The following is an example of how a Chinese Exclusion Act case file can add to your family history. Cathy Lee had numerous family stories about her great-aunt, Grace Chen, but there were many dates and places missing. Once Grace’s Chinese Exclusion Act file was found, Cathy searched additional archives and libraries and found more documents about her aunt. The article below is the culmination of the Cathy’s research and the fascinating story of the life of Grace Chen. Go to article at Grace Chen by Cathy Lee
“Grace Chen, Section Six Precis photo”1928, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Grace Chen case file, Seattle Box 1102, file 9666/2-7.
Rose Leong left Seattle by boat on Sunday morning, 24 October 1943 and returned a week later on 31 October on the S.S. Princess Alice. She was traveling with May Fun Kim (May Mar) and Kathleen Wong. They were visiting Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on vacation. Rose was twenty years old; born on 12 May 1923 in Seattle; the daughter of Leong Yip and Chin Shee. Rose was single, employed as a clerk at Boeing and lived with her family at 216 17th South, Seattle. She had never been out of the United States.
During Rose’s application interview she identified photos of her parents and her brother, Leong Gim Lin, who went back to China about 1931 and did not return. She had two brothers and a sister in the United States. Her brother, Robert Leong, age 20, was serving in the U.S. Army at Camp Sheridan, Illinois. Her bother, Jimmie Leong, age 16; and sister, Gene Leong, age 8, were both living at home. Rose attended Washington Grade School and graduated from Garfield High School in June 1942. Her father, Leong Yip, who had been ill for the last three years, had died recently.
Rose’s mother testified that Leong Gim Lin was the son of her husband and his first wife.
The names, case numbers and relationships for Rose’s parents, brother in China, Leong Git Too, nephew; and Jow Wah, adopted brother were listed on the reference sheet in the file.
The Immigrant Inspector recommended approval of Rose’s application remarking that her documents were in order, she spoke English fluently and “has all the earmarks of being educated in this country. Her father was been well known to this office for more than twenty years.”
Raymond Wong 黃瑚, age 38, of Fresno, California, was applying to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, via United Airlines from Seattle on 9 October 1942 with his wife, Moe Fung Ha, alias Moe Wong Ruth. They were returning to Seattle two days later, on the 11th then flying home to Fresno. Raymond’s San Francisco file #12017/54189 and Ruth’s Los Angeles file #14036/2809 were forwarded to the Seattle Immigration office for their inspection.
“Birth Certificate for Raymond Wong, 1903; “Death Certificate for Mrs. Hi Loy Wong,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Raymond case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13662.
The San Francisco office also sent the applicant’s Form 430, birth record, death record of his alleged mother, affidavits and testimony of his witnesses, report of the examining inspector, and San Francisco related files for eight Wong individuals. They were to return the files to the San Francisco office after they had examined them. Ordinarily the records would have been examined at the San Francisco office, but the applicant was already left by plane for Seattle. Wong carried with him a permit from his Local Draft Board #128 giving him permission to depart from the United States.
In 1942 Raymond Wong testified that he was also known as Wong Bow Woo, Raymond Arthur Wong, and Ray Wong. He was born on 6 October 1903 in Fresno, California. He was a produce buyer for Levy and J. Zentner and married Moe Fung Ha in Portland, Oregon on 28 March 1931. She was born in Portland. Their two sons, Ronald James Wong, Chinese name Wong You Guai, age 10; and Richard Gene Wong, Chinese name Wong You Keung, age 3, were born at Fresno.
Raymond’s father, Hi Loy Wong, marriage name Wong Wun Gum, died about 1924 or 1926. Raymond’s mother, Lillie Wong, died in 1940. Raymond had five brother and four sisters. His brothers Harry Wong (Wong Bow/Poo Sun), Charley Wong (Wong Bow Que), Frank Wong (Wong Bow Yuen), Fred Wong (Wong Bow Quong), and George Wong (Wong Bow Sing) were all living in Fresno except for Harry. His sisters were Lena Wong (Wong Bow Chee), now Mrs. Lew Yuen; Grace Wong (Wong Bow Yook), now Mrs. Emory Chow; Mary or Marietta Wong (Wong Bow Yut), now Mrs. Philip S. Ching; and Pearl Wong (Wong Bow Jin), now Mrs. Charles Luck. Grace and Pearl were living in Los Angeles and Lena and Mary were in Fresno. Another brother, Herbert Wong (Wong Bow/Boo Quan) died at Delano, California in 1941 and his brother Willie Wong (Wong Bow Son) died about 1922 in Fresno.
