Tag Archives: California

Chin Hai Soon AKA Chan Mei Chen (1904 – 1982) by Kevin Lee

A big thank you to Kevin Lee of Australia for today’s blog post. Kevin summarized about 150 pages from three family Chinese Exclusion Act case files to give us a peek into his family history.

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19 but the staff is working on a limited basis. They are taking requests for copies of files so get on their waiting list. If you would like a file, call or send your request to Archival Research, 206-336-5115, seattle.archives@nara.gov – THN]

Chin Hai Soon, also known as Chan Mei Chen (photo courtesy of Kevin Lee)

Chin Hai Soon AKA Chan Mei Chen 陳美珍, home domestic (September 1904 – 29 March 1982)

She was the daughter, the granddaughter, the wife, the sister, the aunt, the great aunt, the grandmother, the great grandmother of Chinese Americans. 

One of the significant consequences of Congress passing the 1875 Page Act and multiple Chinese Exclusion Act (CEA) bills in 1882, 1892, 1902 and 1904 was that Chinese women were kept out of the United States. Female immigration to the U.S. was made extremely difficult, and it resulted in families being kept apart for years or decades. Without women, there would not be family, progeny, children, lineage – the Chinese population in the U.S. would just die off, which was the intention of the laws.

I learned more about my grandmother’s life 40 years after she passed away, than when she was alive, by visiting the National Archives at Seattle in November 2019, prior to the Coronavirus shutdown. The National Archives of Australia (NAA) operates similarly to the National Archives and Records Administration in the U.S., and Australia also had the ignominy of slavery (where the Indigenous / Aboriginal population suffered) and the White Australia Act (which excluded non-Europeans from immigrating; a policy just as discriminatory as the CEA).

Chin Cheo 陳超 and his family details, including daughter Chin Hai Soon, on an affidavit dated 26 December 1925, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, National Archives-Seattle, #7031/325.

From these 3 important CEA files in the National Archives facility at Sand Point Way, Seattle:

  • Great grandfather, CHIN Chear Cheo AKA CHIN Gon Foon (22 August 1871 – 6 March 1939 Seattle), case file no. 39184/2-12 (previously 682, 15844 and 30206)
  • Great uncle, CHIN Wing Quong 陳榮光 (5 September 1900 – 1918 Seattle), case file no. 28104
  • Great uncle, CHIN Wing Ung  陳榮棟 AKA Donald Wing-Ung CHIN (28 October 1913 – 5 September 2005), case file no. 7031/325 (previously 4985/10-3, 4989/10-3)

I was able to revive family members who had been long forgotten about or completely unknown, by constructing a family tree.

Chin family tree based on three Chinese Exclusion Act case files, National Archives-Seattle

By virtue of these 3 files at Seattle, I was able to establish my grandmother’s:

