Tag Archives: San Francisco

Ng Ah Yun – Port Townsend, Washington

Ng Ah Yun was born in Port Townsend, Jefferson County, Washington on 23 August 1889.  He was the son of (Ng) Yee Kong and Wong Shee. Yee Kong had come to the United States from China about 1877 and married Wong Shee in San Francisco in 1882. Shortly after they married, they moved to Port Townsend, Washington and resided at the corner of Madison and Water Streets. Their first son, Ah Don Ng, was born there in 1885 or 1886.

Yee Kong operated the Yee Wah Laundry. Its original location was across the corner from the sailors’ boarding house. In December 1888, Yee Kong’s cousin, Charley Quong, who was born in California, joined them in Port Townsend. Charley’s father and Yee Kong’s father were brothers. About 1890 the laundry burned down, and the building was replaced. Eventually that building also burned and the  family moved over to the King Tai Company building. About 1892, discouraged after twice losing their business, Yee Kong, his wife, and their two sons moved back to China.

In June 1907 the two brothers, (Ng) Ah Don and (Ng) Ah Yun, returned to Port Townsend on the Ex. S. S. Shawmut and applied to be admitted to the United  States  as U.S. citizens. Over a ten- day  period  they  were  interrogated and eventually admitted.

Ah Yun and Ah Don affidavit photos, 1907, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Ah Yun case file, Seattle Box 621, file 7030/6363.

The file does not indicate where they stayed those ten days. The Port Townsend U.S. Customs House may have made some arrangements for them. Charley Quong, another Chinese man, and two Caucasian witnesses swore in affidavits about their knowledge of the brothers. They were shown photographs and asked to identify each one. Frank A. Bartlett said he had been a resident of Port Townsend for more than forty- two years. He was a member of C. C. Bartlett & Company,  his father ’s general merchandise store, and sold laundry supplies to Yee Kong. C. C. Bartlett also rented a lot and a building to Yee Kong. After the building burned down, Yee Kong rented the land from Bartlett and built a two-story frame building for his laundry business. The  Bartletts had a good working relationship with Yee Kong, and they both remembered seeing his young sons playing around the laundry.

Joseph Steiner also swore in an affidavit that he was acquainted with Yee Kong. Steiner owned a cigar store and had been a resident of Port Townsend since February 1888. Steiner patronized the Yee Wah Laundry, and Yee Kong brought his sons with him to the cigar store when he came to collect Steiner’s laundry fees and visit with him.

In Eng Yee Tung’s affidavit he testified that he was forty-four years old and was born in Pen On,  Har Pang County, Sunning district, Province of Canton, China. He was the manager of the Yee Sing Wook Kee Company in Port Townsend. Around 1885 there were about one hundred Chinese in Port Townsend. Eng Yee Tung testified that he and about thirty or forty other Chinese attended a “shaving feast” to celebrate the birth of each of Yee Kong’s sons. This was a Chinese ritual  in which a barber would  shave off all but a small tuft of hair on the front of a male baby’s head about a month after the  birth, then family and friends would gather to celebrate.[1]

Ah  Don, age 21, was interviewed on 13 June 1907. Even though he was only five or six years old when he left Port Townsend for China, he was asked many of the same questions asked of the other adults. He testified that his uncle, Charley Quong, whose Chinese name was Bing Quong, lived next door to his father ’s house in China and that Charley’s father was Jet Hock, the brother of Hen Hock. In the interview Ah Don described his house—it had had two sleeping rooms, two kitchens and a worship room. He stated that his mother had a brother named Wong Sai Chuck, a farmer in China. The interviewer then gave Ah Don a genealogy lesson. He explained that Charley and Ah Don’s fathers were first cousins; therefore, Charley could not be his uncle. When asked if he had any first  cousins, Ah  Don responded: “Under the Chinese custom I call Bing Quong my uncle, but according to the American custom he is my cousin,  but not my first cousin.” (He had learned his genealogy lesson and how to deal with interviewers.)  He had no other cousins. His father had given him about $1,000 to come to the United States.

Ah Yun, age 18, was interviewed  the next day; ten days after the brothers had arrived  in Port Townsend. He was only three or four years old when he left the U.S. for China. He told the interviewer that the family name was Ng, although it was not always used. When Ah Yun called Charley Kong (Quong) his uncle, Mr. Monroe, the interviewer, gave him the same genealogy lecture he had given his brother. Ah Yun gave the same answers to the interview questions as his brother  had. As one would expect, they both correctly identified the photographs of each other and of Charley Quong.

On 14 June 1907, the Acting Chinese Inspector in Charge interviewed Charley Quong about Ah Yun and Ah  Don. An  interpreter  was present. Quite a bit of genealogical information  was obtained in that  interview.  Charley  Quong/ Bing Quong was by this time thirty-five years old and was working in a saloon in Port Townsend  that was owned by Henry Rothschild. Quong was born in San Francisco, the son of Hen Hock and Chin Shee, the former being the son of Mon Fee. Hen Hock was born in China and his mother in San Francisco. His father died in Fresco, California about 1900, but his mother was still living  there. His four sisters and three brothers were all born in the United States and were living in Fresno.

Charley Quong had married in San Francisco. Quong had made two  trips to China, once in 1895 and again in 1901. He had registered each time before he left the country. The interviewer asked him why he had registered, since he was born in the United States. He replied, “Because every Chinaman was registering, and I thought I would  do the same.” [It was odd that the interviewer asked Quong why he  had registered, because in 1892 the Geary Act was passed, which expanded the 1882 exclusion act. It  now  required  all Chinese to register and obtain a certificate of identity as proof of their right  to be in  the United  States  and to safely return when they left the country.]

The interviewer asked Quong many questions about his family in China. Charley Quong and his cousin Yee Kong had lived in the village of Song Cheong, sometimes called Song Clen, Song Lung or Song Leung. There were only two houses in the village and they each owned one of them. Quong lived there with his wife, his stepmother (his father ’s first wife), and his two sons.

