Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1
Testimony of Thomas Brown, 1886 Aug. 5.

Volume M, 119-138, 20 p.
Brown, Thomas.
Laborer; Irish immigrant.

Direct examination by Captain Black. Cross-examination by Mr. Grinnell. Testified on behalf of the Defense, Spies, August et al.

Arrested and indicted for conspiracy in connection with the Haymarket meeting. Gave Albert Parsons money after the Haymarket bombing. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): socialists and/or socialism (vol.M 120), the Alarm (vol.M 136), meaning of "Ruhe" (vol.M 126), Zepf's Hall (vol.M 124), 1886 May 4 meeting of the American Group at the Arbeiter-Zeitung office (vol.M 120), received the "Attention Workingmen" flier (vol.M 127), position of the defendants and others on the speakers' wagon (vol.M 124), witnesses who were indicted and/or arrested for conspiracy (vol.M 119), discussion of legal procedure (vol.M 132), International Rifles (vol.M 120), Spies, August (vol.M 121), Parsons' speech at Haymarket (vol.M 122), Parsons' decision to leave town (vol.M 135), Fischer, Adolph (vol.M 125).

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

Q Your name is Thomas Brown?

A Yes sir.

Q Where have you been since the 8th day of May last?

A I have been five days in the central station, four days and five nights in the central station and ever since in the Jail.

Q Where were you arrested?

A In the room, in the room in the house where I room.

Q Where was that, Mr. Brown?

A 229 West Lake Street.

Q By whom were you arrested?

A Well, I can't tell you who they were.

Q You understood they were police officers?

A Yes,

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they showed us the stars.

Q Did they show you any warrants for your arrest at the time?

A No sir.

Q You understand you are under indictment for conspiracy in connection with the Haymarket affair?

A I heard of it I don't know whether I am or not.

Q Are you a socialist?

A I believe in socialism, yes.

Q State whether or not you were a member of the American Group of the International Workingmens Association, prior to the 4th of May, 1886?

A Yes sir.

Q How long a time had you been a member of the International?

A About a year and a half, I think.

Q How long have you lived in Cook County?

A Since 1879.

Q How much of that time in Chicago?

A Nearly all that time.

Q Were you ever under arrest before in your life?

A No sir.

Q Were you ever charged with any criminal offence of any character?

A No sir.

Q On the night of May 4th, 1886, state whether or not you were at a meeting of the American Group at 107 Fifth Ave.

A Yes, I was.

Q Who presided at that meeting, if you remember?

A Mr. Snyder.

Q About how long did that meeting last, if you remember?

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A I don't know how long, I don't think it lasted very long.

Q About half an hour, or some such matter?

A Somewheres about twenty-five or thirty minutes, or half an hour.

Q Are you acquainted with the defendants here, any of them?

A Yes sir.

Q Are you acquainted with Spies?

A Yes.

Q How long have you known Spies?

A About a year and a half, somewheres along there.

Q Do you know Neebe?

A Yes.

Q How long have you known him?

A Well, I have not known him quite so long.

Q Is that a personal acquaintance or simply knowing him by sight and speaking to him?

A Just know him by sight and speak to him.

Q Never had any special conversation with him?

A No, sir.

Q Do you know Schwab?

A I know him to see him.

Q You never had any conversation with Schwab?

A No-sir.

Q Do you know Parsons?

A Yes.

Q How long have you known Parsons?

A About a year.

Q Do you know Fielden?

A Yes sir.

Q How long have you known him?

A About two years.

Q Do you know Fischer?

A Yes.

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Q How long have you know Fischer?

A Well, I got acquainted with Fischer in January, 1885, I think it was.

Q How well were you acquainted with Fischer--how often did you meet him?

A I have not seen him since then, until I see him, until I see him in prison, until I see him at---

Q At the station?

A No, at Zepf's.

Q At Zepf's?

A Yes.

Q That was the night of May 4th?

A Yes sir.

Q Do you know Lingg?

A No.

Q Do you know Engel?

A No.

Q When you left the meeting at 107 Fifth Avenue, who did you go with or who were you with?

A Mr. Parsons.

Q Any others that you recall?

A That is all.

Q Mr. Parsons and you walked together, did you?

A Yes sir.

Q Do you remember whether or not Mr. Snyder, Mrs. Parsons and some others of those that were there went in the same direction with you from the meeting at 107 Fifth Avenue, going over to the Haymarket?

A No sir, I have not seen any of them going from Fifth Avenue to the Haymarket.

Q You and Parsons walked along together?

A No, we did not. I made a mistake. I thought it was going from the stand to Zepf's.

Q I don't mean from the stand to Zepf's, I mean in going from the meeting at Fifth Avenue, over to the Haymarket meeting so called, you and Parsons went along together?

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A No sir, I went alone.

Q What time did you get to the Haymarket meeting?

A I can't tell you exactly.

Q You walked from 107 Fifth Avenue, over there?

A Yes sir.

Q Who was speaking when you got there?

A Spies was speaking when I got there.

Q Do you remember wther or not anybody came to the meeting of 107 Fifth Avenue, and called attention to the meeting there, at the Haymarket?

A Somebody called there-- I was not paying much attention-and asked for speakers.

Q Asked for speakers for the Haymarket?

A Yes sir.

Q And then your meeting shortly after that broke up and you started over to the Haymarket along with the others---is that it?

A Yes sir.

Q Do you remember who that was that came for speakers?

A I think it was Mr. Rau.

Q Balthazar Rau?

A Yes sir.

Q After you got to the Haymarket, who spoke that evening?

A Well, Mr. Parsons spoke after Spies.

Q After Parsons concluded his speech,did you notice where Parsons went?

A No.

Q Where did you next see Parsons after he had finished his speech?

A Well, I next saw him on a wagon with Mrs. Parsons and Mrs.Holmes.

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Q Where did that wagon stand with reference to the wagon from which the speaking was going on?

A It stood quite a distance north.

Q It stood north?

A Yes.

Q What happened when you saw Parsons there--did you and he go anywhere together, and if so, where?

A No sir, I came right back to the stand again.

Q You came back to the stand--then what happened?

A Nothing happened.

Q Did you during the course of that evening--were you at the meeting when the bomb exploded,?

A No sir.

Q Where were you?

A I was in Zepf's saloon.

Q You had gone from the meeting then to Zepf's saloon, before the bomb exploded?

A Yes sir.

Q Anybody go with you?

A Mr.Parsons.

Q Where did you and Parsons get together in going up to Zepf's saloon?

A I started from the north end of the wagon, and just as I made a few steps I met Parsons and told him I was going home, and to Zepf's. He said he was going too.

Q You and he went together at Zepf's?

A Yes sir.

Q What happened after you got into Zepf's?

A Nothing.

Q Took a drink?

A Yes.

Q You and Parsons together?

A Yes.

Q Where were you and Parsons, what part of the saloon

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were you and Parsons in when you heard the explosion of the bomb?

A At the south end of the saloon near the door.

Q Was there any table near where you were?

A Yes.

Q Did I understand you in the earlier part of your statement, that you saw Fischer at Zepf's that night?

A Yes.

Q When was it you saw Fischer there?

A I saw him when I went in with Parsons, and advanced a little.

Q You found Fischer there then when you and Parsons were together?

A Yes sir.

Q How long was it after you saw Fischer there, noticed him in the room, that you heard the bomb explode?

A It must have been somewhere about four or five minutes,I think.

Q Any more than that?

A I think not. I don't exactly know. I had no watch to look at.

Q You and Parsons--I will ask you whether you were standing or sitting at the time the bomb exploded?

A Sitting.

Q Sitting there at the table,were you?

A Yes.

Q During the time you were in there did you see Fischer go out of the saloon past you,or out of the door?

A No sir.

Q After the explosion of the bomb were there any considerable number of people came into the saloon?

A Yes, quite a number come in after the explosion.

Q How long did you remain in Zepf's after the bomb exploded?

A Well,I could not say. I remained quite awhile.

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Q After you went out of Zepf's where did you go?

A I went up to Desplaines Street north to Kenzie.

Q And from ther home?

A. Yes sir.

Q You said you were arrested on the 8th?

A. On the 8th, yes.

Q Did you ever belong to any armed section?

A. No sir.

Q Did you ever drill?

A. No.

Q Did you ever practice with dynamite?

A. No sir.

Q Do you know anything about the meaning of the word Ruhe?

A I do not.

Q Did you ever see that word in print?

A. I did not.

Q Did you know that that word was published in the Arbeiter Zeitung on Tuesday, May 4th?

A. I did not, I cannot speak German.

Q Did you ever hear of it, or when did you first hear of it, if you ever did hear of it?

A Well, in the examination in this case.

Q. That is to say, in the reading over the testimony in this case, as you have read it in the papers, you noticed Ruhe?

A Yes.

Q That is the first time you ever heard it?

A. Yes sir.

Q The first time you ever knew anything about it?

Q Yes sir.

Q. Did you have anything to do with calling the hay-market meeting, so-called?

A No sir.

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Q When did you first learn that there was to be a meet-ing at the hay-market Tuesday night?

A. On that same evening.

Q. When you were at the meeting of the American Group or before?

A. Before.

Q How did you learn that?

A. I seen it announced in the Daily News.

Q Do you mean you saw the hay-market meeting announced in the Daily News or the meeting of the American Group?

A. The meeting of the American Group.

Q I asked when did you first know there was to be a hay-market meeting?

A. Just as I was going home that evening a boy handed me a circular.

Q A circular calling that meeting?

A. Calling that meeting.

Q That was handed to you on the street, was it?

A. Yes.

Q Did the boy seem to have a number of them?

A. He had quite a number of them, distributing them, and I took one of them, and just looked at it.

Q Will you look at that circular which I now hand you Defendants' Exhibit No. 1, and state whether you recognize that circular?

A. Yes, that is the one.

Q That is a duplicate of the circular you saw, is it?

A I think it is. I will be sure to look at these just exactly. That is the one

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Q I call your attention to another circular--- do you observe any difference between the English portion of that circular and the one you have just read?

A. Yes sir, "Working men arm yourselves"---I didn't see that.

Q I will ask you whether or not that line you now point out, "Working men arm yourselves, and appear in full force"-was in the circular you saw and that was handed to you by the boy on the street on the evening of May 4th?

A. No sir, it was not.

Q Were you armed that night?

A. No sir, I never carry arms, never have in my life.

By Mr. Grinnell.

Q Where were you born?

A. In Ireland.

Q How long have you been in this country?

A. Somewhere about four, since four or five years of age---thirty-four years.

Q How long have you been in Chicago?

A. Since 1879.

Q Where did you live prior to coming to Chicago?

A. I lived in Cincinnati.

Q How long did you live there?

A I lived there two years.

Q Before that where did you live?

A. I lived in Cleveland, Ohio.

Q How long did you live there?

A. I lived there about--

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I lived there since I had been a boy.

Q Did you belong to any socialistic organization before you came to Chicago?

A. No.

Q. The first organization of socialists you joined was in the City of Chicago?

A. Yes.

Q And about how long ago?

A. It was about 1881.

Q Did you know Parsons before that?

A. No.

Q How soon after making Parson's acquaintance did you join the socialists?

A. I belonged to them before I ever knew Parsons.

Q How long?

A. I first joined them here in 1881.

Q Then you knew Parsons when, after that?

A. I got acquainted with Parsons about two years, or two years and a half, or two years ago.

Q When you were sitting there in Zepf's hall in that saloon, after you took your drink, you went right up first to take your drink, you went up to Parsons?

A. No sir, I did not go right up---Parsons walked ahead of me.

Q You did not stop long?

A. No sir.

Q He was ahead of you and you both stepped up to the bar and took a drink, is that right?

A. I spoke to Mrs. Parsons and Mrs. Holmes.

Q They were sitting at the table?

A. No sir, they were sitting south of the table.

Q Near the window?

A. Close by the door.

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Q Sitting on the window or on chairs?

A. On chairs.

Q Nearer the window than the table?

A. I did not notice any window there.

Q You walked up to the bar, about what part of that long bar di d you stand at, south end, middle or north end?

A About on the south end.

Q. How long were you standing there?

A. Just while taking a drink.

Q It was a pretty busy time there, wasn't it?

A. Yes.

Q How many bar tenders were there?

A. Two bar tenders.

Q A great crowd drinking all the time?

A. Probably a good sized crowd.

Q You got your drink and what did you do then?

A. Turned around.

Q And walked back where?

A. Walked around a few steps.

Q What became of Parsons?

A. He walked around a few steps.

Q With you?

A. No.

Q In what direction did you walk from that end of the bar at which you stood?

A. I could not say, I walked around a little.

Q Did you lose track of Parsons?

A. For about and instant I did.

Q Where was he when the bomb exploded?

A. Him and me were sitting at a table together.

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Q Where?

A. Close by the door.

Q Was it the same table at which his wife and Mrs. Holmes sat?

A. They did not sit at any table.

Q Did they sit south of you?

A. Yes, they sat south.

Q About how far were you from them?

A. I could not say exactly.

Q Was it two, four or six feet or more?

A. Probably about four feet.

Q About four feet north?

A. I know they were south of me, any how.

Q The bomb exploded, what did you and Parsons do?

A I jumped up amd Mr. Parsons Jumped up.

Q Did you and Parsons go out the rear door?

A. No sir.

Q What door did you go out?

A. I did not go out until some time after that.

Q Did Parsons go out with you?

A. No.

Q Where did you next see Parsons after you got out doors?

A I next see Parsons on the corner of Kenzie and Desplains Street.

Q Was he alone?

A. No.

Q Who was with him?

A. Mrs. Parsons and Mrs. Holmes.

Q Did you have any conversation with him?

A. No.

Q Did't you talk with him there?

A. Not very much.

Q Which way did he go from there?

A. I could not say which way he went from there.

Q Which way did you go?

A. I went north.

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Q Did you separate there?

A. Yes.

Q You went north?

A. Yes sir.

Q And left him standing there?

A. He moved on.I think he went east. He might have went east, and might have went north, but I think he went east.

Q At that time did you have any conversation with Parsons about his leaving.

A. He asked me what I would do in that case.

Q Was it at that corner you stopped there to talk?

A. Yes sir.

Q Did you and he talk alone, or did you talk in a group with Mrs. Parsons and Mrs. Holmes.

A. They were close by---I don't know whether they heard me or not.

Q What was the conversation you had with Parsons?

MR. BLACK: I doubt if that is cross examination.

MR. GRINNELL: You followed him up to this street?

THE COURT: On the examination in chief he was asked where he went, and he said he went up to the corner of Kinzie and Desplaines and then went home.

MR. BLACK: I didn't ask him whether he met anybody or had any conversation or anything of the sort.

THE COURT: If you trace him that far, are they they not entitled to all that took place?

MR. BLACK: Whatever took place, if they can show he did not go that way but went some other way, and show he met

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some persons, I have no objection, but as to conversations he had with Parsons after the bomb exploded, it is now too late to show anything of that kind.

THE COURT: They are entitled to is as cross examination. They have closed their original case.

Mr. GRINNELL: It may show his interest in this case, and the interest of some of the defendants. The object is to show his interest, not only in the case, but his interest in Parsons.

Mr. BLACK: That Parsons was a friend of his, an acquaintance, at least, is apparent.

THE COURT: I think that is legitimate cross examination. There are two aspects of it, of course. One is as to what interest he has taken or felt in the case at all, and upon that, if he had any conversation with either of the defendants, and gave them any advice, it would be admissible with reference to his standing, his bias as a witness; but the other ground---on the examination in chief, you prove as to his going from the hall to his home. Now they have taken him over that ground in the examination in chief, and I suppose thay have a right to know all that happened in connection with his movements. If you carry him over a certain route in the examination in chief, then they are entitled to all that happened on that route.

Mr. BLACK: I don't understand the rule in that way.

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

MR. GRINNELL: Q. This was the corner of Desplaines and Kinzie?

A. Yes.

Q That would be north on Desplains, north of Lake?

A. Yes sir.

Q How far north of Lake, one or two blocks?

A. I don't know how far it is from Lake street to the corner of Kenzie and Desplaines.

Q Now, you had a talk with Parsons there---what did he and you say?

A. Not much of a talk.

Q Tell us what it was?

A. I told him I would leave for a while under the circumstances. Says he, "What do you think I had better do." Says I "Suit yourself, you are your own boss".

Q Is that all that was said?

A. He asked me again.

Q Asked you what---what did he say?

A. The same thing, what I thought he had better do, "What will I do?" I told him to use his own judgment.

Q What else was said---what did you do then?

A. Shortly after that I went home---from there then I went home.

Q Didn't you give him something?

A. I did.

Q What did you give him?

A. I loaned him five dollars.

Q What, if anything, was said between you and him at that time, as to what the five dollars was for?

A. Not a word.

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Q Did not Parsons say to you then that he could not get away because he had no money, and you said you would lend him five dollars?

A. No sir, he didn't say anything of the kind.

Q I will ask you---did not you tell me down at the central station in the presence of Shea, Kipley and James Bonfield, and Mr. Furthman, of my office, that Parsons wanted five dollars. He said he had no money, wanted some money, to get out of town with, thought he better be away for a day or two, or a little while, until the thing had blown over, and you lent him five dollars---didn't you so state to me in the presence of the men mentioned, on the day of your arrest or day after?

A. He asked me to lend him five dollars, and I lent him five dollars.

Q Did you not state to me at the central station, the day of your arrest or day after, in the presence of Furthman, of my office, James Bonfield, Lieut. Shae, Lieut. Kipley and perhaps one or two others, that Parsons said that he had no money to get away with, and that you advised him to go, that you would lend him five dollars?

A. No sir, I did not say those words.

Q What did he say?

A. He just simply asked me for five dollars and I lent it to him.

Q Didn't you state to the men I mentioned, at the central station, at the time mentioned, the reason he wanted five dollars was to get out of town for a while, until the

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thing had blown over?

MR. BLACK: What this witness said at the central station is immaterial.

THE COURT: If you object to the question, I don't think it is competent---not for the reason given that you have assigned. You may ask the witness as to prior declarations on cross examination. You may ask the witness as to prior declarations inconsistent with his testimony in chief, but you can't ask him for prior declarations inconsistent with his testimony on cross examination---that is if he does not on cross examination, give you the information that you call for, you cannot ask him on cross examination, whether he has said it out of court. It is only declarations inconsistent with his testimony in chief, which can be used to impeach his testimony.

MR. GRINNELL: Q. You read the Alarm?

A. I have read the Alarm, yes sir.

Q Did you used to take it?

A. I used to buy it.

Q Contribute towards it?

A. Yes---weekly--how do you mean contribute?

MR. BLACK: Q. You mean you made donations to it or subscribed for it?

A. I used to buy it every time it came out, every week.

Q Did you ever donate any money towards its publication, anything of that kind?

A. I took stock in it.

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Q It was a stock paper?

A. Yes, a stock paper.

Q How many times did you have conversations with Mr. Grinnell or Mr. Furthman or Mr. Bonfield, or any other of the various parties mentioned in Grinnell's examination, while you were at the central station?

A. I don't know Mr. Bonfield. I have had probably four, five or six conversations with Mr. Shea, and that gentleman, I don't know his name.

Q Furthman?

A. Several conversations, pretty much the same thing over and over again.

MR. GRINNELL: I would like to ask a question I omitted. You were confined in the central station down stairs in the cell there four days, you say?

A. Four days, I think and five nights.

Q Where was Fischer at the same time?

A. I think he was in there the same place.

Q Did you see him there?

A. I saw him one time, I passed up.

Q How long when you were in the jail here together---were you confined here in the same place together?

A. Yes.

Q How long?

A. I don't know how long it was.

Q About how long, some weeks?

A. Probably a couple of weeks, may be more and may be less.

MR. BLACK: Q. How many conversations all together did you have with any persons representing the prosecution,

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either the police, officers or attorneys?

A. I did not know Mr. Bonfield nor the police officers.

Q But you had a great number?

A. I had a great number of conversations with a great many---can't tell who they were.

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