Tag Archives: New York

Chong Wong Chong – Portland import-export merchant

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)

Chong Wong ChongIn 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.

Nushagak Cannery, Alaska
Nushagak Cannery, Alaska

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).

Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.
Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.

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.

Helen Chong
Helen Chong

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

Lim Chuan Teck – Chinese basketball guard in 1920s

Guest blogger: Marie Sheallene Lim-Yeo
Inspired by the CEA blog essay on Chinese basketball players, Marie started tracking down the games her grandfather, Lim Chuan Teck 林川澤, played on tour in China, Canada and the United States in the late 1920s. He played guard and was also known as Charles Lim.

The Chinese basketball team played in Hubei, China in 1926 and won all the matches. Lim did not join them in Japan in 1927 but he was there for their Canadian tour which started in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on 23 January 1929. In the next three weeks they played Victoria, Montreal, New York, Seattle, University of Southern California, and Indianapolis, Indiana; ending their tour in Honolulu, Hawaii on 14 February 1929. Some of the players continued on for a total of three months playing many of the leading college basketball teams in the U.S.

The squad was led by Captain Choa Itsan; Enyang Siok Huy was their tallest member. He and Lee Dah Chen were forwards. Lim Chuan Teck and Co Teck Eng were guards. An article in the Bismark Tribune on 6 February 1929, said the guards were as hard to stop as their names were to pronounce.
Photos provided courtesy of Marie Sheallene Lim-Yeo:

Basketball players YMCA
YMCA Basketball players in the early 1920s
Chinese Basketball team
Chinese Basketball team
Mr. C. C. Lim History of YMCA Part III
Mr. C. C. Lim History of YMCA Part III – provided courtesy of Marie Sheallene Lim-Yeo

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.

Chin Wong Kee -1901 Discharge Certificate

Chin Wong Kee 1901 Discharge Certificate
“Chin Wong Kee, Discharge Certificate” 1901, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Wong Kee case file, Seattle Box 1396, 41560/24-3.
Chin Wong Kee 陳黃記 was born in Watsonville, California in 1879. He was the son of Chin Din Ling and Wong She. About 1884 he went back to China with his parents and younger brother, Chin Loy Foo, to Bok Wut village. Chin Wong Kee (marriage name Chin Ai Goon) married before he and his brother returned to the United States in 1901. They landed at Vancouver, B.C., travelled to Montreal, then entered the United States at Rouses Point, New York. [south of Montreal]
They were immediately arrested. They were sent by train to jail in Plattsburg, NY. [about 24 miles south of Rouses Point]. They were in jail there for about four months. They received their discharge papers at Port Henry [about 54 miles south of Plattsburg] from Fred W. Dudley, U.S. Commissioner, Northern District of New York in August 1901. Their father’s younger brother, Chin Don Suey, was a witness for the brothers. The discharge papers enabled Chin Wong Kee to obtain his Certificate of Identity #20529.

His adult son, Chin You Dick, was admitted at the Port of Seattle in 1915 and was living and working in Mount Vernon, New York. Chin Wong Kee was working nearby in a restaurant as a waiter. His wife died in China in 1919.

Chin Wong Kee, Form 430 photo 1920;
Chin Wong Kee, Form 430 photo 1920; Seattle Box 1396, 41560/24-3.
Chin Wong Kee applied to return to China in 1920. His application was approved and he left via Boston, Massachusetts. Chin Wong Kee returned to the U.S. at the Port of Seattle on 21 June 1923 and was admitted.

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.

Wong Ming Bow – 1897, arrested, held two months, tried, declared U.S. citizen, released

Wong Ming Bow 1897 Discharge papers
“Discharge Papers – Wong Ming Bow,” 1897, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Ming Bow case file, Seattle, Box 577, 7030/4947.

Wong Ming Bow was born in San Francisco about 1876. His parents took him back to China when he was four years old. In 1882 while the family was in China the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. Wong Ming Bow returned to the United States in 1897 when he was 21 years old. He entered at Malone, New York and was immediately arrested. He did not have the proper papers and could not prove he was a United States citizen. Wong and about nine or ten other Chinese were held in a three-story brick building for about two months. Wong was finally issued his discharge papers by U. S. Commissioner William P. Badger at Malone on 27 July 1897. Unlike most discharge papers, his did not include his photograph. This document was the only proof he had of his citizenship. It was very precious—without it he could be deported.
Wong made trips back to China from Buffalo, New York in 1907 and 1911. Each time his discharge papers were reviewed. The “discharge certificate was sent to Inspector George W. Ketchum at Malone who compared it with the docket and found it genuine. Commissioner Badger identified the signature on the certificate as his own.”
In an interview with Wong on 7 July 1911 he said his father came to get him when he was arrested in 1897. This is the only detail given about the 1897 arrest and it does not mention what documents his father used to prove the Wong was born in San Francisco and a citizen of the United States. Evidently it was enough for the commissioner to issue the discharge papers.
There were several correspondences between Buffalo, Boston and Vancouver, B.C. immigration offices trying to locate the necessary paper work in Wong’s file. On 10 July 1911, the commissioner in Boston wrote to the Inspector in Vancouver, B. C. saying, “the papers in this case can be easily located, no doubt, by reference to the large books entitled “Record of arrivals and disposition of Chinese Persons,” at Malone, which were packed in the box marked M 6, from which the serial number can be ascertained. Inasmuch as the card index at Malone was not started until January 1, 1909, this case cannot be found by reference to that.” [It is not known who underlined these passages.]
In 1913 Wong Ming Bow was issued a certificate of identity No. 10150. It was a sturdy document and much easier and safer to carry around than his discharge papers. Wong’s certificate is not included in the file but to see an example see (Chin) Lin Hing’s certificate .
[There is much more information on Wong Ming Bow and his family in the files. Get more details on next week’s entry.]