Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The First Restaurants In Boston's Chinatown (Part 2: 1901-1920)

Let’s continue our exploration of the history of Boston’s Chinatown restaurants and survey the first couple decades of the 20th century. At the start of the 20th century, Chinatown would continue to grow and expand, with a number of new Chinese restaurants opening. It would face a number of serious challenges and obstacles during this time period, including continued racism, legal issues, and Tong violence.

During this period, the Chinese restaurants attempted to widen their customer base by appealing more to non-Chinese Americans, which would lead to some success. They added more Americanized items to their menus, as well as offering holiday specials, such as for Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Nowadays, you don't usually consider dining at a Chinese restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you desire a more traditional turkey dinner, but during the early 20th century, it was much more of an option.

The restaurants also often started adding music in the evenings, which, combined with their late hours and the availability of alcohol, made them similar in some ways to night clubs, thus attracting a different clientele. In addition, not all of the Chinese restaurants were located in Chinatown, some having spreading to other areas of Boston.

In some respects, Chinatown gained more respectability during this period, but it also became more violent as well, as two Tongs went to war. This violence would keep some people from journeying to Chinatown, hindering the ability of the restaurant to increase the number of their customers. There were also fears in some circles about the dangers to young women in Chinatown, worries that they would be seduced into opium smoking and prostitution. It was a turbulent time in Chinatown, though ultimately there were positive results.

It's pleasant to see that one of the first newspaper articles in the 20th century about Chinatown restaurants was especially positive. The Boston Globe, February 10, 1901, published an article with some general information about Chinese businesses from barbers to restaurants. It noted the utter cleanliness of the restaurants, “…the rear of one of the many Chinese restaurants. Everything about the place is neat and clean, as is also the personal attire of the chef. The Chinese are fastidious about the quality of their food, as well as the manner of its preparation.”

There was also reference to some specific Chinese dishes. “These Chinese chefs are especially clever in compounding that curious dish known as “chop sooy,’ a conglomeration of stewed meats and vegetables.” In addition, the article stated, “’Chow mem’ is another choice dish, and an expensive one, too.” It seems likely that “mem” was a typo or misspelling and that the dish was actually “chow mein.” This was the type of article that would entice people to check out Chinese restaurants, a nice alternative to some of the racist articles also found around this time.

A number of other newspapers during this period would make brief mentions of various Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. For example, there was mention, in March 1901, of a Chinese restaurant, owned by Lock Sen Chin, which was located at the corner of Beach Street and Harrison Avenue.

Despite the initial positivity in the first article I mentioned here, fears and concerns about the Chinese continued to manifest themselves. The Boston Post, August 30, 1901, described how hundreds of Chinese were illegally crossing the Canadian border, eventually settling in the Boston area. They were assisted by rich and influential Chinese smugglers, some who lived in Chinatown. The article was concerned that local immigration commissioners were doing little about this matter. Due to the racist Exclusion Act, it was difficult for Chinese to immigrate to the U.S. so some did try to illegally enter the country. However, this influx helped Chinatown grow and the Chinese certainly were hard workers, contributing to the community.

There were some incidents of violence at Chinese restaurants, but they often were caused by white customers starting fights. A Chinese restaurant at 31 Howard Street, owned by King Hong Low, was the scene of multiple problems over the course of a couple years. For example, the Boston Globe, September 7, 1901, reported on a fight that almost became a riot. Some white men started a fight and the other guests “stampeded” out. Unfortunately, two women fainted on the stairs out and were trampled, though there wasn’t any notation that their injuries were serious. One white man and two Chinese men were arrested for assault.

The next month, the Boston Daily Globe, October 31, 1901, reported on another almost riot at this same Chinese restaurant, with the article noting all of the trouble at this place in the recent past. This time, some Italians, who ate at the restaurant, tried to bring their dishes outside and the Chinese insisted they pay for the dishes. The Italians refused and a fight began, with almost fifty people involved in the fracas, wrecking the restaurant and there was plenty of blood spilled. Twenty women hid in a rear room during the battle. In the end, only one Italian and one Chinese man were arrested. An additional person, a bartender at a local saloon, was later arrested for stealing $30 from the restaurant during the riot.

The police explained a main reason for the trouble at this specific location. When the saloons closed at 11pm, people would then gravitate to the Chinese restaurants which were still open. The police also noted the area is frequented by “women of the street” and that the Howard Street gangs were also known to dine there. 


The Chinese Exclusion Act was invoked. The Boston Globe, January 21, 1902, reported that Yee Lop Jung had been arrested, in a laundry on Columbus Avenue, on the charge of being unlawfully in the country, a violation of the Chinese Exclusion Act. As a follow-up, the Boston Globe, May 20, 1902, stated that U.S. Commissioner Fiske had ordered Yee Lop Jung to be deported. The article also noted, “A peculiar phase of the case was the absence of any Chinese sympathizers when the case was called. It is generally the custom when a fellow-countryman is in the tolls to have the corridors fairly swarm with yellow-skinned sympathizers, but this morning there was no evidence of sympathizing Chinamen in the hallways.” Why was this the case? Well, the article also noted, “The Chinamen accuse Lop of extorting money from them by threats, saying that he would ‘peach’ on their little card sessions and gambling parties.”

As reported in the Boston Evening Transcript, June 28, 1902, “He is the first Chinaman to be ordered deported by the United States District Court for Massachusetts under the Chinese exclusion law.” That's interesting as the Chinese Exclusion Act had been in operation for 20 years, and this was the first deportation in Massachusetts. If the Chinese had stood up for Yee Lop Jung, then maybe he wouldn't have been deported either. 

The Boston Post, June 29, 1902, provided more information in this regard. “It has always been the easiest possible thing for a Chinamen arrested on the charge of violating the exclusion act to summon his friends, who would swear by all the Chinese gods that the arrested man had long been a resident of the United States. Though he came direct from China willing people would testify that they knew him well when he was in American before.” Unfortunately for Yee Lop Jung, no one would step forward to vouch for him or help with his bail. It was alleged that he was an informant for the police, informing them on illegal gambling in Chinatown. His wife was even threatened due to his alleged snitching. 

He would finally be deported in July. The Boston Globe, July 29, 1902, noted that he was taken on an early afternoon train for Providence, Rhode Island, where he would be joined with other Chinese who were being deported. They would then sail from Providence by steamer for Norfolk; where they would next take a train to San Francisco, by way of New Orleans and the Santa Fe route. 


The Boston Post, January 24, 1902, related the story of how an assistant constable from Chelsea, entered the Howard Street restaurant, claiming to actually be the Chief of the Chelsea police. He nearly caused another riot, as he complained about the food, the actions of the employees, and even insulted the appearance of the Chinese. He angered the Chinese who demanded to see his authority, and it was at that point that he finally backed down. He fled from the restaurant, and eluded capture by the police.

In 1902, there were a couple intriguing articles about Chinese New Year. Firs, the Boston Evening Transcript (MA), February 6, 1902, wrote about the New Year celebrations, with some emphasis on food, praising Chinese chefs. As it stated, “The Chinese cook is an artist, who observes the requirements of human digestion as well as the possibilities of spices, and knows that simplicity is the highest form of art. That is—the board does not groan beneath a great burden of undigestible dishes, but the few that are chosen are choice and cooked to perfection.” 

Specifically, “A dish that is sure to bring satisfaction is Chow Mein.” The article continued, “This is the manner of its making. First, noodle paste is shredded into long jackstraw looking strips, and piled up on a platter like a haymoy. Then boneless chicken, chopped celery and olives are cooked over a lively fire in olive oil, and when done to a brown the whole is pored over the haymoy. When served with green gage plums and a pot of fresh tea—well, it is a revelation of what is good in the way of things to eat.”

There was also mention of some other dishes including Chow Gui Pan (fried boneless chicken) and for dessert, Boo Low (pineapple), Sar Lee (preserved pears), and Tongaung (preserved ginger). 

The Boston Post, February 10, 1902, noted that “The celebration of New Year’s week in Chinatown this year is one of the most quiet in the history of that part of Boston. The reason for this is the recent arrest and trial of so many of the Chinamen for not having proper papers of admission to the country. In some cases where the papers have been all right the trials have cost the Chinamen as much as $200.” The article also printed a copy of a New Year 's dinner menu, pictured above. Quite a feast! 

Trouble at Hong Far Low. The Boston Herald, August 9, 1902, reported that Carl Dinmick, of 77 Tyler Street, was arrested for drunkenness. He visited Hong Far Low, at 37 Harrison Avenue, where they demanded he pay for his chop suey up front. Carl got angry and physical, ending up at the bottom of the stairs of the building, holding a revolver. The police found him there and took him into custody.

As there still were so few Chinese women in Chinatown, and those who existed were married, a number of Chinese men married American woman. Domestic life wasn’t always blissful. The Boston Post, August 27, 1902, interviewed Mrs. Loo Sun, the American wife of a Chinese tailor at 27 Harrison Avenue about her recent domestic abuse. Her husband had choked her, and was later arrested, convicted for assault and fined $10. Mrs. Loo Sun planned on leaving her husband and had some derogatory comments about Chinatown, stating, “A girl had better be shot before she ever comes to live down here...There are about 30 white girls in this vicinity living with Chinese husbands and we are all sick and tired of the life.

In December 1902, there was a new Chinese restaurant, Hawm Fah Low & Co., located at 777 Washington Street, and serving Chop Sooey and other dishes.

The Boston Herald, February 26, 1903, reported that Norman Spring, a railroad yardmaster, and a friend, named Tripp, dined at a Chinese restaurant on Harrison Avenue in Chinatown. They ordered chop suey and Tripp didn't like it. The waiter, Chin Toy, asked for them to pay their check and they stated they would do so when they were "good and ready to settle." There was a disagreement over what happened next, the waiter alleging Spring threw a valuable vase at him, while Spring and Tripp claimed the waiter was the aggressor. Spring ended up with a broken arm. At court, the judge imposed a $25 fine on the waiter, believing Spring and Tripp had some responsibility, and the waiter appealed the decision.

New Tongs were being established in Chinatown, and war would soon thereafter result. I previously wrote about the Hop Dock Tong, which was founded around 1890. As I stated, Tongs were secret, sworn Chinese brotherhoods which were claimed to have been formed for a variety of social or business purposes but often engaged in criminal activities. The Chinese term for "tong" literally means "chamber," and can actually be used to refer to many different organizations, including many without any connection to criminal activity. The Hop Dock Tong seemed to vanish and I didn't find any additional references to it in the 20th century.

The Boston Sunday Post, March 8, 1903, wrote about the formation of the Hep Sing Tong, the Chinese Mutual Protective Society, which celebrated three days of festivities, including "waking" Quong Gong, a Chinese God, at a temple on the third floor of a building on Beach Street. The ceremony was conducted by Muck Duck of New York City.

