Shao Chang Lee, age 29, of San Francisco, Secretary of the Chinese Branch of the Y.M.C.A. of San Francisco applied to make a short trip to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, in March 1919. According to his file he was a student, and he was re-admitted. The inventory file is only five pages long. It gives us very little personal information about Shao Chang Lee and probably tells us more about the tension between the international immigration offices, their rules and personnel than about Lee.
Form No. E. 2877 from the Consulate-General of the Republic of China at San Francisco, California in included with an attached photo of Shao Chang Lee requesting that all Customs and other Officials and Authorities permit Shao Chang Lee to safely pass.
On 22 April 1919, Henry M. White, Commissioner in Seattle, sent a letter to the Inspector in Charge of Immigration Service in Victoria, B.C. asking why Shao Chang Lee was charged $1 to have his name entered on the alien passenger manifest in typewriting. White seemed peeved.
On 2 May, White received a testy reply from S. J. Burford from Immigration Service in Victoria…
Other information in the file: A business card for John E. Rieke who was associated with YMCA in Seattle but not mentioned in the file.
This undated, unidentified newspaper article was included. The article mentions Judge Thomas Burke, president of the China Club; Chin W. Kee and Shao Chang Lee, Charles M. Schwab, Mrs. J. J. Connell, and Paul Fung.[i]
[i] “Paying Honor to Visiting Chinese,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, Seattle, WA, 9 April 1919, p.2, col. 3.
In late September 1938, Robert Quon/Quong, age 15, applied to go to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, to attend a Seattle Times Newsboys Excursion. It was a one day trip, up on Sunday morning and back to Seattle in the evening. Robert needed to get his Form 430, Native Return Certificate, approved before he could leave.
Robert’s father, Eng Ah Quan/Harry Quong Eng testified that he was forty-three years old, born in Dallas, Texas. He said he was an “American citizen, absolutely.” He had never been to China. He married Jessie Quong, a Caucasian, in Omaha, Nebraska. They had four children, all born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Their children were Erma, 22, born July 25, 1916; Dorothea Marie, born 1919; Harry, Jr., born 1921; and Robert, 15, born August 26, 1923. They were all living in Seattle. Erma and Dorothy were attending Wilson’s Business College; Harry, Jr. was going to Garfield High School, and Robert attended Washington Grade School. They lived 436 23rd Street South. The children’s birth certificates were registered at Okmulgee, Oklahoma but they only had Harry’s certificate. Robert’s certificate was on order.
Mrs. Jessie Ethel N. Quong, testified as a witness for her son, Robert Quong. Mrs. Quong was born in Omaha, Nebraska; she was white, and had been married twice. Her second marriage was to Harry Quong (Eng) at Sapulpa, Oklahoma in 1915.
Robert Quan testified that his father worked as a cook at Moose Club. He thought his father went to China as a member of a crew once. [The Immigrant Inspector ignored this discrepancy and recommended that Robert application’s application be approved.]
The Reference Sheet included in the file only gives the file number for Robert’s father—7030/5501 for Eng Ah Quan Harry.
[I thought there might be an article in the Seattle Times newspaper about the paperboys excursion to Victoria but I could not find one. Robert looked happy in the Form 430 photo. He was probably excited about his upcoming trip. thn]
Dorothy S. Luke Lee, daughter of Luke Lee and Down Cook, was born on 15 March 1910 in Seattle, Washington. She went to China with her family in 1912 and returned a year later.
When Dorothy and her family applied to go to China in 1912, Doctor Cora Smith (Eaton) King was a witness for the family. Dr. King, the family’s physician for the past five years, testified that Dorothy’s father, Luke Lee, was a merchant in Seattle. She knew that at least three of their children were born in the U.S. She was present at the birth of the two youngest, Dorothy and Edwin S. Luke Lee, and she assisted in obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate of Eugene Luke Lee, who was also born in the U.S.
In 1912, Dorothy’s mother, Down Cook (Mrs. Luke Lee), testified that she was 30 years old, and born in Quong Chaw village, Sunning district, China. She came to the U.S. in July 1907 through Sumas, Washington. At that time her husband was a merchant and member of Sing Fork & Company in New Haven, Connecticut. Their son, Luke Thick Kaye, (Dorothy’s older brother) born in Yen On village, Sunning district, China, came with them.
Luke Thick Kaye testified in 1912 that he was seven years old. He had been going to school for three years. His teacher at the Main Street school in Seattle was Miss Sadie E. Smith, and his present teacher at Colman School was Miss Rock.
