Testimony of Sheriff Joseph F. Shipp

[Examination of Joseph F. Shipp by Mr. Clift.]

Q. Captain, are you the sheriff of Hamilton county and were you the sheriff on the night of March 19, 1906?
A. I was, and am the present sheriff.
Q. You are one of the defendants in this case of the United State against yourself and others?
A. I am.
Q. When were you first elected sheriff?
A. I was installed in office on the first day of September, 1904.
Q. And have you been the sheriff ever since that day?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. I will ask you Captain, to state whether or not Ed Johnson was arrested by you or your forces, and on what charge he was arrested?
A. He was arrested at my instance, by one of my deputies, on the 25th of January, 1906.
Q. State what was done with him immediately after his arrest?
A. Well, as soon as I heard that he had been arrested, apprehending that there would be some trouble, because at that time there was a great deal of excitement, I went immediately to the point where I learned the arrest had been made, and took the man in my buggy and drove rapidly by a circuitous route, to the county jail.
Q. You say there was a great deal of excitement at that time?
A. Yes, sir; there was.
Q. Did that excitement grow out of the fact of the crime that had been committed by this man?
A. It did....

[Shipp, in answer to questions from his lawyer, described events leading up to the night of Johnson's lynching.  At one point in his testimony, Shipp was asked about the day Johnson was identified by the rape victim, Nevada Taylor:]

