My Connection with the Anarchist Cases—A Scene at the Central Office—Mr. Hanssen’s Discovery—Politics and Detective Work—Jealousy against Inspector Bonfield—Dynamiters on Exhibition—Courtesies to the Prize-fighters—A Friendly Tip—My First Light on the Case—A Promise of Confidence—One Night’s Work—The Chief Agrees to my Taking up the Case—Laying Our Plans—“We Have Found the Bomb Factory!”—Is it a Trap?—A Patrol-wagon Full of Dynamite—No Help Hoped for from Headquarters—Conference with State’s Attorney Grinnell—Furthmann’s Work—Opening up the Plot—Trouble with the Newspaper Men—Unexpected Advantage of Hostile Criticism—Information from Unexpected Quarters—Queer Episodes of the Hunt—Clues Good, Bad and Indifferent—A Mysterious Lady with a Veil—A Conference in my Back Yard—The Anarchists Alarmed—A Breezy Conference with Ebersold—Threatening Letters—Menaces Sent to the Wives of the Men Working on the Case—How the Ladies Behaved—The Judge and Mrs. Gary—Detectives on Each Other’s Trail—The Humors of the Case—Amusing Incidents.
I have often been asked how it was that I came to have charge of the detective work which was done in bringing the Anarchists to justice, and I think that the time has now come for the whole story to be told. I think it would be a false delicacy for me, in this book, which I mean to make, as nearly as I can, a fair and truthful record of the Anarchist case, to pass over the notorious incompetency which prevailed at Police Headquarters at that time. It cannot be denied that, had the case been left in the hands of the men of the Central Office, the prosecution would have come to naught, and these red-handed murderers would have gone unwhipped of justice. This was something which every good citizen would have been bound to prevent, and more than others a police officer, for into our hands is intrusted the care of the lives and property of the community and the preservation of law and order. I knew as well as my questioners that the case belonged to the Central Office. There was the Chief; there were the two heads of the detective department; there was the detective corps, supposed to contain the keenest and the best officers on the force.
From the first I was satisfied that the men at headquarters neither appreciated the gravity of the occasion, nor were they able to cope with the conspirators—a set of wily, secret and able men, who had made a special study of the art and mystery of baffling the law and avoiding the police. There was neither order, discipline nor brains at headquarters. Every officer did as he liked, and the department was rent and paralyzed with the feuds and jealousies between the chiefs and the subordinates. This, too, was at a time when the people of Chicago were in a condition of mind almost bordering upon panic. They were looking to us for protection. The red flag was flaunted in the streets, demagogues were shouting dynamite in a dozen parts of the city, riotous mobs had already met the police—and thepolice were in charge of a man who—it is a charity to say no more—had neither a proper conception of his duties nor the ability to perform them.
For instance, on the evening of May 3 all the captains of the city were ordered to meet at the Chief’s office, and, together with Inspector Bonfield, they responded promptly. While the situation was being discussed, there was a rap at the door. I was nearest the entrance, and I opened it. Mr. Hanssen, one of the editors of the Freie Presse, was there. He handed in a paper, saying that it was of most serious import—so serious that, as soon as he had seen it, he had felt it his duty to bring it to police headquarters. It was the “Revenge” circular, of which so much is said elsewhere in this book, and which afterwards became so notorious. I handed it to Chief Ebersold, who glanced at it and said it was all nonsense. “Why,” said he, “we are prepared for them.” Bonfield looked it over, and thought it serious. I was sure that it meant mischief and murder, but the rest treated it as a farce. Now, what was to be expected from men who had no clearer idea of the gravity of the crisis that was upon us than the story of this incident conveys.
DETECTIVE JAMES BONFIELD.
From a Photograph.
On the next evening the crash of dynamite was for the first time heard on the streets of an American city. The Red Terror was upon us.
What was done?
Every citizen of Chicago demanded justice for the brave men who had fallen—justice on the miscreants who had done them to death. Knowing what I did of the manner in which the detective work was apt to be done, it will not be wondered that I at once made up my mind to do what lay in my power to hunt these murderers down. Even had I not so concluded, the events of that day, the 5th of May, would have fastened the determination in my mind. At ten o’clock in the morning I was ordered by telephone to report at the Central Station at once with two companies—trouble was momentarily expected on the Black Road. When I had disposed my men at the City Hall, and arranged for the patrol wagons we were to occupy if a call should come, there was nothing to do but wait in the Chief’s office till we were summoned. No one ever had a better opportunity of seeing how the police business of the city was transacted.
It was a time of acute excitement, the day after the Haymarket. The Chief was in a state of alarm that would have been ridiculous if it had not been pitiable. Whenever the telephone rang, he would start nervously and demand, “Is that on the prairie, or the Black Road?” and when assured that there was no trouble, his relief was absurdly manifest. Among thedetectives the topic was whether they would be called on to work in the Anarchist case and how many they would be expected to arrest.
Another question that bothered them was: What would the old man (Mayor Harrison) say if they went to work arresting Anarchists, and how would he like it?
The officers who did their duty after such a stupendous crime as the slaughter of the police officers would never have lost anything in the end, even if they should have lost their positions. The question, “How would Harrison like it?” as asked by one of the detectives, should, therefore, have cut no figure, and possibly it did not. Probably the officer fell back upon it as an excuse for his own laziness and incompetence. But one thing is certain, and that is that the department did nothing to speak of in the case.
OFFICER HENRY PALMER.
From a Photograph.