  • Real name / birth name: CHIN Hai Soon (pronounced in the Toisan dialect as ‘Ah Soon’) or CHAN Tai Shin (in the Cantonese dialect). She was a member of the Chin or Chan family; the different spellings are used interchangeably.
  • Mother’s name: Love SEETO, also known as SEE TOW Shee.
  • Adolescent name: CHAN Mei Chen 陳美珍 meaning treasure, valuable, precious, rare, which she certainly was.
  • Place of birth: in the village of Mi Gong, also spelled as Mai Kong, in the town of Hong Gong Lee, in the county of Hoi Ping, in the province of Kwangtung, Imperial China
  • Conception date: December 1903. This was based on CHIN Cheo’s file, as he departed Seattle on 31 October 1903, to sail 3 weeks onto Hong Kong, and then a further day to travel to the village near Canton City, Kwangtung Province, to meet-up with his wife, Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee, whom he had not seen for over 3 years.
  • Date of birth: September 1904
  • CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen did not see her father when she was born, since he had already left Mainland China, travelled onto British Hong Kong in July 1904 to do business, as he was a merchant / co-owner / manager of Wing Sang Company, 412 Seventh Avenue, South, and Sang Yuen Company, 660 King Street, both in Seattle.
  • CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen grew up with her paternal grandfather CHIN Gin Heung (in the Toisan dialect) or CHAN Yen Hing (in the Cantonese dialect), as the only male influence in her life, because her father CHIN Cheo 陳超  lived 59 out of his lifetime of 67 years in the United States. Her grandfather CHIN Gin Heung / CHAN Yen Hing had come back to Mi Gong village from Seattle, 10 years prior to her birth. He had lived in the USA continuously for 12 to 13 years, firstly in San Francisco, then in Seattle, working as a laundryman from 1880 to 1892/1893, and heading back to the village in China prior to his 50th birthday, to celebrate with his family using his hard-earned wealth, and prior to the law requiring him to hold a U.S. Certificate of Residency. No CEA case file of CHIN Gin Heung / CHAN Yen Hing could be found in either San Bruno, California nor Seattle, Washington, as his arrival and departure dates from the USA were too early for Customs and Immigration to have kept records.
  • 1st time meeting father: 1912 as an 8-year-old girl, when CHIN Cheo sailed out of Mi Gong, via Hong Kong, to procreate again with Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee to produce a future brother and future Seattle resident CHIN Wing Ung (case file no. 7031/325).
  • 2nd and final time meeting father: 1919 as a 15-year-old adolescent when CHIN Cheo came back with a heavy heart from Seattle to Mi Gong to announce to Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee of the death of her older brother CHIN Wing Quong (case file no. 28104) in Seattle, and to bring back his remains. CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen remembers the hysteria and grief felt by her mother Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee over the loss of the number 1 son from accidental poisoning at the drug store co-located within the Wing Sang Company, a business managed and part-owned by her father, CHIN Cheo in Seattle.
  • Date of marriage: 1925, as a 21-year-old, to YU Fu Lok AKA YEE Wing Hon, of Num Bin / Nom Bing Chuen, who was a resident of Ohio and Michigan (case file not yet found). CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen, being in China, only met her U.S.-based husband 4 times during their marriage, and 3 of those occasions were to conceive a child, with the last pregnancy being the birth of my mother, YU Siu Lung (later known as Siu Lung YU LEE 李余小濃) in 1936.
  • Date of death: CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen died on 29th March 1982 in Num Bin / Nom Bing village, Hoi Ping county, surrounded by close family members, but separated by distance and time from her U.S.-based father CHIN Cheo, two U.S.-based brothers, CHIN Wing Quong and Wing Ung, and her U.S.-based husband, YU Fu Lok / YEE Wing Hon.

Living in China sadly meant my grandmother did not see these 4 U.S.-based family members for many years:

  • Father, CHIN Cheo from mid-1904 – January 1913 (the first 8 years of her life); from September 1913 – May 1919 (a gap of 5½ years); from mid-1921 – 6 March 1939 death in Seattle (the last 17½ years of his life)
  • Older brother, CHIN Wing Quong, from mid-1910 – late 1918 death in Seattle (the last 8 years of his life)
  • Younger brother, CHIN Wing Ung AKA Donald Wing-Ung CHIN, from September 1932 until late 1981 (a separation of 49 years or almost ½ a century, caused by firstly the Japanese invasion of China, then World War II and then the Communist regime in China closing its borders).
  • Husband, YU Fu Lok / YEE Wing Hon, from 1938 – 1961 (not seen for 23 years until his death in Detroit).

1982 letter sent from China to Donald Wing Ung CHIN in Seattle to advise of the death of his older sister, CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen (courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Seattle, item no. 2001_030_001b)

The damage of 60-plus years of the Chinese Exclusion Act was irreparable, as it split Chinese males living in the USA from their families back home in China. It meant daughters and wives did not have strong male influences, and family sizes were kept small. It was only by uncovering the CEA files at the National Archives that I learnt of the many facts that had been kept secret about my family for 140 years.

Ng Wing Yin – unable to prove he was the son of a U.S. citizen; deported

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopens. THN]

Ng Wing Yin arrived at the Port of Seattle on 28 January 1929 was deported after almost two months in detention. He could not prove his relationship to his alleged father, Ng Wah Lai, a U.S. citizen.

His attorney, Hugh C. Todd, wrote to the Bureau of Immigration in Washington, D.C. regarding Ng’s appeal. Ng Wing Yin was first denied admission in January 1927. His 1929 entry was his second attempt to enter the U.S. Todd argued that no one except a father would try to bring his son into the country twice. Anyone else would have given up. This application included a photo taken in 1921 of the father and son when the son was ten years old. Todd pointed out the resemblance between the two—their posture, eyes, nose, ears and chin, even the curl of the mouth. The photograph was not included in the 1927 earlier entry application.  

“Ng Wing Yin and Ng Wah Lai photo” 1921 , Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Wing Yin case file, Seattle Box 1118, file 10346/10-12.

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopens. THN]

In 1929 Ng Wing Yin was seventeen years old and a student. He was born in Woy Lung Lee village, Sun Wei Ning District, China. He was attempting to enter the U.S. as the son of a native. His parents were Ng Wah Lai (marriage name Yuk Moon), and Mar Shee.  He presented an affidavit with a photo of him with  his father stating that his father was a United States citizen.

