Tag Archives: R. P. Bonham

Yick May Gum (Katherine Lillie Shan) – Chinese and a wee bit of Irish

Yick May Gum Katherine Shan photo
“Yick May Gum (alias Katherine Lillie Shan) Form 430 photo” 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yick May Gum (Katherine Shan) case file, Portland Box 92, 5017/552.
[There are only a few Chinese Exclusion Act files where one of the parents is Irish. Here is one of them in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.]
Katherine Lillie Shan applied for her Native’s Return Certificate on 19 June 1930 in Portland, Oregon. She was working for the Orpheum Theatre circuit and they were performing in Canada. She gave the interviewer her Chinese name as Yick May Gum and said she was the daughter of Yick Bing Shan and Gertrude [maiden name not listed]. Katherine was born at 108 third Avenue, New York City on 11 June 1912. Her mother was a white woman of Irish descent who was born in Denver, Colorado. Katherine attended P.S. No. 60 grade school in New York City and then went on to Norfield Seminary [possibly Northfield Mount Herman School]. Her father was a witness for her. Her mother was working in their restaurant on the day of the interview. Katherine had two older brothers back in China whom she had never met.
R. P Bonham, Immigration District Director in Portland sent a telegram to Immigration Service in New York City on June 19 requesting Yick May Gum’s Native Return Certificate but they could not find her file. He interrogated her the next day.
Katherine’s Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status, Form 430, is included in the file with a note saying “Application withdrawn and birth certificate returned to applicant on June 24, 1930.” Signed: R. J. Norene

[There is no more information in the file. Some files do not tell us very much. This one leaves us with more questions than answers. A cross reference sheet was not included in the file so there is no reference to her father’s file and he wasn’t found in the Seattle index.]

Chun Shee and her son Wong Gwan Jing

Affidavit photos of Wong Ling, Wong Gwan Jing, and Chun Shee
“Affidavit photos of Wong Ling, Wong Gwan Jing and Chun Shee” 1915, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chun Shee and Wong Gwan Jing case file, Portland, Box 31, Case 4263.

In November 1915, Wong Ling, alias Chew Kee, age 55, a merchant and member of the Chew [Chu] Kee Co., 214 Front Street (formerly 130 Front Street), The Dalles, Oregon, submitted papers seeking admission into the United States for his wife and son. Three white witnesses swore that Wong Ling was a merchant and met the mercantile status required by law by not engaging in prohibited manual labor. R. P. Bonham, Chinese Inspector, stated, “the case is either genuine or else has been concocted with greater cleverness and recited with far more guile than is usual with a case arising in a country town.”
During questioning, Mr. Bonham found that Wong Ling had been issued certificate of residence #43730 (issued in 1894 in Portland, Oregon) and certificate of identity #2562 (issued in Seattle in 1911). Since it was not Immigration’s policy to have two identification documents for one person, the certificate of identity was sent to Seattle for cancellation.
Wong Ling’s white witnesses were Edward H. French, a banker, president of French & Company and long-time resident of The Dalles; L. A. Schanne, a hardware and grocery merchant who had lived in The Dalles for 40 years; and Edward Kurtz, Chief of Police, a resident of The Dalles since 1894. They all had known Wong Ling for 15 to 20 years.
Wong Ling testified that his marriage name was Hong Gwoon (or spelled Hong Quin). He was born in Ging Bui Village, Sun Wui district, China and had made two trips to China. In K.S. 15 (1889) he left and returned the next year via San Francisco. In K.S. 32* (1906) he left from Sumas, Washington and returned at Seattle. He had been living in the United States about 32 years. He and his brother, Wong Cheong, were partners in Chew Kee Company.
Wong Ling’s first wife died in K.S. 32 (1906) when she was about 36 years old. They had two children. His son and his family were living “on the small door side” of Wong Ling’s house in China. His brother’s family lived in their father’s house “on the big door side.”

Wong Ling married his second wife, Chun Shee, about four months after his first wife died. A woman named Ngan Ho arranged the marriage. They were married on a market day, either the 18th or 22nd, 9th month, K.S. 32* (1906) and the feast lasted one day. Their son, Gwan Jing, was born one month after Wong Ling returned to the U.S. In 1915 his son was five years old and was about to meet his father for the first time.
Wong Ling’s Chinese witness was Liu Chung, marriage name Shung Nguen, who lived in San Francisco but visited The Dalles occasionally. He recognized Wong Ling’s wife, Chun Shee, from a photo. He had only seen her briefly when his visit to China coincided with Wong Ling’s visit. Even though he had a meal at their home in their village he said “…according to our custom, just as soon as a lady sees a man she withdraws and keeps away.”
Chun Shee was interviewed twice, on 22 October 1915 and on 5 November. She and her son Wong Gwan Jing, age 5, arrived in Seattle on the 22nd. She was 28 years old and had married at age 19. Her maiden name was Ah Gon. The interviewer asked about a servant girl, Chun Moy, who lived in the household for about four years. She was security for a debt and when her father paid off the loan, she left and was married. Chun Shee was asked the same questions her husband was asked. There were only minor discrepancies in their answers. After two weeks [most likely in detention] she and her son were admitted to the United States.
[The file gives a lot of information about the family, house and land holdings of Wong Ling in his village in China.]
[Usually each person would have a separate file. The information for Chun Shee and her son, Wong Gwan Jing, is all together in one file.]
*K.S. 32 is during the reign of Kang Shi, or about 1906.