SHIPP:  I went on then to describe the [Johnson, the suspect], stating that he was a colored man, a little taller than she [Nevada Taylor] was; that he was dressed in a dark suit of clothes, and had on an old soft black hat, and that the coat was cut round-cornered.  That filled the description of Johnson.  Then she remarked, of her own volition, that he had a very soft kind voice—so much so that she was surprised that one with a voice like that would have been guilty of such a crime.  If she had talked to the man a thousand times she could not have described his voice any more correctly.
Mr. Sanford: I object to the testimony as to Johnson’s voice as entirely foreign, and irrelevant.
The Witness: That was so characteristic of his voice, and his voice was so peculiar, that it had been remarked by others who had talked with him on the way to Nashville.
Mr. Sanford: I object to the testimony of what others had remarked, as hearsay, in reference to Ed. Johnson’s voice.
The Witness: When we arrived at the jail I, with the sheriff, carried Miss Taylor and her brother into the sheriff’s office.  Miss Taylor and her brother were seated, and I notified them that I would retire and bring in these two prisoners; but before bringing them in, notwithstanding that we had an electric light, I had the gas lighted, that we might have a good strong light.
After bringing the two prisoners in and standing them before her, and leading them in conversation, I passed them out of the room, and then returned and said to Miss Taylor, “Which of these men, if either, is the man who assaulted you?”
She said “The man that stood to you left.”  That was Johnson.  Then she remarked “I never expected that you would be able to bring anyone before me who I could identify with so much satisfaction to myself.”
Mr. Clift: Then what was next done, Captain?
A. I then passed Miss Taylor and her brother out of the room, and I brought in Wyatt, first, into the room in the presence of the sheriff and myself, and we had some talk with him, and then returned him to the officers in the hall, and brought in Johnson.  I then confronted Johnson with the strap that I had in my pocket, that I had picked up on the ground at the spot where this young woman was assaulted, and stated to him that the young lady had identified him as the guilty man....
Mr. Clift: State whether or no, during that ten days and on up to the very time that the mob made its appearance at the jail, there was any excitement or anything that you discovered that could put a prudent and careful man on his guard, or any notice that there would be an attempt that night to lynch Johnson?
A. There was nothing at all—not a thing that came to my knowledge.
Q. I will ask you to state whether or no you conspired with your deputies, or any one of them, or anyone else, looking towards the lynching of Ed. Johnson?
A. I never conspired with any living man, my deputies or anyone else; and I had no knowledge, not the slightest, that there would be any effort upon the part of anybody to interfere with Johnson.
Q. State whether or no, if you had suspected or if you had seen or realized that there was going to be any effort or any attempt at mobbing the prisoner, what course you would have pursued for his protection.
Mr. Sanford: I object to the question as calling for a purely hypothetical answer as to what the witness might have done.
Q. I should have certainly done as I had done before, endeavored to protect him.
By Mr. Clift:
Q. State whether or no the order of Judge Harlan granting the appeal, or afterward the order of the United States Supreme Court granting the appeal, in your opinion had anything to do with causing or bringing about the lynching of Johnson?
A. I do not know what was in the minds of the people who did the lynching.  I know that it had not occurred to me that anybody would interfere with an order of the United States Supreme Court.
Q. I will ask you to state whether or no you have always, and did at that time, regard and hold the Supreme Court and its authority as of the highest and entitled to the greatest respect, and whether you intended in any way to hold its action in contempt?
A. I certainly had not done anything to bring myself into contempt of the Supreme Court, and had always held the Court in the highest regard.
Q. State whether or no it has always been your purpose to uphold and maintain law and order as a good citizen?
A. Yes, sir.  I am opposed to mob violence.  I am in favor of upholding the law as the best security for the public.
Q. I will ask you, Captain, if you remember Julia Wofford and her testimony here in regard to the conversation she says she heard at your dinner table, and whether any such conversation as that took place?
A. Yes, I heard her testimony.  I know Julia Wofford.  She was a domestic in my family, and was in my son-in-law’s family before she was in mine.  She had a very vicious disposition, although a very excellent cook.  We tolerated a good deal of her disposition, which was not very amiable, on account of the fact that she was a good cook.  But there was no such conversation.  The truth was that on account of the fact that my wife was very much worried and in constant dread of all of this trouble and excitement that we have passed through, to relieve her of everything in connection with the matter, I scrupulously avoid talking of it and speaking of it in my family; and if I had anticipated anything, she was the last person on earth that I would have related it to.
