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15 Feb 2016

Yorkshire short-arse nails Chinatown gunslinger

Son of West Pennard, Somerset and Reeth, Yorkshire delivers a thunderclap to Chinatown

The witness to the prosecturion of 'Big Jim' (Chew Wing Gow) was born at Abersychan, Monmouthshire in 1874 the eldest child of the mythical 'third sister' of my great-grandpa Bert Creed's father William, that I had hitherto not known about.  The Creeds were tall, and this man being a short-arse, is surely testimony to his Yorkshire father?
"It was after 4 oclock when the name of Percy Hammond-Bell was called by the attorneys for the prosecution, and a short, slender young Englishman, wearing eyeglasses and having a very decided accent took the stand. Mr. Hammond-Bell said that he had come to Southern California from England last January, and is at present stopping with an English family named Sheldon, at 616 West Sixth street. He is not employed at any profession or calling, but is a medical student and journalist. In this city he was devoting his time to acquiring the Chinese language and studying their customs and life, with a view to writing a series of magazine articles when he went back to England. He had been employing a Chinese tutor at No. 220 Marchessault street, and was often in and about Chinatown. On the night of the shooting of Wong Chee he left his residence about 8 oclock and walked to Chinatown, stopping at one or two places on the way. He was on his way to the Marchessault street store and was crossing Alameda on the former thoronghfare when Chee was shot, not thirty feet from him. The witness said he had not yet reached the railroad tracks in crossing the street, when he heard the report of the revolver and immediately turned to see whence it had come. He saw the murderers run away, three men in all, and followed two of them with his eyes. They both ran across Alameda street diagonally to the; corner of Marchessault, one to one side of the street and the second to the other.

"Asked as to the size of the three men, Mr. Hammond-Bell said they were all different, that is, three heights. One was very large, one medium and one small. He did not see what became of the third man, but noticed the other two particularly. Confronted with Big Jim. the witness unhesitatingly pronounced him to be one of the men—the big one —whom he had seen running away from Chee's body, and the one who did the shooting. When the three murderers had escaped from sight, Mr. Hammond-Bell ran to where Chee had fallen, being the first one to reach his side. He bent down and placed his hand to Chee's face and felt the terrible wounds made by the ball. Having a considerable knowledge of medicine and being desirous of rendering such assistance as possible, Mr. Bell made a quick examination of Chee's wound, but saw that he could do nothing. Just as he laid the wounded man's head down. Officer Lennon came running up, and immediately a crowd closed in upon the body. He asked Lennon If he could do anything to assist him, but the officer said no, to wait for the arrival of the patrol wagon. When it came he saw the body placed in it and then mingled with the crowd for a time, finally going home. The testimony given by the witness came like a thunderclap to the defense, as they had no intimation that such a person existed, much less had seen the whole affair. Messrs. Appel and Phibbs, for the prosecution, were almost equally surprised, as the witness had been found by Detective Bradish and been served with a subpoena, being merely called in the regular routine, They knew nothing of what he would testify to before he took his place in the chair. For the defense Mr. Ling took the crossexamination of the witness, and began with a snap. He had not proceeded far, however, when the hour for adjournment arrived and the hearing was continued, to be taken up again Monday morning at 9:30."
(Los Angeles Herald, 1896)
I had to make a cranial leap to conclude that Percy H Bell (shown in the US censuses) was the Percy Creed Bell on my tree.  His sister I'd found was known as Alys Hammond Bell, so when I substituted 'Hammond' for 'H', I got the full story.

(Whilst Percy was pretending to be a doctor, his brother Lee was pretending to be a Methodist minister in Edgewater, Denver among the Rockies.  That didn't last long.  Their sister Alys was a Baptist missionary and nurse from age 27 in Gombe Lutete, at the foot of the Congo's Livingstone Falls, living out a boring retirement in Worthing).

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