Tag Archives: Port of Seattle

Emily Green Exner Chi, Sylvia and Vernon Chi – Northfield, MN

Chi Emily Sylvia Vernon 1941
“Photo of Emily Green Exner Chi with Sylvia and Vernon Chi ,” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chi Sylvia B case file, Seattle Box 825, file #7030/13532.

Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Benjamin, Sylvia, and Vernon Chi arrived at the Port of Seattle on 13 February 1941. Emily, Sylvia and Vernon were admitted as U.S. citizens; Benjamin was not. Benjamin’s case is complicated and will be dealt with in a later blog entry.

Emily’s Chinese name was Chi Ne Mei Lan; Sylvia Blythe Chi was Chi Po Ya; and Vernon Longstreet Chi only had a Chinese surname. They all had valid U.S. passports issued at the consulate general at Tientsin, China. Emily Green Exner, a Caucasian, was born on 8 November 1904 in Northfield, Minnesota. She married Chi Shou Yu (English name: Hilary) on 18 September 1932 at Northfield. Her husband, a citizen of China, was admitted at the Port of Seattle in 1929 with student status. They left for China a few days after their wedding. Emily did not lose her citizenship due to her marriage to an alien ineligible to citizenship because of the 1922 Cable Act and a 1931 update.

“… That no woman who was a national of the United States shall be deemed to have lost her nationality solely by reason of her marriage to an alien on or after September 22, 1922, or to an alien racially ineligible to citizenship on or after March 3, 1931, or, in the case of a woman who was a United States citizen at birth, through residence abroad following such marriage, notwithstanding the provisions of any existing treaty or convention1…”

Sylvia and Vernon Chi were born in Tientsin, China in 1937 and 1940, respectively. The Citizenship Act of 1934, Section 1993 said that a child could acquire U.S. citizenship through the mother, not just the father. There are other provisions but this was the part of the Act that pertained to them at their young ages.2

(More about this Act in Benjamin Chi’s upcoming blog entry.)

Mrs. Emily Chi does not have a separate file but since her children were so young, ages 3 and 1, she was interviewed. This information was gleaned from her interview: Her father, three brothers, and brother, Frederick S. Exner and his wife were present at her wedding. For the past eight years her husband was a manager for a manufacturer of sporting goods and they planned to employ up to 100 men. The factory was broken into three parts because of the Japanese occupation. His salary was a hundred Tientsin dollars a month with an annual bonus of 10,000 Tientsin dollars. Emily was coming to visit her elderly parents before they died and the State Department was insisting that women and children leave China [because of the war]. She and her husband owned a farm outside of Tientsin that they rented out. She was planning on visiting her brother, Dr. Frederick B. Exner, in Seattle and her father Franz Exner, a Ph.D. and her mother Hannah Blithe Exner at 100 Nevada Avenue, Northfield, Minnesota. Her mother was in poor health and Emily hope to stay about a year; applying for an extension if needed. Emily originally went to China when she was about 20 to teach in the Yu Ying School in Peking. She taught there three years and met her husband there. Her husband, Chi Shou Yu, (Seattle file 11476/1-1) was born in Wu Ching Hsien district, Man Shuang Miao village, Ho Pei providence. He studied chemistry at Cartleton College in Northfield, MN for the three years before they married.

Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Sylvia, and Vernon Chi were admitted as U.S. citizens on their day of arrival. There is no further information in the file.

1. “Title 8 – Aliens and Nationality, Chapter 12 – Immigration and Nationality, Subchapter Iii – Nationality and Naturalization, Part III – Loss of Nationality, § 1489. Application of treaties;  exceptions,”  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/pdf/uscode08/lii_usc_TI_08_CH_12_SC_III_PA_III_SE_1489.pdf

2. Orfield, Lester B. (1934) “The Citizenship Act of 1934,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 7. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol2/iss1/7

Mei Lai Gay (Agnes) – Washington D.C.

