Tag Archives: China

Robert Eugene Lee – Chinese/African American of Philadelphia

Lee Robert Eugene 1916 Aff
“Robert Eugene Lee and Lee Chong, affidavit photos ,” 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Quock Bong (Robert Eugene Lee) case file, Seattle Box 686, 7030/8391.

Robert Eugene Lee (Lee Quock Bong) was born on 24 February 1897 at 208 North 9th Street in Philadelphia. His parents were Lee Chong and Musetta Lee. His father was Chinese and his mother was “a negress.” In 1902 Lee Chong and his family visited his home village, Dong Nom Ho Village, Hok Dan District, China. Mrs. Lee died two months after arriving in China. Lee Chong returned to Philadelphia in 1903 and the children stayed in China with their father’s family.

In 1916 Lee Chong was applying to have his son, Robert Eugene Lee, join him in Philadelphia. He swore in an affidavit that he was a laundryman at 1939 East Sargent Street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a widower and father of three American-born children, Robert Eugene Lee, aged 18; Mable Luella Lee, age 16, and Gum Len Lee, age 13, who were living in China. His son was married but his wife would be staying in China.

Mary E. Moy, age 45, was a witness for Lee Chong and his son. She testified that her sister and Dr. Bates attended Musetta Lee at Robert’s birth. Mrs. Moy, a Caucasian, was married to a Chinese, Goon Moy. Her husband and Robert’s father, Lee Chong, were close friends.

Other witnesses were Lee Tong, manager of Chong Woh Company in Philadelphia and Agnes A. Ming, a Caucasian who knew Robert’s parents well. She testified that she had known Lee Chong since she was twelve years old and that Lee Chong married Zada Brown, “a colored girl,” who lived over his laundry at 18th and Wharton streets. After their three children were born the Lee family moved to China and Zada died there in 1903. Agnes went to school with Zada, a mulatto. Agnes’ husband was Chinese and a friend of Lee Chong. The Mings lived in Albany, New York.

Lee Chong (American name Joe Lee), (marriage name Lee See Tai), was 49 years old, a laundryman. He received his certificate of identity or residence 107002 in Philadelphia in March 1894. [The file sometimes refers to the certificate as identity and sometime as residence.]
In a letter recommending approval of Robert’s documents, Charles V. Mallet, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector at Gloucester City, New Jersey stated,

“The witnesses Mary Moy and Agnes Ming are both white women
who are or have been married to Chinese, and both of them
convince me of their credibility in connection with their
testimony affecting the applicant; Mrs. Moy being a woman
whose personality should place her way above the status of
one who ordinarily consorts with Chinese. I personally know
something about this witness and have to say for her that
she has raised a family of boys in a manner which should do
credit to any mother. The Chinese witness, Lee Tong, is one
of the most responsible and respected merchant in
Philadelphia Chinatown, and his testimony should be
accorded corresponding weight. The alleged father of the
boy gives the impression of one who is disposed to tell the
truth with his knowledge, and manifests a true parent’s
interest in the applicant…”

In a 1916 statement approving Robert Eugene Lee’s arrival, H. W. Cunningham, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector, Vancouver, B.C. said, “…the claims made are genuine, and in addition applicant’s features plainly indicate an admixture of negro blood. Applicant is admitted and furnished a certificate of identity.”

The file lists the following documents were examined: the baptismal cards for Robert Eugene Lee and Mabel Luella Lee at Philadelphia, 12 December 1901; a 1911 copy of a birth certificate for Chinese female Lee, [Gum Len Lee] born 21 July 1902; and passport 62682 issued 9 October 1902 to Musetta Lee accompanied by her three minor children. [Unfortunately these documents are not included in the file.]

Robert lost his certificate of identity in 1921 but was able to get it replaced.

Robert Eugene Lee made two more trips to China. He was gone from 1922 to 1924. His son, Lee Tong Chee, arrived in the U.S. in 1928. His wife, Chong See, and his other son, Lee You Kue, stayed in China. In 1936 Robert, age 39, applied to visit China and was approved. He returned in June 1937.


Lu Alice Catherine – U. S. Citizen born in Shanghai, China

Rose Wong, daughter of Gee “George” Wong and Minnie Lee Wong, was born 3 June 1906 at Reinbeck, Iowa. She married Andrew Kuei Lu on 18 March 1933 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lu was a Chinese citizen in the United States with a Section 6 student exemption.

Kuei Lu and Rose Wong Lu returned to China in February 1934. Their son Thomas Laurence was born three months later on 20 May 1934 in Shanghai.  Alice Catherine Lu was born the next year on 4 August 1935.