Additional information was provided in the Boston Post, March 10, 1903, noting that Quong Gong, was the patron god of the Hep Sing Tong. Wong Aloy, a Chinese interpreter in the New York City court system was quoted, “What is the object of the society? It is not for secrets, but for self-protection. The members pay dues enough to keep the rent paid. Brothers and good friends, when the time of trouble and need comes, the right of justice comes, our new society, now having a branch in Boston and every city in the U.S., goes to the aid of its members.” Wong also stated, “Most of the men who make the trouble are gamblers and scoundrels. They take the money from these boys who have to work so hard in laundries—men who are their own brothers.”

All of that sounded great but was it actually the truth? Five months after its formation, violence was associated with the Tong. The Boston Sunday Post, August 16, 1903, detailed how Moy Yen was arrested the previous night, charged with assault and battery, with a loaded revolver, on Lew Toy and Yee Yah at 48 Beach Street. Allegedly, the two victims, both members of the Hep Sing, were chosen to be killed because they were providing information to the police on gambling in Chinatown. The article also noted a number of other recent assaults in Chinatown. Internal problems, which were being resolved with bullets.

Another Tong then was founded in Chinatown, directly opposed to the Hep Sing. The Boston Daily Globe, September 1, 1903, mentioned the formation of the On Leung Tong, which would be headquartered at 35 Harrison Avenue and start with 60-70 members. There was more information in the Boston Daily Globe, September 3, 1903. The On Leong Tong, also known as the Chinese Merchants Association, would be located on the 3rd and 4th floors at 35 Harrison Avenue, and its membership included Chinese merchants located in Rhode Island too. Wing Ling Ark was appointed as the acting president until elections could be held. There was also a note that this Tong had flourished in San Francisco, New York City and Chicago. Their banquet was held at the Lock Sen Low restaurant at 46 Beach Street.

In a letter to the editor in the Boston Daily Globe, September 8, 1903, an H.S. Lee claimed that the On Leong Tong was an “organization of Chinese gamblers banded together for protection and profit,…” However, in the Boston Post, September 9, 1903, the police denied those rumors stating they would know if a large scale gambling club existed in Chinatown.

Both the Hep Sing and On Leong Tongs originated in San Francisco, and eventually spread to other enclaves of the Chinese in other cities. The Hep Sing, whose name translates as the “Chamber United in Victory,” emerged in the mid-1880s. Around the same time, the On Leong Tong, whose name translates roughly as “Chamber of Peaceful Conscientiousness,” was established around this time as well. They became competitors, which eventually led to murder in August 1900 in New York City, initiating the First Tong War, which lasted for about six years. Tong problems in New York would spread to other cities, including Boston, where those tongs were also located. The emergence of these two Tongs in Boston, as a Tong War raged in New York City, didn't bode well for Chinatown.

A fascinating, and positive, article on Chinatown appeared in The New England Magazine (March to August 1903, v.28), in an article titled China in New England written by Herbert Heywood. The article stated, “You may have had some lurking impression before that the Chinese quarter was a blot upon the city, now you know that it contains men as highly cultivated, as sensitive to all the amenities of life as the blue blooded Puritans that live at the other end of the town. It is just a difference of color, place of birth and surroundings.” In addition, it described Chinatown, “Here, with the recently widened streets, there is little to show that you are in the Celestial quarter, except the fantastic signs and balconies of a few restaurants and the displays of teas and china in the store windows, and a thin sprinkling of Chinamen on the sidewalks and in the doorways.”

There is then some discussion of the restaurants in Chinatown, noting that there are currently only about six. “Of the restaurants there are about half a dozen, fitted up in gorgeous Oriental style—” and “Each of these restaurants has its own particular class of patrons. To one comes the sporting element at night from the theatres and neighboring saloons and makes merry as late as the law will allow. Another aspires to a better class of patronage and is kept by Christians and members of a Christian Endeavor Society.”

Plus, the article mentioned, “Sunday afternoon is the time when they congregate in Chinatown to visit friends and buy their tea, liche nuts, dried mushrooms, rice and the other eatables and articles of dress imported by the Oriental merchants. Finally, they provided information about the low number of Chinese women in the city. “But as there are only fifteen Chinese women in all Boston, and these the wives of merchants.

The Boston Herald, March 31, 1903, stated that a riotous assault occurred at a Chinese restaurant on Howard Street. Several sailors dined at the restaurant, caused some trouble, and were evicted. The next day, a big sailor went to the restaurant, smashed the glass out of the doorway and viciously assaulted a waiter, who needed medical attention. The police were seeking the sailor.

It would also be during the first two decades of this century that "slumming parties" in the Boston area started to become popular. This was said to be a trend that started in London in the 19th century, and traveled to New York around 1884. In essence, well-off people went to poorer neighborhoods, such as Chinatown, as voyeurs, to experience what they perceived as the "seedier" areas. They wanted to temporarily live on the edge, to rub elbows with criminals and drug users, but with the ability to go back to their comfy homes afterwards. Eventually, there would even be tour guides offering slumming trips to various neighborhoods, including Chinatown.

Slumming Parties prohibited! The Boston Journal, June 28, 1903, ran an article titled, "Slumming Parties In Chinatown Forbidden By Police." The article stated, "Like all other large cities, Boston has its Chinatown. It lies in the vicinity of Harrison avenue and Oxford street, and through the by-ways and alleys which lead off from those and other contiguous thoroughfares at the most unexpected angles." In a positive spin, the article continued, "Just now, however, it's a very good little Chinatown...No more fan tan. No more pipe dreams." This meant that gambling and opium smoking had largely vanished. And as a direct result of Chinatown becoming more respectable, it had become "boring" in some circles, and "slumming parties" were less frequent. In addition, slumming parties had been semi-legally prohibited, though tough to enforce.

In addition, despite these police claims that gambling and opium smoking were largely gone from Chinatown, history during the next twenty years would show these claims were incorrect. The growth of the tongs would help fuel greater gambling and opium use, and slumming parties would continue. And there might have even been a greater incentive to visit Chinatown because of the presence of the tongs, giving these visitors a greater connection to the perceived underworld of Chinatown. Tong violence might turn away respectable visitors to Chinatown, but those seeking to "live more on the edge," flocked to the neighborhood.

The article continued, praising Chinese restaurants. "Those who know Chinatown and the Chinese know and appreciate Chinese restaurants. Whatever else he may be, the Celestial is first and foremost a cook. Cooking, to the typical Chinaman, is far more than an art, more than a science. It is really a religion, and such it is regarded. To be a famous cook among the Chinese is to be a great man." It continues, "A fondness for Chinese edibles may be an acquired taste, but once acquired it becomes a habit. There are so many delicious dishes on a Chinese bill of fare which cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Nor can they be compared to any other dishes under the sun. They are thoroughly original and distinctive in both preparation and flavor."

Specifically, "The Chinese restaurants of Boston are fully up to the standard, and are supported largely by American patronage." And then the article noted, "A visit to a Chinese restaurant is incomplete without an inspection of the kitchen. It is the most scrupulously clean place on Earth,..." Chop Suey was then highlighted, mentioning that, "The first mouthful may not cause one to have a spasm of epicurean bliss, but there is something about it which makes one take a second and a third , and pretty soon the dish is empty. Another trial and the Chop Suey habit will be acquired."

But what is Chop Suey? It was described as, "There is the white meat of chicken, chopped fine, some white mushrooms, sliced but not chopped, sliced water chestnuts, some sprouts of beans, a dash of onion and a bit of celery. With this is served a dark brown sauce, which, if it must be confessed, tastes a trifle like turpentine, but is known as 'gee yow.' Gee yow is to the chef Celestial what Worcestershire sauce to tabasco is to the American. It is the flavor for the majority of his dishes." A number of other Chinese dishes are described in this article as well, all presented very positively.

The article finishes with, "There is plenty to interest one at any time in one of these restaurants, but especially between 10 o'clock and midnight." There is much diversity in the type of customers that can be found during these late hours, a great place for people watching.

There was trouble at the famed Hong Far Low in August 1903. The Boston Globe, August 10, 1903, reported that two boys met up with two girls at the restaurant, and it appeared that they hadn’t known each other for long. The boys were upset they couldn’t get hard liquor so they began to break furniture. They had to be physically thrown out by the Chinese and the fight continued on outside. A crowd formed and when the police arrived, they couldn’t easily get through, so one officer fired his weapon twice into the air. The two boys successfully fled the scene but the girls didn’t, though it appears they weren’t arrested.

The Pawtucket Times, September 9, 1903, mentioned Rev. C.H. Plummer had officiated at a number of marriages between Chinese men and white women. I've already mentioned Rev. Plummer in other parts of this series, as he appears to have been the main officiant for such marriages. Though it was technically legal for these couples to get married in Massachusetts, they usually had difficulty finding someone who would conduct the marriage. So, they commonly travelled down to Providence, Rhode Island, knowing Rev. Plummer would do the ceremony for them.

The first murder in Chinatown! The Boston Globe, October 3, 1903, reported that the night before, around 8pm, in front of 13 Harrison Avenue, Wong Yak Chung was shot and killed. Chung, who was 30 years old and lived at 48 Beach Street, was a member of the Hep Sing Tong. Two other Chinese were also shot, Ning Munn, 28 years old and of 19 Harrison Ave, who had a bullet wound in his right leg, and Yee Shoong Teng, 26 years old of 48 Beach St, who had bullet wound in his right leg and left foot. The police arrested two men, Wong Chin and Charlie Chin, 55 years old and of 2 Oxford place. Wong Chin was in possession of a .44 caliber revolver and was also wearing a chain mail shirt. It was also noted that the Hep Sing had been providing information to the police on illegal gambling in Chinatown.

Boston’s Chinatown had its first murder last night,…” More details were provided in the Boston Herald, October 3, 1903. It was claimed that Highbinders were in town, the enforcers or "hatchet men" of the tongs, for a “deliberately planned system of assassination.” Wong Chin, 31 years old of Harrison Avenue, was the primary assassin, carrying a revolver and a “cunningly contrived axe,” a “short axe, not over a foot long, beautifully made, with a carved handle, and a nickeled blade sharpened to a razor end and controlled by a spring.” It was alleged that the tong problems started several months ago, when Wong Yak Chong came from San Francisco with the purpose of organizing the Hep Sing. Members of this tong informed the police of illegal gambling in Chinatown, their efforts directed against the On Leong tong, which then chose to take action, gunning down a few Hep Sing members.

