Tag Archives: detention

Chin On family file

Chin Jan Affidavid
“Chin Jan Affidavit with photos of Chin Jan and Chin On,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin On case file, Seattle Box 594, 7030/5510.

Guest blogger –Darby Li Po Price
This week’s blog entry is by Darby Li Po Price. He researched his family in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files at the National Archives-Seattle and found many family files. The following information is from a file on his great aunt, Chin On. It includes an affidavit and testimony by his great grandfather, Chin Jan; Chin On’s application for her certificate of identity and maps of the family home in China.

Chin On Application for Certificate of Identity
“Chin On Application for Certificate of Identity with photo,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin On case file, Seattle Box 594, 7030/5510.

The 1933 immigration application and photos were submitted by Jan Chin (great grandfather) for his daughter On Chin. She was detained three days. There are diagrams of their house in China which both drew as part of their interrogations. Jan had U.S. citizenship by native birth of immigrants.

Such documents of Chinese women are rare compared to those of men. Even though the subject of the file may be a woman most of the interrogations and affidavits are usually by the men of the family. It is also nice to see Chin On and her family together.

1933 photos of Chin Jan, and daughter Chin On, age 22, for On’s application for admission to the US. Jan requested “to have my said daughter, Chin On, come to America, so that I can give her the benefits of an American education.” Chin On had written her father the year before to ask to come to America. On arrived in Seattle via President Taft June 6, 1933, and was placed in detention.

The affidavit and application are accompanied by 30 pages of testimonies of On, Jan, and Jan’s sister Len Toy, drawings of their home in Sun Woy [Sun Wui], and detention release are in Seattle file no. 7030/5510. Interviews include extensive details on family members’ relations, lives, and homes in China and the U.S.
Jan, age 53, resided at 124 Ninth St., Portland, OR, and was a native U.S. citizen by birth from Joe Jew Chin and Dew Shee. Jan described his wife Hom Shee, age 47, and their sons in Sun Woy as Mon, age 30, Kway, 12, Wing, 7, Haw, 5; and Soon, 29, living in Chicago whose wife with their two sons lived in Sun Ning. Mon lived with his wife and two sons in another house. Mon was admitted to the U.S. in 1922; Soon in 1923. Len Toy was born in Portland, and spent a year and a half with the family in Sun Woy.

Interviews were translated between English and Chinese. The Chins spoke See Yip dialect. There were discrepancies regarding existence or placement of: a house number above the front door, ladders, stairways, doors, windows, a mirror, an alarm clock, Jan’s pocket and wrist watches, where two of On’s brother’s slept, and where Len slept. On did not remember a prior house Jan said they moved from when On was 11. On said Jan’s mother’s name was Yee Shee, Jan said Leung Shee.
On June 9, 1933 Roy Matterson, Chair of the Board of Special Inquiry concluded: “while there are a considerable number of discrepancies in the record that have not been cleared up, applicant testifies in a frank, unhesitating manner and seems to be testifying from facts and not from coached testimony and I am of the opinion that she has established her claim to being a daughter of CHIN JAN, and I therefore move to admit her to the United States as a citizen.” Admission was concurred by inspectors John Boyd and Earl Botts.

House diagrams
“Four house diagrams of house in Sun Woy City,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin On case file, Seattle Box 594, 7030/5510.


The Reference Sheet in Chin On’s case file contains the file numbers and names of her father, grandfather, three brothers, five uncles, an aunt, sister-in-law, two nephews, cousin, and a niece.
Darby will be telling us more about his family in the coming weeks.

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Letterhead for Wa Chong Co. Importers, Seattle, WA

Letterhead Wa Chong Co.
“Wa Chong Co. Importers, letterhead” 1903, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Woo Back (Bak) Sue(y) case file, Seattle, Box 756, 7030/10966.

Woo Bak Sue – Released after paying detention costs $25.05 in 1899
Woo Bak Sue was born on 10 August 1884 in Seattle, Washington Territory, just two years after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed and five years before Washington Territory became a state. His parents, Woo Tai Gap and Chew See, took Bak Sue to China when he was about five years old. Bak Sue came back to the United States through Port Townsend in the summer of 1899 when he was fifteen years old. When he arrived he was arrested, put in detention and given a hearing. A writ of habeas corpus was issued stating that he had been detained without authority of law and that he was entitled to be released on the grounds that he was a native born citizen. The order of discharge was made by Judge C. H. Hanford of the U.S. District Court, Northern Division, District of Washington. Woo Bak Sue was released after paying for the costs of his detention amounting to $25.05. He asked that his photograph be attached to his discharge papers and that the papers be certified and sent to him.
He made three trips to China after 1899—1904 to 1905, 1910 to 1911, and 1915 to May 1938. When Woo Bak Sue applied to leave for China in 1903 his Caucasian witnesses were J. F. McGee and D. G. Rinehart. They both swore that they were residents and citizens of Seattle for the last twenty years and were well acquainted with Bak Sue and his parents. Woo Gen of the Wa Chong Co. sent a letter on company stationery to Thomas M. Fisher, Chinese Inspector, Office of the Collector of Customs in Port Townsend saying he would be a witness for Bak Sue if requested.
When Bak Sue was returning in 1911, the immigration inspector asked him if he knew any of the Chinese at the detention house. He said he knew Woo Bing Gee. There were no followup questions asked.
Woo Bak Sue’s son, Woo Sze Hong, arrived in Seattle in September 1938. His Seattle file number is 7030/11336. In October 1938 Woo Bak Sue was applying to return to China because he wasn’t feeling well. His application was approved. Bak Sue’s marriage name was Woo Gun Lum. He had a wife and six sons and two daughters in Nom On Village, Hoy San District. The village had 26 houses in three rows, facing south. He and his family lived in the 6th house, 6th lot, 2nd row. He had a grocery business there called Ow San Market.
[The file contains photos of Woo Bak Sue from 1903, 1910, 1912, 1915 and 1938.]