Testimony of Joe Franklin

[Examination of Joe Franklin by Assistant Attorney General Sanford (6/14/1906).]

SANFORD: Is your name Joe Franklin?
FRANKLIN: Yes, sir.
Q. Did you ever live in Chattanooga, Franklin?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long have you been living here?
A. I have been living here ever since 1883.
Q. Since 1883?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Does your family live here now?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you been away recently?
A. Yes, sir; I have.
Q. Did you ever serve in any public capacity here; in any office?
A. I did; I served as constable here.
Q. How many times did you serve as constable?
A. I served three successful terms.
Q. Were you here in the spring of last year, 1906, at the time of the Ed Johnson lynching?
A. Yes, sir; I was.
Q. What position did you occupy at that time?
A. I was constable at that time.
Q. Did your duties as constable take you around that jail frequently?
A. Very often; yes, sir.
Q. Did they ever take you around there at night?
A. Yes, sir; very often.
Q. Before this trouble came up, the excitement about Ed Johnson and the first attempt at lynching him, what was the habit or the custom of the deputies as to whether or not they would usually be at the jail at night?
A. Well, after Captain Shipp put guards around the jail they were there pretty often.  They were there about every night.
Q. I mean before the guards were put around the jail; before any excitement came up over Ed Johnson or Westfield, or any other lynching trouble, would they usually be there or not---the regular deputies?
A. Oh, the regular deputies; sometimes you would find one or two there at night for a while, and sometimes you would find nobody there but Mr. Gibson.
Q. What would be the usual thing?
A. The usual way was just Mr. Gibson and a floor man, a colored man there, a trusty.  Mr. Frawley would be there perhaps from after supper time till 10 or 11 o’clock.
Q. Who was Mr. Frawley?
A. He was the clerk---I suppose he was.  He was the officer there.
Q. Was he a deputy?
A. A deputy; yes, sir.
Q. Who had charge there when Captain Shipp was not there?
A. Mr. Frawley.
Q. He was the head deputy?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you say he would usually be there?
A. He would usually be there, only at supper time.  He would go to supper about 8 o’clock or perhaps a little before.
Q. When would he come back?
A. He would generally get back as early as possible.  I don’t know exactly what time, but he would generally be there after 8.
Q. After the excitement over Ed Johnson came up, the first attempt to lynch him, the trial and all that, were there any guards at the jail, or would the deputies generally be there?
A. When the thing got so hot, Captain Shipp put several guards around the jail.
Q. What about the deputies?
A. The deputies was the ones he put there.
Q. How many would be there at night, as a rule, after that came up?
A. Well, several.  One night I went up there myself, and I believe I counted ten or twelve. I know I counted ten anyway.
Q. How many would generally be there at night?
A. That was generally the rule---from 8 to 10, somewheres along there.  They would keep a crowd with guns so as to protect the jail.
Q. Did you go up there at all on the afternoon or evening before Ed Johnson was lynched?
A. I was there twice---three times that day in the morning, and I was there once that afternoon when Captain Brown was moving the prisoners.  Then I was there twice that night; once between 6 and 7, and once, as near as I can come at it, between 8 and 9.
Q. What do you mean about Captain Brown moving the prisoners?  Tell us about that.
A. Well, I went in, and I had a prisoner to put in jail.  There was a deputy on the floor. Captain Shipp wasn’t there as I could see.  There was a young deputy on the floor, and I asked him where was the jailer, the keeper, and he says---
Mr. Pritchard:  Never mind what he said.
By Mr. Sanford: Not unless you know it yourself.
A. Well, I know he was up there moving the prisoners.
Q. Did you see him?
A. I saw Captain Brown.
Q. Do you know from what floor and to what floor he was moving them?
A. I saw him go up the stairs with Ed. Johnson.  That was in the afternoon.
Q. About what time in the afternoon was that?
A. I disremember.
Q. When were you there again, Joe?
A. I was there after that about 7 o’clock, as near as I can come to it.
Q. What were you doing there?
A. I was taking a prisoner.
Q. Did you find anybody there beside Mr. Gibson?
A. No, sir; I don’t believe there was.  Charlie Mason was there, the trusty.
Q. He was the trusty?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was he white or colored?
A. Colored.
Q. You took a prisoner there?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know the jail door that is between the office and the jail part?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. At that time of the night it is generally open or locked?
