Tag Archives: China

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.”

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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.

Won Suey Yuan – Certificate of Identification stolen – The Dalles Farmer

Won Suey Yuan Sheriff letter
“Letter from the Sheriff of Wasco County, The Dalles, Oregon,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Won Suey Yuan case file, Seattle Box 1367, 40718/12-28.

On 24 September 1938 the home of Won Suey Yuan, a farmer in The Dalles, Oregon since 1923, was broken into and his Certificate of Identity was stolen. Won immediately filed a claim with Harold Sexton, the Sheriff of Waco County in The Dalles and reported it to Immigration Inspector Howard P. Swetland, Portland, Oregon. The sheriff visited the scene of the robbery, believed the claim was legitimate and filed a report. Won testified that on the evening 24 September 1938 between six and eight, he took his son, Won Loy Duck, to town for a haircut. Upon their return he saw that someone had entered the house by cutting the screen in the back door. The house had been ransacked but the thief only took a black tin box which contained Won’s valuables– his Certificate of Identity, a New York Life insurance policy and a gold nugget watch charm. The certificate was by far the most valuable item in the box. Without it Won could not travel outside the U.S. and could be deported if he could not prove his right to be in the United States. The investigator asked Won Suey Yuan if he thought the robber specifically wanted his certificate. Won was the only Chinese person within eight or nine miles of his house so he did not think the robber was Chinese or that he wanted his Certificate of Identity or would know how valuable it was to a Chinese person. Shortly after the robbery Won had a friend, Ralph Welborn, notify the Seattle Immigration office of the incident.
When Won Suey Yuan applied for a duplicate certificate his case files were thoroughly investigated. He did not have a problem getting a replacement certificate but it created a great deal of paper work.
Won originally entered the United States through San Francisco in 1907 and that file, number 19768/12-7, was reviewed. It confirmed that he received his original certificate on 20 December 1920. Won Suey Yuan’s file showed that he had made several trips to China since his original entry at San Francisco as the son of U. S. citizen. His San Francisco file lists his father’s name, Won (Woon) Tong Wing, file 17472/20-8, and the San Francisco file numbers for three of his six brothers. Won also made a trip to China in 1921 departing and re-entering through Seattle and that created a Seattle file, number 35100/4302.
Won Suey Yuan’s marriage name was Won Suey Hop (Hock). He was born in Wun Bin Village, Sun Ning District, China on 28 March 1895. He and his wife, Seid Shee, had three sons, Wong Loy Duck (file 7030/4513), living in Portland or Salem, Oregon; Won Loy Sing (file 7030/12118), in the process of coming to the United States in 1939; and Won Lum Bing, in China.
On 29 August 1939 Won Suey Yuan was issued Certificate of Identity No. 80068 in lieu of his lost certificate No. 32415.

Mrs. Lai Ziang Bryant – Chinese Wife of Caucasian U.S. Citizen

Photo Lai Ziang Bryant 1919
“Photo of Mrs. Lai Ziang Bryant,” 1919, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Mrs. Lai Ziang Bryant case file, Seattle, Box 1263, 36351/2-1.

Lai Ziang was born in Hankow, Hupeh Province, China on 11 May 1897. In 1919 she was living with her mother and sister in Shanghai; her father was deceased. Her sister, Mrs. Joseph D. Jensen, was a widow with children whose Danish husband died about 1915.
On 6 February 1919 Lai Ziang married Charles Robert Snaith Bryant, a master licensed mariner, at the American Consul. He was 42 years old and she was 21. When they arrived in Seattle in April 1919 their marriage certificate was examined by Immigration officials and returned to them. It stated that Charles R. S. Bryant was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and they were united in marriage by Rev. G. A. Fitch, a duly ordained minister of the American Presbyterian Church.
Immigration also examined Mrs. Bryant’s passport, endorsed by J. B. Sawyer, Vice Consul at Shanghai; and a Declaration of Alien About to Depart for the United States, form 228. The items were approved and returned to Mr. Bryant. Bryant was asked why he was bringing his wife to the United States. He said it was to allow her to have his company and to give her an education. In both 1916 and 1917 he was absent nine months, “and she said that was no home life.”
The witnesses for her 1919 application were Neville Craig, U.S. Court for China, and Walter H. Meyers of Seattle, Washington. Her application was approved.
Their travels between 1919 and 1927 are not mentioned in the file. In 1927 Mr. and Mrs. Bryant arrived in San Francisco from Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. Mrs. Bryant was delayed because she did not have a Certificate of Identity. Bryant complained to Immigration Services in Seattle because they were not given the proper documents when she arrived in 1919. He said they were very embarrassed because their landing was delayed until the paperwork could be verified. [The file does not say how long the delay was but it could have been hours or days.]
The Bryants left Seattle again in 1931. A letter in the file says she was identified by photographs and her Certificate of Identity No. 58341. [They made sure they had the paperwork in order this time.] There is no more information in the file after 1931.