2 Die in Tong War
Oct. 13, 1907
Gunmen imported from out of town by the Hop Sing Tong entered the tailor shop of Lem Sing at 806 Juan St. in Chinatown and under the pretense of having some clothing made, wounded him when he turned to reach for some material. The men also killed Wong Goon Kor, who was, according to The Times, “lying in a bunk under the influence of opium.”
The three fleeing men threw away their revolvers as they ran down Marchesault Street, through Stab in the Back Alley to Apablasa Street, where they got into a vegetable wagon that took them away.
But apparently unfamiliar with Chinatown, the gunmen went into the wrong business, mistaking it for the shop at 802 Juan St. run by Joe Fong.
At the hospital, Sing told police: “I owe Chan Mon money. He asked me for it today. Then he sent Deputy Constable McCullock to collect it. I could not pay. Then three Hop Sing Tong men came to my store and asked for clothes. When I turned around, they shot me and my tailor. I fell upon the floor and remember no more until I was brought in here.
“One of the men was about 20 years old, had no queue and was about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and wore American clothes. The second man was about 30 years old and had chin whiskers, and the third man was about 43 years old and wore a queue. He did the shooting.”
Gravely wounded, Sing died the next day after identifying three men as the assailants, although his statement was questioned because he had previously identified three different men.
A few days later, an arraignment was held for Charley Wing of Portland, Ore., a man of mixed ancestry described by The Times as “a man of good education, speaks English fluently and is a power among the yellow men. His hair is brown, his mustache light brown and there is but little appearance of the Oriental in his makeup. In court yesterday, he looked more like some student of theology than like a murderous highbinder.”
Charges were also filed against Charley Sam Foo Ling, known as “the Bakersfield Kid,” and Wong Chung.
The Times noted: “Chinese tong men yesterday buried the dead tong gladiators. From the Pierce Brothers’ morgue, a dismal procession wended its way to the Chinese Cemetery in Boyle Heights. There, the Chinese were interred, money being thrown into the caskets, together with food and paper prayers to see them safe on their journey to heaven.
“On top of the grave, other food was placed to attract the attention of evil spirits lingering near. The chief dish was a fine roast chicken. As soon as the Chinese left the cemetery, evil spirits in the form of barefooted Negro youngsters swarmed down upon the grave and carried off the roast fowl as a prize.”
Historic details like that are certainly vivid, and it’s nice to have them, but they make me wince at the same time.
Unfortunately, there is no further information on the three defendants in the tong killing.
Bonus fact: Apablasa Street was named for the owner of the rancho where the original Chinatown (now the site of Union Station) was built.
Read the Marsakster’s posts on the tong war here and here and here.