Tag Archives: New York City

Ng Lee Fung – Photos from 1900 to 1939

Ng Lee Fung 伍李芳 was born in San Francisco on 13 July 1879, the son of Ng Dong Ming and Yee She. He travelled to Gon Hon village, Sun Ning district, China, with his parents and older brother, Ng Hock Sing, when he was nine years old. Lee Fung returned to the United States with his brother in 1900 coming through Montreal, Canada via Vancouver, B.C. From there they took a train to Malone, New York. They were arrested on 9 July 1900 for entering the U.S. without the certificate required of Chinese persons when they stepped off the train near Burke, New York and taken to jail. They were kept there over four weeks.

Ng Lee Fung, age 22, and Ng Hom Sing, age 29, appeared in court with their attorney R. M. Moore with the charge of illegal entry into the U.S. Mr. S. C. Chew was their interpreter. Their uncle Ng Wai Ming, age 54, was a witness for them. He was living with his brother in San Francisco at the time of his nephews’ birth. He testified that both were born at 744 Sacramento Street. The uncle stayed in San Francisco when the rest of the family went to China and he eventually moved to the New York City area.
Ng Lee Fung and his brother were found not guilty of the charge since they were U.S. citizens and had a lawful right to be and remain within the United States. They received their Discharge Certificates on 11 August 1900 following the trial by U.S. Commissioner Paddock at Malone, NY. After they were discharged they went to Newark, New Jersey.

Ng Lee Fung 1900 Discharge Certificate
“Discharge Certificate for Ng Lee Fung, ” 1900, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Lee Fung file, Seattle Box 806, 7030/12880.

In 1912 Lee Fung received his Certificate of Identity #9803 at the Port of Seattle. In 1920 he submitted certified copy of the 1900 docket entries by the Clerk of the U.S. Court at Utica and certified copy of the testimony which took place before Commissioner Frederick G. Paddock at Malone, NY. He testified that he had registered for the military draft; presented his registration card showing that he was Class 1A. Ng Lee Fung visited China in 1922 and again in 1927 with his son Ng Jim. Before and after each trip out of the United States, Lee Fung submitted his documents and was interrogated. Each time his paperwork was approved.

Lee Fung made his final to trip China in March 1940 at age 61. His original certificate of identity is included in the file so he probably did not plan on returning to the U.S. His wife died in Gim Sim Village, Sun Ning District, China in September 1939. Lee Fung has a thick file with many interviews, documents and photos—almost forty years of his life.

Ng lee Fung photos 1907 to 1939
“Ng Lee Fung, photos, ” 1907, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1920, 1921, 1926, 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Lee Fung file, Seattle Box 806, 7030/12880.

Benjamin James – 1923 Certificate of Identity sold on EBay

[Amy Chin brought this to my attention in a few weeks ago. The Certificate of Identity for Benjamin James was being offered for sale on Ebay. She did a quick Ancestry search and found a ship manifest and a U.S. Consular application. Mr. James’ record showed that he was born in Philadelphia. His Certificate of Identity was issued in Seattle so she thought there may be a file at Seattle NARA on him. The indexes for San Bruno and NY show they both have files on him.  Amy searched the Social Security Death Index and found a Benjamin James who died July 1969. NARA-NY has files on Benjamin and siblings Harry, Lillie and Arthur. In 1911 Benjamin and at least 2 other siblings returned to China for 10+ years.]

[Amy asked if I could check the Seattle files to see if we could connect a descendant to Benjamin James so they could obtain the Certificate of Identity from Ebay. Unfortunately the certificate sold quickly, before I had a chance to make this blog entry on Benjamin James’ file. ]

Benjamin James 1898 Birth Certificate
“Benjamin James, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1898 birth certificate,” 1908, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Benjamin James file, Seattle Box 109, 734/2-1.”

Benjamin James was born 6 July 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Joe and Tillie James. His birth certificate was presented to immigration in 1911 as proof of his U.S. citizenship before the family left for China.

Instead of inteBenjamin James photo 1911rviewing each of the children individually only Benjamin’s parents were interviewed before they left the U.S. in 1911. Joseph James’ Chinese name was Chu Gee Cim [Gim] and his married named was Chu Chuck. He was born in Ling Yung village, Sun Ning, China about 1852 and came to the U.S. through San Francisco in 1868. He stayed there about eleven years working as a merchant and sometimes a laborer then went to New York City until 1880. He lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New York, New York; and Paterson, New Jersey. He was in Atlantic City in 1894 when he registered as required by the Chinese Exclusion Act and obtained his merchant’s papers. He married Chung Suey Ping, (English married name: Tillie James). She was born in California. They had three sons and five living daughters and a daughter, Sou Ying, who died at age four. Their children, all born in the United States, were Lillie James (Mrs. Lee), Mamie James (Mrs. Bing), Harry James, Annie James, Margaret James, Benjamin James, Alice James, and Arthur James. In 1911 the older children stayed in the U.S. and Joseph and Tillie took Harry, Benjamin, Alice and Arthur to China so they could attend school there.