Dorothy S. Luke Lee, age 3, received Certificate of Identity #9975 as a returning citizen in 1913.
On 13 September 1938 Mrs. Kaye Hong, (Dorothy S. Luke Lee), age 28, applied to leave the U.S. from the Port of Seattle. She listed her address as 725 Pine Street, San Francisco, California. She testified that she married Kaye Hong (Hong Won Kee Kaye) on 7 September 1936.
Dorothy, her husband, and some of his family were making a short trip to Canada. They returned the next day through Blaine, Washington and were admitted.
Additional information not in the file: Keye Luke attended the University of Washington in Seattle and was an artist/illustrator before becoming an actor for films and television. He got his movie start playing Charlie Chan’s Number One Son, Lee Chan.
Arthur was a professional wrestler. He was 27 years old and 6 feet 1-1/2 inches tall in August 1933 when he applied for his Native Return Certificate to leave the U.S. to wrestle in Vancouver, British Columbia; and Honolulu, Hawaii. He planned to stay in Honolulu about three months before returning through San Francisco.
“Arthur Henry Wong Dock, Return Certificate photo,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Arthur Henry Wong Dock (Wong Bock Cheung), Portland case file, Box 96, file 5017/739.
Arthur (Wong Bock Cheung) was born on 11 January 1906 in Chicago, Illinois, to Wong Dock and Anna Josephine McGarry. His mother was Caucasian and he had twin sisters, Victoria, and Gladys.
He married Margaret Chipley, a Caucasian, in Chicago in June 1929. He used his mother’s maiden name on the marriage certification, so he is listed as Arthur McGarry. They had a daughter, Victoria about 1930.
When interviewed, Roy J. Norene, the examining immigration inspector in Portland, Oregon, commenting on an article about Arthur that appeared in the Sunday, May 14, 1933, Oregonian. The article said that Arthur was born in China. In Arthur’s interrogation, he said he was born in Chicago. Arthur told Norene that it was all publicity, just a publicity stunt. [According to the Cook County, Illinois birth certificate index on Ancestry.com Henry Wong Dock was born in Chicago.] Nothing in the file indicates that the inspector verified Arthur’s place of birth.
Arthur testified that he made a brief trip to British Columbia, Canada in 1932 for a wresting exhibition. He had a Boston file #2500/9543 from 1932 when he made a trip to Montreal, Canada; and a Seattle file 7030/5432 for his trips to Vancouver, B.C.
Arthur must have been very charming. He did not have any problem getting his immigration papers. The Immigration Inspectors all gave him favorable recommendations.
In this excerpt from The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon from 14 May 1933, that was included in the file. The author of the article comments on (Arthur) Wong Bock Cheung’s attractive personality and keen sense of humor. How many of the details in the article are true? Could he really speak four or five languages beside English and Chinese? Was his father an interpreter for the Chinese and United States governments and weigh 250 pounds? His case file does not mention any of these details.
Amy Chin knew her grandfather entered the United States through the Port of Seattle in 1911. While searching for more records on him, she found he had been in northeastern New York state near the Adirondacks by 1903. She found more information about him in a jail ledger at a museum in Port Henry, New York, near the Canadian border. Read about Amy Chin’s discovery of the jail ledgers and her collaboration with the NYSCA Museum Program, Iron Center Museum, Town of Moriah Historical Society, North Star Underground Railroad Museum, and the Museum of Chinese in America, and how they got the jail ledgers digitized and available online. Thank you to Amy Chin and everyone involved in the project for making this information available to families and researchers.
Here’s the story. You can see the 719 images at MoCA’s online archive. The ledgers belong to the Iron Center Museum/Port Henry-Moriah Historical Society in Port Henry, NY. They and the Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA) in New York City jointly own the digitized records.
Lee Quong On’s entry in the jail ledgers
Lee Quong On’s file featured on April 29, 2019 blog post, contains information from 1901 to 1941. After hearing about the jail ledgers from the Port Henry area and that they were digitized, I searched and found an entry for Lee Quong On.
In early 1901 Lee Quong On left China. He arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; then took a train to Montreal, Quebec and made his way to Burke, Franklin County, New York. He was immediately arrested. On 15 March 1901, he was brought before Hon. William V. S. Woodward, U.S. Commissioner of Plattsburgh, N. Y. and charged with unlawfully being in the U.S. A trial was held. He and three witness: Chin Sing, Chin Dan and Tsao Dong, testified in his favor. The evidence was considered, the charges were cleared, and Lee was released. He received his discharge certificate with his photograph attached in August 1901 at Port Henry, New York from Fred W. Dudley, a United States Commissioner, Northern District of New York. For the complete post, see https://chineseexclusionfiles.com/2019/04/29/lee-quong-on-1901-discharge-papers/
Lee Quong (On), the jail ledger at the Iron Center Museum/Port Henry-Moriah Historical Society in Port Henry, NY. He is the top entry on page 49. (These are copies of the same image; the second is darker so you can read all of the words.)
