Tracking the Conspirators—Female Anarchists—A Bevy of Beauties Beauties—Petticoated Ugliness—The Breathless Messenger—A Detective’s Danger—Turning the Tables—“That Man is a Detective!”—A Close Call—Gaining Revolutionists’ Confidence—Vouched for by the Conspirators—Speech-making Extraordinary—The Hiding-place in the Anarchists’ Hall—Betrayed by a Woman—The Assassination of Detective Brown at Cedar Lake—Saloon-keepers and the Revolution—“Anarchists for Revenue Only”—Another Murder Plot—The Peep-hole Found—Hunting for Detectives—Some Amusing Ruses of the Revolutionists—A Collector of “Red” Literature and his Dangerous Bonfire—Ebersold’s Vacation—Threatening the Jury—Measures Taken for their Protection—Grinnell’s Danger—A “Bad Man” in Court—The Find at the Arbeiter-Zeitung Office—Schnaubelt’s Impudent Letter—Captured Correspondence—The Anarchist’s Complete Letter-writer.
IN the light of all the facts that have developed, I do not believe that it is too large a statement, nor too egotistical, to say that, but for the work done at the Chicago Avenue Station, the Anarchist leaders would soon have been given their liberty, and Anarchy would have been as rampant as ever in Chicago—worse indeed than before; for the conspirators would then have despised as well as hated the law. What the work was, the reader will better understand after he has gone through this and the succeeding chapters.
I did not depend wholly upon police effort, but at once employed a number of outside men, choosing especially those who were familiar with the Anarchists and their haunts. The funds for this purpose were supplied to me by public-spirited citizens who wished the law vindicated and order preserved in Chicago. I received reports from the men thus employed from the beginning of the case up to November 20, 1887. There are 253 of the reports in all, and a most interesting history of Chicago Anarchy do they make even in themselves.
They always conveyed important information and gave valuable clues. They confined their efforts wholly to Anarchists, and their principal duty was to ascertain if the reds intended to organize again for another riot or an incendiary attempt upon the city. They were also to learn if steps were contemplated to effect the rescue of the Anarchists who were locked up in the County Jail, and whether they were getting up any further murder plots. At each Anarchist meeting I had at least one man present to note the proceedings and learn what plots they were maturing. Generally before midnight I would know all that had transpired at meetings of any importance. From many meetings I learned that the Anarchists were discussing plans to revenge themselves on the police, but in each case, as soon as they were about to take some definite action, some one would move an adjournment or suggest the appointment of a committee to work out the plan in some better shape. When the next meeting was held the fellows who had done the loudest shouting would be absent, and then those who happened to be on hand would vent their wrath upon the absentees by calling them cowards. In many of the smaller meetings held on Milwaukee Avenue or in that vicinity, a lot of crazy women were usually present, and whenever a proposition arose to kill some one or to blow up the city with dynamite, these “squaws” proved the most bloodthirsty.
THE “RED” SISTERHOOD.
In fact, if any man laid out a plan to perpetrate mischief, they would show themselves much more eager to carry it out than the men, and it always seemed a pleasure to the Anarchists to have them present. They were always invited to the “war dances.” Judge Gary, Mr. Grinnell, Mr. Bonfield and myself were usually remembered at these gatherings, and they fairly went wild whenever bloodthirsty sentiments were uttered against us. The reporters and the so-called capitalistic press also shared in the general denunciations. At one meeting, held on North Halsted Street, there were thirteen of these creatures in petticoats present, the most hideous-looking females that could possibly be found. If a reward of money had been offered for an uglier set, no one could have profited upon the collection. Some of them were pock-marked, others freckle-faced and red-haired, and others again held their snuff-boxes in their hands while the congress was in session. One femaleappeared at one of these meetings with her husband’s boots on, and there was another one about six feet tall. She was a beauty! She was raw-boned, had a turn-up nose, and looked as though she might have carried the red flag in Paris during the reign of the Commune.