Caucasians were  considered more  credible witnesses than Chinese, so it was important  for returning  Chinese to have white witnesses who could swear that they were respectable citizens. Even though information  on Caucasians in the files is incidental and rarely indexed, there are sometimes tidbits  of information  about people who had  working relationships with Chinese. Sometimes a witness might tell where they were living  in the 1890s when no census records were available. Unfortunately,  it is extremely difficult to find this information.[2]

Three months after Frank A. Bartlett and Joseph Steiner gave sworn statements about their knowledge of Ah Don and Ah Yun, the affiants gave witness testimony. Mr. Monroe asked Steiner how long he had lived in Port Townsend and Steiner replied that it had been a little over twenty  years. Monroe  came back with,  “How much over twenty years?” Steiner replied that it had  been twenty  years in  February.  [Monroe was getting testy. He may have been feeling that he was wasting his time trying  to disprove that the brothers were U. S. citizens.]

Steiner was asked to give the names of any Chinese that he remembered. He named six Chinese. He said he had never been to Yee Kong’s laundry  because Yee Kong always called for it and delivered  it back to him when done.

When Yee Kong’s former  landlord, Frank A. Bartlett, was interviewed, he reported his occupation as both bookkeeper and merchant. He recounted that Yee Kong had paid various rents to him for his laundry–starting out at $15 a month,  then $25 and finally $100, the latter being paid during  boom  times  in  Port Townsend. The first laundry  was in a one-story building that was about twenty feet wide by 30 feet long.  According to Bartlett, that building burned down about 1886. Bartlett  then leased the land to Yee Kong for $100 a month and Yee Kong built  a new laundry. He was there about five or six years until that building  also burned down. [The dates were not always consistent from  one person to another, but  that  did  not seem to matter to the interviewer.]

After  considering  the evidence, Henry  A. Monroe decided that Ah Don and Ah Yun were  born in the United States. They were admitted to the country  as returning  native-born Chinese persons.


“Ah Yun, photo, Form 430,” 1913, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, #7030/6363.

To be continued in October 2022 blog post.

[1] “Chinese Customs: Interesting Rites are Connected with Birth—Vary According to Province,”  The Burlington Free Press and Times, Burlington, New Jersey, 4 March 1920, p.8; accessed Chroniclingamerica.loc.gov,  22 August 2022.

[2]Waverly B. Lowell, compiler, Chinese Immigration  and Chinese in the United States: Records in the Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration, NARA, Reference Information paper 99, 1996, 1. 

This case study was originally published in the Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin. The citation for the complete article is: Trish Hackett Nicola, CG, “Chinese and the Northwest,” SGS (Seattle) Bulletin, 64-1 (Winter 2014) 39-47.

Dorothy S. Luke Lee – born in Seattle

“Dorothy S. Luke Lee, 1912 Certified copy of 1910 Birth Certificate,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, Record Group 85, NARA-Seattle, Dorothy S. Luke Dee (Mrs. Kaye Hong), Box 770, File #7030/11435.

Dorothy S. Luke Lee, daughter of Luke Lee and Down Cook, was born on 15 March 1910 in Seattle, Washington. She went to China with her family in 1912 and returned a year later.

When Dorothy and her family applied to go to China in 1912, Doctor Cora Smith (Eaton) King was a witness for the family. Dr. King, the family’s physician for the past five years, testified that Dorothy’s father, Luke Lee, was a merchant in Seattle. She knew that at least three of their children were born in the U.S. She was present at the birth of the two youngest, Dorothy and Edwin S. Luke Lee, and she assisted in obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate of Eugene Luke Lee, who was also born in the U.S.

In 1912, Dorothy’s mother, Down Cook (Mrs. Luke Lee), testified that she was 30 years old, and born in Quong Chaw village, Sunning district, China. She came to the U.S. in July 1907 through Sumas, Washington. At that time her husband was a merchant and member of Sing Fork & Company in New Haven, Connecticut. Their son, Luke Thick Kaye, (Dorothy’s older brother) born in Yen On village, Sunning district, China, came with them.  

Luke Thick Kaye testified in 1912 that he was seven years old. He had been going to school for three years. His teacher at the Main Street school in Seattle was Miss Sadie E. Smith, and his present teacher at Colman School was Miss Rock.

Dorothy S. Luke Lee Certificate of Identity Application 9975 

Dorothy S. Luke Lee, age 3, received Certificate of Identity #9975 as a returning citizen in 1913.

 

“Mrs Kaye Hong, Form 430 photo,” 1938

On 13 September 1938 Mrs. Kaye Hong, (Dorothy S. Luke Lee), age 28, applied to leave the U.S. from the Port of Seattle. She listed her address as 725 Pine Street, San Francisco, California.  She testified that she married Kaye Hong (Hong Won Kee Kaye) on 7 September 1936.

Dorothy, her husband, and some of his family were making a short trip to Canada.  They returned the next day through Blaine, Washington and were admitted.

Additional information not in the file:
Keye Luke attended the University of Washington in Seattle and was an artist/illustrator before becoming an actor for films and television. He got his movie start playing Charlie Chan’s Number One Son, Lee Chan.

Information about Keye Luke’s art career:
“Mary Mallory; Hollywood Heights – Keye Luke,” The Daily Mirror, 20 June 2022;

More about Keye Luke’s acting career:
Vienna’s Classic Hollywood, Keye Luke: Actor, Artist

Chinese American Eyes blog has 19 posts on Keye Luke covering his art and acting careers. 

Keye Luke Biography, Posted 12 Jan 2021 by lindaje2000:

Edwin Luke, Keye Luke’s younger brother, was also an actor. See this short biography of Edwin Luke

FYI: The CEA volunteers are still not back at NARA-Seattle but when we were all working together Rhonda Farrar called my attention to this file. Thank you, Rhonda!