Ng Wing Yin was questioned about the first time he tried to enter the U.S. in 1926. He was denied, it was appealed, denied again, and he was deported. He was asked why he was trying to enter again since he was debarred the first time.  He did not reply. His only witness was his father.

Ng Wah Lai testified that he was born in Riverside, California and that he had lived in Durango, Colorado for four years and planned to go back there. He was currently working at the Kwong Man Yuen store at 701 King Street in Seattle. He showed his certificate of identity #4188 issued at Boston, Massachusetts in 1911. The only proof he had that Ng Wing Yin was his son was the photo of them together. The immigration authorities agreed that the people in the photo were Ng Wah Lai and Ng Wing Yin but that did not prove their relationship. They had no new witnesses or evidence except for the photo taken of them together in 1921. They asked Ng Wah Lai why he was going through this process again when nothing had changed. Ng said, “He is my son and is anxious to come to the U.S.”

Ng Wing Yin was unable to prove that he was the blood son of Ng Wah Lai so he was denied entry into the U.S. Their attorney appealed, it was denied, and Ng Wing Yin was deported, again.

[What do you think? Would you have admitted him?]

Gee Moon Jew, farmer on Vashon Island, Washington

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopens. THN]

“Gee Moon Jew, Certificate of Identity” 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Gee Moon Jew case file, Seattle Box 441, file 7030/1001.

Gee Moon Jew 朱文周 was 35 when he applied for a return certificate to allow him to make a trip to China. He was a poultry farmer in Vashon, Washington. He was born about 1897 in Hong How village, Sunning District, China. He came to the U.S. in 1909, at the age of 14, arriving in San Francisco. He was considered a U.S. citizen, the son of a native. His father, Gee Fee Yee, marriage name You Ming, was born in San Francisco. His mother was in China. He had three brothers and one younger sister. His older brother, Gee Moon Bin [sic] and his younger brother Gee Moon Taw, were both living in California. Gee Moon Jew married a Caucasian woman, Charlotte Irene Rogers in Vancouver, Washington in November 1918.  After marrying he took the name George W. Jenn.  George and Charlotte had six children; Mary Frances, born 1919; George Walton, born 1921; Alice Martha, born 1923; William Lawrence, born 1925; Eugene, also called Wee Jee, born 1927; and Helen Elizabeth Jenn, born 1927. Mary Frances was born in Seattle and the other children were born in Vashon.

Gee Moon Jew was taking his two eldest children, Mary Frances and George Walton, to China so they could attend a private Methodist school in Canton City. He was also going to visit his mother and other relatives and expected to be gone about three or four months. The children would probably stay three years.

Immigration authorities also interviewed Gee Moon Jew’s wife. Charlotte Irene Ward was 28 years old and born in Larned, Kansas. Her stepfather’s surname was Rogers. They could not afford to take the whole family to China, so she was staying home with the younger children. Her mother was coming from California to stay with her. There were short interviews for Mary Frances and George Walton. They identified their parents and their birth certificates were examined.

Roy M. Porter, the Immigrant Inspector, examined Gee Moon Jew’s 1909 San Francisco file. His father, Gee Fee Yee, had a Seattle file showing that he was admitted at Port Townsend, Washington in 1897. He also had a San Francisco file with a discharge statement showing that he was a native-born U.S. citizen. Porter approved the application for a return certificate for Gee Mon Jew and his children. A copy of Gee Fee Yee’s 1909 affidavit was included in the file.

“Gee Fee Yee affidavit with photos of Gee Fee Yee and Gee Mun Gew [sic]” 1909, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Gee Moon Jew case file, Seattle Box 441, file 7030/1001.

The reference sheet in the file included the case numbers for the files of Gee Moon Jew’s father, his brother, Gee Moon Ben; and Ben’s two sons, Gee Quong Sam and Gee Suey Gin.

Patricia Ann Yuen, ten-year-old visits Canada in 1943

Photo Yuen Too Patricia 1943

“Patricia Yuen, Form 430 photo,” 1943. Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yuen Patricia case file, Seattle Box 828, file 7030/13734.

