[May 6, 1886]
IN THE GRASP OF THE LAW
SPIES, FIELDEN, AND OTHER SOCIALISTS BEHIND THE BARS.
Shutting Up the Office of the Anarchists’ Organ—An Inquest Held Over Officer Degan, and the Agitators Held as Accessories to His Murder—Important Discoveries at Spies’ Office—Dynamite and Arms Seized—The Tolls tightening About the Murderous Conspirators.
“Are you August Spies?”
The affirmative answer came with a sickly attempt at a smile.
“Well, we want you and both these men,” was the next remark of the officer, as he pointed to Christian Spies, a brother of the editor, who was in the office, and Michael Schwab, the associate editor, who sat at the next desk.
The men were undoubtedly frightened, and had little to say, putting on their coats and preparing to leave the office without remark.
It fell to Officer Duffy to take charge of Chris Spies, and when he was asked what his name was before starting said:
“I don’t know as it’s any of your business, was the tart rejoinder.
“You put on that coat and come with me to the station, and do it –quick,” was the retort, accompanied by a motion that meant business. That settled it, and the three prisoners walked over to the City-Hall without a word, but all three keeping an anxious and frightened eye upon the little knots of people who paused to curiously examine the hurrying procession of six men. The pace was a lively one, and, once at Central, the three were buried into cells in the basement. The officers at once returned to the newspaper office and made search of the place. They found about 100 copies of the call for the hay-market meeting, and upon a galley, still undistributed, was the form of the villainous revenge proclamation which was scattered all over the city by a mysterious horseman Monday night after the rioting and shooting near the McCormick reaperworks. The police took these, and, aided by an outside printer, also found and confiscated sample letters from the cases containing the same fonts of type as those used in the “revenge” proclamation.
The editor was in a cell at the station, but there was no cessation of work on the part of the printers, who appeared to have the copy for the edition all in hand. They and persons in the counting-room declared that the paper was to come out as usual, and the fact was reported by the police to the mayor.
Mr. Harrison at once held a secret consultation with the police authorities as well as Mr. Winston, the ex-Corporation Counsel, and then started for the office himself. As he stepped into the office he was recognized by a man giving the name Oscar Niebe. Mr. Harrison sharply asked him if he was in charge, and he before a somewhat broken and disconnected answer could be made the Mayor demanded to know if a paper was to be printed. Niebe then explained that Spies was arrested and that he had just stepped in to see what effect the excitement had upon the Arbeiter-Zeitung staff.
“I want to know whether the paper intends to publish any incendiary articles such as appeared yesterday?” commanded the representative of the municipality.
“No, no. We’re going on all smooth and quiet; all smooth and quiet,” replied Niebe.
“Well, I must be convinced of that. And before a paper is sent out a copy must be placed in the hands of Mr. Hand.”
“O, yes. Hand is a friend of the workingmen. We’ll do anything he says. There will be nothing exciting in the paper. We wouldn’t put in anything of that kind.”
“I will make sure that you don’t,” broke in the Mayor, “and Mr. Hand will be here directly.”
A word or two more of no importance passed and Mr. Harrison took his departure, leaving the impression that the paper was to be allowed to go to press.
As he left the place several persons made a motion as if to follow, but a dozen detectives under Lieut. Shea had taken possession of all the doors and stairways, and non one was permitted to go in or out. Then Mr. Niebe waited for Mr. Hand with what patience he could command, but he waited in vain. A consultation of some sort was held when the Mayor again reached headquarters, for a peremptory order to Shea to bring in everybody connected with the office soon came over by special messenger, and the printers up-stairs were told to stop work and put on their coats. The detectives searched each one of them, and in the clothing of one they found a huge murderous Remington revolver and an ugly knife made by grinding to razor edge the three corners of a six-inch file. Then the whole force, ‘prentice hands and all, were marshaled two by two and started for the station. This time the people on the street seemed to know by instinct that these prisoners were men from the Socialistic newspapers, and, as the procession moved along, threats could be heard on all sides. The number of officers prevented any violent demonstration, but “They ought to be hung,” “Hanging is too good for them,” and such remarks sounded on all sides. The prisoners were badly frightened and might have broken from the officers to avoid the knots of spectators had they not heard one loud-mouthed person call out: “What’s the use of coppers dragging such as that to a station? Why don’t you shoot ‘em down and let their own kind cart the bodies off?” This party just dodged a back-handed blow from a detective, and the printers were safely landed in the big room at Central Station.
When the Mayor had left the counting-room the officers found collected in the editorial room Gerhardt Lizeus, the city editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung; Mrs. Parson, the colored wife of the blatant agitator, who publishes his English paper, The Alarm, in the same office; Mrs. Holmes, a writer for the same, and Mrs. Michael Schwab, wife of the editor under arrest. The last-named was allowed to depart with her brother-in-law, as was also Mrs. Parsons, who apparently succeeded in convincing the police that she was not a writer for either her husband’s or Spies’ sheet. The brother of the former was present to protect her, and hew as told to take her home. These two women will be remembered as the couple who carried the red and black flags in front of the procession which howled about the street the night the new Board of Trade Building was opened. The other two were quietly escorted along the same path their superiors had followed to the City Hall.
Parsons was let go by the police because they believed she would go
home and by
following her could locate her husband. They visited the home of the
the corner of
“I have been expecting you,” she said calmly when Officer Palmer accosted her.
“You still wear the red ribbon, do you?” asked Palmer.
“Yes; and I’ll wear it until I die,” she replied with energy.
She was taken to the Central Police Station and was closeted for a few minutes with Lieuts. Shea and Kipley. She declared that she was “ready to die,” and “might as well die at once for the glorious cause,” but she could not be induced to say a word in regard to her fellow Anarchists or her husband’s whereabouts. The police are convinced that Parsons has left the city. Mrs. Parsons was released.
Parsons and Mrs. Ames were rearrested at
In the counting-room Mr. Niebe was still protesting that he had nothing to do with the paper, notwithstanding his talk with the Mayor, but he was told to walk over to the City Hall and make explanations there.
“Now, dust through this place and see what you can find,” was the order to several officers who had returned from headquarters. The first dash was made at a stuffy little cupboard, and as an officer brought out a bundle of coffee-sacking and carefully placed it on a chair, saying, “Look out! I’ll be that’s dynamite,” a shudder went through the whole party. It was about four or five pounds of that fatal explosive, loosely done up in brown paper and wrapped in the coffee-sacking. Officer Marks, who stood nearest the bundle, was told to carry it to Central, and it was stowed away in one of the empty vaults there with much fear and trembling. A quantity of correspondence, which clearly proved that Spies was the responsible head of the Arbeiter-Zeitung and that Parsons stood in the same relation to The Alarm, was next seized, and the officers caught up four red and two black flags and a couple of printed banners, and all started away, leaving the office in charge of the clerk in the counting-room. These banners were translated and the mottoes they bore were, “Our Capitalistic Robbers May Well Thank Their Lord We, Their Victims, Have Not Yet Strangled Them,” and “Down with Extortion—Long Live Free Labor—Long Live the Social Revolution.”
supposed that Parsons would be found in the office with Spies and
Schwab but he
was not, and as soon as the first rush was over there detectives were
dispatched to hunt him up. When the
first detail was made Officers Costello, Ryan, and Slayton were ordered
out and hunt up Sam Fielden, the rabid speaker of the night before. These men had heard that he was slightly
injured, and they started at once for his home,
for Parsons had been going on all the forenoon, but it had met with no
success. No one could be found who was
ready to confess that he had seen the “editor” and “speaker.” A visit or two was aid to the elegant flat
one occupies with his colored wife at No. 248 West Indiana, and in one
trips Officers Bonfield and Wiley received some information that led
return to the Arbeiter-Zeitung office
and make a careful search of a sink in Spies’ private office. Hidden in the woodwork below the officers
found a long, heavy
expert was found about
in the person of Mr. F.L. Buck, who agreed to make a test of the
in the possession of the Anarchists.
Accompanied by two or three officers he took some of the stuff
down to the Lake-Front, near the foot of
Niebe was let go later.
WHAT THE INQUEST REVEALED
Positive Testimony of Many Witnesses Implicating the Anarchist Leaders.
upon the body of Mathias J. Degan, the West Lake Street Station police
who died shortly after being hurt by the bomb which exploded at the
Desplaines and Randolph streets, was begun by Coroner Hartz yesterday
at 2:50 o’clock in the office of the City Clerk, the Coroner not having
necessary room in his own office. The
jury selected assembled at the
The jury then took carriages to the City Hall, and the witnesses were summoned to the office of the City Clerk. A sensation was created in the room by the arrival of several officers, having in charge August Spies, Sam Fielden and Michael Schwab, the first editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung, the second professional Communist with no other occupation, and the third associate or telegraph editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung. These three had been arrested in the morning. Of the three Schwab appeared the coolest; Spies was nervous and worried, his countenance betraying great anxiety, while Fielden’s face was very red, and he shifted uneasily in his seat in his efforts to seem careless and indifferent. His head, face, whiskers, and hands looked as though they had seen neither water nor brush for many a day, and he was ill at ease. The trio had doubtless heard of the threats of lynching that had been made, and cast furtive glances on all sides, as if watching for somebody who might attack them. Though in their harangues these fellows have always denounced the police as assassins and cut-throats, they seemed at this time to be particularly glad of the protection afforded by the officers, though they squirmed under the angry looks cast upon them by the spectators. They paid close attention to the testimony given, and allowed nothing to escape that was going on around them.