Leung Man Hoi – Section 6 Merchant Certificate from Swatow

Leung Man Hoi arrived in the Port of Seattle on 15 May 1915. He passed his medical exam. He did not have hookworm or trachoma.

Leung Man Hoi (Yum Gong), Medical Examination, 1915, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Leung Man Hoi (Yum Gong), box RS193, # RS29097

He was interviewed by Immigration Inspector Henry A. Monroe. He testified that his marriage name was (Leung) Yum Gong, he was 30 years old, and born on 10 March 1886 in Kai Gock village, Moy Yuen District, China. He was married to Chin She and they had two sons, Sik Chee, age 6; and Sik Yuen, age 2. Leung was in the rice and wine business at Bo San Wo Co., Chung Sar Market, China. He had a friend, Wong Shu Tong, who was living at the King Chong Lung Co. Leung Man Hoi was admitted to Seattle on his day of arrival as a Section 6 Merchant and received his certificate of identity #20276. His destination was the King Chong Lung Company, 217 Washington Street, Seattle.

When questioned by Inspector Henry A. Monroe, Leung Man Hoi said that he was examined in China by a consular representative at Swatow. Leung did not know the interviewer’s name, but he said he answered his many questions truthfully. Leung did not have any relatives in the U.S., only a friend, Wong Shu Tong, who he had not seen in ten years. Wong worked for the King Cheng Lung Company. Leung only had $10 in cash with him and a bank draft for $1,000 in gold drawn on Wah Young Company issued in Hong Kong.  Inspector Monroe concluded that it was not a bank draft but only an order for the Wah Young Company to extend credit to Leung.

Leung, Section 6 Certificate for Merchant, Swatow, 1914, CEA, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, #RS29097

Inspector Monroe asked Leung if he knew Chin Tan in China. Chin solicited men of means to secure Section 6 certificates so they could enter the United States [illegally]. Leung denied knowing Chin Tan. At the conclusion of the interrogation Monroe reminded Leung that under no circumstances could he work as a laborer, or he would be subject to arrest and deportation.

Leung Man Hoi applied to leave the U.S. in May 1920 from San Francisco. He filed his application for a return certificate as a merchant and it was approved on 12 June 1920 by the commissioner at Angel Island Station in San Francisco, California, but with some reservations. This is an excerpt from a letter to Immigration in San Francisco from the Seattle immigration office on May 28, 1920:

              “Please note that Leung Man Hoi is a so-called Swatow Section 6
merchant. A couple of years ago this office established to the
satisfaction of the Department at Washington and the U.S. Court here,
on Writ of Habeas Corpus, that all Swatow cases were fraudulent, and
the last twenty-two from that place holding papers were returned to
China, after Judge Neterer of the District Court here had discharged
a Writ of Habeas Corpus obtained in their behalf. Since that time
no Chinese holding Swatow certificates have applied at this port for
admission. Testimony of the applicant given May 15, 1915, in interest-
ing reading, in view of the subsequent developments in Swatow cases.”

In spite of the letter from the Seattle office about their doubts of the validity of Section 6 merchant certificates issued in Swatow, Leung Man Hoi’s papers were approved.

If someone wants a project on the Chinese Exclusion Act case files, it would be interesting to find the files or the court cases on a 22 Chinese with Swatow papers who were returned to China.
The CEA volunteers are still not back at NARA-Seattle but when we were all working together Rhonda Farrar called my attention to this file. Thank you Rhonda!

Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟 AKA Donald Ung CHIN (1913 – 2005) by Kevin Lee

Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟 AKA Donald Ung CHIN (1913 – 2005) by Kevin Lee

[Thank you Kevin Lee for sharing your family story.]

Note the English spelling variations of the same Chinese family name 陳 of Chin, Chinn, Chan, Chen.

It was eerily quiet in the reference room of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Seattle, as the bound manila folder of # 7031/325 was handed to me by staff on 7 November 2019. There, in front of my eyes, laid 100 years of history, which was of my great uncle (kauh gung) – the younger brother of my maternal grandmother CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen 陳美珍 (who featured in this website on 17 May 2021).

Donald CHIN was the minor son of a merchant (where “M/S/Mcht” was marked on the front of his file) when he arrived in Seattle, from Hong Kong, on 5 April 1926.

Donald was also the grandson of a laundryman Gin Heung CHAN, also known as (aka) Yen Hing CHIN, who arrived in 1880 at the port of San Francisco, and who then lived in Seattle until 1894, however, no NARA file could be found for this gentleman because paperwork generally kept by the U.S. Immigration Service prior to 1895 was sparse.

Donald was named CHAN Wing Dung at birth, and was born on 28 October 1913, in the village of Mi Kong (also spelt Mai Gong), in the town of Hong Gong Lee (also spelt Hin Gong Lee), in the county of Hoiping 开平市 (also spelt Hoy Ping, now Kaiping, one part of Sze Yup – one of the 4 Districts), in the province of Kwangtung (now spelt Guangdong), in the Republic of China – 2 years after the overthrow of the Qing / Manchu Dynasty.

He was the 3rd child of Love SEETO 司徒愛 also known as SEE TOW shee 司徒氏,who lived in China throughout her entire life, and (Chear) Cheo CHIN 陳超 aka Don Foon CHIN (NARA file # 39184/2-12, previously 682, 15844 and 30206) – “a well-known domiciled merchant of the city (of Seattle)” as described by Henry A. Monroe on 26 April 1926, a Seattle immigration lawyer and notary public.

Donald was only 5-years-old and living in China when his older brother, CHIN Wing Quong 陳榮光 (who featured in this website on 31 July 2021), died in Seattle at the tender age of 18, in late 1918, from an accidental drug poisoning at the Wing Sang & Company premises co-owned by their father, Cheo CHIN 陳超.

