Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

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

Volume L, 386-397, 12 p.
Hiersemenzel, Eberhardt.
Painter; German immigrant.

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

Attended the Haymarket meeting. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): the Arbeiter-Zeitung (vol.L 387), time and place origination of the gunfire (vol.L 389), Greif's Hall (vol.L 390), eight-hour movement (vol.L 391), movement, position or tenor of the crowd (vol.L 389), actions of police during the Haymarket meeting (vol.L 388), weapons in the crowd (vol.L 389).

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

Q What is your name?

A Eberhardt Hiersemenzel.

Q Where do you live?

A Desplaines street, 193.

Q Are you a married man?

A No.

Q Who do you live with?

A I don't know myself the name of the people.

Q How long have you lived in Chicago?

A Going on two years--- I can't tell precisely.

Q Do you board at this place or only room there?

A I am only rooming there.

Q Where do you board--- where do you get your meals?

A I eat at restaurants.

Q How long have you lived there where you do now?

A I lived there about three months.

Q Where did you live before that?

A Canal street, 27,

A. Who with?

A With a certain Mr. Vendt.

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Q What is your business?

A I am a painter.

Q Were you at the haymarket meeting on the 4th of May last?

A Yes sir.

Q At what time did you go there?

A I went there about eight o'clock.

Q How did you come to go?

A I read the call, that is, the notice, the announcement in the Arbeiter Zeitung, that a meeting should take place there, and therefore I went there.

Q Was it the Arbeiter Zeitung that was published on the morning of May 4th?

A That I can't remember now. I come home in the evening from work and found the paper.

Q I will now show you the Arbeiter Zeitung of the date of May 4th and ask you if that is the notice to which you refer. (Shows witness paper.)

A. Yes sir.

Q It was in pursuance of that notice that you went to the haymarket meeting?

A. Yes sir.

Q Where did you stand at the meeting?

A The first part of the time I stood south-east corner of Randolph street and Desplaines street.

Q Then where?

A Then I saw a movement among the people, and all the people that were about there, north on DesPlaines street.

Q Where did you go?

A I also went north on DesPlaines street.

Q Did you see Mr. Spies when he was speaking, from the wagon?

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A Yes sir.

Q Whereabouts were you standing at that time?

A I first stood by the lamp-post, but as the crowd got larger I was pressed out into the street, between the sidewalk, beyond the sidewalk.

Q Were you there before the meeting began, before Mr. Spies began to speak?

A Yes, I was there as early as eight o'clock.

Q I mean by the lamp-post, near the alley?

A. No.

Q Had Mr. Spies begun to speak before you went up by the alley, by the lamp-post?

A. Yes sir.

Q How many speeches did you hear---how many persons did you see talking to the crowd that night?

A. Three persons.

Q Could you understand them?

A. No.

Q Did you see the police come up?

A. Yes.

Q Whereabouts were you standing when the police came?

A I stood two paces south of the lamp-post---that is the street lamp-post.

Q What happened there with reference to the police coming and the crowd dispersing?

A When the police come I went four or five steps further south, so I got to stand about the middle of the street, but I still stood between the sidewalk and that corner there.

Q You mean you stood in the street or on the sidewalk?

A I stood next to the sidewalk, close up to the sidewalk on the street.

Q Now did you hear the bomb explode and pistol shots fired?

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A When the police came I saw the commanding officer of the police walk up to the wagon and converse a few words with Mr. Fielden.

Q Then what happened?

A. Whilst I was looking at Mr. Fielden, I at once heard a noise like a shot. I turned around and saw the police fire at the people.

Q At that time did you see any of the people fire at or towards the police?

A. No.

Q Then what happened after this firing began?

A Then I wanted to get away as quick as possible, and attempted to get down eastward on Randolph street, but I could not get there, the mass of people, the crowd was too large. I got there where a crossing is laid over the street to the sidewalk.

Q A bridge?

A A plank. There three or four were lying on the street, and several at my side fell down, and I fell over them. I wanted to turn the corner, and I saw some policeman coming that way. The police were still firing into the people, and I laid myself by the iron railing there by the saloon. Then when the crowd got too large until I, was forced down into the basement, I had to get up, my head was forced down into the basement, and fell down and hurt my knee.

Q Now during all the time that you were running and the crowd falling and rising, did you see any firing from anybody except from the police?

A No, I only saw that---every one wanted to get away as soon as possible to save himself.

Q During the time you were at the meeting, did you see any of the citizens have in their possession, any revolvers or any weapons of any kind?