The jury consisted of the following:
Badenoch, flour and feed merchant, corner
Greenebaum, commission merchant,
Kurtz, plumber’s clerk,
Klausner, liquor dealer,
witness was John Degan, brother to the deceased, living at
Police Officers and Reporters on the Stand.
of No. 19 Lane place, a police officer of the detective force, said he
others were ordered to report to Inspector Bonfield at , Tuesday evening, at
Station. They did so, and Bonfield
ordered them to scatter themselves through the crowd which had begun to
at Desplaines and Randolph streets, a meeting having been announced for
market-place. He had also seen a notice
of the meeting Tuesday afternoon in the Arbeiter-Zeitung (the Anarchist
edited by August Spies. The Coroner then
translated the announcement for the benefit of the jury.
The notice of the meeting was published in
yesterday morning’s TRIBUNE). About or a crowd was noticed on
Desplaines, north of
see Degan the, but saw him afterwards.
Just after the word to charge I heard a terrific firing from the
officers, and then I went south on
Questioned by the Coroner, the witness said: When the bomb exploded the ranks of the police seemed to spread, and then I saw great numbers of police lying on the ground piled across each other. Foreman Badenoch—What remarks did you hear previous to the throwing of the bomb?
Witness—I heard several people in the crowd say, “Hang them!” “Burn their factories!” and similar ejaculations were very common. I do not know to whom these persons referred, as I was circulating around in the crowd all the time.
Haas had heard Spies and Fielden make Socialistic remarks on former occasions and say things calculated to rouse the hearers to bloodshed. He heard Fielden make threats against the Government.
Foreman—What language did the speakers address the meeting in?
“Have you ever heard these men make similar remarks on former occasions?”
“Yes, sir. The tenor of their remarks was always opposition to law and order and resort to violence.”
E.W. May of No. 351 Division Street heard Spies say at the meeting, in speaking of the trouble at McCormick’s: “McCormick has said he was not responsible for the death of the men who were shot. If he said so he lied. He alone was responsible for their death.” His description of the arrival of the police and the throwing of the bomb was similar to that of the preceding witness.
Owen, a newspaper reporter, living at
William Ward of
The foreman—Have you ever been ordered by your superior officer to arrest these men (pointing to the prisoners) for their incendiary utterances?
Capt. Ward—No, sir; but I think other officers have.
The inflammatory circulars were shown Capt. Ward (the ones distributed at the meeting) and he recognized them as ones he had seen.
Officer John A. McDonald, a detective on the police force, was on the ground at the time of the explosion of the bomb, at the southwest corner of Randolph and Desplaines streets. He saw the bomb falling to the ground before it exploded. Half a minute after the explosion there were several shots fired from the opposite side of the street, and Officer Degan fell upon him, his weight bearing him to the ground. The shots came from the southeast corner of Randolph and Desplaines streets and were not fired by officers. Degan had come to him just before he was shot, and had suggested going over to the opposite corner to see who were standing there. The witness said he and other officers picked Degan up from the ground and carried him into the station. He did not speak after being shot.
being recalled, said Degan was under Lieut. Stanton of the West Lake
Station. This company was instructed to
keep the crowd from surging into
The Search of the “Arbeiter-Zeitung” Office and Finding of the Dynamite.
Timothy McKeough, a detective, was around in the crowd with other
heard Spies ask the crowd to be quiet so they could hear the speakers. Spies began to talk, and told the audience
how he had spoken at the meeting of Monday which led to the riot at
factory, but denied that he had been the means of inciting the mob. He said that the mob there had merely thrown
stones and bricks, a harmless amusement, and that there was no use for
the police. He quoted freely from
Parsons’ speech, which ended with the cry “To arms!”
He said he heard Fielden say, “Kill the law;
throttle it, stab it, shoot it!” Shortly
after that the police came marching from the Desplaines Street Station,
a short time the bomb exploded. He said
that in the raid on the Arbeiter-Zeitung
office Wednesday morning (Yesterday) the detectives under command of
Shea captured a quantity of material which they considered to be what
into bombs. Several detectives went down
on the lake shore at the end of the
The Coroner—Where is this stuff now?
McKeough—In the vault of this building. [Sensation in the audience.]