Cheo CHIN 陳超 most likely brought the cremated ashes of Wing Quong CHIN 陳榮光 back to China for reburial, during his lengthy trip abroad from May 1919 – September 1921. This was the first time that young Donald had ever met his father.

Donald’s mother, Love SEETO 司徒愛/ SEE TOW shee 司徒氏, was distraught at the loss of the number 1 son, Wing Quong 榮光, and never fully recovered. She was a broken woman and “divorced” Cheo CHIN 陳超.

Cheo CHIN 陳超 wrote to her in 1925 requesting that their 12-year-old son, Donald, join him in Seattle. She relented, knowing that she would never see her son again.

As the Chinese New Year celebrations lasted for 1 week from Saturday 13 February 1926, Donald would have travelled in mid-February 1926 from Mi Kong village to the terminal at Sanbu 三埠 (meaning “ the 3rd district”) for a 4-hour river ferry to British Hong Kong with his cousin CHIN Yin Duk. He was both excited and nervous at what the future lay ahead…

Signed & sealed page 1 declaration of a non-immigrant alien, that also serves as visa no. 130, granted on 16 March 1926 by the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, in readiness for his departure to the United States the following day and to reside at the Wing Sang Company, Seattle that his father co-owned, held in the National Archives-Seattle file of Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟, #7031/325
Signed & sealed page 2 declaration of a non-immigrant alien & visa no. 130 granted on 16 March 1926 by the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, with a photograph of 12-year-old Donald Wing Ung CHIN, held in the National Archives-Seattle file of Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟, #7031/325

He obtained U.S. immigration visa no. 130 from the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong on 16 March 1926. The next day, he boarded the U.S. steamship “S.S. President Grant” and arrived in Seattle, Washington, 19 days later on 5 April 1926. He then spent 15 days locked-up in quarantine because he had hookworm disease, in a room he shared with 20 other people, and also underwent questioning by Immigration officials – with the assistance of a translator – to verify his status as the son of a merchant. Belatedly, after an arduous trip and then being put in detention, he was finally released into the waiting arms of his relieved father Cheo CHIN 陳超, whom he hadn’t seen for 4½ years, on 20 April 1926.

As a teenager in a new land and to fulfill the huge ambitions/investment by his father, he gradually adjusted to the different language, culture and way-of-life. He began attending English classes at Broadway High School on the corner of Broadway and East Pine Street in Capitol Hill with distant cousin Anne Wing (née Chinn). Anne later became President of the female auxiliary branch of Gee How Oak Tin – the oldest and largest family association in north-west America. Donald also continued his Chinese (Cantonese) studies whilst growing-up in Seattle, as he never forgot his roots.

He resided with his father firstly at 412 (and later across the street at 415) 7th Avenue South, Seattle, in an upstairs apartment of the Wing Sang Company (Wing Sang Tong). He occasionally helped behind the counter, or in the storage basement to unpack boxes of items for sale, in-between his studies.

Nearing adulthood and desiring to get married, as well as desperately missing his mother, sister and (adopted) brother after 5½ years in America, Donald and his father Cheo CHIN 陳超 sought legal advice for a trip back to China. They again approached immigration lawyer Henry A. Monroe, who wrote to the Commissioner of Immigration on their behalf on 5 October 1931. They faced interviews with U.S. Immigration Service inspectors on 13 October 1931 to determine their status. Two days later, the U.S. Immigration Service favourably granted Donald a re-entry permit, enabling him to depart for China but to come back within 365 days.

Sworn affidavit on 9 October 1931, made on his behalf by his father Cheo CHIN 陳超 seeking an indorsement from the Immigration and Naturalization Service so that the nearly 18-year-old Donald Wing Ung CHIN could obtain a U.S. return visa if he was allowed to visit his mother, brother and sister in China and also to get married, held in the National Archives-Seattle file of Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟, #7031/325

On 17 October 1931 he sailed out of Seattle on the steam ship “President Taft” to head towards Hong Kong, and onto then a smaller ferry to Sanbu 三埠 in Hoiping / Kaiping city 开平市.

Aged 18-years-old, he married someone whom he had only just met – 17-year-old Suey Tong YEE – at his father’s Mi Kong village house. Donald knew that he had to spend as much time with his new wife as possible, hence they conceived a child quickly. With Chinese Exclusion Act (CEA) restrictions in place, he didn’t know when he could return to China, or if/when the law could be amended to allow him to sponsor his wife to America.

He arrived back in Seattle on 12 October 1932 – just days before his return visa expired – after being on-board 2 steamships (the Empress of Canada and the Princess Alice) over the past 19 days. It was a long, exhausting, cramp journey and he felt reluctant to ever go through this again.

Two months after arriving back, he received the joyous news that his one-and-only child – a son – Ying Keong CHIN aka Kent Ying Keung CHAN was born in Mi Kong village on 19 December 1932.

During that moment in time, with a severe economic downturn worldwide – the Great Depression – leading to high unemployment, he had to put his head down and work very hard in America, to save and send money back to his wife and child in China. He worked as a houseboy for a white family in Seattle, at a fish cannery/processing plant in Bellingham, in Chinese laundries, grocery stores, chicken farms, and as a waiter in restaurants.

Meanwhile, at his father Cheo Chin’s 陳超 Wing Sang & Company, business was very tough, and the partnership unravelled/dissolved. However, Cheo Chin 陳超 was a silent partner in another mercantile business called “Sang Loon Co.”, also known as Sang Yuen Company, since 1923. Cheo Chin 陳超 then became an active partner on 2 June 1930, which operated from 660 King Street, where they both lived in an apartment above the store.

Donald, sometime later, moved into his own apartment within Chinatown.

Other than his father, who lived nearby him in Seattle until dying of bowel cancer on 6 March 1939, Donald wasn’t able to see any other family member for an extremely long time. The following events, one-after-the-other, made it impossible for Donald to visit his family in China:-

  • the 1882 – 1943 Chinese Exclusion Act / strict U.S. immigration laws,
  • the 1929 – 1933 Great Depression,
  • the 1937 – 1945 Sino-Japanese War which meant that China and Hong Kong were occupied, and thus travel was very dangerous,
  • the 1966 – 1976 Chinese Communist Party’s Cultural Revolution which tightened border controls.

These aforementioned events greatly impacted his life:-

  • He couldn’t obtain U.S. citizenship based on race and had the threat of deportation hanging over his head, and he couldn’t buy a property or a place to call home but constantly rented.  He was a law-abiding resident of the U.S. for a very long 27 years, until he was finally naturalised at the Western District Court of Washington in Seattle on 30 September 1953;
  • He hadn’t seen his 83-year-old mother Love SEETO 司徒愛/ SEE TOW shee 司徒氏 for 26 years, when she died in Mi Kong village on July 1958;
  • He had been “separated from my bride for 32 years” (in a speech to family and friends at his 80th birthday party on 12 July 1992), and thus robbed of the prime of their lives together, consequently only producing 1 child. As a U.S. citizen, he still had to wait many years before he could sponsor his wife, Suey Tong YEE, who was 50-years-old when they reunited in 1964.
  • He hadn’t met his then 33-year-old son before, nor his daughter in-law, and 5 small grandchildren aged between 1-9 years, until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1 December 1965 (the Hart-Celler Act) became effective, and they all arrived in Seattle, from Hong Kong, via plane – not ship like he previously did – on 8 January 1966;
  • In late 1981, he made his 1st trip back to China in 49 years – almost half a century – to visit his cancer-stricken and beloved 77-year-old elder sister, CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen 陳美珍. Donald loved his sister immensely, as they were both linked by blood, but separated by time apart, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and the tight border controls in both the United States and China. She died exactly 40 years ago, on 29 March 1982.
74-year-old Donald Wing Ung CHIN 陳榮棟 visited his late sister CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen’s 陳美珍 matrimonial house in Num Bin Toon/Chuen (the Yee village), October 1987 on what would have been her 83rd birthday.
Standing from left to right are: Hon Ming YU (grandnephew), Donald (himself), Hon Hung YU (grandnephew), So Chung SEETO (niece-in-law), Mrs Suey Tong YEE CHIN (wife), Anne Yim Man YU (grandniece, now in Columbus, Ohio), and Kwong King YU (nephew) [photo courtesy of Kevin Lee]

Conclusion:
Donald managed/owned the Riceland Café for many years, located firstly at 606 12th Avenue, South Seattle, and then moving it to 4144 University Way, Seattle. Early morning trips to the fresh food markets, preparation of ingredients, managing his staff, and cleaning-up after the last diners left late at night, became his regular routine.

He was a pillar of the Chinese community in Seattle, and an active member of the Gee How Oak Tin and Suey Sing Chinese Benevolent Family Associations for almost 80 years.

Donald Wing Ung Chin 陳榮棟 passed away peacefully on 5 September 2005 at the Swedish Medical Center, Providence Campus, 500 – 17th Avenue, Seattle, only 1 block away from where his father died 66½ years earlier at the Providence Hospital. He was just a few weeks short of his 92nd birthday, living 79 of those years in the United States, having not gone back to China for 49 years, and despite many hardships and sacrifices, he was determined to prove himself as an inspirational immigrant success story and a proud family man.

Loui See Fung joins father in Alamosa, Colorado in 1941

Loui See Fung  雷樹宏 arrived at the Port of Seattle on the s.s.Princess Marguerite on 11 January 1941. He was classified as the son of citizen, Loui Guee (Louie Gwee) (married name: Woon Jing). He was admitted exactly one month later and received his Certificate of Identity on 14 February. His destination was El Paso, Texas. He was nineteen years old, born on 20 September 1921 at Ai Lat Village, Hoy San District, China. According to Dr. Seth, the Medical Examiner of Aliens, the applicant appeared to be younger than he claimed. X-rays might give a more accurate assessment, but the immigration board decides that it was not necessary. The father presented a photo of the applicant when he was about five years old. There was a strong resemblance between the alleged father and the applicant.

“Loui See Fung, photo,” ca. 1926, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Loui See Fung case file, Seattle Box 823, file 7030/13488.

Loui See Fung’s father, Loui Guee, originally arrived in the United States in October 1913 and was admitted as the son of a native, Loui Yim, who was subject to San Francisco file 10346/1433.

In Loui See Fung’s interrogation he testified that he spoke the See Yip Hoy San dialect and had never been in the United States before. His family moved to Ping On village when he was four or five years old. He last saw his father when he was about eight years old, but he readily identified him from a photograph because he remembered that his father had a scar on his forehead which showed in the photo. The interrogator asked many questions about his father’s extended family. Loui See Fung answered most of the questions correctly and was asked if he had been coached with the answers.
It was a long interrogation with over five pages of testimony. He described his mother as Yee Shee, natural feet, some pock marks on her face, able to read and write, mother of four sons and no daughters. He told the names and ages of his brothers and where they went to school. He described his village and the nearby villages, the streams, a fishpond, markets, and school. Loui See Fung lived in a brick house with two bedrooms, a living room, two kitchens with a room over each kitchen, cement floors in all the rooms, all closed by glass and iron bars, no shutters, and two outside doors. They had a black dog but no pig. He was asked about specific houses in his village—”who lives opposite your door in the 3rd house, 2nd row?” and the names of the occupants, their ages, occupations, children’s names and ages, and where they went to school.

There was a lengthy interview of Loui’s father, Loui Guee.  He stated that for the last ten years, he was a partner in a restaurant at Alamosa, Colorado. He was asked how he could identify his son if he had not seen him in about eleven years. He said, “I recognize him because he is my son. The photograph looks like him.” He chose the correct photo of his son out from more than ten photos. He testified that he had two brothers, Loui Fee in Oxnard, California, and Loui Wing in Ogden, Utah. He gave additional details about the family home. It had a stone court, a shrine on the second floor, and a balcony with a wood floor over each first-floor bedroom. They had three ancestral tablets.

