Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of Thomas Greif, 1886 July 19.

Volume I, 325-335, 11 p.
Greif, Thomas.
Operator of Greif's Hall.

Direct examination and re-direct by Mr. Grinnell. Cross-examination by Captain Black. Testified on behalf of the Prosecution, People of the State of Illinois.

Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): meaning of "Y" (vol.I 328), Greif's Hall (vol.I 326), Furniture Workers' Union (vol.I 334), Cigar-makers' Union (vol.I 334), Wagon-makers' Union (vol.I 334), Freight-handlers' Union (vol.I 334).

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produced as a witness on behalf of the People, after having been duly sworn testified as follows:

Direct Examination by
Mr. Grinnell:

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Q What is your name?

A Thomas Greif.

Q Where do you live?

A 54 West Lake Street.

Q Near Clinton?

A Yes sir.

Q Just east of Clinton Street?

A Yes.

Q There is Lake Street and there is Clinton Street (indicating on diagram)?

A Yes sir.

Q How long have you lived there?

A About two years and a half.

Q Describe that building---how many stories high is it?

A It is a four story building.

Q And there is a floor to the main saloon---in reference to the sidewalk how is it?

A There is one step from the sidewalk up about four feet from the building, and from that step is another step inside of the door.

Q Then the floor of the saloon is two steps higher than the walk--- one step you take onto the platform and walk four feet, and then another step takes you up into the saloon?

A Yes.

Q How is the building situated in front? What is that platform made of (indicating)?

A Of iron rails.

Q Is it all iron?

A Yes, it is all iron the whole way through; in front of the door where the people walk in that is iron sheeting.

Q How close together are those iron rails?

A About two inches a part.

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Q How big are the iron bard themselves?

A About half an inch.

Q What did you do there?

A At present I don't do anything. I used to have a saloon.

Q That is, a saloon in the store part?

A Yes.

Q Which story does your family live in?

A The second story.

Q How many halls are there there?

A Two halls.

Q You occupied the second story for your family?

A Yes.

Q The first story is your saloon?

A Yes.

Q The second story is your family?

A Yes.

Q And the two stories above that are used for halls?

A Yes.

Q And the basement you sometimes use as a hall?

A The time that I used it was when there were so many meetings, about four or five weeks before the first of May.

Q What have you got built down there?

A I made some benches there.

Q Those benches are not painted?

A No sir.

Q They are loose?

A Yes.

Q You can move them about?

A Yes.

Q And in the rear of the basement---what did you do there?

A That was the kitchen.

Q Where did you keep your beer?

A That is in the ice

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box, and that is also in the rear.

Q How did you get down stairs?

A I can get down stairs in front, or in the back, inside the saloon.

Q Where is the foot of the rear stairs?

A That goes down inside the saloon; that is in the west side of the building.

Q The foot of the stairs is away out in the back end of the saloon?

A Yes, pretty near, not quite.

Q Your place is called Greif's Hall?

A Yes.

Q There were a good many meetings on Monday, the third of May?

A Yes.

Q The halls up stairs were full?

A Yes.

Q In the evening did anybody come to you and want to engage a hall?

A Yes. One man came there and said that he wanted to have a hall.

Q Who was it?

A I don't know his name.

Q Was it Breitenfeld?

A I was told that his name was---

Objected to.

Q What was his business?

A He was a brushmaker. He rented a hall for the Brushmakers' Union before that.

Q What did he say?

A He said he wanted to have a hall. I said the halls were all occupied, the only place I have got is the basement; if they were satisfied they could go right there.

Q Did he say what he wanted it for?

A No. I did not ask him. He only said when the Ypsilon

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folks come tell them to come down stairs.

Q What time in the evening was that?

A I guess it was about a quarter after eight.

Q Did anybody make inquiry of you afterwards?

A Yes, one party came--- three men, about fifteen minutes afterwards, and one of them asked "Was the Ypsilon folks here?" I did not understand him at first and then he asked again. I said if they are here they must be down in the basement.

Q That was what you said to them?

A That is what I said to them.

Q You do not know where they went?

A I do not know where they went.

Q Did you have occasion to go down in the evening?

A Yes, I had to go down stairs once and tap the beer.

Q What did you find?

A Well, I went down stairs; the beer was out and the counter was crowded. I went down and tapped the beer.

Q Did you meet anybody on the way?

A There were two men standing on the stairs talking together.

Q What did they say?

A They said, "What are you in a hurry for?" I said "I have got to tap the beer."

Q What did they say to that?

A They did not say anything; they let me go.

Q Look at this diagram (indicating). How is that hall

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lighted down there?

A It is lighted with kerosene lamps.

Q Are the kerosene lamps hung?

A There was one patent lamp humg in the middle.

Q Down close to the table?

A I guess it was hanging there. I could not say exactly.

Q And the others are lamps that stood around?

A Yes.

Q Do you know when that meeting broke up?

A I could not say exactly. I guess about eleven o'clock.

Q Do you know anybody that went down to that meeting?