Raymond’s sister, Lena, was a witness for him. She stated she was born 18 September 1894 in Fresno. She married Lew Hock Choon in Fresco on 30 November 1911 according to Chinese custom. In 1926 they married according to the American custom. They had eleven living children and a daughter died in infancy. She listed the names and ages of her surviving children; her siblings and their spouses and children.
Lena swore in an affidavit that she was the “natural sister to Raymond Wong…” The affidavit with her photograph also states the Lena lost her U. S. citizenship through marriage and was repatriated. She held a certificate of citizenship issued in 1934 at the Superior Court of Fresno County; she had never made a trip outside of the United States; and she resided in Fresno. “Affidavit photos for Lena Lew and Lum Shee,” 1942, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Raymond case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13662.
Another witness was Lum Shee also known as Lum Choy Len. She was born in Sun Wooey City, China and entered the United States at age 11 at San Francisco about 1882 with her parents, Lum Wing Gwai and Fung Shee. She married Lew Yick Song. They had four sons and three daughters. She listed their names, age, and place of residence. She was a neighbor of the Wong family and first saw Raymond when he was about two years old. She correctly identified photos of Raymond’s parents. In an affidavit she swore to much of the same information in her interview and stated that she had not made any trips outside the United States. Her photograph is attached to the affidavit.
Raymond Wong’s application was submitted with a favorable recommendation. The Special Inspector of Immigration at Fresno wrote in his report: “It might be stated that this family has been known to this office for quite a number of years and has always been found reliable.” Raymond and his wife were readmitted at Seattle after their short trip to Vancouver. [It is hard to imagine how much time and money was spent investigation Raymond Wong and his family.]
Chin Wing You 陳榮耀 was born in Seattle, Washington in 1887. His parents Chin Gem (Jim) Wah and Me Wing Wah, had two older sons, Chin Wing Moy and Chin Ah Wing 陳阿榮 who were also born in Seattle. The family traveled to their family village Hing Lung Lay, Sun Ning district, China in 1888.
The father made several trips between China and Seattle between 1888 and 1907. His son Chin Ah Wing joined him at the Wa Chong Company in 1900. His son Chin Wing Moy died in in China in 1907.
Chin Wing You 陳榮耀 married Louie See in China in 1905 then prepared to join his father in Seattle in 1907. Since he was in China when the Exclusion Act was passed, he did not have a residence certificate. He did not have the required documentation to prove that he was born in the U.S. and was the son of a merchant, so he was required to have witnesses swear that he was the son of Chin Jim Wah and was born in Seattle.
Samuel L. Crawford, was a witness for Chin Wing You in 1907. His affidavit stated that he had been a resident of Seattle for thirty years; he knew Chin Wing You’s father, Chin Jim Wah, prior to 1887; Chin Jim Wah was a merchant, partner and bookkeeper for the Wa Chong Company; he and his wife lived in the store and had several small children. In Crawford’s interrogation he stated that he was in real estate business. From 1875 to 1888 he was in the newspaper profession with the Post Intelligencer. He knew and had dealings with all the Chinese businessmen. He was acquainted with Chin Ching Hock, Woo Gen, Wan Lee, Chin Gee Hee, and Ah Wah. Crawford saw Chin Jim Wah, Wa Chong Company’s bookkeeper, every month when he conducted business with the store. Crawford identified photos of Chin Jim Wah and Chin Ah Wing.
