Tag Archives: Tacoma

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.]

Ah Fook Family – Left Tacoma during Anti-Chinese Riots in 1885

Wong Ah One 1907

“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.

To learn more about the Tacoma Anti-Chinese riot in November 1885 go to: The Tacoma Method, Aftermath.
or  Tacoma expels the entire Chinese community on November 3, 1885

 

Moy Gee Hung – Family photos – Boston, MA

Moy Gee Hung Group Photo
“Moy family photos,” ca. 1900,” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, (Moy) Gee Hung case file, Seattle RS Box 62, RS 2478.

Photo Exhibit D & E – “taken in Boston” ca. 1900
Exhibit D – Moy Gee Pon (Henry), Moy Sam Sing holding Gee Hung, Moy Yut Gum (Annie)
Exhibit E – Moy Yut Gum (Annie), Moy Gee Hung, Moy Gee Pon (Henry)
In 1901 when he was five years old Moy Gee Hung, his parents, Moy Sam Sing and Kong Jung Chun, and his older sister, Annie, left Boston, Massachusetts and return to his parents’ home village at San How, Sun Ning District, China. His older brother Henry stayed in the U.S. with an uncle. His father didn’t stay in China long and returned to the U.S. to Portland, Oregon. His mother died in February 1906 and in 1909 Moy Gee Hung returned to the U.S. to join his father and brother in The Dalles, Oregon.
The interviews in the file focus on his father’s life. In the 1880s Moy Sam Sing was a merchant at Quong Sang Lung Company and San Sing Company in Boston, Massachusetts. He visited China, married Kong Jung Chun, and bought her back with him to Chicago. They had two children there, Annie Moy (born 1890) and Henry Moy (born 1893). After about five years in Chicago they moved to Washington, D. C. where according to Moy Gee Hung’s birth certificate in the file, he was born on 27 July 1894. Two years later they moved to Boston, Massachusetts.
Moy Sam Sing testified that when he originally came to the U.S. around the 1870s he lived in Portland, Oregon; St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Providence, Rhode Island; returned to China (one year); Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; returned to China (about one year); returned with wife to Chicago (6 or 7 years), Washington, D.C. (one year), Boston, returned to China, traveled on East Coast for three months, Tacoma (3 years), Seattle (one year), Vancouver, Washington (one year); The Dalles, Oregon (3 years to 1909).
He applied for naturalization in Atlanta, Georgia (ca. 1883-84) and took out his second papers in Jacksonville, Florida. (ca. 1888). The interrogator asked if he knew at the time that naturalization of Mongolians was forbidden by law. Moy didn’t know but thought if the court was willing to issue the papers to him he would find two citizens to act as witnesses. With the help of Mr. Jones, a lawyer in Boston, Moy Sam Sing applied for and obtained his U.S. passport. He paid a $5 fee.
Much of the nine-page interview of Moy Sam Sing refers to events in his life which did not pertain to his son, Gee Hung. The interrogator was bringing up in great detail old, serious wrongs that Moy Sam Sing had allegedly committed but had not been proven. Moy offered to produce two consuls of China, Moy Back Hin of Portland and Goon Dip of Seattle as sponsors of his credibility.

When Moy Gee Hung arrived in Seattle In September 1909 he was joining his father and brother in The Dalles, Oregon. They were his witnesses. Neither had seen Moy Gee Hung in over ten years when he was five years old. His father, Moy Sam Sing, did not have a good reputation. He was well-known to Immigration Service for suspected perjury, smuggling and other unlawful schemes involving prostitution.
Moy Sam Sing didn’t really know his son very well but he had the proper paper work—a birth certificate, family photos, and the potential backing of two prominent Chinese citizens of Portland. According to the Portland Inspector J. H. Barbour, “I have minutely scrutinized with a magnifying glass exhibits D and E, [the photos] and have compared the alleged presentments thereon with the photograph affixed to Gee Hung’s present papers. I find a considerable resemblance between the two….”
Seid Back Jr., a well-known attorney from Portland, Oregon wrote to Immigration Service in Seattle to let them know that he was representing Moy Gee Hung upon his arrival in the U.S. in 1909.

After considering oral and documentary evidence, Moy Gee Hung was approved for admission to the United States as a native born citizen.
In 1919 Moy Gee Hung was applying to leave the United States for a visit to Canada and had no problem getting his application approved.