Woo Bak Sue – Released after paying detention costs $25.05 in 1899
Woo Bak Sue was born on 10 August 1884 in Seattle, Washington Territory, just two years after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed and five years before Washington Territory became a state. His parents, Woo Tai Gap and Chew See, took Bak Sue to China when he was about five years old. Bak Sue came back to the United States through Port Townsend in the summer of 1899 when he was fifteen years old. When he arrived he was arrested, put in detention and given a hearing. A writ of habeas corpus was issued stating that he had been detained without authority of law and that he was entitled to be released on the grounds that he was a native born citizen. The order of discharge was made by Judge C. H. Hanford of the U.S. District Court, Northern Division, District of Washington. Woo Bak Sue was released after paying for the costs of his detention amounting to $25.05. He asked that his photograph be attached to his discharge papers and that the papers be certified and sent to him.
He made three trips to China after 1899—1904 to 1905, 1910 to 1911, and 1915 to May 1938. When Woo Bak Sue applied to leave for China in 1903 his Caucasian witnesses were J. F. McGee and D. G. Rinehart. They both swore that they were residents and citizens of Seattle for the last twenty years and were well acquainted with Bak Sue and his parents. Woo Gen of the Wa Chong Co. sent a letter on company stationery to Thomas M. Fisher, Chinese Inspector, Office of the Collector of Customs in Port Townsend saying he would be a witness for Bak Sue if requested.
When Bak Sue was returning in 1911, the immigration inspector asked him if he knew any of the Chinese at the detention house. He said he knew Woo Bing Gee. There were no followup questions asked.
Woo Bak Sue’s son, Woo Sze Hong, arrived in Seattle in September 1938. His Seattle file number is 7030/11336. In October 1938 Woo Bak Sue was applying to return to China because he wasn’t feeling well. His application was approved. Bak Sue’s marriage name was Woo Gun Lum. He had a wife and six sons and two daughters in Nom On Village, Hoy San District. The village had 26 houses in three rows, facing south. He and his family lived in the 6th house, 6th lot, 2nd row. He had a grocery business there called Ow San Market.
[The file contains photos of Woo Bak Sue from 1903, 1910, 1912, 1915 and 1938.]
Lai Ziang was born in Hankow, Hupeh Province, China on 11 May 1897. In 1919 she was living with her mother and sister in Shanghai; her father was deceased. Her sister, Mrs. Joseph D. Jensen, was a widow with children whose Danish husband died about 1915.
On 6 February 1919 Lai Ziang married Charles Robert Snaith Bryant, a master licensed mariner, at the American Consul. He was 42 years old and she was 21. When they arrived in Seattle in April 1919 their marriage certificate was examined by Immigration officials and returned to them. It stated that Charles R. S. Bryant was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and they were united in marriage by Rev. G. A. Fitch, a duly ordained minister of the American Presbyterian Church.
Immigration also examined Mrs. Bryant’s passport, endorsed by J. B. Sawyer, Vice Consul at Shanghai; and a Declaration of Alien About to Depart for the United States, form 228. The items were approved and returned to Mr. Bryant. Bryant was asked why he was bringing his wife to the United States. He said it was to allow her to have his company and to give her an education. In both 1916 and 1917 he was absent nine months, “and she said that was no home life.”
The witnesses for her 1919 application were Neville Craig, U.S. Court for China, and Walter H. Meyers of Seattle, Washington. Her application was approved.
Their travels between 1919 and 1927 are not mentioned in the file. In 1927 Mr. and Mrs. Bryant arrived in San Francisco from Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. Mrs. Bryant was delayed because she did not have a Certificate of Identity. Bryant complained to Immigration Services in Seattle because they were not given the proper documents when she arrived in 1919. He said they were very embarrassed because their landing was delayed until the paperwork could be verified. [The file does not say how long the delay was but it could have been hours or days.]
The Bryants left Seattle again in 1931. A letter in the file says she was identified by photographs and her Certificate of Identity No. 58341. [They made sure they had the paperwork in order this time.] There is no more information in the file after 1931.
Miss Senn was born on 21 March 1882 in Shin Hing, China. She first came to the United States in 1896 as a young student. She attended various schools including Baptist Mission Training School in Chicago, Illinois; Home Mission Society in Portland, Oregon; McMinnville School, McMinnville, Oregon; Adelphi College in Seattle, Washington; and Lewis Institute in Chicago. She obtained her B. S. degree from Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois in 1916. When she wasn’t going to school, she taught at mission schools.
Senn returned to China in 1918 and was a missionary/teacher at the Girls’ School for the South China Mission. Miss Senn’s witnesses on her 1918 application were Shailer Matthews, Dean of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and Miss Nellie G. Prescott, Foreign Secretary Woman’s American Baptist Foreign Mission Society of Boston, Massachusetts.
Senn came back to the U.S. in 1924 and received her M. A. degree from Boston University in 1926. She left again for China to continue her work as a missionary/teacher. In 1937 she returned to study theology at Biblical Seminary in New York City. She had a scholarship covering one-half the tuition, room and board. Mrs. W. H. Dietz of Chicago was helping her pay the other half of her expenses.
Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, there is a “Certificate of Admission of Alien” form in the file dated 25 May 1948. It states that Senn’s status was “changed from Section 4-e student to student returning to relinquished domicile in June 1924, under which status she was entitled to permanent residence.”
[Information not included in the files: Pauline Poy Ling Senn was naturalized on 14 February 1955 in Massachusetts1. She died 4 June 1979, age 97, in Alameda, California2.]