Chin Ah Wing, marriage name Chin Hui Quock, a U.S. Citizen and resident of Seattle, swore in a 1907 affidavit that he was born in Seattle on 1 October 1885 and his brother, Chin Wing You, was born at the Wa Chong Company store in Seattle on 10 May 1887. Chin Ah Wing left Seattle in 1888 and returned in 1900. He made another trip to China in 1904 and returned the next year through Port Townsend.
In George Harman’s 1907 affidavit he swore that he was a citizen of the United States and a resident of Seattle and Kitsap County for 56 years; that Chin Wing You was born in Seattle at the Wa Chong Company on the corner of South Third and Washington Streets where the Phoenix Hotel was standing in 1907; and that the family went to China in 1888 when Chin Wing You was about one year old. In Harman’s interrogation he testified that he had been in Washington state since 22 August 1866 when he “got paid off in the navy yard from the navy.” In 1907 he was living on a ranch about twelve miles south of Seattle. He was asked what he was doing in Seattle five years before the 1889 fire. He replied that he had been working in various places in the woods hauling out wood. He knew the Chinese at Wa Chong Company especially the manager, Chin Ching Hock, who at one time was a cook in a logging camp. Chin Ching Hock’s wife and Harman’s wife were sisters. Excerpt for George Harman’s 1907 interrogation
Chin Ching Hock’s second wife was Chinese, and their children were born in Seattle. When asked if he had been a witness for other Chinese, Harman said he was only a witness for his nephews, the sons of Chin Ching Hock and his sister-in-law. The interrogator disagreed and told him that he had affidavits showing that Harman had been a witness for Woo Ah Moy in 1901 and Chin Ah Wing in 1900.
After considering the evidence from the applicant and the witnesses, John H. Sargent, Immigration Inspector in Charge, ordered that Chin Wing You be admitted to the United States as a returning native-born American citizen on 19 November 1907.
Chin Wing You made another trip to China in 1912. When he returned, he had no proof of citizenship, so he produced a duplicate of his 1907 admittance into the Port of Seattle as an American-born Chinese. With this information he received his certificate of identity #45476. He made trips back to China in 1922, 1929 and 1941 and sired many children.
“Form 430 Photos of Ah One,” 1907, 1925,“ Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong Ah One case file, Seattle Box 822, file 7030/13432.
In 1907 (Wong) Ah One 黃穩 applied for admission to the U. S. as a native-born Chinese person. He was the son of Ah Fook and Lem Shee and was born in Tacoma, Washington. He went back to China with his parents and younger brother, Ah Wah, when he was about four or five years old, about 1888 or 1889. They lived in Chung Chi village then Hong Kong.
Ah Lung, a witness for Ah One, was a laundryman in Seattle and a good friend of Ah One’s father. He came to the U.S. about 1867. He lived in Tacoma for about 10 years and met Ah Fook there; they were friends but not related. At that time the Chinese businesses in Tacoma were all located near the sawmill. Al Lung remembered Ah Fook leaving Tacoma after the riots [November 1885] but a few months before the Chinese fire. Ah Fook went to Portland then came back to Tacoma briefly before moving to Seattle. He took his family to China about 1888 after he received reparations from the government for damage done to his property by the riot in Tacoma.
F. W. Southworth, a physician for most of the Chinese in Tacoma, lived there since about 1887 and testified that Ah One was born in Tacoma. In 1907 Dr. Southworth sworn that he was well acquainted with Ah One’s father, Ah Fook, a merchant. He believed that Ah One was his son.
S. J. Murphy was another witness for Ah One. He testified that he was a deputy sheriff and had been living in Tacoma for 31 years [since about 1876]. He was a teamster in 1885. He remembered that Ah Fook was the proprietor of Quong Yen Co., which was located “somewhere about where the Commercial Dock is now, or near the old Hatch sawmill.”
A. S. Fulton, the immigrant inspector questioning Murphy about what became of Ah Fook “after the so-called Chinese riots in Tacoma.” Murphy said Ah Fook and his family left the city immediately and may have gone to Portland but may have come back briefly. Ah Fook’s business was burned out during the Tacoma riots. Murphy said “Ah Fook was a friend of his in those early days and frequently used to invite him into his store and pass him a cigar and talk about his business and his boy Ah One.”
