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
Tag Archives: Orpheum Circuit
Wong Laine Heung (Helen Wong) – Post Card & a Murder
Written of the back: “July 8, 1930
Dear Mr. Norene,
This is just a few lines to thank you and Mr. Lowe for your prompt attention on my matter.
With kindest personal regards,
[This post card is included in the file for Helen Wong.]
In June 1930, Wong Laine Heung (Helen Laine Louis), also known as Helen Wong, applied to leave Portland, Oregon for a short visit to Vancouver, B.C. with the Orpheum Circuit. Helen was a musician and played the piano. She was interrogated by Roy J. Norene, Immigrant Inspector. The Chinese Interpreter was Herman Lowe. Helen stated that she was born in San Luis Obispo, California on 14 April 1905. Her father, Ah Lui, also known as Wong On or Wong Ok Fon was a wealthy merchant. Her mother, Gon Ying Lui, died when Helen was six or seven years old. Helen went to Court Grammar School and California Polytechnic School and had five brothers and two sisters. They were all born at 800 Palm Avenue in San Luis Obispo. Helen’s brother, George (Wong Him), was also an actor.
Helen’s brother, Wong Jung Sing, was a witness for her. His birth certificate lists his name as Walter Wong Louis; his school name and business name was Wong Sing Louis. The Immigrant Inspector, H. F. Duff, asked Walter why the family name was “Louis” and sometimes “Wong.” Walter said that his father was known as “Louis” in the mines. Walter was a jeweler at Tin We Jewelry Store in San Francisco.
Included in the file is a telegram from the Signal Corps, United States Army to Immigration Service in Portland. It alerts Immigration that Helen’s brother murdered his mother or stepmother and was hanged for the crime. Mr. Norene at Immigration ignored the telegram and approved Helen Wong’s Form 430 enabling her to go to Canada. [The murder had nothing to do with Helen’s immigration status.]
[Information not in the file but found on GenealogyBank.com: San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram has many articles on the murder which took place in September 1909. Willie Louis had several reprieves but was finally hanged at San Quentin state prison on 6 December 1912 for the murder of his stepmother. ]