Tag Archives: Seattle

Arthur Henry Wong Dock (Wong Bock Cheung) – Professional Wrestler

Arthur was a professional wrestler. He was 27 years old and 6 feet 1-1/2 inches tall in August 1933 when he applied for his Native Return Certificate to leave the U.S. to wrestle in Vancouver, British Columbia; and Honolulu, Hawaii. He planned to stay in Honolulu about three months before returning through San Francisco.

 “Arthur Henry Wong Dock, Return Certificate photo,” 1933, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Arthur Henry Wong Dock (Wong Bock Cheung), Portland case file, Box 96, file 5017/739.

Arthur (Wong Bock Cheung) was born on 11 January 1906 in Chicago, Illinois, to Wong Dock and Anna Josephine McGarry. His mother was Caucasian and he had twin sisters, Victoria, and Gladys.

He married Margaret Chipley, a Caucasian, in Chicago  in June 1929. He used his mother’s maiden name on the marriage certification, so he is listed as Arthur McGarry. They had a daughter, Victoria about 1930.

When interviewed, Roy J. Norene, the examining immigration inspector in Portland, Oregon, commenting on an article about Arthur that appeared in the Sunday, May 14, 1933, Oregonian. The article said that Arthur was born in China. In Arthur’s interrogation, he said he was born in Chicago. Arthur told Norene that it was all publicity, just a publicity stunt. [According to the Cook County, Illinois birth certificate index on Ancestry.com Henry Wong Dock was born in Chicago.] Nothing in the file indicates that the inspector verified Arthur’s place of birth.

Arthur testified that he made a brief trip to British Columbia, Canada in 1932 for a wresting exhibition. He had a Boston file #2500/9543 from 1932 when he made a trip to Montreal, Canada; and a Seattle file 7030/5432 for his trips to Vancouver, B.C.

Arthur must have been very charming. He did not have any problem getting his immigration papers. The Immigration Inspectors all gave him favorable recommendations.

In this excerpt from The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon from 14 May 1933, that was included in the file. The author of the article comments on (Arthur) Wong Bock Cheung’s attractive personality and keen sense of humor. How many of the details in the article are true? Could he really speak four or five languages beside English and Chinese?  Was his father an interpreter for the Chinese and United States governments and weigh 250 pounds? His case file does not mention any of these details.

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.

Woo Quin Lock – rejected/appealed/admitted

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

Woo Quin Lock was born on 3 March 1920 at Kwong Tung, China. He was the son of a U.S. citizen. He arrived at the Port of Seattle on 2 February 1940 on the Princess Charlotte. He was denied admittance on 12 April 1940. His case was appealed on 10 May, and he was admitted on 10 August, more than eight months after his arrival. He received his Certificate of Identity No. 83265 two days later. The exhibits submitted in his case were an affidavit by his father, Woo Yen Tong, three letters written by the applicant to his father and their translations, a sample of the applicant’s handwriting, four Woo Seattle case files and eight San Francisco files for various Woos.

Woo Quin Lock’s father, Woo Yen Tong, swore in an affidavit that he was a United States citizen and that he had proved his citizenship to the Immigration Service after his arrival at the Port of San Francisco on 14 August 1911 and was issued a Certificate of Identity No. 4752. Three photos were attached to his affidavit.

Woo Quin Kwock, Woo Quin Lock, probably Woo Koon Sang
Son: Woo Quin Lock; Father: Woo Yen Tong

“Woo Yen Tong, affidavit,” 1939, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Woo Quin Lock case file, Seattle Box 805, file 7030/12841.

During his 1940 testimony, Woo Quin Lock testified that his father sent him $1,200 in Hong Kong currency to cover his travel expenses. Chin Thick Gee a member of the Mow Fon Goon store in Hong Kong, purchased his ticket for him. His father owned two houses and a social hall in Wan Jew village. Overnight visitors stayed in the social hall which was the 8th house, 9th row, counting from the north. Gar Theung and Gar Thin, sons of his paternal uncle Get Tong were living in the building while they were guests of the family in 1938. The family owned an old house on the north side and a new house on the south side. The interrogator told Woo Quin Lock that his testimony about some of his uncles and cousins and the location of the houses did not agree with his father’s and brother’s testimony.

