Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of William Sahl, 1886 Aug. 3.

Volume L, 377-386, 10 p.
Sahl, William.
Blacksmith; German immigrant.

Direct examination by Mr. Zeisler. Cross-examination by Mr. Ingham. Testified through an interpreter. Testified on behalf of the Defense, Spies, August et al.

Attended the Haymarket meeting and also observed the police lining up at the Desplaines Street station before the meeting opened.

Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): socialists and/or socialism (vol.L 377), Spies, August (vol.L 378), Schwab, Michael (vol.L 379), actions of police during the Haymarket meeting (vol.L 378), "Attention Workingmen" flier (vol.L 384), movement, position or tenor of the crowd (vol.L 379), street lights and/or lights on the wagon (vol.L 380), learned about the Haymarket meeting in the Arbeiter-Zeitung (vol.L 382), attendance of women and children at labor meetings and rallies (vol.L 3800, Greif's Hall (vol.L 383).

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a witness called and sworn on behalf of the defendants, was examined in chief by Mr. Zeisler and testified through interpreter Gauss, as follows;

Q Your name is William Sahl?

A Yes sir.

Q Where do you reside?

A 396 South May Street.

Q What is your trade?

A I am a blacksmith.

Q Do you belong to any trade union or labor union?

A No.

Q Are you a socialist?

A I sympathize with the socialists.

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Q Are you an anarchist?

A No.

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

A I was home until about a quarter of eight.

Q After that?

A Then I went to the Haymarket.

Q What did you do after you had reached the haymarket?

A I stood still remained standing at the Desplaines street police station.

Q What did you see about there?

A I saw three patrol wagons manned with police.

Q What else?

A I saw about one hundred to one hundred and fifty men drawn up behind in the rear of the patrol wagons

Q How many did you say you saw there?

A One hundred and fifty to two hundred men.

Q Where was that--- I mean where were these policemen and these patrol wagons that you saw?

A On Waldo Place.

Q What did you do after that?

A I took a walk on Randolph Street and Desplaines street until the meeting commenced.

Q What did you observe next?

A I saw that Mr. Spies opened the meeting and asked for Parsons.

Q Do you remember what he said?

A Yes sir.

Q The words he used?

A Yes, he said "Is Parsons here?"

Q Where were you standing at that time?

A I stood about in the middle of the street in a southwesterly direction from the wagon, where he stood.

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Q What did Spies say, after he had asked "Is Parsons here"

A He came down from the wagon, walked with two or three other persons in a southwesterly direction passed me--- afterwards I didn't see anything of him.

Q After Mr. Spies and his one or two companions had passed you, where did they go? Where did you see him go, what direction did he take?

A In a southwesterly direction.

Q Do you know this gentleman here?

A Yes sir.

Q Who is he?

A Mr. Schwab.

Q Did you see Mr. Schwab on the wagon at the time Mr. Spies asked for Parsons?

A No.

Q Was Mr. Schwab one of the gentleman who accompanied Mr. Spies when he passed you?

A No.

Q How long did you stay at the meeting?

A Until about five minutes after ten.

Q Did you stay there until the police came?

A No.

Q Did you hear the explosion of the bomb?

A Yes.

Q Where were you when you heard the explosion?

A I was on my way home on Jackson street crossing Halsted.

Q Did you notice any disturbance, any fights, any breaches of the peace in the meeting during the time that you were there?

A No.

Q Was the meeting peaceable and quiet?

A Yes sir.

Q Did you hear any demonstrations on the part of the crowd, applause, or something of that kind?

A I simply heard

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some one call out in the audience "Hang him or Shoot him,"

Q Were these expressions used by one or two present or by the crowd generally?

A From one or two.

Q How many times during the evening did you hear expressions of that kind?

A Perhaps five, six, seven or eight times.

Q Did you observe whether the gas light on the southwest corner of Crane's alley was burning?

A Yes.

MR. GRINNELL: What does that mean? Did you notice whether it was burning or not burning?

MR. ZEISLER: Q Was it burning or not burning?

A Yes, it was burning.

Q Did you see any torch light on the wagon?

A No.

Q Do you remember a wagon standing a little north of the truck on which the speakers stood?

A Yes.

Q Did you see ladies on that wagon?

A I did not see any ladies, but I saw men on those wagons.

Q How many times had you seen Mr. Schwab before that night?

A Well, I had perhaps seen him six or seven times.

Q Had you seen Mr. Spies before that time?

A Yes sir.

Q Their faces were familiar to you there?

A Yes sir.

Q You now recognize this gentleman as Mr. Schwab?

A Yes sir.

Q Did you see Mr. Schwab at that place, around there at any time on that night?

A No

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Q Where do you reside?

A 396 South May street.

Q how long have you lived there?

A Two years and a half.

Q How long have you lived in the city?

A Seven years.

Q How long have you lived in this country?

A Seven years.

Q Don't you speak English?

A No, I can't speak it, I can understand more than I can speak.

Q What is your business?

A Blacksmith.

