The following is an example of how a Chinese Exclusion Act case file can add to your family history. Cathy Lee had numerous family stories about her great-aunt, Grace Chen, but there were many dates and places missing. Once Grace’s Chinese Exclusion Act file was found, Cathy searched additional archives and libraries and found more documents about her aunt. The article below is the culmination of the Cathy’s research and the fascinating story of the life of Grace Chen. Go to article at Grace Chen by Cathy Lee
“Grace Chen, Section Six Precis photo”1928, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Grace Chen case file, Seattle Box 1102, file 9666/2-7.
Todd Clyde Fung, age 17 months, arrived at the Port of Seattle aboard the S. S. Princess Marguerite on 19 October 1939 with his mother, Lynette Behney Fung. His father, Kwok-ying Fung was residing at Tranquility House, Sam Hui Castle Peak, China. His mother was 29 years old, a Caucasian, and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Behney of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Baby Fung was delivered by Dr. P. J. Todd at the Todd Clinic in Canton, China and subsequently was named Todd. His birth was reported to the American Consulate General at Canton by his father.
An undated photo of Lynette Behney Fung is included in the file.
“Lynette Behney Fung photo” ca.1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Todd Clyde Fung case file, Seattle Box 798, 7030/12523.
Written statements by Dr. H. K. Chung state that Mrs. Fung and her son were vaccinated against smallpox and inoculated against cholera before leaving China.
Immigration Inspector Roy C. Matterson alerted the Fungs of the following stipulation:
“Sec. 1993, Rev. Statutes of the U. S. as amended by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 24 May 1934,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Todd Clyde Fung case file, Seattle Box 798, 7030/12523.
Lynette Behney Fung’s passport says that she was five feet tall, had red hair and grey eyes. She was born in Philadelphia, PA on 24 July 1909.
Todd Clyde Fung and his mother were admitted to the U.S. shortly after their arrival.
[Researched by Lily Eng, CEA files volunteer, National Archives at Seattle.]
[An entry on the California, Chinese Arrival Case Files Index, 1884-1940 online database on Ancestry.com shows Kwok Ying Fung [Todd’s father], age 34, returned to the U.S. arriving in CA [probably San Francisco] on 18 August 1939 on S.S. President Coolidge. His NARA-SF Case file is #39436/17-14.]
[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 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 interviewing 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.
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.]
Lynne Lee Shew 蕭悔塵 was born in San Jose, California on 27 September 1890 to Chu [Chew] Wing Shew and Shee Nee. Her Chinese name was Shew Fuey Chun. She attended public grammar schools at San Jose and Pajaro, California; high school at Watsonvillage, and received her B. A. and M.A. degrees at University of California at Berkeley, majoring in education and philosophy. Her brother, George Shew, a medical student at the University of California at Berkeley, was killed by an automobile in 1917 when he stepped from a street car. He planned to give medical treatment to the poor in China. Miss Shew gave up her advanced studies at Berkeley to obtain funds for Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital, a hospital to carry out his goals.
Miss Shew made several trips from the U. S.—three to Canada and one to Cuba. She traveled throughout the United States and Canada to raise funds to build the Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital at Shekki, Heung Shan District, Kwang Tung Province, China.
Shew was well known to the immigration officials and she was readily re-admitted on each of her trips. She obtained U.S. passport No. 4031C and Certificate of identity No. 49662 in 1924. She had files in Seattle, Cleveland, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Jacksonville. She showed the immigration inspector a certified copy of her birth certificate but requested that it be returned to her so no copy is in her file. In February 1925 Miss Shew made her first trip to China with a layover in Honolulu, Hawaii and did not return to the U.S. until June 1939. While in China she helped build and manage the Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital.
Letterhead for Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital Fund in San Francisco, California and Vancouver, B. C., Canada
Yale University Library has information about Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital at http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/wmicproject/node/2279
Western Medicine in China, 1800-1950 Guide to Collections at Yale University
Additional reports related to hospitals, medical schools, and organizations:
Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital. Records of the Heung Shan Benevolent Hospital, (Proposed) n.d. Yale Divinity School Library HR547
[Unable to find any information on Lynne Lee Shew after 1943.] [This file was researched by Hao-Jan Chang, Volunteer at National Archives at Seattle.]
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.