The case file contains more than sixty pages of documents and testimony. The following is an excerpt from the summary written by the Immigration Committee Chairman:

The alleged father, Woo Yen Tong, was originally admitted at San Francisco in 1909 as the foreign-born son of a native, Woo Gap.

Woo Yen Tong returned to China in 1919. He married Chen Shee and their son; Woo Quin Lock was born before he returned to the United States. He made several trips to China and four sons were born. Woo Quin Lock’s younger brother, Woo Quin Kwock arrived from China in 1939 and was admitted. He was a witness for Woo Quin Lock.

There were many discrepancies between the testimony of the applicant and his brother about their method and date of travel to Hong Kong, where they stayed on the way, and when they got there. The brothers did not agree on when and where their alleged younger brother attended school.

The interrogation committee decided that the relationship between Woo Quin Lock and his father and brother could not be established. They denied Lock admission to the United States, but he had the right to appeal. The case was reopened in April 1940 to reconsider the citizenship of the alleged father. Woo Yen Tong’s brother was called to testify. Woo Fong Tong (marriage name Sik Kew) presented his Certificate of Identity #10738 which was issued to him in San Francisco in 1913. He testified that he was forty-four, born (ca. 1894) in Wan Jew village, Toy San district, China. He was a laborer living in the Chicago Hotel in Spokane, Washington. He made two trips to China in 1921 and 1929 and returned through the port of San Francisco. He identified the photos that were attached to Fook Yen Tong’s affidavit and a photo of their father, Woo Gap, from his 1921 Certificate of Identify that was included in his San Francisco file. He correctly identified all the Woo photos from the Seattle and San Francisco files.

Woo Fong Tong described the burial ceremony for his father Woo Gap (the transcriber made a note that Gap was pronounced NGIP). Woo Gap died in 1929 and Woo Fong Tong took his remains, his whole body, not just his bones, back to China in a regular wooden casket which was placed in a wooden box lined with tin. After their arrival in Wan Jew village the shipping box was removed, and the casket was placed outside the village for a day for visitation by the family. Then the casket was opened briefly to give everyone one last look at the body. They had a regular burial procession with the whole family accompanying the casket to the burial place at Fong Ngow hill, about 2 lis (less than a mile) north of Wan Jew village. After Woo Gap was buried, the family worshipped at his grave.

Woo Gap was married three times and his father was married twice. There was much testimony in the case file about whether the Woo men were stepsons or half-brothers.

In May 1940, P. J. Hansen, wrote a reference letter for Woo Yen Tong, who he called Raymond Woo. Hansen stated that Woo had worked for him for nine years as cannery foreman and he considered him a conscientious and trustworthy employee. He offered his assistance in getting Woo’s son admitted to the United States.

The legal brief for the appeal on behalf of Woo Quin Lock conceded that Woo Quin Lock was a foreign-born son of Woo Yen Tong but left open the question of his father’s citizenship of the United States.  Woo Yen Tong derived his citizenship through his father, Woo Gap. Woo Gap and his second wife Lee Shee were the parents of Woo Yen Tong. Woo Gap married Lee Shee before the death of his first wife which was legal under Chinese law and custom. Woo Gap’s first wife, Chow Shee, the mother of his four sons, was ill for many years and required constant care. Woo Gap’s second wife moved into the household and cared for Chow Shee and the children. Woo Yen Ton was the son of Woo Gap and Woo’s second wife, Lee Shee. He was born before Woo’s first wife died.

