In May 1894 Tam Sing 譚勝 registered in the first district of California as a native-born Chinese person and received certificate of residence No. 81,385.
In 1897 Tam Sing visited China and married Wong Shee at Wing Wah Toon village. His marriage name was Hoy Gui. He returned to the U.S. four years later. In 1902 he visited China again.Before he left San Francisco in 1902, Tom Sing [this is the only document where he is referred to as Tom instead on Tam] swore in a Declaration of Chinese Merchant that he was
“a merchant in good standing, and a member of the firm of Lun Chong & Company, engaged in buying and selling Chinese Mdse. and Provisions, at a fixed place of business, to wit: at 819-821 Dupont Street, San Francisco…”
His witnesses were Henry Mohr, Charles N. Peck, and William M. Dye.
Tam Sing returned to the U.S. in 1905.
Tam Sing [of the Hom Clan] swore in an affidavit in Salt Lake, Utah in July 1908 to the following information:
Tam Sing, son of Tam Shuck Dip, a San Francisco merchant, and Lee Shee, was born in San Francisco on 29 September 1876. He stayed in the U.S. when his parents returned to China with his brother in 1886. His father died at his home in Wing Wah Toon, Sun Ning, Canton, China the following year. His mother and brother remained in their village.
On this trip to China Tam Sing was hoping to bring back his two minor sons. Unfortunately, his wife and two sons died in 1908 during an epidemic. It isn’t clear if Tam Sing arrived in their village before or after their deaths.
Later Tam Sing married Jee Shee. They moved to Toy San City and had five sons and two daughters. He worked at Sai Ning market.
Thirty-one years later Tam Sing was applying to return to the United States.
When he arrived in Seattle in 1939, he was interviewed before a Board of Special Inquiry. Tam Sing testified that when in the U.S. he lived mostly in San Francisco but was in Ogden, Utah and Montello, Nevada from 1906 to 1908. He satisfied his interrogators by answering several questions about the history and topography of San Francisco. Because he had been away in China for so many years, Tam Sing did not have any witnesses who could vouch for him. He presented a 1908 certificate of membership in the Native Sons of the Golden West with his photo attached; a letter from the Citizens Committee dated 1906; a receipt for Red Cross funds dated 1906; and a 1906 acknowledgement receipt of money from Chinese residents of Montello, Nevada.
After careful consideration the Board members believed the applicant to be the same person as the photograph and description on his certificate of residence. Tam Sing was admitted thirty-seven days after he arrived in Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 23 August 1939. He surrendered his 1894 Certificate of Residence and was issued a Certificate of Identity in 1941 when he was planning a temporary trip to China.
Tam Sing’s Form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Preinvestigation of Status, lists his San Francisco file number 53828.
“Tam Sing/Tom Sing, photos and documents” 1902, 1908, 1941; Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tam Sing case file, Seattle Box 794, file 7030/12347.
Fok Cheu (Fook Chew) was admitted at the Port of Seattle on 15 February 1909 as the minor son of See Kin 時乾, a merchant in Walla Walla, Washington. Fok’s father was a member of the Hong Chong Wo Company. The immigration inspector of Seattle asked T. M. Fisher, the Chinese Inspector at Walla Walla to obtain Fok Cheu’s Canadian Pacific head-tax guarantee. He described the guarantee as “printed on a piece of paper about 2-1/2 by 5 inches, the face of which is green and the back yellow.” The head-tax guarantee was required from Chinese arriving from British Columbia ports, enroute from China.
Fok Cheu, a student, was 16 years old, 5 feet tall and weighed 82 pounds. He had a small mole on the bridge of his nose and a scar over his left temple. He was born at Si Ben Hong, a village with 200 to 300 houses in the Sun Ning District, Kwong Tung Province, China. The only time he remembered seeing his father was four years previously . His older brother, Fook Yung, was already living with his father in Walla Walla. He had two younger brothers living in China with his mother, Lee Shee.
