Tag Archives: San Francisco

Chong Wong Chong – Portland import-export merchant

Guest blogger: Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Chong Wong Chong (b. ca. 1863, immigrated KS 8 = 1882; pinyin:
Zhang Huangchang 张黄昌)

Chong Wong ChongIn 1928 Chong Wong Chong’s deposition to the INS described his situation and provides insight into the life of a Chinese American merchant and Chinese labor contractor.  This file is found at the NARA Seattle, RS 2870, File 12860/14-1.  He stated that he was also known as Chong (pinyin – Zhang) Ho Song, a Portland import-export merchant with the married name of Jung (pinyin – Zhang) Song Lung, who was born in Sui Soon Village, Hoy Ping (pinyin – Kaiping), Guangdong, China.  He had other names: Sam Sing and Chung (pinyin – Zhang) Sam Sing.  A later investigation using the NARA Seattle index of individuals with their occupation and birthplace led to the papers of Sam Sing, a laborer, who obviously was the same man as Chong Wong Chong.  I found Sam Sing because his birthplace was the same as Chong’s and the Seattle index notes birthplace and occupation whenever feasible.

Chong immigrated around 1882 (KS 8), landing in Portland on a small steamer from Vancouver, British Columbia, as a laborer and visited China in 1890 and 1891. On his 1891 trip, he landed in San Francisco as a merchant instead of Portland or Seattle. In 1908 he visited Canada and returned 1909.

Chong was married twice, the first time when he was seventeen and living in China.  Lee Shee, his first wife, died in ST 1 (1908) in China. From his first marriage he had two boys, Chong Shew Lun, who lived in Portland and was in the oyster business, and the older boy who remained in China; and two girls, one named Chong Choy Lun (b. 1893), who was married to a Wong and living in Helena, Montana with her husband, and the older girl, Jung Sou Lun (b. 1884), who remained in China. Within six months after the death of his first wife’s death, he married Lee Shee (b. ca. 1888; Certificate of Identity 6640)) in ST 1 (1908) of Gow How Village, Sunning (pinyin – Xinning) in his home village and his wife and two children came to the U.S. in ST 2 (1909).  Lee Shee and the children were refused admission because Chong was listed as a laborer so Chong returned to his store in Portland, then applied again for his wife and two children in ST 3 (1910) as dependents of a merchant and was successful in getting their admission on December 20, 1911. Years later, through Ancestry.com. Lee Shee gave her husband’s name as Chong Luk Dak.  They lived at 264 Flanders Street, around the corner form her husband’s store on North 4th.

Chong and his second wife had two children, a boy and girl, both born in Portland. Chong Seid Foon (September 6, 1912, American name – Charles) and Chong Heung Lon (1909-1927). The girl’s death caused his wife much grief and led to the decision to adopt Chong May Yoon (original Chinese name Jun Mui), who was born in Los Angeles to Toy and Jennie Chung (pinyin – Zhang) on April 13, 1919 and was adopted in March or April 1927 when she was eight years old.  (NARA Seattle files #30/5270, 12860/14-2, and 7030/5200). Toy Chung died in 1925 and finding herself in financial difficulties, Jennie decided to allow the Chongs to officially adopt May Yoon (later called Helen Chong Yep). Jennie brought her daughter to Portland for the adoption proceedings.  The adoption had been suggested by a Zhang clansman in San Francisco who knew of Jennie’s plight – a large family of young children without a father – and arranged the contact.

After nine years of working for the Quon Shew Lun Company, in 1909  Chong became the manager of Quon Shew Lun Company, a general merchandising firm on at 94 North 4th and later on North 3rd Street, Portland.  The firm’s capitalization was $10,000 and Chong’s share was $2,000.  He and the bookkeeper, Jung Ho Yip ($600 investment), each earned $60 per month plus room and board.  The other active member was the salesman, Jung Gow ($600 investment).  The inactive shareholders were primarily of the Jung (Zhang) clan, with a few other surnames – Wong, Ng, Leong, and Lee – who lived in China, Portland, elsewhere in Oregon, and New York. This was typical of large merchandising firms and all of the men were usually related or came from the same village in China. The company made about $2000 or more in profit annually. The store was located on rented property owned by Euro-Americans for the last ten years.

