Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of John D. Shea, 1886 July 22.

Volume J, 50-73, 24 p.
Shea, John D.
Lieutenant, Detective force, Chicago Police Department; Irish immigrant.

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

Lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department, detective force, searched the Arbeiter-Zeitung office on May 5.Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): 1886 May 5 search of the Arbeiter-Zeitung office (vol.J 50), items confiscated from the Arbeiter-Zeitung office or the defendants' homes (vol.J 51), "Revenge" circular (vol.J 66), "Attention Workingmen" flier (vol.J 66), McCormick Reaper Works strike, meeting or riot (vol.J 57), Spies, August (vol.J 54), Spies' version of the Haymarket events (vol.J 56), questioning of Spies after his arrest (vol.J 53), Parsons, Albert (vol.J 57), Fischer, Adolph (vol.J 54), (vol.J 60), questioning of Fischer after his arrest (vol.J 61), Schnaubelt, Rudolph (vol.J 53).

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John D. Shea,

a witness for the people having been duly sworn was examined in chief by Mr. Grinnell, and testified as follows:

Q What is your name?

A John D. Shea.

Q You are one of the detectives, Lieutenant of the police force?

A Yes sir.

Q Head of that department? Were you at the Arbeiter Zeitung office May the 5th?

A I was.

Q What time in the day?

A Sometime in the forenoon. --I think about 11, o'clock.

Q What did you do there?

A Went there with some officers, shortly after the arrest of Spies, Shwab, and I think Spies' brother. Made a search of the place and arrested some of the inmates, took them to police head quarters and made a search of the upper portion of the building-- that is, the type-setting room. I was in that portion of the building, and the other officers were making a search of the lower rooms and offices.

Q What did you obtain or bring from the part of the place where you were searching?

A There were some papers, some manuscript. There was some three or four leaves or sheets of papers, that had been written on, picked up by one of the officers, and I got hold of it and read. I afterwards put my initials on it at police headquarters. Marked it

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"J. D. S."

Q That manuscript we will speak of later. Did you find some type set up?

A Yes sir.

Q Did you take or see taken away from there any dynamite or anything of that character?

A Officer Duffy showed me some stuff that he found in that--

Objected to, as not responsive.

THE COURT--Well, unless you saw him find it, don't tell. If he showed you anything there in the building.

A He showed me something, and I said "Look out for that, it is dynamite".

Mr. GRINNELL--That was brought away, was it?

A "Be careful about that, it is dynamite".

Q That was brought away?

A And that was brought to the police head quarters.

Q And by the police authorities has been handed into the possession of whom, for security?

Mr. BLACK--If he knows.

Mr. GRINNELL--Well, he does know.

THE WITNESS--I had it marked and turned it over to a gentleman--I forget his name, who understands about all that sort of stuff, and told him to take good care of it.

Mr. BLACK--How do you know whether he understands about it or not?

A Well, I made all the inquiry I possibly could.

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Mr. GRINNELL--Mr. Vohmeyer, or some powder man.

A I cannot recall the name. He came there to the office and he said he did and I took it for granted that he did.

Q You delivered it into his hands for safe keeping?

A Yes sir.

Q When, do you remember with reference to the seizure of it?

A It laid in our vault at the police headquarters for a few days, and we did not consider it a safe place and disposed of it as I stated.

Mr. BLACK--I move that portion that he did not consider it a safe place be stricken out.

Motion granted.

Mr. GRINNELL--And it was in your possession before that time and up to the time it was given away?

A Yes sir.

Q Look at this and see if this you took from there? (Handing witness a type galley about one quarter full of type.)

A Yes sir. That was in the same condition that it is now in. It was taken out of that room shown to me by one of the officers, who picked it up.

Q You kept it ever since?

A A portion of it is the same as this. (Indicating written manuscript.)

Q Then this is the English portion?

A Yes sir.

Q Now, what is that that you have in your hands there?

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A This is the matter that was picked up in the rear. --In the east end of that building, in the type setting room. I brought it over and marked it "J.D.S."

Q Is that the piece that has got your initials on the back of it.

A I think I marked all the leaves, if I am not mistaken.

Q Look and see.

A Yes sir.

