Idaho County Free Press  - Friday, December 14, 1888


Lee Chung, the Moose Creek Murderer, is Shot and Killed on the Clearwater, While Resisting Arrest.

     Our readers' are familiar with the fact that on November 12, Lee Chung, a Chinese desperado, shot and killed two of his partners, Wong Goon Yen and Lin Ok Goon, on the well-known Moose creek mining company's claim, near Elk City.  The double murder made a considerable stir among the county officials and also in the Chinese settlements hereabouts.  Several Chinamen went to Moose creek to arrest him, but failed in the attempt and it was reported that he had passed through Lewiston a month ago on his way to Portland, and that he was halfway back to China by this time.  The company to which the murdered men belonged offered $600 reward for his arrest, and his description was widely advertised.  

     Meanwhile sheriff Talkington had received information that the murderer had been seen on the Clearwater, and being an active and zealous official he proceeded to investigate, and found it a sure enough fact.  There are a good many Chinamen living on the Clearwater for fifteen or twenty miles above the Jackson bridge - packers, miners and gardeners, who inhabit the little  truck patches on the margin of the stream and it soon became evident to the mind of the sheriff that the murderer had been levying upon them for the means of subsistence, and that on account of their fear of the desperado he could never capture the convict while they remained on the river, and he determined upon their removal.  A posse was therefore organized and sent into the Clearwater with under sheriff White in charge to bring back to Mt. Idaho every Chinaman found in the canyon.  This was done without difficulty when it was explained to them that the object was to facilitate the capture of Lee Chung, when they all went willingly enough, save for a natural aversion to leaving their cabins and gardens unprotected, and by and by, the entire outfit fled into Mt. Idaho and were cautioned to remain there until further orders.

     Having thus cleared the decks for action sheriff Talkington and his deputy, C.B. Wood, proceeded to occupy the cabin of Lee Ham, situated about 600 yards above the bridge, and there they awaited developments.  Nor had they long to wait, for on Friday night, after fifteen hours of patient waiting, December 7, at eight o'clock, the murderer approached the cabin, pushed the door slightly ajar and thrust in a lighted Chinese taper, as though his suspicions were aroused he desired to light up the room before entering.  A Chinaman's dog had been previously sniffing around the cabin and got the white men's' scent, for he barked prodigiously, and this circumstance may have awakened the suspicions of the celestial, who had probably been skulking in the neighborhood of the cabin all day.  At any rate the light was silently withdrawn, and after a moment cautiously thrust in again.  As he was about to withdraw it for the second time, the sheriff and Wood fired simultaneously.  They were random shots, as it was eight o'clock at night, and very dark.  Their only guide as a target was the position of the light, which was presumably in his outstretched hand, and from this they guessed the corresponding position of the body and blazed away.  They were armed with Winchester shot guns, loaded with twelve buckshot, and a heavy grunt told them he was hit.  They then went out and found him around the corner of the house sitting on a pile of brush, with a buckshot in his head, having entered square between the eyes.  His left arm was also torn to pieces by a charge.  His pistol and taper lay on the ground beside him, and he lived for an hour before yielding up the ghost.  Examination showed that the charge from sheriff Talkington's gun had pierced the door and top button, and then made a center shot plumb between the eyes while Mr. Wood's shot had taken effect in the arm.  It was good work well and skillfully done, and white men and Chinese alike are thankful that the affair terminated as it did - the white people because the county is saved the cost of a criminal trial with no hope of conviction, and the Chinese because they were all so afraid of him that not one would have dared to testify against him if he had been brought to trial, although several of them saw him commit the Moose creek murders.

     The body was brought to Mt. Idaho Saturday morning and a coroner's inquest held and a verdict rendered according to the evidence.  Two Chinese merchants from Portland and Spokane Falls, who belonged to the same company as the murdered man had come up to investigate the affair, and had authorized the reward of $600.  Within an hour after the rendering of the verdict they had weighed out and paid over the full amount and acted very honorably in the matter from beginning to end.  The Chinese here, with the exception of a few who belong to his company, are very glad the miscreant is killed, as he was regarded as a desperado among them, and is known to have killed two men in China and two in California and had besides threatened to kill two more of his partners in the Moose creek claim.  He was a deadly shot with a pistol and posed as a holy terror among the "little yellow men."  There is a possibility of a feud growing out of the affair among the rival companies, and it is highly probable in the event that there is any more bloodshed between them the white men will take a hand and run the whole measly gang out of the county.  They are a constant source of expense to the bounty treasury and were never known to benefit any community.  Their room is preferable to their company at any time. 

Transcribed from original microfilm by Penny Casey





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