Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of Bertha Seliger, 1886 July 21.

Volume I, 579-594, 15 p.
Seliger, Bertha.
Wife of witness William Seliger; German immigrant.

Direct examination by Mr. Ingham. Cross-examination by Mr. Foster. Re-direct examination by Mr. Grinnell. Testified through an interpreter. Testified on behalf of the Prosecution, People of the State of Illinois.

Wife of witness William Seliger. Louis Lingg was a broader in her house. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): socialists and/or socialism (vol.I 592), witnesses who were given money by the prosecution or the police (vol.I 586), Lingg, Louis (vol.I 579), Louis Lingg and bomb-making (vol.I 580).

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

Direct Examination by MR. INGHAM.

Q What is your name?

A Bertha Seliger.

Q How long have you lived in this country?

A Two years.

Q Are you the wife of William Seliger?

A Yes.

Q Where did you live on the fourth day of May?

A 442 Sedgwick Street.

Q How long did you live there?

A From the twelfth of October to the nineteenth of May.

Q Do you know Louis Lingg?

A Yes.

Q How long have you known him?

A Two weeks before Christmas he came to us, to board with us.

Q How long did he board with you?

A Until May; four or five months he has been with us.

Q Did he take his meals with you?

A Yes.

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Q Did he sleep in the house?

A Yes.

Q Which floor of the house did you occupy?

A The middle floor.

Q Which room did he occupy as a bed room?

A Next to the front room was his room, and from there there was a door opening into, the clothes closet.

Q Is this the room that he occupied "bed room" (indicating)?

A Yes.

Q Is this his closet (indicating)?

A Yes.

Q Is this what you call the front room (indicating)?

A Yes.

Q That is the kitchen and the other bed room (indicating)?

A Yes.

Q Here is the door through which you get out?

A Yes.

Q Did you ever see any bombs in your house?

A Shortly before May I saw some, as he was about to hide them.

Q Where did you see them?

A There were about half a dozen lying in the bed which he wanted to hide?

Q What kind of bombs were they?

A They were round bombs and long ones.

Q Did they look like these (indicating)

A Yes.

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Q Did you have any talk with him about those bombs?

A No, not at all. I had only heard it said that those were bombs. I had never seen anything like that before.

Q When did you next see any bombs?

A I didn't see any more next to the Wednesday previous to the time when he wanted to hide them in that closet.

Q When was the next time when you saw any bombs?

A After Lingg had left the house I did not see any more of them, they were all gone.

Q Do you remember the day the bomb was thrown at the Haymarket?

A Yes, I heard the people say that the bomb had fallen.

Q Now, on that Tuesday, who were at your house?

A There were several men there.

Q How many?

A There may have been six or eight or perhaps still more.

Q Did you know any of those men?

A Yes sir.

Q Give the names of those you knew.

A There was Huebner, Heumann, Thielen, Lingg and my husband.

Q Anybody else that you knew?

A I did not know them all--only these.

Q Were there others there whose names you did not know?

A Yes, there were still more there.

Q How long were these men there?

A Until towards evening; I think it was past seven o'clock.

Q Were they all there at the same time or were they there at different times?

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A They always went--going and coming;;some went and some came.

Q During how much of the day were men coming and going?

A Mostly in the afternoon.

Q In what rooms of your house were those men?

A They were in the front room and in Lingg's room.

Q What were the men doing?

A They were working at bombs.

Q What were they doing at them?

A I did not pay particular attention to it. I only saw one working and filling at it. That was Heumann; what the others were doing, I don't know.

Q In what room were you?

A I was in the kitchen, and when supper was ready I went into the bed room. I was so mad I could have thrown them all out.

Q Are you a socialist yourself?

A No; they always fooled me.

Q Did you ever see anyone making bombs?

A Lingg frequently made bombs.

A What kind of bombs?

A I always saw him cast; I did not pay particular attention, but I simply saw him melt lead on the cooking stove.

Q The cooking stove in your house?

A Yes.

Q How many times have you seen him melting lead on the cooking stove in your house?

A Twice Heumann was with him, once my husband and Phielen and

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frequently he worked by himself; he said to us, "don't act so foolishly, you might do something too." We were standing looking at him.

Q Where was Lingg on Monday, the day before the bomb was thrown?

A He was away, but I don't know where. In the morning some young fellows had come and had their names entered on the list of the Union, and then he was writing pretty much all day.

Q Did you see Lingg on Wednesday, the day after the bomb was thrown?

A Yes.

Q Where did you see him?

A He was at home, in the forenoon.

Q What was he doing?

A That was the day on which he wanted to hind those bombs in the clothes closet and Lehmann was with him.

Q Tell what he did and what he said and what you said at that time?

Objected to on behalf of the seven other defendants than Mr. Lingg.

THE COURT: This will not be evidence against anybody but Lingg.