Woo Quin Lock’s attorney, Edward E. Merges, brought forward a May 1918 letter written by Philip B. Jones, Immigration Officer at San Francisco to the Commissioner of Immigration at Angel Island stating the merits Woo Gap’s status as a merchant (one of the exemptions to the Exclusion Act). Woo Gap was born in the United States, a merchant in Santa Cruz, California, and well-known by the community and the immigration station. He resided with his wife and their son Woo Yen Tong. They provided a home and schooling for their son which Immigration authorities thought was sufficient proof of their relationship. They were also impressed that Woo Gap was honest about his dual marriage. Woo Yen Tong’s case was submitted to the Central Immigration Office in Washington, D.C. and it was determined that Woo Gap was a citizen of the United States. His son, Woo Yen Tong, had been admitted as the son of a citizen.  Finally, after an eight-month legal battle, Woo Quin Lock was admitted as the son a citizen on 20 August 1940. His new residence was 725 King Street, Seattle, Washington.

Chin Wah – Hoping to return to Salt Lake City from Paris, France in 1925

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

In early October 1925, Julian M. Thomas, Counsellor at Law in Paris, France, wrote to the U.S. commissioner of Immigration in Seattle, Washington, requesting the necessary papers to allow Chin Wah to return to the United States. Chin Wah claimed that he was well-known in Seattle, Washington in 1904 by both the Wa Chong Company and the Quong Tuck Company and many other residents of the city including A.W. Ryan, a policeman; Charles Phillips, a detective; Fred Lyson, a lawyer; and Lee Hoey, a Chinese person.

In June 1904, L. Dan swore in an affidavit that he had lived in the U.S. for more than twenty years and that he knew Chin Wah’s parents when their son, Chin Wah, was born. Dan testified that after Chin Wah’s parents died, Chin lived with him. L. Dan’s wife, Wong Sine, was a sister of Chin Wah’s mother. A. W. Ryan and Charles Phillips, both white citizens of the U.S., and residence of Seattle for more than fifteen years also swore that Chin Wah was born in Seattle. These affidavits were drawn up to prove that Chin Wah was a native-born citizen of Chinese parentage.

“L. Dan, affidavit,” 1904, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Wah case file, Seattle RS Box 222, file RS 30543.

In 1913 in his pre-investigation interview to make a trip to China, Chin Wah testified that he was living in Salt Lake City, Utah, and working at the Grand Restaurant at 47 West 2nd South Street as a cook and sometimes a waiter. He said he was born at North 512 [414 in 1925] Washington Street, Seattle, Washington on 15 January 1890, the son of Chin Chung (Ching/Gin/Gen} [the spelling varies throughout the documents] and Wong Shee. His father died in Sitka, Alaska in 1899. He and his mother moved to Portland, Oregon about 1901. She died a year later. After her death, he went back to Seattle and lived over the store of Quong Gwa Lung Company with his uncle, Ng Yee Loots (L. Dan) and his aunt, his mother’s sister. He attended the Methodist Mission school on Spring Street for about two years. Other places he lived in Washington state were Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima, and Pasco before going to Salt Lake City, Utah about 1910. While in Salt Lake City he worked for U.S. District Judge John A. Marshal, Mr. William H. Childs as a cook, and Captain Burt at Fort Douglas.

“Chin Wah, Form 430 photo,” 1913, CEA, NARA-Seattle, file RS 30543

D. A. Plumly, the examining inspector at Salt Lake City, sent Chin Wah’s application and the original affidavits of the witnesses to Louis Adams, Inspector in Charge at Denver, Colorado. Adams sent everything on to Immigration in Seattle and requested that they re-examine the witnesses since they were residents of Seattle. Adams noted that Inspector Plumly did not expect a favorable report. [There is no explanation of why the documents were sent to Denver.]

J. V. Stewart, the Seattle Chinese Inspector, interviewed all the 1904 witnesses again in 1913. He thought the witnesses only knew someone they thought was Chin Wah as a small child but since they had not seen Chin Wah for many years they could not be sure of his identity. Stewart thought Lee Hoey was a “manufactured witness” and the other witnesses’ information was so vague they could have been talking about several different children. Stewart noted that Chin Wah’s parents did not appear in the 1895 Seattle census of Chinese and rumors said that Ah Dan was known as a gambler and connected with other fraudulent cases. Based on this information Stewart did not approve Chin Wah’s application.