The next day, the Boston Herald, October 4, 1903, printed another article about the incident, indicating the police feared there would be more violence in Chinatown, so a greater police presence was placed in the neighborhood. The Chinese provided various versions of the incident, and the motives behind it, so the police weren't sure as to the actual truth. The article also went into detail on the chain mail shirt worn by the assassin. “The coat of mail taken from the prisoner Wong Cheng is a curious garment. It is composed of a large number of pieces of sheet steel, each sheet about two inches square and a sixteenth of an inch thick. The squares ae joined by little bands of copper wire. The steel covering protects the back and sides of the wearer, as well as the chest and abdomen and would be impervious to a rifle bullet. It is made without sleeves. In fact, there is only one sleeve hole, the garment, which is covered with dark blue denim, being folded over the front and back of the wearer and tied over one shoulder and around the side with pieces of tape. At a distance it looks like an ordinary Chinese garment, but it weight about 15 pounds.” These mail shirts would be worn by a number of tong members at various times, giving them some protection against bullets and blades.

The Boston Herald, October 5, 1903, reported that the police stopped a suspicious Chinese man, Guey Tong, 18 years old of West Somerville, who was carrying a large bundle of alleged candy. Once he was searched, the bundle actually turned out to be 300 .38 caliber revolver cartridges, in 6 boxes of 50 each, and Suey couldn't explain the reason why he possessed the bullets. The newspaper the next day mentioned that Guey was released as it wasn't illegal for him to possess the ammo, and he didn't possess a weapon.

The police took action to stem the potential violence. The Boston Herald, October 6, 1903, mentioned that 3 Chinese men from New York City, who were visiting Boston relatives, were questioned by the police. The police felt they were suspicious, so they ordered the men out of the city who then left voluntarily. The police captain stated. “All strange and suspicious Chinamen will be promptly arrestd and sent out of the city if it is found impossible to prosecute them under the law. The vagrant and vagabond laws will be strenuously applied to the Chinamen and all ‘chinks’ without visible means of support will be prosecuted, the gambling will be stopped, so far as is possible, and sidewalk loafing by Chinamen will be stopped, as it was in the case of the Italians and Hebrews in the North End.” Maybe a bit extreme?

The article also gave more information about the murder victim, Wong Yak Chong, who was also known as Wong Kong and Charlie Wong. He lived at 20 Poplar Street in Roslindale, and had come from San Franciscos about three years ago. He ran a laundry for the last 3 years, was considered a very nice person and was a known member of the Hep Sing Tong. About 2 weeks previous to his murder, he had informed his friends he was planning to sell his laundry and travel back to San Frncisco to see his mother. He subsequently sold the laundry and then went to visit friends in Chinatown for several days, where he was killed.

More trouble for the Hep Sing. The Boston Post, October 9, 1903, under the headline, "Plots to Kill in Chinatown," noted that Sin Tuy, the president of the Hep Sing Tong, now had a price on his head of $3,000. The police were worried that there would be tong violence within the next 48 hours, and they also believed that many in Chinatown were heavily armed. including wearing chain mail shirts. It was thought that the violence might explode on Sunday, when Wong Yuk Chung was to be buried.

The Boston Post, October 10, 1903, provided a photo of the public announcement, a piece of red paper with black characters, with the price on Sin Tuy's head. It can be translated as, “On Sunday (next) kill all the Hep Sing Tongs. A reward of $3000 will be given for the life of C. Lieu Tuy.” However, the Boston Herald, October 10, 1903, reported that Tuy wasn't frightened. This announcement was posted on a public bulletin board on Oxford place, and this board seemed very important to the Chinese community as many different public announcements were posted there. The tongs would also use it to make their own pronouncements, especially against each other.

Interestingly, the Boston Herald, October 11, 1903, alleged that Tuy was only the Vice President of the Hep Sing, contrary to earlier reports that he was the President. The headquarters of the Hep Sing was also noted as being at 48 Beach Street.

The authorities took even more extreme measures to prevent tong violence in Chinatown. The Boston Herald, October 12, 1903, reported that U.S. marshals, immigrations officers, Chinese inspectors and Boston police arrested over 300 Chinese last night, starting their raid at the headquarters of the two tongs. If the Chinese couldn't produce registration certificates, then they were to be deported to China. The police captain thought this was the only way to stop the tong feud, believing about half the arrested Chinese would end up deported. The law which allowed these deportations was passed in 1882, and unfortunately the law didn't make provision for lost certificates. So, anyone who had lost their certificate would end up deported too.

The Boston Post, October 12, 1903, also reported that this was the biggest police raid in Boston history, with 258 Chinese arrested. Interestingly, the funeral the day before had gone off without incident. This raid was definitely a racist over reaction to some real problems with tong violence. In the end, the raid didn't prevent future tong violence, which would be even greater than the early October shooting.

Back to restaurant talk. It was mentioned in the Boston Herald, October 12, 1903, that "When slumming parties wish a glimpse of Chinatown they always peep in Hong Far Low's restaurant. It is the Delmonico's of Harrison avenue." More fame for Hong Far Low.

Racist fears about the dangers to young women from Chinese restaurants also arose at this time. The Boston Journal, November 1, 1903, in an article titled, Young Girls Of This City Consort With Chinamen, detailed some of the alleged dangers to young women in Chinatown. "The picture of a girl's ruination through the medium of the Chinese restaurant is too horrible to depict,...The Chinese restaurant is doubtless the most degrading phase of the great social evil..." The article continues that, "The suppression of the Chinese restaurant would mean the salvation of thousands of girls annually in America, in Boston alone of scores." The fears continued, mentioning, "...girls of very tender age, who ought to be at school or safe within their homes, may be found in these restaurants, hobnobbing over the little square tables with the friendly contact with men pronounced to be the most unclean in morals and personal habits on the face of the globe."

No real evidence was presented of any actual problems, simply unsubstantiated allegations, and mentions how that if you visit a Chinese restaurant, you'll often see young women dining there, unaccompanied by any men. This racism would get even worse in the near future, as there would be attempts to legally prevent women from visiting Chinatown restaurants. I'll discuss those attempts later in this article.

A resolution to the first Chinatown murder! The Boston Journal, December 6, 1903, mentioned that Charlie Chin and Wong Chung were found guilty by a jury of murder in the second degree. They were alleged to be members of the On Leon Tong. Their sentencing was deferred but the penalty was life imprisonment.

In December 1903, there was a brief mention of an unnamed Chinese restaurant at 46 ½ Harrison Avenue. And in April 1904, there was also a brief mention of an unnamed Chinese restaurant at 46 Beach Street.

More trouble at another Chinese restaurant, fulfilling some of the worst fears of the opponents of the Chinese. The Boston Globe, January 23, 1904, printed a horrifying article about the alleged abduction, imprisonment and abuse suffered by two young women. Two 22 year old girls, from Nova Scotia, had been in Boston for only about seven months and decided to dine in Chinatown one evening. They met Chin Tye, a Chinese man who lived at 20 Oxford Street with his American wife, Emma. Tye invited them back to his house to meet his wife and the girls decided to go.

However, once at the house, they claimed that they were stripped, given wrappers and Chinese slippers to wear, and locked into a room. They weren’t permitted to leave the house. They remained there for several months, where they “entertained” a number of Chinese men. Eventually, they somehow got word to a police officer who rescued them, and Tye and his wife were arrested. On January 28, the charges of abduction and imprisonment were dismissed against the couple, and they were instead tried on the charge of "keeping a house of ill-fame." They were convicted and sentenced to six months.

More worries of Tong violence. The Boston Post, May 13, 1904, reported that due to more potential tong violence, 8 Chinese were arrested in a raid at 25 Harrison Avenue last Sunday. Allegedly 6 highbinders arrived in Boston, to enforce collecting collection money from merchants. The Boston Globe, May 13, 1904, also stated these were gambling raids, fueled by tips from one of the tongs. This was usually the Hep Sings informing on the On Leong. The police claimed that didn't see any hints of increased violence between the tongs.

The Boston Globe, May 22, 1904, wrote about the passing of Old John Sing, also known as “The Sage” and “Old John,” who worked, for the last ten years, as the “custodian of the temple of curious in the establishment of Hong Far Low & Co.” Sing, who was 65 years old when he died, came to the U.S. when he was a young boy, and settled in Chelsea where he eventually opened a fruit store. When he was 23 years old, he married an African American woman and moved to Charlestown. The article stated he “was the first Chinese to embark in general business.” Sing was survived by his wife and their three children, Oscar age 19, Rose age 21, and Maude age 23.

More tong violence, but more of an internal matter. The Boston Herald, August 2, 1904, mentioned that there was a stabbing, last night, in front of the Hep Sing's headquarters. About 7:30pm, Yee Shing, Yee Ton, and Yee Hamn were exiting the Sen Low restaurant at 46 Beach Street when Yee Shing was stabbed slightly in the thigh. These three men had been recently expelled from the Hep Sing Tong for revealing information about the tong. After the expulsion, the three men posted some secrets of the tong on the Oxford place bulletin board, even signing their names to the post. Two days later, three Chinese, all members of the Hep Sing, were arrested for the stabbing.

During the trial of these three men, the Boston Herald, August 11, 1904, noted that one of the government witnesses was Yee Ham, who stated the Hep Sing was “society of Highbinders” and the “society was organized originally for immoral purposes and was begun with the idea that by coercion and threats certain Chinamen could be compelled to pay a price for peace.” A protection scheme. Yee had been a member of the Hep Sing for about a year and had paid about $60 to them. He also noted the tong had about 125 members. In a follow up, the Boston Herald, August 20, 1904 reported that all three defendants were found guilty, each receiving a one year sentence, though they all appealed the sentence.

A brief article in the Boston Herald, October 3, 1904, mentioned that the Hep Sing had moved their headquarters from Beach Street to 75 Harrison Avenue, where they leased the upper 3 stories of the building.

The tong threats intensified! The Boston Post, December 16, 1904, reported that the On Leong Tong declared war against Hep Sing, publishing the declaration on a mammoth bulletin on the front of their headquarters. The police worried that a tong war was imminent and it was noted that this might be connected to the recent tong violence in New York City, where the Hep Sing, aiming for an On Leong man, shot a white American instead. Four Hep Sing men were arrested and charged with the murder. As a follow-up, the Boston Post, December 19, 1904, stated the police were gathering reserves in case of a Tong war. Both of the tong had large gatherings yesterday, and it was rumored that Tuy, the leader of the Hep Sings, might have returned from New York.

Though no violence broke out, the Boston Sunday Post, December 24, 1904, provided some background information on the tongs. The article stated that Highbinders were the professional killers of the Chinese, who would murder a man for $25-$1000. The On Leong had declared they would no longer pay protection to the Hep Sing, and the police claimed the On Leong were the worst of the two local tongs.