The firm also acted as the labor contractors for the cannery Libby, McNeil, and Libby [established in 1912 in Sacramento, CA and closed in 1980], and had two canneries under the management of Lee San Toy ($500 shareholder from Portland) in Alaska:  Nushagak and Ekuk.  These were fish canneries in present-day Dillingham.

Nushagak Cannery, Alaska
Nushagak Cannery, Alaska

Although Chong did not go into details, he noted that he owned property in Portland and had a Euro-American rent collector since he rented out the property.

Chong spoke English and had two Euro-Americans testify on his behalf:  the owner of the building in which his store was located and a member of the bank he used. Their depositions and long-time acquaintance with him as Chong Ho Sang put Chong in a favorable light from the perspective of the immigration officials. He was granted a permit to re-enter the United States from China. On this trip he took his wife and his recently adopted daughter, now called Helen Chong, but keeping the name May Yoon Chong in accordance with the adoption papers (NARA Seattle file #27272). They were accompanied by others, including Helen’s natural brother, Chung Gee Kay (1911-1980) (NARA Seattle files #28160/238 and 10797/10-25).

Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.
Permit to Reenter the United States for Chong Wong Chong, expiring November 1, 1929.

The family made several other trips to China, presumably because of business concerns of Chong Wong Chong.  Below is Helen Chong’s 1933 application from NARA Seattle.

Helen Chong
Helen Chong

Chong Wong Chong frequently traveled to China and owned a general store there.  Presumably that store supplied the Portland store with goods.  He passed away in Hong Kong In the 1950s.

In 1951 Helen returns from Hong Kong to San Francisco with her family.  (Certification of birth of Anna Chung aka Helen C. Yep, State of California Department of Public Health, dated 10-29-1962, State Fil 19-015292):  husband Yep Wing Sing, age 30 of 421 W Brand St., Richmond, Virginia; Chong (Yep) Helen, age 31, at the same address, Yip Won Yue, age 13, born in China, Yip Duck Lai, age 23, born in China, Yep Grace Woon Yuen, age 9, born in New York, Yep Ruby Woon King, age 2, born in China, and Yep Theresa Woon King, age 5, born in Hong Kong.  There is the possibility that Anna/Helen had twin boys, Henry and Douglas.  Helen passed away in San Francisco.

By Sue Fawn Chung, Professor Emerita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Yee Ah Jin – 1891 Writ of Habeas Corpus

Writ of Habeas Corpus, Order of Discharge
“Writ of Habeas Corpus, Order of Discharge, No. 10036,” 1891, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives at Seattle, Yee Ah Jin case file, Seattle Box 706, file #7030/9143.
According to the 1891 findings of S. C. Houghton, Special Referee and Examiner of the District Court, Yee Ah Jin was born in the United States and was a citizen entitled to re-enter and remain in the U.S.

Yee Ah Jin 余亞振 was born in San Francisco in 1869, the son of Yee Look Long and Lee Shee. He left San Francisco on 6 January 1882, before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed on 6 May 1882 and returned on 25 September 1890. Yee Ah Jin applied to land at the port of San Francisco and his application was denied. His uncle Yee Gum Jung signed the petition for his Writ of Habeas Corpus and it was filed by Southard Hoffman, Clerk.

Hon. Judge Ogden Hoffman of the District Court of the United States, Northern District of California District, declared that Yee Ah Jin had been illegally restrained of his liberty by Captain Pearne, Master of the S.S. Gaelic. Yee was discharged from custody of 18 September 1891 and admitted to the United States.

Yee Ah Jin, Form 430 photo
“Yee Ah Jin, Form 430 photo,” 1936, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives at Seattle, Yee Ah Jin case file, Seattle Box 706, file #7030/9143.
Yee made several trips between China and the United States landing in San Francisco in 1910, 1918, 1922, and 1930. The final trip recorded in his file was on 15 December 1937 arriving at the Port of Seattle. He was 68 years old, living in Detroit, Michigan; married to Soo Hoo Shee. His marriage name was Shew June. They had six children–five sons and one daughter. Three sons were living in the United States.

(This file was researched by CEA volunteer, Tamia Duggan.)

Quan You Hing – U.S. Navy – Killed in Action, December 1944

Quan You Hing’s father, Quan Foo 關富(marriage name Soong Woo 崇護) was born in San Francisco on 3 August 1889. By 1939 he had made four trips to China—in 1911, 1923, 1928, and 1932, and was living in Chicago, working at Hugh Sam Laundry. His wife, Moy Shee, was living in China with their four sons and one daughter. Their youngest son, Quan You Hing, was born in Lum Hing village, Hoy Ping, China on 13 October 1924. [His date of birth is also listed as 15 September 1924.] The family moved to Joong Wah Li, Hoy San district in 1930.

