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.
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.
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.