See Kin, Fok Cheu’s father, testified that he was forty years old and had been living in the United States about 27 or 28 years [arrived 1881 or 1882] in San Francisco, then lived in Portland before settling in Walla Walla in 1886. He had a $1,000 interest in the Hong Chong Wo Company at Sixth Street between Main and Rose. His partners were Wong Sui, See Yick, Get Tuck, Yee Hep, Eng Hong (See Fat), Sing Kuan, and Yee Sing. He had visited China three times since his arrival in the U.S.
Lee Poo (married name Gee Woon,) a gardener in Walla Walla, was a witness for Fok Cheu. In 1903 on a trip to China he visited the Fook family. Poo’s village was about three miles from Fook’s village.
Fritz Lehn, a clerk and member of the Walla Walla city council, and Theodore Rondema both swore in an affidavit that they knew See Kin as a merchant for more than eight years; that See Kin had done no manual labor for the past year; and the photo attached to the affidavit was a true likeness of See Kin.
Eng Fang (married name Jam Mon), a gardener, age 45, testified for Fok Cheu and recognized a photo of him taken when Fok Cheu was 9 or 10 years old.
Fred M. Pauly, a cigars and tobacco business owner in Walla Walla, also testified for See Kin. Pauly had lived in Walla Walla about twenty years and did business with the Hong Chong Wo Company. He thought they carried about $2,000 or more of Chinese merchandise and groceries.
Fok Cheu’s file contains no more information after he was admitted in 1909.
In May 1913, Chun Kim Shee’s father, Chung Seung, applied for admission to the United States at San Francisco, as the son of Chun Poy, a U.S. citizen born in Los Angeles, California. Two years later he returned to China, married, and a son, Chun Kim Shee, was born on 23 April 1917 in Chew Gong, Sun Ning.
Chun Seung swore in a November 1939 affidavit that he was a Section 1993 U.S. Revised Statutes citizen** and by virtue of the provision his son was also a citizen of the United States. The affidavit contained photos of Chun Seung and his son.
Chun Kim Shee 陳錦樹 (married name Chun/Chin Yee Seung) arrived in Seattle on 26 August 1940 and was admitted three and one-half months later as the son of Chun Seung, a citizen. Chun Kim Shee was twenty-three years old, a student, and married to Lim Toy May. They had no children. His destination was Bakersfield, California. He had a tattoo in a Chinese character meaning “peace” 和平 on his back, left forearm. In Chun Kim Shee’s six-page interview he described his home village in great detail; his mother, Lee Shee; and his father’s extended family,
[The interviewer’s language was often intimidating: “describe the house where you claim you have always lived;” and “describe your alleged blood father”]
Chun Seung, Chung Kim Shee’s father, testified that his married name was Gwok Shew; and he was born at Gong Village, Toy San District, China. He lost his Certificate of Identity in San Antonio in 1932. It was locked in the safe at Wah Lee Restaurant when the company went broke and shut down. He never got his certificate back. His father and mother, Chun Poy and Pang Shee, were both 69 years old in 1940 and living in their home village in China. Chung Seung presented two photographs to Immigration: one of his son at about age 4 or 5 with his mother, Lee Shee; and a photo of the applicant when he was about 16 years old.
Witnesses for Chun Kim Shee in December 1940 were Jew Ning Fook of Bakersfield,California and Fong Tai Yuey/Yui of San Antonio, Texas .
“Photo of Chun Kim Shee and his mother,” ca. 1921; “Affidavit Photos and Witnesses photos,” 1939-40; “M143 photo of Chun Kim Shee,” 1940; Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chun Kim Shee case file, Seattle Box 815, file 7030/13212.
Fong Tai Yuey (marriage name Fong Hong Dot) was born in Leung Boy, China in 1909 and he first entered the U.S. in 1929. He was known as Frank at the Alamo Grocery and Market in San Antonio and owned one-fourth of the store. In his interview he correctly identified the photos of Fong Ging Pawn, Fong Tai Dee, Dong Tai Jung, Chun Seung, Chun Lim, Chun Fat, and Chun Poy from their San Francisco files. Fong Tai Yuey had a Seattle file and a San Francisco file.