“Louie Guee Affidavit, King County, Wash.,” 4 Sept 1940, CEA, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Loui See Fung case file, file 7030/13488.

Most of the testimony of the father and son agreed completely. Although Loui See Fung said his destination was El Paso, Texas, and his father lived in Alamosa, Colorado; the interrogator ignored this inconsistency. The other differences were minor. The doctor testified that the applicant appears to be younger than his stated age, but it was not enough to reject the applicant. Loui See Fung was admitted and received his Certificate of Identity.

Suey L. Moy – born in Indiana, resident of Chicago, Illinois

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

In October 1900, Dr. E. R. Bacon, a practicing physician and surgeon in Lovell, Lane County, Indiana, swore that he knew B. Harley Moy and his wife Agnes T. Moy, and that he delivered their baby son, Suey L. Moy, on 8 September 1898.

B. Harley Moy swore in an affidavit that he was born in China and had lived in the United States for over fifteen years. After arriving in the U.S., he lived with his father in San Francisco, California, for a short time, then moved to Chicago, Illinois, for ten years where he attended school. He travelled around and visited New York City before settling in Lovell, Indiana, where he ran a Chinese bazaar or emporium which he called Harley Moy’s. He married Agnes. F. Anderson, of Chicago, in 1896. In 1900 he was applying to visit China with his young son.

Daniel Lynch, the postmaster of Lowell, and Frank E. Nelson, a cashier at the State Bank of Lowell, both swore in an affidavit that B. Harley Moy had been a resident of Lowell for over two years and was employed in the mercantile business; he was well known by the local residents and that he had a wife and son. A 1900 certified transcript of Suey L. Moy’s 1898 birth certificate is included in his file.

In 1912 Suey L. Moy, age fourteen, wanted to return to the United States. His mother, Agnes T. (Anderson) Moy, started the process to get him readmitted. She swore in an affidavit that she was born in Sweden, immigrated in 1893, and was now a resident of Chicago. During her 1913 interview, Agnes stated that her husband, Harley, owned a restaurant called Ningpo and they lived in an apartment above it. They had four children, Suey who was in Gow Lee, On Fun, China with his paternal grandparents, and a daughter, Helen Moy, born in 1901; and two sons, Boyd Moy (Suey Tang Moy), born in 1905, and Frank Moy (Suey Wing Moy), born in 1907. The three younger children had not been out of the U.S.

“Suey L. Moy photo” 1900, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Suey L. Moy case file, Seattle Box 1392, file 41410/14-30.
“Moy family photo” 1900, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Suey L. Moy case file 41410/14-30.
“Suey L. Moy form 430 photo” 1912, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Suey L. Moy case file, 41410/14-30.

Included in the 1912 application was a photo taken about 1900 of Suey L. Moy at about age one and a group photo of Agnes and her three younger children.

During B. Harley Moy’s interrogation, he testified that the initial “B” in his name stood for Billy, his American nickname. He was forty-two years old and married in 1897. His brother, Moy Dung Goon, was living in Chicago. His family home in China had a big door and a little door. Moy Dung Gee lived across from the little door. [The interrogators often asked the applicant details about the big door and the little door, probably so they could see if the interviewee would give the same answer during their return trip interview.]

Harley and Agnes gave slightly different answers about the date and place of their marriage, however it was close enough for the interrogators to approve Suey L. Moy’s application. But first, as part of the application investigation, the Seattle Immigration Service wrote to Immigration office in Vancouver, B.C. asking if they had any information on the 1900 departure of B. Harley Moy and his son leaving through Portal, North Dakota. Although they could not find the departure information, the Vancouver office thought the evidence of his U.S. citizenship was enough to admit him when he returned in 1913.

In February 1922, Suey L. Moy applied for another trip to China. During his interview he said his father was born in San Francisco. [According to the earlier testimony Suey L. Moy’s grandfather was born in San Francisco and his father was born in China] His parents, B. Harley and Agnes Moy divorced about 1921. Suey L. Moy presented a certified copy of his birth certificate.

“Suey L. Moy 1898 birth certificate, No. 4847” 1922, CEA case files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Suey L. Moy case file 41410/14-30.

Suey L. Moy returned on 28 May 1923. He reported that he married Lai Shee while in China and they had a son, Moy Jun Wing. He was admitted.

Kwan Tak-hing (Kwan Duck Hing) – Member of SF touring opera troupe & and star of Cantonese talkies in the 1930s

“Kwan Duck Hing, Passport Identification Affidavit,”1931, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Kwan Duck Hing case file, Seattle Box 325, Seattle file 7022/6-49.

Today’s blog entry was brought to you by Alex Jay. Thank you Alex!

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19 but the staff is working on a limited basis. They are taking requests for copies of files so get on their waiting list. If you would like a file, call or send your request to Archival Research, 206-336-5115, seattle.archives@nara.gov]

Kwan Duck Hing was a member of San Francisco touring opera troupe and star of one of the world’s first Cantonese talkies in the 1930s.

See the complete article on Kwan Tak-hing (Kwan Duck Hing)  (Guan Dexing 關德興)  on Alex Jay’s blog, Chinese American Eyes: Famous, forgotten, well-known, and obscure visual artists of Chinese descent in the United States

Alex Jay obtained the Chinese Exclusion Act (CEA) file for Kwan Tak-hing from the National Archives at Seattle. Alex has hundreds more articles about Chinese artists on his blog. This article gives us an example of the several names one Chinese individual may have been known as over his lifetime. Those names could be misspelled or spelled phonetically in various documents making the search for someone or their file even more difficult. Alex Jay’s article shows the variety of records that can be used to reconstruct someone’s life after starting with the CEA case file.

