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Sunday, August 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Local tailor kidnapped, held for ransom on Chinese island

A local tailor who traveled to China to be married was kidnapped and held for ransom on a deserted island, The Spokesman-Review reported on June 12, 1916. (The Spokesman-Review)
A local tailor who traveled to China to be married was kidnapped and held for ransom on a deserted island, The Spokesman-Review reported on June 12, 1916. (The Spokesman-Review)

From our archives, 100 years ago

Thomas Wing, a Spokane tailor, had left Spokane more than a year before to be married in China, his native land.

It didn’t work out the way he planned.

Wing wrote a letter to a Spokane friend describing what happened. His fine clothing and lavish spending “excited the cupidity” of Chinese bandits, who kidnapped him before the marriage and demanded a $4,000 ransom. They took him to a deserted island and left him there until the ransom was paid. An uncle from Butte started off to China with the money.

In the meantime, however, Wing saw a Chinese gunboat and was able to signal to it from his island. He was rescued and taken back to the mainland. The money went into the bank.

“China is in a state of revolution,” Wing wrote. “Living here is dangerous now. I should have returned to the U.S. long ago. But I want to see how the war is coming out.”

From the insanity beat: George Easter, 33, a tailor from Pullman, caused a stir on Howard Street in downtown Spokane.

He paraded down the street “with his trousers rolled to his knees, nothing above his waist except a half-sleeve linen mesh undergarment, with a bunch of red carnations held high in one hand, and waving his new straw hat with another.”

When several pedestrians gazed at him intently, “halted by the strange sight,” Easter would stop, salute “and then start at a dog trot, mumbling something about his coat being on fire.”

A Spokane police detective hauled him to the police station and booked him on a charge of “suspected insanity.”

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