Testimony of Nevada Taylor
February 6, 1906

[Taylor was examined by District Attorney Matt Whitaker:]

WHITAKER: Miss Taylor, would you state your name for the record?
TAYLOR: Nevada Taylor.
WHITAKER: Tell the jury your age.
TAYLOR: I'm twenty-one.
WHITAKER: Where do you live?
TAYLOR: In St. Elmo. My father is the groundskeeper at the Forest Hills Cemetery. We live in a small house on the grounds.
WHITAKER: What about your mother?
TAYLOR: She died a few years ago.
WHITAKER: Where do you work, Miss Taylor?
TAYLOR: For the past two years, I have been a bookkeeper and stenographer at the W. W. Brooks Grocery Company.
WHITAKER: OK, Miss Taylor, I'm going to ask you now about the night of January 23. Are you ready for that?
WHITAKER: Tell us, the best you can, what happened that night. Walk us through your evening.
TAYLOR: On the night of January 23, 1 left my work at 6:00 and went to St. Elmo on the car leaving the transfer station at 6:00. 1 reached what is known as the Cemetery Station at nearly 6:30 o'clock and started home, a distance, if it is measured, of nearly two and one-half blocks.
I heard someone behind me, but I did not think they were following me. I felt the strap around my neck before I thought anyone was going to do me any harm. I was by myself and was going toward the cemetery gate along the sidewalk on the west side of the street, near the broad fence which surrounds the marble yard.
There are no houses along there. I had reached the end of the board fence when I felt the strap about my neck and was close to a place where two telegraph poles are close together. I had my pocketbook in one hand and my umbrella in the other. The man, whoever he was, took my pocketbook.
WHITAKER: What happened then, Miss Taylor?
TAYLOR: I reached up and pulled the strap loose and screamed. He pulled the strap tight.
WHITAKER: Is this that strap?
TAYLOR: I think that strap is the one he used.
WHITAKER: Please continue. What happened next?
TAYLOR: He pulled me back to the fence, a distance of ten or twelve feet, and then threw me over the fence. I swung clear of the boards. I know I didn't touch them.
The Negro, for I could see it was a Negro man, then got over the fence. I pulled the strap loose again and screamed again. Then the Negro put the end of the strap through the hole in the other end and pulled it tight around my neck. He then put his hand on my face to see if my tongue had been forced out of my mouth and then choked me until I was insensible.
Before he choked me with his hand, he waited a minute as if he were listening to find out if anybody were coming. He then told me in a kind, gentle voice that if I screamed again he would cut my throat. I saw him face to face by the dim light cast by the block signal box on the pole owned by the Rapid Tran-sit Company. It is from this light that I got my best view of him.
WHITAKER: And then you blacked out?
TAYLOR: Yes, sit.
WHITAKER: What do you remember when you regained consciousness?
TAYLOR: No one came by that I know of at the time. I reached home after coming to myself about 6:45 o'clock, my home being about one and a half blocks from the scene of the crime.
My father, two brothers, and three sisters were at home when I got there and I told them what happened. They telephoned Sheriff Shipp and Dr. Wilson was summoned to attend me.
WHITAKER' Do you remember anything else about the Negro brute who assaulted you?
TAYLOR: He had on a dark sack coat.
WHITAKER: Miss Taylor, would you know the man again if your were to see him?
TAYLOR: I think so.
WHITAKER: Is that man present in this courtroom today?
TAYLOR: I believe he is the man [Taylor pointed Johnson].

[Whitaker asked Taylor about her identification of Ed Johnson in the sheriff's office in Nashville.]

TAYLOR: I went to Nashville with Sheriff Shipp and saw two Negroes brought out in the sheriffs office where I could see them. I sat in the obscurity and they were in the light. Sheriff Shipp talked to them, and one of them, from his voice, his size, his face, and everything combined, I thought was the Negro who assaulted me.
He, at first, had the same soft voice he used in talking to me, and later changed it, making it deeper. I looked at the Negroes and listened to them.
Though this Negro tried to change his voice, I believe that I recognized it. His hat, the one he had on the night of the assault, and the one he had on at the Nashville jail, was a soft, dark hat. The brim looked like it had been rolled at one time and had become straightened out.
WHITAKER: Miss Taylor, do you have any doubt in your mind that this Negro is the brute who assaulted you?
TAYLOR: There is no trouble in my mind about this Negro being the right man. I want the guilty man punished and I don't want an innocent man punished.

[Taylor was cross-examined for the defense by William G. Thomas.  Thomas asked Taylor what time it was when she got off the trolley near 35th Street:]

TAYLOR: About 6:30 o'clock.
THOMAS: Your house is how far from the station?
TAYLOR: Two and one-half blocks.
THOMAS: Are there any buildings or trees blocking the line of sight between your house and the train station?
TAYLOR: There are a few trees between them. But you can see my father's house from the depot.
THOMAS: Could you see your house from the station that night?
TAYLOR: I could see the lights from the house. It was too dark to see the house itself.

February 8, 1906

[At the request of jurors, Taylor was recalled as a witness on the third and last day of the trial.  At the request of  juror W. L. Wrenn, Johnson--wearing, at the insistence of the juror, a black hat--was forced to stand in front of Taylor in such a way that the jury could see both of them.]

JUROR WRENN: Miss Taylor, tell us again--is that Negro the one that attacked you?
TAYLOR: To the best of my knowledge and belief, he is the same man.
WRENN:  Miss Taylor, can you positively state that this Negro is the one who assaulted you?
TAYLOR: I will not swear that he is the man, but I believe he is the Negro who assaulted me.
WRENN: In God's name, Miss Taylor, tell us positively--is that the guilty Negro?  Can you say it?  Can you swear it?
TAYLOR: Listen to me.  I would not take the life of an innocent man.  But before God, I believe this is the guilty Negro.
JUROR [rising and charging at Johnson, until restrained by other jurors]: If I could get at him, I'd tear his heart out right now.