Tag Archives: Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin

Ng Ah Yun – born in Port Townsend, WA, Cont’d

This is a continuation of the blog entry for !5 September 2022.

In  October 1913 (Ng)  Ah  Yun  filed an “Application of Alleged American-Born Chinese for Preinvestigation of Status” to visit China. His photograph was taken, and this description was listed as: age: 24; height: 5 ft. 6 in; occupation: cannery man; mole on chin  below  lower lip;  left ear pierced; pit– right forehead. He said his correct name was Young, not Yun and that he lived at Wa Young Company store, 416 Eighth Avenue South, Seattle. [He was probably  living  above the store.] Ah  Yun considered himself a general laborer. Although he worked in the cannery, he also worked as a cook and sometimes in laundries. [Even Chinese who were born in the U.S. had to go through this whole investigation process every time they left or re-entered the country.]

(Ng) Ah Yun returned from China on the Ex S.S. Ixion in April 1915. While there he married Wong She and they had a son, Bak Sing. Ah Yun was asked about his brother, Ah Don. He told the interviewer that Ah Don had married Lin She, who had natural feet. They had one son, age two.

Chinese were usually  asked if  their wife  or mother had bound or natural  feet. This was probably one of many questions asked to see if his answer was consistent each time he left or entered the U. S.]

In May 1915 (Ng) Ah Yun received his certificate of identity. This certificate contained his photo, was made of sturdy  paper and, at 4-by-9 inches in size, fit into a durable storage sleeve; making it much easier and safer for him to carry than court discharge papers. He was required  to carry the certificate with him at all times.

In June 1917, Ah Yun registered for the military draft in Hartford, Connecticut. His registration lists him as “Wah Young,” although he signed his name “Wu Ah Young” and he gave his date of birth as 29 October 1889, instead of 23 August 1889. The rest of the information agrees with previous facts about him.  At that time, he was working as a waiter at a Cantonese Restaurant and living at 257 Asylum Street.  The physical description of him says that he had lost a toe[3]

Wah Young WW I Draft Registration Card, side 1
Wah Young WW I Draft Registration Card, side 2

 [Note: The draft registration card is not included in his case file, but it is referred to in the file. Without this information in the file, it would be hard to know that he had registered for the draft. This is the only  document that says he was living in Connecticut  at  that  time. Because of the differences in the spelling of his name and in his date of birth, it would have been difficult to make the connection between Ah Yun and his draft registration. There is no additional information given about his missing toe.]

In November 1919 Ng Ah Yun again applied to leave the U.S. He went through an interrogation process similar to the interview he had had in 1913. New information revealed that his father, Yee Kong, had  died in 1912 in Song Leung village; his  mother’s brother, Si  Chuck, who lived in Gow Ngok Won, had also died. Ng Ah Yun said he had married in 1913 and his son, Ng  Bok Sen, was born in  1914. His marriage name was Ng See Tong. He stated that he was in poor health at that time.

Ah Yun was in New York City at the time he applied for his passport. James V. Storey, Customs Broker at William A. Brown & Co. was his identifying witness. Ah Yun paid a $2 application fee.[4]

In December 1919 Ng  Ah Yun received his passport so he could go to Hong Kong to visit his mother and family. The passport had a current photo, gave his age and a physical description.

Ah Yun Passport, 1919, CEA, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, 7030/6363.

Ng Ah Yun returned to the port of Seattle on the S.S. Bay State in May 1922. His life had changed. He had a second son, Ng Bok Chung (Teung), and his wife had died, probably in childbirth. He had remarried, to a woman named Chin She, who also had natural feet. She remained in China.

Ah Yun Form 30 photo, 1926, CEA, RG 85, NARA-Seattle, 7030/6363.

Ng Ah  Yun applied for his third trip back to China in August 1926. His third son, Bok Wong, was born  a few months after his return to Seattle in 1922, and he was probably anxious to see him. Ng Ah  Yun returned  to the United States through Seattle in July 1927, on the SS President McKinley.

At age forty-five, Ng Ah Yun once again went to visit his family in China. He was still living in New York City and working as a laundryman. His oldest son, Ng Bok Sing, had been living in the United States as well, but went back to China through Seattle in 1933. His other son (by his first wife), Bok Chung, was living  in Song Lung village in China. Ng Ah Yun’s second wife had given birth to another son, Bok Teung, born in 1927 after her husband’s last visit. Bok Teung was almost seven years old before his father met him for the first time.

Ng Ah Yun returned to Seattle on the SS President Jackson in November 1936. He now had six children, all sons, and one son, Ng Bok Sing, was living in the United States.

Not all Chinese Exclusion Act case files give this much information, although some give even more.  This case file provided information for a four-generation genealogy chart, contained six photos of Ah Yun from 1907 to 1934, a photo of his brother in 1907, addresses where Ah Yun had lived over the years, information about his extended family in China, and a 1919 passport. More family information  could be obtained from Charley Quong’s case file and the files of his siblings who were born in the United States. The file refers to other documents easily obtained–passenger lists, World  War I draft registration information, and the file of the son who was living in the United States. The file has a wealth of genealogical information and gives clues to finding much more information on the extended family.

This information was obtained from Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files ca. 1895-1943, Record Group 85; National Archives- Seattle, Ng Ah Yun, Case 7030/6363. The 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.

[3]United States, Selective Service System, “World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration  Cards, 1917-1918,” database on-line, National  Archives and Records Administration. M1509, Ancestry.com (:accessed 22 August 2022), Wah Young, Hartford, Conn, No. 1597;citing  FHL, Roll1561897; Draft Board 2.

[4] Ng Ah Yun, 1919 Passport Application #4551, National  Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications for Travel to China, 1906-1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 1244180 / MLR Number  A1 540;  Box#: 4448; Volume#: 35; Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007; accessed 22 August  2022.