Q. Captain, I will ask you to state who your deputies were at the time the lynching took place?
A. M. L. Galloway, Charlie Baker, Marion Perkins, Frank Jones, George Kirkland, John and Joe Shipp, two of my sons, Fred Frawley was my office man.  He was not doing deputy sheriff work except in the office.
Q. I will ask you to state whether or not Joe Clark was engaged and acting as deputy at the time this lynching took place?
A. Joe Clark had been a deputy appointed early in my first administration; but on the 16th of December 1905, he resigned and returned to his former business, which was the grocery business, conducted at Sherman Heights.
Q. I will ask you when you first heard or knew that there was a mob at the jail the night this lynching took place?
A. Well, I had gone home that night I think about half past 6.  My office work had been greatly interfered with; the criminal court was in session, I was making preparations to hang this man the next day, and I had a campaign on hand at the same time, and my office work had been greatly interfered with.  I had carried home with me that night some work—some writing—and I was seated at a table when the telephone bell rang.  I went to the phone and I recognized Attorney General Whittaker’s voice.  He wanted to know if I knew what was going on at the jail.  I told him I did not.  “Well”, he said, “you had better get down there.”
Q. Then what did you do?
A. I hung up the telephone just as quickly as I could, so that I might get another connection.  I wanted to call the jail.  I then tried to get the jail immediately after disconnecting with him, and I could not get the jail.  I at once anticipated what was the matter as soon as I did not get an answer.  I got the central, but I id not get the office, and I anticipated that if there was a mob there the telephone had been torn out.  I hung the telephone receiver up at once, rushed around the room and got my hat and coat, and started for the jail, running most of the way and walking rapidly the balance of the way, going down Georgia avenue to 6th street and by 6th by 6th street to Walnut street and to the jail.  Just as I got opposite the jail and just before turning into the walk leading me up to the office, I saw five or six men standing out in the middle of the street; and without stopping, going rapidly, I made the remark “What is the matter?”  No one answered at all, and I then went up the walk and found quite a number of men in the walk and on the steps leading into the office.  I made my way through the crowd, shoving them to one side, and got into the office.  As soon as I got in I saw that the iron door, the outside door, was open.  I entered rapidly, and just as I reached the inside of the door I saw Mr. Gibson sitting back against the wall with three or four men standing around him.  I had started over to make some inquiry of him, and just at that time I was seized from behind by several men—I do not know how many.  When they seized me I did not know but what they were going to do me some violence, and I reached back for my gun which I had in my pocket.  They assured me that they did not intend to hurt me.  I was somewhat indignant, and stated to them that I was not afraid of their hurting me.  They rushed me up the steps and carried me into the hallway that is above the level of the floor Johnson was on, and through which there is a drag that we feed the prisoners by, and stood over me there with a guard during the progress of the work.  They were hammering; I heard them hammering on the door when I entered the office.
Q. State whether or no you were kept a prisoner there by these people till after they had got Johnson and left the jail with him?
A. Yes, sir; I was.
Q. I will ask you if when you reached the jail you were exhausted from your run, and what the distance is from your house to the jail?
A. Well, it is four or five blocks.  Yes, sir; I was very much exhausted.  I had been under the care of a physician.  I had been suffering with intestinal indigestion and was under the treatment of Dr. Ellis at that time.
Q. State whether or no you were so much exhausted from your run and the sickness and your long strain with regard to watching this prisoner and taking care of him, that you were not able to make much resistance at first when you reached the jail.
Mr. Sanford: I object to that question as leading and suggestive to the witness?
A. Well, I was not able to have made any great physical resistance.
By Mr. Clift:
Q. I will ask you, Captain, what your age is?
A. I will be 63 at my next birthday, which will be the 3rd of February.
Q. How long have you lived in Chattanooga?
A. I have lived here about 34 years.  I came here in 1874.  I became interested in 1873, but came to live in 1874.
Q. What business were you engaged in?
A. I came here to engage in the manufacturing business, which I continued in up to 1891, I think it was.
Q. Then what after that?
A. After that I conducted a hotel, and very soon after that I was broken up.
Q. State whether or no after that you were engaged with the United States troops?
A. Yes, sir; I was a civilian employee, you might say.  I was connected with the quartermaster’s department during the Spanish-American was and during the entire time that the troops were quartered at Chickamauga Park.
Q. State whether or no you were at one time in the Confederate army, and how long you served there.
A. I entered the Confederate army on the 12th day of April, 1861, and served through the war....