I saw some of those red-handed murderers come out of that office smiling and laughing instead of being made to feel that they were about to have a rope around their necks.
In fact, the Central Office was run so that no one could tell who was officer, waiter or janitor. Everybody had a full sweep in and out of the office, and if a prisoner happened to be brought in by some well-meaning officer, everybody was allowed to hear the investigation. It was a sort of town meeting, and it was free to all.
At that time Inspector Bonfield had been receiving a great deal of favorable mention in the newspapers, in connection with the labor troubles, and this aroused the jealousy of Chief Ebersold. The Chief accordingly concluded to attend to all the business himself, assisted by his pet gang of ignorant detectives, and they made a fine mess of it. But forces were at work, in spite of the internal difficulties, which rescued the case from utter failure.
On the morning of May 5, at an early hour, Inspector Bonfield had a short interview with State’s Attorney Grinnell; but exactly what transpired no one but themselves knew. Before noon of that day, however, the result could be plainly seen. Officers James Bonfield, Palmer, Slayton and a few others had by that time succeeded in arresting August Spies, Chris Spies, Schwab, Fischer and Fielden. Of course, this step only served to create more jealousy in the Central Station.
After the prisoners had been brought in, some of the newspaper reporters endeavored to obtain interviews with them, but they were not permitted to get anywhere near the Anarchists.
In the meantime, and while the working officers were out hunting for more of the chief conspirators, the lieutenants in command of the detective department concluded that they would enjoy a little breathing-spell. Accordingly they took a stroll among the fashionable saloons on Clark Street. There they met their friends, and while sampling the various decoctions compounded by the cocktail dispensers, they fell in with a party of professional prize-fighters, heavy-weight and light-weight, and match-makers for man and beast. They found there was more sport in that party than in taking risks by going out into the suburbs through tough streets and dirty alleyways looking for Anarchists.
OFFICER (NOW LIEUT.) BAER.
At any rate, after a lot of wine had been consumed and good cigars tested, round after round, one of the pug-faced sluggers made the remark to one of the lieutenants that he would like to see the Anarchists who had been arrested, and the officer addressed responded: “Of course you can see them—all you gentlemen can see them. Come right along with us.”
They all fell into line, went over to the Central Station, were taken down stairs to the lock-up, and there told to go around and look for themselves. This was some time after nine o’clock in the evening, and after the party had satisfied their curiosity, they returned to the saloon which they had left. The vigilant reporters had noticed this proceeding, and, holding a short conference, they resolved to insist on seeing the prisoners also. They told the officials that the public had as much right to know about the parties arrested as a gang of prize-fighters, whether Sullivans or lesser lights in the prize-ring firmament, and the lieutenants at once recognized the force of the argument. Between eleven and twelve that night one reporter from each paper in the city was allowed to see the Anarchists, and interviews were secured for publication the next morning.
When I understood how the whole affair was being managed during that day, I came to the conclusion that the case would never be worked up by that department, and I was more resolved than ever that if the opportunity came I would not rest until the criminals were brought to justice.
Inspector Bonfield had likewise become disgusted with the nervous actions of the Chief and the heads of the detective department, and he decided to confine his operations to the West Side. He went over there that day,—May 5,—and as a result he cleaned out all Lake Street from the river to Halsted Street. He broke up all the Anarchist rendezvous, captured their guns, confiscated their flags, and created general dismay among the reds. Some sought safety by fleeing to the roofs, others escaped through back alleys, and still others got into the dark recesses of basements. When they learned that “Black” Bonfield, as they called him, was on their track, consternation took possession of them all. The Inspector had no easy task. He looked up all their halls and meeting-places, hunted for “Revenge” circulars at every place he visited, and in every instance he found plenty of them as evidence of the extensive circulation given that document among Anarchists. He gathered them all together, and in the trial they proved of great service to the State as showing that all had notice to come to the Haymarket meeting with arms and be prepared for a deadly conflict. After that day Inspector Bonfield turned all his attention to the sick and wounded officers and their families, and, as a consequence, the Central Station was left without a competent head. But the Central considered itself capable of handling the case, and Bonfield never asked any questions. Ebersold and the dual-headed monstrosities in charge of the detective department struggled along, and, with a great deal of bluster, endeavored to show to the outside world that they were moving along finely. But they accomplished absolutely nothing. Insults in various ways were heaped upon Bonfield, so that every one about the City Hall noticed them. Even on the 5th of May, the slights cast upon the Inspector were commented upon by some of the officers in the Central. Some of the officers friendly to the incompetents would declare that Bonfield did not know his business and that he was to blame for the killing of the officers, but there were others who took a different view and regretted that he was not kept continually at work on the case. In fact, the only ones about the building, after the incompetent heads took charge, who showed a willingness to work and who tried to do their duty, were Officers James Bonfield, Palmer and Slayton. All the rest looked scared, absent-minded and indifferent.
On the next morning—May 6—I was again at the Central Headquarters. I learned then how deep and wide-spread was the spirit that pervaded the department. Nothing was done, and nothing was proposed to be done. I also learned of the treatment accorded Officer Palmer by the lieutenants in charge of the department.
The whole trouble appeared to be that no one cared about doing anything, and that if any one had the temerity to bring information in, he would be kicked out. While such was the stupidity or the lethargy of the head officials, I was powerless to act. I could not take the case away from my superior officer on information rejected and spurned by those in authority about police headquarters, and I almost despaired of ever seeing the culprits brought to punishment.
