Kidnapping in Lee Family

This page is the direct translation of a letter that was composed by Lee Hee, aka Hon But on 1925.  He described the kidnapping events that resulted the tragic death of his fourth son, Yao Kan.  He stated Yao Kan burial ground was hastily chosen for lack of alternatives, at Tai Tang Kuei Hill facing south. The plot is too wet for long-term stability and an added unceasing concern for all. Because of these, he passed on to future descendants should attempt to move the burial site to a propitious lot with a tombstone recording his life, for continued prosperity of the clan.

On November 2002, the eighth son, Edmund, aka Shun Kan went to Jiujiang village to search for ancestors burial sites. However, due to the construction of highways surrounding Jiujiang, majority of the burial sites were excavated including Yao Kan.

  • Lee Hee, (aka Hon But),
  • Madame Wong, 
  • Yuet Ying, eldest daughter,
  • Gwon Kan (aka Henry Lee), eldest son,
  • Woi Kan (aka Harold Lee) second son,
  • Kim Kan (aka Richard Leung) third son,
  • Yao Kan, fourth son,

For enlarged view, click thumbnail below.

Original Chinese version, click PAGE 1 , PAGE 2 , PAGE 3.

Yao Kan was kidnapped with his brother Kim Kan from their Jiujiang village home in the evening on the sixth day of the third month, in the eighth year of the Republic of China (1919 A.D.) for a ransom of a few thousand dollars.   After negotiations for more than a month with a price set at one thousand eight hundred Hong Kong dollars, they were returned safely home.  After this incident, Madame Wong recognized the unsuitability of the ancestral home and moved the residence to a nearby location called Ku I Hsiao Chu.  Lamenting the loss of much money due to negligence and for a few years, Yao Kan and his older brother, Kim Kan, studied at home.

In a year or two, Madame Wong died in the eighth month of the tenth year of Republic of China (1921 A.D.) and by mid-Ocotber, his father Hon But, aka Lee Hee, returned home with second brother Gwon Kan and third brother Woi Kan and married Madame Chan.  The following year, second and third brothers got married.  In the winter of the twelve year of Republic of China (1923 A.D.), the family moved to 836 East Chou Fo Street temporarily till the thirteenth year (1924 A.D.) when Yao Kan and his brother, Kim Kan, stopped their studies to prepare for a July trip to San Francisco with their father.

On the fourteenth day in the third month, at 1 p.m., in an ancestor-worship ceremony at the ancestral hall for the seventh-generation ancestor Lo Chou , a large gang of bandits broke in and kidnapped eleven people, including Woi Kan, Kim Kan and Yao Kan.   Hon But and Kwon Kan managed to escape. Several days later, the bandits set the starter ransom (called lucky money for an open door) at two hundred eighty dollars for each captive, and in extra, two dozen cotton-yarn undershirts of a foreign brand, for the special release of Woi Kan.

On the first day of the fourth month, Hon But through a local well-known bandit, Wu Shan Chin, as an intermediary, forwarded eight hundred and forty dollars and the undershirts and started the negotiations. The proper ransom began at one hundred and fifty thousand Hong Kong dollars and after some failed negotiations, the bandits wanted to let Wu Shuan Chin off and a new intermediary,Tseng Chiu, on.

In captivity, Yao Kan fell ill and died on the eighth day of the fifth month. (According to Madame Chan story, Yao Kan death was the result of an infection from the wound caused by his ear being cut by the bandits.) To intimidate the victimsˇ¦ family, the bandits laid his corpse on North Jui Lin Road of Sha Tsui and wounded the body several times with rifles. On the ninth day, Hon But reported to police and buried the corpse the same day at Hsiang Shan (Elephant Hill) next to Feng Pien Hospital . Yao Kan had a hurried burial at Tai Tang Kuei Hill facing south, in a location too wet for long-term stability, and the family felt helpless and compromised.

After some more deadlocked negotiations in the following months, our oldest daughter, Yuet Ying, together  with a new intermediary, Lai Chin of Lung Shan, went to Hsi Chiao Hai Chou and met with the chief of the bandits, Lei Kung Chuan.

The ransom, after further talks, came to seven thousand Hong Kong dollars.  At 2 a.m. on the fourteenth day of the ninth month, Woi Kan and Kim Kan went home escorted by the local militia of Pei Feng. Luckily Woi Kan was safe and sound, but Kim Kan, after long captivity in locked chains, could not walk on his own and required medical care for two months.  By mid December, Woi Kan returned to the United States for business.

In the second month of the fourteenth year of the Republic of China (1925 A.D.) through telephone leads from an informant to the Lee family, the local militia of Teh Kuo Tung An, headed by Chang Ching, captured and gunned down Lee Chih, rounding up the rest of the gang in time, a retribution helped by the dead spirit of Yao Kan.  In the fourth month of the same year, Kim Kan and his father sailed to San Francisco for business.

On an auspicious day in the third month in the fourteenth year of the Republic of China (1925 A.D.)

Written by Lee Hon But / Lee Hee