Chin Hee was born in California to Chinese immigrant parents around 1871. He was a child when the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. It was the first major restriction on immigration in U.S. history: it effectively prohibited all immigration from China and limited the kinds of work Chinese Americans could perform for pay. It would not be repealed until 1943.
We don't know much about Chin's youth, but by 1905 he had moved to Michigan and was operating a laundry shop in Negaunee. Later that year, he married Missouri-born Calumet resident Lillie Gorris, and moved to Calumet. They operated a laundry business on Oak Street, and lived in an apartment in the attached home; reflecting the diversity in Calumet at the time, their neighbors included a number of Greek immigrants. By 1916, Chin and Lillie Hee were no longer in residence, and the laundry was operated by another Chinese man.
A Migrant Story - Chin Hee
Because enumerators were rarely familiar with traditional Chinese names, many Chinese Americans are very hard to track through historic records. It may be that the man we know as Chin Hee had been given a different name at birth, before he began his migrant story.
Last updated: April 4, 2018