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On Leong Tong

From Ohio History Central

The On Leong Tong, which is also known as the Chinese Merchants Association, is an association that primarily promotes Chinese business development.

The On Leong Tong was originally established in New York, New York in 1904, but very quickly, chapters of this organization opened in other major cities, including in Cleveland, Ohio in 1910. The Cleveland group established its headquarters in the city's Chinatown. The On Leong Tong sought to promote Chinese business in Cleveland. It also preserved Chinese culture by sponsoring various festivals. The organization also served as a banking institution and a mutual benefit society for Cleveland's Chinese community.

During the On Leong Tong's first two decades of existence, the organization was involved in a series of violent confrontations known as the Tong Wars. The On Leong Tong sought to control Chinese business development in Cleveland, and it sought to drive another Chinese business association, the Hip Sing Tong, from the city. From the early 1910s to the late 1920s, these two organizations engaged in tactics similar to those of the Mob. After several deaths, the two groups eventually put aside their differences and worked together to promote Chinese businesses and the Chinese culture. One of the earliest projects that the On Leong Tong and the Hip Sing Tong engaged in was the removal of 120 deceased Chinese Americans to China for burial with their ancestors.

See Also


  1. Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.