[Cross-examination of Shipp by Assistant Attorney General Terry Sanford.]

Q. Did you get the telegram that Judge Clark sent you, which has been introduced in evidence?
A. Judge Clark did not send me any telegram.  Mr. Brazelton came over to my office, as I now remember, about 5 o’clock that evening.  I was seated at my desk doing some work, and he came in and read me a telegram.
Q. That has been introduced in evidence.  That was the first?
A. Yes; I think it was.
Q. Then Judge McReynolds had shown you a telegram?
A. Judge McReynolds did not show me the telegram, but he stated to me that the Supreme had stayed the sentence, or something to that effect, and that this man was a United States prisoner, and to charge him up to the United States.
Q. That was about what time in the afternoon?
A. He was on the bench and it was after court had taken up, and my recollection now is it was after 2 o’clock.  It was in the afternoon session, and he was on the bench at the time he made this statement to me.  It must have been after 2 o’clock.  I know that I had not been to my dinner at that time.  I had been out on my canvass, and I came back to the jail and learned that there Judge McReynolds wanted to see me.  I had waited so as to canvass among the mechanics during the noon hour, and consequently reached the jail after the noon hour; and when I learned that Judge McReynolds wanted to see me I went over to the court room.  The afternoon session was on; he was on the bench; and I feel sure that it was after 2 o’clock.
Q. And he told you, in substance, that the Supreme Court had granted a stay in Ed. Johnson’s case?
A. Yes.
Q. And that he was to be kept as a Federal prisoner?
A. That he was to be kept as a Federal prisoner, and for me to charge him up to the Supreme Court.
Q. In other words, you understood you were to keep him as a Federal prisoner?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. That telegram which he read to you referred to certain sections of the revised statutes, did it not?
A. Judge McReynolds did not read me any telegram.  Mr. Brazelton read me a telegram that evening.
Q. That referred to certain sections of the revised statutes?
A. Yes, sir; as I now remember it.  He did not leave the telegram with me; he read the telegram to me.
Q. Did you look up those sections of the revised statutes?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did you make any note of them?
A. No, sir; I did not make any note of them.
Q. Did you make any effort to get your deputies up?
A. I did not have the statutes.
Q. There is a law library in town; you have an attorney?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Major Clift is your counsel, and he has the revised statutes of the United States, has he not?
A. Yes, sir; I think so.
Q. And they are in Temple Court, which is about three blocks from the jail?
A. Yes, sir; in the same block.
Q. And you did not look them up at all, as I understand you?
A. No, sir.
Q. Captain, did you recognize any of those men that were surrounding Mr. Gibson?
A. No, sir; I did not.
Q. What floor was he on?
A. He was on the office floor; that is, on what we know as the white floor.
Q. Inside or outside of the door between the office and the jail proper?
A. Well, he was inside of the jail, in the corridor of the jail.
Q. Did you recognize anybody in there that night until that mob had left; and if so, whom did you recognize?
A. I did not recognize anybody that was breaking into the jail.  I saw several people around there that I recognized, but they were not engaged in the breaking in of the jail?
Q. What were they engaged in doing, the most of them?
A. Well, they were standing around.
Q. One man at a time was engaged in breaking in, I suppose?  There was only one man using the sledge hammer at a time, was there not?
A. Well, I was where I could not see very well.  There were a number of men; in fact that portion of the jail corridor was full of men.  I was up in this hallway where they had to work the drag to take in the food to the prisoners.
Q. How many men were engaged in the actual breaking in, and how many were not so engaged?
A. Well, I did not see anybody up there that I recognized except that I saw three newspaper reporters, Mr. Chivington and Mr. Kirby Wert—well, I guess it was two; I do not remember seeing Curtis, if he was there.  He states he was there, but I do not remember seeing him.  But I did see Kirby Wert and I saw Mr. Chivington.
Q. There were men around you, as I understand you, that had you?
A. Yes, sir; there were five or six men, I suppose.
Q. Did you recognize a single one of those men?
A. Not one.
Q. Not one of them?
A. No; not one.
Q. How long were they there with you?
A. Well, I think I was there about 30 minutes.
Q. And you did not recognize a single man?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did you ask them their names?
A. No, sir; I did not.
Q. Were they calling each other by name?
A. I did not hear any names called among them.
Q. Did they have masks on?
A. Some of them did and some did not.
Q. Did you make any effort to ascertain their names?
A. No, sir; I did not.
Q. You did not?
A. No, sir.
Q. Who else besides these three reporters did you see?  Did you see Dr. Sutton?
A. I saw Dr. Sutton.
Q. What was Dr. Sutton doing?
A. Dr. Sutton was on the stairway.
Q. Did you see him go into Ed. Johnson’s room?
A. No, sir; I did not.  I heard afterward that he did go in, but I did not see him.
Q. Who else did you see?
A. Those were the only ones that I remember.  Well, I did see, as I remember, Frank Stoops.
Q. Who was Frank Stoops?
A. Frank Stoops is a man now engaged in the oil and paint business here.
Q. What was he doing?
A. Well, he was standing on the steps too, at the top of the steps.
Q. Who else did you see?
A. I do not remember anybody else that I recognized.
Q. How many men had masks or handkerchiefs on?