Go to Alex Jay’s blogger profile for a comprehensive list of his blogs.

Gee Moon Jew, farmer on Vashon Island, Washington

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopens. THN]

“Gee Moon Jew, Certificate of Identity” 1930, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Gee Moon Jew case file, Seattle Box 441, file 7030/1001.

Gee Moon Jew 朱文周 was 35 when he applied for a return certificate to allow him to make a trip to China. He was a poultry farmer in Vashon, Washington. He was born about 1897 in Hong How village, Sunning District, China. He came to the U.S. in 1909, at the age of 14, arriving in San Francisco. He was considered a U.S. citizen, the son of a native. His father, Gee Fee Yee, marriage name You Ming, was born in San Francisco. His mother was in China. He had three brothers and one younger sister. His older brother, Gee Moon Bin [sic] and his younger brother Gee Moon Taw, were both living in California. Gee Moon Jew married a Caucasian woman, Charlotte Irene Rogers in Vancouver, Washington in November 1918.  After marrying he took the name George W. Jenn.  George and Charlotte had six children; Mary Frances, born 1919; George Walton, born 1921; Alice Martha, born 1923; William Lawrence, born 1925; Eugene, also called Wee Jee, born 1927; and Helen Elizabeth Jenn, born 1927. Mary Frances was born in Seattle and the other children were born in Vashon.

Gee Moon Jew was taking his two eldest children, Mary Frances and George Walton, to China so they could attend a private Methodist school in Canton City. He was also going to visit his mother and other relatives and expected to be gone about three or four months. The children would probably stay three years.

Immigration authorities also interviewed Gee Moon Jew’s wife. Charlotte Irene Ward was 28 years old and born in Larned, Kansas. Her stepfather’s surname was Rogers. They could not afford to take the whole family to China, so she was staying home with the younger children. Her mother was coming from California to stay with her. There were short interviews for Mary Frances and George Walton. They identified their parents and their birth certificates were examined.

Roy M. Porter, the Immigrant Inspector, examined Gee Moon Jew’s 1909 San Francisco file. His father, Gee Fee Yee, had a Seattle file showing that he was admitted at Port Townsend, Washington in 1897. He also had a San Francisco file with a discharge statement showing that he was a native-born U.S. citizen. Porter approved the application for a return certificate for Gee Mon Jew and his children. A copy of Gee Fee Yee’s 1909 affidavit was included in the file.

“Gee Fee Yee affidavit with photos of Gee Fee Yee and Gee Mun Gew [sic]” 1909, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Gee Moon Jew case file, Seattle Box 441, file 7030/1001.

The reference sheet in the file included the case numbers for the files of Gee Moon Jew’s father, his brother, Gee Moon Ben; and Ben’s two sons, Gee Quong Sam and Gee Suey Gin.

Ah Kong – Spokane, Washington – Oriental Café

Ah Kong 1907 photo
“Ah Kong photo, Eng Gin affidavit” 1907, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ah Kong case file, Seattle Box RS 195, file RS 29169.

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. This file was copied before the closure in March 2020. I will let you know when the archives reopen.  thn]

In 1907 Eng Gin swore in an affidavit that he had been living in Port Townsend, Washington for forty-three years. On the Chinese date of 11 February 1877 (American date in March 1877), he and his wife, Yet Yue, had a son, Ah Kong, in Seattle, Washington. Their son was born at his place of business and residence on Washington Street between Second Avenue and Occidental Avenue. In 1885 he sent Ah Kong to Her Ping village, District of Sun Ning, Canton Province, China, to be educated. By 1907 Ah Kong finished his studies and his father wanted him to join him in Port Townsend. Ah Kong’s mother, Yet Yue died in Port Townsend about 1888. A photo of Ah Kong was included on his father’s affidavit.

In January 1908 Ah Kong, the son of Eng Gin formerly of Seattle, applied for admission to the United States at the Port of Seattle as a returning native-born Chinese.

Ah June was a witness for Ah Kong. Ah June’s name at birth was Ng Tung June and his married name was Ng See Sing. He was forty-four years old and a merchant, the manager of Zee Tai Company in Port Townsend, Washington. He came to the U.S. in 1876. He lived in Port Townsend since his arrival except for nine years in Boise, Idaho (1894 to 1903). He made three trips to China during that time. On his third trip in 1904, he resided in the Village of Gim On in the Sun Ning district. He visited Ah Kong and his family and gave Ah Kong one hundred Mexican dollars from his father.

Ah June knew Eng Gin since 1882 when Eng was living in Port Townsend at the Zee Tai’s store on Water Street, later the location of the Palace Restaurant. Eng Gin was with his wife Shue Shee (Yet Yue) and his son Eng Kong who was about five or six at that time. Eng Gin and his family lived in Port Townsend for about six months before moving to Port Discovery where Eng Gin was employed as a foreman in a sawmill. They stayed there about two years then moved back to a house on Quincy Street in Port Townsend. Ah June thought Eng Gin had another son who was called Ah Wing or Eng Wing but did not know much about him.

Ah Kong was questioned after he arrived at the Port of Seattle on 8 January 1908. He said his other name was Yee Quay and his family name was Eng. He was thirty years old and married. He was born in Seattle on Washington Street between Occidental and Second Avenue. When he was about seven years old, he went to China from San Francisco with a distant cousin, Eng Fong Hock.

Aloysuis Harker was also a witness for Ah Kong. He was in the produce and commission business and had lived in Seattle since 1871, over thirty years. He was well acquainted with many Chinese and knew Chin Ching Hock, Chin Gee Hee, Lu Woo, Eng Gin and many others. He was asked in detail about the addresses for several Chinese businesses. Some of the street names had changed since the Seattle fire of 1889 so he drew a map to show where the businesses were and to explain the new street names. Although Harker had not seen Ah Kong in many years, he thought the photo Ah Kong on his identity card had “the appearance” of the boy he had known twenty years ago.