[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. A few months ago, I emailed the staff at firstname.lastname@example.org with my request for the files for Long Mi-Na and Long Nee-Sa. The request went into the queue and when my number came up a staff member scanned the files and emailed them to me. They are the greatest!]
“Long Mi-Na & Long Nee-Sa correspondence photos,” 1929, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Long Mi-Na and Long Nee-Sa case file, Seattle Box 334, file 7022/18-3 & 7022/18-4.
Long Mi-Na, age 23, and Long Nee-Sa, age 21, were the daughters of Long Tack Sam. They were actresses and members of the Long Tack Sam Troupe who made several tours the United States and Canada. There were twelve members of the troupe. On this trip to Vancouver, B.C. they left Seattle on 23 November 1932 by boat, returned via the Great Northern Railway, and were identified and admitted at Blaine, Washington, one week later.
The troupe was bonded by the National Suety Company granted by Department of Labor.
The initial correspondence in the files was for their 1929 tour. On that tour, they left the U.S. in March for vaudeville engagements at Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, Canada; and reenter at Seattle in April 1929 to continue their tour in the United States. They were allowed to stay in the U.S. for six months. A bond of $1,000 was paid for each of the twelve members of the troupe. The substantial amount of the bond was to assure that all the members of the troupe would depart the U.S. at the end of the six-month period.
[Unfortunately, files for travelers such as actors, actresses, acrobats, and vaudeville members, usually do not contain much information. Most do not include a photograph. Mi-Na and Nee-Sa’s files were only six pages but each file included a photo.]
[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]
Rose Chin had never been out of the United States and in 1927 she and her husband wanted to make a trip to Canada. Rose applied with immigration services to make a temporary visit abroad.
In her application, Rose Chin Kee testified that she was born on 15 April 1911 to Mr. and Mrs. Chin Kee of 219 Washington Street in Seattle. Rose’s father, Chin Kee, was a merchant and interpreter at Immigration Service at Seattle. He died in China about 1920. Her mother was born in San Francisco and had been to China sometime before Rose was born in 1911. Rose’s birth certificate says her mother was born in China, but the interviewer did not ask her about the discrepancy. Evidently Rose was comfortable with the English language; she approved of her interview being conducted in English. Rose had five brothers and four sisters who were all born in Seattle, and one adopted sister. Her oldest brother, Tom Chin Kee, was the only one of her siblings to visit China. He left and returned when Rose was a small child.
Rose married Pong Mon on 15 May 1927 at home in Seattle. They obtained their license from the county clerk and a white man performed the ceremony. Mr. Lysons helped them get their license.
Rose Chin lived in Seattle all her life and knew Inspector Mangels, Interpreter Quan Foy and Mr. Monroe from Immigration Service. She attended Main Street and Pacific public schools. She provided her birth certificate for inspection.
Although the inspectors verified Rose’s birth certificate, knew her family, and knew her since she was a small girl, they could not approve her application. Her husband, a Chinese native, could not prove that he was a U.S. citizen. According to the 1922 Cable Act, Rose Chin lost her U.S. citizenship when she married a Chinese native.
Rose Chin’s application was disapproved.
Additional information not included in the file: The Expatriation Act of 1907 stated that women assumed the citizenship of their husbands. U.S.-born women lost their citizenship when they married non-citizen immigrant men.
The Cable Act of 1922 said that an American woman who married a non-U.S. citizen would no longer lose her citizenship if her husband was eligible to become a citizen. However, if she married a Chinese ineligible for citizenship, she would lose her U.S. citizenship.
The 1931 amendment to the Cable Act allowed women to retain their American citizenship even if they married a person ineligible for naturalization.
Fred W. Taylor, Controller of Chinese Immigration for the Port of Vancouver, B. C. swore in an affidavit in the case of Loey King, also known as Lew King 雷權 or Loey Koon, that the document he reviewed was a true copy of Lew King’s application for admission to Canada.
[It is really highly unusual that a copy of Loey King (Lew King)’s 22-page Canadian file is included in his Seattle file.]
