1924 Family Portrait of Lee Kim Hoy, his mother, Hom Shee; his maternal uncle, Hom Jik; and his father, Lee Ben (Charley) [This is a thick file.] Lee Kim Hoy, age 19, arrived in Seattle on 22 August 1938 on his way to join his father, Lee Ben, in Canton, Ohio. His status was listed as the son of U. S. citizen. He was denied entry on 14 October and finally admitted on 29 December more than four months after his date of arrival. The file contains two floor plans of the family home in Bow Ngin (Bo Yuen) Village, Hoy Ping District, China—one of the first floor and one of the second floor, an affidavit with photos of Lee Kim Hoy and his father, several witness statements and a family portrait. The immigration commissioner also reviewed three Seattle files and four San Francisco files of other family members.
When Lee Kim Hoy was first interrogated he was reminded that the burden of proof was on him to prove that he was not subject to exclusion under any provision of the immigration or Chinese exclusion laws. His father and brother testified on his behalf.
On day two of Lee Kim Hoy’s interrogation he was asked to describe his house in detail. Here is part of his answer:
“First floor contains four bedrooms, two parlors, two kitchens and a court; entire first floor paved with tile; court paved with cement and edge of stone; two outside doors, large door faces West; as you enter large door you go into kitchen, beyond kitchen is the court.”
He was asked to describe the windows in great detail—how many, what they are made of, and what direction they faced. Next he was asked about the bedrooms—who sleeps where, then to describe his school experience and his brother’s; to describe the village—the number of houses in each row and where the public buildings were located. He was asked about specific houses–“who lives in house on the 3rd lot, 2nd house and row from the head?”
There were many more questions; this interrogation was seven pages long. His father’s interrogation was six pages long and his brother’s was four pages. Lee Kim Hoy and his father, Lee Ben, were recalled for more questioning. They were asked about several discrepancies. The most serious one was that Lee Ben told them twice that he was single when he returned from China in 1918. In his 1938 interview he said that his son, Lee Kim Hoy, was born 3 May 1919. Lee Ben’s interrogators did not believe that Lee Kim Hoy was his son.
The conclusions of H. Z. Smith, the chairman of the inquiry, were three pages long. He noted that Lee Kim Hoy’s correct name was Lee Gim Hoy. His alleged father, Lee Ben (Charley), was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on 14 January 1902 and his birth certificate was included in his San Francisco file 17555/10-5. Lee Ben testified on two different occasions in 1918 that he had never been married. The chairman did not believe that the relationship between Lee Ben and Lee Kim Hoy had been satisfactorily established. Lee Kim Hoy was denied admission into the U.S. in October 1938 but given the option to appeal.
The application was reviewed by Immigration & Naturalization Service in Washington, D.C. Lee Gim Hoy’s attorneys were Edwards E. Merges of Seattle and Parker & Parker of Washington, D.C. A transcript of the appeal is not included in the file. Lee Kim Hoy was admitted on 29 December 1938.
[The similarities between the father and son in the 1924 portrait and the 1938 affidavit photos may have helped in the appeal.]
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.
In 1922 Benjamin D. Fong also known as Der Ben Fong filed for pre-investigation of his claimed status as a domiciled Chinese merchant of Wilmington, North Carolina. He wanted to accompany his ill father, Der Foo Sam, back to China. There was some question about Fong’s status as a merchant and rather than jeopardize his exempt status he withdrew his application. A family friend went back to China with Fong’s father.
Fong showed the interrogators his 1910 Certificate of Identity and his 1917 military registration certificate issued in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. His white witnesses were L. Stanford McCarthy and Leonard W. Degast of Washington, D.C. A menu from Far East Tea Garden, 1412 New York Avenue, Washington, D.C. is included in the file. In spite of all this information the inspectors thought Fong might be a laborer not a manager or merchant.