Tye Leung was born in California in 1887 to a family of Chinese immigrants. At 14, she escaped an arranged marriage in Montana by joining a Presbyterian Mission in San Francisco. There, she learned English and became an interpreter, helping the mission rescue trafficked Chinese women from local brothels.
In 1910 she was hired as a translator at Angel Island Immigration Station; Leung was the first Chinese American to pass the civil service exam and become a government employee. Here, she met Charles Schulze, an immigration inspector, and they fell in love.
Charles Schulze was white. At the time, interracial marriages were illegal in California. They went to Washington state to get legally married, knowing that the intense racism and prejudice from their coworkers would force them to lose their jobs.
To support their family of four children, Tye worked as a night shift telephone operator. Charles was a mechanic and repairman until he died in 1935. She was also the first Chinese woman hired to work at Angel Island. Tye continued to be an interpreter, social worker, and an involved community member in San Francisco’s Chinatown until she died in 1972.
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
Fong Gum was born in San Francisco, California about 1876 and moved to Spokane around 1898. According to a 1902 statement in the file Fong Gum and Sam Chong/Chung were married in Spokane County in September 1901. Sam Chung was a member of S. Chung and W. Ting firm at 127 Washington Street, Spokane, Washington.
There is nothing in the file that tells what happened to Sam Chong/Chung but Wong Cue, a merchant tailor, and Fong Gum were married in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho about 1907 or ’08. Their witnesses were Mrs. McDonald and her husband who was a street car conductor.
In 1923 Mrs. Wong Cue was the proprietress of Ladies’ Popular Garment Store, 317 South Main St., Butte, Montana. Her status with the U.S. Department of Labor Immigration Service was as a merchant independent of her husband. [This is very unusual and the only file I have seen where a woman is listed as a merchant.] Her business was in a building own by Mr. B. Marcello. He charged $30 rent per month. She paid all of her own expenses and netted about $35 to $40 each month. The store was about 30 by 80 feet and she lived in the back. For the last two years she and her husband had lived separately.
(According to Mrs. Wong Cue, her husband was living with another woman and they had two children together.)
Mrs. Wong Cue was planning a trip to China in 1923 and taking her adopted daughter, Po Lin and nephew, Lee Hoy, with her.
Mrs. Wong Cue told the immigration interviewer that she bought her merchandise stock from Hennessey’s, Symons, and sometimes O’Connell’s. She sold ladies garments. Sometimes she made her own garments and sometimes she bought them.
Her white witnesses were Mrs. Gordon Schermerhorn, Mrs. Jane Lammie and Mr. B. Marcello. Mrs. Lammie testified that she came from Scotland almost three years ago to join her husband, a baker at Rex Bakery, who had been in Butte since 1906. Mrs. Lammie said “Mrs. Wong [Cue] is an excellent little woman.” Mr. Marcello also testified that Mrs. Wong Cue paid her rent to him and that she made her own living. Mrs. Gordon Schermerhorn testified that she was 45 year old in 1924 and born in England. She had been living in Butte for about ten years. Mrs. Schermerhorn and Mrs. Lammie were neighbors and good friends of Mrs. Wong Cue. All three witnesses testified that they were confident that Mrs. Wong Cue lived separately from her husband.
Wong Cue said that he visited his wife three or four times a week and he slept with her “the night before last.” The examining inspector asked if he had any trouble with Mrs. Cue. Wong Cue said “sometimes she gets a little cranky.” [Wong Cue was being investigated for bringing a woman into the country for immoral purposes—the woman he was living with.]
Mrs. Wong Cue application was approved and she and her daughter and nephew left for China in September 1923.
Additional information per Jill Morelli’s questions: The file ends with Mrs. Cue’s departure. There is no further information in the file. It was important that she made her own money because she did not want to depend on her husband to get back into the country. Since he was under investigation, his status could endanger her ability to return to the U.S. She needed to show that she made her own money and lived away from her husband so she could prove she was a merchant. Merchants were exempt from the Exclusion Act. If she had merchant status she could get back into the U.S. no matter what he did.
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.
This is an example of an early case file admittance form. Early files did not require a formal interrogation but the form included the basic information—Tom You arrived in Seattle on the S.S. Olympia. He was a partner of the Wang Hong Low Company at 11 West Street, Butte, Montana. He was 30 years old, 5 feet 6 inches, and had no distinguishing marks. He did not speak English. On 2 December 1899 Tom You received a favorable report from the Chinese Inspector Hathaway. The report was signed by H. B. Spede.
Tom You’s case is more complicated than it appeared from his final admittance form. Other paperwork in his file shows that he arrived in Seattle on 3 October 1899 and was rejected. The case was appealed and the papers were sent to the Collector of Customs in Great Falls, Montana for investigation. More testimony was obtained to verify that Tom You was a merchant and not a laborer. Affidavits in his favor were filed in Silver Bow County, Montana by John E. McCormick, Charles W. Fisher, T. M. Hodgens, Jesse R. Wharton, and C. H. Harper. These reputable white males swore that Tom You sometimes known as Hum Yu was living as a merchant and did not in any way partake in manual labor on any kind.
[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.