A. No.

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by Mr. Walker.

Q Where did you live on the 4th day of May this year?

A Lived at 27 Canal street.

Q When did you move to 193 Desplaines street?

A I can't tell precisely.

Q How far is that way from where the meeting was held? upon the night of the 4th of May?

A. On Canal street?

Q 193 Desplaines.

A About ten minutes walk, not quite.

Q What is your business?

A. I am a painter.

Q Where were you when you read the notice in the Arbeiter Zeitung of the meeting on the 4th of May?

A I was at 27 Canal street.

Q How far is that away from Greif's Hall?

A That is also about a ten minutes walk.

Q Were you at Greif's Hall on that afternoon?

A. No.

Q When were you to Greif's Hall before the 4th of May last?

A I was never at Greif's hall.

Q How long have you been in the United States?

A Three years.

Q And two years in Chicago?

A Yes.

Q How long have you been reading the Arbeiter Zeitung?

A I read it three years, that is two years since I am in Chicago

Q Did you read anything else in the Arbeiter Zeitung besides the notice of the meeting on the 4th of May?

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A I read about several meetings which were announced, and divers items ---I can't now remember exactly.

Q Did you read that article headed "Blood"?

Objected to as incompetent.

Q Before you went to the meeting on the 4th of May?

THE COURT: You have called his attention to one article? Is not it proper to see whether he read anything else in the same paper?

Mr. ZEISLER-- It was only in regard to calling the hay-market meeting---nothing else, only whether he seen that.

THE COURT: He says that the cause of his going to the meeting was his seeing of that notice in the Arbeiter Zeitung. Now is it not proper cross-examination to ask him what else he read in the same issue?

Mr. ZEISLER: We think it is not.

THE COURT: I think it is.

Defendants' counsel then and there excepted to the ruling of the court.

Mr. Walker. Q. Did you read that article headed "Blood"?

A It is possible that I read it. I can't remember precisely what I did read.

Q Can you remember anything else that you read in that paper now, except that notice, on that day?

A That I can remember very positively that I read the issue of the 1st of May from beginning to end, because I was very eager to know all about the eight hour movement.

Q Did you belong to a group at that time?

A. No.

Q Do you now remember whether you read anything else in the issue

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of the 4th of May except that notice?

A No, that I can't tell.

Q Did you read the issue of the 2nd of May, Sunday?

A I believe that I read it, but I can't remember exactly. I read the most of the issues.

Q What time was it when you read the notice of the meeting?

A That might have been half past seven in the evening.

Q Did you go directly to the hay-market after reading the notice?

A I think that I first ate my supper and went there afterwards.

Q Was the meeting in progress when you got there?

A. No.

Q Where were the people?

A. They stood at divers corners-- southwest corner--south east corner and on the south east corner.

Q Whereabouts?

A. On the sidewalk, some stood on the sidewalk and some on the street.

Q On Randolph street or on Desplaines?

A On Randolph and on Desplaines. street.

Q Was not the crowd when you got there on the haymarket?

A Yes, that was just the hay-market where I mean there, those corners.

Q How long after you were there was it, when the meeting opened on Desplaines street?

A I believe I was there a while quite an hour---I got there at eight o'clock and I think it was near nine o'clock when that meeting was opened---I can't remember exactly.

Q Where were you while Spies spoke?

A. I was in the neighborhood of the lamppost at first, I was close to the lamp-post, but afterwards I was forced away from it, a few steps from it

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Q On which side of the street?

A. On the street where the wagon stood.

Q From which Spies spoke?

A Yes sir.

Q On which side of the alley?

A On that side of the alley.

Q North or south?

A On the south side of the alley.

Q How far away from the edge of the alley?

A. About two paces.

Q You mean six feet by that?

A No, about two paces. One takes two paces---

Q Were you on the sidewalk then or on the street near the curb?

A I was at the curb, the side.

Q Were you on the sidewalk itself or in the gutter of the street?

A I was in the gutter with my feet.

Q Where were you while Mr. Parsons spoke?

A I was still on the same spot probably, a few paces away---I can't tell that exactly, because there was some pushing all the time.

Q Were you on the sidewalk at all?

A At first I had my feet up on the sidewalk by the lamp-post, and as I said before, I was forced away and got away, standing down on the street.

Q Where were you when Fielden spoke?

A I was there still.

Q How far away at that time from the curb at the corner of the alley, south?

A I think I was still upon the same spot, probably a foot or two away from it---I can't remember precisely.

Q Don't you remember that you moved about three paces when Ward

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spoke to Fielden?