There were eight dwelling houses and a school house in the village of Jung Wah Li; four rows with two houses in each row with the school house at the head of the village. This is how Quan Foo described his house:

“It is a regular five-room Chinese house, built of grey house bricks, tile gable roof; tile floors in all the rooms; the open court is paved with stone; two outside doors; large door faces east; two outside windows in each bedroom; one L-shaped loft in each bedroom, along the outside and rear wall and also a cross loft along the rear wall of the sitting-room. One double built-in stove in the small-door side kitchen and also a portable earthen stove in the small-door side kitchen. A rice pounder is located in the sitting room near the west wall and also a rice mill located in the large-door side kitchen. One double skylight in each bedroom covered with glass; no skylight in the kitchen.”

Quan You Hing Aff photos
“Affidavit Photos of Quan Foo and Quan You Hing,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Quan You Hing (Hugh) case file, Seattle Box 792, file 7030/12240.

Quan Foo was bringing his son to the United States in 1939 because the Japanese were invading south China near their village and his son wanted to get away from the war. Ironically only four years later, Quan You Hing joined the U.S. Navy and died serving his adopted country.

There is a note in front of his file, “Killed in action, December 1944, U.S. Navy, Hugh [Quan] You Hing.” There no mention in the file of why or when Quan You Hing joined the U. S. Navy.

According to the muster roll of the U.S.S. Leutze You Hing Quan enlisted on 14 October 1943 and was received on board on 4 March 1944.1 His death is listed under Illinois in the U.S. Navy Casualties Books2: Quan You Hing, Electrician’s mate 3C, USNR. Father, Mr. Foo Quan, 2252 South Wentworth Ave., Chicago.

1. U. S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Ancestry.com, p. 7, Image 24, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group: 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798 – 2007; Series ARC ID: 594996; Series MLR Number: A1 135.
2. Ancestry.com. U.S., Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Chin You – Manager of Royal Restaurant, 9th & Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D.C.

Chin You restaurant ad
“Ad for Royal Restaurant” 1921, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin You case file, Seattle Box 799,file 7030/12562.

Chin You’s file covers the years 1906 to 1940 and has several photos of him at various ages. He lived in Washington, D.C.

Additional information 12/10/2018:

Chin You 1906 to 1940



“Affidavit photos for Chin You and Chin Jin, 1906; #5359 Chin You photo, 1911; Form 430 photo, 1921; Form 430 photo, 1940”, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin You case file, Seattle Box 799,file 7030/12562.

Chin You 陳耀  was born on 3 January 1885 on a fruit farm in San Jose, California and went to China with his parents, Chin Jin 陳真 and Goon She, and his younger brother, Chin Guey, when he was six years old. They lived in Ai Wan Village in the Sun Ning District. Chin You returned when he was 21 years old. He arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from China and after making his way across Canada to Montreal he was admitted to the United States at the Port of Richford, Vermont on 24 November 1906. He was held in detention for four or five days but was admitted after his father Chin Jin who worked at Quong Ying Tung Co in Boston, Massachusetts, swore in an affidavit that Chin You was his son.
Chin You made several trips to China between 1906 and 1940. This is some of the information garnered from his interrogations: His marriage name was Chin Kun Char. His father, whose marriage name was Chin See Thun, came back to the United States about 1897 and died in Boston in 1908. His brother came to the United States a couple of months after their father died.
Chin You married Yee Shee and they had a son, Chin Doon, born in 1912 in China. Chin You registered for the draft on 12 September 1918 in Patterson, New Jersey. The war ended the day after he received his draft card in the mail. Yee Shee died and Chin You remarried Lillian Lerner in 1920 in Baltimore, Maryland.
In 1921 communications from A. R. Archibald the Immigrant Inspector in Baltimore to the Commissioner of Immigration stated that they received an anonymous, rambling letter saying that Chin You was manager of the Royal Restaurant and that he was a bigamist and a draft evader. They investigated, discounted the charges and recommended that Chin You’s application be approved.
Chin You left for China in 1921 and returned in November 1939. On his immigration form he states that his first wife died and the whereabouts of his second wife are unknown. He married again in China to Leong Shee and they had six children, five sons and one daughter. He applied to leave from San Francisco for China in January 1941. His file was approved but there is no further information in the file.