In April 1939 Rose and her two children returned to the U.S. through Seattle. They were here to visit Rose’s parents in Minneapolis and would return to China sometime after Christmas. Rose obtained her certificate of identity 79613 when she landed in Seattle.

Thomas was considered a temporary visitor when he entered the U.S. His stay could not exceed one year. He was born four days before the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 24 May 1934 went into effect. The Act would have allowed him to be considered a U.S. citizen if he had been born after 24 May 1934. He missed being considered a citizen by four days. His mother and little sister were citizens.

Tydings-McDuffie Act of 24 May 1934
“Excerpt of Tydings-McDuffie Act of 24 May 1934 printed on the Report of Birth issued by the American Consulate at Shanghai”

Mrs. Rose Wong Lu obtained a Report of Birth for Lu Alice Catherine issued by the American Consulate at Shanghai and presented it to Immigration upon their arrival in 1939.

Lu Alice Catherine, Report of Birth
“Lu Alice Catherine, Report of Birth, Shanghai, China,” 1935, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lu Alice Catherine case file, Seattle Box 784, 7030/11928.

When the family arrived In April 1939, Alice Catherine Lu was reminded that “under the law you will cease to be a citizen if you fail to reside in the United States for at least five years continuously immediately previous to your eighteen birthday and fail to take an oath of allegiance to the United States of American within six months after your twenty-first birthday.”

Lu Alice Catherine photo 1940
“Lu Alice Catherine, Form 430 photo,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lu Alice Catherine case file, Seattle Box 784, 7030/11928.

O. B. Holton, District Director of the St. Paul District Immigration Service noted that the signatures in Chinese on Forms 430 were omitted because Rose Wong Lu, the applicant’s mother, was unable to write Chinese.

Rose Wong Lu, her daughter Alice Catherine Lu; and her son, Hou Chi Thomas Lawrence Lu (Seattle file 7027/819), visited with family in Minneapolis and were approved to leave the United States in April 1940. They left for China from Vancouver, B.C., via Seattle, on the Empress of Asia on 20 April 1940.

Ng Chuen Yong of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania

Ng Chuen Yong (吳春容) was twelve years old in July 1939. She passed a medical examination in Hong Kong before boarding the Princess Marguerite for her return trip to the United States.

Ng Chuen Yong Medical Card 1939
“Medical Card for Ng Chuen Yong,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Chuen Yong case file, Seattle Box 792, 7030/12239.

Nl [Normal] Chinese Girl, inoculated against Cholera. Signed V. N. Atienza

Ten years earlier she and her mother, two brothers, Ng Chuck Sang and Ng Jack Sang, and sister, Ng Chuen Moy had left from the port of Seattle to return to their home village of Nom Yung in Hoy Ping District, China. There were only two houses in the village and they were next door to her mother’s parents. Her mother and brother, Jit [Jack] Sang traveled back to the United States about 1931; her brother Chuck Sang returned around 1937. Her sister stayed in China and was going to school in Hong Kong.

Ng Chuen Yong Form 430 1929
“Ng Chuen Yong, Form 430 Photo” 1929, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Chuen Yong case file, Seattle Box 792, 7030/12239.

Ng Chuen Yong’s mother, Lee Lon, was born in China and was admitted to the U.S. at the port of San Francisco, California in 1923 as the daughter of a merchant. Her husband, Ng Ong Jen, was born in San Francisco. They were married in July 1924 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a waiter there at the Paris Inn Restaurant. Their children were all born in Pennsylvania. The United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census issued a “Notification of Birth Registration” for Ng Chuen Yong saying she was born on 31 August 1927 at Ellwood City, Pa. The document was signed by Dr. Theodore B. Appel, Harrisburg, Pa.

Ng Chuen Yong US Birth Reg
“Notification of Birth Registration” 1927, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Chuen Yong case file, Seattle Box 792, 7030/12239.

Ng Chuen Yong was admitted in 1939.

The Ancestors of Edwin Mah Lee, recently deceased mayor of San Francisco (1952-2017)

Edwin Mah Lee, (李孟賢) the mayor of San Francisco, died unexpectedly on 12 December 2017. He was born on 5 May 1952 in Seattle, Washington, the son of Gok Suey Lee and Pansy Chin Lee (Chan Ngar Ching).
[See the many tributes to Edwin Mah Lee on the Internet and in newspapers. The following is a brief summary of some of documents in Chinese Exclusion Act case files for his father, grandfather and great grandfather.]

