Lai Man Kim whose American name was William K. Lai was born on 5 September 1887 in Portland Oregon, the son of Lai Fong and Foong Ho. He had no siblings. His father died when he was about four years old and his mother went to live in China in 1906. Lai Kim obtained a certificate of residence in 1894 when he was seven years old. On his 1913 pre-investigation of citizenship status he listed several witnesses: Mr. Sanborn of Van Schuyver & Co., and several prominent Chinese: Lee Mee Gin, Seid Back, Moy Back Hin, Seid Back, Jr. (Said Gain) and Moy Bow Wing. Lai Kim was a charter member of the American Born Chinese Association in Portland and held certificate number 21. After his mother left Portland he lived with the Moy Bow Wing family. He listed his occupation as vocal soloist at the Majestic Theatre in Portland. Lai Kim was a student at Chinese and English schools in Portland before attending the University of Oregon at Eugene, Oregon. Lai Wai, Lai Kim’s cousin and godfather, help support him and his mother after his father’s death.
Lai Man Kim’s application was approved by the Seattle Immigration Office but he didn’t leave the country at that time. About a year later, in 1914, Martin Beck, General Manager of the Orpheum Circuit in Chicago wrote to Immigration Service in Portland to tell them that Lai Man Kim would be leaving Chicago for Canada, then returning to Seattle from Vancouver, B.C. There is no more information in the file.
Information not included in the file:
[These entries are from my 2009 blog on the Chinese at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle. The newspaper articles tell a little bit more about William Lai’s earlier musical career.]
Portland student at AYPE and Harry Ding and William Lai Perform
Mrs. Moy Bow Wing, a widow, also known as May Moy, was applying to re-enter the United States with her three children, Esther Wah Kee Moy, Florence Wah Jong Moy and Stanley Wah Chung Moy. All three were born in Portland, Oregon. The family had been visiting May Moy’s grand-uncle in Vancouver, British Columbia. Being Canadian-Chinese, May Moy made several trips between Seattle and Vancouver, B. C. between 1912 and 1915 and was known to the Seattle immigration office.
Dr. George Parrish, the Health Officer of the City of Portland, swore to the accuracy of the copy of Esther Wah Kee Moy’s birth certificate.
The reference sheet in the back of the file contains the names and file numbers for the baby’s father, mother, brother, sister, grandparents, and two uncles.
Esther Wah Kee Moy’s father, Moy Bow Wing, died in January 1917 just five months before she was born.
Additional information not in the file:
According to a long article in the Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 6 January 1917, page 10: Moy Bow Wing was the eldest son of Moy Back Hin, Chinese Consul in Portland. He was 34 years old when he died of pneumonia. The article contains much biographical information and tells of Moy Bow Wing’s many accomplishments.