Woo Bak Sue – Released after paying detention costs $25.05 in 1899
Woo Bak Sue was born on 10 August 1884 in Seattle, Washington Territory, just two years after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed and five years before Washington Territory became a state. His parents, Woo Tai Gap and Chew See, took Bak Sue to China when he was about five years old. Bak Sue came back to the United States through Port Townsend in the summer of 1899 when he was fifteen years old. When he arrived he was arrested, put in detention and given a hearing. A writ of habeas corpus was issued stating that he had been detained without authority of law and that he was entitled to be released on the grounds that he was a native born citizen. The order of discharge was made by Judge C. H. Hanford of the U.S. District Court, Northern Division, District of Washington. Woo Bak Sue was released after paying for the costs of his detention amounting to $25.05. He asked that his photograph be attached to his discharge papers and that the papers be certified and sent to him.
He made three trips to China after 1899—1904 to 1905, 1910 to 1911, and 1915 to May 1938. When Woo Bak Sue applied to leave for China in 1903 his Caucasian witnesses were J. F. McGee and D. G. Rinehart. They both swore that they were residents and citizens of Seattle for the last twenty years and were well acquainted with Bak Sue and his parents. Woo Gen of the Wa Chong Co. sent a letter on company stationery to Thomas M. Fisher, Chinese Inspector, Office of the Collector of Customs in Port Townsend saying he would be a witness for Bak Sue if requested.
When Bak Sue was returning in 1911, the immigration inspector asked him if he knew any of the Chinese at the detention house. He said he knew Woo Bing Gee. There were no followup questions asked.
Woo Bak Sue’s son, Woo Sze Hong, arrived in Seattle in September 1938. His Seattle file number is 7030/11336. In October 1938 Woo Bak Sue was applying to return to China because he wasn’t feeling well. His application was approved. Bak Sue’s marriage name was Woo Gun Lum. He had a wife and six sons and two daughters in Nom On Village, Hoy San District. The village had 26 houses in three rows, facing south. He and his family lived in the 6th house, 6th lot, 2nd row. He had a grocery business there called Ow San Market.
[The file contains photos of Woo Bak Sue from 1903, 1910, 1912, 1915 and 1938.]
Chin Hing’s marriage name was Chin Fook Hing but he also went by Hing Henry. He was born in Canton, China on 1 September 1875 at one a.m. [It is very unusual to see the time of birth listed in a file.] His father, Chin Suey, was born in San Francisco and his mother was Woo Shee was born in China. Family information was included in a bible and a generation book. His grandfather, Chin Yick, was one of the first Chinese to come to San Francisco. He was married to an Indian woman and worked in the gold mines and then a fruit orchard. After the grandfather’s wife died in 1874 he and his son, Chin Suey, went to China. Chin Suey married Woo Shee soon after he arrived and they had a son, Chin Hing. The family moved back to San Francisco about 1881. Years later they moved to Seattle and Chin Hing became a merchant at Kwong Wa Chong Company. In 1910 Chin Hing visited China and married Tah Soo Len who was born in Los Angeles. Their two children, Chin Hing Henry and Chin Josephine were born in Seattle. At the time of his interview in 1922, Chin Hing was a merchant and member of Chong Hing & Co., at 676 King Street in Seattle.
The interpreter explained to the interviewer that the generation book was a history of Chin Fook Hing’s family for eighteen generations and dated back over three hundred years.
Witnesses for Chin Hing:
Julius Schweigart, in the art and picture business, a resident of Seattle since 1906.
Otto Guthman, salesman at National Grocery Co., Seattle; resident of Seattle since 1905.
Woo Gen, merchant and member of Kwong Wa Chong Co., Wa Chong Co., and Washington Rice Mill Company; resident of Seattle 36 years.
Chin Hing (Chin Fook Hing) died in Seattle on 16 November 1941. A copy of his obituary from 22 November 1941 issue of the Seattle Times is included in the file.
Excerpts from the obituary:
“A German knitter befriended Mr. Chin and taught him the knitting business and in 1911, with no capital, Mr. Chin established the Chong Hing Knitting Company, 504 12th Ave. S. of which he was general manager until his death.”
“Mr. Chin was the first Chinese to serve as a juror in King County Superior Courts. He was past treasurer of the Seattle Chinese Patriotic League and the Seattle Chinese Nationalist Association.”