Patricia Ann Yuen Too 曹淑琴 was ten years old in 1943 when she filed her form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status. With the help of her parents, she applied to the Immigration Service at Sacramento and was approved by the San Francisco office.  Her mother, Mrs. Emily L. Yuen, was planning a three-month visit to Vancouver, B.C. Canada for her daughter. They made special arrangements with the Vancouver, B.C. immigration office so Patricia could be admitted at White Rock, British Columbia opposite Blaine, Washington. Patricia was traveling with Emily’s friend, Mrs. Esther Fong, a Canadian citizen who was in San Francisco testifying as a witness in a criminal case. Mrs. Fong was a church worker and a music teacher.

Yuen Too Patricia Robert Aff“Robert Yuen photo, California Affidavit of Identification,” 1943. CEA case files, RG 85, NA-Seattle, Yuen Patricia case file, 828, 7030/13734.

In July 1943, Patricia’s father, Robert Yuen, also known as Robert Chew Too or Robert Chew Yuen, swore in an affidavit that he was born at Red Bluff, Tehama county, California on 8 November 1907 and that he had been a resident of Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou county, CA for the past seven years. His birth name was Robert Bo Do Hong. His father, Chew Yuen, was born in San Francisco and his mother was Too Shee Yuen. Robert Yuen married Emily L. Louis in Red Bluff, CA on 6 June 1929. Emily was born in Walnut Grove, CA. They were the parents of Patricia Ann Yuen Too.  Robert was an herb doctor. He presented his certificate of Identity No. 13395 for inspection.

[A note of the affidavit says, “Witness Sacramento file 103/406 – 7-29-43; SF 12016/12452-OD.”]

A letter from Robert W. Pierce, Inspector in Charge in Sacramento confirmed that San Francisco files 28591/2-8, 9, and 11 were reviewed in the case.

San Francisco file 28591/2-8 for Emily L. Louis (Emily Yuen Too/Louie Guck Lin) identifies Emily as Patricia’s mother. Emily’s certificate of identity, No. 1800, was issued in San Francisco in 1910.The file of Patricia’s brother, Robert Chew Too, Jr. was examined also.

[Patricia – birth certificate]

“Patricia Ann Yuen California birth Certificate,” 1933. CEA case files, RG 85, NA-Seattle, Yuen Patricia case file, 828, 7030/13734.

Patricia testified that she was born on 25 April 1933 in Red Bluff, California. She had three brother and one sister. Her brother Robert, Jr. was 14 and born in Canton, China. Stanford Curtis Yuen Too would be 13 years old in September 1943 and Theodore Stuart Yue Too would be four years old in August 1943. Her sister Linda Jean Yuen Too was about 1-1/2 years old.  Stanford, Theodore, and Linda were born in California. Patricia’s mother was arranging the trip to Vancouver so Patricia she could study Chinese and music. Patricia thought the trip was so she would have a chance to play with girls. She told her interrogator, “I always play with boys at home because there are no girls.”

Mrs. Irene Neuffer, a family friend, served as a witness and claimed to have known the parents and the applicant since Patricia was about four years old. Mrs. Neuffer testified that she was born in Healdsburg, California and currently lived in North Sacramento. She lived across the street from Yuen family when they all lived in Mount Shasta. Mrs. Neuffer said Patricia’s mother thought if Patricia like Vancouver, she could stay a while.

Patricia’s original 1933 certificate of birth and a 1943 certified copy which agrees with the original certificate are included in the file.

Patricia’s documents were approved. She and Mrs. Fung [sometimes referred to as Miss Fung] left San Francisco for White Rock via the train in late August 1943.

Patricia Ann Yuen Too made her return trip to the United States and was admitted through Blaine, Washington on 10 November 1943. Her destination was her home in Mt. Shasta, California. There is no more information in the file. Perhaps 10-year-old Patricia missed her family—even her brothers.

[Since my formal name is Patricia Ann, I could not resist adding Patricia Ann Yuen Too’s file to the blog. THN]

 

Hom Sit – many details about his home and village in China

Hom Sit, Form M143 photo, 1938

Hom Sit, the 24-year old son of U.S. citizen Hom Tin, arrived in Seattle on the SS Princess Marguerite on 22 August 1938. Although he was married (marriage name Soong Choo) he arrived alone and was going to live with his father in Butte, Montana. His testimony for his admittance was in his native dialect, See Yip. Fung Ming was the official government interpreter. Hom Sit was born on 7 September 1914 in Ung Sing Village, Chuck Hom Section of Hoy Ping District in China. He gave the following information about his father: Hom Tin (marriage name Gwong Ai) was 50 years old, born in San Francisco, California; living in Butte, Montana; and working in the restaurant business. Hom Tin visited them in Ung Sing when Hom Sit was eight years old and stayed for two years. That is the only time they spent together. The Hom ancestral village was Check Suey. Hom Sit’s father’s deceased father was Hom Goon Bow. He was buried at Bok Dook Hill, about a mile from their village. Hom Sit’s mother was Lee Shee, a native of Wing On village. His maternal grandfather, Lee Len Ock, had died but his grandmother, Ow Shee, was 70 years old, living in Wing On. Hom Sit had three brothers, one older and two younger. He was married to Dea Shee from Choo Heung village and they had one son, Hom Ngin, born in 1937.