Jew Ning/Lin Fook who had a San Pedro file gave testimony and the record was forwarded to the Immigration Office in San Antonio, Texas.
In late November 1940 Chun Kim Shee, the applicant, was sent to Seattle Marine Hospital for examination and treatment. He was suffering from severe pain in his stomach. There is no mention of his diagnosis, but he was finally admitted on 18 December 1940.
** Section 1993 of the Revised Statutes, as originally enacted, applies to children born abroad to U.S. citizens prior to May 24, 1934, and states that:
The amended section 1993 (48 Stat. 797), went into effect on May 24, 1934, at noon eastern standard time. It stated that: Any child hereafter born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such child is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States; but the rights of citizenship shall not descend to any such child unless the citizen father or citizen mother, as the case may be, has resided in the United States previous to the birth of such child. In cases where one of the parents is an alien, the right of citizenship shall not descend unless the child comes to the United States and resides therein for at least five years continuously immediately previous to his eighteenth birthday, and unless, within six months after the child’s twenty-first birthday, he or she shall take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America as prescribed by the Bureau of Naturalization.
Guest blogger: Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Chong Wong Chong (b. ca. 1863, immigrated KS 8 = 1882; pinyin:
Zhang Huangchang 张黄昌)
In 1928 Chong Wong Chong’s deposition to the INS described his situation and provides insight into the life of a Chinese American merchant and Chinese labor contractor. This file is found at the NARA Seattle, RS 2870, File 12860/14-1. He stated that he was also known as Chong (pinyin – Zhang) Ho Song, a Portland import-export merchant with the married name of Jung (pinyin – Zhang) Song Lung, who was born in Sui Soon Village, Hoy Ping (pinyin – Kaiping), Guangdong, China. He had other names: Sam Sing and Chung (pinyin – Zhang) Sam Sing. A later investigation using the NARA Seattle index of individuals with their occupation and birthplace led to the papers of Sam Sing, a laborer, who obviously was the same man as Chong Wong Chong. I found Sam Sing because his birthplace was the same as Chong’s and the Seattle index notes birthplace and occupation whenever feasible.
Chong immigrated around 1882 (KS 8), landing in Portland on a small steamer from Vancouver, British Columbia, as a laborer and visited China in 1890 and 1891. On his 1891 trip, he landed in San Francisco as a merchant instead of Portland or Seattle. In 1908 he visited Canada and returned 1909.
Chong was married twice, the first time when he was seventeen and living in China. Lee Shee, his first wife, died in ST 1 (1908) in China. From his first marriage he had two boys, Chong Shew Lun, who lived in Portland and was in the oyster business, and the older boy who remained in China; and two girls, one named Chong Choy Lun (b. 1893), who was married to a Wong and living in Helena, Montana with her husband, and the older girl, Jung Sou Lun (b. 1884), who remained in China. Within six months after the death of his first wife’s death, he married Lee Shee (b. ca. 1888; Certificate of Identity 6640)) in ST 1 (1908) of Gow How Village, Sunning (pinyin – Xinning) in his home village and his wife and two children came to the U.S. in ST 2 (1909). Lee Shee and the children were refused admission because Chong was listed as a laborer so Chong returned to his store in Portland, then applied again for his wife and two children in ST 3 (1910) as dependents of a merchant and was successful in getting their admission on December 20, 1911. Years later, through Ancestry.com. Lee Shee gave her husband’s name as Chong Luk Dak. They lived at 264 Flanders Street, around the corner form her husband’s store on North 4th.