Mr. GRINNELL--Captain Black has identified all this, I believe once before. This is the paper shown the witness and marked "Phi", and the same Exhibit as was placed in evidence when the witness Fricke was on the stand.

Q Captain Shea, do you know Rudolph Schnaubelt? Have you seen him?

A I know a man that is called Rudolph Schnaubelt.

Q Was he at any time in the station?

A He was.

Q In reference to the 4th of May, when?

A A couple of days after the arrest of those other gentlemen.

Q Did you have a conversation with him?

A I did.

Q What was it?

Objected to. Objection sustained.

Q Do you recognize this photograph (Handing witness photograph) as ever having seen the original of it?

A That is

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Schnaubelt's picture--photograph.

Q When you saw him was he with beard on or off?

A Had a mustache; beard off.

Q Was anything said by him as to when he had shaved his face?

Objected to. Objection sustained.

Q Mr. Shea, have you had a conversation with any of the defendants after their arrest?

A I had a conversation with Mr. Spies and Fischer; first with Spies, and later on, with Fischer.

Q State what the conversation was that you had with Mr. Spies.

Mr. BLACK--Let him first of all fix when and where?


THE WITNESS--It was at police head quarters in my office, the day that he was arrested.

Mr. Foster--Which one is this now?

A Mr. Spies.

Mr. BLACK--But after the arrest?

Mr. GRINNELL--After the arrest, yes.

THE WITNESS--I started in to ask him about--

Mr. BLACK--I want to object, if your Honor please, to any conversations between officers of the law, and the defendants after the commission of the offence, and while the defendants were under arrest.

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THE COURT--Yes. Whether those conversations should be preceded by any questions as to what had been said to the party by way of inducement to talk, is a question about which the authorities differ.

MR. GRINNELL--Well, that is simply left for the defendants to ask him some questions on that subject if they want to.

THE COURT--Yes. But if it should turn out that inducements to them to talk had been offered, then incompetent evidence has got in.

Mr. GRINNELL--Isn't it right and proper for the defendants, if they have any question about it themselves, to ask that question now? I am not to be bound by any suggestion from the defence upon that subject, or any examination made, or any objections made now. I can ask the question, if the Court deems it is desirable.

Mr. INGHAM--The strongest way it can be put in their favor is to let them take the witness and cross-examine now, as to whether inducements were held out or not.

THE COURT--No. I suppose that the defendants are not bound to do any thing toward the introduction of your evidence. I think the better way is to ask him yourself, what was said to him if anything, before he began to talk.

Mr. GRINNELL--Very well. I will ask him.

Q Before we proceed to that I will ask you if you had any conversation with Mr. Spies about that manuscript?

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(Showing witness manuscript previously identified by the witness.)

A I did.

Q Now, prior to that conversation with Mr. Spies about these matters of your inquiry, what if any inducements were held out to him, or what was said to him with regard to inducements if anything?

A Nothing at all said to him with regard to any inducements.

Q Any promises made him?

A No promises.

THE COURT--Or any threats?

A No threats.

Mr. GRINNELL--Now, you may state what conversations you had with him?

A I started in to--

Mr. FOSTER--Just answer the question.

Mr. GRINNELL--Just state what you said and what he said.

A I asked Mr. Spies if he was at the meeting at the Haymarket, the night before; he said he was. I asked him who opened up the meeting. He said he did. I asked him if Schwab was there. He said Schwab was there but that he understood he went to Deering. I asked him if Parsons was there; he said Yes.

Mr. BLACK--Of course, we object in behalf of the defendants other than Spies.

THE COURT--What Spies may have said only affects himself, subsequent to the matter which is being investigated. It has no effect upon anybody but himself.

Mr. GRINNELL-Unless the others were there.

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THE COURT--Yes, unless what he said was in the presence of other persons.

Mr. FOSTER--Well, that rule don't apply where the men were under duress as in this case.

Mr. GRINNELL--Well, they were not there, so it don't matter.

THE COURT--Was there any assent by others to what one said?--is the question which the jury would have to pass upon.

THE WITNESS--Well, will I go on and state how he said at the time?

THE COURT--Yes sir, go on and tell all he said.