L. Dan was also known as Ah Dan or his married name Ng Yee Yin. He was fifty years old and was born in China. He did not have a certificate of residence. He was living in Port Townsend, Washington and was a merchant with the Yee Sing Wah Kee Company when he was required to register in 1894. [According to the Geary Act of 1892, Chinese who were not registered for a certificate of residence could be arrested and sent to China even if they were born in the United States.] L. Dan lived in Tacoma, Washington, for a year before moving to Seattle where he got to know Chin Gin and his son Chin Wah.

Witness Charles Phillips testified that he was 48 years old and had live in Seattle twenty-six years. He was a city detective. He knew Chin Wah when he was a young child and after being cross examined, he said that he could not state unequivocally if Chin Wah was the son of Chin Ching/Gin.

Witness Lee Hoey, also known as Lee Tan Guhl, stated that he was 66 years old and born in China. He showed the interrogator his certificate of residence. He had lived in Seattle fifteen or twenty years and remember the big fire in June 1889.  He identified a photo of Chin Wah although he had not seen him in over ten years. The interrogator asked Lee Hoey how much he was being paid to testify in this case.  Hoey denied the charge.

A.W. Ryan, another witness, testified in 1913 that he was 56 years old and a sergeant for the Seattle police force for about twenty years. Although he swore that he knew Chin Wah in 1904, he could not be sure that this was the same person in 1913.  Ryan said that at the time of Chin Wah’s birth in 1890 there were only four or five Chinese women in Seattle and maybe twenty-five children. It was his impression that the person he testified in behalf of in 1913 was Chin Wah was the same boy he knew in 1904 but he could not swear to it. Therefore the immigration commissioner, Ellis deBruler, did not approval Chin Wah’s return certification because he did not believe that Chin Wah was born in the U.S.

In October 1925, based on the information and witness statements in Chin Wah’s file, the documents were not approved so were no papers to forward to Paris so Chin Wah could be allowed to return to the U.S.

[This file does not tell us when Chin Wah left the U.S. or why he left when his application for departure was not approved. Without the approval, he would have known that it would be extremely difficult to re-enter the U.S. There are no clues about what he was doing between 1913 and 1925 or why was he investigated in Denver, Colorado, or what was he doing in Paris, France, in 1925. If he had been allowed to arrive at a port in the U.S. and then interrogated, some of these questions may have been answered. Unfortunately, we may never know the rest of Chin Wah’s story.]

Long Mi-Na and Long Nee-Sa — Long Tack Sam Troupe

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19. A few months ago, I emailed the staff at seattle.archives@nara.gov with my request for the files for Long Mi-Na and Long Nee-Sa. The request went into the queue and when my number came up a staff member scanned the files and emailed them to me. They are the greatest!]

“Long Mi-Na & Long Nee-Sa correspondence photos,” 1929, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Long Mi-Na and Long Nee-Sa case file, Seattle Box 334, file 7022/18-3 & 7022/18-4.

Long Mi-Na, age 23, and Long Nee-Sa, age 21, were the daughters of Long Tack Sam. They were actresses and members of the Long Tack Sam Troupe who made several tours the United States and Canada. There were twelve members of the troupe. On this trip to Vancouver, B.C. they left Seattle on 23 November 1932 by boat, returned via the Great Northern Railway, and were identified and admitted at Blaine, Washington, one week later.

The troupe was bonded by the National Suety Company granted by Department of Labor.

The initial correspondence in the files was for their 1929 tour. On that tour, they left the U.S. in March for vaudeville engagements at Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, Canada; and reenter at Seattle in April 1929 to continue their tour in the United States. They were allowed to stay in the U.S. for six months. A bond of $1,000 was paid for each of the twelve members of the troupe. The substantial amount of the bond was to assure that all the members of the troupe would depart the U.S. at the end of the six-month period.

