Tag Archives: Quong Tuck Company

Chin Wah – Hoping to return to Salt Lake City from Paris, France in 1925

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before March 2020. thn]

In early October 1925, Julian M. Thomas, Counsellor at Law in Paris, France, wrote to the U.S. commissioner of Immigration in Seattle, Washington, requesting the necessary papers to allow Chin Wah to return to the United States. Chin Wah claimed that he was well-known in Seattle, Washington in 1904 by both the Wa Chong Company and the Quong Tuck Company and many other residents of the city including A.W. Ryan, a policeman; Charles Phillips, a detective; Fred Lyson, a lawyer; and Lee Hoey, a Chinese person.

In June 1904, L. Dan swore in an affidavit that he had lived in the U.S. for more than twenty years and that he knew Chin Wah’s parents when their son, Chin Wah, was born. Dan testified that after Chin Wah’s parents died, Chin lived with him. L. Dan’s wife, Wong Sine, was a sister of Chin Wah’s mother. A. W. Ryan and Charles Phillips, both white citizens of the U.S., and residence of Seattle for more than fifteen years also swore that Chin Wah was born in Seattle. These affidavits were drawn up to prove that Chin Wah was a native-born citizen of Chinese parentage.

“L. Dan, affidavit,” 1904, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Wah case file, Seattle RS Box 222, file RS 30543.

In 1913 in his pre-investigation interview to make a trip to China, Chin Wah testified that he was living in Salt Lake City, Utah, and working at the Grand Restaurant at 47 West 2nd South Street as a cook and sometimes a waiter. He said he was born at North 512 [414 in 1925] Washington Street, Seattle, Washington on 15 January 1890, the son of Chin Chung (Ching/Gin/Gen} [the spelling varies throughout the documents] and Wong Shee. His father died in Sitka, Alaska in 1899. He and his mother moved to Portland, Oregon about 1901. She died a year later. After her death, he went back to Seattle and lived over the store of Quong Gwa Lung Company with his uncle, Ng Yee Loots (L. Dan) and his aunt, his mother’s sister. He attended the Methodist Mission school on Spring Street for about two years. Other places he lived in Washington state were Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima, and Pasco before going to Salt Lake City, Utah about 1910. While in Salt Lake City he worked for U.S. District Judge John A. Marshal, Mr. William H. Childs as a cook, and Captain Burt at Fort Douglas.

“Chin Wah, Form 430 photo,” 1913, CEA, NARA-Seattle, file RS 30543

D. A. Plumly, the examining inspector at Salt Lake City, sent Chin Wah’s application and the original affidavits of the witnesses to Louis Adams, Inspector in Charge at Denver, Colorado. Adams sent everything on to Immigration in Seattle and requested that they re-examine the witnesses since they were residents of Seattle. Adams noted that Inspector Plumly did not expect a favorable report. [There is no explanation of why the documents were sent to Denver.]

J. V. Stewart, the Seattle Chinese Inspector, interviewed all the 1904 witnesses again in 1913. He thought the witnesses only knew someone they thought was Chin Wah as a small child but since they had not seen Chin Wah for many years they could not be sure of his identity. Stewart thought Lee Hoey was a “manufactured witness” and the other witnesses’ information was so vague they could have been talking about several different children. Stewart noted that Chin Wah’s parents did not appear in the 1895 Seattle census of Chinese and rumors said that Ah Dan was known as a gambler and connected with other fraudulent cases. Based on this information Stewart did not approve Chin Wah’s application.

L. Dan was also known as Ah Dan or his married name Ng Yee Yin. He was fifty years old and was born in China. He did not have a certificate of residence. He was living in Port Townsend, Washington and was a merchant with the Yee Sing Wah Kee Company when he was required to register in 1894. [According to the Geary Act of 1892, Chinese who were not registered for a certificate of residence could be arrested and sent to China even if they were born in the United States.] L. Dan lived in Tacoma, Washington, for a year before moving to Seattle where he got to know Chin Gin and his son Chin Wah.

Witness Charles Phillips testified that he was 48 years old and had live in Seattle twenty-six years. He was a city detective. He knew Chin Wah when he was a young child and after being cross examined, he said that he could not state unequivocally if Chin Wah was the son of Chin Ching/Gin.

Witness Lee Hoey, also known as Lee Tan Guhl, stated that he was 66 years old and born in China. He showed the interrogator his certificate of residence. He had lived in Seattle fifteen or twenty years and remember the big fire in June 1889.  He identified a photo of Chin Wah although he had not seen him in over ten years. The interrogator asked Lee Hoey how much he was being paid to testify in this case.  Hoey denied the charge.

A.W. Ryan, another witness, testified in 1913 that he was 56 years old and a sergeant for the Seattle police force for about twenty years. Although he swore that he knew Chin Wah in 1904, he could not be sure that this was the same person in 1913.  Ryan said that at the time of Chin Wah’s birth in 1890 there were only four or five Chinese women in Seattle and maybe twenty-five children. It was his impression that the person he testified in behalf of in 1913 was Chin Wah was the same boy he knew in 1904 but he could not swear to it. Therefore the immigration commissioner, Ellis deBruler, did not approval Chin Wah’s return certification because he did not believe that Chin Wah was born in the U.S.