A I asked him if Fielden was there; he said yes. I asked him if Parsons spoke and if Fielden spoke; and he said yes. I then asked him who was speaking when the police came, and he said that Fielden was. I asked him if he was at a meeting on the prairie the day before near McCormick's factory, when the place was attacked by the mob. He says "I spoke at a meeting there," and I says "Well, what happened?" "Well," he said, "I was speaking and some of the parties there in the rear commenced to halloo and said "Let us go to McCormick's, and they started and the most of the crowd broke and started with him." I asked him if he knew what happened at McCormick's and he said he did not know then, but he heard later. I asked him what he did and he said he got on a

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street car and came down town. I asked him about a circular that had been strewn on the street that night. I asked him if he knew anything about it and he said No. He had heard of it.

Mr. BLACK--Did you say to him that it had been strewn on the street, or did you name the circular?

Mr. GRINNELL--If you have any objection to interpose, interpose it.

Mr. BLACK--I want to know whether it is objectionable or not, if he said "I asked him"?

THE COURT--Yes, that is ambigous.

Q What were your words when you spoke to him about the circular?

A My best recollection is, your Honor, that I put the question in this way.--I asked him if he knew anything about that circular that was circulated on the street. I knew that such a circular had been circulated.

Objected to.

Mr. GRINNELL--Do you know whether you had a circular present with you when you had the conversation--do you now remember?

A I do not know that I remember that I had that particular circular at that time, but I did know that there was such a circular.

Q And that is what you stated to him?

A That is what I asked him about.

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Q Very well.

A He said he did not know anything about that. But he heard that it had been circulated, put about.

Q Go on with the conversation.

A I then asked him about this! (Indicating manuscript previously produced.) I showed it to him. Mr. Grinnell was sitting in the office at the time. I asked him if he write that; he says, "No, I did'nt,"--no, "I refuse to answer".

Mr. FOSTER--Well, that is very different. Now, what did he say?

A He said "I refuse to answer".

Mr. FOSTER--Then why did'nt you tell us what he said?

THE COURT--Well, he has corrected himself.

THE WITNESS--I think I am telling you as well as I know how.

Mr. ZEISLER--You first said "No".

THE WITNESS--Well, I corrected it. He said "I refuse to answer." I then asked him, I says, "If you did not write it there can be no harm in your saying that you did'nt". Then Mr. Grinnell spoke up and he said "If you did'nt write it why did'nt you say you did'nt?" He says "I refuse to answer". Then I said to him, "Mr. Spies, what position do you occupy there"? Are you the editor"? And he says "Yes." I says, "Now, would'nt anything of that kind be likely to go through your hands before it would go into print"? "I refuse to answer." Then I marked that stuff and put it away.

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That was about all the conversation I had with Spies. Mr. Bonfield, I think was present, and Mr. Grinnell, and I am not sure whether there was anybody else listening to the conversation or not.

Mr. GRINNELL--Did you have any conversation about the circular advertising the Haymarked meeting?

A I don't recollect.

Q When did you have a conversation with Fischer?

A I think it was the next day.

Q Well, what conversation did you have with Fischer, and in that connection I will ask you first, so as to anticipate objections further, what if any inducements were held out to Fischer? Were any threats made him or promises given him?

A No sir; there wasn't any threats, anything said about inducements or promises. He was simply brought up stairs out of the cell room and brought into my office and I started in to talk with him about this matter.

Q What was said?

Objection to in behalf of the defendants other than Fischer; objection overruled, and exception by defendants.

THE COURT--Well, it is not admissible against the others Nobody is to be affected by it but the one who spoke, or rather, who listened and assented.

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THE WITNESS--I asked him where he was at the night of the Haymarket meeting. He said that he was at a meeting in the Arbeiter Zeitung office, and that he and several others, Schwab, Fielden and I think a man named Rau--no, Rau brought word to the meeting at the Arbeite Zeitung office that Spies was at the Haymarket and that there was a large crowd there and very few speakers, and they immediately started to the Haymarket. I asked him if he was there when Parsons spoke, and he said Yes. I asked him if he was there when Spies spoke, and he said No; at that time he was at the Arbeiter Zeitung, but he was there when Feilden and Parsons spoke. I asked him what he had that belt and dagger for, and dynamite, or fulminating caps. He said, "Well, I have had that pistol and dagger to protect myself". I said "Did you have it that night?" He said "No, I didn't have it with me that night". I says "Where was it?" He says, "In the Arbeiter Zeitung office". And I said, "How did you come to have it on you Tuesday morning when officer Slayton arrested you"?