C. E. Carleton testified for Ah Kong. Carleton was a painter who came to Seattle in 1881. He knew Eng Gin, Wah Chong, Chin Pong and several other Chinese. He got to know Eng Gin when he painted the store Eng managed, Quong Yuen Long Company, on Washington Street. He said the store was on the south side of Washington Street next to the old Standard Theatre which was now the Lyric Theatre. He pointed placed out on the maps that Harker had drawn. He described Eng Gin’s wife as short, thickset, fat, and good looking with big feet. Ah Kong was a young boy when he met him. To the best of Carleton’s memory, the young man in the case file photo resembled the boy he met many years ago.

Ah Kong was admitted at the Port of Seattle.

Ah Kong Form 430 1912 photo
“Ah Kong, Form 430 photo” 1912, CEA files, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, Ah Kong case file, file RS 29169.

In April 1912 Ah Kong applied for pre-investigation of status as an American-born Chinese. He wanted to make a trip to China. Ah Kong was a restaurant keeper at the Oriental Café at 412 Riverside Street in Spokane, Washington. He gave his name as Ah Quong [usually spelled Kong] of the Ng [Eng] family. His married name was Yee Quay. He was thirty-five years old and was born in Seattle, Washington. He married Louie See of Wong Mo Hin village, Sunning district, China. She had bound feet.  Their two sons and one daughter, ages eight to twelve, were born in Sai On village, Sunning district, China.

Ah Kong’s Form 430, Application of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Preinvestigation of Status, dated 29 April 1912, states that officer in charge was prepared to approve the application. There is nothing in the file that shows that Ah Kong left the United States in 1912 or returned at a later date.

Patricia Ann Yuen, ten-year-old visits Canada in 1943

Photo Yuen Too Patricia 1943

“Patricia Yuen, Form 430 photo,” 1943. Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Yuen Patricia case file, Seattle Box 828, file 7030/13734.

Patricia Ann Yuen Too 曹淑琴 was ten years old in 1943 when she filed her form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status. With the help of her parents, she applied to the Immigration Service at Sacramento and was approved by the San Francisco office.  Her mother, Mrs. Emily L. Yuen, was planning a three-month visit to Vancouver, B.C. Canada for her daughter. They made special arrangements with the Vancouver, B.C. immigration office so Patricia could be admitted at White Rock, British Columbia opposite Blaine, Washington. Patricia was traveling with Emily’s friend, Mrs. Esther Fong, a Canadian citizen who was in San Francisco testifying as a witness in a criminal case. Mrs. Fong was a church worker and a music teacher.

Yuen Too Patricia Robert Aff“Robert Yuen photo, California Affidavit of Identification,” 1943. CEA case files, RG 85, NA-Seattle, Yuen Patricia case file, 828, 7030/13734.

In July 1943, Patricia’s father, Robert Yuen, also known as Robert Chew Too or Robert Chew Yuen, swore in an affidavit that he was born at Red Bluff, Tehama county, California on 8 November 1907 and that he had been a resident of Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou county, CA for the past seven years. His birth name was Robert Bo Do Hong. His father, Chew Yuen, was born in San Francisco and his mother was Too Shee Yuen. Robert Yuen married Emily L. Louis in Red Bluff, CA on 6 June 1929. Emily was born in Walnut Grove, CA. They were the parents of Patricia Ann Yuen Too.  Robert was an herb doctor. He presented his certificate of Identity No. 13395 for inspection.

[A note of the affidavit says, “Witness Sacramento file 103/406 – 7-29-43; SF 12016/12452-OD.”]

A letter from Robert W. Pierce, Inspector in Charge in Sacramento confirmed that San Francisco files 28591/2-8, 9, and 11 were reviewed in the case.

San Francisco file 28591/2-8 for Emily L. Louis (Emily Yuen Too/Louie Guck Lin) identifies Emily as Patricia’s mother. Emily’s certificate of identity, No. 1800, was issued in San Francisco in 1910.The file of Patricia’s brother, Robert Chew Too, Jr. was examined also.

[Patricia – birth certificate]

“Patricia Ann Yuen California birth Certificate,” 1933. CEA case files, RG 85, NA-Seattle, Yuen Patricia case file, 828, 7030/13734.

Patricia testified that she was born on 25 April 1933 in Red Bluff, California. She had three brother and one sister. Her brother Robert, Jr. was 14 and born in Canton, China. Stanford Curtis Yuen Too would be 13 years old in September 1943 and Theodore Stuart Yue Too would be four years old in August 1943. Her sister Linda Jean Yuen Too was about 1-1/2 years old.  Stanford, Theodore, and Linda were born in California. Patricia’s mother was arranging the trip to Vancouver so Patricia she could study Chinese and music. Patricia thought the trip was so she would have a chance to play with girls. She told her interrogator, “I always play with boys at home because there are no girls.”

Mrs. Irene Neuffer, a family friend, served as a witness and claimed to have known the parents and the applicant since Patricia was about four years old. Mrs. Neuffer testified that she was born in Healdsburg, California and currently lived in North Sacramento. She lived across the street from Yuen family when they all lived in Mount Shasta. Mrs. Neuffer said Patricia’s mother thought if Patricia like Vancouver, she could stay a while.

Patricia’s original 1933 certificate of birth and a 1943 certified copy which agrees with the original certificate are included in the file.

Patricia’s documents were approved. She and Mrs. Fung [sometimes referred to as Miss Fung] left San Francisco for White Rock via the train in late August 1943.

Patricia Ann Yuen Too made her return trip to the United States and was admitted through Blaine, Washington on 10 November 1943. Her destination was her home in Mt. Shasta, California. There is no more information in the file. Perhaps 10-year-old Patricia missed her family—even her brothers.

[Since my formal name is Patricia Ann, I could not resist adding Patricia Ann Yuen Too’s file to the blog. THN]