Tag Archives: New Jersey

Robert Eugene Lee – Chinese/African American of Philadelphia

Lee Robert Eugene 1916 Aff
“Robert Eugene Lee and Lee Chong, affidavit photos ,” 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Quock Bong (Robert Eugene Lee) case file, Seattle Box 686, 7030/8391.

Robert Eugene Lee (Lee Quock Bong) was born on 24 February 1897 at 208 North 9th Street in Philadelphia. His parents were Lee Chong and Musetta Lee. His father was Chinese and his mother was “a negress.” In 1902 Lee Chong and his family visited his home village, Dong Nom Ho Village, Hok Dan District, China. Mrs. Lee died two months after arriving in China. Lee Chong returned to Philadelphia in 1903 and the children stayed in China with their father’s family.

In 1916 Lee Chong was applying to have his son, Robert Eugene Lee, join him in Philadelphia. He swore in an affidavit that he was a laundryman at 1939 East Sargent Street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a widower and father of three American-born children, Robert Eugene Lee, aged 18; Mable Luella Lee, age 16, and Gum Len Lee, age 13, who were living in China. His son was married but his wife would be staying in China.

Mary E. Moy, age 45, was a witness for Lee Chong and his son. She testified that her sister and Dr. Bates attended Musetta Lee at Robert’s birth. Mrs. Moy, a Caucasian, was married to a Chinese, Goon Moy. Her husband and Robert’s father, Lee Chong, were close friends.

Other witnesses were Lee Tong, manager of Chong Woh Company in Philadelphia and Agnes A. Ming, a Caucasian who knew Robert’s parents well. She testified that she had known Lee Chong since she was twelve years old and that Lee Chong married Zada Brown, “a colored girl,” who lived over his laundry at 18th and Wharton streets. After their three children were born the Lee family moved to China and Zada died there in 1903. Agnes went to school with Zada, a mulatto. Agnes’ husband was Chinese and a friend of Lee Chong. The Mings lived in Albany, New York.

Lee Chong (American name Joe Lee), (marriage name Lee See Tai), was 49 years old, a laundryman. He received his certificate of identity or residence 107002 in Philadelphia in March 1894. [The file sometimes refers to the certificate as identity and sometime as residence.]
In a letter recommending approval of Robert’s documents, Charles V. Mallet, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector at Gloucester City, New Jersey stated,

“The witnesses Mary Moy and Agnes Ming are both white women
who are or have been married to Chinese, and both of them
convince me of their credibility in connection with their
testimony affecting the applicant; Mrs. Moy being a woman
whose personality should place her way above the status of
one who ordinarily consorts with Chinese. I personally know
something about this witness and have to say for her that
she has raised a family of boys in a manner which should do
credit to any mother. The Chinese witness, Lee Tong, is one
of the most responsible and respected merchant in
Philadelphia Chinatown, and his testimony should be
accorded corresponding weight. The alleged father of the
boy gives the impression of one who is disposed to tell the
truth with his knowledge, and manifests a true parent’s
interest in the applicant…”

In a 1916 statement approving Robert Eugene Lee’s arrival, H. W. Cunningham, Chinese and Immigrant Inspector, Vancouver, B.C. said, “…the claims made are genuine, and in addition applicant’s features plainly indicate an admixture of negro blood. Applicant is admitted and furnished a certificate of identity.”

The file lists the following documents were examined: the baptismal cards for Robert Eugene Lee and Mabel Luella Lee at Philadelphia, 12 December 1901; a 1911 copy of a birth certificate for Chinese female Lee, [Gum Len Lee] born 21 July 1902; and passport 62682 issued 9 October 1902 to Musetta Lee accompanied by her three minor children. [Unfortunately these documents are not included in the file.]

Robert lost his certificate of identity in 1921 but was able to get it replaced.

Robert Eugene Lee made two more trips to China. He was gone from 1922 to 1924. His son, Lee Tong Chee, arrived in the U.S. in 1928. His wife, Chong See, and his other son, Lee You Kue, stayed in China. In 1936 Robert, age 39, applied to visit China and was approved. He returned in June 1937.