Ung Sing Village faced east and had eight houses in five rows. Their house was the third house in the first row counting from the north. It was a brick house with five rooms, tile floors, a court paved with stone, had two outside doors with the large door was facing south. Each bedroom had an L-shaped loft along the outside walls and had two outside windows opening above a balcony. They were fitted with iron bars and glass panes with wooden shutters on the inside. The bedrooms and kitchen had skylights fitted with glass. There was a shrine in the parlor; a partitioned room in the parlor was made of wood.

Map of Ung Sing Village
Map of Ung Sing Village

Hom Sit described who lived in the other houses, their extended families, and where they worked. There was a bamboo hedge surrounding the village with a gateway on each end. A river about 200 feet wide was in front of the village and a dirt highway was nearby. The village did not have an ancestral hall or social hall. There weren’t any fruit trees near the village but there was a banyan tree. Hom Sit attended Gung Yee School in the village for twelve years. Won Wing Hop was the principal of the school and there were three other teachers.
Hom Sit said that his father sent $800 for his wedding expenses which included putting in the wooden partition in the parlor and erecting a pavilion for the wedding.

Photos of Hom Tin and Hom Sit, 1938 Affidavit

Jack Chan was the interpreter for interrogation of Hom Tin, the alleged father of Hom Sit. Hom testified that he was a partner at the Idaho Café in Butte, Montana at 799-1/2 Utah Avenue. He was born in San Francisco and had made three trips to China–in 1907, 1913, and 1921. He went through the Port of San Francisco each time. He presented his Certificate of Identity for inspection. He had a brother, Hom Foot, living somewhere in the U.S. They were separated during the San Francisco earthquake and fire and never heard from each other again.

Hom Tin said he did not bring his son over to the U.S. earlier because of the Depression but was bringing him over now to work in his restaurant. He was asked the same long list of questions that his son had been asked. His answers were consistent with his son’s testimony, but the interrogator ended the interview by saying, “Isn’t it a fact that the applicant is not your blood son?” [The interrogators frequently asked this question, even if it was obvious that there was a blood relationship.] Hom Tin stated that Hom Sit was his blood son and the interview ended.

The Board of Special Inquiry reviewed Hom Tin’s San Francisco file and recalled Hom Sit to question him about a few discrepancies in the interviews. They considered that the alleged father had not been in China for nearly fifteen years. They concluded that the alleged father and applicant both ”testified in a straightforward manner” and there was a physical resemblance between them. The board determined that the relationship had been established. Hom Sit was admitted to the U.S. as a United States Citizen, son of an American born Chinese, on 10 October 1938, one month and a half after his arrival.

“Form 143 photo of Hom Sit; Hom Tin Affidavit; map of village” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Hom Sit case file, Seattle Box 767, file 7030/11371.

David Loo – Passport, father’s Hawaiian birth certificates & family photo

David Loo Passport photo 1941

David Loo, (Chinese name Lu Min-i), age 21, and his sister, Mimi Loo, age 19, arrived at the Port of Seattle, Washington, on 7 June 1941 and were admitted as U. S. citizens two days later. David and Mimi would temporarily be staying with their sister, Marion Loo, in Hollywood, California. Their father, Teddy Loo-Tin (Loo Ping-Tien or Loo Chit Sam), was born in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, on 16 August 1884. Their mother, Chen Kwan Har, remained in China.
Loo Chit Sam Hawaii Birth Cert 1898

Loo David's father's Hawaii Birth Cert 1894

David Loo was born in Tientsin, China on 8 September 1919. Before leaving China, David completed two years of study at the University of St. Johns in Shanghai. During his interrogation, he testified that their home had thirteen or fifteen rooms and they had three servants. (The Japanese tore down two rooms and the garage when they widened the street in front of their house leaving them with two less rooms.) They had owned a 1932 Ford V-8 but sold it about 1938. Whenever they stayed in Peking, they all rode bicycles. David’s father was an agent for a rug company. He smoked Camel cigarettes and currently had a beard and sometimes a mustache. The family traveled a good deal and two on the brothers were born in Australia. David’s witnesses were his sister, Marion, and Mrs. Bessie C. Jordan of Seattle. Jordan was his teacher at the American School in Peking for two years. David’s file includes a photo of him with his six siblings: Susane, Milton, Minto, Michael, Marion, and Mimi. David was the second youngest.
Loo David Family photos group