Mei Lai Gay Agnes 1927 baby photo
Mei Lai Gay (Agnes) 1927 birth registration
“Mei Lai Gay (Agnes), Form 430 photo and birth registration” 1927, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Mei Lai Gay (Agnes) case file, Seattle Box 817,file 7030/13284.
The father of Mei Lai Gay (Agnes), Mei (Moy) Kong Kay (marriage name: Mei (Moy) Kung Sun) first came to the United States in 1908 and was admitted as a merchant at the Port of San Francisco. He was born in 1882 in Sai Yuen village, On Fun section, Hoy San district, China. He and his wife, Ng Shee, had six children; two sons living in China and four in D.C. where they had been living since 1923. Mei Kung Sun was a merchant at Hong High Company, 343 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

Agnes’ 1927 birth was registered by Dr. Mary Parsons. Dr. Parsons had been practicing medicine in D.C. for fifty-three years and had worked with the Chinese population for 31 years. It was thought that she officiated at the birth of the first Chinese baby born in the city.

The return certificates as American citizen applications for the parents, Agnes, her two brothers and sister were approved and they left Washington, D.C. for China in 1927.

In October 1940 Mei Lai Gay Agnes and her sister Mei Bow Ngook Ruby returned to the U.S. through the Port of Seattle. They were going to live with their brother, Mei (Moy) Bow Duen Earnest, in Washington, D.C. The interrogators questioned Ruby, age 16, then Agnes, age 13. Their father, Mei (Moy) Kung Sun, died in the U.S. in 1938. Their mother moved from her husband’s home village to Hong Kong after her husband’s death. The examining inspector had no questions about the identity of Ruby and noted after careful examination of the photograph of Lai Gay Agnes that “the left ear of this applicant shows outer and inner rim close together and a ridge in the center of the right ear.” [Evidently this scrutiny of her left ear agreed with her baby photo.] Their applications were approved and they were admitted into the U.S.

Mei Lai Gay Agnes 1940 photo
“Mei Lai Gay (Agnes) M143 photo,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Mei Lai Gay (Agnes) case file, Seattle Box 817,file 7030/13284.

The Reference Sheet in Mei Lai Gay (Agnes Mei)’s file includes the name, relationship and file number for Agnes’ parents, four brothers and her sister.

Lee Goon Ok and Lee Hong Tun with toy horse and toy car

Lee Hong Tun and Lee Goon Ok with toy horse and toy truck
“Photo of Lee Goon Ok and Lee Hong Tun,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Hong Tun case file, Seattle Box 799,file 7030/12537.

Lee Hong Tun arrived in the Port of Seattle on 1 November 1939. He was accompanied by his mother, Ng Shee. Their destination was Washington, D.C.

UPDATE
Lee Loon testified that he was born in Stockton, California. As a citizen he could bring his wife, Ng Soon Hey and his son, Lee Hong Tun, from China to the United States. Lee Hong Tun was born at Mong Kong Village, Toishan, Kwangtung, China on 23 June 1936.

Although Immigration believed the Lee Loon and Ng Soon Hey were married they were not sure if Lee Hong Tun was their blood son. They had been married fourteen years before their son was born. The Board believed that such a thing could be possible but thought it was very improbable. Also, there were several discrepancies in the parents’ testimony. The Lees did not agree if there had been a shaving ceremony or when Lee Hong Tun had been vaccinated and if he had measles. Their attorney, Edwards Merges, argued that they both agreed that their son was born in the morning at home in the small door-side bedroom with no physician in attendance and the applicant was both bottle and breast fed. Merges believed the differences in Ng Soon Hey’s testimony were because of fear, nervousness misunderstandings and exasperation.

Merges reasoned that Lee Hong Tun, age 3-1/2, was too young to testify on his own behalf, his parents were U.S. citizens and excluding their son would tear the family apart. Lee Hong Tun could not live on his own in China. If he was deported one of his parents would have to go with him.

Lee Hong Tun 1940
“Photo of Lee Hong Tun, M143” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Hong Tun case file, Seattle Box 799,file 7030/12537.
There were 39 pages of testimony and conclusions. Three Seattle files and three San Francisco files were reviewed. Lee Hong Tun was admitted into the U.S. on 5 February 1940, more than three months after he and his mother arrived at the Port of Seattle.

Fong See – lonely and crying in detention

Fong See arrived at the Port of Seattle on the S.S. Iroquois on 22 May 1911. She was applying to be admitted to the United States as the lawful wife of Lee Yew, a merchant at On Lee Company in Portland, Oregon.  Ellis DeBruler, Immigration Commissioner, wanted to expedite her landing. She was forty-six years old with bound feet; the only Chinese woman in the detention house. She was suffering from extreme loneliness and cried a great deal.