1. U.S. Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995, “Index to Naturalization Petitions and Records of the U.S. District Court, 1906-1966, and the U.S. Circuit Court, 1906-1911, for the District of Massachusetts,” database on-line, Ancestry.com (http://www.Ancestry.com : accessed 15 Mar 2017).
2. California, Death Index,” California Death Index, 1940-1997,” database on-line, Ancestry.com (http://www.Ancestry.com : accessed 15 Mar 2017).
Mah Sun Inng was born in Bak Sar village, Sunning District, China about 1901. He was the son of Mah Sin Dung, a merchant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His mother lived in China. Mah landed in Seattle in 1919 and was admitted as a Section 6 student. After graduating from Wilson’s Modern Business College in February 1922 from the bookkeeping course and the scientific salesmanship course he became a merchant for Quon On Company on 660 King Street in Seattle. He had worked there part time as a salesman while he was going to school.
In 1922 Mah Sun Inng was applying for a one-week visit to his father in Vancouver, B.C. Earl H. Senn, an electrician in Seattle, was a witness for Mah. Senn testified that he had done a lot of work on Mah’s car. H. E. McGoldrick, an automobile electrician, also testified that he had worked on Mah’s car. [Neither one mention what type of car Mah owned and the interrogators did not ask about it.]
[The 8-page program for the 27th annual graduation exercise for the Wilson’s Modern Business College contains a listing of the class officers, class honors, the program, and graduates of the 1921 courses for shorthand, full commercial, bookkeeping, and scientific salesmanship.]
Woo Bing, manager of the Qwong Tuck Company in Seattle, was a witness for Bertha Hoy when she returned from China in 1923. [See 24 October 2016 blog entry for Bertha Hoy.] Woo Bing showed the interrogators a departure book with the names of hundreds of Chinese departing for China. It listed the Hoy family’s departure on 30 August 1908 and was the proof Bertha Hoy needed to be admitted into the U.S. The Wing Luke Museum has materials from the Quong Tuck store but the departure books are not among them. This photo of Woo Bing is courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum.
Bertha Hoy’s birth certificate describes her as a white, female; the daughter of Tom Jung Hoy and Long Ho Hoy, born on 25 January . The date of record is 3 April 1905 and the date at the top of the document is 21 July 1908. Her father was 33 years old and was born in China. Her mother was 20 years old and her place of birth is not entered. The family resided at 5512 5th Avenue, New York City. This was their second child. A current photo [ca. 1923] of Bertha Hoy is stapled to the certificate.
The family left for China from Seattle on 30 August 1908.
Bertha Hoy returned from China on 17 January 1923. Her application for Certificate of Identity includes her Chinese name, Jung Bik Ha. Bertha presented a copy of her birth certificate as proof that she was a U.S. citizen.
An Immigrant Inspector thought it was necessary to compare her birth certificate No. 7595 with the original record on file at the Brooklyn Board of Health. A comparison was made in the presence of Dr. S. J. Byrne, whose check marks appear on the official copy and he verified it as genuine.
Witness Woo Bing, manager of the Qwong Tuck Company in Seattle, was called forth. He exhibited a Qwong Tuck Company’s departure book showing the names of hundreds of Chinese that departed for China. The book listed the Jung Hoy family’s departure on 30 August 1908.
[A note at the bottom of the interview says, “The book above mentioned shows Chinese departing for China from the year 1906 to December 3, 1912.”]
The Board of Special Inquiry unanimously agreed to admit Bartha Hoy to the United States as a returning native-born Chinese.
[Nothing in the file mentions anything about Bertha Hoy’s birth certificate listing her as “White.” They may have decided that it was a clerical error not worth pursuing.]
Chin Hing’s marriage name was Chin Fook Hing but he also went by Hing Henry. He was born in Canton, China on 1 September 1875 at one a.m. [It is very unusual to see the time of birth listed in a file.] His father, Chin Suey, was born in San Francisco and his mother was Woo Shee was born in China. Family information was included in a bible and a generation book. His grandfather, Chin Yick, was one of the first Chinese to come to San Francisco. He was married to an Indian woman and worked in the gold mines and then a fruit orchard. After the grandfather’s wife died in 1874 he and his son, Chin Suey, went to China. Chin Suey married Woo Shee soon after he arrived and they had a son, Chin Hing. The family moved back to San Francisco about 1881. Years later they moved to Seattle and Chin Hing became a merchant at Kwong Wa Chong Company. In 1910 Chin Hing visited China and married Tah Soo Len who was born in Los Angeles. Their two children, Chin Hing Henry and Chin Josephine were born in Seattle. At the time of his interview in 1922, Chin Hing was a merchant and member of Chong Hing & Co., at 676 King Street in Seattle.
The interpreter explained to the interviewer that the generation book was a history of Chin Fook Hing’s family for eighteen generations and dated back over three hundred years.
Witnesses for Chin Hing:
Julius Schweigart, in the art and picture business, a resident of Seattle since 1906.
Otto Guthman, salesman at National Grocery Co., Seattle; resident of Seattle since 1905.
Woo Gen, merchant and member of Kwong Wa Chong Co., Wa Chong Co., and Washington Rice Mill Company; resident of Seattle 36 years.
Chin Hing (Chin Fook Hing) died in Seattle on 16 November 1941. A copy of his obituary from 22 November 1941 issue of the Seattle Times is included in the file.
Excerpts from the obituary:
“A German knitter befriended Mr. Chin and taught him the knitting business and in 1911, with no capital, Mr. Chin established the Chong Hing Knitting Company, 504 12th Ave. S. of which he was general manager until his death.”
“Mr. Chin was the first Chinese to serve as a juror in King County Superior Courts. He was past treasurer of the Seattle Chinese Patriotic League and the Seattle Chinese Nationalist Association.”