Tag Archives: Eng Gay

Ah Yen, minor son of Port Townsend, WA Merchant

[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]

Ah Yen, the minor son of She Get, a Chinese merchant from Port Townsend, Washington arrived in Port Townsend on 25 April 1904 on the S. S. Tremont. He was fifteen years old, weighed 108 pounds and had a large scar above the center of his forehead near his hairline.

In his interview with Thomas M. Fisher, the Chinese Inspector in Charge at Port Townsend, Ah Yen stated that he lived in Cha Chung village in the district of San Ning, China. He lived with his older brother and his wife and his younger brother. Their mother died in 1901. There were about thirty houses in their village. Their house was a few blocks from a large stream. When his father, She Get, visited about 1898, he stayed for one year. After She Get returned to the U.S., they received letters from him. Ah Yen described his father as a tall, fat man who was a member of the Get Gee Company. [He was only about 8 or 9 when his father visited, so maybe his father seemed tall.]

Inspector Fisher interviewed witness, James W. Stockand, who had lived in Port Townsend for forty years and was a clerk in a store.  Stockand said She Get had a legitimate store with a small stock of goods and he never saw any gambling there. He thought She Get was likely to provide for his son financially.

Another witness, Max Gerson, was a merchant in Port Townsend.  He had lived there since 1882 and knew She Get for over two years. Gerson stated that She Get had a Chinese general merchandise store on Adams Street between Washington and Water. Gerson felt confident that if She Get’s son was admitted, he would not become a public charge. He thought She Get was a man of some means; a gentleman who would support his son. Stockand and Gerson gave the same information in an affidavit and described She Get. They said he was 47 years old, about 5 feet 4 inches, heavy build, weighed about 180 pounds, spoke English very well, seemed to be a very good businessman, and the photo of She Get attached to the affidavit was a good likeness on him.

“She Get photo in Garson-Stockand Affidavit,” 1904, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ah Yen case file, Seattle Box RS 55, file RS 2168.

She Get testified that he was forty-seven years old and had lived in Port Townsend for a littleover two years. Previously he lived in Spokane for fifteen years and Colfax before that. He had been in the U.S. for twenty-five years. She Get sold Chinese merchandise at Yee Yuen Company in Spokane at 513 Front Avenue and had about $1,000 in stock. He sold his Spokane store and started new store in Spokane and also a business in Port Townsend in March 1902 with nine partners. Their stock on hand is worth $3,900.  His share is $500.  His share in the new Spokane store was about $500. He registered as a merchant and had been back to China twice. He brought his son Ah Yen to the U.S. so he could attend school here and help in the store. In his affidavit he swore that was married to Sin Lim for twenty-seven years until she died in 1901.

Ah Gee swore in a 1904 affidavit that he was a resident of Port Townsend and a member and bookkeeper of the Zee Tai Company. He was originally from Dow Dung, Sin Ning, Canton, China. On a 1901 to 1903 trip to China, he visited Sha Chung [Cha Chung] to see She Get’s son and give him and his brothers money from their father.

Another witness Eng Gay testified that She Get had three sons. He stated that the village of Cha Chung was a one-day, eighty-cents steamboat trip from Hong Kong.

[Witnesses were  questioned when the applicant arrived or departed. Frequently their testimonies also appeared in affidavits at some point during the application process.]

In September 1908, Ah Yen planned a trip to China. Max Garson and Milson Dobbs, citizens of the United States and residents of Port Townsend, swore in an affidavit that they were acquainted with She Get; he was a merchant not a laborer, a member and manager of Get Kee Company at 109 ½ Adams Street, Port Townsend; he performed no manual labor; that no laundry, gambling establishment or restaurant was connected with the firm; and that they knew Ah Yen, son of She Get, who was admitted 30 April 1904. Ah Yen’s photograph was attached so he could be identified when he returned.

“Ah Yen photo, Garson-Dobbs Affidavit,” 1908, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ah Yen case file, Seattle Box RS 55, file RS 2168.

She Get swore in an affidavit that his son, Ah Yen, was about to depart for China. The purpose of the affidavit was to secure his readmittance into the United States.

Ah Yen returned on 31 May 1909, arriving on the S.S. Princess Victoria in Seattle, and was admitted.