An incident occurred, however, which changed the whole course of events. On my way home to supper that evening, about six o’clock—May 6—I met a man near my house. He acted as though greatly frightened, but he had some information he wished to impart to me. He was afraid to speak, as he said it was life or death to him.
“If I speak,” he said, “and these people [the Anarchists] find it out, they will kill me sure. On the other hand, when I think of how many were killed, it drives me nearly crazy. I can probably help to bring the murderers to justice, and I cannot forgive myself unless I try to assist.”
I told the man that as a good citizen it was his duty to tell everything he knew about the affair, and that I should consider everything he said strictly confidential. My personal pledge being given to him that I would not get him into trouble by exposing him to the reds, he began his statement. The man did not tell very much, but after I had gathered together all the little threads carefully, the whole proved of considerable service. After supper I went to a great many places and remained out till four o’clock the next morning. The following day I instructed some of my people how to get information respecting the throwing of the Haymarket bomb, and I told them where they might leave their information if they obtained any. I got back to the station at 9 A.M., and found in my closed letter-box a slip of paper containing about five lines of important news. I scanned the paper closely, and those who stood around told me afterwards that they noticed that my face brightened up considerably.
I knew then that I had a very light starter in the case, but a good one. I could readily see also that everything had to be handled with the greatest care, and by preserving the utmost confidence with the informers. I knew, too, that nothing must be told even in the Chief’s office or in the detective department.
I had previously discovered that there was not a man among the three heads of the Central that knew how to listen to information, how to put questions or remember conversation, or, in fact, to have anything in shape, or to keep secrets, and I therefore decided to keep my own counsel.
On the morning of the 7th of May, at nine o’clock, I arrived at the Chief’s office and asked him if he had any good news. He replied that it was hard to get at the bottom of the affair. I then asked him if he would give me the privilege of working up the case. He looked at me a moment and then said, “Yes.”
“Yes, Captain,” he added, after a brief pause, “I will—sure. If you can do anything, do it. I hope you will do it. I shall be pleased if you can only do it.”
I then said: “With your permission I will work this case and all there is in the case. You will hear from me soon, but if you should not hear from me in three months, do not ask for me. I am going to work night and day until this case is cleared up. Good day.”
Then I started for the North Side. Arriving at the station, Lieut. Larsen handed me a little note which had been left for me. It was small, but full of information, and was the first fruit of one night’s work. I immediately turned over the command of the station and all the details to Lieut. Larsen, and at once called in my old reliable officers, those whom I knew to be honest and true, strong and vigilant, intelligent and brave. They began earnestly and were with me through all the investigations up to November 11, 1887. They were Michael Whalen, John Stift, Michael Hoffman, Hermann Schuettler, Jacob Loewenstein and Charles Rehm, and they reported to me promptly at the office, where they received their first instructions. I told them that this must be like all the other cases we had worked, secret and only known among ourselves. All information and reports must come to me as soon as possible, and all details must be attended to strictly. I further told them that they must expect a forty-eight hours’ stretch of work frequently before we got to the end; that they must keep in mind that their lives would often be in danger, but they should only kill in dire necessity. Insults or abuses they must not take from any one. I knew that they would get into many of those h—l-holes, where the women were a great deal worse than the men, and I proposed that the officers should show that they were not to be trifled with in the discharge of their duties.
The field chosen for work was the vicinity of Clybourn Avenue, Sedgwick Street and North Avenue. The officers were provided with chisels, jimmies and keys and one or two dark lanterns, and after these preliminary arrangements they mounted a patrol wagon and started for the scene of their operations. This detail was in charge of Officer Whalen, and the first objective point was Sedgwick Street, near the residence of Seliger. They began searching all the houses, barns and wood-sheds belonging to Anarchists, and created quite a consternation in the locality.
While they were thus engaged, I was temporarily called away from my office, and on my return I was soon called up by a telephone message from the Larrabee Street Station. Answering the call, I recognized the voice of Officer Whalen, and some important news was at once communicated.
“We have found the bomb factory,” said Officer Whalen. “It is in the rear of No. 442 Sedgwick Street. The house is full of bombs and all kinds of material. My men are all there, and I am almost afraid to touch any of the stuff. There are some very queer-looking things, besides round lead bombs and very long iron bombs, about the house, and probably some trap may have been set to blow us all up the moment the articles are disturbed.”
I questioned him as to whether there was any one about the house, and, being answered in the negative, I instructed the officer to handle everything himself and exercise great caution. Everything that looked suspicious was to be packed in a box and sent to the Chicago Avenue Station. I further instructed the officer to hunt up the parties who lived there, place them under arrest and send them also to the same station.
Whalen then returned to the house, packed up all the “stuff” and hunted for the occupants, who were nowhere to be found. He ascertained their names, however, and learned from the neighbors that the head of the house worked in Meyer’s Mill, a sash and door factory on the North Pier. This information was telephoned to me, and I instructed Lieut. Larsen just what I desired in the way of securing the man’s arrest. The Lieutenant called up the Larrabee Street Station patrol wagon, and, with a number of officers, he repaired to the mill. He there found his man, William Seliger, and brought him to the Chicago Avenue Station.