Violence didn't arrive until the new year. The Boston Herald, January 25, 1905, reported that last night, there had been a shooting in Chinatown. Lem Wong Goon, husband of Nellie Wong Goon and a member of the On Leong, owned a grocery in the basement of the rear of 23 Oxford Street. Two Chinese burst into the store and opened fire, with at least 9 shots fired, but fortunately only one bullet struck Lem, hitting him in the left leg. The police sought Yee Yoey and Joe Guey, Hep Sing members, as the alleged shooters.

Later that day, The Boston Globe, January 25, 1905, indicated the police arrested Yee Yuee, aged 29, of 86 Dartmouth Street, for assault and battery with attempt to kill Lem. They were still seeking the second shooter. A later edition of this newspaper added that the shooters used 41 caliber guns; and that Lem's wife, Nellie, was said to be “the prettiest white girl in Chinatown.” Joe Guey was arrested the next day.

The Boston Post, January 27, 1905 reported that the police raided the Hep Sing headquarters and found four men, thought to be Highbinders from New York. The police shipped them back to New York, fearing they were in Boston to kill members of the On Leong. More fears were revealed in the Boston Herald, August 7, 1905, with rumors of out-of-town assassins coming to Chinatown, and tong members walking around in chain mail shirts, wielding weapons. These rumors, of out-of-town assassins coming to Boston, were frequent during this time period, and commonly didn't result in any actual violence. There was plenty of fear but not all seemed justified.

Tong war fears continued. The Boston Daily Globe, August 26, 1905, noted that recent tong killings in New York, by the On Leong against the Hep Sing, might spur on revenge in Boston. The local On Leong also had some internal problems as the Chin family, about 50-60 people, left the On Leong Tong, claiming the assessment of fees to pay for court costs and gambling fines were too high. This weakened the tong, making them vulnerable and a more enticing target to the Hep Sing. The article also mentioned, “Sunday is the day when the laundrymen from all the suburbs and outlying towns and cities come in to Boston, ostensibly to buy Chinese groceries, but principally, the police say, to gamble,..

The Boston Sunday Globe, August 27, 1905, provided a photo of the Chinese bulletin board located on Oxford place in Chinatown. The board, about fifteen feet long and five feet wide, was located on the dead wall on the northerly side of the alley. Though anyone in Chinatown could post bulletins here, the tongs did so too, posting bulletins on flaming red paper with black letters. And the Boston Daily Globe, August 30, 1905, noted that a new notice on the board told the Chins to pay their dues and assessments and come back to the tong or face the wrath of the On Leongs.

The Chins weren't finding sanctuary with the Hep Sings. The Boston Daily Globe, September 11, 1905, claimed that the police learned that Chin and Moy factions of the On Leong, and the Hep Sing have all been stockpiling weapons, primarily revolvers and hatchets. The Hep Sing refused to accept the Chins into their tong. The police increased their presence in Chinatown, trying to determine where the arsenals were being stored. The Boston Post, September 11, 1905, reported that the police chose to make two raids, at 23 Oxford Street and 13 1/2 Harrison Avenue. At Oxford, they arrested ten Hep Sing members and at Harrison, they arrested 12 members of the On Leong. These raids were though to have prevented tong violence.

The above advertisement is from the Boston Globe, September 24, 1905, noting the Shanghai Low, a “first-class Chinese restaurant” located at 42 ½ Harrison Avenue.

There were more sightseeing tours organized for Chinatown. The Boston Herald, January 27, 1906, spoke with one of the guides who had a very positive view of Chinatown. He stated,  “The Chinese are good cooks. Their restaurants, aside from their patronage, are among the best in the world. The Chinese pride themselves on being good cooks. They attend strictly to business. The man who owns this restaurant is worth a great deal of money, and is growing richer every day, because he attends strictly to business.” He continued, contesting some of the recent news reports about the problems of Chinatown, stating, “..but then you know what newspaper talk is. It may or it may not be right.

A policeman was also quoted, “But gambling is at the root of all their troubles. There exists an organization known as the On Leong Tong. It has its headquarters. It exists primarily for the promotion of gambling.” He also stated, “And if you would like to know, when a Chinaman gambles he begins to get into trouble. All their fights start over gambling. They get into debt and then they commit crime to get out of debt. They quarrel over the spoils. Their gambling breeds as much trouble as gambling anywhere else.

The article also mentioned that when the Hep Sing formed, they took tribute from the Chinese gamblers but didn’t really offer them the protection they were supposed to provide. In time, the Hep Sing decided to try to prevent all gambling in an attempt to help the community. In response, the gambling interests in Chinatown formed the On Leong to contest the Hep Sing.

More Tong war fears. The Boston Post, July 16, 1906, described the recent, five-day celebration of Boon Tong, the famous Chinese war god. The Kee wai, a Chinese war flag, was erected at the headquarters of the Hep Sing. The flag is white and in each corner is a Chinese symbol which translates as “down with the enemy.” The flag had originally been brought to Boston years ago during another tong clash but it hadn't been displayed for years. Thus, the police were worried the flag would signal a new tong war, though nothing actually erupted.

Who would be the heir to the Queen of Chinatown? In the first part of this series, I mentioned that Bella Long, the Queen of Chinatown for over 20 years, had died in May 1906. Two candidates were soon after put forward to succeed her. The Boston Post, July 17, 1906, detailed the two candidates, each offered by one of the two tongs. The On Leong wanted Lena Chang of Fall River to be the new Queen, though little information about her was provided in the article. The Hep Sing wanted Cora Chin, formerly of Lynn, to be the new Queen.

Cora was the wife of Foo Chin, a well known Chinaman, and they lived at 29 Harrison Avenue, on the third floor, and their apartment only had two rooms, a kitchen and bedroom. Lee Fin How, acting as cheeli-len-kow, or lord high chamberlain of the Hep Sing, paid an official visit to Cora with a “coronation suite of 20 costly arrayed Celestials.” He brought the belloo nesik, royal diadem, to crown Cora, but found she was in an opium-induced slumber so they had to postpone the coronation for another date. Cora was blonde-haired, of medium height, and once was beautiful but no longer due to her opium addiction.

It's unknown what happened with this competition to be the Queen, but it seems likely little was ever decided. Neither may have become the sole Queen, and both might have been referred to as such for a time. However, the newspapers were subsequently silent about both women, and no longer discussed a Queen of Chinatown. Bella Long may live on as the one and only Queen of Chinatown, with no true successors.

This Boston Post article also mentioned the rumors that five hatchet men had traveled from Philadelphia to Boston, looking to kill whoever squealed on the Ong Leong about their use of the mail to defraud people in a policy scheme. Nothing seemed to have come from these rumors though.

There were continued tensions about tong violence in August. The Boston Herald, August 26, 1906, noted that Hop Sing Duck, one of four New York City Chinese to come to Boston recently, was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, a.44 revolver. The next day, the Herald claimed that the tension was due to a white woman, Mrs. Bessie Moi Toi, aka Bessie Ching, who lived in New York City. She was a “pretty little woman, dark complexioned with large dark eyes and a good figure” and the “present apple of her eye is Hop Sing Duck." She recently came to Boston in the company of Wong Duck, a leader of the Hep Sings of Boston, Hop Sing Duck and his 2 companions.

The Boston Post, August 29, 1906, stated that allegedly seven Highbinders from New York came to Boston, bringing a new Joss for the Hep Sing's Joss House, as they considered their old one unlucky and needed to discarded it. The On Leong allege that the Hep Sing Tong is a graft society and charged merchants $1 a week for protection, eventually raising it to $2. At that point, some merchants refused to pay and they eventually formed the On Leong for self protection. The tensions in Chinatown have reduced the amount of non-Chinese visiting the neighborhood, and the article also mentioned that “White girls, who gave up their normal life to cast their lot among the Chinamen because of some mysterious fascination, do not dare mingle in the conflict.”

It would not be until a year later that Chinatown would actually explode in violence, the eruption of a Tong war, and several bodies dropped. The Boston Herald, August 3, 1907, reported that it appeared that 8-10 Hep Sing shooters, dressed in American clothes and armed with .38 and .44 revolvers, began shooting people on Oxford place, where about 50 Chinese were at the time. There were over 50 shots fired within four minutes. Three people died and a number of others were seriously or lightly wounded. After the shooting, the police raided various buildings in Chinatown, seeking evidence, and they noted that the Hep Sing Tong denied any connection to the shootings.

The three dead men included: Chin Lete, 45 years old, a laundryman who lived on Dover Street near Washington Street, and he was shot through the left lung and stomach; Wong Lee Ching, 55 years old, a prominent Chinese Freemason who lived at 29 Harrison Avenue, and was shot through the heart; and Chin Mon Quin, 48 years old and lived at 11 Oxford St, was shot through the heart. Three men were seriously wounded, and might die, and they included: Lee Kai, 29 years old, of 3 Oxford Street, and he was shot through the right side below the ribs and through both thighs; Shang Gu, 28 years old, of 23 Oxford Street, who was shot through the left side; and Goon Jong Gou, 47 years old, a Gloucester laundryman, who was shot in the abdomen. Four others were seriously wounded while a numbers of others received minor injuries.

Some of the alleged shooters were arrested, including Min Sing, 29 years old, of New York City; Hong Woon, 34 years old, of New York City; Joe Guey, 46 years old, of Dartmouth Street; Charley Hang, 30 years old, of Boston;; and Yee Wah, 35 years old, of Boston.

The Boston Post, August 3, 1907, also reported on the violence, alleging that the attack had been planned for about two weeks, but had been a delayed a short bit because of an increased police presence in Chinatown. Finally, they made their move, armed with army revolvers, silver plated hatchets, and chain mail shirts. The article also had an interesting sidebar, titled “What the Rival Societies Are and Do,” which have a brief description of the two tongs and the Highbinders.

It began with, “Hep Sing Tongs-Said to be the protectors of gamblers, use their power and influence in Chinatown to enforce a system of blackmail on laundrymen, merchants and residents of the colony. The employers of the ‘killers,’ or ‘hatchet men,’ who slay for a price. The most powerful of all Chinese societies, and the tyrants over their countrymen all over the United States. Deemed by their brothers to be the scum of the yellow monarchy, who kill, slay, maim and levy tribute on all decent Chinese."

For the other tong, it stated, “On Leong Tongs—Termed the reform association, or the Chinese ‘Good Government Association.’ Formed to break the power of the rival tong, the Hep Sings; to prevent blackmail, assassination and crime against the Chinese residents. Comprised largely of the Americanized Chinese and the better class of the colonists. Constantly at war with the Hep Sing, which claim them to be as bad as the worst.”

Finally, it described, “Highbinders—Chinese terrorists, who kill, maim and slay anybody for a price. Termed ‘killers,’ ‘hatchet men,’ and the oldest secret society in the Chinese empire. Headquarters in this country supposed to be in San Francisco with constituent branches in every big city of the country. Tyrannize every colony in the nation. The murderers of each city’s Chinatown.”

Additional arrests were made. The Boston Sunday Post, August 4, 1907, reported a 6th arrest, of Wong How, 27 years old, of 209 Shawmut Avenue, and 7th arrest, of Wong Duck, 43 years old, a Quincy laundryman. Then, the 8th arrest was reported in the Boston Herald, August 6, 1907, of Yee Chung of New York, who was apprehended by police in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

What was the reason behind this vicious attack? The Boston Sunday Post, August 11, 1907, alleged to know the truth. It supposedly began with the kidnapping of a beautiful, 18 year-old Chinese slave girl named Ohe Fah Wong. A wealthy On Leong merchant wanted her but she was already owned by a Los Angeles merchant, so he decided to kidnap her. He hired Wong Luck, an actor, to kidnap her and Wong travelled to Los Angeles. He was able to beguile Ohe and she agree to flee with him. However, Wong fell in love with her and when he returned to New York, they got an apartment together.

The On Leong were angry and took Ohe from Wong, who then went to Philadelphia, where he plotted a way to get her back. Wong was betrayed and 4 Chinese killers went to Philadelphia looking for him. Wong and his friend, Lung Kee, were ambushed, shot and killed but Lung was actually a member of the Hep Sing. The tong was angry at his murder and in retribution , they murdered Ding Loo, a On Leong man in Philadelphia. The police in Philadelphia took strong action to stop the violence, threatening to expel all of the Chinese in the city if the war continued, so the war moved to Boston.

Another person was soon arrested, though this time the charge was accessory to murder. The Boston Sunday Post, August 11, 1907, reported that Warry S. Charles, was arrested. He was a graduate of a Western university, married to a white woman, and the father of 2 children. For 12 years, he lived in South Boston, while his family lived in Brooklyn, and owned a laundry at 17 Myrtle Street. Warry also acted as an interpreter for the government. In addition, it was noted that he used to be the active leader of the Hep Sing for years but relinquished his role a year or more ago when Sin Tuy was chosen as his successor.

More tong-related deaths? The Boston Post, August 13, 1907, stated that Leong Quon recently died, and might have been poisoned at a feast during a recent Chinatown funeral. The Tongs are known to use poisons. Another Chinese laundryman, Chin One Mon, also recently died, possibly of pneumonia and opium poisoning but it was recommended that the police should take a new look into his death.

Could peace come? The Boston Sunday Post, August 18, 1907, briefly noted that on the upcoming the two tongs would meet in New York City to try to broker a peace, and a number of Boston's Chinatown residents were supposed to attend.

The above advertisement is from the Boston Post, September 11, 1907, noting a new Chinese restaurant, the Hankow, located at 19-21 Essex Street. It is an “up-to-date” Chinese restaurant and will have a “Ladies’ Private Dining Room.” This was intended to provide a safe haven for women to dine without men. The Boston Sunday Post, September 15, 1907, had a brief article about Hankow, stating it was “one of the most completely furnished and up-to-date Chinese restaurants in the city of Boston” and that “service and food are of such excellence as to satisfy the most fastidious.”


A peace agreement between the tongs obviously never occurred as the Boston Herald, September 12, 1907, reported that in Oakland and San Francisco, two Hep Sing members were killed by On Leongs in direct result of the Boston murders. It's stated that this war began four years ago in San Francisco and the number of dead, across the country now totaled 30 with the On Leong Tong up by one.

Locally, as detailed in the Boston Herald, September 15, 1907, the police raided Chinatown once again and found 1000 rounds of ammo, a case of 12 Winchester repeating riddles, 12 .44 Colt revolvers, and other arms, all which had just been delivered to 30 Harrison Avenue. Four Chinese were brought in for interviewing, and they claimed the weapons were going to be sent to Vancouver for self defense in anti-Chinese riots.

Not all the dangers in Chinatown were from the Tongs. The Boston Herald, October 4, 1907, detailed that Fireman James Downey was shot and probably fatally injured in Chinatown last night.  Clement Yore, 36 years old and a Southerner who resided at 136 St. Botolph Street, was arrested but claimed self defense. It appears that Downey was with 3 friends, opposite the restaurant at 36 Harrison Avenue, and they and other witnesses said Clement acted without reason. They claimed that Clement just walked up and grabbed one of Downey’s friends. They tried to help their friend and Clement then pulled a gun and shot Downey.

Tong violence also continued. The Boston Herald, December 24, 1907 described how Ong Sipoy, a laundryman, was attacked and almost beaten to death by two Chinese for refusing to pay $50 to the Hep Sing. The attack occurred in the laundry of Mechang Queng, located at 4 West Canton Street. Until 2 years ago, Sipoy had been a member of Hep Sing, but then he joined the Chee Kong Tong, the Chinese Freemasons. He owned the laundry but sold it 3 weeks ago to Queng. The attackers were Ong Tang and Queong Young, both Hep Sings. Young was arrested five days later in Lynn whole he was working at a laundry.

As reported in the Boston Post, January 8, 1908, the trial for the ten Chinese in the Chinatown Tong massacre trial was to be held on the 20th, with all ten tried together. Thirteen days later, the Boston noted that the trial would take about three weeks, with over 100 witnesses. Nine of the defendants would be tried for murder, for the four deceased victims, while the tenth defendant, Warry Charles, would be tried as an accessory to murder. During the trial, the Boston Herald, February 18, 1908, detailed the testimony of Shoy Poong, a laundryman who lived on West Canton Street. Sooy stated that Warry Charles was the president of the Hep Sings, and had planned and directed the tong murders.

The verdict! The Boston Herald, March 8, 1908, announced that yesterday, nine defendants were found guilty, with the tenth defendant, Yee Wat, having died during the course of the trial. The first trial in this matter actually ended in a mistrial after five days due to the sickness of a juror member. The second trial lasted 33 days, with a cost of Suffolk County of about $11,200 and a cost to the defense of about $10,000. The jury issued a verdict in two hours. The Boston Sunday Post, March 8, 1908, also mentioned that Warry had been found guilty and was sentenced to the electric chair, as were all the other defendants. The paper also quoted the On Leong, who stated this would be the end of the Hep Sing Tong in Chinatown.

The Boston Journal, March 9, 1908, then reported that a number of Hep Sing members were leaving Chinatown, headed to New York City or Philadelphia. Would this be the end of tong violence in Chinatown? Though the power of the Hep Sing obviously was greatly reduced, the future would show that the Hep Sing was still a factor in Chinatown, and tong violence was still a potential.

The Boston Sunday Post, January 10, 1909, noted that the On Leong Tong had moved to a new headquarters at 5 and 7 Harrison Ave.

Voting Chinese. The Boston Herald, January 10, 1909, printed an article titled, Chinese Voting Population of Boston. This basically included only two Chinese men in Boston, both who were native born citizens, who cast their ballots regularly.  “A law forbids the naturalization of any Chinese immigrant,…” but the native born children of Chinese immigrants became citizens and could vote when they became 21 years old. 

Charley K. Shue, age 35, of 18A Harrison Avenue, was born in Seattle and came to Boston about 15 years ago. He works in a Chinese restaurant and has two small sons, Russell Bates and Albert. Moy C. Wing, age 36-37, of 4 Oxford Place, was born in San Francisco. and came to Boston about 20 years ago. He works in a curiosity shop, and has a wife and two young sons in China. His oldest son, Harry Moy Wing, is about 12-13 years old and lives in Boston with his father. Both of them have been voting for at least fifteen years, since they were of age to legally vote.

More Tong violence. The Boston Post, January 13, 1909, reported on a violent assault in Chinatown. Yee Dun Ging, who lived at 14 Oxford Street, ran into a store at 2 Oxford Place armed with a three-edged chisel, a razor and a .44 revolver. He attacked, and nearly killed two men, including Chin Sooey Eng, one of the store owners, and his friend, Moy Ni Tou. It was alleged that Yee Dun Ging was a member of the Hep Sing and the two victims were On Leong men.


Another Chinese first! The Boston Herald, April 29, 1909, reported that, “The first Chinese justice of the peace in the United States was created yesterday afternoon, when Gov. Draper signed a commission for Charles K. Shue, a well known resident of Boston’s Chinatown.” Interestingly, the powers of this office varied, so Shue could “take oaths, issue writs and take depositions” but he couldn't perform marriages. This is the same Shue I mentioned above who was one of only two voting Chinese in Boston. 

It was stated, “There is demand,…, for a Chinamen who is authorized to take oaths and depositions, and it is to meet this that Mr. Shue was commissioned.” Shue owned a Chinese restaurant on Washington Street. “ of the largest and most ornate of its kind in the city,” although it wasn't identified in this article. IT was also said that he was a member of the firm of S.Y. Tank & Co., on Harrison Avenue and also “holds a commanding position as one of the chief merchants of Chinatown.” Shue lived on Harrison Avenue, with his wife and 2 children, and “maintains of the of the most sumptuous homes in the district.” 


As mentioned in the Boston Post, May 26, 1909, Moy June, the president of the On Leong, would soon leave for China to accept a government position in that country.

Following up on the Tong massacre, the Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, October 12, 1909, mentioned that three of the convicted men had recently been executed, by the electric chair, and three more awaited execution. The other defendants though were awaiting new trials, based on successful appeals of their convictions. The Boston Herald, December 1, 1909, then reported that the Governor commuted the sentences of two of the defendants, Warry Charles and Joe Guey, to life imprisonment without parole. Investigation had cast doubt on some of the evidence that convicted them, though not enough to free them.


In restaurant news, it appeared that Hong Far Low, at 36 ½ Harrison, lacked a liquor license as the Boston Globe, July 20, 1908, reported a raid by the police at the restaurant. The police seized 53 bottles of beer, 2 gallons of gin, a pint of whiskey, and 3/8th of a gallon of mixed liquor. 

A writer for the Boston Evening Trascrtipt, July 6, 1909, spent much time, day and night, visiting local Chinese restaurants ".., gathering material to prove the fallacy or truth of the taint of such places." In the end, ".., the most disagreeable sight was an endless chain noodle stew act, where for one solid ten minutes a man endeavored to extricate himself from a dish of noodles."

One of his surprises was, "And the orders called 'small' are really huge. Take chow mein, for instance, a dish immediately liked by the Americans as it contains our foods--noodles, onions, sprouts, celery and chicken. One small order of this will last two persons an hour of steady eating. Perhaps it is because of its need for mastication, or it may be the conversation which goes with it."