A I could not say.

Q Do you know how many went down?

A No. When I went down I saw about twentyfive or thirty; that is what I could see when I went down.

Q How long had they been down there when you first went down?

A I guess I went down there about nine o'clock.

Q Are you an anarchist?

A No.

Q You are a socialist?

A Yes, I am.

Q Is that a fair representation of the location of the benches, and of the general situation (referring to diagram)?

A Yes.

Q That is the kitchen (indicating)?

A Yes.

Q Where in reference to the kitchen is that beer place?

A Right here (indicating).

Q Right back of the stairway?

A Yes.

Q There is where your beer is?

A Yes.

Q Quite a distance back of this back seat?

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A Yes; it is about fifteen feet.

Q There is some rubbish around in here (indicating)?

A Yes.

Q Point out on that map where it was that you saw these men standing on the stairway?

A They were standing about in the middle of the stairway.

Cross- Examination by
Mr. Black.

Q Is that an open stairway leading from the saloon down into the basement?

A Yes.

Q There is no door there to shut it off?

A No sir.

Q About how many lamps all together were there used down there in lighting that--- how many were used that night?

A I could not say exactly. I guess there were about five or six.

Q What is the length of the basement in front of the kitchen, or about that?

A About fifty feet.

Q The front of the basement is glazed, is it not, excepting where the door is?

A Yes.

Q Taking this as a diagram of the basement extending to the south---the kitchen back there and the stairway coming down here (indicating) and benches and tables, this apparent recess here a little to the left of the center of the front is a little space connecting with the area outside of the basement and ending to the north with a door entering into the basement, isn't it?

A Yes; there are two doors here; one double door and one single door.

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Q In the west wall of that little recess there is a window opening into the basement, isn't there?

A It is all window---the whole front.

Q And then this place marked a door here is a door opening into the basement from the stairs which comes down from the sidewalk?

A Yes.

Q These spaces from this recess that I have spoken of extending over to the west wall of the building are all glazed?

A Yes.

Q Now, there were no curtains---nothing to obstruct the view through those windows that night, was there?

A There were no curtains.

Q Not through any of the windows?

A The lower part of the windows are painted, or used to be painted.

Q But the upper part not?

A No.

Q This grating that you speak of, about four feet wide, extended along the entire front of that basement---from the door of the saloon to the west?

A Not entirely; so far as the stairway goes up there is one iron sheet.

Q To the west of the saloon?

A Yes.

Q But between that stairway at the west of the saloon going up stairs and the stairway going down to the basement, or, rather, the entrance, there is this iron grating?

A Yes.

Q So that as far as you know there was nothing to obstruct the view from the street to the sidewalk through that grating and the upper part of those windows down into that saloon?

A No.

Q What is the condition of the door opening from this

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little recess to which I have called your attention into the basement, and what was its condition on that Monday night---- was the glass broken out of it?

A Yes.

Q Was the space of the glass covered up with half-inch ceiling tacked on it?

A Yes.

Q It is a fact, isn't it, that the area-way from the street down through this way (indicating) is an open way down into the area and to the closets?

A Yes.

Q These closets that are marked as under the sidewalks, and in front of the saloon, are the principal closets connected with the buildings, are they not?

A There are two closets in the building yet.

Q They are the principal ones?

A Yes.

Q Everybody in the saloon going to a closet had to take that route out of the saloon door and down through those steps, or go down the back steps?

A No; they would have to go out the front way.

Q And that would take them past this space into the area, and from there into the closets?

A Yes.

Q Did you go down there that night more than once while this meeting down below was in progress?

A I went down only once, for the purpose of drawing beer.

Q And at that time which you say was about nine o'clock you think there were about 25 or 30?

A Yes sir.

Q I understand you that the reason of this meeting being held in the basement was because all of your other places of meeting were filled?

A Yes.

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Q I will ask you whether the club room back of the saloon was occupied that night?

A It was occupied also.

Q Who was in that club room?

A First the Furniture maker's Union, and they had a meeting about half past eight, and after that was the International Cigarmakers, No. 15.

Q Those two organizations occupied the club room back of the saloon?

A Yes.

Q Who occupied the hall on the third floor---above where you live?

A There was the Freight Handlers' Union.

Q And who occupied the hall on the fourth floor?

A The Wagonmakers' Union.

Q So that when this party came to you and wanted a hall, all of the space in this building was filled except the basement, and you referred them to the basement for that reason?

A Yes.

Q There were a good many people in your saloon that night?

A Yes, all of the day, about one hundred or one hundred and fifty right along.

Q I will ask you whether or not it is a fact that on that night a good many people were going from the saloon down these front steps to the closets?

A I think a good many must have gone down there.

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Re-Direct Examination by

Q You do not know whether anybody was down watching on behalf of the Ypsilon folks?

A No.

Q You did not pay any attention to that?

A No.

Q You had a pretty busy time that night?

A Yes.

Q You were making a good deal of money that night?

A I don't know.

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