Snow Davis, aka Harry Harpon, aka “The Sticker”

February 13, 1927
dopeslayerThe headline read, "TORTURE DEN AND POISON PEN OF SUSPECTED DOPE SLAYER BELIEVED FOUND," and the story itself contained six missing girls, a basement torture chamber, and a "trick" pencil that could turn into hypodermic needle, chock full of poison, with the flick of a finger.
The villain was none other than Snow Davis, aka Harry Harpon, aka The Sticker, a dope fiend who’d done time on poison charges in three state prisons in as many years, and had twice been a murder suspect.
It’s all quite a lot of build-up for a story that ultimately came to nothing. 
The Chinatown den was discovered when undercover agents heard groans in its vacinity.  Their report was passed along to the feds, who prompty raided the joint.  In addition to the "poison pencil," Snow Davis’s known weapon of choice, they found piles of women’s clothing and a stack of newspaper clippings from New Orleans.
However, any former inhabitants had fled.  Investigators had been hoping to link Snow to the January disappearances of six girls between the ages of 15 and 20, but it must have been wishful thinking.
Snow Davis, aka Harry Harpon, aka The Sticker, gets out of Los Angeles unscathed, and the Times never mentions him again. 

Independence Day in the Southland

In this, our nation’s 152nd year of independence, residents of Los Angeles found time for picnics, sun-bathing, fireworks, and even a little rioting.
Over a ton of barbecued beef was served in Echo Park at the National Association of Letter Carriers 4th of July picnic, where about 5000 federal employees and their families gathered to feast, dance to music by the Letter Carriers’ Band, play baseball, and of course, listen to a rousing speech by Postmaster O’Brien himself.  The Knights of Columbus went to Luna Park, while the Irish partied at Rose Hill Park.  It is estimated that about 500,000 Angelenos took in one of the many oceanside fireworks extravaganzas up and down the beach.  Passenger records between Los Angeles and the Catalina Islands were shattered also shattered this weekend.
In Chinatown, however, the mood was less festive.  Tired of being arrested for violating the City’s fireworks ordinances, a mob of about 100 Chinatown residents surrounded a police officer and firefighter, and threatened them with violence.  Their "skyrocketing oriental tempers" were quelled when a police riot squad showed up and arrested the mob’s two ringleaders.  Patrolman Fogarty and Fireman Hoag were found holding the mob at bay from a corner on North Los Angeles St., near Ferguson Alley when help arrived; however, neither man was harmed.
And sadly, the 4th of July holiday was darkened by the children who fell victim to prematurely exploding fireworks.  While most injuries were not severe, 6-year-old Mary Hackwell of 1047 1/2 W. 88th St. hovered near death at General Hospital after a sparkler ignited her clothes.  Her father also sustained serious burns while putting out the flames.  Little Mary died on July 8, 1927.
On a lighter note, check some zany goings-on at the old Luna Park Zoo here and here.  If you got a notion to hug a bear, have your car washed by an orangutan, or feed your baby to a lion, this was apparently the place to do it. 

Two Die in Tong War

Oct. 13, 1907
Los Angeles

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,

Not a Pretty Moment

Sept. 21, 1907
Los Angeles

It is one thing to know in the abstract about racial intolerance at the turn of the 20th century and quite another to have to read it in the daily paper. I will spare you the long quotes in pidgin Chinese dialect, but trust me, they make the Charlie Chan movies look like models of multiculturalism.

The Times is covering the deportation of 26 men to China, 11 of them from Los Angeles: Ah Lee, Chin Toy, Gee Kay, Jew Sang, Jung Sing, Lee Fan, Lee Sing, Lui Fat, Lum Chong, Ng Ngai and Wong How. The rest were from San Diego.

All the men, except for Ah Lee, who was arrested in the recent tong wars, were unhappy about being deported, the paper said, adding that guards would be watching closely for friends trying to slip the men a departing gift of opium for the long journey to China aboard the ship Korea.

Immigration official A.C. Ridgway said that for some reason, most Chinese men in Los Angeles have the proper paperwork to be in the United States.

Tong War Continues



July 18, 1907


One more tong war post, and then I’ll return to our regularly scheduled horrors committed by, I don’t know, Dutch people.

Anaheim, California: best known for Disneyland and the Pond, or, at least, known for the winemaking prowess of Victorian Bavarians, and having been run by the Klan in 1924. And I’d like to remind you that on this day in 1907, Anaheim was the scene of a particularly grisly murder.

Mock Fat was an Anaheim vegetable salesman and a particularly card-carrying, dues-paying member of the Hop Sing. But Anaheim is largely Bing Goon territory, and as such, the aged Fat a prime target.