Fears were stoked once again that white women were being morally corrupted at Chinese restaurants. In January 1910, Representative Donovan of Boston filed a bill to prohibit women from entering Chinese restaurants unless they were over 21 years old, and accompanied by a man. That man, who couldn’t be Chinese, also had to be at least than 21 years old.

In the Boston Sunday Post, February 20, 1910, Representative Donovan explained some of the rationale behind his bill. “This proposed statue, says Mr. Donovan, is to keep girls out of Chinatown, and away from that centre of degradation.” He continued, “It is really a study to watch how the Chinamen trap these girls.” He then went into detail how women who went to Chinese restaurants were groomed and spoiled by the restaurant owners, slowly enticing them until they eventually led them into an opium den, convincing them to partake of that drug.

As written, this bill would even have prevented a Chinese woman from entering a Chinese restaurant with her Chinese husband, father or other male relative.

A hearing delayed on this bill due to the presence of children. The Boston Herald, March 17, 1910, reported that there had been discussion on the bill on Tuesday afternoon, and it was then first on the calendar for discussion on Wednesday. However, several score of students from a Waltham school showed up at the House on a field trip. “A fear that the morals of the Waltham school children might be contaminated by the debate on the bill to prohibit women from entering Chinese restaurants cause the House yesterday to postpone the discussion of that measure until Monday.” There was a motion to postpone, “saying that the measure was not to be debated in polite society,..”

The Boston Herald, April 5, 1910, then noted that, “An effort was made to drown the Chinese restaurant bill in a deluge of amendments at yesterday afternoon’s session of the House, but it was finally passed to a third reading by a vote of 111 to 80.” All of the amendments were voted down, although Representative Warren of Chelsea opposed the bill as unconstitutional. The bill though was sent another step along its way to the Senate.” Fortunately, Attorney General Malone, in April 1910, gave his opinion that the bill was unconstitutional. Thus, on April 22, the Houses rejected the bill but the matter wasn’t finished.

After the rejection, a persistent Representative Donovan asked for the bill to be reconsidered. He claimed that the Attorney General opinion wasn’t absolute and that the bill would be constitutional if Chinese restaurants were found to be more “injurious to the public morals” than any other class of restaurants. Donovan claimed to have evidence to show this was the case. Fortunately, his motion to reconsider was also defeated.

Massachusetts wasn’t the only state to attempt to restrict women from entering Chinese restaurants. The Pittsburgh Press, September 12, 1910, reported on a proposed ordinance which would close Chinese restaurants as midnight, but also would prohibit all women from going to Chinese restaurants, whether accompanied by a man or not. Mrs. Stella C. Masters, a leader in Pennsylvania’s temperance movement, claimed to have amassed plenty of evidence of the moral dangers from Chinse restaurants. “I have had even young men and women describe to me sights and sounds and incidents in these places, which, if published, would chill the blood of the right-minded citizen.”

There was plenty of people opposed to the ordinance, including Captain of Detectives William Elmore who stated, “We never have any trouble with these restaurants. The Chinese give us less trouble than any other class.” Surprisingly, the Pittsburgh City Council passed the ordinance but the Mayor quickly vetoed the bill, claiming it was unreasonable and discriminatory.

Though you would have thought the matter was settled in Boston, it was resurrected in January 1911 when Representative William L.V. Newton of South Boston tried to bring the bill forward once again. In February, Newton claimed that a lawyer had tried to bribe him with $150 last year to oppose this bill. There was some House discussion of the bill, and Henry Cunningham, who wrote the bill, said the idea behind the bill was to suppress crime. In March, the House decided to ask the Massachusetts Supreme Court to rule on constitutionality of the proposed bill.

Some evidence which would lend support for the bill came from a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In the Boston Globe, March 6, 1911, there was an article about a speech given by Dr. William F. Boos to the annual public meeting of the Watch and Ward Society. He stated that, “More than 10 percent of the doctors of the United States, as well as many of their wives and many trained nurses, are addicted to the use of morphine, and numbers of Boston young women who patronize Chinese restaurants because of a taste for chop suey and other characteristic Chinese dishes end by becoming confirmed opium smokers in Chinese dives in the rear of Harrison av.

In the end, the Massachusetts Supreme Court was unanimous in their decision that this bill was unconstitutional, and this finally ended the pursuit of this bill. Well, almost.


Peace in Chinatown? The Lowell Sun, March 5, 1910, briefly mentioned that peace had apparently come to the Tongs in Chinatown, but one month later, that seemed to be untrue. The Boston Post, April 11, 1910, noted that police increased security in Chinatown over fears of new violence, due to four recent Tong murder in New York and Philadelphia. Fortunately, no violence came to Chinatown at that time. This was further solidified as mentioned in the Springfield Republican, January 30, 1911. At a celebration for Chinese New Year, the rival tongs clasped hands for peace for first time in years. There were big hopes that this peace might be long lasting.

Thanksgiving at the detention center. The Boston Globe, November 25, 1910, described Thanksgiving celebrations at the immigration detention center on Long Wharf. Chinese from Chinatown sent down an array of foods for their brethren being held at the detention center. The foods included chow mein, chop suey, boiled rice, ho bow chee, sin san up (duck), load gee gui (chicken with chestnuts), gui yong ye chee (shark's fin with chicken), beank, mar hong candy, lychee nuts, and more. 

The Boston Globe, June 17, 1911, reported on how three men tried to steal cups from the Red Dragon restaurant at 9 ½ Harrison Avenue. The Chinese tried to get the cups back, but the thieves brandished a gun so they backed off. The police were able to arrest two of the three thieves.

Numerous newspapers during September and October 1911, presented some intriguing new information related to the alleged first restaurant in Chinatown. Was this finally the answer that I've been seeking? Or would it only provide additional questions?

Jang Po, a leading businessman in Chinatown, was returning to China, with about $500,000 he had earned during his career. It was alleged that he opened the first Chinese restaurant in Boston in 1879, and was the first to serve chop suey. He allegedly began with a modest restaurant and a few years later, moved to “more pretentious quarters.” In the fall of 1911, his restaurant occupied nearly a block. He also owned a grocery store and curio shop. It was also stated that his wife and children lived in Canton, China, and that he had only seen them once in the last 38 years.

Curiously, in all of the articles at this time, not a single one of them ever mentioned the name or address of Jang Po’s restaurant. Why was that the case? Did Jang Po own Hong Far Low, or a different restaurant? Such a strange omission and there weren’t any clues as to why they omitted that information. In fact, the articles were very vague about Jang Po's history, which tends to raise a red flag in my mind. What was the source for these newspapers articles? Did they only speak to Jang Po, or did someone else provide them the basic information?

Recently though, I found another old newspaper article which gave me a sufficient clue to identify the alleged name of Jang Po's restaurant. The Boston Journal, September 7, 1911, provided additional details about Jang Po. He was said to be 65 years old, and owned three shops located about 38 Harrison Avenue, which seemed to be on the site of his former restaurant. The article gave the impression that the restaurant was no longer open. Years ago, after opening his restaurant, he soon after opened a grocery store, and then a curio shop. He was said to have been known throughout New England for the Chinese phrase, "Yo la," which means "We have it," as he was allegedly able to find anything you might want.

Though this article also failed to mention the name of the restaurant, it provided a photograph of Jang Po (pictured above), and that was the clue I needed to identify his alleged restaurant. It is the same photograph that appears on the menu for Hong Far Low, circa 1930, which can be seen in The Harley Spiller Chinese Menu Collection, The menu did not provide a name for the pictured man, simply alleging he was the first to make chop suey in Boston in 1879.

However, I'm still very skeptical about this claim, especially as I couldn’t find any prior mention of Jang Po in any of the numerous newspaper archives or websites I've searched. He just seemed to suddenly appear in a number of newspapers in September and October 1911, despite allegedly being in Boston for thirty-eight years. For a wealthy person, with a compelling claim of restaurant primacy, then why didn't anyone write about him prior to 1911? When the only articles about this claim are from 30+ years after the incident, and they lack many details, you have to question their validity.

Once again, there were worries of renewed Tong violence. The Boston Journal, January 20, 1912, printed that there was some unrest in Chinatown, worries that the Hep Sings might start some violence as they had finally built back up their war chest, which had been depleted after all of their prior legal battles. Fortunately, once again, those fears didn't come to fruition.

In February 1912, there is a brief mention of the Empire Restaurant Company of 34 Beach Street.

The Boston Herald, August 31, 1912, reported that Yee Moo, suspected of being a New York City gunman and a member of the Hep Sing had failed to appear in court on charge of carrying a loaded revolver. The police again worried about new violence, alleging that some laundry men had been robbed by other Chinese and were too fearful to report the matters to the police. The next day, Yee Moo was arrested and given a one month sentence for carrying a loaded revolver.

In December 1912, it was noted that some Chinese in Boston had chosen to adopt the American New Year. The Boston Globe, December 28, 1912, printed that "The local Chinese having adopted the American New Year, they will celebrate New Year's day next Wednesday in splendid style. For many of the Celestials there will be two New Year days, for not all favor the abrogation of the Chinese New Year, which comes in February."

At this time, the mayor of Chinatown was Yee Wah, and he planned to hold an open house at 9 Oxford Street for the American New Year celebration. He would be accompanied by Soo Wing, a prominent businessman and the interpreter of the Chinese Merchant's Association. One of those saddened by the adoption of American New Year was 70-year old Moy Fong Lee, alleged to be "the only man in Boston who can talk the silvery Kan-wha language of the officials and nobles in Pekin."

A huge banquet was going to be held by the local Chinese merchants for the American New Year, and the menu included items including, "chop suey with mushrooms, Mo Kwu chicken with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, chow mein, fried noodles with shredded chicken, noodle soup with shredded pork, plain roast duck, green peppers filled with tenderloin beef, fried lobster with pineapple, bamboo shoots, lobster omelet, fried Chinese cabbage, schrod terrapin, red snapper, pompano, and Chinese oysters and clams." For dessert, there would be "..gum ghet, bor low pineapples, lichee nuts, sah lee, preserved pears, sweet ginger, celery and sour and sweet pickles."

Gambling raids continue. The Boston Globe, February 17, 1913, stated the police raided 21 Tyler Street, which was owned by the On Leong spot. The police allegedly received a tip from the Hep Sing. The article also mentioned that gambling in Chinatown now occurs on at least the 2nd floor in any building, providing them a bit more safety from the police. Very little ground floor gambling  existed any longer.

Leprosy fears! The Boston Globe, March 8, 1913, and Fitchburg Sentinel, March 8, 1913, reported that Wong Quang, a waiter at a Chinese restaurant on Oxford Street, was recently diagnosed with leprosy. Wong had been in the U.S. for eight years, and one of those years in Boston. It was unknown how he acquired the disease and health officials were examining the other restaurant workers, as well as those close to Wong, to ensure no one else had leprosy. Wong was to be sent to the leper colony on Penikese Island, off the southern coast of Massachusetts. In the end, no one else was found to have leprosy.

