Monday, May 2, 2016

Yun Gee’s Birth Date

Yun Gee, also known as Gee Wing Yun, was born February 20, 1906, according to the Yun Gee website. The same date was mentioned in the New York Sun, January 9, 1934; the article is at the end of this post. Here is an excerpt:
Yun Gee explained in careful English that his family name really is Wing Yun Chu. He was born in China on February 22, 1906, the son of Quong On Chu, one-time merchant of Oriental goods in San Francisco.

“My teachers named me Yun Gee because of my interest in art," he explained. “It is a symbolic name meaning that my work should spread throughout China.”
Yun’s testimony on his birth date would have been in his San Francisco Chinese Exclusion Case Files #20660/7-4 and #12017/31974. Sometime later, those files were consolidated in Alien File A12066691. Yun’s testimony regarding his birth date is not available.

However, there is a file on Yun’s father, Gee Quong On, case file #38669/12-2, which is available for inspection at the San Bruno, California branch of the National Archives. 

Quong On traveled to China several times. Each time upon his return to the United States, he was questioned about his family. The earliest mention of Yun was in 1907 when his first name was spelled Yen. The spelling changed from Yen to Yuen (1912) to Ngin (1914, 1922) to Yuen (1924) and to Ngin (1935, 1938). The immigration officers and translators were responsible for the different spellings.

Over the years, Quong On was consistent in stating that Yun was born during the reign of Emperor Kwong Sui, in the thirty-third year, second month and twentieth day or K.S. 33-2-20. Below are copies of pages from Quong On’s file which has information about his family as it grew over time.

October 2, 1907

December 27, 1912

October 15, 1914

September 5, 1922
Yun was in San Francisco. According to a passenger list, at, he and his younger brother, Hing Yin Gee, arrived on November 27, 1921.

March 20, 1924

August 9, 1935
KS 33-2-20 with “Apr 2, 1907” in parenthesis
Yun was in New York.

Chinese-American Calendar for the 102 Years Commencing January 24, 1849, and Ending February 5, 1951
Compiled and Verified by Windon Chandler Welch, A.B.
United States Government Printing Office, 1928
Page 59 has the table for converting the date, K.S. 33-2-20 (see column two and figure 20 in black). According to this book, Yun Gee’s birth date is April 2, 1907 (see red figures). Presumably, the Chinese date, K.S. 33-2-20, was in Yun’s file. Apparently Yun did not know how to convert the Chinese calendar date, so he said his birth date was February 20, 1906.

November 9, 1938
Yun was in Paris, France

New York Sun
January 9, 1934

The above article is related to an earlier post about Yun’s performance in 1934.

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