 

 

 

 

 

 

In April in preparing to leave China, Mimi Loo wrote to the Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau in Seattle, Washington, to inform them that she and her brother were planning on traveling to the U.S. with Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Drews, her teacher at the American School in Peking. The American Embassy had advised them to leave for the United States. Their father had registered his children at the American Consulate General in Tientsin and Shanghai and filed their records with the State Department. Their brother, Michael Loo was admitted to the U.S. at San Pedro, California, in September 1935 (file #14036/87-A) and their sister, Marian Loo, was admitted at San Francisco in May 1940 [file # not included].

Marion Loo swore in an affidavit that David Loo and Mimi Loo, the children of Loo Tim, were her siblings,

David was issued Certificate of Identity No. 84834 upon arrival. Once David was settled, he registered for the draft for military service.

[A copy of Mimi Loo’s interrogation is included in David Loo’s file. Mimi Loo’s Seattle file is #7030/13572. There is no further information in the file.]

“David Loo passport photo, ca. 1941; Loo Chit Sam & Loo Tim, born 1884, copies of Hawaiian birth certificates, 1898 & 1901; Loo family photo, ca. 1926,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Loo David case file, Seattle Box 825, file 7030/13566.

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.

 

Wong Yook Yee in 1913 – Engineer Graduate from MIT in 1925

“Photo of Wong Yook Yee, consular number 21/1913,” 1913, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Yook Yee case file, Seattle Box 73, file 32-3614.

In 1913 Wong Yook Yee 黃玉瑜 was a student applying for a Section 6 certificate to allow him to come to United States through Seattle, Washington. He was eleven years old, born in Chung Hen Lee village, Hoy Ping district, China. His father, Wong Lon Seong, died in China in 1910. His mother, Jew Shee, was living in their native village. He had a younger brother, Nook Nay, and two younger sisters, Chuey Cit and Fong Gay. Wong Yook Yee attended school in his village for five years before going to Hong Kong for two months to study English. He planned to attend Ng Lee school in Oakland, California. His cousin, Ngong Suey, a merchant at Kwong Yuen Co. in Hong Kong, would be paying his expenses. Ngong gave Miss Ida K. Greenlee five hundred dollars in gold to cover the cost of school expenditures. Wong’s local contact was Know Ong Sow, a merchant at Chung Lung Co. in San Francisco. Wong was cautioned that if he did any manual labor during his stay in the United States he could be returned to China. Wong was admitted and started attending school at Pierpont School in Boston, Massachusetts. [change of schools explained in 1929 testimony] He was directed to confirm his school attendance to Mr. Monroe at the Seattle Immigration office via a post card signed by his teacher every three months.

Wong wrote to Mr. Monroe at Seattle Immigration and asked him to help get his Certificate of Identity. He adopted the Christian name of Perry Wong.



In 1929 Wong Yook Yee applied for a return certificate as a laborer. He was 29 years old and a draftsman in Boston. He married Lee Sue Doy (Boston file No. 2500/7819) on 11 March 1929 in Boston. During his interview there was some confusion about the place Wong was born. His family moved when he was three years old.
Wong testified that after he arrived in Seattle in 1913 he went to Ng Lee School in Oakland for six months then about six months in San Francisco before moving to Boston to attend Quincy School until 1917. He went to Northeastern Preparatory School for one years, then served one year in the U.S. Army at Camp Eustis in Virginia. He worked at an architectural firm and attended Tufts College in structural engineering, then Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he graduated in 1925. He then went back to work at Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch & Abbott (called Coolidge & Shattuck when he worked for them previously)

In March 1929 Wong Yook Yee was granted his laborer’s return certificate. There is no more information in his file.

Alex Jay’s maternal step-grandfather was  Wong Yook Yee.  Alex has a blog, Chinese American Eyes about visual and performing artists. It includes links about Wong.