Jay Boo Yum – Portland, OR

Heung Shee, Jay Boo Yum, Jay Yu Nom family portrait
“Heung Shee, Jay Boo Yum, Jay Yu Nom family portrait” 1894, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Jay Boo Yum case file, Portland Box 7,file 1900.

Photo by Thwaites, 167 Fourth St. bet. Morrison and Yamhill, Portland, OR
Jay Boo Yum, born in Portland, Oregon in 1892 was the son of Jay Yu Chong, a well-known jeweler and a member of Fook Sang & Company. Jay Yu Chong, also known as Jay Yu Nom, was born in China and first entered the U.S. at San Francisco in 1877.
Three Caucasian witnesses testified in their behalf– Gus Rosenblatt, M. Billings, and Dr. S. Lewis King when Jay Yu Chong and family left for China in 1894.
Jay Yu Chong had two wives—one in China and one in Portland. He married Heung Shee in San Francisco in 1890. They moved to Portland shortly after they were married. In 1894 Jay Yu Chong applied to visit China with Jay Heung Shee, his 2nd wife, and their two-year old son, Jay Boo Yum. They were going to his home village of Don Jo, in the Nom Hoy district. His first wife, Fung Shee, was living there with her two sons by Jay Yu Chong.
Jay Boo Yum was sick when his parents returned to Portland in 1895 so stayed in China with his extended family. They all lived within a few houses of each other in the center of the village called Gook Tong Fong. Jay Yu Chong regularly sent support money to them.

By 1909 Jay Yu Chong and his 2nd wife had seven children, all born in Portland; five were living. They made a trip to China in 1909 to bring back Jay Boo Yum, their oldest son. Immigration Inspector Barbour interviewed the same three witnesses who had been interviewed in 1894. Gus Rosenblatt swore that he had known Jay Yee Chung for 25 years and took friends to Fook Sang & Company to see the Chinese jewelry. M. Billings who had fire insurance business swore that he had known Jay Yu Chong since around 1890 and S. Lewis King, a physician and surgeon, swore that he delivered Jay Yu Chung’s son, Jay Boo Yum, in 1892.
Jay Yu Chong presented Jay Boo Yum’s Oregon birth certificate for inspection and it was returned to the family. A copy is not in the file.
There were a few discrepancies in the statements taken by Commissioner of Immigration Ellis DeBruler that needed to be cleared up. The applicant stated that his father had one wife but Jay Yu Chong had two wives. Jay Yu Chong explained that his son thought if he said his father had two wives his father may not have been able to enter the country. Jay Boo Chong also thought his father and his second wife only had three children instead of five. He had not been informed about the births of the last two children. J. H. Barbour, Immigration Inspector in Charge, did not think the discrepancies were important enough to exclude Jay Boo Yum because all the other paper work was valid. Jay Boo Yum was admitted to the United States.

Ng Lee Fung – Photos from 1900 to 1939

Ng Lee Fung 伍李芳 was born in San Francisco on 13 July 1879, the son of Ng Dong Ming and Yee She. He travelled to Gon Hon village, Sun Ning district, China, with his parents and older brother, Ng Hock Sing, when he was nine years old. Lee Fung returned to the United States with his brother in 1900 coming through Montreal, Canada via Vancouver, B.C. From there they took a train to Malone, New York. They were arrested on 9 July 1900 for entering the U.S. without the certificate required of Chinese persons when they stepped off the train near Burke, New York and taken to jail. They were kept there over four weeks.

Ng Lee Fung, age 22, and Ng Hom Sing, age 29, appeared in court with their attorney R. M. Moore with the charge of illegal entry into the U.S. Mr. S. C. Chew was their interpreter. Their uncle Ng Wai Ming, age 54, was a witness for them. He was living with his brother in San Francisco at the time of his nephews’ birth. He testified that both were born at 744 Sacramento Street. The uncle stayed in San Francisco when the rest of the family went to China and he eventually moved to the New York City area.
Ng Lee Fung and his brother were found not guilty of the charge since they were U.S. citizens and had a lawful right to be and remain within the United States. They received their Discharge Certificates on 11 August 1900 following the trial by U.S. Commissioner Paddock at Malone, NY. After they were discharged they went to Newark, New Jersey.