Q Wednesday morning.

A Wednesday morning. Well, he says, "When I came to the office, I put it on." I says, "What did you put it on for in the office"? You were not afraid of anybody in the office"? Well, he says, "I didn't intend to stay; I was going away". And I says "How did you come in possession of that cap that were found in your pocket,

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that fulminating cap?" He said, "I got that from a man in front of the Arbeiter Zeitung office some three months before that". I asked him, if he made any inquiry about its use; he said No--never paid any attention to it. I also said to him "There has been other weapons found just exactly like this, the one you are carrying? How is that you happen to carry the same kind of weapon that has been found with the others, those sharpened daggers?" He says, "Well, I don't know; I made that myself for my own protection." I asked him several other questions about people who were there other than those defendants, about a man named Brown and a man named Schneider.

Mr. GRINNELL--To go back a moment, was anything said that conversation between you and Spies that you now remember about, when if at any time Spies left that wagon and where he went.

A Spies?

Q Yes. Left the wagon at the Haymarket Square from which the speaking was had?

A My recollection is that he said that he got on the wagon and said something to Parsons or to Feilden, I don't which, about its going to rain, and left the wagon. I don't recollect where he said he went to.

Q Do you remember whether he said anything about how long before the shooting--the explosion of the bomb it was that he had left the wagon?

A I don't recollect as to

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Q Did Fischer have anything to say as to where he was when the bomb was exploded?

A He said he was at the Hall.

Q Which Hall?

A Zepf's, I think.

Q Did you have any other conversation with these men that you know and now remember?

A I had two conversations with Fischer, but both were substantially as I have stated, at different times.

Mr. Foster:

Q Mr. Shea, where were you born?

A Cook County: eighteen miles from Chicago.

Q Are you of Irish decent?

A My father and mother were born in Ireland. I was born in Cook County. I am Irish to the back-bone.

Q Did your father write his name O'Shea?

A My father never could write his name.

Q Did'nt he call his name O'Shea?

A No sir. He was often called O'Shea, though.

Q You belong to the detective department, I suppose?

A Yes sir.

Q And you were fishing for admissions of course, when you were grinding at these defendants?

A I was making an inquiry to try to get at the facts in this case.

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Q Well, you were after confessions or statements by the defendants that you had under arrest? Locked up at the time.

A Most assuredly.

Q That was the business, and you asked Mr. Spies if he had spoken at the Haymarket meeting?

A Yes sir.

Q And he told you that he had?

A Yes sir.

Q You asked him if he had spoken on the prairie near McCormick's and he said he had?

A Yes sir.

Q Then you asked him if there was trouble there and he said that some of them on the outside commenced shouting something about McCormick's, and they rushed off there--- he did not go with them, but that he took a street car and came down town?

A Yes sir.

Q That was his confession then, on that subject?

A Yes sir.

Q Now, when you asked him--when you presented this manuscript to him you asked him whether he wrote that or not, didn't you?

A Yes sir.

Q He says "I decline to answer"?

A Yes sir.

Q He did not say that he did not?

A No sir.

Q Never suggested that he did not?

A No sir.

Q But simply said he declined to answer?

A Yes sir.

Q As I presume, you did not attempt to compel him to answer your questions?

A No sir.

Q He in a gentlemanly and polite way--he was not on

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trial then. He declined to answer that question.

A Certainly.

Q Never told you that he did not write it?

A No sir

Q Now, sir, what circular did you put before his face when you asked him if he knew anything about that circualr? Did you put any?

A I don't think that I did.

Q You did not put any?

A No sir.

Q Did you repeat the contents of any circular? Or did you say "some circulars that I have seen scattered around the streets"?

A I don't think I had the circulars. I simply said to him, --asked him if he knew anything about that circular that had been shown around the streets.