Meanwhile Officer Whalen and his men were busy getting their load of deadly missiles, and, still unsatisfied, they got some shovels and picks and went to mining in the back yard of the bomb factory. They found a lot of lead and gas pipes buried in the ground, and after they had collected about all the suspicious-looking articles they could find, they brought it all to the station. This was the first of a series of searches kept up night and day for two weeks, and no house or place where an Anarchist or Socialist resided escaped police attention. The houses were examined from top to bottom, and when the officers had finished their labors in this direction the Chicago Avenue Station was filled with all kinds of arms, some old and some new, nearly every nation on the globe being represented in the collection.
On the evening of May 7, about eight o’clock, a gentleman called at my house, and in a most confidential manner desired to post me about an arrest that ought to be made.
“You had a fellow taken from Meyer’s Mill,” said he, “but you left a man worse than the one you arrested.” He gave the name of the party and then silently took his departure.
On the next day Officer Whalen was detailed to bring the man to the station, but when the officers arrived at the mill the bird had flown. This man’s name was Mueller, No. 2. He has never returned to the factory, although his tool chest is still there, and $27 still stands due to him on the books of the concern to this date.
With the information so far secured I became confident that I had an opening to the case, but, knowing that no aid could be had from the Central Headquarters, I refrained, I think wisely, from asking for assistance. In Mr. Grinnell and his staff, however, I had every confidence, and I went to his office. I told him what discoveries had been made, giving him all the details, and said to him that in working up the case I should frequently need his advice. He promptly said: “Schaack, you can command my services and those of every man in my office at any time.” I thanked him, and felt greatly strengthened in the task I had before me.
Mr. Furthmann was directed to go with me and assist in the same way that he had assisted in working up the evidence in the Mulkowsky murder case.
I then felt highly gratified, and stronger and more resolute than ever, because of my new partner in the case. When we were about to go, Mr. Grinnell said, “I will be up to-night and see you.” He called, as promised. We then told him what progress we had made during the day, and he expressed himself as greatly pleased. He urged us to keep everything as secret as possible and not to take any more people into our confidence than was absolutely necessary. Having given us this advice, he left us, but we continued our work until three o’clock the next morning. We met again—Furthmann and myself—the next day at nine o’clock, and that day we worked with great success. The boys brought us in good news every hour. Good citizens would leave letters at my house, and these would be immediately sent to me by my wife. Before eight o’clock that night we had gained an entrance to the conspiracy plot. Mr. Grinnell was sent for, and he called on us at once. He was informed of all the facts and said:
“You boys have done well. You have found the missing link, and you have it right.”
Mr. Grinnell became enthusiastic over the work accomplished and recognized the fact that the right parties were under arrest, and that what had been morally certain before as to a conspiracy had now been made a legal certainty susceptible of the strongest proof. In reaching this point, a great deal of work had been done, and in its performance talent, tact and ingenuity of a very high order seemed essential. Mr. Grinnell inspired us with confidence, however, and was kind enough to say, just before going home that night:
“Schaack, I want to say that you are one of the greatest detectives in America.”
When the case had been worked up to the discovery of the leading facts at this time, the reporters for the various papers in Chicago began to gather at the Chicago Avenue Station, and they plied me with all sorts of questions. They desired all the information I possessed, but their laudable ambition was not gratified. Nothing respecting the merits of the case was furnished them. This provoked quite a number of the newspaper craft, and they sought to even up things by scoring me and my assistants in the columns of their papers. They continued their attacks, evidently expecting that I would weaken and tell all I knew, but in this they were mistaken, as their shafts fell harmless at my feet.
The more the papers blamed us, the better we liked it. It made our work much easier, because we received a great deal of good information from persons who would not have told us anything without positive assurance of secrecy.
This was in fact a potent factor in our success, and the newspaper-reading public really lost nothing by it. The latest news respecting the Anarchist conspiracy was always presented by the dailies, and, while there may have been wanting many of the essential and interesting facts, the public demand was measurably satisfied. At any rate, the interests of justice could not be permitted to be overshadowed by those of the newspapers, and I held unflinchingly to the course mapped out until the day of the trial. The result proved the wisdom of the plan, and the encomiums bestowed on me by the press on the evidence I finally accumulated more than offset the former bitter attacks.
THE EAST CHICAGO AVENUE STATION.
From a Photograph.
Had it not been for the caution and secrecy which we made our rule all through the investigation, the plot would not have been successfully unraveled. Recognizing this trait in my management of the case, men close to the Anarchists gave points they otherwise would not have dared to give, and there was scarcely an hour during the investigation that I did not find some trails leading up to the arch-conspirators. I even received private letters on my way home to meals. Persons would meet me on the street, hand me letters and pass right on. Some of these letters were purposely misleading, while others contained good points; but by putting one thing with another, and working up everything, something tangible was generally produced. In many of the notes a few words would signify a great deal, and the clues would be run down to the last point. Of course, sometimes the detectives made long and weary walks with no results. But whenever the boys met with disappointments in not getting just what they expected, and even when they were kept up all night, they never grumbled or expressed dissatisfaction.
On the morning of May 8, at eight o’clock, we all met for general consultation behind locked doors in an inner room, and, while thus occupied with the case, I was notified that a lady desired to see me on important business. I immediately responded, and as I entered the main office I was confronted by a woman very heavily veiled. She briefly stated her mission and said that she desired an interview in private. I took her into another office, and, after the door had been locked, she said:
“You must excuse me. I will not uncover my face. Don’t ask me anything about myself, and I will tell you something.”
She was a German lady, well educated, and she spoke in an earnest, truthful manner. Being assured that no questions would be asked to establish her identity, she then told me where to send and what would be found at the indicated place. Before making her exit she remarked:
“You will have to attend to this matter this very day and before four o’clock.”