Lee Gok Suey (Edwin Mah Lee’s father)
In August 1937 Lee Ling Hung swore in an affidavit that he was a citizen of the United States and the holder of Certificate of Identity No. 34552 issued when he entered the Port of Seattle on 9 February 1921. He was applying to bring his son, Lee Gok Suey, into the United States.

Lee Gok Suey Lee and Ling Hung AFF 1937
“Affidavit with photos of Lee Gok Suey and Lee Ling Hung,” 1937, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gok Suey case file, Seattle Box 747, 7030/10684.

Lee Gok Suey arrived in Seattle, Washington on 20 December 1937 on the Princess Marguerite and was admitted four months later after a difficult but successful appeal. He was 17 years old, a student and the son of Lee Ling Hung, a United States citizen and Luey Shee. He was born on 9 May 1921 in Taw Long village, Suey Low Section, Hoy San District, China. Originally Lee Gok Suey was denied admission by a board of special inquiry because he was not able to prove to their satisfaction his relationship to his father.
Seattle’s Inspector-in Charge, Joseph H. Gee, re-opened Lee’s case so additional evidence could be obtained. Affidavits from his father, uncle and grandfather were submitted to the board for their review. The applicant’s attorney filed a letter and an affidavit of the applicant’s alleged grandfather, Lee Share Young, and included a photograph with a satisfactory resemblance to Lee Gok Suey. Because of several discrepancies in the witnesses’ testimony the board voted unanimously that Lee not be admitted. His attorney argued that it had been fifteen years since the grandfather had been to China so it was not unusual that his testimony might not completely agree with his two sons who had been to China recently. After more than four months, Lee Gok Suey’s arrival was approved.

Lee Ling Hung (Lee Gok Suey’s father; Edwin Mah Lee’s grandfather)

Lee Ling Hung CI App 1921
“Certificate of Identity Application, Lee Ling Hung,” 1921, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Hing Hung case file, Seattle Box 433, 7030/719.

Lee Ling Hung first arrived in the United States at Seattle on 21 January 1921 and was admitted as a citizen son of a native. He visited China in 1926 and returned in 1928. During his pre-investigation examination before leaving in 1926 he stated he had one son, Lee Gok Sui, born in 1921. On his return he claimed a second son born while on that trip, Lee Gok Foo. In an application for another trip to China in 1930 he claimed that his second son’s name was Lee Gok Gong and his third son was Lee Gok Foo. Because Lee Ling Hung’s father, Lee Share Young (sometimes spelled Lee Shere Yung)’s citizenship had been granted in 1888 through U. S. District Court discharge papers, Immigrant Inspector Roy M. Porter recommended that Lee Ling Hung’s application for pre-investigation of status be approved. [The confusion over the names of the second and third sons and their dates of birth caused the inspectors to distrust Lee Ling Hung’s testimony and combined with other discrepancies made Lee Gok Suey’s arrival approval so complicated in 1937.]
Before moving to Seattle Lee Ling Hung lived in Portland, Oregon for about six years and he was a baker for Coffman’s Candy Shop at 152 Broadway.

Lee Share Young (Lee Gok Suey’s grandfather; Edwin Mah Lee’s great grandfather)

In March 1938 Lee Share Young (You Yuey, marriage name) testified that he was a bookkeeper at the Quong Tuck Company in Seattle. He was the father of Lee Gim Jeow and Lee Ling Hung and the grandfather of Lee Gok Suey. He was re-examined regarding some of the questions where there was some confusion—were there twelve rows of houses in his village or thirteen? Lee Share Young said, “There are thirteen rows but the first row at the head is not a regular row because there is only a small house and some toilets there.” [It is easy to see how this trivial fact could be confusing.] Lee Share Young’s son sent him a photo of Gok Suey Lee in 1932. The interrogator asked how he could identify his grandson since he had not seen him since he was two years old. He replied, “I have to trust my son who sent me the picture.” There were other discrepancies about the extended family and deceased ancestors, the location of neighbors’ houses in their home village, and the applicant’s school experience. Eventually the board of special inquiry decided that there was enough information where the all the witnesses agreed and they admitted Lee Gok Suey. There were over fifty pages of interrogation. The witnesses were asked about the village, the location of roads, paths, hedges, ponds, shrines, the school, cemetery, stores, and many other minor details. They gave detailed descriptions of the houses, buildings and the people who lived in them. [There were over one hundred houses in their village so this could not have been easy.]

In 1920 Lee Share Young swore in an affidavit that he wanted to bring his son Lee Ling Hung over to the United States. At that time he was a merchant for the Quong Sang Wo Kee Company in Portland, Oregon. He produced his 1888 discharge papers for the interrogators inspection.