Q Did you define what the circular contained?

A No sir.

Q Just simply said the circular that was thrown around the street?

A I took it for granted that he knew it.

Q Do you know whether he had reference in his answer-- whether when he said that he didn't know anything about it-- you don't know that he had reference to a circular, this Mr. Fischer had obtained to be printed or not, do you?

A Yes sir, I do know.

Q He said that he had reference--

A He said that he heard about it.

Q That he had heard about it?

A Yes sir. --That a circular had been strown around the street.

Q This circular that Fischer had printed?

A I don't

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know what.

Q Which circular did you talk about to him?

A The circular that the night before had been strown on the street.

Q Wasn't there two circulars?--Wasn't there a circular calling for the Haymarket meeting, and wasn't there a Revenge circular?

A Yes sir.

Q Now then, did you designate to Mr. Spies which one that he said that he had had nothing to do with it?

A No sir.

Q Now, as a matter of fact, you do not claim that the one that was strewn on the streets calling for the Haymarket meeting, that he had anything to do with that, do you?

A Well, I do, not claim it, no.

Q You do not claim it?

A No sir.

Q And when you asked him if he had anything to do with it he told you that he had heard about it, but that he did not know about it particularly.

A I had my reasons for asking him.

Q I don't ask you that. I have not asked you for your reasons. You just answer my questions. Now, I speak plain English?

A Yes; and I am answering you very plain.

Q And I can make it very plain if necessary. There was nothing said about the circulars strown on the street except that he had heard about it but that he did not know about it in particular?

A Yes sir.

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Q That was true, wasn't it, so far as you know now?

A So far as I know that was true.

Q And that is the confessions that Mr. Spies made-- now, you went to Mr. Fischer and you, commenced to pump him. He told you that he was at the Haymarket meeting, didn't he?

A Yes sir.

Q He said he wasn't there when Mr. Spies was speaking and you did not see him there, when Mr. Spies was speaking, did you?

A I was not there at all myself.

Q And you do not know now that he was there? You have no resaon to believe that he was there? You do not claim that that statement wasn't true, do you?

A Who do you mean?

Q That when Fischer said that he was not there when Spies was speaking at the Haymarket, that was correct, wasn't it, so far as you know?

A That is what I say.

Objected to.

THE COURT--That is not admissible.

Mr. FOSTER--Very well: Now he did state that Mr. Parsons was speaking and that Mr. Feilden was speaking when he was at the Haymarket.

A That is what I said.

Q But he also stated that before the bomb was exploded he went away to Zepf's Hall. And when the bomb was exploded he was in Zepf's Hall.

A. Yes, sir.

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Q And that was the confession of Mr. Fischer?

A That was the confession.

Q Now, you asked him in regard to this file that had been ground down, that he had in his belt?

A Yes sir.

Q And the revolver. And you asked him whether he had that when he was at the Haymarket, and he said No. Do you know whether that was true or not?

A I don't know anything about it.

Q Don't anything about it; but when he was arrested, you heard he had it on his body?

A I did not hear anything about it.. I know it.

Q You saw it, saw it taken from his body?

A I was there when he was arrested.

Q And you saw that he had it on?

A Yes sir.

Q The reason that he told you that he had it on was because he was not going to work then but was going away, and he said that?

A That is the reason.

Q you do not know what time in the night he was coming back, do you?

A I did not know where he was going or when he was coming.

Q That is it, exactly. And what he told you then, so far as you know, was correct on that, wasn't it?

A So far as I know was correct there.

Q And that completes the confessions of Mr. Fischer?

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Mr. Grinnell:

Q I want to know if you had a conversation in regard to a circular of which that is the manuscript, with Mr. Spies (showing witness manuscript before mentioned).

A I did.

Mr. Foster:

Q Now, when you asked him in regard to the circulars did you spread out a circular before him?

A I did not.

Q Did you spread out anything before his face?

A No sir. I asked him about this.

Q Wait a minute. Just answer my question and stop. Did you at that time refer to the contents of any circular?

THE COURT--Mr. Foster, there is no trouble about that. You have had the whole story of what they did say to each other. Whether that is the manuscript of the circular is a question which you ought to have objected to, probably, because whether it is a manuscript of the circular is not to be told by a witness, but to be told by reading the manuscript.