Her information proved highly interesting and valuable, and I thanked her for it. In less than half an hour one of the detectives was set to work on her “pointers,” and before two o’clock he returned to the station with “a good fat bird” and a lot of new evidence. Who the lady was is a mystery. She left the station as mysteriously as she had entered.
In the evening of the same day we met again and put together the results of each one’s investigations. The work accomplished was surprising to all. Mr. Grinnell called, and, seeing what had been done, was more than pleased. At this time we had some of the Anarchists already behind the bars. That night we worked until two o’clock the next morning, and it was half an hour later when I directed my steps homeward. As I neared my house, I saw the indistinct outlines of a man standing close to a large bill-board about ten feet north of my residence. The figure proved to be a tall man, and, as I came to a halt, the stranger spoke up in German:
“Is this Mr. Schaack?”
“I am,” I replied, “and what are you doing standing there?”
The stranger asked me to wait for a moment, and I complied, hardly knowing what to make out of the man’s intentions toward me at such an unseemly hour in the morning; but at the same time I kept my eye steadily upon him for any hostile demonstrations. The strange individual hurriedly placed a cloth of some sort over his face, and I began to think some Anarchist had been commissioned to murder me. Still, the coolness and self-possession of the man and the seeming absence of the usual bluster incident to the commission of a foul crime reassured me. Noticing all this, by way of making the man understand that I was prepared for him if he had any murderous intentions, I said: “If you make any attack upon me I will kill you dead!”
“Mein Gott, nein. I only want to tell you something,” was the reply.
I told him that that was all right and asked him into the back yard, when he said he would talk to me. I made the stranger go ahead of me, and when we reached the yard the man gave me a long story.
“I dare not,” said he, “write to you. I dare not come near you during the daytime. I don’t want you to know me, but I think you are the right man to talk to. I would not talk to anyone else.”
A BACK-YARD INTERVIEW.
During the whole conversation the man kept his improvised mask on, and made it clear that his motive in so doing was to prevent the possibility of his being made to appear in court to verify the statements he desired to communicate. He gave information mainly bearing on the conspiracy meeting which had been held on the evening of May 3, at No. 54 West Lake Street, and the interview lasted until about three o’clock.
When we parted I was no wiser as to his identity than I had been before, and to this day I don’t know with whom I talked there in my back yard that early morning.
In the forenoon of the 9th of May my trusted assistants again met in the office to compare notes. At this meeting I told Mr. Furthmann what a ghost I had seen that night, and in our deliberations that ghost aided us a great deal.
As a result the detectives started out with new instructions, and they were ordered to be back at the office at one o’clock in the afternoon. All reported promptly except a few who had struck a good trail and who kept out until six o’clock. The reports of those present showed good results. They started out again at two o’clock with new instructions and were ordered to report as soon as they had completed their work. Between three and five o’clock that afternoon things became exceedingly lively. The Anarchists began to move about like hornets disturbed in their nest, and some jumped around as if charged with electricity. Towards six o’clock the detectives reported back to the office, and an exchange of notes showed that it had been a day more fruitful of results than the day preceding. I found that a strong chain had been wrought connecting all the leading Anarchists in Chicago with the Haymarket murder, and I knew that no mistakes had been made in the arrest of those who had already been locked up.
During the same evening Mr. Grinnell and Mr. George Ingham gave me a call, and anxiously inquired about the progress made in the case. Mr. Grinnell assured Mr. Furthmann and myself that Mr. Ingham was all right, being with them, and with this statement all the facts were laid before them.
When the whole situation had been explained, Mr. Ingham said:
“Mr. Grinnell, now you have a case.”
“George,” replied Mr. Grinnell, “up to the time when Capt. Schaack began his work I had no case whatsoever. I would have been laughed out of court, but now I say we have a good, strong case, and it will be in excellent shape. The boys are making it stronger every day. They have got things down fine, and they are going to bring out everything there is in it.”
We worked that night until one o’clock, and met again the next morning at eight, vigorous and keen for further developments. At this time we had our hands full, with an abundance of material on which to work. During the night several letters were dropped in my letter-box, and they all contained good news. Some of the letters were somewhat obscure, their import having to be guessed at from suggestive circumstances, but they nevertheless helped. With fresh instructions the detectives started out for the day and reported back at one o’clock as per orders. Everything was discovered to have worked well. About two o’clock a man was noticed standing across the street from the station. His actions were somewhat strange, and one of the officers remarked that the fellow appeared to be watching the building very closely. I told the officer to keep watch of him, and in the event of his walking away to follow him. The man did not move, and as he remained there for nearly half an hour I ordered the officer to go across the street and ascertain what the stranger was watching. The man declined to speak at first, but, after the officer had threatened to lock him up, he stated that he desired to see me, but did not want to go into the building. He then requested the officer to tell me that he would meet me at the corner of La Salle and Chicago Avenues, and I was so notified.
I started at once to see the man, but as soon as he saw me he started off. When he got to the corner he turned north on La Salle Avenue, and I followed. When I got within twenty feet of him he looked around, and then dropped a letter, pointing his fingers to it as he passed on, without stopping. I picked up the letter and went back to the station. This letter contained very important matter and kept us busy for two days. This man was a stranger to me. I had never seen him before to my knowledge, and I have never seen him since.