Chong and his second wife had two children, a boy and girl, both born in Portland. Chong Seid Foon (September 6, 1912, American name – Charles) and Chong Heung Lon (1909-1927). The girl’s death caused his wife much grief and led to the decision to adopt Chong May Yoon (original Chinese name Jun Mui), who was born in Los Angeles to Toy and Jennie Chung (pinyin – Zhang) on April 13, 1919 and was adopted in March or April 1927 when she was eight years old. (NARA Seattle files #30/5270, 12860/14-2, and 7030/5200). Toy Chung died in 1925 and finding herself in financial difficulties, Jennie decided to allow the Chongs to officially adopt May Yoon (later called Helen Chong Yep). Jennie brought her daughter to Portland for the adoption proceedings. The adoption had been suggested by a Zhang clansman in San Francisco who knew of Jennie’s plight – a large family of young children without a father – and arranged the contact.
After nine years of working for the Quon Shew Lun Company, in 1909 Chong became the manager of Quon Shew Lun Company, a general merchandising firm on at 94 North 4th and later on North 3rd Street, Portland. The firm’s capitalization was $10,000 and Chong’s share was $2,000. He and the bookkeeper, Jung Ho Yip ($600 investment), each earned $60 per month plus room and board. The other active member was the salesman, Jung Gow ($600 investment). The inactive shareholders were primarily of the Jung (Zhang) clan, with a few other surnames – Wong, Ng, Leong, and Lee – who lived in China, Portland, elsewhere in Oregon, and New York. This was typical of large merchandising firms and all of the men were usually related or came from the same village in China. The company made about $2000 or more in profit annually. The store was located on rented property owned by Euro-Americans for the last ten years.
The firm also acted as the labor contractors for the cannery Libby, McNeil, and Libby [established in 1912 in Sacramento, CA and closed in 1980], and had two canneries under the management of Lee San Toy ($500 shareholder from Portland) in Alaska: Nushagak and Ekuk. These were fish canneries in present-day Dillingham.
Although Chong did not go into details, he noted that he owned property in Portland and had a Euro-American rent collector since he rented out the property.
Chong spoke English and had two Euro-Americans testify on his behalf: the owner of the building in which his store was located and a member of the bank he used. Their depositions and long-time acquaintance with him as Chong Ho Sang put Chong in a favorable light from the perspective of the immigration officials. He was granted a permit to re-enter the United States from China. On this trip he took his wife and his recently adopted daughter, now called Helen Chong, but keeping the name May Yoon Chong in accordance with the adoption papers (NARA Seattle file #27272). They were accompanied by others, including Helen’s natural brother, Chung Gee Kay (1911-1980) (NARA Seattle files #28160/238 and 10797/10-25).
The family made several other trips to China, presumably because of business concerns of Chong Wong Chong. Below is Helen Chong’s 1933 application from NARA Seattle.
Chong Wong Chong frequently traveled to China and owned a general store there. Presumably that store supplied the Portland store with goods. He passed away in Hong Kong In the 1950s.
In 1951 Helen returns from Hong Kong to San Francisco with her family. (Certification of birth of Anna Chung aka Helen C. Yep, State of California Department of Public Health, dated 10-29-1962, State Fil 19-015292): husband Yep Wing Sing, age 30 of 421 W Brand St., Richmond, Virginia; Chong (Yep) Helen, age 31, at the same address, Yip Won Yue, age 13, born in China, Yip Duck Lai, age 23, born in China, Yep Grace Woon Yuen, age 9, born in New York, Yep Ruby Woon King, age 2, born in China, and Yep Theresa Woon King, age 5, born in Hong Kong. There is the possibility that Anna/Helen had twin boys, Henry and Douglas. Helen passed away in San Francisco.
By Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
According to the 1891 findings of S. C. Houghton, Special Referee and Examiner of the District Court, Yee Ah Jin was born in the United States and was a citizen entitled to re-enter and remain in the U.S.
Yee Ah Jin 余亞振 was born in San Francisco in 1869, the son of Yee Look Long and Lee Shee. He left San Francisco on 6 January 1882, before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed on 6 May 1882 and returned on 25 September 1890. Yee Ah Jin applied to land at the port of San Francisco and his application was denied. His uncle Yee Gum Jung signed the petition for his Writ of Habeas Corpus and it was filed by Southard Hoffman, Clerk.