A. Locked.
Q. How was it that night, at that time?
A. It was unlocked.
Q. Did you go back again later that night?
A. I did.
Q. Before the lynching?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What time did you go back?
A. Just as I stated before, as near as I can come at it, it must have been between 7 and 8 or between 8 and 9, somewheres along there---between 8 and 9.  It was the early part of the night.
Q. How did you happen to go back again?
A. I assisted Bradford in carrying a man back that time, because he had a very tough man and he couldn’t get along with him.
Q. You were back in the prison then?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Who was Bradford?
A. He was a colored deputy sheriff, special deputy.
Q. In what shape did you find this jail door then?
A. It was open; it was wide open then.
Q. Did you find anybody there besides Mr. Gibson?
A. No.  There was nobody in the office and there was nobody in the lobby, and I ring the gong at the door and Mr. Gibson came up from downstairs.  I says:  “I have got another man.”  He says:  “All right.”  I says:  “Your door is open.”  He says:  “Well, the  prisoners are all locked up anyway.”  I says:  “Ain’t you afraid of the danger in leaving the door open that way?”  He says:  “No.”  I says:  “Where is the guards?”  “Well,” he says, “he dismissed all the guards.”
Q. Who dismissed them?
A. He said Captain Shipp had dismissed them, because there wouldn’t be any more danger. He was a United States prisoner now and there wouldn’t be any more danger.
Mr. Pritchard:  Of course you understand that we are objecting to that on behalf of Captain Shipp.
 Mr. Sanford:  I cannot understand unless you object to it.  If you do, then I will understand it.
 Mr. Pritchard:  Let the gentleman understand, then, that we object.  I supposed he would know it without my suggesting it; but I suppose it is brought against the defendant Gibson, and I want to have it understood.
 The Commissioner:  The objection will be noted.
 By Mr. Sanford: How long did you stay there?
A. I stayed there long enough to weigh him up, put him in the circle and pull the lever and let him in---let him go in the cell.
Q. Did you go away then?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you go back in the neighborhood of the jail or the court-house later in the evening?
A. You mean that night?
Q. Yes.
A. I did.
Q. About what time did you go back?
A. Wee, it was a very short while afterwards.  I was standing on the corner of 9th and Market, myself and Constable Bill Allen, talking with Dr. Thompson and Lewis Gibbs. Charlie Mason came running down the street from around the corner, and he said---
 Mr. Pritchard:  Hold on.  I object to what he said.
 By Mr. Sanford:  I do not ask you what Mason said.  I will ask you if you heard there was a lynching going on?
A. I heard there was a lynching going on.
 Mr. Pritchard:  I object to what he heard.  If it is incompetent to state the substance of the conversation he has no right to state the details of it.
 By Mr. Sanford: Did you go up to the jail then?
A. I went up to the jail.
Q. Or the neighborhood of the jail?
A. I went up to the neighborhood of the jail; I went inside of the court-house line.  When I got up there myself, Bill Allen and these two colored men walked inside of the yard of the court house.  I says to Mr. Allen---
 Mr. Pritchard:  I object to what he said to Mr. Allen as incompetent.
 By Mr. Sanford: I do not ask you to state what anybody said to you unless he is one of the defendants here.
A. He was constable at that time, the reason I said that.  But anyhow, they were slamming on the jail upstairs---I took it to be upstairs.
Q. How could you tell?
A. I could hear the knocking.
Q. Were there any people around there?
A. There was a good many in there, lined up on the front walk where it goes up to the front door of the jail lobby.  Then there was a good many standing on the right and left side of the gate, on Walnut street---on either side of the gate.  There looked to be about ten or fifteen on each side.  And inside the gate it was crowded like that (indicating) on up to the door.  On the inside of the lobby there didn’t look to be more than about five or six men.  I could stand and look right in the jail door.  But a pretty good crowd was on the upper floors and on the stairway.  I saw them when they come down, and when I heard the man say---
Mr. Pritchard:  I object to what he heard a man say.
By Mr. Sanford: The crowd was going out then?
