Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of Friedrich Liebel (first appearance), 1886 Aug. 2.

Volume L, 193-203, 11 p.
Liebel, Friedrich.
Carpenter; German immigrant.

Direct examination by Mr. Zeisler. Testified on behalf of the Defense, Spies, August et al.

Stood in Crane's Alley during the Haymarket meeting. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): Spies, August (vol.L 194), Schwab, Michael (vol.L 195), Spies' speech at Haymarket (vol.L 197), movement, position or tenor of the crowd (vol.L 196), street lights and/or lights on the wagon (vol.L 197), religion (vol.L 198), McCormick Reaper Works strike, meeting or riot (vol.L 198), actions of police during the Haymarket meeting (vol.L 199), Captain Ward's command to disperse (vol.L 200), trajectory of the bomb (vol.L 201), time and place origination of the gunfire (vol.L 202), Fielden's response to the police advance at Haymarket (vol.L 201).

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a witness called and sworn on behalf of the defendants: was examined in chief by Mr. Zeisler and testified as follows:

Q What is your name?

A Friedrich Liebel.

Q Where do your reside?

A At Townsend street.

Q What number?

A 234.

Q Where were you on that night of May 4th?

A On Haymarket street.

Q What time did you get there?

A About a quarter to eight.

Q Where were you at that time?

A I stood first, and talked with some man together on the corner of Randolph and Desplaines street, and after that I went near to the wagon where the speakers stand. I am a bad speaker in English.

Q You express yourself well enough. What is your business?

A I am a carpenter.

Q Who do you work for?

A I work in Meyers planing mill in the north pier at last.

Q How long have you been in this country?

A Two years and four months exactly.

Q Did you learn to talk English before you came over here?

A Not a word--I studied here.

Q You say you studied it here?

A Yes sir, I studied it here in the night school.

Q Now, when did you first go north towards the wagon?

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A It was about eight o,clock.

A About what time to your best recollection, did the regular speaking commence, the addressing of the crowd?

THE COURT: Q When did Mr. Spies begin to make his speech?

MR. ZEISLER: Q When did you hear Mr. Spies commence to speak?

A Maybe a quarter after eight or twenty minutes after eight.

Q What did you hear him say at that time?

A He called the meeting to order. He said: "Gentlemen and fellow workmen, come to order now."

Q Did you see or hear Mr. Spies say anything previous to that?

A The first thing what I think he said was, he asked for Mr. Parsons. He said "Is Parsons here?"

Q What time was it when he asked "Is Parsons here?"

A It was shortly after the meeting was called to order.

Q Did you hear Mr. Spies make his speech right then--did he commence to speak to the crowd?

A Not right off.

Q Well, what then did you notice?

A He went from the wagon.

Q Did you see in what direction he went?

A I didn't see that.

Q Where were you standing at the time?

A I stood on the alley, on the first alley from Desplaines street, on the south east corner of the alley where the lamp post is.

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Q Here is Randolph street, and here is Desplaines street and here is that alley.

THE COURT: You can't make that any clearer.

THE WITNESS: I believe it is called Crane's alley.

MR. ZEISLER: Q The first alley north of Randolph street parallel to it?

THE COURT: That is what he said.

MR. ZEISLER: Q How long after that did Mr. Spies return to the wagon and commence his speech?

A It lasted about ten minutes--about fifteen minutes, I can't say exactly.

Q Did you leave your position during that time while Mr. Spies was absent?

A No sir, I remained there.

Q Did you know Mr. Spies at that time--had you seen him before?

A Yes, I had seen him before.

Q Had you ever spoken to him before?

A No, I don't speak to him.

Q Where had you seen him before?

A In several meetings.

Q Had you heard him make speeches?

A Yes sir, I have heard him in several meetings.

Q His face was familiar to you, was it not?

A I can scarcely recognize him by the meeting, but if I see him in a meeting, I know it is Mr. Spies.

Q Do you recognize him among the defendants?

A Yes sir.

Q Which one is it?

A The first gentleman here.

Q Did you know at that time Mr. Schwab--had you ever seen him before?

