In October 1908 May Sophie Lee, age ten, her mother and brother were preparing to leave the United States on the SS Siberia through San Francisco for a trip to China. The Immigration inspector examined May Sophie’s passport no. 64231, two affidavits with photos and a certified copy of her birth certificate. The birth certificate states that she is white.
Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s marriage certificate was examined, authenticated and returned to the Lees. Seven white residents from Philadelphia swore in an affidavit that they were not Chinese; they were well acquainted with Lee Toy, a merchant at Chong Woh Company; May Sophie Lee was his lawful daughter, and that she was born in Philadelphia. The signers of the affidavit were:
Peter Hackett, 50 So. 4th Street
Frederic Poole, Chinese Mission, 918 Race St.
William Gallagher, 1231 Arch Street
Thomas W. Cunningham, 2112 Cherry Street
Katharine A. Lacy, Principal John Agnus School
Florence B. Scott, First Baptist Church, 17th & Samson St.
Neida S. Gilman, teacher in John Agnus School
While in China May Sophie attended school until she was 21 then attended medical school in Canton City and received a medical degree. She practiced as a physician in Shanghai for over a year before returning to the U.S.
May Sophie Lee was admitted to the United States at the Port of Seattle on 15 December 1924 as a returning citizen. She was 27 years old and was on her way to the Chung Wah & Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with plans to continue her medical career.
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.
Jung John, a returning merchant, arrived in the port of Seattle on 31 January 1922. He was accompanied by his wife, Mok Shee. They were on their way to their home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their witnesses were Lee Ho, Dr. George C. Taggart and Peter Hackett. [Peter Hackett – no relation but fun to see in the files.]
Jung John was a salesman at the Chong Wah Company in Philadelphia. He was admitted as the son of a merchant. His father had worked at Chong Wah Company and when he died in 1916 he left his share in the company to his son. The average annual sales for the company were $50,000 to $60,000. They sold Chinese groceries, drugs, fancy goods and chinaware. For $87 a month they rented most of the building at 909 Race Street. They subleased out the second floor to Far East Restaurant and the third floor was used for sleeping quarters. There were twenty members in the firm.
Before leaving the U.S.in 1921, Jung John swore that for at least one year proceeding the date of his application he had not performed any manual labor other than was necessary in the conduct of the business. He was going back to China to visit his mother and get married.
Lee Ho, age 29, was the manager of Chong Wah Company. He and Jung John both came from Hok San district in China.
George C. Taggart, age 52, physician and druggist at the northeast corner of 9th & Race Streets and knew most of the Chinese in the area.
For the last 26 years, Peter Hackett, age 46, was a custom house broker with Vandegrift & Company at 400 Chestnut Street. He had seen Jung John at the funeral of his father and knew them both through Chong Wah Company. Jung John impressed Mr. Hackett as a clean-living young man of good habits.
Lee Shee, wife of Gum On of 937 Race Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, arrived in Seattle on 20 July 1924 with their two sons, Yue Dok, age 16; and Yue Bun, age 10 years. The sons were admitted to the United States as sons of a U.S. citizen but Lee Shee was detained at the Immigration Quarters in Seattle for six months. In December she was nine months pregnant and Immigration allowed her to land temporarily. A bond for $1,000 was taken out to assure that she left at the required deadline. Eventually the bond was extended until July 1929. Lee Shee, her husband, and children returned to China in April 1929.
During the interrogation the immigration inspectors asked Gum On if he could provide any evidence to show that he was married. Gum On gave them his Red Marriage Paper. It stated that he was married to Lee Shee and listed four generations of his family–his parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and great, great grandparents. A translation of the document is not included in the file and the inspectors did not comment on it.
[Hao-Jan Chang, a volunteer who works with the Chinese Exclusion Act case files at NARA-Seattle, reads and writes Chinese. He translated the Red Marriage Paper and verified that it contained the marriage information for Gum On and Lee Shee.]
Chan Ying Tak was born 8 January 1906 in Hong King, China. She was a student in Oi Hoi Village, Sun Whai District from 1912 to 1919 and Pui Ching School in Canton from 1919 to 1923. She came to the United States in 1923 as a student under the provisions of the Section 6 exemption of the Chinese Exclusion Act. She received her B.A. degree from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio and obtained her medical degree at Rush Medical College at the University of Chicago. She interned for one year at the Women’s College Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1933 she was a medical researcher at the University of Chicago.
In 1933 Miss Chan was applying for a re-entry permit so she could visit her family in China. Her father provided her with $2,000 a year while she was attending school. She described him as retired but a stock owner in various department stores and railroads in China. The interviewer asked if she would describe him as a retired Capitalist. She replied, “Yes, I think I would.”
Dr. Ying Tak Chan received an excellent letter of recommendation from B. C. H. Harvey, Dean of Medical Students, the University of Chicago and Edward H. Parson, Immigrant Inspector approved her application. Information not in the file: She returned to the U.S. and was very successful. Details to come…
Rose Yip Woo, her husband, Shu Tai Woo, and their children Robert Kuotao, age 3 ½; and Ruth Kuochen Woo, age 1 ½ years, arrived in Seattle on 20 June 1927 on the S.S. President Madison. Rose was born on 27 May 1892 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Woo family was scheduled to stay one year but they applied to stay another year and their application was approved. Rose and the children had traveler’s exemptions and her husband had a student exemption from the Peking Union Medical College in Peking, China. Dr. Woo had a fellowship with the Rockefeller Foundation. They were residing in New York City.
Rose Yip Woo’s visit was approved and extended to 20 July 1928. More information about the length of stay for her husband, Dr. Shu Tai Woo would be found in his file.