Gee G. Baine (Gee Quock Bin) – law student at Suffolk Law School, Boston

Photo of Gee G. Baine
“Photo of Gee G. Baine from Form 431,“ 1916, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Gee G. Baine (Gee Quock Bin) case file, Seattle Box RS 285, RS 34,340.

Gee G. Baine was studying law at Suffolk Law School, Boston, Massachusetts in 1916 when he applied for pre-investigation of status so he could visit China.
After a careful investigation Henry M. White, Commissioner of Immigration in Boston approved Gee’s application. White agreed with Inspector McCabe saying that the application “requires a liberal interpretation of the law to approve this application…”

“The applicant was lawfully admitted to the country and so far as developed has maintained an exempt status during the last past year. He thus has met the requirement of rule 15. True, in years gone by, he was a laborer within the meaning of the law, and at times might have been arrested on the charge of being unlawfully with the United States. It is doubted, however, that because of his doings at that time he should now be denied the right to visit his home county.”

Gee G. Baine originally entered the U.S. under the name Gee Quock Bin in San Francisco in June 1896. He lived with his uncle Dr. Gee in New York City, before moving to New Brunswick, New Jersey where he was tutored by a private teacher. He attended several schools over the years: the Thirteenth Street School In New York City, School #11 in Brooklyn, Horace Mann School in Newtonville, Massachusetts; a public school in New York City, and Berkeley Preparatory School in Boston. He was sick with pneumonia one winter then went to Boston where he worked for Mr. Monerly as a chauffeur. When his uncle Dr. Gee returned to China he gave Gee a partnership interest in the Royal Restaurant in Boston. Before Gee was accepted to law school he sometimes worked at the restaurant.

Gleason L. Archer, an attorney, the Dean and founder of the Suffolk Law School in Boston, swore in a statement that Gee Baine had been a student since August 1915 and attended classes three evening a week. He had a good attendance record and good grades having completed courses in contracts, criminal law, torts, agency, legal ethics, and real property. His personal history record showed that his references were Joseph F. O’Connell and Dr. C. H. Thomas of Cambridge.

Edgar S. Monroe, an optometrist in Boston, testified that he had known Gee about twelve years and he had seen him studying law for the last year or two. Monroe did not have personal knowledge that Gee had not worked as a laborer in a restaurant or laundry in the last year but he felt that Gee was worthy and always a gentleman—one that he would not feel ashamed to associate with in any society.

George A. Douglas, an attorney and instructor at Suffolk Law School, attested that he had known Gee since 1915 as a student in his classes in criminal law and agency. Gee attended classes faithfully. Although Douglas could not swear that Gee had not done any manual labor in the last year he knew that his attendance at school and the time needed for studying must have kept Gee extremely busy.
Gee testified that he arrived in 1896 when he was twelve years old and was admitted as a section 6 student. In the past year his only work for the Royal Restaurant was as an interpreter for the business.
In Henry M. White, Commissioner of Immigration’s letter approving Gee’s application he refers to Section 6 Exemption; rule 15 of the Chinese Exclusion Act. See Rule 15 (b)1 below:

Section 6 Exemption; rule 15 (b)
Section 6 Exemption; rule 15 of the Chinese Exclusion Act. See Rule 15 (b)

[The interviewers overlooked the fact that over the years Gee had sometimes found it necessary to work as a laborer. Because he was in the U.S. as a student he could have been deported if this became known to the authorities. The interviewers decided to concentrate on Gee’s previous year. It appeared that he was a full time student and was only associated with the restaurant in a managerial capacity.]
[Although Gee’s application was approved there is no indication in the file that he ever left the country.]

1. Chinese rules : treaty, laws, and regulations governing the admission of Chinese. [Electronic resource] https://u95007.eos-intl.net/U95007/OPAC/Details/Record.aspx?BibCode=8745586; Media #6, (1911 January 10) approved April 18, 1910, edition of January 10, 1911; ChiLR 1911.1