Lew King’s Canadian record was made in accordance with the laws of the Dominion of Canada, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1906, as amended by acts assented to July 20, 1908, and July 25, 1917. [A copy of the Act was included in the file.]
On 23 August 1920, Wong Wamfong [or Wam Fong] swore in an affidavit that he was manager of the Man Sing Lung Company at 92 Pender Street East, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The business, started in March 1919, was registered as a partnership. They dealt with groceries, general merchandise, and drugs. Lew King was a member of the partnership, a merchant, and was interested in coming to Vancouver from Hong Kong to become an active partner.
Louis Gar On swore in an affidavit in August 1920 that he was managing partner of the Man Sang Lung Company in Victoria, B.C. He claimed that Lew King had been a partner for several years of the company in Victoria and was also registered as a partner of Man Sing Lung Company in Vancouver. He believed that Lew King should be entitled to enter Canada exempt from the $500 capitulation tax.
In Lew King’s interrogation, he testified that he was a merchant for Man Sing Lung Co. in Vancouver, B.C. He arrived in Vancouver on 23 November 1920. This was reported in Vancouver file number 1316/1398. His exemption as a merchant was rejected and he was admitted after paying the $500 head tax. In his statement and declaration for registration he said that he was a salesman. He was born at Ing Gar Hong, Sin Ning district, China about 1892.
Lew King left Vancouver and was admitted at the Port of Seattle in August 1921 as a Section 6 Merchant. When Lew King applied for his laborer’s return certificate in 1935, the Seattle immigration office chose to verify Lew King’s original admission in Vancouver in 1921 even though he had made two trips to China since his admittance. The Vancouver office initially recommended that Lew King not be approved. Seattle asked Vancouver to reexamine their file. Roy M Porter, Immigrant Inspector in Seattle, reviewed their report. Porter did not think there was sufficient evidence to prove that Lew King admission to the Canada or the U.S. in 1921 was fraudulent. He reasoned that if the admittance was disapproved, Lew King’s appeal would probably be sustained so he recommended that his laborer’s return certificate be approved.
At the time of his interview to leave the U.S. on 5 April 1935, Lew King presented treasury bond No. 57451A for $1,000 as proof of his statutory right for a laborer’s return certificate. He left the bond with the Goon Dip Company at 415 7th Avenue South in Seattle. He was reminded by immigration authorities that the bond must be intact in the U.S. at the time of his return to be entitled to legal readmission.
Lew King (married name Doon Hen) was 42 years old and living at 214 Washington Street in Seattle. He left Seattle on 13 April 1935 on the S.S. President McKinley.
According to section 7 of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1888, as amend, Chinese laborers were required to return within one year. 1
There is no more information in Lew King’s file and nothing in the file to indicate why he did not return but in September 1937, Marie A. Proctor, district commissioner of the Seattle District Immigration Office, canceled the certificate of identity #56504 issued to Lew King as a laborer.
1. Green Haywood Hackworth. Digest of International Law: Chapters IX – XI., Volume 3, “Chapter XI, Aliens,” (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1942), 792. (books.google.com: accessed 12 May 2020.)
The Canadian government passed the Chinese Immigration Act in 1885, after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Chinese immigrants entering Canada had to pay a $50 head tax. It was the first time in Canadian history that a group was obligated to pay a tax based solely on their country of origin. In 1900, the head tax was raised to $100, then increased up to $500 per person in 1903. About 81,000 Chinese immigrants paid the head tax between 1885 and 1923.
Students, merchants (except laundry, restaurant and retail operators), diplomats, and Canadian-born Chinese returning from education in China were exceptions to the exclusion.
In 1923 the Canadian government passed a more restrictive Chinese Exclusion Act which banned all Chinese immigration to Canada. It was repealed in 1947. Because of a quota, few Chinese were allowed into Canada until immigration reform in 1967.1
The Canadian Chinese Exclusion Act was similar to the U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act but the U.S. did not have a huge head tax on Chinese immigrants.
Read about the Chinese Head Tax Monument at Municipal Cemetery, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. It was commissioned by the Westman Chinese Association with financial support from the Government of Canada, Province of Manitoba, City of Brandon, Rotary Club of Brandon, Whitehead Foundation, and various private donors. Created by noted Manitoba sculptor Peter Sawatzky, the monument was unveiled during a ceremony on 26 June 2011.
[Thanks to Velda and Ron Schei for telling me about the Chinese Head Tax Monument in Brandon, Manitoba.]
