Chinese Joe

In a newspaper article in February 1967 about the death of Mrs. Ada Beattie, wife of long time Elk Grove physician Hugh Beattie (Practiced 1897-1936), the following was included.

……. She recalled, too, the Chinses who operated a wash house, back of the Masonic building and did the washing for the good ladies of the town. 

It was great sport for the young fry to toss rocks against the building and take to their heels as the Chinese came rushing out screaming imprecations in the high pitch Cantonese. The cook at the Toronto Hotel was also Chinese, and his excellent cuisine was known the length and breadth of the land

One of Elk Grove’s most colorful characters in those times was “Chinese Joe,” who appeared suddenly one day out of nowhere in the 1880’s. He considered himself above the common Cantonese as he came from another province and another Tong. He was a staunch and loyal friend of Dr. Beattie’s and his most fervent wish was to be given a white man funeral when he went to join his ancestors. 

He was called the official watchmen of Elk Grove, because afflicted with insomnia, he roamed the streets all night, looking after the business establishments. When he failed to appear for several days in 1909, Dr. Beattie investigated and found him dead on the floor of his cabin, behind the Julius Everson store in the Odd Fellows building, with a bullet hole in the middle of its forehead. It was surmised that he had surprised thieves in the act of breaking into the store, and they had shot him.

Dr. Beattie and other leading citizens of the town gave Chinese Joe his wish. He was buried in the Old Oddfellow Cemetery on Waterman Road with all the trappings and ceremonies of a white man’s funeral………