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Her name was Kiyoye Nakamura, 20 years old, married by proxy to Toragusu Nakamura, on August, 1918. He was in the United States while she was in Japan. She arrived at Angel Island on the ship S. S. Persia Maru, which docked on September 25, 1919, from Japan. The passage was paid by her husband. She had $50.00 to her name, being totally dependent on her husband.
Toragusu Nakamura was a farmer, working ninty acres of leased land, six miles from Vacaville, CA. He had come to the United States by way of Hawaii to San Francisco, on the ship known as China on February 15, 1904, having arrived in Honolulu on the Russian ship, Dahlnyvostek from Kobe, Japan, appoximately in September, 1898. He had been in Hawaii for over 4 years.
He arrived in San Francisco without a passport, but had one from Japan to Hawaii. Because he was unable to produce a passport or proper documentation for entrance into the United States, it was deemed by the Board of Special Inquiry that Kiyoye Nakamura, without any financial support and without other relatives in the United States, would become a public charge of the state. It was concluded that she should be ordered to return to Japan, but she did have the right to appeal to the Secretary of Labor, Washington, D.C., which she did agree to do.
During the appeal process, Toragusu Nakamura did produce a poll tax receipt dated 1910 and an affidavit signed by an American, F. B. McKevitt, Jr., on August 16, 1919, who stated that he had been acquainted with Toragusu Nakamura for practically ten years and had known him to be an industrious and honest member of the community.
In the argument for Kiyoye Nakamura, the attorney for the applicant, M. Mitchell, stated that even though no documentation could be prduced to verify the landing of Toragusu Nakamura into the United States, few restrictions were paid to the admission of Japanese from Hawaii at that time, with no passenger lists being made. Regardless of his entry, he had been a resident for at least nine years, not subject to deportation, and was finacially able to care for his wife. It was, therefore, requested that the decision of the Baord of Special Inquiry be reversed and that Kiyoye Nakamura be admitted without restriction. To shorten the time of her detention, it was desired that the answer to this appeal be made by telegram at the expense of the applicant’s husband.
Editor’s note: After we posted Tene’s article, we received inquiries about the status of Kiyoye Nakamura. Did we know if she was able to land in the United States (this information for some reason was not in her file)? We did some more research and found the good news that it appears that the Nakamuras were listed in the 1930 census in Vacaville, California, with a three year old son, but the sad news that Kiyoye passed away of cancer in Vacaville in 1937. We also found a ship log showing Toragusu returning to the U.S. in 1940, with no listing for his son and can only speculate that he brought his son back to Japan to be raised.
Tene Woo Kember is volunteer with the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.
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