Lai Ziang was born in Hankow, Hupeh Province, China on 11 May 1897. In 1919 she was living with her mother and sister in Shanghai; her father was deceased. Her sister, Mrs. Joseph D. Jensen, was a widow with children whose Danish husband died about 1915.
On 6 February 1919 Lai Ziang married Charles Robert Snaith Bryant, a master licensed mariner, at the American Consul. He was 42 years old and she was 21. When they arrived in Seattle in April 1919 their marriage certificate was examined by Immigration officials and returned to them. It stated that Charles R. S. Bryant was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and they were united in marriage by Rev. G. A. Fitch, a duly ordained minister of the American Presbyterian Church.
Immigration also examined Mrs. Bryant’s passport, endorsed by J. B. Sawyer, Vice Consul at Shanghai; and a Declaration of Alien About to Depart for the United States, form 228. The items were approved and returned to Mr. Bryant. Bryant was asked why he was bringing his wife to the United States. He said it was to allow her to have his company and to give her an education. In both 1916 and 1917 he was absent nine months, “and she said that was no home life.”
The witnesses for her 1919 application were Neville Craig, U.S. Court for China, and Walter H. Meyers of Seattle, Washington. Her application was approved.
Their travels between 1919 and 1927 are not mentioned in the file. In 1927 Mr. and Mrs. Bryant arrived in San Francisco from Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. Mrs. Bryant was delayed because she did not have a Certificate of Identity. Bryant complained to Immigration Services in Seattle because they were not given the proper documents when she arrived in 1919. He said they were very embarrassed because their landing was delayed until the paperwork could be verified. [The file does not say how long the delay was but it could have been hours or days.]
The Bryants left Seattle again in 1931. A letter in the file says she was identified by photographs and her Certificate of Identity No. 58341. [They made sure they had the paperwork in order this time.] There is no more information in the file after 1931.
[Most Section 6-Travelers files for Chinese actors do not contain a photo of the individual or an interrogation. This file is unique because it includes an 8 x 10” group photograph of the troupe. Some of the names on the photo are slightly different than the names listed in the correspondence in the file. Instead of individual files the troupe is all in one file. ]
Photo: Sun Shing/Sun Fong Ching (brother), Choy Dsee Show/Choy Dsee Poo (cousin), Sun Fong Lin (manager), Sun Fong Cling/Sun Fong Lin (brother), Mrs. Sun Fong Lin (manager’s wife), Chang Ding Poo/Chong Den Foo (cousin).
The troupe was on the Pantages Theatre Circuit. They played in Minneapolis, Minnesota then went to Canada for engagements in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary. They re-entered the United States at Sweet Grass, Montana about 19 January 1919 en route to Great Falls, Montana.
According to Sun Fong Lin, the manager, all six performers were born in China. Three of them arrived in New York in 1914 and the other three landed at San Francisco in 1917. They were originally working for Barnum & Bailey Circus.
On 1 March 1919 Charles W. Seaman, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration Service in Minnesota, frustrated by a lack of guidelines, wrote a letter to the Commissioner in Washington, D.C. in behalf of the inspector in Sweet Grass saying they had no official instructions for the handling of Chinese performers leaving the country temporarily for engagements in Canada. He asked for specific instructions for handling all future cases involving Chinese performers crossing the border to Canada.
The Troupe was re-admitted to the U.S. on 2 March 1919 and by 5 August 1919 all the proper paperwork was in the file.