On 24 September 1938 the home of Won Suey Yuan, a farmer in The Dalles, Oregon since 1923, was broken into and his Certificate of Identity was stolen. Won immediately filed a claim with Harold Sexton, the Sheriff of Waco County in The Dalles and reported it to Immigration Inspector Howard P. Swetland, Portland, Oregon. The sheriff visited the scene of the robbery, believed the claim was legitimate and filed a report. Won testified that on the evening 24 September 1938 between six and eight, he took his son, Won Loy Duck, to town for a haircut. Upon their return he saw that someone had entered the house by cutting the screen in the back door. The house had been ransacked but the thief only took a black tin box which contained Won’s valuables– his Certificate of Identity, a New York Life insurance policy and a gold nugget watch charm. The certificate was by far the most valuable item in the box. Without it Won could not travel outside the U.S. and could be deported if he could not prove his right to be in the United States. The investigator asked Won Suey Yuan if he thought the robber specifically wanted his certificate. Won was the only Chinese person within eight or nine miles of his house so he did not think the robber was Chinese or that he wanted his Certificate of Identity or would know how valuable it was to a Chinese person. Shortly after the robbery Won had a friend, Ralph Welborn, notify the Seattle Immigration office of the incident.
When Won Suey Yuan applied for a duplicate certificate his case files were thoroughly investigated. He did not have a problem getting a replacement certificate but it created a great deal of paper work.
Won originally entered the United States through San Francisco in 1907 and that file, number 19768/12-7, was reviewed. It confirmed that he received his original certificate on 20 December 1920. Won Suey Yuan’s file showed that he had made several trips to China since his original entry at San Francisco as the son of U. S. citizen. His San Francisco file lists his father’s name, Won (Woon) Tong Wing, file 17472/20-8, and the San Francisco file numbers for three of his six brothers. Won also made a trip to China in 1921 departing and re-entering through Seattle and that created a Seattle file, number 35100/4302.
Won Suey Yuan’s marriage name was Won Suey Hop (Hock). He was born in Wun Bin Village, Sun Ning District, China on 28 March 1895. He and his wife, Seid Shee, had three sons, Wong Loy Duck (file 7030/4513), living in Portland or Salem, Oregon; Won Loy Sing (file 7030/12118), in the process of coming to the United States in 1939; and Won Lum Bing, in China.
On 29 August 1939 Won Suey Yuan was issued Certificate of Identity No. 80068 in lieu of his lost certificate No. 32415.
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
This is a summary of the 1904 & 1905 services provided by Dr. Mae H. Cardwell for the family of Louie Ling Heung, father of Louie Chouey.
Dr. Mae Cardwell delivered many Chinese babies and cared for their families in Portland, Oregon. She frequently was called on as a witness to verify the identity of her Chinese patients and confirm the details of births, illnesses, and deaths. She kept impeccable records and had a good memory for details.
On 6 May 1911 Inspector John B. Sawyer interviewed Dr. Cardwell about Louie Chouey, son of Louie Ling Heung. Cardwell told the inspector that she had known Louie Chouey since he was a little child. She attended his mother when she was sick and delivered two of her younger children, a son and a daughter. The little girl, Long Hoo, died in 1904.The mother died from tuberculosis in 1905.
During the May 1911 interview the inspector asked Dr. Cardwell four times if this Louie Chouey was the same person she knew six years ago. She answered a firm yes the first three times she was asked but the fourth time she said that she was “pretty sure.”
On 6 June 1911 Dr. Cardwell was sworn in again and gave the inspector a summary of her records pertaining to the Louie Ling Heung family from 1904 and 1905. She said since her first testimony her suspicions had been aroused about the identity of Louie Chouey. She was no longer certain that the applicant was who he claimed to be.
[It is hard to know if the inspector’s repeated questioning planted a seed of doubt in Cardwell’s mind or if she had her own doubts.]
The inspector advised the applicant that he was not prepared to approve his application and that he had a right to appeal. There is no more information in the file. Louie Chouey did not file an appeal. [Was it because he wasn’t the person he claimed to be or did he just not have the ability to prove that he was Louie Chouey?]
[Dr. Mae Cardwell appears as a witness in many of the Portland case files. Her name generally does not appear in the index for the case files because the files are indexed by the subject of the file, not for incidental people. Since Dr. Cardwell was a witness many times her name caught the interest of the indexers. Most of those case files have a happier outcome.]
For a biography of Dr. Mae Harrington Cardwell’s impressive career go to National Library of Medicine.
None of her biographies mention her work with the Chinese community.
Mrs. Moy Bow Wing, a widow, also known as May Moy, was applying to re-enter the United States with her three children, Esther Wah Kee Moy, Florence Wah Jong Moy and Stanley Wah Chung Moy. All three were born in Portland, Oregon. The family had been visiting May Moy’s grand-uncle in Vancouver, British Columbia. Being Canadian-Chinese, May Moy made several trips between Seattle and Vancouver, B. C. between 1912 and 1915 and was known to the Seattle immigration office.
Dr. George Parrish, the Health Officer of the City of Portland, swore to the accuracy of the copy of Esther Wah Kee Moy’s birth certificate.
The reference sheet in the back of the file contains the names and file numbers for the baby’s father, mother, brother, sister, grandparents, and two uncles.
Esther Wah Kee Moy’s father, Moy Bow Wing, died in January 1917 just five months before she was born.
Additional information not in the file:
According to a long article in the Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 6 January 1917, page 10: Moy Bow Wing was the eldest son of Moy Back Hin, Chinese Consul in Portland. He was 34 years old when he died of pneumonia. The article contains much biographical information and tells of Moy Bow Wing’s many accomplishments.
(Ho) Chong Dink, also known as Ho John Sing, was born at 290 Alder Street, in Portland, Oregon about 1877. His father, Ho Wing Sing, worked for the firm of Gum Wa Yuen on Washington Street. In May 1900 Chong Dink obtained a membership certificate from the American Born Chinese Association using the name Ho John Sing. The certificate was signed by Lam John, secretary and Seid Back Jr., president.
Chong Dink lived in Astoria, Oregon in 1894 and moved to St. Louis, Missouri about 1904. He was a merchant for the Oriental Tea & Mercantile Co. in 1927
Information not included in the file: Seid Back, Jr. graduated from the University of Oregon in 1907 and is the first known Chinese American admitted to practice law in Oregon.
For more information on Seid Back, Jr. go to: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ormultno/People/BenchandBar/b-be.htm and https://storywall.osbar.org/1900-1959/