Hon. Judge Ogden Hoffman of the District Court of the United States, Northern District of California District, declared that Yee Ah Jin had been illegally restrained of his liberty by Captain Pearne, Master of the S.S. Gaelic. Yee was discharged from custody of 18 September 1891 and admitted to the United States.
Yee made several trips between China and the United States landing in San Francisco in 1910, 1918, 1922, and 1930. The final trip recorded in his file was on 15 December 1937 arriving at the Port of Seattle. He was 68 years old, living in Detroit, Michigan; married to Soo Hoo Shee. His marriage name was Shew June. They had six children–five sons and one daughter. Three sons were living in the United States.
(This file was researched by CEA volunteer, Tamia Duggan.)
Fannie Seto More (Lew Tue or Lew York Lue) was born on 9 July 1890 in Olympia, Washington. In 1913 she married Seto More; a Canadian citizen and a Canadian Pacific Railways passenger agent. Because Fannie married a Canadian citizen she lost her U.S. citizenship. When she traveled to the U.S. from her home in Vancouver, B. C. her classification under the Chinese exclusion laws was “traveler.” Her two children, Wilfred and Maysien were both born in Vancouver. Wilfred Bientang Seto was born 21 August 1915 and Maysien Geraldine Seto was born 30 April 1918. The three traveled from Vancouver to Blaine, Washington via train many times, had Canadian certificates of identity, and became well known to immigration officials.
Fannie’s file starts in 1909 and covers her many trips between Vancouver, B. C. and Seattle, WA until 1940. The following is some of the information gleaned from her file. Her parents were Lew King and Lee Shee. She had three brothers and one sister; Lew Geate Kay, Lew Get Soon, Lew Get Don, and Lew York Lon, (Mrs. Tom Shue Wing). Lew King, a member of Jong King Company and Wah Hing Company in Seattle, died in August 1908. Her mother, Lee Shee, was born in Kin Ham village, Sunning district. She was admitted to the U.S. in 1873 as the wife of a merchant about seven months after she married Lew King. She died in Seattle in 1914.
In 1909 Fannie was traveling from Seattle with student status. Her mother, Lee Shee, and brother, Lew York Lon, were witnesses for her. Lee Shee testified that she and her husband moved to Seattle in 1883. Seven months after they arrived, someone set fire to their store on old Third Avenue South. They moved nearby to the apartment above Hong Yee Chung Company store and stayed there until the Great Fire of Seattle in 1889. After the fire they lived in Olympia for a few years until they returned to Seattle.
S. L. Crawford was a Caucasian witness for Fannie Seto More in 1909. He testified that he had been living in Seattle for thirty-four years [since 1875]. Crawford was a reporter for the Post Intelligencer during the Chinese riots in 1886 and city editor for many years. He had frequent dealings with Lew King and knew him intimately. Lew King had been a Chinese interpreter for the court when Judge Lind was on the bench. [Judge Lind was a Thurston County judge in the early 1900s] Crawford identified photos of Lew King’s children including the applicant.
Witness Louie Kay, also known as Yin Lim and Hong Po, testified that he was a member of the Lew family but not related to Lew King. He came to Seattle in 1879; was away for the riots; and came back about two months after the 1889 fire. He was questioned about many things concerning the extended Lew family but most of the information did not pertain to Fannie.
Fannie’s mother underwent a serious operation in Seattle in 1913 but because Fannie had lost her U.S. citizenship she was unable to secure a Section 6 certificate so she could cross the border to visit her. The consul at Victoria refused to approve her certificate on the grounds that she was not a Canadian citizen even though her husband was a member of the exempt class in Canada. Her brother, Lew Gate Kay, of the Chinese Consulate in Seattle, made an appeal to the immigration authorities and Fannie was allowed to land without a Section 6 certificate. Commissioner White informed the Commissioner-General of Immigration in Washington, D.C. about what had happened. His letter of explanation is in Fannie’s file. [It never hurts to know the right people and pull a few strings.]
A 1921 letter from Frederick M. Ryan of the American Consular Service in Vancouver, B.C. confirmed that Mrs. Fannie Seto More acquired British citizenship through the naturalization of her husband.