Representative Donovan returned, and he was still angry about the Chinese! The Boston Globe, April 6, 1913, wrote about a town meeting held for a number of Boston wards. Representative John Donovan, of Ward 7, complained about the growth of the Chinatown neighborhood, alleging that landlords were pushing out poor people so they could rent to the Chinese, who were willing to pay twice what the prior residents had been paying. Donovan also wanted to know why there were so many Chinese in Boston despite the Exclusion Act. In addition, he tried to push his restaurant bill again, to prohibit unaccompanied women from entering Chinese restaurants, and wanted another law to prevent the Chinese from carrying firearms. Fortunately, Donovan was largely ignored and his bill remained dead.

Though Donovan was largely ignored, a new report, House 2281, Report of the Commission for the Investigation of the White Slave Traffic, So Called (February 1914) raised concerns about the dangers of some Chinese restaurants. The report stated, “Some of the restaurants conducted by Chinamen in various cities in Massachusetts are favorite resorts of professional prostitutes and their pimps and customers. Certain white prostitutes solicit exclusively in Chinese restaurants, and cater only to Chinese patrons. Many of these are quite young women.” It also noted that, “These restaurants are also the meeting places of young white men and immoral young girls who have not yet become commercial prostitutes.” In addition, the report states, “Private booths in these restaurants are curtained, and couples may enter and draw the curtains together, with the understanding that the waiter is not to open the curtains until he is told to do so by the occupants. Young girls often become intoxicated in these places. Some Chinese restaurants have rooms upstairs which they rent to couples for immoral purposes.”

However, these warnings about Chinese restaurants were only a small part of the larger report, which also indicated numerous other places, from dance halls to lodging houses, where prostitution occurred. Thus, Chinese restaurants weren’t much different from many other establishments at this time. It wasn’t even a harm that primarily occurred at Chinese restaurants. It was more just a small element in the larger scheme of rampant prostitution in Boston during this period. However, that wouldn't stop some opponents from trying to use the information against Chinese restaurants.


In 1913, there were about 3,000 Chinese in the greater Boston area, and the Boston Journal, April 29, 1913, noted that nearly all came from Hong Kong or Canton. However, there were less Chinese than there were ten years before, and during the prior three to four years, more returned home than came to the Boston area. About half of the current population, 1500-1600 of the Chinese, were laundrymen. There were about 40 merchant establishments in Chinatown, but American merchants had been moving in, trying to push out the Chinese, and the article predicted Chinatown could be gone in five years. Fortunately, that didn't occur.

The article also mentioned that there were only about 32 Chinese women in the greater Boston area, about 1% of the total Chinese population. This disparity was far greater than many other Chinatowns across the country. It was also noted that there were about 100 Chinese children attending public schools, the majority in Quincy. Some older students attended high school, while there were also 17 Chinese at Harvard, one in medical school, and 1 at Boston University. There were also supposed to be eight Chinese restaurants in Boston, six in Chinatown, and they did most of their business, except on Sundays, with whites.

A valuable resource about Chinese businesses at this time was the International Chinese Business Directory of the World (1913), compiled by Wong Kin. This directory listed all of the Chinese businesses in Massachusetts, from laundries to restaurants. Some of the restaurant listings appear to only be for the owner, and not necessarily the restaurant they operate. In Boston, there were listings for about 100 Chinese laundries and 18 Chinese restaurants.

The Boston restaurant listings included Ben Far Low, 32 Harrison Avenue; Empire Restaurant, 38 Beach Street; Hankow Restaurant, 16 Essex Street; Hong Far Low, 36 Harrison Avenue; Kim Far Low, 15 Harrison Avenue; Man Yuen Low, 29 Harrison Avenue; Pacific Restaurant, 1139 Washington Street; Red Dragon Restaurant, 9 ½ Harrison Street; Royal Restaurant, 10 Harrison Avenue; Sam Wah, 2399 Burbon Street; Shanghai Restaurant, 48 Harrison Avenue; Sing Wah, 550 Fremont Street; Washington Café, 673 Washington Street; Wei Ying Lowe, 19 Harrison Avenue; Wong Kew, 209 Shawmut Avenue; Yee Wah & Co., 742 Huntington Avenue; Yuen Sun Low, 13 Harrison Avenue; and Yuet Sun Low.

As for the rest of Massachusetts, there were listings for the following: Attleboro --Soon Lee, 78 Park Street; Young Wing, 4 South Main Street; Cambridge--Henry Lee, 1392 Cambridge Street; Fall River--Hong Far Low & Co, 16 Pleasant Street; Imperial Café, 162 Bank Street; Mee Nam Law & Co, 132 2nd Avenue; Oriental Restaurant, 16 South Main Street; LawrenceCanton Restaurant, 32 Hampshire Street; LowellCanton Co., 6 Hurd Street; Chin Lee & Co, 117 Merrimack Street; Chong Lee, no address given; Wong & Co, 29 Central Street; Lynn--Hong Far Low, 10 Mulberry Street; Jay Yet Low, 422 Washington Street; Man Fong Law, 56 Central Avenue; Mee Wah Low, 42 Munroe Street; New Bedford--Canton Café, 949 Acushnet Avenue; Sue Fong Low & Co., no address given; Salem--Hong Far Low & Co, 127 Washington Street; and Worcester--Quong Sing & Co, no address given. 

It's very interesting that there were four restaurants in Massachusetts named Hong Far Low, and based on other evidence, it doesn't appear the other three were related to the Boston location. 

On a smaller scale, the Boston Register and Business Directory (1914), compiled by Sampson & Murdock, contained information about the businesses within Chinatown. All but one of the seven Chinese restaurants were located on Harrison Avenue. The list included: Empire Restaurant (34 Beach), Red Dragon Restaurant (9 ½ Harrison), Royal Restaurant (16 Harrison), Bun Fong Low & Co. (32 Harrison), Hong Far Low & Co. (36 ½ Harrison), Shang Hai Low Co. (42A Harrison), and Chin Quen (82 ½ Harrison).

The Boston Daily Globe, March 26, 1915, noted that The Bun Fong Low Co. Chinese restaurant, located at 32 Harrison Ave, was under new management by The Sun Far Low Co.

Chinese wives! The Boston Herald, June 20, 1915, printed an article about the less than 40 Chinese women in the Boston area, depicting them as extremely happy wives, even though they are seen as submissive. The article noted these women have different ideas of "women's rights" and states, "They are educated. They are students of art, of literature, even of philosophy. They follow world affairs with keen interest. They think much but talk little. And they are happy." We can note at this point that maybe only about 72 Chinese men in Boston lived with their wives. Some other men might have also been married but their wives were still in China.

The Boston Herald, August 10, 1915, noted that Warry Charles, one of the men convicted in the Tong massacre, and possibly the mastermind behind it all, died in prison from heart trouble.

How many restaurants were there in Boston in 1916? The Boston Globe, January 3, 1916, provided an answer to that question, noting there were 1816 restaurants and cafes in Boston. It also broke down that total by who ran the restaurants, with first place going to "native Americans" at 810. Russians were in second place with 218 places, noting that many of those were kosher restaurants, and Greeks occupied third place with 211 places. The breakdown continued with Italians at 108 restaurants, Armenians 49, Germans 43, French 23, Syrians 24, Chinese 21, and Austrians 14. So, at this time, there were only 21 Chinese restaurants in Boston, which included both in and out of Chinatown.

A couple Chinese restaurants were the subject of litigation in 1916. First, the Boston Post, January 25, 1916, had an advertisement for The Mandarin, “Boston’s Finest Chinese Restaurant,” which was located at 255 Tremont Street and had been remodeled and improved.

Another ad, in the Boston Post, April 7, 1916, provided some information on the dishes that were served at this restaurant, from Bird's Nest Soup to Lobster Chow Mein. However, in May 1916, the restaurant was found guilty of operating without a common victuallers' license, and was fined $100. 

The restaurant appealed the issue and later that month tried to compel the licensing board to issue them a license. They stated they had just taken on a ten-year lease and had spent $35,000 in alterations. It is unclear what happened to their prior license, and why a new license wasn’t granted, though the restaurant alleged racial discrimination.

Another Chinese first. The Boston Globe, October 10, 1916, stated that the first Chinese person in Boston had been given a city position. Aloy Soong was appointed by Mayor Curley as an assistant bacteriologist in the Health Department. Aloy, who was born in Hawaii and is a naturalized citizen, had studied at both Yale and Harvard and currently lives at 96 St. James Avenue. He wants to work at the Health Department for experience, and eventually return to China as a representative of the Rockefeller Institute in carrying on bacteriological and research work. 

Second, another Chinese restaurants was sued for engaging in racial discrimination. The Boston Post, October 24, 1916, published an article about what might be the first damage suit against a Chinese restaurant for racial discrimination ever tried in Municipal Civil Court. The four plaintiffs were Norman Raynor, his wife Susan Raynor, Bernard Thomas, and Evelyn Gray. On Labor Day, they had attended the theater and afterwards went to Chinatown for dinner. At the Eagle Restaurant Company, 32 Harrison Avenue, they were told that “colored persons” weren’t allowed in their establishment. The plaintiffs sued the defendants for $110 each and the Court ruled in their favor, though the award was only $25 each. 

Chinese cuisine was thought to be very inexpensive, with large portions often served at very low prices. How could these restaurants survive with such low prices? An intriguing, albeit brief, article in the Boston Globe, June 23, 1916, claimed that a lawsuit in New York had determined that the average profit at a Chinese restaurant was 300%!! No details or substantiation were provided in the article, and I'll be seeking more information on this alleged lawsuit. 

A brief article in the Boston Post, December 14, 1916, noted that the Pekin, a new Chinese restaurant just opened, and it was located at the corner of Washington Street and Beach Street.

Fear gripped Chinatown once again! The Boston Herald, December 26, 1916, described the great fears in Chinatown due to the rumor that the “Black Devil,” known as “the most-to-be-dreaded of all the old-time ‘hatchet men’ of tong warfare” was in Chinatown. For the last 6 years, he was thought to have been traveling through Canada, South America, Mexico & China, avoiding apprehension for a series of homicides in San Francisco. Working for the Hep Sings, he was considered an excellent shot with a revolver. He is also tall, a “powerfully strong and capable of striking as swiftly and as sure as the lightning.” Allegedly, he was seen at Tyler and Oak Street, just before 9p, but vanished around 11pm and wasn't seen again.

