Tag Archives: Montana

Fong Gum – Chinese Woman Merchant in Butte, MT

Photo of Fong Gum and Sam Chong
“Photo of Fong Gum and Sam Chong,” 1902, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Mrs. Wong Cue (Fong Gum) case file, Seattle, Box 43, 31-88.

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.

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.

Tom You – 1899 admittance form

Tom You Admittance Form
“Tom You Admittance Form,” 1899, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tom You file, Seattle, Box 88, Case 15519.

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.

Imperial Pekinese Troupe – Actors

Imperial Pekinese Troupe
“Imperial Pekinese Troupe, photo, 1919” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Imperial Pekinese Troupe file, Seattle, Box1262, Case 36287/1-1 to 1/6.

[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.