Q Where do you work?

A I don't work at present, I am out of employment.

Q Where did you work last?

A For Schuttler.

Q How long have you been out of employment? About a year and a quarter.

Q Have you done anything during the year and a quarter?

A No.

Q How have you supported yourself?

A I had earned a little something, and my wife is earning something.

Q Was your number in the Lehr and Wehr Verein No, 41?

A No, I was not a member of the Lehr and Wehr Verein.

Q Did you ever belong to any group?

A No.

Q And didn't you belong to the southwest group?

A No.

Q Do you know a man by the name of Stange, who lives on Henry Street.?

A No.

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Q How did you come to go to that meeting?

A I read it in the Arbeiter Zeitung.

Q When did you read it in the Arbeiter Zeitung?

A On the 4th of May

Q What part of the Arbeiter Zeitung was it in?

A In the, editorial notices.

Q Did you read the editorials on that day?

A I only read the editorial notices.

Q Who went with you to the meeting?

A A friend of mine.

Q How long have you been reading the Arbeiter Zeitung?

A Five years.

Q Did you take it during that time?

A Yes.

Q What was the name of the friend th t went with you?

A Theodore Hammerling.

Q What time was it when you got to the wagon?

A When the meeting was opened it was about twenty minutes past eight.

Q How long did you stay there by the wagon?

A About five, six to ten minutes after ten o'clock.

Q How did you fix the time when you left?

A When I went home, towards home, I went on Desplaines street and west on Madison street and saw the clock in the saloon on the westerly wall and noticed the time.

Q Where did you find that clock?

A It was two or three houses west of Union street.

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Q On what street?

A West of Union street on Madison street.

Q Which side of Madison?

A North side of Madison.

Q How long have you known, Spies?

A About two years.

Q Where did you see him?

A I heard him speak several times at workingmens gatherings.

Q Where did you hear him speak?

A I have heard him at Greif's hall, at Zepf's hall, at Florus, Turner Hall.

Q How many times have you heard him at Greif's hall?

A Once.

Q How often at Zepf's?

A Once.

Q How many times at the other place?

A Twice to three times.

Q Heard him any other place?

A In the Autora Turner Hall and at the North side Turner Hall.

Q How many times have you been at Greif's hall?

A I was once at Greif's hall and several times at the saloon.

Q What sort of meeting was it you heard him speak at in Greif's hall?

A It was a meeting of the American group, at the time when Barry spoke.

Q What kind of a meeting was it that you heard him address at Zepf's hall?

A That was a mass meeting of working men, the metal workers had been called together for the purpose of organization.

Q How long have you known Schwab?

A I have known him

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about two or three years.

Q Where have you seen him?

A Also at meetings.

Q Where were the meetings?

A The same hall where Spies spoke, Schwab generally spoke also.

MR. ZEISLER: Q You say you saw the announcement of the Haymarket meeting in the Arbeiter Zeitung?

A Yes sir.

Q Was that the Arbeiter Zeitung of Tuesday, May, 4th?

A Yes, I think so. I don't know--- I can't now say whether it was the 3d or or 4th of May 4th,

Q I will ask you to look at this paper, and tell me whether that is the Arbeiter Zeitung of Tuesday, May 4th, 1886.

A Yes sir.

Q Just show me the announcement that you saw?

A Here, this is the advertisement that I read of the meeting.

Q I will ask you to compare this announcement in the Arbeiter Zeitung, with the German part of this circular, marked "Defendants Exhibit, No. 1"---- whether it is the same or similar to this circular.

THE COURT: The right way is to have the interpreter state it.

(The interpreter here read it in English)

MR. ZEISLER: I want the German part of the circular that we have.

MR. INGHAM: Do you mean it is the same?

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MR. ZEISLER: I want him to say it is the same.

MR. INGHAM: Is it the same?

THE INTERPRETER: It is the same, it is quite the same.

MR. ZEISLER% Q I will ask you whether you find, in this notice in the Arbeiter Zeitung, anything about bringing arms along?

Objected to.

THE COURT: The right thing to do is to have that read by somebody that can read English. Read in English what is in the paper.

THE INTERPRETER: (Reads) Attention Workingmen, Grand mass meeting this evening at half past seven o'clock on the Hay Market, Randolph between Desplaines and Halsted streets. Good speakers will denounce the latest rascally deed of the police in killing our brethern yesterday, afternoon, in shooting our brethern yesterday afternoon."

MR. ZEISLER: Q Is it signed?

THE INTERPRETER: It is not signed.

MR%. ZEISLER: That is all?

THE INTERPRETER: That is all in the paper.

MR. INGHAM: Q Is that the only thing in the paper you read that day?

A Yes sir, I just run over-- when I get it into my hand I generally run over it, and if something strikes me I read it, and sometimes don't get time to read.

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Q Did you read anything in the editorials about MC(Cormicks

A No.

Q Were you working that day?

A No.

Q What had you done during the day?

A I was helping in the house work, my wife, was helping my wife.

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