A Yes, as soon as the police came I went a few paces away.

Q You moved how many paces and in which direction?

A perhaps a few paces, I got to stand right in the middle of the street, and middle of the mouth of the alley.

Mr. GRINNELL: He means the middle, between the mouth of the alley and Randolph street.

Mr. WALKER: Q. You mean the middle between Randolph street and the alley.

A. Yes, between Randolph street and the alley, in the middle.

Q You kept moving towards Randolph street all the time?

A Yes, always towards Randolph street.

Q Were you moving at the curb there, at the gutter?

A Always in the gutter---I attempted several times to gain the sidewalk, but I could not because I was pushed by several.

Q Were many people on the sidewalk there---did you notice on the sidewalk at all, around there?

A Yes sir.

Q That is when the police came up?

A Yes, everybody was pushing towards the sidewalk from the middle of the street to make room for the police.

Q How many rows of the police had passed by where you were before the shots commenced?

A That I can't say, because I could not see their files---I simply saw them march up in a column in the middle of the street, and saw only their heads.

Q They passed by you, didn't they?

A. Yes.

Q All of them?

A. No. I was standing in the middle of the

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street, between the corner of the alley and Randolph street as the police came, marched up to within about eight or ten paces from the wagon?

A. Yes.

Q Had they passed by where you were?

A Yes, they had marched by me.

Q Were you then standing on the same level with the police?

A I stood a little lower down than the police, because I was standing in the gutter, and that is a little lower than the street.

Q You saw Captain Ward over their heads?

A I saw one of the commanding officers of the police as they halted, march up to the wagon---I can't tell which commander it was, but that it was a commanding officer I should say, by his hat.

Q And right then the police began to shoot with their pistols?

A No, the commanding officer stepped up to the wagon, said a few words to Mr. Fielden, Mr. Fielden said a few words in return, and while I still had my eyes on Mr. Fielden, I heard behind me the noise of pistol shots, and as I was turning around, I saw them fire into the people.

Q Saw the police fire?

A. Yes.

Q So, that the first pistol shots you heard were back of you?

A Yes, because I still had my eyes fixed on Mr. Fielden, and I turned around and saw how the police were firing into the people.

Q That was back of him and nearer to Randolph street?

A They were in that direction, and the police in that direction.

Mr. FOSTER: Q. As you stood in the gutter and saw the police fire, which way were the police that fired, from you?

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A They had turned about, and had their front towards the sidewalk, and were firing towards the sidewalk.

Q So then the first police that you saw fire were those in the rear of the police, firing towards the sidewalk?

A Yes, they were behind me, because I still had my face on Mr. Fielden towards the north, and it was the south side of the street which I heard the shots.

Q At the time that you saw the police down where you were, firing, do you know whether the ones up north were also firing?

A I didn't hear anything.

Q Did you hear the bomb explode?

Objected to as part of the original examination.

Q Did you hear any noise further north, any shooting further north than you were?

A. No.

Q At the time this firing had commenced was this crowd going on on the sidewalk that you tell about?

A Yes, there was a great crowd pushing on the sidewalk---everybody was trying to get away as quickly as possible in a southerly direction.

Q Then this crowd on the sidewalk, crowding in a southerly direction was before you heard any firing at all, was it?

A Yes, as soon as the police got there everybody was trying to get away, in that direction---that is as many as I could see from me.

Q It was while they were trying to get away and crowding that you thought the firing was behind you or south of you?

A Yes, I turned about as soon as I heard the shots, and saw

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that everybody was running in that direction and saw the firing.

Q At the time that you heard the firing was this crowding and hustling going on at the time that you thought you heard the firing from the south of you?

A I had seen as soon as the police got to the place, that everybody was trying to get away, and was crowding towards the sidewalk.

Q Then when the firing did come, you thought it was south of you, did you?

A. Yes sir.

Q You were nearer the south line of the police than the north line of the police, were you not? at that time?

A I was nearer to the north end of the police than the south end. Before me there was not so many people as behind me, while I had my eyes on Mr. Fielden.

Q When they commenced to crowd, which way was your face turned?

A I had my face turned towards the police in a southerly direction.

Q And the police that you saw fire was in a southerly direction?

A Yes sir, southerly from me.

Mr. Walker. Q: And those were the only police that you saw fire at all?

A Yes. I afterwards saw the firing scatter over the whole territory, but I didn't look around to see--- I tried to get to the sidewalk.

Whereupon the Court adjourned to 10 o'clock A.M August 4th, 1886.

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