Tag Archives: Certificate of Residence

Charley Dea Laundry Price Ticket – 1916 Chicago area

Chinese Laundry Ticket 1916
“Charley Dea Light-Grade Hand Laundry Price List,” ca. 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Chung Hing case file, Box RS 285, RS 34366.

In 1916 Lee Chung Hing, a laborer, applied to leave the United States from his home in Chicago, Illinois for a visit to China. His application for a laborer’s return certificate was rejected because he could not prove that he was a lawful resident of the United States. He had lived in the U.S. for about 36 years but did not have the required certificate of residence. When he originally entered the U.S. he was classified as a merchant. He presented his original merchant identification paper in 1916. It was not accepted.

John G. Sullivan, Immigration Inspector in Boston, interviewed those who Lee Chung Hing listed as his business partners at Quong Suey Lung Company in Boston in the 1890s. Chin Sing had been a partner of the firm for over thirty years but did not remember Lee Chung Hing. He had heard that Lee was a member of the firm but didn’t know him. Lee Chung Hing’s Caucasian witnesses, Luther Gaddis and William K. Jones, were both deceased by 1916. According to the inspector both witnesses had signed hundreds of affidavits for Boston Chinese years ago. They were not the most credible witnesses.

Lee Chung Hing was sixteen years old in 1880 when he first came to the United States. It was two years before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. He lived in San Francisco as a merchant until about 1892, Boston for seven years, then Chicago where he was a laborer working in a laundry. Lee had a hard time getting the proper paper work for his return certificate. There was a lot of confusion about what documents were needed when the Act was first passed; Lee switched from being a merchant to a laborer; and different documents were required for each classification. Over thirty years had passed since he first arrived in the U.S. His witnesses couldn’t remember him and two had died.

On Lee’s application for a return certificate he claimed his friend of over twenty years, Dea Poon Suey borrowed $1050 from him to buy a laundry in Aurora, Illinois. In fact, the loan was only for $500. [The Scott Act 1888 severely restricted Chinese laborers who were already residing here from returning to China for visits. They could not reenter unless they owned property or held a business investment of $1,000 or more.1] The amount of his loan wasn’t enough to satisfy the law’s requirements. He did not have enough evidence to obtain a return certificate and was denied because lawful residence in the country had not been shown. He was giving the right to appeal. There is no indication that he appealed.

1 John Jung, Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain (Yin & Yang Press), 2007, 31.

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Chun Shee and her son Wong Gwan Jing

Affidavit photos of Wong Ling, Wong Gwan Jing, and Chun Shee
“Affidavit photos of Wong Ling, Wong Gwan Jing and Chun Shee” 1915, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chun Shee and Wong Gwan Jing case file, Portland, Box 31, Case 4263.

In November 1915, Wong Ling, alias Chew Kee, age 55, a merchant and member of the Chew [Chu] Kee Co., 214 Front Street (formerly 130 Front Street), The Dalles, Oregon, submitted papers seeking admission into the United States for his wife and son. Three white witnesses swore that Wong Ling was a merchant and met the mercantile status required by law by not engaging in prohibited manual labor. R. P. Bonham, Chinese Inspector, stated, “the case is either genuine or else has been concocted with greater cleverness and recited with far more guile than is usual with a case arising in a country town.”
During questioning, Mr. Bonham found that Wong Ling had been issued certificate of residence #43730 (issued in 1894 in Portland, Oregon) and certificate of identity #2562 (issued in Seattle in 1911). Since it was not Immigration’s policy to have two identification documents for one person, the certificate of identity was sent to Seattle for cancellation.
Wong Ling’s white witnesses were Edward H. French, a banker, president of French & Company and long-time resident of The Dalles; L. A. Schanne, a hardware and grocery merchant who had lived in The Dalles for 40 years; and Edward Kurtz, Chief of Police, a resident of The Dalles since 1894. They all had known Wong Ling for 15 to 20 years.
Wong Ling testified that his marriage name was Hong Gwoon (or spelled Hong Quin). He was born in Ging Bui Village, Sun Wui district, China and had made two trips to China. In K.S. 15 (1889) he left and returned the next year via San Francisco. In K.S. 32* (1906) he left from Sumas, Washington and returned at Seattle. He had been living in the United States about 32 years. He and his brother, Wong Cheong, were partners in Chew Kee Company.
Wong Ling’s first wife died in K.S. 32 (1906) when she was about 36 years old. They had two children. His son and his family were living “on the small door side” of Wong Ling’s house in China. His brother’s family lived in their father’s house “on the big door side.”

Wong Ling married his second wife, Chun Shee, about four months after his first wife died. A woman named Ngan Ho arranged the marriage. They were married on a market day, either the 18th or 22nd, 9th month, K.S. 32* (1906) and the feast lasted one day. Their son, Gwan Jing, was born one month after Wong Ling returned to the U.S. In 1915 his son was five years old and was about to meet his father for the first time.
Wong Ling’s Chinese witness was Liu Chung, marriage name Shung Nguen, who lived in San Francisco but visited The Dalles occasionally. He recognized Wong Ling’s wife, Chun Shee, from a photo. He had only seen her briefly when his visit to China coincided with Wong Ling’s visit. Even though he had a meal at their home in their village he said “…according to our custom, just as soon as a lady sees a man she withdraws and keeps away.”
Chun Shee was interviewed twice, on 22 October 1915 and on 5 November. She and her son Wong Gwan Jing, age 5, arrived in Seattle on the 22nd. She was 28 years old and had married at age 19. Her maiden name was Ah Gon. The interviewer asked about a servant girl, Chun Moy, who lived in the household for about four years. She was security for a debt and when her father paid off the loan, she left and was married. Chun Shee was asked the same questions her husband was asked. There were only minor discrepancies in their answers. After two weeks [most likely in detention] she and her son were admitted to the United States.
[The file gives a lot of information about the family, house and land holdings of Wong Ling in his village in China.]
[Usually each person would have a separate file. The information for Chun Shee and her son, Wong Gwan Jing, is all together in one file.]
*K.S. 32 is during the reign of Kang Shi, or about 1906.