[Unfortunately, files for travelers such as actors, actresses, acrobats, and vaudeville members, usually do not contain much information. Most do not include a photograph.  Mi-Na and Nee-Sa’s files were only six pages but each file included a photo.]

See more information about Long Tack Sam from an earlier post.

Chin Hai Soon AKA Chan Mei Chen (1904 – 1982) by Kevin Lee

A big thank you to Kevin Lee of Australia for today’s blog post. Kevin summarized about 150 pages from three family Chinese Exclusion Act case files to give us a peek into his family history.

[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 – THN]

Chin Hai Soon, also known as Chan Mei Chen (photo courtesy of Kevin Lee)

Chin Hai Soon AKA Chan Mei Chen 陳美珍, home domestic (September 1904 – 29 March 1982)

She was the daughter, the granddaughter, the wife, the sister, the aunt, the great aunt, the grandmother, the great grandmother of Chinese Americans. 

One of the significant consequences of Congress passing the 1875 Page Act and multiple Chinese Exclusion Act (CEA) bills in 1882, 1892, 1902 and 1904 was that Chinese women were kept out of the United States. Female immigration to the U.S. was made extremely difficult, and it resulted in families being kept apart for years or decades. Without women, there would not be family, progeny, children, lineage – the Chinese population in the U.S. would just die off, which was the intention of the laws.

I learned more about my grandmother’s life 40 years after she passed away, than when she was alive, by visiting the National Archives at Seattle in November 2019, prior to the Coronavirus shutdown. The National Archives of Australia (NAA) operates similarly to the National Archives and Records Administration in the U.S., and Australia also had the ignominy of slavery (where the Indigenous / Aboriginal population suffered) and the White Australia Act (which excluded non-Europeans from immigrating; a policy just as discriminatory as the CEA).

Chin Cheo 陳超 and his family details, including daughter Chin Hai Soon, on an affidavit dated 26 December 1925, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, National Archives-Seattle, #7031/325.

From these 3 important CEA files in the National Archives facility at Sand Point Way, Seattle:

  • Great grandfather, CHIN Chear Cheo AKA CHIN Gon Foon (22 August 1871 – 6 March 1939 Seattle), case file no. 39184/2-12 (previously 682, 15844 and 30206)
  • Great uncle, CHIN Wing Quong 陳榮光 (5 September 1900 – 1918 Seattle), case file no. 28104
  • Great uncle, CHIN Wing Ung  陳榮棟 AKA Donald Wing-Ung CHIN (28 October 1913 – 5 September 2005), case file no. 7031/325 (previously 4985/10-3, 4989/10-3)

I was able to revive family members who had been long forgotten about or completely unknown, by constructing a family tree.

Chin family tree based on three Chinese Exclusion Act case files, National Archives-Seattle

By virtue of these 3 files at Seattle, I was able to establish my grandmother’s:

  • Real name / birth name: CHIN Hai Soon (pronounced in the Toisan dialect as ‘Ah Soon’) or CHAN Tai Shin (in the Cantonese dialect). She was a member of the Chin or Chan family; the different spellings are used interchangeably.
  • Mother’s name: Love SEETO, also known as SEE TOW Shee.
  • Adolescent name: CHAN Mei Chen 陳美珍 meaning treasure, valuable, precious, rare, which she certainly was.
  • Place of birth: in the village of Mi Gong, also spelled as Mai Kong, in the town of Hong Gong Lee, in the county of Hoi Ping, in the province of Kwangtung, Imperial China
  • Conception date: December 1903. This was based on CHIN Cheo’s file, as he departed Seattle on 31 October 1903, to sail 3 weeks onto Hong Kong, and then a further day to travel to the village near Canton City, Kwangtung Province, to meet-up with his wife, Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee, whom he had not seen for over 3 years.
  • Date of birth: September 1904
  • CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen did not see her father when she was born, since he had already left Mainland China, travelled onto British Hong Kong in July 1904 to do business, as he was a merchant / co-owner / manager of Wing Sang Company, 412 Seventh Avenue, South, and Sang Yuen Company, 660 King Street, both in Seattle.
  • CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen grew up with her paternal grandfather CHIN Gin Heung (in the Toisan dialect) or CHAN Yen Hing (in the Cantonese dialect), as the only male influence in her life, because her father CHIN Cheo 陳超  lived 59 out of his lifetime of 67 years in the United States. Her grandfather CHIN Gin Heung / CHAN Yen Hing had come back to Mi Gong village from Seattle, 10 years prior to her birth. He had lived in the USA continuously for 12 to 13 years, firstly in San Francisco, then in Seattle, working as a laundryman from 1880 to 1892/1893, and heading back to the village in China prior to his 50th birthday, to celebrate with his family using his hard-earned wealth, and prior to the law requiring him to hold a U.S. Certificate of Residency. No CEA case file of CHIN Gin Heung / CHAN Yen Hing could be found in either San Bruno, California nor Seattle, Washington, as his arrival and departure dates from the USA were too early for Customs and Immigration to have kept records.
  • 1st time meeting father: 1912 as an 8-year-old girl, when CHIN Cheo sailed out of Mi Gong, via Hong Kong, to procreate again with Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee to produce a future brother and future Seattle resident CHIN Wing Ung (case file no. 7031/325).
  • 2nd and final time meeting father: 1919 as a 15-year-old adolescent when CHIN Cheo came back with a heavy heart from Seattle to Mi Gong to announce to Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee of the death of her older brother CHIN Wing Quong (case file no. 28104) in Seattle, and to bring back his remains. CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen remembers the hysteria and grief felt by her mother Love SEETO / SEE TOW Shee over the loss of the number 1 son from accidental poisoning at the drug store co-located within the Wing Sang Company, a business managed and part-owned by her father, CHIN Cheo in Seattle.
  • Date of marriage: 1925, as a 21-year-old, to YU Fu Lok AKA YEE Wing Hon, of Num Bin / Nom Bing Chuen, who was a resident of Ohio and Michigan (case file not yet found). CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen, being in China, only met her U.S.-based husband 4 times during their marriage, and 3 of those occasions were to conceive a child, with the last pregnancy being the birth of my mother, YU Siu Lung (later known as Siu Lung YU LEE 李余小濃) in 1936.
  • Date of death: CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen died on 29th March 1982 in Num Bin / Nom Bing village, Hoi Ping county, surrounded by close family members, but separated by distance and time from her U.S.-based father CHIN Cheo, two U.S.-based brothers, CHIN Wing Quong and Wing Ung, and her U.S.-based husband, YU Fu Lok / YEE Wing Hon.

Living in China sadly meant my grandmother did not see these 4 U.S.-based family members for many years:

  • Father, CHIN Cheo from mid-1904 – January 1913 (the first 8 years of her life); from September 1913 – May 1919 (a gap of 5½ years); from mid-1921 – 6 March 1939 death in Seattle (the last 17½ years of his life)
  • Older brother, CHIN Wing Quong, from mid-1910 – late 1918 death in Seattle (the last 8 years of his life)
  • Younger brother, CHIN Wing Ung AKA Donald Wing-Ung CHIN, from September 1932 until late 1981 (a separation of 49 years or almost ½ a century, caused by firstly the Japanese invasion of China, then World War II and then the Communist regime in China closing its borders).
  • Husband, YU Fu Lok / YEE Wing Hon, from 1938 – 1961 (not seen for 23 years until his death in Detroit).

1982 letter sent from China to Donald Wing Ung CHIN in Seattle to advise of the death of his older sister, CHIN Hai Soon / CHAN Mei Chen (courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Seattle, item no. 2001_030_001b)

The damage of 60-plus years of the Chinese Exclusion Act was irreparable, as it split Chinese males living in the USA from their families back home in China. It meant daughters and wives did not have strong male influences, and family sizes were kept small. It was only by uncovering the CEA files at the National Archives that I learnt of the many facts that had been kept secret about my family for 140 years.

