Tied to a Stake On a Lone Rock in the Bay

San Francisco Examiner/April 2, 1900

SAN RAFAEL, April 1.—No Iroquois or Apache ever plotted a revenge more dreadful or a torture more cruel than the Chinese shrimp fishers attempted on Chung Hing Hook.

Yesterday patrolman George Agnew found him bound to a stake on an uninhabited island off McNear’s Point. He had been in this situation two days, without food or drink, broiling in the sun by day, drenched by the mists at night. He had been bound and left on the lone island to die.

Chung Hing Hook is a fisherman. He Is a member of the Suey Ow tong, and his being staked out to die was the result of warfare among the rival tongs which struggle for supremacy in the shrimp fisheries. King Ow Yang, formerly the Chinese Vice-Consul, has secured control of the shrimp market. Some of the fishermen hold out against his domination, and the rivalry and bitterness which have grown up around that fact were responsible for the dreadful torture of Chung Hing Hook.

A few weeks ago a small band of coolies was smuggled into this country, making a landing at Tomales Bay and reaching the McNear Point shrimp fisheries by way of California City. King Ow Yang took these men under his protection, but someone told the United States officials of their presence, and they were arrested by John Lynch of the Chinese Bureau. Partisans of King Ow Yang accused the Suey Ows of being the Informers, and soon after the arrest of the men proclamations were posted in the fishing camps along the bay shore warning informers and spies that if detected in giving information to the authorities they would be killed. Desperate men made threats of desperate revenges, but it was not supposed things would go further than a sudden stab with a knife or a blow with a murderous hatchet of the highbinder.

Chung Hing Hook, being an independent fisherman and a member of the hated Suey Ows, was suspected of being an Informer. The hatchetmen of the dominant tong came upon him by night, carried him to their retreat, gave him a mock trial in their tribunal and sentenced him to die the death. They then proceeded to kill him with fiendish torture.

At night they rowed him out to the lone island off the point. People rarely land on that inhospitable rock. The chances were one in a thousand that the victim would be found there. No steamers pass that way. No death cry could be beard on shore. So a great stake was driven in the soil and Chung Hing Hook was bound to it with heavy ropes.

Then the men who had been his judges and executioners rowed away and left him there to die the lingering death of a spy. That he cried out for help is known, for the crew of a schooner beating up the bay reported hearing a strange cry In the night. But none of his friends dared go near him, if they suspected where he was, or search for him if they did not know. So terrorized were they by King Ow Yang’s men that they dared not go away to inform the authorities of the victim’s plight.

But when Agnew went that way on his weekly round he was told by nods and signs and whispers that something was wrong on the lone island. Taking a friend with him, he rowed out to the rock and there found Chung Hing Hook, almost in the last gasp. The poor fellow was given stimulants and brought to San Rafael. As soon as he was able to travel further he was conveyed to San Francisco.

Now the officers are trying to secure Information as to the Identity of the ruffians wo condemned Chung Hing Hook to so fearful a fate. Probably there will be efforts at reprisal between the rival tongs, and bloodshed or further dreadful outrages are expected.

Agnew made this statement in reference to his rescue of the Chinaman: “I went to the fish camps on Friday morning and was there about half an hour. I had heard that there had been two Chinamen smuggled into the country, and that they were at McNear’s Point. I went there to see what I could find out about them. I was on my way back to San Rafael, and when near the brickyard was stopped by a Chinaman whom I had known for some time, who seemed almost scared to death, and it was some time before I could get from him what was the matter. Finally, after much questioning I learned that a Chinaman had been tied hand and foot because he was suspected of being an informer, and taken to one of the sister islands off McNear’s.

“I went back to the fish yard, got a boat and rowed over to the island. After looking around for some time, I found the man bound hand and foot, and almost unconscious. He was fastened to a stake. I untied the ropes and after giving him a drink of water, asked him some questions. He could not speak English and I could find out nothing from him. I took him to the fish yard and tried to get an interpreter, but all seemed to be afraid to speak.

“I took him to San Rafael, where I got an interpreter. He said he had been suspected of being a spy of a rival company. He said two men had seized him, bound him and placed him on the island. I took the man to San Francisco and put him on a Sacramento street car. He said he could find his friends in Chinatown.”

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