant was canceled. Although Sanderson did not agree with the determination of Tom Tung Hing’s admittance in 1939, Tom Tung Hing was not deported.
Tom Chon How’s case was delayed considerably because she consistently maintained that Tom Tung Hing died in 1931. The immigration inspectors agreed that if the information on Tom Tung Hing was ignored, the applicant should be admitted. Tom Chon How was admitted at the Port of Seattle on 10 May 1941.
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.]
Todd Clyde Fung, age 17 months, arrived at the Port of Seattle aboard the S. S. Princess Marguerite on 19 October 1939 with his mother, Lynette Behney Fung. His father, Kwok-ying Fung was residing at Tranquility House, Sam Hui Castle Peak, China. His mother was 29 years old, a Caucasian, and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Behney of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Baby Fung was delivered by Dr. P. J. Todd at the Todd Clinic in Canton, China and subsequently was named Todd. His birth was reported to the American Consulate General at Canton by his father.
An undated photo of Lynette Behney Fung is included in the file.
“Lynette Behney Fung photo” ca.1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Todd Clyde Fung case file, Seattle Box 798, 7030/12523.
Written statements by Dr. H. K. Chung state that Mrs. Fung and her son were vaccinated against smallpox and inoculated against cholera before leaving China.
Immigration Inspector Roy C. Matterson alerted the Fungs of the following stipulation:
“Sec. 1993, Rev. Statutes of the U. S. as amended by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 24 May 1934,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Todd Clyde Fung case file, Seattle Box 798, 7030/12523.
Lynette Behney Fung’s passport says that she was five feet tall, had red hair and grey eyes. She was born in Philadelphia, PA on 24 July 1909.
Todd Clyde Fung and his mother were admitted to the U.S. shortly after their arrival.
[Researched by Lily Eng, CEA files volunteer, National Archives at Seattle.]
[An entry on the California, Chinese Arrival Case Files Index, 1884-1940 online database on Ancestry.com shows Kwok Ying Fung [Todd’s father], age 34, returned to the U.S. arriving in CA [probably San Francisco] on 18 August 1939 on S.S. President Coolidge. His NARA-SF Case file is #39436/17-14.]
[Amy Chin brought this to my attention in a few weeks ago. The Certificate of Identity for Benjamin James was being offered for sale on Ebay. She did a quick Ancestry search and found a ship manifest and a U.S. Consular application. Mr. James’ record showed that he was born in Philadelphia. His Certificate of Identity was issued in Seattle so she thought there may be a file at Seattle NARA on him. The indexes for San Bruno and NY show they both have files on him. Amy searched the Social Security Death Index and found a Benjamin James who died July 1969. NARA-NY has files on Benjamin and siblings Harry, Lillie and Arthur.In 1911 Benjamin and at least 2 other siblings returned to China for 10+ years.]
[Amy asked if I could check the Seattle files to see if we could connect a descendant to Benjamin James so they could obtain the Certificate of Identity from Ebay. Unfortunately the certificate sold quickly, before I had a chance to make this blog entry on Benjamin James’ file. ]
Benjamin James was born 6 July 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Joe and Tillie James. His birth certificate was presented to immigration in 1911 as proof of his U.S. citizenship before the family left for China.
Instead of interviewing each of the children individually only Benjamin’s parents were interviewed before they left the U.S. in 1911. Joseph James’ Chinese name was Chu Gee Cim [Gim] and his married named was Chu Chuck. He was born in Ling Yung village, Sun Ning, China about 1852 and came to the U.S. through San Francisco in 1868. He stayed there about eleven years working as a merchant and sometimes a laborer then went to New York City until 1880. He lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New York, New York; and Paterson, New Jersey. He was in Atlantic City in 1894 when he registered as required by the Chinese Exclusion Act and obtained his merchant’s papers. He married Chung Suey Ping, (English married name: Tillie James). She was born in California. They had three sons and five living daughters and a daughter, Sou Ying, who died at age four. Their children, all born in the United States, were Lillie James (Mrs. Lee), Mamie James (Mrs. Bing), Harry James, Annie James, Margaret James, Benjamin James, Alice James, and Arthur James. In 1911 the older children stayed in the U.S. and Joseph and Tillie took Harry, Benjamin, Alice and Arthur to China so they could attend school there.
In 1923 Benjamin James informed Immigration that he would be returning to the U.S. via Seattle in the near future. He gave the immigration officer three photos for his certificate of identity and asked that the certificate be sent to him in San Francisco. In January 1924, writing on stationery from Washman Co., importers and Exporters at 259 Fifth Avenue in New York City, he requested that the certificate be sent to the Washman address. His Certificate of Identity #49650 was forwarded to him there.
[There is no more information in the file.]