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Such raids did not improve the public image of even the least violent and most public-spirited secret societies.

Yet it is a mistake to view any such society solely through the lens of criminal justice.

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Guo Xiuying, widow of Zheng Junda (an early leader of the Society killed by the Yongzheng government in a campaign), who together with Zheng’s sister threw herself into a river in Hubei when pursued by the Qing army.

The bodies of the two sisters-in-law were recovered by a fisherman, Xie Bangheng.

Xie Bangheng, a fisherman and incognito Ming loyalist who recovered the bodies of Guo Xiuying and Zheng’s sister.

On its right are four characters that read “stream”, “large”, “person”, and “head”.

These are the Society’s signature truncated versions of the phrase, “follow and practice the way of Heaven,” popular among underground societies in China for more than a millennium. The design is identical to that of the Fourth Lodge with the compound word made up from “tiger” and “together”.

The poetic verses summarize the identity and sovereignty of the Fifth Patriarch who headed the lodge. One of the Society’s Former Five Patriarchs, shown here in secular garb.

In some accounts he is referred to as one of the five surviving monks of the Shaolin Monastery’s Southern Branch in Fujian.

They focused on charity, conflict resolution, and assisting members in relations with the non-Chinese world.

They often had more power than any other immigrant Chinese organization, including regional, clan, and family name groupings, as well as the supposedly dominant Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association In 2009 the editors first visited Clinton in British Columbia, located on the Cariboo trail that in the 1860s-1890s led from the southern Fraser River to the rich gold fields around Barkerville and Quesnel Forks.

In those days, the population of the region was devoted almost entirely to gold mining, and more than half were Chinese. The large central character is a made-up word that combines “tiger” with “harmony”.

The latter is the designated character for the Fourth Lodge.