A I heard some knocking and I went in and I said to him, "Mr. Lingg, what are you doing there? I will not suffer that", and he was tearing everything loose below, and he sent that man Lehmann after wall paper, and he wanted to cover up everything afterwards- --nail up everything afterwards.

Q Did you ask him what he was doing?

A I said, "Mr. Lingg, what are you doing there? I will not suffer

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such foolishness."

Q What did he say?

A He had the wall paper already there, and he said to me, "I suppose you are crazy. You ought to have said that before---that you would not suffer that, then I will have to, look for a place where I am allowed to do that."

Q What did he do while you were looking there?

A I was not looking at him at all. I simply went in and said that to him, and he was very mad at me and went off.

Q Where was it that he was tearing up things?

A That was all along about in the closet, and he had loosened the boards and taken out the mortar.

Q Do you mean the base boards-- the boards at the bottom?

A Yes, the base boards all around. He said that if he needed something he could not first go to the West Side to get it.

Q When did Lingg leave your house finally?

A That was on Wednesday, and then he left on the Friday of the following week--on the same day when they got my husband from the factory.

Q What day of the week, if you remember?

A It was on the 7th day of May when they got my husband out of the factory.

Q Was that the day when Lingg left your house?

A Yes, the 7th of May when they arrested my husband.

Q Did Lingg have a trunk?

A Yes.

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Q In what room was that trunk kept?

A In his bedroom.

Q Look at this instrument (referring to ladel identified by William Seliger).

A He was always casting with that.

Q Who was casting with that?

A Lingg.

Cross Examination by MR. FOSTER.

Q Have you been locked up on account of this bomb business?

A Yes, on account of Lingg.

Q Were you locked up by Capt. Schaack?

A Yes.

Q How long?

A The first time I was there was from Saturday to Tuesday.

Q Were you locked up more than once?

A Yes, twice.

Q By Capt? Schaack both times?

A Yes.

Q It was Lingg's fault of course that you got locked up?

A Of course; I am only indebted to him for that; he is the chief one.

Q How often have you talked with Capt. Schaack about this matter?

A Not often.

Q Well, several times, I suppose?

A Yes, several times.

Q And with other officers and with attorneys?

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A No, only the Captain made inquiries of me several times, and nothing further.

Q Did you talk with Mr. Furthman?

A He was in the same room where the Captain was.

Q You didn't tell this the first time you were locked up, did you?

A I said the same thing that I say now.

Q How much money has Capt? Schaack paid you?

A He paid my rent, that I was able to live.

Q How much money has Capt. Schaack paid you?

A I didn't make a memorandum of it; I don't know.

Q How many times has he paid you money?

A I made no memorandum of it---how often.

Q You don't know anything about how much he has paid you?

A No; I don't know.

Q He has paid you at different times?

A Yes.

Q From the time you made this statement, down to the present time?

A Yes.

Q And he has paid your rent too?

A Yes; he paid my rent and so much money that I could scantily live.

Q You have lived on his money and paid your rent on his money?

A Yes.

Q How many children have you got?

A None at all.

Q Lingg had some wall paper, didn't he when he was making the noise and taking off the boards?

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A Yes.

Q He brought some wall paper from down town, and bought it himself didn't he?

A No; there was a young man with him, the son of Lehmann, who got the wall paper for him and the starch.

Q Didn't Mr. Lingg say this, that the boards were whitewashed and that it got all over his clothes in the closet, and that he took that off for the purpose of putting on wall paper so that he could keep his clothes clean?

A I said to him, "I will not suffer that. What will the landlord say when he comes?" There had never been paper there, and he answered, "Well, then I will say to him that I will not dirty my clothes."

Q How high from the floor were these boards that he took off?

A About that hight (a foot high).

Q How high was the closet?

A That I don't know.

Q As high as the ceiling, wasn't it?

A No, it did not reach up that far.

Q The wall was white and would rub off on his clothes, wouldn't they?

A He did do that only on purpose, because he intended to put those things in the wall.

Q Did you see him put anything in the wall?

A No; there was nothing in at that time. I stopped him at that juncture.

Q You don't like Mr. Lingg very well, do you?

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A No, because he always had wrong things in his head.

Q And you blame him for having you locked up and for having your husband locked up?

A Yes, and now too.

Q And you and your husband talked this thing over together?

A Yes.

Q You and your husband agreed to tell the officers something against Mr. Lingg, didn't you?

A I sad to my husband, "I will tell the truth and you tell it also". We only came into this trouble through this man.

Q Capt. Schaack told you you had better tell it, didn't he?

A Yes.

Q You knew that Mr. Lingg was a very much younger man than your husband, didn't you?

A That I don't know. I never asked him about that and don't know it today.

Q How old is your husband?

A He is 31.

Q How old are you?

A I am 40.

Q Don't you know that Mr. Lingg is only 20 or 21?

A I heard it said that he was in his twenties, but how high up in the twenties I don't know.

