Tag Archives: H. W. Cunningham

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.

Chung Hing Sou – Family Portrait

chung-hing-suo-portrait
“Portrait of Chung Hing Sou family,” ca. 1920, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chung Hing Sou (William) case file, Seattle, Box 1377, Case 41093/4-2.

Front row: Ah Jung (Chung Hing Jung b.1917), Hom Shee (mother, b. ca. 1872), Chung Don Poy (father, b. ca. 1850), Ah May (Chung Yut May b. 1913), Ah Joon (Chung Hing June b. ca. 1882), Chung Yut Sim (Rosie Chung b. 1900)
Back Row: Ah Lun (Chung Hing Lun b. 1909), Ah Ming (Chung Yoot Ming or Pansy b. 1902), Ah See (Chung Hing See b. 1907), Ah Hom (Chung Hing Hom b. 1904), Ah Fay (Chung Hing Fay b. 1895), Ah Sou (Chung Hing Sou b. 1893), Ah Ngo (Chung Sou Ngo or Violet Chung, b. 1897).
[Certified copies of Oregon birth certificates were presented for all the children except Ah Joon. They were all born in Portland.)
In 1922 Chung Hing Sou was applying for a Native’s Return Certificate. We wanted to visit China, get married, and bring his bride back to his home in Portland, Oregon.
Chung Hing Sou produced a certified copy of his Oregon birth certificate for proof of his citizenship. He was born on 16 August 1893 but the certificate was not filed until 13 October 1921 so he was required to show more evidence of his birth. His parents, several of his siblings and two Caucasian witnesses testified in his favor.

Hom Shee, Chung Hing Sou’s mother, age 50, testified that she came to Portland from China as a merchant’s wife when she was 20 years old. She and Chung Don Poy had eleven children together; ten were living.
Chung Don Poy testified that he had been married twice. Ah Joon (Chung Hing June) was his son from his first wife who died in China. Chung Don Poy was a merchant at Yuen Hop Company, Quon Yee Yick Company and the Gum On Wo Company before he retired.
Chung Hing Sou was known as William or Willie Chung to White people. As a child he attended Park School (later known as Ladd School). His teachers were Mrs. Sloane and Ella Ross. His report cards were used as proof of his attendance. He lived in Montana for a couple of years and registered for the draft in Flathead County in 1918. He and his brother Chung Fay were supporting the family so they were classified as Class 3B. He was a registered voter and voted in Montana once and two or three times in Portland.
William Chung’s half-brother, Chung Hing June, was a farmer in Cherryville, Clackamas County, Oregon.
(William or Willie) Chung Hing Sou’s Caucasian witnesses were George W. Wilson, a lawyer, and L. A. Pike. Wilson knew the Chung family for many years. He first met Willie about 1905 after the World’s Fair in Judge O’Day’s office. The family was purchasing a home on Lake Street. Although Willie Chung was a minor, the deed was taken out by him because he was an American citizen. About 1914 Wilson sold a house and lot at 527 Greenwood Avenue to the Chung family and William signed the deed.
The other Caucasian witness, L.A. Pike, was a Deputy Collector of Customs in Portland and worked for the Customs’ Service for thirty-one years. He was well acquainted with the parents in the family portrait and knew William and most of the other children.
H. W. Cunningham, Chinese and Immigrant Inspection recommended that Chung Hing Sou be adjudicated as a genuine native-born citizen of the United States and Chung’s application was favorable recommended by R. Bonham, Inspector in Charge.