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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Bong Que, known as the “mayor of Spokane’s Chinatown,” received a chilling letter in the mail. 

It said, “Mail $500 to me in paper money at the Spokane general delivery or your life will be the forfeit. Signed, Frank Bell.”

Bong Que, proprietor of the Empire Noodle Shop, was thoroughly alarmed by this “black hand letter” (i.e., blackmail letter).

The police told him to write a decoy letter asking for instructions and see who replied. Finally, an answer came from a thoroughly befuddled Frank Bell of Troutdale, Oregon, who said he received the much-forwarded letter and had no idea what he was talking about. 

Police were convinced that this Bell was not the blackmailer, but they still didn’t know who was. Meanwhile, Bong Que still “peeks around corners on his route home at night.”

From the court beat: Mrs. Claud Lyman, 17, was testifying on behalf of her husband, who had been accused of contributing to the delinquency of her sister Della, 15.

However, because of the “sensational and revolting” nature of her testimony, Mrs. Lyman was arrested outside the courtroom, apparently on the same charge.

The paper did not explain exactly what Mrs. Lyman said, but reported that her testimony “was of such a nature that the (court) room possibly will be fumigated.”

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