A Yes, I saw Mr. Schwab before--only one time

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I saw him at the North Side Turner Hall, as there was a festival in the spring.

Q Did you see M. Schwab on the wagon or near the wagon while Mr. Spies made his first remark: "Is Parsons here" or when he commenced to speak?

A I didn't see Mr. Schwab before night. I didn't see him there.

Q Did you see Mr. Spies go towards that alley where you stood?

A No sir, I didn't see where Mr. Spies did go to.

Q Now, what kind of crowd was there around you--how many people stood there at the mouth of the alley at that time during the interval between Mr. Spies first asking: "Is Parsons here" and then his commencing to make a speech--how many people would you judge were there?

A Some stood in the middle of the street and some on the sidewalks--it has been five or six hundred I believe.

THE COURT: How many were there at the alley?

MR. ZEISLER: I am speaking of the mouth of the alley--you noticed this particular place?

A Yes.

Q From the gutter of the street to the line of the walls, did you see many people there or how many?

A Yes, they were very tight together there--there stood a good while.

Q Did you notice the faces of some of the people who were there, could you see them?

A Not there on the sidewalk.

Q I don't speak of the sidewalk. I speak of the space between the two sidewalks, the mouth of the alley?

A I didn't see there any acquainted man to me.

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Q How many men were there?

A There might be thirty or forty.

Q Was there any light which enabled you to see what was going on there?

A I saw in the whole block only one lamp.

Q Which lamp was that?

A In the mouth of the alley, south corner.

Q That was right where you stood?

A Yes sir, I stood right by the lamp post.

Q On the north line of the alley or on the south line?

A On the south line.

Q What kind of light was it--I mean was it pretty light?

A It was a common gas light.

Q I mean could you have noticed faces if you had looked at any.

A Yes, I would have.

Q It was light enough?

A It was light enough there. I didn't meet there any acquainted man.

Q Did you have occasion to look at the part of the alley east of the line of walls?

MR. GRINNELL: What did he look at?

MR. ZEISLER: Did you look up the alley?

A Sometimes., I looked backwards and saw the wagon, stood on the alley, but it was very dark there. I couldn't recognize anyone.

Q Now, what do you remmeber of Mr. Spies' speech?

A I don't remember much only he talked generally about the trouble, what was going on the day before in the vicinity of McCormick's factory.

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Q What did he say about that?

A He said that he had made a speech there to the people, and that the people were not socialists nor anarchists--that they were church goers, he said.

Q Chruch goers?

A Church goers.

Q Go on?

A He said about the blood shed there, the trouble, the fight, and I can't remember much of it. He said that if any one is responsible for it, Mr. McCormick should be responsible for this trouble.

Q During the evening did you hear many demonstrations on the part of the crowd?

A I didn't hear so much noise.

Q What did you hear them say, or what did you see them do during the evening, if anything?

A The people were enthusiastic a little, not so very much.

Q In what way did they show their enthusiasm?

A Some I understood and some not--different callings.

Q What did you hear them say from time to time?

A Some said it was a shame. I can't remember much what they called out.

Q Did you notice any disorder, any disturbance, any breach of the peace there during the entire evening?

A Mr. Spies talked very cool and sober I would say.

Q Muthend is the word for that?

A Yes. He was not very excited.

Q Were you there when the police came?

A Yes, I was there

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Q Where were you then?

A I stood in the middle in the street, maybe a little east from the middle of the street, on the south end of that meeting, of the crowd.

Q Was that south or north of the south line of the alley projected into the street?

A It was south from the south line.

Q How far south?

A It would be five or six feet south from the south line.

Q Where did you first notice the police?

A I noticed them as they were marching. They were very near to me as I saw them.

Q They were very near to you when you saw them first?

A Yes sir.

Q What did you do when you noticed them?

A I thought they were to disperse the meeting and therefore I went to the sidewalk and tried to get out of the crowd.

Q What did you see the others do?

A A good deal the same as I. A good deal of the crowd did the same as I.

Q What do you mean by that, went to the sidewalk?

A Yes sir, went to the sidewalk, to both sides, on the western sidewalk and western.

