Tag Archives: Toledo Blade

Walter Jesse Way – Survivor of 1906 SF Earthquake & Fire, World War I Vet & Statistician at Chrysler

In 1938 Walter Jesse Way submitted an application for Form 430, “Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Pre-investigation of Status.” This document when approved would verify that he was a United States citizen and permit him “to reenter the United States unless pending such return it has been found that his claim is false.”
Walter Jesse Way (Gee Chew Suey), son of Charles Way and Susie Tong Way, was born in San Francisco on 19 March 1896. He had just turned ten when the San Francisco earthquake and fire occurred in April 1906. His father, a Chinese Interpreter, had recently taken a job in Toledo, Ohio, and the rest of the family hadn’t yet had a chance to join him there.
Transcripts of newspaper articles from the Toledo Blade from April and May 1906 are included in the file. They describe the aftermath of the earthquake and fire for Mrs. Way and her three children and the anxiety felt by husband until he found out his family was safe. The final article written after the family was reunited in Toledo states, “The Ways have the unique distinction of being the only Chinese family in Toledo.”

Newspaper article 1906
“Newspaper Articles on Charlie Way Family,” 1906, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Way Walter Jesse case file, Seattle Box 773, 7030/11561.

Since Walter’s birth certificate was destroyed in the earthquake and fire, he wanted to establish his U.S. citizenship. In 1930 his parents swore in an affidavit that Walter was born in 19 March 1896 in San Francisco. Walter also presented his United States army discharge papers. He served from 18 September 1917 to 15 February 1919, part of the time in France; service number 1936275, Company C, 329th Infantry, 83rd Division. His discharge was recorded in the Lucas County Court House, Toledo, Ohio. The Immigration Inspector, John W. Hazard, reviewed a letter signed by Captain Robert F. Callaway of American Expeditionary Forces stating that Walter was entitled to wear a single war service chevron. Walter also had a letter from the Veteran’s Administration showing that his life insurance had been reinstated.
Walter J. Way held various jobs until he started working for the Chrysler Corporation in 1926. In 1938 he was a technical statistician in the Experimental Department at Chrysler and living in Highland Park, Michigan with his wife, Ru Bee One. She was a singer and traveled with her job.
Walter’s Form 430 was approved. The most current document in the file is a 1939 letter saying Walter Jesse Way had not yet traveled outside the United States.

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