Classic tong style: shot twice in the back, he fell on his face. A knife was stabbed repeatedly into his back and left there. Of course, a hatchet was used to cut up his head.

As usual, the police have been dispatched to the train stations. While imported highbinders are escaping detection by hiding out in downtown Japanese rooming houses, cops have nevertheless managed to nap Visalians Tai Choy and Lin Poon, implicated in the killing.

A Peace Disturbed

tongwarrenewedJuly 13, 1907
Los Angeles

And you thought the tong war was all wrapped up (cf. our post of 6 July). That uneasy easy peace you felt must sadly be disturbed once more.

Chan Mon is one of the wealthiest and most influential Celestials in Los Angeles. He resides in Chinatown at 212 Ferguson Alley, and runs from 804 Juan Street his empire of vegetable wholesalers.

But at a banquet (at 421 Apablasa) last night—you’ll remember that the last tong war resulted from a banquet, where some ladies of a particular social standing were omitted—Chan Mon, a fellow traveler of the Hop Sing, was shot once in the shoulder and twice in the groin by members of the Row Wing and Bow On. 

Police were dispatched to the train stations to prevent escape of the assassins, and over one hundred officers ransacked Chinatown in a house-to-house. They never found noted highbinder Lem Au Toy, implicated in the shooting, but did arrest Lee Ming, a tailor and Hop Sing hanger-on, at 214 Apablasa.

Barring blood poisoning, Mon is expected to recover.

We will keep you posted of local developments.

An interlude from the future: 

Baravelli and Pinky arrive carrying blocks of ice. They deposit them in the wall safe. Wagstaff: That’s a fine way to carry ice! Where are your tongs? Baravelli and Pinky stick out their tounges. Looks like a tong war.

Horsefeathers, 1932

Wrap-Up of the Recent Tong War


Tong war, born of woman! Of few days, and full of trouble!

Seems there’s always a highbinder war simmering down in Chinatown. But despite the literality of that damn’d “huddled masses” business, there stays an easy peace down amongst the Celestials. Until.

When a Hop Sing Tong all-tong banquet (for those of you not in the know, a Tong could throw down on your local set) was held in the early weeks of June, the Bing Gon Tong was forbidden to attend—and as such, the Bing Gon elected to remove their slave girls from the Chinatown sex market.

And thus comes the storm.

At first the cops—informed (as they are to-day) by merchants and oldtimers who have little stake in any war—spent their time shaking down and locking up local Chinese for carrying Caliente-smuggled firearms, and having hired Caliente gunmen.


Then Chin Hai, local laundryman and Bing Gon fellow-traveler, was shot at by the Hop Sing Tong, and cops arrested Ah Quay, Ah Mee, Ah Soo, Tom Tong and Wong Kee. After cops picked up these men and the hammerless revolver they (or one, or perhaps none) used in the shooting, two knifing attempts by highbinders went down. It was a busy night. Chinese merchants slept in their stores. They appealed for police escorts. And all cops could uncover in the Chinese interstices were some smokeless-powder cartridges for great-caliber weapons.


lingaukThe young and fair Ling Auk, left, who had been friendly to the Bing Gon, was surprised by Hop Sing hatchetmen on June 19. Luckily, they were scared away by her protectors. The Hop Sing Tong has always been the most warlike in the Chinese settlement. They are centered at 529+1/2 North Los Angeles Street, where they have built a walled fortress replete with intricate tunnels that repeatedly prevent their capture. That White girls retire there to smoke opium is a sad, accepted fact of modernity.


Outside agitators are, of course, a factor.

Tong representatives from San Francisco are urging bloodshed. storm


Meanwhile, the bloodthirsty boys of the Hop Sing have donned their mail. What looks like an ordinary quilted silk Chinese coat to the naked eye actually conceals a screen of steel links, bullet and knife and, most importantly to the tong war, hatchet-proof.

Legendary San Fran avenger Lu Fook has even arrived in town; he is storied to have survived four shots in the back while his followers killed six hatchetmen. Heavy muscle from up north always makes copper flee in LA; where in SF the Great Six Companies War Board settle tong differences, Los Angeles just has some officers watching the trains to note incoming highbinders and look on as the Oriental Quarter, centered at Alameda and Marchessault Streets, erupts in bloodshed.

Luckily, Wong Fong, mayor of the San Francisco Chinatown, was called to Los Angeles last week to settle the dispute. Sui Hoo Fow and Sam Ham Gay were named as the perps in the Chin Hai shooting, and were ostracized by their tongs. Again we settle into an uneasy, easy peace.