[Chattanooga Times, 2/2/1906]

Ed Johnson Makes Statement at Nashville.
Declares That He Was Not In The Vicinity of the Place Where the Criminal Assault Was Committed.

Ed Johnson, the alleged St. Elmo negro rapist, who is being held in the Davidson county jail for safe keeping, made a statement in the Nashville Banner yesterday afternoon in which he declares that he innocent of the crime of which he is charged.  The negro claims that he can prove by several parties of repute that he was in the Last Chance Saloon on Whiteside street between the hours of 6:30 and 8 o'clock on the night of Jan. 23, when Miss Nevada Taylor was assaulted.

In the interview printed in the [Nashville] Banner, Johnson gives the names of a number of people who he says will say that he was in the saloon between the hours named, and in this way he hopes to be able to establish an alibi.

The following is Johnson's statement:


"I had been working on the rock church at St. Elmo since the day after Labor Day.  E. L. Flannigan was the contractor in charge of the job.  On Monday, Jan. 22, it rained and we did not go to work that day.  I went to Fowler's store that morning and got there about 7:30 o'clock.  The store is about half way to the church from town.  I left a stone hammer at the store.  I went back to the Last Chance Saloon on Whiteside street.  William Jordan, a stonemason, and Luther Huff, a laborer, went with me.  We got to the saloon about 8:30 o'clock.  I stayed around there and day 'till closing time about 10 o'clock that night.  W. J. Jones runs the saloon.  I went to bed at home about 10:30 o'clock.  I live on Main street, about two blocks from the saloon, below the tanyard, in Higley row.


"On Tuesday I went out to the church.  I got there before 8 o'clock and left there about 8 o'clock.  It was too cold to handle stones.  It was cloudy that day, but cleared up later.  I came back home about 8:30 o'clock.  It was too cold to handle stones.  It was cloudy that day, but cleared up later.  I came back home about 8:30 o'clock.  I stayed around home an hour or better.  Then I went up to the Last Chance Saloon and stayed there 'till about 2 o'clock.  I went back home then and came back to the saloon about 4:30 o'clock.  I stayed there 'till 10 that night.  Mr. Jones' son tends bar in the mornings.  At noon that day the saloon sent me over to his house to water a pony.  Then helped Mr. Jones, the old man, to fix some chicken nests till about 12:30 and I came back to the saloon.  At 2 o'clock I left the saloon and went home and got dinner.  Got back at 4:30 and stayed 'till 10 that night, when I went home.  I left with Ben Bruce, John Bruce, John Jackson, George Williams and Albert Jackson.  All of them were at the saloon all the time between 4:30 and 10 o'clock. Some others who were there were Mr. Jones, Deputy Sheriff John Duckworth, Jeff Lee, the colored porter, George Williams.  They were there from 5:30 until the saloon closed and can tell that I was there all that time.  The saloon is No. 1233 Whiteside street.


“I left the saloon Tueday night at 10 o’clock and went to my mother’s at No. 3 Higley row.  Wednesday morning I went to the bar at 7 o’clock.  Jorday Foster and West Putnam came by and said we wouldn’t work that day.  They said it was too cold to hammer stone and would wait till it warmed up before going out.  I stayed around the bar all day Wednesday and didn’t go away that day.  Mr. Jones’ son was on duty in the forenoon.  Mr. Jones himself was on duty from 1 in the afternoon until closing time at 10 o’clock at night.  When the saloon closed up at 10 o’clock I went home and got there in about fifteen minutes.  It was cold and I walked fast.”


I went to work Thursday morning and got there about 7:30 o’clock.  I stayed at the Church till 8 o’clock.  It was too cold to work and we were not going out again until noon.  I went home.  After I got there Johnny McConnell, colored, who drives Schultz Bros’ packinghouse wagon, came by about 9:30.  We drove out to Whiteside.  Then we drove on West Side, where he put off some stuff, and then we went to Sherman Heights, where he delivered his last load.  We were driving on back towards home when I was arrested.  Mr. George Kirkland, a deputy sheriff, arrested me.  He came up to the wagon and stopped the driver and told him to “wait a minute.”  “Then he said to me: “Ed, I want you.”  I got down and he handcuffed me.  I asked him what he wanted with me and he said, “I’ll tell you later.”  Then they took me to jail and some men examined me and cut my clothes.  I reckon they was doctors.  One of them was, as he had treated me before.


“No sir, I never done what they charged me with.  If there’s a God in heaven I’m innocent.  If that was the woman they brought to the jail here I never saw her before in my life.  Since I go here I learned where they said she lived; said she lived ‘n the cemetery, I believe.  She never said anything when she was here that I could hear.  I have learned since that the crime took place on Tuesday, the 23rd.  I didn’t do it.  I never had any strap.  I didn’t even wear any belt, only these suspenders I got on.”

“I was raised out on Missionary Ridge.  I worked all spring at Schultz Bros fertilizer.  I am a laborer and made mortar at the church.  I was arrested one before in my life for trespassing.  I was walking back of the Southern depot.”

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