Fong See & Lee Yew 1910 Affidavit photos
“Fong See & Lee Yew Affidavit Photos” 1910, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Fong See case file, Portland Box 13,file 2409.

On 10 September 1910 Lee Yew made an affidavit to establish his status as a Chinese merchant and that of his wife, Fong See, as the wife of a merchant so she could join him and his son in Portland.

E. Hussey, Acting Chinese Inspector in Seattle reported to J. H. Barbour, Inspector in Charge in Portland, that after inspecting the premises of the On Lee Company, reviewing its partnership list and interviewing two Caucasian witnesses, Thomas G. Farrell and John B. Coffey, he was satisfied with Lee Yew’s status as a merchant

Thomas G. Farrell, age 43, testified in 1911 that he had been living in Portland for almost 43 years. He was a merchant in wholesale groceries on Front Street. He knew many Chinese and was acquainted with Lee Yew for five or six years. Lee Yew bought his poultry and eggs from Farrell so he was at Farrell’s business at least once a week.

John B. Coffey was in the tailoring business in the Elks Building and had been living in Portland for twenty-five years. He knew many Chinese socially and through his work. He and Lee Yew were acquainted in Salem, Oregon before Lee Yew came to Portland. Coffey was a witness for Lee Yew when his son came to the U.S.

After Inspector Hussey was satisfied that Lee Yew’s mercantile status was established, he interrogated Lee Sun Hing, the son of Fong See and Lee Yew.

Lee Sun Hing was born in China and arrived in the U.S. at Sumas, Washington in 1908 and was admitted as the minor son of a merchant. He was a student and after his Lee Yew’s death he inherited his father’s interest in the On Lee Company.

Lew Yew was too sick to testify about his status as a merchant and his marriage to Fong See when she arrived in Seattle in 1911. He died within a few months after Fong See’s arrival.

Fong See was admitted as the lawful wife of Lee Yew and went to live above the On Lee Company store in Portland with her son.

Lee Gang Bong – family portraits

Lee Gang Bong M143 1940

Lee Gang Bong 李境垹 arrived at the Port of Seattle on 1 January 1940 and was admitted as the son of a native, Lee Fook Loy, deceased. He was 17 years old, born 30 March 1923, and he was coming to live with his brother, Lee Chong Yin 李長恩, in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

“Lee Gang Bong, M143 photo, ”ca. 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

His father, Lee Fook Loy, returned to China in November 1935 and died there in 1937 after a brief illness.Lee Fook Loy 1935

“Lee Fook Loy,  Form 430 photo, ”ca. 1935, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

Lee Gang Bong married Louie Shee in China against his wishes on 15 June 1938 when he was fifteen years old. His mother wanted someone to wait on her and she also thought he should be married before he came to the United States.

According to Lee Gang Bong’s interrogation his home village of Pon Lung in the Sui Low section of Toy San, China had 30 or 40 houses arranged in 11 rows facing west. His brick house had five rooms and tile floors with stone in the court. Each bedroom had two outside windows with on glass but fitted with iron bars and wooden shutters. They had a rice mill. Three wooden carved ancestral tablets painted green with gilt character representing their general ancestors were hanging on the back wall of the shrine loft in the living room. The village had a brick wall about five feet high on the head side and bamboo running from the back to the tail with a pond in front.

Lee Chong Yin Affidavit
“Lee Chong Yin Affidavit,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

Upon his arrival at the Port of Seattle, Lee Gang Bong’s brother, Lee Chong Yin, was a witness for him. His interrogator asked him confrontational questions, such as: “Do you know of any American Chinese citizen that ever had a daughter born in China?” and “Insofar as you know are all children born to American citizen Chinese in China sons?” Chong Yin married Leow Shee and had a three-year old son in China whom he had never seen. He was born after Chong Yin returned to the U.S.

These family portraits are included in the file:

Lee Gang Bong Family Portrait
“Lee Gang Bong, family portraits,” ca. 1927, 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gang Bong file, Seattle Box 803, 7030/12660.