In October 1925, based on the information and witness statements in Chin Wah’s file, the documents were not approved so were no papers to forward to Paris so Chin Wah could be allowed to return to the U.S.

[This file does not tell us when Chin Wah left the U.S. or why he left when his application for departure was not approved. Without the approval, he would have known that it would be extremely difficult to re-enter the U.S. There are no clues about what he was doing between 1913 and 1925 or why was he investigated in Denver, Colorado, or what was he doing in Paris, France, in 1925. If he had been allowed to arrive at a port in the U.S. and then interrogated, some of these questions may have been answered. Unfortunately, we may never know the rest of Chin Wah’s story.]

The Ancestors of Edwin Mah Lee, recently deceased mayor of San Francisco (1952-2017)

Edwin Mah Lee, (李孟賢) the mayor of San Francisco, died unexpectedly on 12 December 2017. He was born on 5 May 1952 in Seattle, Washington, the son of Gok Suey Lee and Pansy Chin Lee (Chan Ngar Ching).
[See the many tributes to Edwin Mah Lee on the Internet and in newspapers. The following is a brief summary of some of documents in Chinese Exclusion Act case files for his father, grandfather and great grandfather.]

Lee Gok Suey (Edwin Mah Lee’s father)
In August 1937 Lee Ling Hung swore in an affidavit that he was a citizen of the United States and the holder of Certificate of Identity No. 34552 issued when he entered the Port of Seattle on 9 February 1921. He was applying to bring his son, Lee Gok Suey, into the United States.

Lee Gok Suey Lee and Ling Hung AFF 1937
“Affidavit with photos of Lee Gok Suey and Lee Ling Hung,” 1937, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Gok Suey case file, Seattle Box 747, 7030/10684.

Lee Gok Suey arrived in Seattle, Washington on 20 December 1937 on the Princess Marguerite and was admitted four months later after a difficult but successful appeal. He was 17 years old, a student and the son of Lee Ling Hung, a United States citizen and Luey Shee. He was born on 9 May 1921 in Taw Long village, Suey Low Section, Hoy San District, China. Originally Lee Gok Suey was denied admission by a board of special inquiry because he was not able to prove to their satisfaction his relationship to his father.
Seattle’s Inspector-in Charge, Joseph H. Gee, re-opened Lee’s case so additional evidence could be obtained. Affidavits from his father, uncle and grandfather were submitted to the board for their review. The applicant’s attorney filed a letter and an affidavit of the applicant’s alleged grandfather, Lee Share Young, and included a photograph with a satisfactory resemblance to Lee Gok Suey. Because of several discrepancies in the witnesses’ testimony the board voted unanimously that Lee not be admitted. His attorney argued that it had been fifteen years since the grandfather had been to China so it was not unusual that his testimony might not completely agree with his two sons who had been to China recently. After more than four months, Lee Gok Suey’s arrival was approved.

Lee Ling Hung (Lee Gok Suey’s father; Edwin Mah Lee’s grandfather)

Lee Ling Hung CI App 1921
“Certificate of Identity Application, Lee Ling Hung,” 1921, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Hing Hung case file, Seattle Box 433, 7030/719.

Lee Ling Hung first arrived in the United States at Seattle on 21 January 1921 and was admitted as a citizen son of a native. He visited China in 1926 and returned in 1928. During his pre-investigation examination before leaving in 1926 he stated he had one son, Lee Gok Sui, born in 1921. On his return he claimed a second son born while on that trip, Lee Gok Foo. In an application for another trip to China in 1930 he claimed that his second son’s name was Lee Gok Gong and his third son was Lee Gok Foo. Because Lee Ling Hung’s father, Lee Share Young (sometimes spelled Lee Shere Yung)’s citizenship had been granted in 1888 through U. S. District Court discharge papers, Immigrant Inspector Roy M. Porter recommended that Lee Ling Hung’s application for pre-investigation of status be approved. [The confusion over the names of the second and third sons and their dates of birth caused the inspectors to distrust Lee Ling Hung’s testimony and combined with other discrepancies made Lee Gok Suey’s arrival approval so complicated in 1937.]
Before moving to Seattle Lee Ling Hung lived in Portland, Oregon for about six years and he was a baker for Coffman’s Candy Shop at 152 Broadway.

Lee Share Young (Lee Gok Suey’s grandfather; Edwin Mah Lee’s great grandfather)

In March 1938 Lee Share Young (You Yuey, marriage name) testified that he was a bookkeeper at the Quong Tuck Company in Seattle. He was the father of Lee Gim Jeow and Lee Ling Hung and the grandfather of Lee Gok Suey. He was re-examined regarding some of the questions where there was some confusion—were there twelve rows of houses in his village or thirteen? Lee Share Young said, “There are thirteen rows but the first row at the head is not a regular row because there is only a small house and some toilets there.” [It is easy to see how this trivial fact could be confusing.] Lee Share Young’s son sent him a photo of Gok Suey Lee in 1932. The interrogator asked how he could identify his grandson since he had not seen him since he was two years old. He replied, “I have to trust my son who sent me the picture.” There were other discrepancies about the extended family and deceased ancestors, the location of neighbors’ houses in their home village, and the applicant’s school experience. Eventually the board of special inquiry decided that there was enough information where all the witnesses agreed and they admitted Lee Gok Suey. There were over fifty pages of interrogation. The witnesses were asked about the village, the location of roads, paths, hedges, ponds, shrines, the school, cemetery, stores, and many other minor details. They gave detailed descriptions of the houses, buildings and the people who lived in them. [There were over one hundred houses in their village so this could not have been easy.]