Lee Share Yung 1920 Aff
“Lee Share Yung Affidavit with photos of Lee Share Yung and Lee Ling Hung,” 1920, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Yung case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.
Lee Share Yung 1902 Aff
“Lee Share Yung Affidavit,” 1902, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Yung case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

When Lee Shere [Share] Yung left for a visit to China in 1900 he obtained an affidavit with his photo attached to assure his reentry into the United States. He swore that he was a member of the Wau Yune Lung Kee Company, dealers in Chinese merchandise and provisions doing business at 739 Commercial Street in San Francisco. He had four witnesses: Chas. E. Harris, O. R. Beal, Frank B. Hoyt and Edgar A. Greenblatt. Lee returned on 2 May 1902.

Lee Share Yung Habeas Corpus Petition 1888
“Lee Share Yung, Habeas Corpus Petition,” 1888, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Young case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.
Lee Share Yung Discharge 1888 photo
“Lee Share Yung, Habeas Corpus Judgment Roll, page 2,” 1888, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Young case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

Lee Share Young, Lee Gok Suey’s grandfather, was born in San Francisco, California on 7 December 1871 to Lee Yeu May and Hong Shee. His marriage name was Lee Yeow You and he was sometimes known as Lee Yung. He married Toy Shee and they had two sons, Lee Gim, born 14 February 1889 and Lee Ling Hung, born 28 November 1901. Lee Share Yung’s paternal grandparents were Lee Sing Tem and Lew Shee. He had an older brother, Lee Seah Fook, living in California. The parents of his wife, Toy Shee, were Toy Lem Tick and Low Shee.

The family of Edwin Mah Lee found in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files:
Gok Suey Lee and Pansy Chin Lee (Chan Ngar Ching)
Lee Ling Hung and Luey Shee
Great Grandparents:
Lee Share Young and Toy Shee
G G Grandparents: (Lee Share Young’s parents)
Lee Yeu May and Hong Shee
G G Grandparents: (Toy Shee’s parents)
Toy Lem Tick and Low Shee
G G G Grandparents: (Lee Share Young’s grandparents)
Lee Sing Tem and Lew Shee

The Reference Sheets in the files also contains Seattle file numbers for Lee Gok Suey’s cousin, Lee Gwok Ying (7030/13310); uncle, Lee Gim Jeow (7030/4521); Lee Gwock Ying, Lee Gim Jeow’s son, (7030/13310).

For more information see:
Seattle Times
New York Times

Look Gom Hong – Son of deceased American-born Chinese citizen who resided in Seattle

Undertaker’s Bill for Look Ah Pong
“Undertaker’s Bill for Look Ah Pong,” 1921, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Look Gom Hong case file, Seattle Box 650, 7030/7291.

Look Ah Pong, an American-born Chinese citizen died on 7 January 1921 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Seattle, Washington on 10 January. His son, Look Gom Hong, born at Sing Shu Village, Fook Chung, Sun Ning, China, originally entered the United States through the Port of Seattle in 1923. He received his Certificate of Identity #50610 upon arrival. After his entry was approved he joined his older brother, Look Gim Yook (York), in New York City.

In 1935 Look Gom Hong filled out his Form 430, Application for Pre-investigation of Status, for his upcoming trip to China. He was 25 years old and a waiter at Li Chee Gardens Restaurant in New York City. In over five pages of interrogation Look Gom Hong described his father’s and mother’s siblings, his grandparents on both sides of the family, their extended families, and many details about their village.

Look Gim Yook (York) testified on behalf of his brother. He swore that he was with their father when he died at Hai Ping Fong in Seattle. He did not have his father’s death certificate but he gave the interrogator a bill addressed to the Hip Sing Company from Collins Brothers Undertaking Company for $125 for the burial of his father. He surrendered his father’s Certificate of Identity #2671 which was issued in 1911. The interrogators then asked Look Gim Yook (York) the same questions about the family and village as his brother. [His father’s Certificate of Identity was valuable proof of the family connection.]

Look Kim Fun who was admitted to the U.S. in 1922 was from their village and testified for Look Gom Hong. He was asked the same questions about the family and village and also stated that the village had thirteen houses and a watch house. [Since it was such a small village everyone knew each other’s families making Look Kim Fun a credible witness.]

The Inspectors reviewed the interrogations and decided that the testimony of the three witnesses agreed. Look Gom Hong made a favorable impression; the brothers resembled each other and they were prompt and frank in their testimony. Look Gom Hong’s application was approved.