Michael H. Marks, also a detective, testified to the finding of the
material in the Arbeiter-Zeitung building,
the dynamite was wrapped in a heavy brown paper bearing the label of
Dr. Theodore J. Biuthardt, who held a post-mortem examination on the body of the dead officer (Degan), gave a detailed description of the wounds found upon the corpse, and it was evident from this that Degan’s death was not the result of being struck by a bullet, but that he received a portion of the deadly bomb. A great wound was discovered in the loft thigh, and the doctor said that it was very evident that the missile had entered the thigh and burst after entrance, the muscles being terribly torn and the femoral artery severed. It was evident that this missile was either an explosive bullet or a portion of the bomb which had entered the flesh and exploded there. As to this the doctor could not say, as he was not an expert on explosives, but the wounds were not made by an ordinary bullet. He exhibited to the jury pieces of lead taken from Degan’s thigh and leg and they were very rough and ragged around the edges, and none of them very large. The explosion inside of Degan’s thigh must have been of great force, for the flesh was badly torn.
It was noticeable that while the testimony of the witnesses who found the dynamite was being given, and while Dr. Biuthardt was giving his description of the wounds on Degan’s body, Spies was very nervous, and the expression upon his face was more anxious than ever. The evidence against him was most direct, and it was apparent that he had not expected that such a good case would be made against him. Apart from the type found in his office, set up, form which were printed the circulars headed “Revenge,” and which were the most inflammatory of those distributed among the crowd Tuesday night, was the fact of the finding of the dynamite in his office, by which the inference was very strong that it was from this explosive that the bomb was made which did the ghastly work. Spies’ face grew redder and redder and the wrinkles upon his face deepened as the testimony was proceeded with.
Officer Reinhold Meyers of No. 545 North Clark Street went to the building of the Arbeiter-Zeitung yesterday and found some type set together, the heading of which was: “Revenge! Workingmen to Arms!” It was the type form which the English part of the gory circular of last Monday night was printed.
of no. 16
Detective Edward Cosgrove saw Michael Schwab in consultation with Spies on the wagon.
Heinemann, a TRIBUNE reporter, of
During the testimony Spies wore a sarcastic smile upon his features, and seemed to think this part of the investigation was very funny indeed. Schwab, however, did not, and once or twice vehemently interrupted the witness.
“May I ask you a question, sir?” he at last broke out.
The witness turned inquiringly to the Coroner, and that official said, “Certainly.”
“Was I,” asked Schwab, addressing the witness, “speaking in German or in English?”
“In English,” promptly replied Thompson. “I don’t understand German.”
Schwab settled back in his chair, and he evidently thought it his turn to smile, for a sickly grin overspread his features. The grin was intended to convey to the jury the impression that, had he been talking to Spies at all, it would have been in German and not in English, his command over the latter language not being very complete. Schwab, however, can make himself understood in English very well, and can carry on a conversation in the Anglo-Saxon very well indeed.
Officer William Jones of the detective force was one of the party who made the search at the Arbeiter-Zeitung building in the morning. He arrested Spies, Schwab, and Spies’ brother, and took them to the Central Station, where they were locked up. Then he and other officers went back to the office, and in Spies’ office-desk they found two bombs, with the fuse all ready to light and everything about them in perfect order. They found dynamite in three different places in the building. In the desk they also found several caps and fuses. The bomb may have been giant-powder cartridges. When he and the other officers went to Spies’ office they were told Spies was not in and would not be in until 2 o’clock, but on proceeding up-stairs they found him and Schwab and his (Spies’) brother and placed them under arrest.
Officer Reuben Slayton, a detective, was engaged in the search of the Arbeiter-Zeitung building, and on the way up-stairs ran against one of the printers in the office. He put his hands up to keep the man from running against him and felt a belt around his body. He (the officer) searched the printer and found upon him a sharp three-cornered dirk and a five-chambered revolver, both of which weapons he took away. He arrested the printer and took him to the Central Station and locked him up.
This closed the testimony, and then the Coroner said: “Gentlemen, we have finished with all our witnesses, and this would finish the case were it not for one thing. These men here (pointing to the two Spieses, Schwab, and Fielden) were not brought to this room as prisoners—that is to say, they were not brought here as persons suspected of having been concerned immediately in this horrible crime—but the evidence is such as to show that they may have had a good deal to do with it, and therefore I extend to them the privilege accorded to all suspected of crime—that of testifying in their own behalf before the jury.”
Turning to the four men he said: “you may testify, should you desire so to do, but with the understanding that what you say is voluntary and might be used against you. Therefore it is your privilege to either speak or remain silent.”
Young Spies jumped to his feet and said he wanted to testify, and Schwab spoke up and signified his intention of saying something. Fielden was silent, while August Spies sat and smiled and never opened his lips.
