Tag Archives: Woo Fong Tong

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.