Mee Lin, servant girl; Ng Shee, mother; Lee Gang Bong, applicant; Lee Fook Loy, father; Lee Chong Yin, brother

Lee Gang Bong Family Portrait ca. 1930

Leow Shee, Chong Yin’s wife; Lee Gang Bong, applicant; Ng Shee, mother holding Lee Ging Shek, brother, Lee Ngook Guey, brother; Lee Fook Loy, father, Lee Chong Yin, brother

Lee Gang Bong was admitted at the Port of Seattle on 9 February 1940.
[This file researched by Hao-Jan Chang. Hao-Jan also does the Chinese characters for the blog.]

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.

Moy Mee Ting (Georgia Moy) – Chicago, Illinois

Photo of Moy Mee Ting Family
“Photo of Mrs. Moy Chuck Poy (Woo Shee) and family,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Moy Mee Ting (Georgia Moy) case file, Seattle Box 737, 7030/10320.

Back row: Tai You (servant girl), Moy Mee Ting (applicant)
Front Row: Moy Ngoon See, Woo Shee (mother), Moy Fang Dhl, Moy Mon Dle

Moy Mee Ting 梅美清 (Georgia Moy) and her bother Moy Fang Dhl 梅宏資 (Stanley Moy) were admitted to the U. S. at the Port of Seattle on 3 September 1937 as native born U. S. citizens. Georgia was 14 years old and Stanley was a year younger. They were joining their father, Moy Chuck Poy in Chicago, Illinois. Their native dialect was See Yip Sun Ning.

Moy Mee Ting Birth Cert 1923
Chicago, Illinois birth registration, Georgia Moy, 1923; Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Moy Mee Ting (Georgia Moy) case file, Seattle Box 737, 7030/10320.

The Moy family went to Sai How Gow Dee village, China in 1927 so the children could study Chinese. The children Georgia, Stanley, and Philip (Moy Mon Dle) were all born in Chicago. Their mother Woo Shee (maiden name: Woo Yin Po) stayed in China and their father returned to the U. S. about 1929. The children and their mother moved to Ng Gong market near Gow Dee village in about 1932 because there were many floods in their former village.

Moy Mee Ting’s paternal grandfather, Moy Fang Chung (marriage name: Moy Dip Nai), was living in Detroit in 1937.

Moy Mee Ting testified that Sai How Gow Dee village had over 100 houses and she attended the Sai How School. There were over 100 students and including about thirty or forty girls. There were no women teachers. In her interview she was asked about size of the village, the number of stores, the number of stories of various buildings, who lived where, where they got their household water, how their house was lighted, where everyone slept, the number of beds, who cut her hair, why her mother had a servant girl, and many more questions.

When they moved to Ng Gong market the children attended the gospel mission school called Jing Ock. They had women teachers at this school. Chairman Inspector J. H. Gee asked Mee Ting several questions about where her mother got the money to support them after her father returned to the U.S. and where she got the white gold wrist watch she was wearing. She replied that her father had been sending her mother money and her mother gave her the watch before she left for the U.S.

Their mother accompanied them to Hong Kong. They took a boat from Ng Gong market to Ow San market, a train to Bok Gai and a steamer to Hong Kong. Their mother said goodbye onboard and a man named Chin Deung Fun oversaw them on the trip to the U.S.

Mee Ting correctly identified photos of her father, Moy Poy, (SF file 20173/13-16) (Seattle file 10724/12-10) and her mother, Wu [Woo] Yin Po (SF file 20173/17-3) and her brothers. Six pages of testimony by her brother, Moy Fang Dhl, is included in her file. The next day Moy Mee Ting was recalled to the hearing. Three more pages of testimony are included in the file. The interviewers compared her answers to her brother’s and asked about discrepancies and included more in-depth questions. Mee Ting and Fang Dhl were both admonished for saying that they had a brother named Ngoon Jee. They admitted that there was no such brother and were cautioned not to say he was a brother. They provided a group photo of the family which did not include the “extra brother.”

The Immigration committee reviewed the parents’ files from 1917 and 1921 and the family’s files from when they left the country in 1927 and voluminous current testimony and unanimously approved the admittance of Moy Mee Ting and Moy Fang Dhl.

Moy Mee Ting Form 430 1927
“Form 430 Photo of Moy Mee Ting (Georgia Moy),” 1927, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Moy Mee Ting (Georgia Moy) case file, Seattle Box 737, 7030/10320.