Spies, August’s brother, of
Michael Schwab was sworn after the Coroner had explained to him that he need not make any statement. He acknowledged an oath as binding to tell the truth. He said he lived at no. 51 Florimond Street. He had left home Tuesday night at to find Spies, whom the strikers at the Deering Reaper Works wanted to speak. He looked for Spies at the Haymarket and, falling to find either him or any other English speaker, went to the strikers by himself and made a speech for them after . So he could not have been on the wagon on the Haymarket between 9 and . He went from his home to his office and through the tunnel to the Haymarket, arriving there about . Mr. Schwab did not recognize a stiletto that had been taken from Adolf Fischer, one of the compositors of the Arbeiter-Zeitung, nor a revolver that was shown him. He denied any knowledge of how the circulars that were distributed Monday and Tuesday were printed. He said he was associate editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung. It was usual for the paper to furnish speakers to trades-unions and other organizations when asked for. He did not know who called the meeting he went to Tuesday night. A request for speakers was sent by telephone.
Fielden asked leave to make a statement and was “affirmed” by the
Coroner. He said he had been invited
Tuesday night to
The following verdict was returned:
We, the jury, find that Mathias J. Degan came to his death from shock and hemorrhage caused by a wound produced by a piece of bomb, thrown by an unknown person, aided, and abetted, and encouraged by August Spies, Christ Spies, Michael Schwab, A.R. Parsons, Samuel Fielden, and other unknown persons; and we, the jury, recommend that said unknown person who threw said bomb be apprehended and held to the grand jury without bail; and further recommend that the said August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Michael Schwab, and Christ Spies, as accessories before the fact, be held to await the further action of the grand jury without bail; and, further, that the said A.R. Parsons and the aforementioned unknown persons, be apprehended and committed as accessories without bail to the grand jury; and we, the jury, recommend that the constituted authorities in the future strictly enforce the statute prohibiting the holding of unlawful meetings.
Attorney Grinnell and Chief of Police Ebersold closeted themselves
twice yesterday to consult as to the best course to pursue in getting
the evidence necessary to convict the murderous Anarchists who
atrocious wholesale murder on
It was rumored yesterday that the State’s Attorney would present a request in due form to Judge Rogers or Judge Garnett to impanel a special grand jury to act on the cases of the Socialists Spies and Fielden, their associates, and dupes. The regular grand jury, it was thought, would not be impaneled till Monday week, and would have all it could do to attend to the ordinary jail cases. Some good citizens suggested a special grand jury, because they do not like the personnel of the regular one. A few good men like Murry Nelson, A.J. Grover, and George Adams have been drawn, but the majority are small politicians, saloon-keepers, etc. It might not be safe to intrust them with any business of importance. It is not likely that this will be done.
The Nihilistic agitators, Spies, Fielden, and their fellow-conspirators, remained in the cells beneath the detectives’ quarters last night. This morning they will be committed to jail. At Chief Ebersold permitted reporters to see the prisoners. All were willing to talk, and answered all questions put to them except those more pertinently connected with the horrid deed committed the night before. Fielden was lying in his bunk when the reporters entered nursing his wounded leg and vainly trying to lose consciousness of the thrilling scenes he had just passed through by falling asleep. When the reporters entered he arose, rubbed his bloodshot eyes, and came to the bars. Fielden is rather below the medium height, thick-set, and muscular. His swarthy features, well covered with a thick growth of black hair and beard, are repulsive, and his low brow and catlike eyes do not improve his appearance. His clothing was well worn and of the poorest quality, and his blue hickory shirt gave him the appearance of a countryman.
“I was 39
years old last February,” he began, “and was born in Todmorden,
my arrival in
August Spies is a pale-faced, intellectual-looking German, 36 years of age. He was born in Hessia, and came to this country in 1873. He has been a Socialist all his life, and started a newspaper in support of that cause in 1879. He says he at first refused to speak at the Haymarket meeting because handbills had been issued requesting people to meet with arms. He afterwards consented to speak, as he wanted to defend the Socialists against the attacks of “capitalist organs,” who had held the Socialists responsible for the affair at McCormick’s factory. His speech, he says, was the most temperate that he ever delivered. He strongly deprecated the throwing of the bomb, which he denounced as an “ill-timed and outrageous affair.” It was, he thought, the impulsive outbreak of the people, and not prearranged. Regarding the quantities of explosives found in his office he says that he was ignorant of their presence there. He thinks they were probably placed there by the police in order to make a case against them. He had two cartridges in his desk, which he kept to show reporters, but they were perfectly harmless.