After this day the office had all it could do and all the information it needed. After six days and nights of hard and exacting labor, the real troubles of all engaged in the case began. The newspapers now appreciated the work accomplished, and they were not slow to bestow great praise upon all connected with the case. This did not please Mr. Ebersold, the Chief, and on the 11th of May he sent for me to report at once.
A FRIENDLY COMMUNICATION.
The moment I entered the office at the Central Station I saw that there was “fire in the eye” of the Superintendent, and the atmosphere was somewhat above the boiling-point.
“Are you Chief of Police or am I?” broke in Mr. Ebersold, in a gruff, blustering manner, the moment I had set my foot inside of the private office.
“You are,” said I, “or at least you are supposed to be. I certainly don’t desire to be.”
This shot did not contribute anything to the comfort of the Chief, and he grew hotter than ever, and desired me to understand that he was the Chief, and no one else. Mr. Ebersold then proceeded to unburden his mind. He said that his friends had told him that they had thought he was Chief, but since they had not seen his name published in connection with the case, they had reached a different conclusion. He further stated that ministers even, and professors, too, and other people, had come to him and said that “Capt. Schaack was getting too much notoriety.” He declared that he wanted me to stop the newspapers writing anything more about me and to let the credit be given to the head of the department.
“I want this thing stopped!” declared the Chief, as he struck the desk vigorously with his fist and glowered savagely at me.
I told him that I had not asked any newspaper to write me up and I would not tell any of them to stop, simply because it was not my business.
I had progressed too far to think of allowing all the work already done to be set at naught by the incompetents then at the head of what was facetiously called the defective department. I therefore took occasion to say, just before leaving the Chief’s presence, that, now that I had opened up the case, I proposed to finish it, even if I did not remain on the force one day after my work had been fully accomplished. A day or two after this interview I met Mr. Grinnell and related the circumstances. The State’s Attorney said:
“Captain, you are doing well; you keep on and work just as you have been doing.”
During the afternoon of May 10, the detectives of the Chicago Avenue Station discovered a lot of bombs, guns and revolvers, which they brought to the station. They also arrested a few Anarchists, who pretended to be as harmless and spotless as little lambs, but who, before they went to sleep that night in our hotel, discovered that they had a great many black spots on them. The force continued at work till three o’clock the next morning. The following day they met again at eight o’clock in the morning, and several arrests were made that day.
At about this time the mail was burdened with a great many letters, some very encouraging in the cheering and complimentary sentiments they conveyed, and others very threatening in their character. The latter class were full of most dire menaces, suggesting all sorts of torture in the event that I did not stop prosecuting the Anarchists, and the whole formed a very interesting collection. It was evident that many of them had been written by cranks, and that some bore marks of having been inspired by religious enthusiasts. One wrote that enough men had already been killed without hunting for innocent men as a sacrifice for the Haymarket murder, and another wrote urging that the whole lot of the Anarchist brood be hung as fast as they could be arrested. Several drew on their imaginations and volunteered “pointers” which bore on their face evidences of falsehood. Others would say that their prayers were constantly with the police in their efforts, and expressed a hope that out of it all might come the extirpation of Anarchy from American soil. These communications poured in upon me in such numbers that I had no time to read them through, and even the most savage and bloodthirsty hardly gave me a moment’s thought. As a matter of fact I was never for a moment alarmed about my own personal safety. All of the letters I received I filed away, and some day, when I do not know what else to do to amuse myself, I purpose to run them over again and enjoy another hearty laugh. Meanwhile Anarchist after Anarchist was overhauled, and after one clue had been worked out another was undertaken with the utmost secrecy. The detectives continued persistently at work, and for two months they carefully kept their own counsel, never permitting themselves to be drawn into conversation by outsiders respecting the case.
Their experience was highly exciting at all times, and the various haunts of the Anarchists were kept in a lively commotion. The social miscreants never knew when the investigations would end, and they were in constant dread. Finding that threats upon the lives of State’s Attorney Grinnell, Assistant State’s Attorney Furthmann, myself, and the officers engaged in the case, had failed to have the desired effect, they turned their attention to writing letters to our wives. These letters were written in a most vindictive and fiendish spirit. They threatened not only bodily harm to these ladies, but promised to inflict death by horrible tortures upon their husbands and children, if the prosecution was not dropped; and they vowed vengeance also upon property by the use of explosives that would leave to each house only a vestige of its former location. Some of these letters were general in their character, and others particularized the kind of death in store for all engaged in the case. One said that on some unexpected day we would be blown to atoms by a bomb; another pictured how a husband would be brought home in a mangled, unrecognizable mass. Still another would suggest that, if a husband proved missing, his remains might be looked for fifty feet under the water, firmly tied to a rock or a piece of iron. Another, again, stated that on the first opportunity the husband would be gagged, bound hand and foot, and placed across some railroad track to horribly contemplate death under the wheels of a fast approaching train. Still another would say: “When your husband is brought home be sure and pull the poisoned dagger out of his body.” One writer penned a tender epistle and closed by urging the mother to be sure to “kiss your children good-by when you leave them out on the street.” One letter was written with red ink and stated that “this blood is out of the veins of a determined man that would die for Anarchy.” One man expressed sorrow for the woman and then concluded: “But we cannot help this. If you have any property you had better have a will made by your liege lord to yourself, because he is going to die so quick that he will not know that he ever was alive.” Another said: “Take a good description of your husband’s clothes. He will be missing before long, and probably after some years you will hear that in some wild forest a lot of clothes have been found tied to some tree, and these clothes will be stuffed with bones.”