Some of the other articles about Yook Yee Wong on Alex Jay’s blog are:
Y.Y. Wong and S. Howard Jee’s Entry in the Capital Plan for Nanjing, China

Yook Yee Wong in the Journal of the Lingnan Engineering Association

Yook Yee Wong and Sun Yat-sen University

Yook Yee Wong’s / Huang Yu-yu’s Daughters Visit China 黄瑜瑜的女儿们访问中国

Other links provided by Alex Jay:
China Comes to MIT Bringing “Tech” to China
Early Chinese MIT: Wong Yook Yee

Henry White (Lim Kok Heng)– Becomes citizen through Private Law

Henry White, alias Lim Kok Heng, became a naturalized citizen effective 25 August 1942, the date he arrived in New York City on the exchange ship MS Gripsholm. Private law 380 of the 78th Congress was approved by the President on 27 September 1944 to allow him to be naturalized.  The Secretary of State was instructed to have “the proper quota-control officer to deduct one number from the quota for the Chinese of the first year that the said quota is available.” “Henry White (Lim Kok Heng) was paroled to the custody of Mr. Kenneth M. White upon posting a public charge and departure bond in the amount of $500.”

“Private Law 380, Henry White (Lim Kok Heng),” 1944, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, White Henry case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13659.

[This was significant because after the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, the quota of Chinese entering the United States was 105. This extremely restrictive quota was in place until the Immigration Act of 1965.]

Henry White was originally excluded from entering the United States; his case was appealed, then he was paroled to the custody of Kenneth Matchitt White, his adoptive father, who posted a bond of $500. His Ellis island file was #174/405.

The file includes a copy of a 20 October 1943 Seattle Times newspaper article, titled “Chinese Orphan is Permitted to Stay.” Kenneth Matchitt White of Portland, Oregon found Henry, age 9, in a bar in Singapore in 1935. White placed the boy in a Chinese school, but Henry was interned when the Japanese captured Hong Kong.

Louis C. Hafferman, Immigrant Inspector investigated the case. He found that Lim Kok Heng (Henry White) was born in Singapore, Straits Settlement on 2 April 1926.

The father of Kenneth M. White, F. Manson White, was interviewed. He stated that he was born in Derby, England in 1868 and arrived in the United States in 1875. He had been living in Portland since 1888 and was a naturalized citizen. He was employed by the Portland School District as an architect with a salary of $3,000 per year. He had four children: Dr. Randall White, a Portland physician; Frederick M. White, editor on the Oregonian newspaper; Kenneth M. White, the adoptive father; and Katherine White, a former schoolteacher working in the defense industry in Los Angeles. Kenneth owned a farm in Springfield, Oregon a few years before becoming an electrician and currently he was a chief refrigeration engineer in the U.S. Army Transport Service. F. Manson White learned from his son that Lim Kok Heng was sold into slavery as a baby and mistreated. Kenneth felt sorry for him. Because Kenneth thought Lim Kok Heng was intelligent, he wanted him to receive a good education. Eventually Kenneth went through the adoption process. After Lim arrived in New York he was paroled under bond and went to live in Los Angeles with Kenneth’s sister, Katherine. The father, F. Manson White, stated that his assets were worth $10,000 in 1943 and that before the depression they were worth about $150,000. If anything happened to Kenneth, Manson would have the means to support Lim Kok Heng (Henry White).

Kenneth’s brother, Dr. Randall F. White, testified that he had been the Multnomah County physician for two years. He was not interested in Lim Kok Heng and would not want to accept any responsibility for him. Randall had only seen his brother three times in the last four years. As far as he knew the adoption papers were drawn up in Portland after Kenneth returned from the south Pacific war zone. Randall believed that his brother was mentally stable; a generous person who was fond of the subject and wanted to see that he was properly educated. Kenneth M. White sent Lim to Diocesan Boys School at Hong Kong. After the city was captured by the Japanese, Lim was interned. Other internees were Walter F. Frese, of Arlington, Virginia; John N. Raymond, of San Francisco, California; and M. B. King, of Salem, Ohio. Lim Kok Heng was taken aboard the Asama Maru and transferred to the MS Gripsholm with a group of American internees returning to the U.S. In 1943 Lim Kok Heng registered under the Alien Registration Act of 1940.

In a letter to the New York City Immigration Service from Kenneth White’s lawyer, Simon Hauser, he mentioned that White’s aunt, Mrs. Grace Calkins, the widow of a Rear Admiral, was willing to care for the boy at her home in Berkeley, California. Kenneth’s job required him to be at sea most of the time. Henry (Lim Kok Heng) completed most of his elementary school subjects in a year and a half in Hong Kong and was due to graduate from Virgil Junior High School with the highest possible grades in all his studies. He spoke English and “perfect Malayan and his services have been offered to Mr. Davis of the Office of War Information and to the CBS monitor station in San Francisco.”

Private bills S.1103 and H.R. 2707 were introduced by Senator McNary and Representative Angell.