Q You, I understand, went to the east side?

A Yes.

Q To what particular place of the sidewalk on the east side of the street did you go at that time?

A To the same place where I stood before.

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Q That is where?

A On the south end, on the mouth of the alley.

Q Near the lamp post where you stood before?

A Yes, on the mouth of the alley.

Q What then did you observe, what next did you observe?

A The police were marching to the wagon and stopped.

Q How far did they march towards the wagon?

A A few feet over the north line of the alley.

Q A few feet beyond the north line of the alley?

A Beyond.

Q Did you hear anybody say anything in a loud tone of voice at that time?

A Yes, I heard the calling from the captain who lead the police.

Q What did you hear him say?

A I could not understand it.

Q Did you distinguish any words, and single words?

A I did not understand anything about it.

Q You don't recall any word now that you heard on that occasion, do you?

A I don't catch what you say.

Q What was said--was it said so loud you could hear some thing was said?

A Yes, something was said by the captain. I didn't understand that what he said.

Q Did you hear any response to that from the crowd or from the wagon or particularly from Mr. Fielden--did you hear from any source any response to that command?

A No,

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I didn't hear anything of that.

Q Do you remember whether or not anybody in the crowd within a minute or two previous to the coming of the police hollered "Here comes the blood-hounds, you do your duty and I'll do mine," or something to that effect?

A No sir., I didn't hear that.

Q Now, what did you do after you had heard that command? given?

A I went south, tried to get out of the crowd. I shoved and partly I was shoved.

Q What did you observe next?

A I saw a light.

Q What kind of light?

A I thought it was the rest of the cigar.

Q Where did you notice that?

A I noticed it as I came about in the middle between the alley and Randolph street, on the east sidewalk.

Q You had proceeded somewhat on the sidewalk of Desplaines street towards Randolph street, when you noticed that light?

A Yes sir.

Q How far in the air was it when you saw it?

A It was about four feet above my head.

Q Where was it.

THE COURT: Q Where abouts was it when you first saw it?

A I was about in the middle of the sidewalk.

Q Where was the light?

A It arose just in front of me and went this way.

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MR. ZEISLER: Q In what direction?

A It went in a

Q Tell us whether it went south-west or north-west?

A North-west.

Q Did you follow its course through the air?

A Yes, I followed it through its course.

Q What next came to your observation?

A I heard some shots.

Q From where?

A From the police and from the crowd--I can't say from whom exactly.

Q I ask you from what direction did the shots come?

A They came from the police.

Q Did they come from the center of the street, from west of you?

A Yes, from west of me.

Q Now, did you see any of the people on the sidewalk return the fire?

A I didn't see that, no sir.

Q Did you hear the detonation caused by the explosion of the bomb?

A Yes sir.

Q In reference to the shooting, was that little before or a little after, or was it in your judgment simultaneous?

A It may be this or that.

THE COURT: Q Which was first?

A It was just near together, the detonation and shots, the revolver shots.

MR. ZEISLER: Q Where did you go after that?

THE COURT: Q Which was first, the shots or the bomb?

A They came so near together that I can't tell which came first.

MR. ZEISLER: Q What did you do after that?

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A I came a little in a hurry to try to get out of the crowd south. Some fell down and I jumped over them and attempted to get around a east around the corner.

Q Did you go east then on Randolph street?

A Yes sir.

W How far?

A To the next alley.

Q Which alley do you mean?

A The next alley east from Desplaines.

Q That is also Cranes alley?

A I don't know if it is Crane's alley.

Q That first alley east of Desplaines street on the north side of Randolph, is that it?

A Yes sir.

Q While you were running east on Randolph street, what did you notice then and there?

A A great many shots.

Q Coming from which direction, from in front of you or behind you?

A From the west, behind me.

Q Did you notice anybody in front of you shoot back?

A No sir.

Q Was your way clear or was there anything which caused you to stumble while running or going on Randolph street?

A A great deal run the same way that I did, and some of them run into the alley to shelter themselves, and I did the same.

Whereupon Court adjourned to 10 o'clock August 3d, 1886.

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