Woo Bak Sue – Released after paying detention costs $25.05 in 1899
Woo Bak Sue was born on 10 August 1884 in Seattle, Washington Territory, just two years after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed and five years before Washington Territory became a state. His parents, Woo Tai Gap and Chew See, took Bak Sue to China when he was about five years old. Bak Sue came back to the United States through Port Townsend in the summer of 1899 when he was fifteen years old. When he arrived he was arrested, put in detention and given a hearing. A writ of habeas corpus was issued stating that he had been detained without authority of law and that he was entitled to be released on the grounds that he was a native born citizen. The order of discharge was made by Judge C. H. Hanford of the U.S. District Court, Northern Division, District of Washington. Woo Bak Sue was released after paying for the costs of his detention amounting to $25.05. He asked that his photograph be attached to his discharge papers and that the papers be certified and sent to him.
He made three trips to China after 1899—1904 to 1905, 1910 to 1911, and 1915 to May 1938. When Woo Bak Sue applied to leave for China in 1903 his Caucasian witnesses were J. F. McGee and D. G. Rinehart. They both swore that they were residents and citizens of Seattle for the last twenty years and were well acquainted with Bak Sue and his parents. Woo Gen of the Wa Chong Co. sent a letter on company stationery to Thomas M. Fisher, Chinese Inspector, Office of the Collector of Customs in Port Townsend saying he would be a witness for Bak Sue if requested.
When Bak Sue was returning in 1911, the immigration inspector asked him if he knew any of the Chinese at the detention house. He said he knew Woo Bing Gee. There were no followup questions asked.
Woo Bak Sue’s son, Woo Sze Hong, arrived in Seattle in September 1938. His Seattle file number is 7030/11336. In October 1938 Woo Bak Sue was applying to return to China because he wasn’t feeling well. His application was approved. Bak Sue’s marriage name was Woo Gun Lum. He had a wife and six sons and two daughters in Nom On Village, Hoy San District. The village had 26 houses in three rows, facing south. He and his family lived in the 6th house, 6th lot, 2nd row. He had a grocery business there called Ow San Market.
[The file contains photos of Woo Bak Sue from 1903, 1910, 1912, 1915 and 1938.]
[Riverfront Park is now located where Front Avenue/Street in Spokanes’s Chinatown was in the early 1900s]
In 1905 Yee Gim, age 46, was a merchant, a partner at Yee Yuen Hong Kee Company, at 516 Front Street, Spokane, Washington. He had been in the United States for twenty-seven years—19 years in Port Townsend at King Tai Company and eight years in Spokane. He was returning via Port Townsend from his third trip to China. His wife, three sons and three daughters were in China.
There were seven partners in his Spokane firm. They sold Chinese goods, nut oil, rice, sugar, and tobacco. Hock Geng was the manager; Yee Gim was the bookkeeper and in charge of buying and selling goods.
The interviewer asked to see Yee Gim’s “chak chi” [Certificate of Residence or Identity]. Yee Gim did not have his papers because he was in China at the time of registering.
A witness for Yee Gim was W. D. Vincent, cashier at the Old National Bank, who had known him for over eight years. He swore that Yee Gim never worked anywhere else except as a merchant and did personal and business with the bank.
Mose Oppenheiser, in the insurance business, swore that he had known Yee Gim for about four years, that he paid bills for the firm and he had never seen him behind the counter. [If he had been working behind the counter it would have been thought that he was a laborer.]
James McGougan signed an affidavit swearing that Yee Gim was “neither a huckster, peddler, laundryman or laborer…”
In spite of the fact that Yee Gim did not have his Certificate of Residence, the testimony of his witnesses was strong enough to allow him to be admitted by A. F. Richardson, Chinese Inspector at Port Townsend.
This is an excerpt of the Chinese Exclusion Act included in Yee Gim’s file pertaining to “creditable witnesses” and “not performing any manual labor.”
On 2 July 1904 A.F. Learned, postmaster; William P. Wyckoff, Customs House official; and H. L. Tibbals, of Port Townsend, Jefferson County, Washington, swore in an affidavit they had been residents of Port Townsend for more than twenty years and were U.S. citizens. They proclaimed that Goon Fon was a bona fide merchant for more than twelve years, a member of the Wing Sing Company, the son of Goon Sam, and was now 22 years old.
Goon Fon was born at Hom Quon village, Sun Woi district, China on 14 January 1883. He came to the United States with his father and landed in San Francisco about 1894. His father returned to China in 1902 and died there. After his father left Goon Fon went to New York City and worked in the restaurant business. He came back to Seattle and worked in a cannery in Alaska for Goon Dip, then moved to Spokane, Washington.
In 1924 Goon Fon applied for a return certificate as a laborer. His only proof of his status was the 1904 affidavit. He obtained the required proof that debt was owed him—a $1,000 bond. His application was approved.
In 1937 Goon Fon was living at Noodles Café, 512 Main Street, Spokane. According to his application for his Return Certificate for Lawfully Domiciled Chinese Laborers, he had a $1,000 loan due from Hui Cheung, 126 ½ North Wall Street, Spokane. His application was approved.
Fong Mon Hoy was a merchant and member of Hong Fook Tong Co., 142 Second Street, Portland, Oregon.
Although Fong was planning a trip to China since May 1905, he did not apply to John H. Sargent, the Chinese Inspector in Charge at Port Townsend early enough to get the proper duplicate certificates before he and his family left for China on 24 June 1905 from Port Townsend. J. H. Barbour, Inspector in Charge at Portland, Oregon asked Sargent to send the paperwork to Fong at his Hong Kong address.
Fong’s file contained an affidavit from G. Rosenblatt, in the insurance business at the Sherlock Building in Portland, stating that he had known Fong for fifteen years, he was manager of a drug business called Hong Fook Tong, and that Fong had not performed any manual labor in the last year.
James Manner, in the fire insurance business at 131Third Street in Portland, swore that he had known Fong for about ten years. His statement agreed with Mr. Rosenblatt’s information. Manner had been living in Portland for twenty-one years.
Fong was traveling with his wife, Jay Yee Leu, his sons Fong Wong and Fong Choy Sing, and his daughters Fong Kam Gee, Fong May, Fong Lung, and Fong Ha. All the children were born in the United States and had the necessary papers.
Although the family planned on returning there is no information in the file to indicate that they did return.