a name given by Americans to a secret organization known to exist among the Chinamen in North America. The Chinese call these societies by a name meaning "hatchet" societies, and the members "hatchet boys." The members seem in reality to be lawless spirits who have organized for mutual protection in crime, for police purposes, and for blackmail, especially the last. Murder they consider a legitimate means of intimidation or revenge, and the coolie whose death has been decreed by a highbinder society has never been known to escape the hatchet boy or boys appointed for his doom. The term "Chinese Freemasons," applied to these people, has no foundation whatsoever in fact. They have not the slightest connection with Freemasonry.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia