Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1
Testimony of Samuel Merrill, 1886 Aug. 10.

Volume N, 215-222, 8 p.
Merrill, Samuel.
President of the Citizen's National Bank of Des Moines and former Governor of Iowa.

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

Testified as to Harry Gilmer's general reputation for truth and veracity. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): Gilmer, Harry (vol.N 215).

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2 o'clock P.M.

Court re-assembled.


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

Q What is your name?

A Samuel Merrill.

Q Where do you live?

A Live at Des Moines.

Q How long have you lived at Des Moines?

A About seventeen years I think.

Q Were you in the army during the rebellion?

A Yes sir.

Q What is your present business?

A President of the Citizens' National Bank of Des Moines.

Q You were formerly Governor of the State of lowa?

A Yes sir.

Q Did you know Harry L. Gilmer when he lived at Des Moines?

A Yes sir.

Q Did you know his reputation for truth and veracity among the acquaintances and associates of Harry L. Hilmer while he lived there?

A I think I did.

Q Was it good or bad?

A Good so far as I know.

Q Would you believe him under oath?

A I would.

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Q I suppose your believing him under oath would be owing to circumstances. If he should swear to a thing and somebody else should swear to it there would be some--

Objected to.

Q I want to know what he means by believing him under oath in the absence of anything contrary, the witness means, I presume--is that the case?

A What is your question, please?

Q In the absence of any testimony to the contrary, to over come it?

Objected to; objection sustained.

Q How many years since you knew Mr. Gilmer?

To the best of my recollection it is about 1872 or '73 perhaps, and for five or six years after he had done work for me.

Q He worked for you?

A Worked for me.

Q As painter?

A As painter.

Q Is that the amount you know about him, when he worked for you as painter?

A I knew him in a general way, the same as I knew other people in the city.

Q As you would know a merchante?

A Yes, know a mechanic.

Q Did he have an account at your bank? I don't recollect--I think not, however.

Q You never did any banking business with him except to

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pay him for his work?

A That is all I guess.

Q Did you ever visit him at his house or family socially?

A I think not.

Q Did he over visit you socially?

A I think not.

Q Did he live in the part of the city you lived in, in De Moines?

A I think he lived about--I really don't know now--I don't now remember where he did live, but I knew him by employing him now and then.

Q You employed him as a painter and he performed that duty and you paid him for it, and that ended your business relations-isn't that true?

A Partially true.

Q Now did you know him any more intimately than you did any mechanic that lived in that city and performed work for you?

A I think I knew him more intimately than I would most other painters, for he did rather more for me.

Q That is the reason you knew him more intimately, because he did more for you--how many different years did he at different times work for you?

A I would hardly be willing to swear how many years--I think it was five or six years on and off that he worked for me as a painter.

Q For how long a time would he work for you--that is at one time?

A I don't remember exactly--it might be more or less days.

Q Did he work by the day or job?

A I think he worked for me both ways.

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Q Were you about while he was doing the painting, or were you attending to your business, and merely had a superintendent observing what was going on?

A I was both, about and occasionally attending to my own business.

Q I will ask you whether you ever met him socially, went with him to any social parties, or anything of that kind?

A I think not.

Q Or ever met him at any that you know of now?

A I think not.

Q You didn't know him in the army, did you?

A No sir.

Q Did you ever hear any one discuss the question as to whether he was a truthful man or not, while he lived in Des Moines?

A I never heard it disputed.

Q Did you ever hear it discussed--did you ever hear any one say he was truthful?

A I never heard any opposition to his character.

Q You understand me when I ask you if you ever heard any one say that he was truthful?

A I have no recollection. of hearing any one say that he was truthful or not truthful, as I now remember.

Q My question was whether you ever heard any one say he was truthful--will you please answer that. What is your answer to my question without any details?

A I haven't any particular recollection.

Q Now, was there ever anything in the life of Mr. Gilmer

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which caused you when you knew him ten or twelve or fifteen years ago, to make an investigation as to his character as to truth and veracity?

A I recall some things about this gentleman.

Q I don't ask you what you recall. I ask you whether or not there was anything which caused you to make an investigation among his associates as to whether he was truthful or not--what do you say to that?

A I say I do not now remember that I done that thing.

Q Do you know anything about his living at Cedar Rapids?

A No sir, I do not.

Q Did you ever hear that he was on the night watch at Cedar Rapids, and was arrested for burglarly?

Objected to.

A Never heard of it.

Q Since 1875 or '76, along there, you lost sight of Mr. Gilmer, I presume?

A Yes sir.

Q Have you ever seen him since he left Des Moines?

A I think I met him once in this city since.

Q When was that?

A I think it was along May or June--I am not certain about that.

Q What year?

A I am not going to swear to those points. I think I seen him as I recollect it, I seen him, met him here during the bankers convention--I think I met him at that time.

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Q Don't you know when that was?

A I think it was October year.

Q Were you at the Palmer House on the 4th of May, this year?

A I think not

Q When were you at the Palmer House last before the present visit?

A I don't remember--I was here some time in May, Ithink, I don't remember the time, not now.

Q In reference to the haymarket meeting, and the killing of the police by the bomb, you remember that it was after that, do you?

A I could not positively swear whether it was after that or not. I have been here, and been through here once or twice this spring.

Q While at the Palmer House, at the hotel--did you stop at the Palmer House?

A No sir, I didn't stop there, I stop there occasionally, I stopped at the Grand Pacific.

Q Have you stopped at the Palmer House this year any time?

A I have not stopped there, only been there to see some parties perhaps.

Q Just dropped in?

A Yes sir.

Q I will ask you whether you were expected, that you know of, at the Palmer House on the 4th of May?

A I don't recall.

Q You did not write to Mr. Gilmer or anybody else that you would be at the Palmer House on the evening of the 4th of May?

A I think not.

Q And you were not there on the 4th of May?

A I think

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Q You were requested by the State's Attorney, I suppose to come here as a witness, Governor?

A Yes sir.

Q By letter, personal letter to you?

MR. GRINNELL: Is that material?

THE COURT: They are entitled to it.

MR. FOSTER: Q Was it by letter from Mr. Grinnell?

A No sir.

Q Who was it from?

A A dispatch, I don't hardly know who it was.

Q Whose name was signed to it, if you remember?

A I don't remember that.

Q When was it you received that dispatch?

A I received it on Monday night, I think, or on Saturday night.

Q Saturday night last--you know nothing of what Mr. Gilmer has been doing of course, during the time he has been here in Chicago?

A No, I have no acquaintance with him for the last few years.

Q It is as much as ten years isn't it since he lived in Des Moines?

A It may be, I don't now remember when he left Des Moines.

Q Was he a married man when he lived at Des Moines?

A I think not. I think he lost his wife--that is my recollection.

Q AT Des Moines?

A No sir; I don't know about that. I

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can't swear to those things, but I think he wasn't a married man when at Des Moines--that is my recollection.

Q Do you know whether he owned property at Des Moines?

Objected to.

Q You say you don't know whether he is married or not?

A (No Response).

Q Who were his immediate associates in Des Moines, persons with whom he visited, and who visited him, those personally acquainted with the man socially--do you know who they were?

A No sir, I do not.

Q You can't give me the names of his immediate associates who went to his house and to whose house he went, etc.?

A No sir.

Q You don't know anything about that?

A No sir.

Q You were formerly Governor of Iowa, and are now president of the Citizens National Bank?

A Yes sir.

Q And Mr. Gilmer was a painter?

A Yes.

Q You hired him and paid him and he went his way?

A Yes sir.

Q For ten years you know nothing of him?

A No sir.

Q What is the population of Des Moines?

A I believe they call it from 40 to 45,000.

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