Photos of Look Kim York and Look Gom Hong
“Photos of Look Kim York and Look Gom Hong, Affidavit,” 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Look Gom Hong case file, Seattle Box 650, 7030/7291.
The Reference Sheet in the file includes the names, relationships and file numbers for Look Gom Hong’s father, brother, two nephews, two uncles, two cousins, and a “distant relative.”

Bruce Lee – anniversary of his birth – 27 November 1940

Bruce Lee Form 430 Application
“Application for Citizen’s Return Certificate, Form 430,” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives at San Francisco, Bruce Lee (Lee Jun Fon) case file, SF file 12017/53752; https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5720262, image 8.

[The complete file (31 pages) for Bruce Lee is at National Archives at San Francisco and is available at https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5720262.]

Bruce Lee (Lee Jun Fon) was born on 27 November 1940 in San Francisco, California. In order to establish his son’s right to his United States citizenship and before the family returned to China in April 1941, his father, Lee Hoi Chuen, filed a Citizen’s Return Certificate on his son’s behalf. This would document his son’s birth, his American citizenship and enable him to return to reside in the United States at a later date. His father was an actor at the Mandarin Theatre in San Francisco; he was 27 years old and was born in Fat San City, Nom Hoy, China. He testified that he and his wife, Ho Oi Yee, were married ten years and had four living children—one son died in Hong Kong and one daughter was adopted. Ho Oi Yee’s mother was English. Lee Jun Fon (Bruce Lee) was the only child born in the United States. The doctor gave Bruce Lee his American name. His father couldn’t pronounce it but went along with it.

Bruce Lee Birth Certificate
Bruce Lee, SF file 12017/53752, corrected birth certificate, image 23.

A copy of Bruce Lee’s birth certificate and a corrected copy are included in the file. In the original document, Item 3B stated that his mother’s usual residence was China. This was corrected to say that she had been a resident of California for one year, two months.

[Bruce Lee returned to the United States at age 18 and attended the University of Washington in Seattle for three years. He became a celebrated actor and martial artist. Lee died of a brain edema on 20 July 20 1973 in Hong Kong and buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle, WA.]

Bruce Lee’s tombstone at Lakeview Cemetery

Ng Yat Chin Family Portrait

Ng Yat Chin Portrait 1938
“Portrait of Ng Yat Chin family,“ 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Yat Chin case file, Seattle Box 782, 7030/11868.
Front: Ng Yat Mon, 6; Soon Shee (Ng Yat Chin’s stepmother); Ng Yat Leung, 8; Ng Yat Ming, 10
Back: Ng Sin Fun, 12 (their sister); Ng Yat Sing, 13; Ng Yat Chin, 18; Ng Yat Nom, 16; Ng Yat Hen, 15 (children of Soo Quon); Ng Yat Dong, 25 (not in photo) [ages per Chinese reckoning]
Ng Yat Chin was 16 years old when he arrived at the Port of Seattle on 11 February 1939. He was a student and admitted as a U.S. citizen, the son of a native Ng Ah Wo. His father was a Hawaiian-born U.S. citizen whose file #359-G was sent to Immigration in Seattle for their review. As the interrogation started Ng Yat Chin was reminded that it was his burden to prove that he was not subject to exclusion under any provision of the immigration and Chinese Exclusion laws, therefore having the right to enter the United States.
Ng Yat Chin was born on 12 June 1922 in Nom Chin, Lung Do section, Heung San district, China. Nom Chin was a large village with about 500 houses. Ng Yat Chin gave a very detailed description of the layout of the village and his family home. He was asked to describe his father’s double house and produce a diagram of the floor plan.
[At this point it was noted in the transcript of the interrogation that Interpreter Jick Chan replaced Interpreter Fung Ming.]
Ng Yat Chin’s father and brother also testified on his behalf. The interrogators compared a map of the house and courtyard drawn by Ng Yat Dong when he was admitted to the U.S. in November 1938 with the map Ng Yat Chin had drawn during his interrogation. The two brothers both belonged to the Boy Scouts when they lived in Nom Chin.
Ng Ah Wo was born in Hawaii and lived there until he moved to San Francisco in 1905. His citizenship status was accepted by Immigration Service on the many trips he made from the U.S. to China and back over the years.
Ng Yat Chin and his family moved to Hong Kong in 1938. His father operated Canton Noodle Company and the family lived on the third floor above the factory.
After thirty pages of interrogations and re-examinations of Ng Yat Chin, his father and brother, and in spite of minor discrepancies, Ng Yat Chin was admitted to enter the United States in March 1939.