Benjamin James photo 1923
“Benjamin James, form 430 M143 photos,” 1911 & 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Benjamin James file, Seattle Box 109, 734/2-1.

In 1923 Benjamin James informed Immigration that he would be returning to the U.S. via Seattle in the near future. He gave the immigration officer three photos for his certificate of identity and asked that the certificate be sent to him in San Francisco. In January 1924, writing on stationery from Washman Co., importers and Exporters at 259 Fifth Avenue in New York City, he requested that the certificate be sent to the Washman address. His Certificate of Identity #49650 was forwarded to him there.

[There is no more information in the file.]

Yick May Gum (Katherine Lillie Shan) – Chinese and a wee bit of Irish

Yick May Gum Katherine Shan photo
“Yick May Gum (alias Katherine Lillie Shan) Form 430 photo” 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yick May Gum (Katherine Shan) case file, Portland Box 92, 5017/552.
[There are only a few Chinese Exclusion Act files where one of the parents is Irish. Here is one of them in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.]
Katherine Lillie Shan applied for her Native’s Return Certificate on 19 June 1930 in Portland, Oregon. She was working for the Orpheum Theatre circuit and they were performing in Canada. She gave the interviewer her Chinese name as Yick May Gum and said she was the daughter of Yick Bing Shan and Gertrude [maiden name not listed]. Katherine was born at 108 third Avenue, New York City on 11 June 1912. Her mother was a white woman of Irish descent who was born in Denver, Colorado. Katherine attended P.S. No. 60 grade school in New York City and then went on to Norfield Seminary [possibly Northfield Mount Herman School]. Her father was a witness for her. Her mother was working in their restaurant on the day of the interview. Katherine had two older brothers back in China whom she had never met.
R. P Bonham, Immigration District Director in Portland sent a telegram to Immigration Service in New York City on June 19 requesting Yick May Gum’s Native Return Certificate but they could not find her file. He interrogated her the next day.
Katherine’s Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, Form 430, is included in the file with a note saying “Application withdrawn and birth certificate returned to applicant on June 24, 1930.” Signed: R. J. Norene

[There is no more information in the file. Some files do not tell us very much. This one leaves us with more questions than answers. A cross reference sheet was not included in the file so there is no reference to her father’s file and he wasn’t found in the Seattle index.]

Look Gom Hong – Son of deceased American-born Chinese citizen who resided in Seattle

Undertaker’s Bill for Look Ah Pong
“Undertaker’s Bill for Look Ah Pong,” 1921, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Look Gom Hong case file, Seattle Box 650, 7030/7291.

Look Ah Pong, an American-born Chinese citizen died on 7 January 1921 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Seattle, Washington on 10 January. His son, Look Gom Hong, born at Sing Shu Village, Fook Chung, Sun Ning, China, originally entered the United States through the Port of Seattle in 1923. He received his Certificate of Identity #50610 upon arrival. After his entry was approved he joined his older brother, Look Gim Yook (York), in New York City.

In 1935 Look Gom Hong filled out his Form 430, Application for Pre-investigation of Status, for his upcoming trip to China. He was 25 years old and a waiter at Li Chee Gardens Restaurant in New York City. In over five pages of interrogation Look Gom Hong described his father’s and mother’s siblings, his grandparents on both sides of the family, their extended families, and many details about their village.

Look Gim Yook (York) testified on behalf of his brother. He swore that he was with their father when he died at Hai Ping Fong in Seattle. He did not have his father’s death certificate but he gave the interrogator a bill addressed to the Hip Sing Company from Collins Brothers Undertaking Company for $125 for the burial of his father. He surrendered his father’s Certificate of Identity #2671 which was issued in 1911. The interrogators then asked Look Gim Yook (York) the same questions about the family and village as his brother. [His father’s Certificate of Identity was valuable proof of the family connection.]

Look Kim Fun who was admitted to the U.S. in 1922 was from their village and testified for Look Gom Hong. He was asked the same questions about the family and village and also stated that the village had thirteen houses and a watch house. [Since it was such a small village everyone knew each other’s families making Look Kim Fun a credible witness.]

The Inspectors reviewed the interrogations and decided that the testimony of the three witnesses agreed. Look Gom Hong made a favorable impression; the brothers resembled each other and they were prompt and frank in their testimony. Look Gom Hong’s application was approved.

Photos of Look Kim York and Look Gom Hong
“Photos of Look Kim York and Look Gom Hong, Affidavit,” 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Look Gom Hong case file, Seattle Box 650, 7030/7291.
The Reference Sheet in the file includes the names, relationships and file numbers for Look Gom Hong’s father, brother, two nephews, two uncles, two cousins, and a “distant relative.”

