Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1
Testimony of John Aschenbrenner, 1886 July 24.

Volume J, 348-354, 7 p.
Aschenbrenner, John.
Printer, Arbeiter-Zeitung.

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

Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): "Revenge" circular (vol.J 349), the Arbeiter-Zeitung (vol.J 348), Fischer, Adolph (vol.J 351), arrest of Fischer (vol.J 352).

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[Image, Volume J, Page 348]

John Aschenbrenner,

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 Aschenbrenner.

Q What is your business?

A Printer.

Q You are a printer for the Arbeiter Zeitung?

A Yes sir.

Q Were you such printer in May last? Were you such printer on May 3rd, last?

A I was printer.

Q What was your position in the office on May 3rd?

A I was the assistant foreman.

Q Were you in the office on or about 5 o'clock--at or about 5 o'clock, of May 3rd, 1886?

A Yes sir.

Q What time do you quit work usually there?

A 5 o'clock.

Q At that night, did you quit work at 5?

A No sir.

Q Why?

A I was making up the inside of the Vorbote the weekly paper of the Arbeiter Zeitung.

Q Also in conection with that, what time do the men usually quit work?

A 5 o'clock.

Q Did they that night quit work at 5 o'clock?

A I believe they did.

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Q Did they go back for another part, or another job?

A Some did.

Q What was it?

A I don't know exactly what their orders were. They were on the way going.

Q What did they do?

A Set up a circular.

Q What was that circular? Now, look at that. (Showing witness the so-called "Revenge Circular")

A I believe that is it.

Q You may look at that form there by you. (Indicating.)

A That is the English part of it. I haven't read this form, but it seems to be it.

A Just look at it. Did you set up any part of this circular yourself?

A No sir.

Q Did you see it set up?

A I was over busy with the form--at the weekly. I saw men working there, but I could not tell which ones were working at it.

Q Where did you go afterwards in regard to this form?

A Well, the men were gone and I had done my work, closing up the windows, going off, and just as I was going down a boy come up and said that I had to go up and make up a form of this circular.

Q What time was that?

A I think it was between 6 and 7.

Q Did you go?

A Yes sir.

Q Where?

A Burgess's.

Q There what did you do with the form?

A The two type, the German and the English were on two separate

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galleys and I put it together on the stone; placed material on both sides so that the type would not fall, and went off.

Q What do you call that? (Indicating galley.) A galley of what?

A That is a galley where this type is on. That is a double galley

Q Was the German part on that same galley?

A I don't think it was.

Q They were on separate galleys?

A On separate galleys

Q Now, what did you do with it?

A Placed it on the stone, put the English above the German, and placed a rule in between, just as it is ready for printing.

Q Do you know anything about the incorporation of the word "Revenge" at the top of the English?

A No sir.

Q Did you correct the proof yourself?

A No sir.

Q To whom was the proof, if you know, delivered for correction?

A I could not say.

Q Did you see any of the manuscript from which the matter was set?

A Not at that evening.

Q Did you see it later?

A One of the detectives or the men that come up there to arrest all of them, showed me some of the copy and asked me if I could identify that copy. I don't know whether it was the copy used to set the circular off, or not.

Q After you had locked the form over to Burgess', what did you do?

A Went home.

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Q That is all that you know, then about it. How many men came back?

A I could not say. There were some working at the weekly, getting it ready for me to, put the type in the form, and close the form. I don't know how many were working at the circular.

Q How long have you been working at the Arbeiter Zeitung office?

A Since 1879.

Q Do you know Fischer, the defendant?

A Yes sir.

Q What was his position there, what did he do?

A First foreman, the time, the 3rd of May.

Q Do you remember the day of the arrest, Mr. Aschenbrenner?

A Yes sir; when the compositors were arrested.

Q No, the defendants, any of them? I presume it was the same day.

A It was on the 5th.

Q Yes, it was the same day. Do you remember of having any conversation with Fischer?

A Well, he was to work at the forms, and then after a little while asked me to help him.

Q Were you there when Fischer was arrested?

A Yes sir.

Q Now, before Fischer's arrest, did you have any conversation about his arms?

A About his arms. Well, sir, Fischer about 8 o'clock, or so, or 9 o'clock, he said he was to go somewhere.

Objected to as before. Objection overruled. Exception by defendants.

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Q Go on, please.

A Mr. Fischer then said that he was to go somewhere; I believe his wife was sick, or something, and he went home. After coming back, I found while I, looked for a shooting stick, and mallet in the drawer underneath the stone that I was working at--I found a revolver in there and a belt of the Lehr and Wehr Verein. I asked him when he come back to take that away, so as not to get anybody into trouble who does not use any arms, as it is my place---I am working there; I might probably get into trouble; and Mr. Fischer took the weapon--that is, the revolver and the belt, and went off and while going down he was arrested--that is, he was taken back.

Q That was on the 5th?

A On the 5th, in the morning.

Q Where was that belt and revolver?

A In the drawer underneath the stone.

Q That is, in the upper office on the fourth floor.

A Up in the compositor's room.

Q Was that the room that Fischer used to do his work in?

A Yes sir.

Q He was foreman there?

A He was foreman there and that drawer just about belonged to him, he could put in his tools and used it as he pleased.

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Mr. Foster:

Q Mr. Fischer, then, did not work on this form?

A Which form?

Q The form of the circular.

A Well, Fischer was not present at that meeting.

Q Did he help set up the type, do you know?

A No sir; he was not present.

Q Do you know when the type was set up?

A For the circular?

A Yes.

A It was Monday evening.

Q Was Mr. Fischer there at any time while it was being set up?

A I believe not.

Q Then you say that the next day Mr. Fischer said his wife was sick, or said something.

A Not the next day. It was on the 5th.

Q I mean the 5th. On the morning of the 5th, he told you that he was going home on account of sickness in his family.

A I believe that was what he said. I understood him so.

Q Then of course, in his absence you were the head foreman?

A Yes sir.

Q And among your duties there as head foreman, you had occasion to go to this drawer?

A Yes sir.

Q Under the stone, where you was required to work?---There you

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saw a revolver and a belt of the Lehr and Wehr Verein?

A Yes sir.

Q And you recognized that it was Fischer's from the fact that it was at his desk?

A Yes sir.

Q What time did he come back?

A Well, I think it must have been about half past 10.

Q In the morning?

A Yes sir.

Q Then it was that you told him that you wanted him to take that away?

A Yes sir.

Q In the mean time the police had been up to the office?

A Several times.

Q Several times, and you were fearful it would get you into trouble?

A Exactly.

Q Working there by that drawer with that revolver in?

A Yes sir.

Q Mr. Fischer took the revolver then, and the belt?

A Yes sir.

Q Did he put it on his person?

A I believe he did.

Q Then started away and in going downstairs, as you learned, he was arrested?

A Yes sir.

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