A. Well, I could not say that; I simply know that some of them did have handkerchiefs tied over their faces and some of them did not.
Q. Were they talking to you?
A. No, sir; they were not talking to me.
Q. They were not talking to you?
A. No.
Q. They were not engaged in a colloquy or conversation with you?
A. No, sir.
Q. They stayed mum during these 30 minutes you were there?
A.  Well, they might have said something among themselves, but they were not addressing any conversations to me.
Q. And you did not recognize a single one of those men?
A. No, sir.
Q. Which floor were you on during this time?
A. At the time you refer to I was on the top floor, up in this hallway.
Q. Nobody was restraining him at all?
A. No.
Q. Was there anybody restraining this other newspaper man?
A. I just saw him as he was going down the steps.  I think that he probably walked down about the time I was carried up to this---
Q. You misunderstood my question.  Was anybody restraining him?
A. Oh, no.
Q. did you send him after help?
A. No, sir; I did not.
Q. Did you send anybody out for help?
A. No, sir.
Q. You did not.
A. I did not.
Q. Did you call for a posse there to relieve you or help protect that prisoner?
A. No; I did not.  I did not think it was--
Q. You were an officer sworn to protect the prisoner?
A. I did not think there was anybody there that would have responded to the call if they had been called upon.
Q. You did not make any effort at all?
A. No, sir; I did not.  I made no effort except that I remonstrated with the mob.
Q. You remonstrated with them?
A. Yes.  I said to leave the man alone and let the law take its course.
Q. You  made no effort to exert any violence?
A. No violence.
Q. You used no force?
A. No, sir.
Q. You did not pull your gun?
A. I had no adequate force, and knew that the pulling of a gun would be useless.
Q. You were sheriff of the county?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you did not pull your gun?
A. No.
Q. You had strength enough to have pulled the trigger, I suppose?
A. Oh, I guess I could have pulled the trigger.
Q. You made no effort at all?
A. No, sir.
Q. You recognized these newspaper reporters walking up and down?
A. Yes.
Q. And you recognized Dr. Sutton.  Did you ask him to help you?
A. No; I did not.
Q. You called on not a single citizen?
A. No.
Q. You sent nobody out with a message to any of your deputies--
Mr. Lynch: Wait a minute.  You are interrupting the witness before the question is answered.
Mr. Sanford: If I have done that I did not mean to, and certainly did not intend to.  I want the witness to answer, of course.
By Mr. Sanford:
Q: You did not send out for any of your deputies?
A. No, sir; I had nobody to send.
Q. You did not try to send this newspaper reported out?
A. No, sir.  I did not know where to send.
Q. You did not try to send anybody before you went in, among those people standing on the sidewalk?
A. No; I did not recognize anybody standing on the sidewalk.
Q. You knew where the police headquarters were, did you not?
A. I supposed those men belonged to the mob, that I saw.  I regarded them all as the mob, those that I did not know.
Q. But you went right on in?  You were perfectly free then, before you pushed your way into the crowd, were you not?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You could have turned, without anybody interfering with you, and gone about three blocks to the police station and got the police?
A. Yes, sir; I could have done that.
Q. But you did not?
A. It did not occur to me to do that.
Q. Any you pushed your way right through those people that you supposed were a mob without making any effort to turn and get out and go for help?
A. I did not know until I got inside of the jail what had occurred.
Q. No; but you have already stated that you anticipated there was a mob inside?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. And you knew--
A. I had been told that there was something wrong going on there.
Q. You knew that there was no telephone communication?
A. Well, I anticipated there was not, by the fact that I did not get a reply.
Q. And your own language has been that you anticipated there was a mob in there.
A. I so state now.
Q. And yet you went right on in?  You made no effort to summon a posse; you made no effort to send out and get help; you went on in; you saw newspaper reporters and others in there that were perfectly free and were good citizens.  They were your personal friends, were they not-- men like Chivington, and men of that sort?
A. Yes.
Q. And they were perfectly free;  they were not restrained; you did not call on a posse; you had a pistol--
Mr. Lynch:  Wait minute.  We protest against this continued argument here without giving the witness a chance to answer anything.
Mr. Sanford:  I am asking for an answer at the end of my question.
Mr. Lynch:  But your question is a speech.
By Mr. Sanford:
Q. You did not draw your pistol; you did not endeavor to use any force whatever to protect that prisoner?  Is that not a fact?
A. I did not.
Q. That answer is to that question?
A. Yes, sir; that is the answer.

[ Re-direct examination by Mr. Pritchard.]

Q. Mr. Sanford, sitting here in a quiet court room, surrounded by orderly citizens, was asking you whether you did not do sundry things under those circumstances.  I will ask you whether you were situated at that time, as Mr. Sanford is when he is propounding these questions?
A. I think the surrounding were very different.
Q. I will ask you also if a man's "hindsights" are not a good deal better than his "foresights"?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And whether or not it’s a good deal easier for him to propound questions as to what you, one single man, did under the circumstances, than it would be for him under the like circumstances to have done any of those things himself?....

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