A. Yes; bringing him down.
Q. You can tell what you heard a man say in that crowd.
A. I heard a man say:  “By God, we have got him, boys; clear the way out!”  Then they rushed right down.
Q. Was that a voice that was familiar to you or not?
A. Yes, sir; it was.
Q. Whose voice was it?
A. It was the voice of Bart Justice.
Q. How long had you known Bart Justice?
A. I have known him for several years.  I worked in the iron works with him several years ago.
Q. Then what did you do?
A. When the crowd come down to the lobby I walked towards the northwest gate of the court house---walked right along the line of the house.
Q. What gate did you say?
A. The northwest gate, on Walnut street---Walnut and 6th street.  I walked to that gate and  sat down inside of the gate, on the second step from the top, and saw the crowd as they passed right by and went up the hill.
Q. Was there any light there or was it dark?
A. There was an electric light right in the center of that street, near the intersection of both streets.
Q. Did you recognize anybody as they passed?
A. I did.
Q. How much of a crowd was it that had Ed Johnson; how many of the lynchers were there?
A. The first crowd that passed looked to be about 30 or 40.  Then there was a little bunch behind that.
Q. Did you see the bunch that had Ed Johnson?
A. I did.
Q. How many were there in that bunch?
A. There looked to be about 25 in that bunch.
Q. You think there were about 25?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you recognize anybody in the bunch that had Ed Johnson?
A. I did.
Q. Whom did you recognize in that bunch?
A. I recognized Bart Justice in that bunch.
Q. What was he doing?
A. He had him by his arm or by his clothes; I couldn’t swear which, whether by his arm or by his clothes.  There was another man walking right along on the other side.
Q. Which side was Mr. Johnson on?
A. He was on the side next to me.
Q. Would that be on Ed Johnson’s right or left?
A. On his right.  He said just before he got opposite where I was sitting---
Q. Said to whom?
A. Justice said to Johnson; he said, “By God, you might as well own it; by God, we have got  you, and if you own it we will be easy on you.”  Johnson says:  “I didn’t do it; I didn’t do it; I didn’t do it.”  He said that three times.
Q. Where was that said?
A. When they was walking right along the street going towards the hill.  If they had have looked around they could have sawed me; but you see I was on the right side of him, and everybody was making for the bridge, making that way.
Q. And they were passing you?
A. Passing me.
Q. That corner is on the opposite side of Walnut street from the jail, is it?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Across the street, a little further toward the bridge?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. On the right hand side as you go to the bridge?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you recognize anybody else in this bunch that had Ed Johnson?
A. I didn’t recognize any other man who had hold of him.
Q. You said that.  Did you recognize anybody else in the bunch?
A. I recognized several young men in that bunch, walking along.
Q. Whom did you recognize?
A. I recognized a young man who used to be with the money loaners’ association, by the name of Peyton.  I recognized a young man that runs a business down here on 8th street, Mr. Marquette.
Q. What is his first name?
A. I don’t know his first name.
Q. What business was he in at that time?
A. He was in the clothing business, cleaning clothes business, or something like that.
Q. Did you ever hear his first name?
A. Yes, sir; I have heard it.
Q. Was it John?
A. I don’t think it was.
Q. Anyway, it was Mr. Marquette that was in that business?
A. I knowed him anyway.  He didn’t have on any mask.
Q. Did Justice have on any mask?
A. He had a little mask right across there (indicating).
Q. What kind of a thing was it?
A. It looked like a handkerchief tied across his face, or a rag.
Q. You say “right across there.”  Put that in words.  Where was it?
A. Right across his face.  This is his face right here (indicating).
Q. You mean right over the top of his nose and about at his eyes?
A. Yes, sir; right about there.
Q. How could you recognize him?
A. Oh, I know him well, just like I know my father.  I would know him with his back to me. I would know him by his walk; I would know him by his talk.
Q. Is he a large or a small man?
A. He is a large man.
Q. Did you recognize him slightly or distinctly?
A. I recognized him distinctly.
Q. Who else did you see in that bunch that had Ed Johnson?
A. I saw in the bunch several young fellows.  I saw Nick Nolan.
Q. How long had you known Nick Nolan?
A. Well, quite a while.
Q. What business was he engaged in?
A. The saloon business.

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