Merced Sun Star, Merced Ca., Aug 18, 1934
MERCED CHINESE SECTION TENSE IN STATE TONG FIGHT
Suey Sing Leader Reported In Hiding Here With 100 New Arrivals
Police Aroused By Undercurrent In Chinatown; Large Estate Disputed
Quiet enough on the surface, a seething undercurrent in Merced Chinatown is indicative of statewide tension which may plunge two of the most powerful tongs of the Pacific coast into bloody warfare.
Feverish negotiations between the Suey Sing and Sen Suey Ling tongs and a "peace council" were underway here today in an effort to forestall tong violence between paid fighters or "hatchet men" of the warring groups, it was learned.
With Merced figuratively perched on the lip of a boiling volcano, local officers were keeping apprehensive watch over the undercover activities "across the tracks."
Chinatown in any city always has been a district steeped in mystery, overshadowed by traditions of armed figures slinking through the passages bent on missions of mystery.
100 New Arrivals.
With the population of the Merced Chinese district swelled by approximately 100 arrivals from San Francisco, local principals still were hopeful today for a peaceful settlement. Whether the new arrivals here were professional fighters for either tong was not known generally.
The keynote of the activity was said to involve the leader of Suey Sing tong, reported in hiding here. The Suey Sing tong is one of the most powerful clans in existence and figured prominently in early Chinatown tong wars in San Francisco, Stockton, Sacramento and other cities where tong activity is rife. The Suey Sing have a local chapter, referred to in some circles here as the "Chinese chamber of commerce."
The other tong reported to be involved is the Sen Suey Ling which does not have a local chapter.
The exact nature of the conflict between the two tongs was not generally known outside the organizations circles but the town today was filled with reports, rumors and conjecture.
The current report was that the leader of the Suey Sings, reported to be a former Merced businessman whose name is unknown to local police, is in hiding here with a $10,000 price expected to be placed on his head by the other tong in case war breaks out. A number of local residents declared they have seen and recognized him but claimed they do not know his name, police were told.
Several stories were circulated concerning the origin of the conflict. One of the most authenticated reports indicated a rich member of the Suey Sings died recently, leaving an estate of approximately $200,000.
Both After Estate
A relative was said to have claimed the estate but officials of the Suey Sing tong oppose this action as the claimant is a member of the other tong. Both groups were declared equally determined to get the estate.
Members of the visiting group have been making almost daily trips back and forth between here and the bay region as new compromise suggestions come up. This unusual activity has been going on more than a week and had its inception before that time in San Francisco where the original trouble arose, officers said.
Chief of Police W. E. Westfall, while realizing the delicate situation, said he had no great fear of local violence. "We are keeping watch over Chinatown but we hope the difficulty will be adjusted between the tongs."