“Seto More Fannie passport visa” 1927, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Seto More Fannie (alias Lew Tue Fannie) case file, Seattle Box 787,file 7030/12060.
In 1921 Fannie and her children were issued Section 6 certificates by the Controller of Chinese Immigration in Vancouver, B.C. John J. Forester, of Vancouver, swore in a 1927 affidavit that he knew Fannie Seto More and her children and could identify them.
By 1933 Mr. Seto More was manager of the Chinese Department of the Canadian Pacific Railways in Vancouver.
In 1938 Fannie was traveling to visit her brother, Lew G. Kay, a staff member of the Chinese Consulate in Seattle, and stopover in Oakland, California to see her sister.
“Seto More Fannie Form 430 photo, Consular photo, Admittance photo” 1909, 1914, 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Seto More Fannie (alias Lew Tue Fannie) case file, Seattle Box 787,file 7030/12060.
The file ends with Fannie’s and her daughter’s visit to Seattle in February 1939.
[Tamia Duggan, CEA volunteer at NARA-Seattle, indexed this file and brought it to my attention.]
In October 1938 Look Yuen 陸元 swore in an affidavit that he was a citizen of the United States who was admitted at the Port of San Francisco in October 1922 and granted Certificate of Identity 40415. His son Look Fee wanted to come to the United States to live with him. Photos of father and son were attached to the affidavit.
Look Fee 陸惠 arrived in the Port of Seattle on 23 August 1939 on the SS Princess Marguerite with the status of a son of a citizen. He was admitted to the U.S. almost two months later. He was a student, age 18 years Chinese reckoning; 16 years 9 months per American calculation. He would be joining his father, Look Yuen, in Columbus, Ohio. Look Fee was born in Sun Chong City, Toy Shan District, China on 4 January 1923. His family lived there one year and then moved to Sam Gong in Hoy Ping. His father was born in Look Bin village and had six brothers and one sister. During his interview Look Fee enumerated all of his father’s siblings, the names of their spouses and children and where they were living. He described his paternal grandfather and gave the names of his paternal great grandparents. His mother, Lee Shee, was the daughter and only child of Lee Wah and Chin Shee. Her parents both died prior to 1939. Look Fee was questioned about the village, the location of his neighbors’ houses and details about their extended families.
Some of the questions during the interview were: Who lives in the 8th lot, 3rd row from the east? What is his occupation? Who lives with him? What are their ages? Where do you get the water which you use for household purposes? Is there any space between the houses in the rows other than the cross alleys? Do you cross any streams or bridges going to the market? Which way does the door in the ancestral hall open? His interrogation was over seven pages long.
Look Fee’s father, Look Yuen, (marriage name Look Wing Bing) waited in Seattle almost two months for his son to be admitted. Look Yuen testified that he was a part owner of the Nan King restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. He first arrived in the U.S. though San Francisco in 1922 three months before Look Fee was born. He made one trip back to China in May 1929, returning to Ohio in September 1930. His other son, Look Wee, was born in March 1930 and was presently attending school in their home village. Look Yuen was asked many of the same questions as his son but in more detail about his siblings. Look Fee was called back to clear up some discrepancies. Although his father had left China sixteen years previously and had only spent one year there, six years prior to this interrogation, the interviewers expected their testimony to agree in most aspects.
Look Yuen gave the interrogators this photo of Look Fee and his brother Look Wee which was taken about 1934 or 1935. They wondered why Look Fee had a tennis racket and Look Wee had a basketball. Look Fee explained that their mother had a photographer at the Shung Sar Market take the photo. The props were just for fun.
After the interrogations the chairman of the immigration committee concluded that the relationship between the alleged father and his son was satisfactorily established. They were impressed that the father came from Ohio to testify for his son and stayed so long. They discounted the minor discrepancies because it had been so long since the father had been in China. They were satisfied that Look Fee knew when and where the photo of him and his brother was taken. Look Fee was admitted into the United States as a U.S. citizen.