“Chin Hing Yee file photos, 1901-1923, and Partnership lists,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Hing Yee case file, Seattle Box 162, file 2355/21-16. 2006
The first document in Chin Hing Yee’s file is his July 1900 Application for Readmission of Chinese Merchant form. It includes an affidavit by John Thompson and Edward Maus. They swore that they were citizens of the United States and residents of the State of Washington; that they had been residing in King County more than ten years; that they personally knew Chin Hing Yee 陳天宇, whose photograph was attached to the affidavit; that Chin was thirty years old; that he resided in Seattle for more than six years in the past; that he was not a laborer; that he was a merchant at Coaster Tea Company; that he had a $500 interest in the company; that prior to his departure for China he was engaged in the business of buying and selling merchandise for the firm; and he did not perform manual labor in the twelve months before his departure.
When Chin Hing Yee returned the U.S. In November 1901 John Thompson and Edward Maus again swore in an affidavit to the same information they had sworn to when Chin left for China in 1900.
Thomas M. Fisher, Chinese Inspector for the Customs District of Puget Sound, Washington, reported to Col. F. D. Huestis, the customs collector in Port Townsend, Washington, that he had examined the witnesses for Chin Hing Yee and believed the applicant was entitled to admission. Chin Hing Yee was readmitted in November 1901 at Port Townsend.
In 1909 Chin Hing Yee, sometimes known as Chin Hing, applied to go to China again. He swore in an affidavit that he was born about 1870 in Chin Bing village, Sun Ning District, China. He had been a resident of Seattle for many years and that he was a merchant doing business at Bow On Drug Company at 216 Washington Street. He was formerly a member of the Coaster Tea Company at 1305 Second Avenue. Fred R. Harvey and Edward Mauss [sic] swore in an affidavit that they were white citizens residing in Seattle for several years; they knew Chin was a merchant at a fixed place of business; he was not a laborer; and for the last twelve months he had not perform any manual labor. Edward Mauss was in the fire insurance business and had lived in Seattle since about 1888. He had known Chin Hing Yee fifteen years. Fred Harvey, a resident of Seattle for ten years, was a contractor at the Collins block and knew Chin for about five years.
Chin Lai, a manager of Bow On Drug Company, was asked to draw up a partnership list for the company. He swore that Chin Hing Yee invested $500 in the company and became a partner. Other partners were Louie Hay, Chin Sang, Hong Sing and Toy Sam. Sales were about $600 or $700 a month and rent on the store building was $120 a month. They rented out part of the building for a restaurant and receive $60 a month in rent.
In 1911 Chin Hing Yee was working as a bookkeeper and was admitted as a returning merchant.
Chin Hing Yee was asked to prepare a partnership list also.
Chin Hing Yee signed his name in English and Chinese on all of his documents.
When Chin went back to China in early 1915, he was a laundryman and was owed $1,000 by Chin Lai. When he returned to Seattle in October 1915, he claimed he had two sons and one daughter, and his wife was “in the family way.”
In 1919 Chin Hing Yee testified that he was originally admitted in the United States in 1885 at the Port of San Francisco as the minor son of a merchant. He was 14 or 15 at that time. Henry A. Monroe, the examining inspector in Seattle, thought Chin must be mistaken “because that was before the court had decided that minor sons of exempts could be admitted without being in possession of the certificate required by Section 6 of the Act of 1884.” Monroe thought Chin was first admitted in 1901 as a member of the Coaster Tea Company. Monroe suspected that Chin was still a laborer but since Chin had previously been admitted as the son of a merchant, a laborer, and as a merchant; Monroe could only recommend that his application be approved.
When Chin Hing Yee applied to leave in 1919 he had been issued Certificate of Identity No. 4416. He was applying for a return certificate as a laborer. He had $1,000 on deposit in the University State Bank of Seattle and showed his bank book as proof. Chin was reminded that he would be entitled to readmission only if the money was still on deposit upon his return.
Before making another trip to China in 1923, Chin Hing Yee testified that he was fifty-three years old, his wife’s name was Lim Shee and they had five children, four sons and a daughter. Their ages ranged from four to twenty-four. Two sons were living in Canada. He was unable to return within the allotted year because his wife was seriously ill so he obtained a Chinese Overtime Certificate that allowed him to stay up to one more year. Chan Yee and Chan Go gave corroborating statements and Maurice Walk, American Vice Consul at Hongkong approved Chin’s overtime certificate. Chin Hing Yee returned to Seattle in September 1924, just two months over his original one-year deadline. He was admitted. There is no mention of the health status of his wife.