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.

Long Tack Sam – Internationally Renowned Magician & Acrobat

[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]

There is not much information in Long Tack Sam Company’s file. The cover sheet shows that the file contains information on actors who were members of the Long Tack Sam Company. They were admitted at Blain [sic], Wn. [Washington], ex G. N. train [Great Northern Railway], June 17, 1923.  (See 10770/1-1 to 12). It was an inventory file. The subjects were listed as Long Tack Sam, Long Lieu (Lan Ludovika), Fang Ching Hai, Sih Qua Ling, Sang Chi Hwa, Wang Kuh Yong and Li Koy Dohien.

Page 1:  23 June 1920 letter from Pantages Theatre Company, Inc., Seattle, Washington to U.S. Immigration in Seattle, notifying them that Long Tack Sam Company of Chinese magicians would be returning to the port of Seattle on Sunday, 27 June at 9 p.m.

Page 2: 7 May 1923 letter on Long Tack Sam Company stationary to Seattle Immigration Service regarding Chang Chang Ching with an attached photo of Chang.


Photo of Chang Chang Ching

Page 3: photos 1-7 with names listed  [not dated]

Page 4: five photos of nine actors with names listed  [not dated]

Page 5: eight photos of eight actors with names listed [not dated]

“Long Tack Sam and members of the Long Tack Sam Co.” 1923, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Long Tack Sam Company case file, Seattle Box 1306, files 38772/1-1 to 1-9.

John Jung posted this video of Long Tack Sam on Facebook:

Here’s the promo for it:
“This feature documentary offers a whimsical tour through the history of Chinese magicians and performers in the Western world. Long Tack Sam was an internationally renowned Chinese acrobat and magician who overcame isolation, poverty, cultural and linguistic barriers, extreme racism and world wars to become one of the most successful acts of his time. Filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming travels the globe searching for the story of her great-grandfather, the cosmopolitan Long Tack Sam. A celebration of the spirit of Long Tack Sam’s magic and art, this richly textured first-person road movie is an exhilarating testament to his legacy and a prismatic tour through the 20th Century.”

David Loo – Passport, father’s Hawaiian birth certificates & family photo

David Loo Passport photo 1941

David Loo, (Chinese name Lu Min-i), age 21, and his sister, Mimi Loo, age 19, arrived at the Port of Seattle, Washington, on 7 June 1941 and were admitted as U. S. citizens two days later. David and Mimi would temporarily be staying with their sister, Marion Loo, in Hollywood, California. Their father, Teddy Loo-Tin (Loo Ping-Tien or Loo Chit Sam), was born in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, on 16 August 1884. Their mother, Chen Kwan Har, remained in China.
Loo Chit Sam Hawaii Birth Cert 1898

Loo David's father's Hawaii Birth Cert 1894

David Loo was born in Tientsin, China on 8 September 1919. Before leaving China, David completed two years of study at the University of St. Johns in Shanghai. During his interrogation, he testified that their home had thirteen or fifteen rooms and they had three servants. (The Japanese tore down two rooms and the garage when they widened the street in front of their house leaving them with two less rooms.) They had owned a 1932 Ford V-8 but sold it about 1938. Whenever they stayed in Peking, they all rode bicycles. David’s father was an agent for a rug company. He smoked Camel cigarettes and currently had a beard and sometimes a mustache. The family traveled a good deal and two on the brothers were born in Australia. David’s witnesses were his sister, Marion, and Mrs. Bessie C. Jordan of Seattle. Jordan was his teacher at the American School in Peking for two years. David’s file includes a photo of him with his six siblings: Susane, Milton, Minto, Michael, Marion, and Mimi. David was the second youngest.
Loo David Family photos group

 

 

 

 

 

 

In April in preparing to leave China, Mimi Loo wrote to the Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau in Seattle, Washington, to inform them that she and her brother were planning on traveling to the U.S. with Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Drews, her teacher at the American School in Peking. The American Embassy had advised them to leave for the United States. Their father had registered his children at the American Consulate General in Tientsin and Shanghai and filed their records with the State Department. Their brother, Michael Loo was admitted to the U.S. at San Pedro, California, in September 1935 (file #14036/87-A) and their sister, Marian Loo, was admitted at San Francisco in May 1940 [file # not included].

Marion Loo swore in an affidavit that David Loo and Mimi Loo, the children of Loo Tim, were her siblings,

David was issued Certificate of Identity No. 84834 upon arrival. Once David was settled, he registered for the draft for military service.

[A copy of Mimi Loo’s interrogation is included in David Loo’s file. Mimi Loo’s Seattle file is #7030/13572. There is no further information in the file.]

“David Loo passport photo, ca. 1941; Loo Chit Sam & Loo Tim, born 1884, copies of Hawaiian birth certificates, 1898 & 1901; Loo family photo, ca. 1926,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Loo David case file, Seattle Box 825, file 7030/13566.

Tam Sing – native-born U.S. citizen returns after 31 years in China

In May 1894 Tam Sing 譚勝 registered in the first district of California as a native-born Chinese person and received certificate of residence No. 81,385.

In 1897 Tam Sing visited China and married Wong Shee at Wing Wah Toon village. His marriage name was Hoy Gui. He returned to the U.S. four years later. In 1902 he visited China again.Tam Sing 1902 MerchantBefore he left San Francisco in 1902, Tom Sing [this is the only document where he is referred to as Tom instead on Tam] swore in a Declaration of Chinese Merchant that he was

“a merchant in good standing, and a member of the firm of Lun Chong & Company, engaged in buying and selling Chinese Mdse. and Provisions, at a fixed place of business, to wit: at 819-821 Dupont Street, San Francisco…”

His witnesses were Henry Mohr, Charles N. Peck, and William M. Dye.

Tam Sing returned to the U.S. in 1905.

Tam Sing [of the Hom Clan] swore in an affidavit in Salt Lake, Utah in July 1908 to the following information:

Tam Sing, son of Tam Shuck Dip, a San Francisco merchant, and Lee Shee, was born in San Francisco on 29 September 1876.  He stayed in the U.S. when his parents returned to China with his brother in 1886. His father died at his home in Wing Wah Toon, Sun Ning, Canton, China the following year. His mother and brother remained in their village.

On this trip to China Tam Sing was hoping to bring back his two minor sons. Unfortunately, his wife and two sons died in 1908 during an epidemic. It isn’t clear if Tam Sing arrived in their village before or after their deaths.

Later Tam Sing married Jee Shee. They moved to Toy San City and had five sons and two daughters. He worked at Sai Ning market.

Thirty-one years later Tam Sing was applying to return to the United States.

When he arrived in Seattle in 1939, he was interviewed before a Board of Special Inquiry. Tam Sing testified that when in the U.S. he lived mostly in San Francisco but was in Ogden, Utah and Montello, Nevada from 1906 to 1908. He satisfied his interrogators by answering several questions about the history and topography of San Francisco. Because he had been away in China for so many years, Tam Sing did not have any witnesses who could vouch for him. He presented a 1908 certificate of membership in the Native Sons of the Golden West with his photo attached; a letter from the Citizens Committee dated 1906; a receipt for Red Cross funds dated 1906; and a 1906 acknowledgement receipt of money from Chinese residents of Montello, Nevada.

After careful consideration the Board members believed the applicant to be the same person as the photograph and description on his certificate of residence. Tam Sing was admitted thirty-seven days after he arrived in Seattle on the Princess Marguerite on 23 August 1939. He surrendered his 1894 Certificate of Residence and was issued a Certificate of Identity in 1941 when he was planning a temporary trip to China.

Tam Sing’s Form 430, Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Preinvestigation of Status, lists his San Francisco file number 53828.

“Tam Sing/Tom Sing, photos and documents” 1902, 1908, 1941; Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Tam Sing case file, Seattle Box 794, file 7030/12347.