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Henry Chee Sue

Shue (Sue) Chee aka Henry Chee Sue (Oct 5, 1891 – Sept 17, 1937)
Henry Chee Sue was 15 years old when he came to America aboard the steamship S.S. Siberia. Henry immigrated as a “paper son” which means that he used someone else’s identity (“Shue Chee”) to illegally enter. He came with a “biu hing” named Kenneth and an alleged brother, Sheu Hop.

In America, Henry first worked as a houseboy, where he learned to read and write English. His family association later took him to the Southwest to join labor gangs where he dug irrigation systems in the desert near the Mexican border. Henry eventually opened a grocery story with a partner in Calexico, CA and they named it the Peoples’ Grocery Company.

Henry Chee Sue

In 1917, Henry was drafted for service in World War I and was ordered to report to El Centro, CA. He had previously tried to dodge the draft by claiming exemption as an alien. But when immigration authorities confronted him with evidence that he was an American citizen, he enlisted stating that he was a farmer.

From 1917-1919, Henry served in Germany with Company H, 364 Infantry, an all Euro/American infantry unit. For his service, Henry was awarded the Bronze Victory Medal. When discharged on April 29, 1919 at Camp Kearny in San Diego, he was listed with a revised name “Sue Chee”, 5’5″ tall, 173 pounds, and was given a send-off bonus of $60.00.

In 1923, Henry embarked on trip to China in search of a wife. Aboard the USS President Taft, he met his future father-in-law, Henry P. Lum, who happened to have an eligible 18 year old daughter, Suk Hin, back at home in China.

Immigration forms indicate Henry and Suk Hin Lum were married on December 2, 1923. The couple embarked on the USS President Wilson for America and arrived on May 24, 1923.

Henry & Alice Sue

Henry had planned to return to Calexico, CA however, upon disembarking in San Francisco, Henry received a message from his partner that their store had burned, it was bankrupt, and it would serve no purpose for the couple to make the arduous journey to Calexico.  Years later, Henry discovered that his partner had cheated him, made a fortune at the store, and had retired back in China.

Henry & Alice Sue Family - c1935. Helen, Ed, Alice, Henry, John, Gladys and Edith.

With nowhere to go, Henry and Suk Hin settled in Fairfield-Suisun, where he worked at a peach farm. He later bought a plum orchard in Vacaville, and his daughter, Edith, was born there.

He lost the orchard during the Great Depression, and the family moved to Oakland, CA in 1931 to raise their five children.

Henry Chee Sue was killed by a neighbor in Oakland Chinatown on September 17, 1937, at the age of 46.

Alice Sue with kids, left to right: Gladys, Edith, John, Helen and Ed, 1939.

Henry Sue Identity Papers

Lum Suk Hin Identity Papers

Lum Suk Hin Naturalization Papers

Enlistment Records for Henry Chee Sue

Certificate Honorable Discharge for Henry Chee Sue

One Response to “The Henry & Alice Sue Story”

  1. lgsue says:

    might need to check with Auntie Helen on when the family moved to Oakland. If it was 1931, Dad wasn’t born yet.

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