Miss Ida Chan (陳永信)

Here is post two of two about the Chan family for today: Ida Chan (陳永信, pinyin Chen Yongxin). This second-youngest daughter was born in Canada on 30 May 1893. She and her family lived in British Columbia until 1901, when they immigrated to Portland, Oregon.

Ida appears in the Pacific Alliance Periodical of 1908, identifying her as a high school student at Portland High and giving her address as 262 Clay Street (Xi Mei liu xue bao gao, 1908). She also appears in the 1911 and 1912 CSA Directories, as well as the 1914 Directory. The latter directory lists her as attending “graduate course, high school”, and I’m not 100% sure what that means, although high schools typically did have night school classes at the time; Ida was possibly studying some sort of vocational course in the evenings. Her listing in the 1915 Directory is the same as the 1914 information, but by this point the directory was out of date, as she most likely moved with her family to California.

She met and married a man in San Jose on 3 September 1918, and they moved together to Michigan. She appears in a Chinese Students’ Alliance publication under her married name, Ida Moy; she hosted an October 10th celebration for the Detroit-area Chinese clubs in 1921 (Chinese Students’ Monthly, Vol. 16). The marriage ended in divorce in 1926, and the couple had no children. She continued to live in Detroit after her divorce, and was listed as “Ida Chan” again in her sister Fanny’s obituary in 1928.

 

After this point, information about Ida becomes near-impossible to find. We can speculate that this is because Ida never applied for US citizenship; she does not show up in any Social Security claims or naturalization indexes, which makes her hard to trace. It’s also hard to triangulate her life using that of her parents, siblings, and children, since by her last mention in the newspapers in 1928, two of her sisters and her mother had died, and she had no children. Ida definitely did not move back in with her father or stay with her siblings.

There is a possibility that she became a naturalized citizen in 1948, but the birthdays don’t match exactly on the paperwork and she was changing her name back to Chan from Young, which would imply a second marriage and divorce/death of husband, which I have not found documentation for. There is also no indication that Ida left the country. This means that unlike her brother and sisters, Ida lived the rest of her life in the United States as a permanent resident, not as a citizen, even after the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943.

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