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

List of documents in file for Nelson Wah Chan King

In July 1938, Nelson Wah Chan King, age 27, applied to the U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration Service on Form 430 for a two-day visit Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His application created much paperwork and eventually was approved by Tom L. Wychoff of the Spokane immigration office but never used. Nelson cancelled his trip to Canada because he was transferred from his job in Spokane, Washington to New York City. This is a list of the documents that were in his file:

Documents listed in file
“List of documents in file for Nelson Wah Chan King” 1938, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, King Wash Chan Nelson case file, Seattle Box 767, 7030/11344.

Nelson Wah Chan King was born on 10 June 1911 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Harry N. King and Lily Dorothy Shem (maiden name: Shem Mowlan). His parents were both born in San Francisco. His father owned the Kwong Nom Low Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah before moving to Los Angeles, California to become a merchant. Although Nelson’s grandparents were born in China, Nelson, his parents, and his brother had never been to China. Nelson’s only sibling, Paul Ming King, was born 21 January 1918 in Salt Lake City and by 1938 was a student at University of California in Los Angeles.
Nelson was working as a floor manager for the National Dollar Stores in Spokane, Washington, making $90 a month in 1938. His mother’s brother, Bruce Shem, was living in San Francisco with his wife and two sons. His father did not have siblings but he had four cousins in Salt Lake City– Walter G. King, a reporter for Salt Lake City Tribune; Ernest Q. King, M.D., a Reserve Flight Sergeant, U. S. Army and connected with a C.C. C. Camp; Raymond S. King, newspaper photographer; and Ruth King Chang, M.D. Nelson Wah Chan King’s paternal grandparents were Chan Mun Lok Way and Chan Lau Shee. His maternal grandfather was William C. Shem. Nelson could not remember his grandmother’s Chinese name—he just called her grandmother. She was living in San Francisco with her son Bruce Shem.
Nelson Wah Chan King graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1933.
Nelson’s mother, Lily S. King, testified that her father was Shem Yow Ching and her mother was Leang Shee.
In his sworn statement, Nelson’s father, Harry N. King, (Chinese name: Chan Hong), stated that he was an art dealer with the Tom Gubbins Company and his father’s name was Chan See Gern.
Anna C. Stevenson also testified in Nelson’s behalf in 1938. She was a 70-year-old widow who had lived in Salt Lake City for 35 years. She had owned the apartments on Vissing Court where the King family had lived. She stated that Nelson’s mother was brought up in a Methodist home in California. Anna had last seen Nelson in 1936 on her birthday, 6 August. He brought her a present from the King family.
On 23 August 1938 Nelson Wah Chan King notified the Immigration office in Seattle that because of his transfer to New York City he would not be making his trip to Canada. It is the last document in his file.
[Although Nelson Wah Chan King and his parents were all born in the United States and never left the U.S., his grandparents were Chinese immigrants and therefore Nelson was subject to the Chinese Exclusion Act. On the positive side, there is a tremendous amount of family information in the file.]

Princess Der Ling visits Seattle

Mrs White and family
“Mrs. T. C. White, newspaper article,” 1917, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Mrs. T. C. White case file, Seattle RS Box 285, RS 34,283.

Undated newspaper article included in the file: “Princess is Here, has Shopping Fad”
“Princess Der Ling, who is shown with her husband, Thaddeus Raymond White and little son, Thaddeus, Jr., during stay of family in Seattle.”
[Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, Washington, 10 April 1917, p.22] [See complete article below.]
Mrs. Thaddeus C. White entered the United States with her husband and son, Thaddeus Raymond White, on 20 October 1916. Mrs. White was also known as Elizabeth Antoinette Der Ling or Princess Der Ling, former lady-in-waiting to China’s Dowager Empress, Tzu-hai. Mrs. White was born in Tientsin, China; her husband, a Caucasian, was a U.S. citizen and businessman in China. The caption under the photo in 1917 newspaper article: “Daughter of Manchurian Prince declares that department stores of Seattle furnish never ending round of wonder and desire to buy.”
A letter in the file states that In April 1917 Mr. White complained to the Commissioner-General of Immigration in Washington, D.C. about the way he and Mrs. Konigsberg were treated by Inspector Thomson on their arrived in Seattle in October 1916. The Commissioner was satisfied that Mr. Thomson had no intention of being discourteous although he may have seemed “rather abrupt.” [The file doesn’t give any details about Mr. Thomson’s behavior or give the identity of Mrs. Konigsberg .]
Another note in the file says that Mrs. White was Princess Der Ling and had lived in U.S. about one year in 1888.
Mrs. White, her husband, and son traveled from Vancouver, B.C. via Seattle, Washington in August 1922 to New York City and were admitted as U.S. citizens. They traveled again in 1927 and were admitted.
A final memo in the file dated 28 November 1944 says, “Our attention has been called to the accidental death of this person as reported in the San Francisco newspaper Call Bulletin, on November 22, 1944.
[Mrs. White died from injuries in Berkeley, California after being struck by a truck. She had been teaching Chinese in the language War Program at the University of California. More information about Princess Der Ling can be found on Google and Findagrave.com.]


1917 White family article
Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, Washington, 10 April 1917, p.22