Epistolary threats of this kind were sent almost daily to the wives of the officers and officials, and, if published, the collection would form a volume in itself. The threats I have given are only a tithe of the whole, but I have given enough to illustrate the general trend of the letters. We paid no attention to them, but the women, of more delicate and sensitive disposition, took them more to heart. The constant receipt of such letters naturally made a deep impression on their minds, and some of the ladies had dark forebodings. But the officers always took a cheerful view, and urged that it was only cowards who resorted to threats. They still continued their work, undaunted by these denunciations and menaces, and frequently remained out all night in their work in some of the most desperate districts of the city, sometimes keeping up forty-eight hours at a stretch.
Mrs. Schaack, a generally strong and courageous woman and deeply interested in all my work, did not bear up as well as some of the others under the pressure. She had been sick for over eight months, and, when these letters began to reach her, she had just reached a convalescent state. Having thus passed through a long siege of illness, her system was in a highly nervous condition, and it was, therefore, quite natural that sometimes she should become greatly solicitous for my personal safety whenever a very savage and gory letter accidentally reached her eye. When the trial finally began, I begged her to take the three children and visit for two months a place six hundred miles away from Chicago, where she could not only enjoy a comparative serenity of mind, but build up her shattered constitution, under more favorable circumstances and climatic conditions. She acted on my advice. While away, she was in constant receipt of such letters as were calculated to make her reassured as to my comfort, and she rapidly gained in health and strength.
Mrs. Grinnell bore up remarkably well under the severe strain. She had come in for a goodly share of these murder-threatening letters, but, being blessed with good health and strong nerves, she never displayed signs of weakness.
She was a brave lady. Whenever I saw her with Mr. Grinnell, she would always say: “Captain, I want you and Mr. Grinnell and all the boys to keep on with your noble work.” She at all times appeared very pleasant and not the least disturbed.
Mrs. Furthmann was not overlooked by the letter-writers, but her husband arranged matters so that their epistles did not fall into her hands. He would gather them in, and, with what the mail brought him every day for his own individual benefit, he had plenty of hair-raising literature. But he paid no attention to the threats and never for a moment relaxed his efforts on account of them. These letters became so numerous and frequent that after a time the officers would jestingly allude to them as their “love letters.”
But the Anarchists did not stop with writing letters. One night they held a small meeting in the rear room of a saloon on North Avenue, and there was a great deal of talk and bluster about what they ought to do to “bring the officials to their senses.” One suggested that they should blow up the house of Officer Michael Hoffman, but that officer appears to have had a friend there. That friend opposed the plan and said:
“Cowards, if you want to do anything, why don’t you meet the man himself and attack him? Why do you seek to hurt his wife and innocent children?”
This appealed to their sense of humanity, and they at once decided to abandon the scheme. Finally one cut-throat arose, and, in a braggadocio style, broke out, in a loud, coarse and beer-laden voice:
“Well, we will drop that plan, but you all know where he lives and we all have bombs yet. Any one that does not care for a screeching woman or squealing young ones, let him go and see the shingles fly off the roof.”
On a subsequent night about two o’clock in the morning a carriage drove up to the officer’s house, and one of the occupants shouted out, “Mike!” The officer drew to the window, and his wife opened it. At first, mistaking her for the officer, they halloaed, “We only want to see you for a moment.” When the woman asked what was wanted they said, “We don’t want to see you. Where is Mike?” Being informed that he was not at home, one of the burly fellows said, just as the carriage started away, “A d——d good thing for him that he is not at home.”
This band of intimidators and cowards did not overlook me. On two occasions they sought to burn my house, but each time they were foiled in their attempt. They sneaked, true to their nature, into the back yard, and started a fire by means of a kerosene-saturated torch or by the use of an explosive. The fires, however, failed to do any damage.
When the trial of the arch-conspirators began, these same unpunished red-handed cranks began to give their attention to Judge Gary and his wife. They fairly overwhelmed them with letters of a most threatening character, and whenever there was any ruling of the court which they regarded as inimical to their friends’ interests, they were particularly vituperative. But throughout the whole trial neither the Judge nor his wife was at all intimidated. They paid no attention to them, and nearly every day Mrs. Gary sat by the side of her husband on the bench, giving the strictest attention to the proceedings. She was there in the forenoon and in the afternoon. When the two went out to lunch together, a detective would always follow them, without their request or knowledge, and the same course would be pursued when they went home at night or came down in the morning. I had this done as a precautionary measure, as there was no telling at that time but what some demented Anarchist might seek vengeance upon the Judge for some fancied wrong to the defendants. Sometimes, after lunch, Mrs. Gary would return in the company of some lady friends, but she would invariably, after an exchange of pleasantries with them, rejoin her husband on the bench, where she would remain until the adjournment of court. Once in a while the Judge would find a moment’s interval to talk to her, and the devoted appearance of the venerable couple formed a most pleasing and picturesque background to the crowded and excited court scene throughout the trial. She was there during all the arguments, and listened most intently to the reading of the verdict which finally sent the defendants to the gallows. From the beginning of the trial to its end she never displayed a sign of weakness or fear.
While the investigations were in progress, and even during the trial, a lot of cranks and desperate men flocked into the city from outside points, and there was no telling what villainous deeds they might perpetrate and then escape undetected. For this reason I thought it prudent to place a watchman at the house of every one actively engaged in the case, and both night and day the lives as well as property of all were closely watched to prevent the execution of any of the numerous threats made against the officials by the red-handed fiends. The attempt on my own house was made before these guards were placed, but after that there was no trouble. The Anarchists, seeing the precautions that had been taken, gave the houses no further attention, and thereafter vented their spleen in denunciatory letters.