There is no additional information and no photo in the file.

 

Raymond Wong – Short trip to Canada – much paperwork & copius family information

Raymond Wong 黃瑚, age 38, of Fresno, California, was applying to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, via United Airlines from Seattle on 9 October 1942 with his wife, Moe Fung Ha, alias Moe Wong Ruth. They were returning to Seattle two days later, on the 11th  then flying home to Fresno. Raymond’s San Francisco file #12017/54189 and Ruth’s Los Angeles file #14036/2809 were forwarded to the Seattle Immigration office for their inspection.Wong Raymond Birth Cert 1903
Mrs. Hi Loy Wong Death Cert Mother 1940

“Birth Certificate for Raymond Wong, 1903; “Death Certificate for Mrs. Hi Loy Wong,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Raymond case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13662.

The San Francisco office also sent the applicant’s Form 430, birth record, death record of his alleged mother, affidavits and testimony of his witnesses, report of the examining inspector, and San Francisco related files for eight Wong individuals. They were to return the files to the San Francisco office after they had examined them. Ordinarily the records would have been examined at the San Francisco office, but the applicant was already left by plane for Seattle. Wong carried with him a permit from his Local Draft Board #128 giving him permission to depart from the United States.

In 1942 Raymond Wong testified that he was also known as Wong Bow Woo, Raymond Arthur Wong, and Ray Wong. He was born on 6 October 1903 in Fresno, California. He was a produce buyer for Levy and J. Zentner and married Moe Fung Ha in Portland, Oregon on 28 March 1931. She was born in Portland. Their two sons, Ronald James Wong, Chinese name Wong You Guai, age 10; and Richard Gene Wong, Chinese name Wong You Keung, age 3, were born at Fresno.

Raymond’s father, Hi Loy Wong, marriage name Wong Wun Gum, died about 1924 or 1926. Raymond’s mother, Lillie Wong, died in 1940. Raymond had five brother and four sisters. His brothers Harry Wong (Wong Bow/Poo Sun), Charley Wong (Wong Bow Que), Frank Wong (Wong Bow Yuen), Fred Wong (Wong Bow Quong), and George Wong (Wong Bow Sing) were all living in Fresno except for Harry. His sisters were Lena Wong (Wong Bow Chee), now Mrs. Lew Yuen; Grace Wong (Wong Bow Yook), now Mrs. Emory Chow; Mary or Marietta Wong (Wong Bow Yut), now Mrs. Philip S. Ching; and Pearl Wong (Wong Bow Jin), now Mrs. Charles Luck. Grace and Pearl were living in Los Angeles and Lena and Mary were in Fresno. Another brother, Herbert Wong (Wong Bow/Boo Quan) died at Delano, California in 1941 and his brother Willie Wong (Wong Bow Son) died about 1922 in Fresno.

Raymond’s sister, Lena, was a witness for him. She stated she was born 18 September 1894 in Fresno. She married Lew Hock Choon in Fresco on 30 November 1911 according to Chinese custom. In 1926 they married according to the American custom. They had eleven living children and a daughter died in infancy. She listed the names and ages of her surviving children; her siblings and their spouses and children.

Lena swore in an affidavit that she was the “natural sister to Raymond Wong…” The affidavit with her photograph also states the Lena lost her U. S. citizenship through marriage and was repatriated. She held a certificate of citizenship issued in 1934 at the Superior Court of Fresno County; she had never made a trip outside of the United States; and she resided in Fresno.
Wong Raymond Aff Lum Shee 1942“Affidavit photos for Lena Lew and Lum Shee,” 1942, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Raymond case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13662.

Another witness was Lum Shee also known as Lum Choy Len. She was born in Sun Wooey City, China and entered the United States at age 11 at San Francisco about 1882 with her parents, Lum Wing Gwai and Fung Shee. She married Lew Yick Song. They had four sons and three daughters. She listed their names, age, and place of residence. She was a neighbor of the Wong family and first saw Raymond when he was about two years old. She correctly identified photos of Raymond’s parents. In an affidavit she swore to much of the same information in her interview and stated that she had not made any trips outside the United States. Her photograph is attached to the affidavit.

Raymond Wong’s application was submitted with a favorable recommendation. The Special Inspector of Immigration at Fresno wrote in his report: “It might be stated that this family has been known to this office for quite a number of years and has always been found reliable.” Raymond and his wife were readmitted at Seattle after their short trip to Vancouver.
[It is hard to imagine how much time and money was spent investigation Raymond Wong and his family.]