Ng Lee Fung 1900 Discharge Certificate
“Discharge Certificate for Ng Lee Fung, ” 1900, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Lee Fung file, Seattle Box 806, 7030/12880.

In 1912 Lee Fung received his Certificate of Identity #9803 at the Port of Seattle. In 1920 he submitted certified copy of the 1900 docket entries by the Clerk of the U.S. Court at Utica and certified copy of the testimony which took place before Commissioner Frederick G. Paddock at Malone, NY. He testified that he had registered for the military draft; presented his registration card showing that he was Class 1A. Ng Lee Fung visited China in 1922 and again in 1927 with his son Ng Jim. Before and after each trip out of the United States, Lee Fung submitted his documents and was interrogated. Each time his paperwork was approved.

Lee Fung made his final to trip China in March 1940 at age 61. His original certificate of identity is included in the file so he probably did not plan on returning to the U.S. His wife died in Gim Sim Village, Sun Ning District, China in September 1939. Lee Fung has a thick file with many interviews, documents and photos—almost forty years of his life.

Ng lee Fung photos 1907 to 1939
“Ng Lee Fung, photos, ” 1907, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1920, 1921, 1926, 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Ng Lee Fung file, Seattle Box 806, 7030/12880.

Benjamin James – 1923 Certificate of Identity sold on EBay

[Amy Chin brought this to my attention in a few weeks ago. The Certificate of Identity for Benjamin James was being offered for sale on Ebay. She did a quick Ancestry search and found a ship manifest and a U.S. Consular application. Mr. James’ record showed that he was born in Philadelphia. His Certificate of Identity was issued in Seattle so she thought there may be a file at Seattle NARA on him. The indexes for San Bruno and NY show they both have files on him.  Amy searched the Social Security Death Index and found a Benjamin James who died July 1969. NARA-NY has files on Benjamin and siblings Harry, Lillie and Arthur. In 1911 Benjamin and at least 2 other siblings returned to China for 10+ years.]

[Amy asked if I could check the Seattle files to see if we could connect a descendant to Benjamin James so they could obtain the Certificate of Identity from Ebay. Unfortunately the certificate sold quickly, before I had a chance to make this blog entry on Benjamin James’ file. ]

Benjamin James 1898 Birth Certificate
“Benjamin James, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1898 birth certificate,” 1908, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Benjamin James file, Seattle Box 109, 734/2-1.”

Benjamin James was born 6 July 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Joe and Tillie James. His birth certificate was presented to immigration in 1911 as proof of his U.S. citizenship before the family left for China.

Instead of inteBenjamin James photo 1911rviewing each of the children individually only Benjamin’s parents were interviewed before they left the U.S. in 1911. Joseph James’ Chinese name was Chu Gee Cim [Gim] and his married named was Chu Chuck. He was born in Ling Yung village, Sun Ning, China about 1852 and came to the U.S. through San Francisco in 1868. He stayed there about eleven years working as a merchant and sometimes a laborer then went to New York City until 1880. He lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New York, New York; and Paterson, New Jersey. He was in Atlantic City in 1894 when he registered as required by the Chinese Exclusion Act and obtained his merchant’s papers. He married Chung Suey Ping, (English married name: Tillie James). She was born in California. They had three sons and five living daughters and a daughter, Sou Ying, who died at age four. Their children, all born in the United States, were Lillie James (Mrs. Lee), Mamie James (Mrs. Bing), Harry James, Annie James, Margaret James, Benjamin James, Alice James, and Arthur James. In 1911 the older children stayed in the U.S. and Joseph and Tillie took Harry, Benjamin, Alice and Arthur to China so they could attend school there.

Benjamin James photo 1923
“Benjamin James, form 430 M143 photos,” 1911 & 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Benjamin James file, Seattle Box 109, 734/2-1.

In 1923 Benjamin James informed Immigration that he would be returning to the U.S. via Seattle in the near future. He gave the immigration officer three photos for his certificate of identity and asked that the certificate be sent to him in San Francisco. In January 1924, writing on stationery from Washman Co., importers and Exporters at 259 Fifth Avenue in New York City, he requested that the certificate be sent to the Washman address. His Certificate of Identity #49650 was forwarded to him there.

[There is no more information in the file.]