From the very start of the investigations, I engaged the services of private men to work under my instructions, and they invariably submitted their reports to me at my house. They never called at the house without first notifying me, and this notification would be by means of a sign at a place near my residence. I would always look at the spot before entering the house, and if I found the sign, I would also find my man in the vicinity.
I would then go up-stairs, fix the rooms so that no one could see who might enter, and leave a sign at the window. In a few minutes my friend would appear at the door. Not one of my officers ever knew any of these men so employed, but they knew the officers.
Many funny incidents naturally grew out of this situation. It was very amusing to listen to the officers. One would tell me: “I saw such and such a fellow, a rank Anarchist, on the street to-day in company with a stranger,” or: “I saw a couple of them in such and such a saloon together, and one of them had a stranger with him, who looked like a wild Anarchist.” Then the officers would describe the fellow, and one of them would say:
“I know he is an Anarchist. He and the stranger walked around the jail building, and the next time I meet that stranger I will bring him in. It will do no harm to give him a few days’ entertainment in the station. I want to introduce him to you. I bet you will keep him, and you can, no doubt, learn something from him. I think he is a stranger in the city, and he is here for no good purpose.”
The officer was bound to bring him in, and this placed me in a rather awkward position. All I could do, however, was to say, “Don’t be too hasty; wait till you find him connected with others.”
This worked well for a while, but after a time some of these men who were in my secret service were brought in. One morning I arrived at the station and found that they had been locked up in a cell. As they had received at the start rigid instructions not to reveal their identity under any circumstances, they did not send for me the moment they were arrested, and so they had to remain until the next day, when I promptly released them.
THE NOTORIOUS FLORUS’ HALL.
From a Photograph.
At one time, one of these privates reported to me that he had seen a fellow around with some of the worst Anarchists in the city, that every one regarded him as sound in the Anarchist faith, and that he and the others were in Chicago to liberate the Anarchists from the jail. The private further stated that the stranger had never been seen except in the company of old-time revolutionists. That was enough for the detective to warrant arrest. I told him to make the fellow’s acquaintance and draw him out, but be in no haste. A few days later, the detective reported that he had spoken to the stranger and that he would become well acquainted with him shortly.
At this time every Anarchist resort was watched very closely. I told the private to ascertain where the stranger lived, but he must not push himself too rapidly forward; he must make an engagement to meet the man in the evening and stay with him as late as possible. Just as soon as they parted, he was to double back on the stranger and follow him. A few nights later the private reported again and said that they had been together one evening for three hours, when they parted on the corner of Madison and Canal Streets. He told the stranger that he would go back to the South Side, and then, by following him after parting, he found that the stranger started north. The man turned on Lake Street west and entered No. 71 West Lake Street, one of the worst Anarchist resorts in the city. This place was kept by a man named Florus, a rank “red.” The privatewaited for his friend to come out, remaining in the vicinity until Florus closed his saloon; but no one came. The next day the private reported the facts to me, and said that the stranger evidently had a room at Florus’ house. I told the private to try and get the stranger on the North Side so that I could have a look at him. He started out to hunt up his friend.
On the evening of that same day, detective No. 2 reported. He said that he had a fellow spotted whom he described as one of a gang that had come from St. Paul. He remarked that the fellow was very sharp, but not sharp enough for him. He also stated that the stranger appeared to like him, but that he did not trust him very much.
No. 2 further said: “I have been around with him every evening. He is very good company, and I am sure that he is an Anarchist. But I can’t get at his motives.”
I then told him to get the man up here on the North Side where I would be able to see him.
“All right, but you want to get a good look at him; the fellow changes his clothes often. He is a foxy fellow.”
I said that I would always be at the station from one to three o’clock, so as to take a look at the man when they passed.
THE “SHADOWED” DETECTIVES.
On the next day I was on the look-out, but no one came. The second day I again watched, and, to my great surprise, at two o’clock I saw two fellows, both in my employ, coming east on Chicago Avenue from Wells Street, and on the same side where the station is located. They were engaged in conversation, and neither looked aside as they passed. I got up on the steps of the front entrance and remained there as they came by. They had no sooner got past, when the fellow on the inside lifted his hand to the right hip, and after a few steps further the other fellow put his left hand behind his back and worked his fingers—thus each man giving the tip on the other. They proceeded towards the Water-works.
When all this was over, I almost fell in a fit laughing at the joke. It was extremely ludicrous, but I had to keep it all to myself. The privates kept at work, but I did not tell either the occupation of the other. I had promised every man in my employ that I would not give him away, and I kept my word. One of these detectives had been assigned for duty north of Kinzie Street on the West Side, and the other had been set to work particularly along Lake Street. By invitation of some Anarchists on Milwaukee Avenue, the detective in the district north had left his field and gone with them to the halls of the “reds” on Lake Street, and in this way the two detectives had made each other’s acquaintance and got mixed up.
I was now in a predicament to straighten matters out and prevent the men from wasting time on each other. I finally told each separately that the other was working for Billy Pinkerton, and that he should pay no more attention to him. This worked satisfactorily. Now and then I received a report stating that my detective had seen that Pinkerton man at such or such a place. This will be the first time, however, that either one knows the other’s exact identity, and they can now laugh over their mixed-up condition and see what a fix I was in at that time.