Cooking Chinese cuisine at home. The Boston Herald, December 31, 1916, provided some cooking advice for home cooks to replicate Chinese restaurant dishes at home. The author of the article collected the recipes from local Chinese chefs, in response to frequent requests from readers seeking such information. At the start of the article, there was some general discussion of Chinese cuisine, such as stating, "When Chinese food is under discussion, most people jump to the conclusion that everyone in China lives on rice, tea and animals of questionable origin, and that in America the Chinaman's staples are tea and chop suey. But this is not true." There was then a discussion of the wide variety of ingredients used by the Chinese, from noodles to seafood.

The provided recipes include Yea Foo Main, Yat Ko Main, Gai Gum Yung Waa (bird's nest soup), Bak Toy Gun, Pineapple Fish, Chu Popo, Pao Ping (thin cakes), Yang Gou Tsnan Wan Tzu, Boo Loo Gai (pineapple chicken), Lychee Chicken, White Chop Suey, Pork Chop Suey, Chow Main, Foo Young Dan, Char Qua (artichokes), Pak Choi, and Almond Cakes. Lots of recipes and they were all relatively easy to prepare, the only caveat being you had to seek some of the less common ingredients at the Chinese markets. Chinese cuisine was obviously permeating society as people now wanted to make the dishes at home.

The Boston Globe, February 17, 1917, presented the advertisement above for The Royal Chinese American Restaurant, which is located at 16 Harrison Avenue. The restaurant apparently felt the need to indicate its independence from any other restaurant. This is also one of the first ads to reference “Chinese American” as nearly all of the previous restaurant ads referred only to “Chinese” restaurants. Many of the advertisements that now start being published combine the two cuisines, Chinese and American, likely trying to draw in more non-Chinese customers.

The tenth Chinese restaurant then opened in Boston. The Boston Herald, March 13, 1917, reported that the tenth Chinese restaurant, the Joy Yong Restaurant, opened yesterday at 21-25 Harrison Avenue, a building that was once the Hotel Maxim. It's the largest in the city, with room for 300 guests, The expert chef was Wong Lee Tung, who presided over 20 cooks, bakers and assistants. The kitchen was noted to possess Chinese ranges and there was a bean sprout room.

Another new Chinese restaurant opened. The Boston Post, June 7, 1917, published an ad for the New Park Restaurant at 3 Harrison Avenue. It is noted to be the "Handsomest and Most Up-To-Date Chinese Restaurant in New England." It serves "American and Chinese Food Specialties," continuing the trend to add American dishes to their menu.

Another new opening. The Boston Herald, February 2, 1918, noted the opening of the New Asia restaurant at 299 Washington Street. Under the management of Wong Tuey, the restaurant has a seating capacity of 200, as well as a large private dining room for banquets.

And the trend continued, being even more specific. The Boston Post, March 12, 1918, had an ad for the First Anniversary of the Joy Yong restaurant, located at 21-23 Harrison Avenue. They had a Turkey Dinner special for $1.00, and also mentioned two of their lunch choices, Roast Chicken Dinner for 40 cents and Fried Scallops for 35 cents. It's interesting that chose to highlight these American dishes rather than any Chinese dishes.

The Boston Herald, May 23, 1918, printed an ad for a new, unnamed Chinese restaurant at 88 Court Street. It would have orchestra music and special dinners for only 40 cents. This could be the Court Restaurant, which I mention later in this article.

The Boston Post, October 8, 1918, printed an ad for Me King, another new "American and Chinese" restaurant. It was located 111 Court Street, on the 2nd floor of the Hamilton Hotel, and next door to the Palace Theatre. They offered a Regular Dinner for 40 cents, though the ad didn't specify what that included, and whether it is American or Chinese.

The Boston Post, November 27, 1918, posted 4 advertisements on the same page for different Chinese restaurants. First, there was the Pekin, which offered a special Thanksgiving special dinner consisting of mainly American dishes with a couple of Chinese thrown in, including Birds Nest Soup and Lobster Chop Suey. Second, there was the Joy Yong and Royal Restaurant, which both offered the same Thanksgiving menu, basically all American dishes. Third, there was The King Fong, a new Chinese & American restaurant at 428 Tremont Street. The ad recommended people try their new dish, Chu Chin Chow. Lastly, there the Mee King, an American & Chinese restaurant located at 115 Court Street. They also offered a special Thanksgiving menu.

The Boston Register and Business Directory (1918), compiled by Sampson & Murdock, contained information about the businesses within Chinatown. Most of the nine Chinese restaurants were located on Harrison Avenue. The list included: Mee Hong (54 Beach), Park Restaurant (3 Harrison), Royal Restaurant (16 Harrison), Joy Yong Co. (19 Harrison), Eagle Co. (32 Harrison), Hong Far Low & Co. (36 ½ Harrison), Nanken Low (84 Harrison), Hing King Guey (34 Oxford St), and Joy Hong Low restaurant (8 Tyler).

Another new spot! The Boston Globe, January 13, 1919, had an for the King, located at 630 Washington Street. It claimed to be the “World’s Best Chinese-American Restaurant.” They also offered a special, a Roast of Beef, 5 course dinner, for 40 cents. Again, we see a restaurant highlighting their American options rather than their Chinese ones.

The Boston Herald, February 23, 1919, had a lengthy article, titled and subtitled, "Regenerated Chinatown Has Invaded Respectability: Chop Suey And Many Chinese Dishes With Funny Names And Queer Sauces May Be Had By Him Who Cares For Them Without Going Slumming." The article stated, "Chinatown has become respectable...The Chinese restaurant of today may not look quite so 'Chinese' as those of a few years ago, but it is much more inviting in its general appearance, ..." It was noted that "The great change, however, is not so much in the restaurants as among those who frequent them." It then continued, stating, "The Chinese restaurant of olden time was too often a smelly place, a resort for denizens of the underworld, with an acrid scent of opium hanging about and permeating everything,.."

On a positive note, it was mentioned that as food prices had been soaring, people were able to obtain an inexpensive meal at Chinese restaurants. That has changed though as the restaurants have become more respectable so that their cuisine is now roughly compatible with other restaurants. The article also mentions a restaurant that claims to have been the first to make chop suey in Boston in 1879. Though it isn't mentioned by name, this must be Hung Far Low. I've already shown though that wasn't actually the case. There is also a mention that one restaurant had 68 different types of chop suey on its menu.

And another new one! The Boston Globe, April 3, 1919, mention that The Siwoo, a new Chinese restaurant would open that day. Located at 22 & 24 Harrison Avenue, the restaurant, under the management of Paul G. Mahr, occupied an entire four-story building and was “elaborately furnished in luxurious Oriental style.”

The Boston Herald, May 25, 1919, had an advertisement for The Oriental Restaurant, a new Chinese restaurant located at 341 Massachusetts Avenue, one block from Symphony Hall. It was open from 11:30am-1am, seven days a week, with music each evening.

A Tong update. The Boston Herald, October 12, 1919, reported that the On Leong tong had concluded its first conference in their new clubhouse at Beach and Tyler streets. They stated, “The tong is a secret society which has driven the members of the rival Hep Sing tong practically out of business in this part of the country.” It seemed true that the Hep Sing was much less powerful in Chinatown, though they still existed. And there hadn't been any Tong violence in about ten years so Chinatown was now a more enticing destination for people, as fears of violence were greatly diminished.

And new restaurants kept popping up! The Boston Post, October 24, 1919, had an ad for the Grand Garden, located at 660 Washington Street. It was said to be “Boston’s Grandest and Largest American-Chinese Restaurant” and their motto was "Popularity." There also seemed to be a type of competition with some of these restaurants to be larger and grander than all the others, each ad using more superlatives to attract customers.

There was a large section of ads for Chinese restaurants in the Boston Herald, October 31, 1919. Included were the Asia Co. at 699 Washington Street, Pekin at 684 Washington Street, Santung Restaurant at 241-243 Huntington Ave, Grand Garden at 660 Washington Street, New Hanover Cafe at 14 Hanover Street, New Hong Kong at 725 Washington Street, and Joy Yong Co. at 21-23 Harrison Avenue. Many of the restaurants advertised that they had music.

And the Boston Herald, November 4, 1919, had an ad for the Park Restaurant Co., located at 3 Harrison Avenue, serving American and Chinese food. They offered a lunch special every day, from 11am-2pm, for only 40 cents.

The Boston Post, November 29, 1919, had an ad for an American and Chinese Restaurant located outside of Chinatown. The Canton Restaurant, which was under new management, was located at 26 Warren Street in Roxbury, and might have been the first Chinese restaurant in Roxbury.

The return of Hong Far Low! The Boston Globe, April 29, 1920, had a brief ad that Hong Far Low Co., the "Famous Chinese Restaurant," was reopening. It was located at 34 1/2, 36 1/2, and 38 1/2 Harrison Avenue. I didn't find any references as to when and why it might have temporarily closed.

The Boston Globe, December 2, 1920, presented an ad for The Court, located at 88 Court Street, at Scollay Square. The ad asked people to “Visit America’s Most Hygenic and Sanitary Chinese Restaurant Today.” Unlike many of the other ads around this time period, they didn't state they were an "American-Chinese" restaurant. They also recently reduced their prices, like a Full Course Chicken Dinner for 50 cents.

Check out the ad for "The New Shanghai" in the Boston Globe, December 19, 1920. Located at 89 Court Street, in Scollay Square, it was open from noon to midnight, and claimed to be the "World's Greatest and Best Chinese-American Restaurant." They offered a Special Turkey Dinner for $1.25. Seems like all these new ads didn't feel a need to promote their chop suey.

The years from 1901-1920 saw expansion for Chinatown and its restaurants, though there were significant obstacles. With perseverance, they did their best to overcome these challenges and attempted to attract more non-Chinese to their restaurants, especially by offering more American cuisine, from turkey dinners to roast beef. Some of the restaurants were also trying to out do each other in their size and grandeur. Chinatown was able to weather their Tong wars, which fortunately was much less violent that that in other cities, like New York City and Philadelphia, and the last ten years were largely free of violence. Chinatown seemed to be on a positive cusp, with the promise of great growth.

What would Chinatown become in the years from 1921 to 1950s? There will be future articles exploring this period.

Check out Part 1, covering the 19th century.
Check out Part 3, covering the 1920s.
Check out Part 4, the tale of Ruby Foo.
Check out Part 5, covering 1930-1954
Check out Part 6, the tale of Anita Chue
Check out Part 7, the tale of Mary Yick
Check out Part 8, a Deeper Look into Two Restaurants
Check out Part 9, covering the 1960s

And also see my Compilation Post, with links to my additional articles about Chinese restaurants, outside Boston and in Connecticut, as well as a number of related matters.

(As of October 7, 2021, I've expanded/revised this article due to additional research)

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