In 1920 Lee Share Young swore in an affidavit that he wanted to bring his son Lee Ling Hung over to the United States. At that time he was a merchant for the Quong Sang Wo Kee Company in Portland, Oregon. He produced his 1888 discharge papers for the interrogators inspection.

Lee Share Yung 1920 Aff
“Lee Share Yung Affidavit with photos of Lee Share Yung and Lee Ling Hung,” 1920, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Yung case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

Lee Share Yung 1902 Aff
“Lee Share Yung Affidavit,” 1902, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Yung case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

When Lee Shere [Share] Yung left for a visit to China in 1900 he obtained an affidavit with his photo attached to assure his reentry into the United States. He swore that he was a member of the Wau Yune Lung Kee Company, dealers in Chinese merchandise and provisions doing business at 739 Commercial Street in San Francisco. He had four witnesses: Chas. E. Harris, O. R. Beal, Frank B. Hoyt and Edgar A. Greenblatt. Lee returned on 2 May 1902.

Lee Share Yung Habeas Corpus Petition 1888
“Lee Share Yung, Habeas Corpus Petition,” 1888, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Young case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

Lee Share Yung Discharge 1888 photo
“Lee Share Yung, Habeas Corpus Judgment Roll, page 2,” 1888, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lee Share Young case file, Seattle Box 118, 1010/18-8.

Lee Share Young, Lee Gok Suey’s grandfather, was born in San Francisco, California on 7 December 1871 to Lee Yeu May and Hong Shee. His marriage name was Lee Yeow You and he was sometimes known as Lee Yung. He married Toy Shee and they had two sons, Lee Gim, born 14 February 1889 and Lee Ling Hung, born 28 November 1901. Lee Share Yung’s paternal grandparents were Lee Sing Tem and Lew Shee. He had an older brother, Lee Seah Fook, living in California. The parents of his wife, Toy Shee, were Toy Lem Tick and Low Shee.

The family of Edwin Mah Lee found in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files:
Parents:
Gok Suey Lee and Pansy Chin Lee (Chan Ngar Ching)
Grandparents:
Lee Ling Hung and Luey Shee
Great Grandparents:
Lee Share Young and Toy Shee
G G Grandparents: (Lee Share Young’s parents)
Lee Yeu May and Hong Shee
G G Grandparents: (Toy Shee’s parents)
Toy Lem Tick and Low Shee
G G G Grandparents: (Lee Share Young’s grandparents)
Lee Sing Tem and Lew Shee

The Reference Sheets in the files also contains Seattle file numbers for Lee Gok Suey’s cousin, Lee Gwok Ying (7030/13310); uncle, Lee Gim Jeow (7030/4521); Lee Gwock Ying, Lee Gim Jeow’s son, (7030/13310).

For more information see:
Wikipedia
Seattle Times
New York Times

Ora Ivy Chang – Berkeley Resident

Ora Chang photo
“Ora Chang Photo, Form 430,” 1910, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ora Chang (Chang Ora) case file, Seattle, Box RS 193, RS 29,102.

[What huge bows in Ora’s hair and fine detail on her dress.]
Ora Chang, the daughter of Hong Yen Chang, the Chinese Consul at Vancouver, British Columbia, was admitted to the United States at the Port of Seattle on 5 April 1912 with her mother Charlotte Chang They were making a brief trip from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle accompanied by Chin Keay of the Quong Tuck Company.
Ora Ivy Chang’s initial application to travel to China was in 1910. The family was living 2330 Fulton Street, in Berkeley at the time. Her birth certificate stating that she was born at Laporte, California on 8 November 1898 is included in the file. She was visiting China with her mother and brother Oliver Carrington Chang. The San Francisco Chinese Inspector interviewed Ora Chang, age 12; Charlotte Ahtye Chang, her mother; Chun Shee, her grandmother; Dr. Elizabeth Keys, the physician who attended at the birth of her brother Oliver; and D. R. Rose, another white witness who knew Mrs. Chang since 1884. Chun Shee, Ora’s grandmother, testified that she was 68 years old and the widow of Yee Ahtye. They had five children, all born in Laporte, California: a daughter Fook Yow living in Oakland; a son, Yee Jock Sam living in San Francisco; daughters Yee Ah Oy and Yee King Lan, living in Berkeley; and a son Yee Jock Wai (Dilly), living in San Francisco.
[This file gives lot of names and places of residence but doesn’t have a lot of other personal information.]