Q Do you know Mrs. Thielen?

A Yes.

Q Where does she live?

A She lives on Halsted Street.

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Q You have talked wiht Mrs. Thielen about this matter, haven't you, since the 4th of May?

A I was there once and then she told me.

Q You have talked with Mrs. Thielen at her house in Chicago since the 4th of May?

A Yes.

Q Now in that conversation at Mrs Thielen's house didn't you and Mrs. Thielen agree that you would raise a purse of money and give to Mr. Lingg and send him out of the country and out of the reach of the officers and then lay the whole bomb-making scheme on to him?

A I don't know anything about that.

Q Do you deny that you and Mrs. Thielen made any such arrangement?

A I was there once at Mrs. Thielen's, the same day when my husband was arrested, and then we talked about this matter; but further I had no conversation with her and never got there again.

Q Do you deny that on that occasion you told Mrs. at her house in this city, or agreed with Mrs. Thielen at her house that you would raise some money and send Lingg out of this country and out of the reach of the officers and then lay the whole bomb-making scheme on to him?

A I had no idea about that.

Q Then you deny such a conversation, do you?

A Yes.

Q Or any conversation upon that subject or of that purport?

A I am not conscious of anything that you tell me now.

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Q What is Mrs. Thielen's first name?

A That I don't know.

Q Do you know her number?

A I think it is 509, but I cannot tell exactly.

Q On Halsted Street?

A Yes.

Q And that is the Mrs. Thielen that you have talked with about this matter after your husband was arrested?

A Yes.

Q The detectives have been at your house several times in conversation with you, have they not?

A No; the detectives were there but I was not there; I was in jail

Q Did you ever talk with any police officers or detectives at your house?

A Yes; one evening I was there, I think it was between Saturday and Monday, then the detectives were there getting the things that belonged to Mr. Lingg.

Q And you talked with them, didn't you?

A Yes.

They told me to get his things together, that belongs to them.

A Didn't they talk with you about the case?

A No; I only said that much---that we got into trouble through this man, and nothing further.

Q Did you voluntarily go to jail or were you taken there by the officers?

A I was taken there by the police.

Q Both times?

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A yes.

Q Now, did you occupy the same cell at the police station with your husband the first time you were there?

A No, I was in the Larrabie street station and my husband was in the Chicago Avenue Station.

Q Have you ever occupied while under arrest the same cell with your husband?

A No.

Q At the time you were arrested and confined in one station did you know that your husband was confined in the other?

A That I only heard after I came out again---after I was set at liberty.

Q So then your husband didn't come to see you while you were confined in jail?

A No.

Q Did any lawyer come to see you?

A No; there was no one to see me.

Q Did you any of your friends come to see you?

A No, no one was to see me.

Q And you told the story and then they turned you out?

A Yes.

Q And then afterwards they arrested you again?

A Yes.

Q How long did they keep you at that time?

A From Monday until Friday.

Q And you made another statement then didn't you and put it in writing?

A Quite the same as at first.

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Q You put it in writing and signed it, didn't you?

A I signed it.

Q And then they turned you out again, did they?

A Yes.

Q Now, the second time that they brought you there and had you under arrest didn't they read a statement which they said your husband had made?

A I don't know.

W Don't you know that the second time you were arrested they brought a statement which they said your husband had made and asked you to sign it?

A Yes.

Q Didn't they ask you to swear to it also?

A No.

Q Didn't they ask you to sign it also or sign a paper like it?

A Yes; I put my name below that of my husband.

Q And then they turned you out?

A Yes.

Q How long has your husband been a socialist?

A That I don't know.

Q As long as you have known him?

A I never understood anything about socialists. I only hear much about it here.

Q Didn't your husband tell you he was a socialist.

A He never told me directly, but I knew he was in that society from hearing it said.

Q When did you first find that out?

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A Hear in America, through the men that used to frequent at our house---his friends.

Q When?

A It is about as long as I am here.

Q Then he was a socialist before he got acquainted with Lingg-- before Lingg went to your house to board, wasn't he?

A Yes.

Re-Direct Examination by MR. GRINNELL:

Q When you were arrested the second time, it was because your husband had run away and Capt. Schaack wanted to know where he was?

Objected to; objection sustained.

Q Your husband had ran away, had he not?

A Yes.

Q Schaack sent to you, did he not, to find where he was?

A A detective was there once and asked me where my husband was and I told him that I did not know.

Q Was that the reason that Capt. Schaack had you brought down to the station the second time?

Objected to.

Q Did anybody tell you why you were arrested the second time-- did Schaack or any of the officers.

Objected to.

Question withdrawn.

Q Did you sign your name on more than one paper immediately under that of your husband's.

A No, only one.

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Q Wasn't that the paper which was directed to Solomon & Zeisler?

A That I cannot say; I don't know.

Adjourned to 10 A.M.

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