Immigration authorities considered the evidence and decided that Ah One was born in the U.S. and satisfactorily identified. Ah One was admitted to the U.S. in 1907.
Ah One made several more trips to China. In 1911 Ah One testified that he owned a tide-land lot in Tacoma. He bought the property from Mr. Harmon and had a contract at the Pacific National Bank of Tacoma. He showed the interrogator some of his payment receipts. He paid $705 for the lot. He also had a $650 interest in the Shanghai Café where he was the manager.
In 1912 Ah One testified that he was born near the old Flyer Dock in Tacoma (described by a witness as Second and Pacific Avenues, North). He learned to speak English at Sunday school. When asked if he paid his witnesses to testify for him, he denied it. He said they testified because they knew him and they were acquainted with his father. Ah One had saved about $600 for this trip to China. He was going back to China to get married.
In 1917 Ah One testified that his marriage name was Chun Wong. He had a brother Ah Wan. His parents, Ah Fook and Lum Shee, both died before 1917. He was married to Chin Shee and they had one son, Ah Him, born in 1913. They are living in Jung Sai, Sun Ning, China. Although Ah One entered the U.S. successfully on previous trips, this interrogator wanted more witnesses to prove Ah One was born in the U.S. and that he was the same person who left for China when he was 4 or 5 years old. This is part of the testimony:
Q. “Do you mean then that you are relying simply on your two former admissions at this port to prove your right to readmission on your return from China?”
A. “Yes, and I have a certificate of identity as a native.”
Q. “Have you ever voted in this county?”
A. “Yes, I voted for Mayor in Seattle, I voted for Hi Gill when he last ran.” [Hiram Gill was mayor of Seattle from 1911-1912.]
Ah One stated that he attended a mission school in Tacoma for a few months. After he returned from China when he was 23 he worked as a cook for four or five years, then worked as a foreman at the Deep Sea Salmon Cannery Co., in Alaska. Since September 1916 he as the foreman of the Chinese workers at a company at Richmond Beach.
In 1923 he was living at 1346 Broadway in Tacoma, Washington and was a merchant at the Kwong Fat Lung Company in Seattle. In 1928 (Wong) Ah One had a problem with his eyes and could not see to write. His final trip to China was in 1941. Although Ah One’s earlier trips required several witnesses, affidavits and testimony, his later re-entries into the U.S. went smoothly.
Update of 10/08/2018 blog post for Pang Jin-Feng–Photo retake–ears not showing
The original photos of two-year old Pang Jin-Feng did not meet Immigration Services requirements regarding photos. Since the child would probably not be returning to the U.S. for many years, a photo showing her ears was needed for identification. She was traveling with her parents Tse Sun Pang and Pao Chi Hau of Corvallis, Oregon.
“Pang Jin-Feng Form 430 photos” 1941, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Pang Jin-Feng case file, Portland Box 100, file 5017/921.
In July 1941 R. J. Norens, Immigration Divisional Director, returned passport No. 404999 to Tse Sun Pang, Pan Jun-Feng’s father. His student Chinese certificate and his wife’s Alien Registration Receipt Cards were also returned.
Tse Sung Pang testified that he was also known as Jin Chung Pang. He was born on 22 March 1909 in Nanchang, China and admitted into the United States on 12 January 1938 at Seattle, WA as a student. He obtained his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN. His wife, Pao-Chi Hau, was born 16 April 1910 in Peiping, China and was admitted in January 1938 at Seattle as a student. They married on 22 March 1938 in Minnesota. Their daughter was born on 15 June 1939. In July 1940 they moved to Corvallis, Oregon so they each could work on a doctor’s degree in the soils division at Oregon State College.
Tse Sung Pang and Pao-Chi Hau both had their fingerprints taken for their files. A copy of Pang Jin-Feng’s birth certificate was submitted to Immigration but was not included in the file. Pang Jin-Feng’s application was approved.
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)
In 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.
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).
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.
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