Mr. FOSTER--Now, at the time you asked him about this circular you spread nothing out before him?

A Well now, I want to understand what you mean.

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Q Well, you don't understand English, then.

A Yes I do, sir.

Q Now, at the time you asked this question to Mr. Spies what did you know about the circular that was spread on the street? Did you have any paper before his eyes that he could look at and read?

A Before I answer that question, I want to know whether you mean that as a circular (indicating manuscript) or whether you mean when in its printed form as a circular.

Q I want to know what you mean.

A I want to know that. I tell you that I showed him that that you have in your hand.

Q You asked him whether that was his writing?

A Yes, that is all that I showed.

Q The paper you, showed him and you said "Mr. Spies, is that your writing"?

A Yes sir.

Q He says, "I decline to answer that question."

A That is what I stated.

Q Then you went on and says "Do you know anything about a circular that was spread on the streets?" and you did not designate whether it was the Revenge circular, or whether it was the circular that Fischer got printed?

A No sir; I did not designate.

Q Then you did not put this before his eyes and say to him, "Do you know anything about a circular, Mr. Spies,

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that was spread upon the street last night? And to which he replied, "I have heard about it; but don't know anything particular about it?"

A I did not put what before his eyes?

Q This manuscript?

A I did put it before his eyes.

Q At the time you asked him that question?

A Yes sir: at the time,-- A moment before that.

Q Now, let us have no misunderstanding about that. You presented that. Did Mr. Spies read it all through, or did he just glance at it?

A He did not read it at all.

Q He did not read it at all?

A No sir.

Q You simply showed and says: "Is this your handwriting?" He says "I decline to answer".

A Yes sir.

Q And that was all that was said about the manuscript?

A That was all that was said about the manuscript.

Q It was not then called to his attention again by you?

A Not the manuscript, but another circular was.

Q Yes, I know that. I am not talking about another circular.

THE COURT--Oh well, we have got the whole story.

THE WITNESS--Said that over half a dozen times.

Mr. FOSTER--After you got through talking about that, then you asked him the question in regard to the circular to which he responded "I have heard of that circular but I don't know anything about it, particularly"?

A Yes sir.

Q Now, at the time that you had this conversation with

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Mr. Fischer, and he told you that he was at Zepf's Hall, didnt he tell you that he was in company with a man by the name of Wandrie, or some such name as that?

A Yes sir.

Q And didn't he tell you not only that he was there in the presence of Mr. Wandrie, but that Mr. Parsons was also there in the presence of Mr. Wandrie.

A Said that Mr. Parsons and Mrs. Parsons were there.

Q Now, I didn't ask you anything about Mrs. Parsons.

A Well, I thought I would give it to you.

Q Is there anything else you want to give me?

A No, no.

Q Very well, then we will proceed. He told you that Mr. Parsons was also there?

A Yes sir.

Q You sent for Mr. Wandrie at once, didn't you?

A Well, I think he was sent for; I don't know that I sent for him

Q And you examined him, and found that that statement was true?

A Mr. Wandrie said that Mr. Fischer was in the Hall at the time of the explosion.

Q Now, those things that you carried away there-- of course you carried away like the balance of them that went there--you just carried them off?

A We just carried them off as quick as we could.

Q And when you was talking to Mr. Fischer before he made those remarkable admissions--

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Objected to. Objection sustained.

Q Didn' you tell Fischer that you wanted him to tell you about this thing, that you did not think "you were such a damned fool as to go to the penitentiary for Spies and his friends?"

Objected to. Objection overruled.

Mr. GRINNELL--I did not understand the question in the first place.

Mr. FOSTER--(To witness:) Don't shake your head. Just talk so that the shorthand writers can hear you.

THE WITNESS--I didn't say anything of the kind.

Q You did not say anything of the kind?

A I answered it twice. That is the reason I shook my head.

Q Now, what was said about his being a damned fool, to consent to go to the penitentiary, instead of coming out?

A I had come to the conclusion that he wasn't anything like a damned fool.

Q I didn't ask you that of course.

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