This meeting continued all right for about two hours. Then a rap came on the locked door. The guard reported that one of their cause desired admittance, giving his name at the same time,—and the new arrival was permitted to enter. He was a large man with a black beard and large eyes, and very shabbily dressed. He looked as though he had been driving a coal cart for a year without washing or combing. He also had the appearance of being on the verge of hydrophobia. As soon as he reached the interior of the hall he blurted out hastily, in a loud voice:
“Ladies and brothers of our cause! Please stop all proceedings—I am out of breath—I will sit down for a few minutes.”
All present looked at the man with a great deal of curiosity and patiently waited for him to recover his breath. The interval was about five minutes. Then the stranger jumped up and said:
“I am from Jefferson. I ran all the way [a distance of five miles]. I was informed that you were holding a meeting here this evening, and that there is a spy in your midst.”
At this bit of information every one became highly excited, and the stranger immediately proceeded to inquire if there was anyone they suspected. They all looked at each other, and, becoming satisfied that they were all friends of Anarchy, waited for the man to give them more precise information. The stranger then continued:
“The man is described to me, and that is all I know.”
He looked around for a moment and finally said, pointing to the man addressed:
“If I am not damnably mistaken, you are the man!” At the same time he ordered the guard to lock the door and pull out the key.
“Now,” he resumed, addressing the man to whom he had pointed, who was none other than a detective in my service, “you will have to give a good account of yourself.”
This placed my man in a rather embarrassing position, but he was equal to the emergency.
“I am an Anarchist,” he spoke up promptly, in a loud, clear and firm tone of voice, “and I have been one for years, and you are simply one of those Pinkerton bummers. What business have you here in our meetings, I would like to know. The other day I passed Pinkerton’s office. I was sitting in a car, and I saw you coming down stairs. I suppose you met some fool that gave you a little information so as to get in here. All you want to know evidently is how many are present here, and, if possible, learn what we are doing. You get out of here in five seconds, or I will shoot you down like a rat.”
The officer then pulled out of his pocket a large revolver, and, brandishing it in the air, asked:
“Shall I kill that bloodhound?”
TURNING THE TABLES.
The women cried out in a chorus: “Yes, yes; kill him!” The men, however, did not like the proposition. One of them said: “Don’t kill him here; take him out somewhere else and shoot him.” This seemed to meet with general approval.
The turn of affairs completely surprised the stranger, and he became so frightened that he could not speak. No one in the meeting knew him, and he was powerless to speak in his own defense. The officer held his revolver directed at the man’s face and kept toying with it in the vicinity of his nose. Finally the fellow stammered out:
“I am all right, and you will find me out so.”
At last the women again broke in, with a demand that the intruder be immediately ejected, and the men responded promptly by kicking him out of the door. He had no sooner reached the outside than he started on a keen run, in momentary dread of his life, and he kept up his rapid gait until he thought he was at a safe distance.
The officer was then the hero of the moment, but he recognized the fact that he himself was not absolutely safe after this episode. It occurred to him that possibly the stranger might hunt up some one on Milwaukee Avenue who could identify him and assure the meeting that he was a true and reliable Anarchist, and thus turn the tables against the officer. The moment, therefore, he had regained his seat, he decided to resort to strategy, and said:
“We will have to adjourn at once. This fellow will run to the station-house and bring the patrol wagon with a lot of officers, and we will all be arrested.”
In less than three minutes the meeting adjourned, and then the officer advised them all to go home immediately and not to remain a second if they did not desire to be arrested. The Anarchists did as he suggested, and scattered for home in a hurry.
This detective did not attend any more of the meetings, but was content in congratulating himself on having come out of that assembly without a bruise or a scratch.
About January, 1887, one of my privates informed me that there was a place on Clybourn Avenue where the Anarchists were accustomed to hold private meetings. He said that he could not get in as yet, and I told him to pick up some one whom he could work handily. He must first form the man’s acquaintance, and then hang around the saloons in the neighborhood and read the Arbeiter-Zeitung. I gave him one of John Most’s books and made him wear a red necktie. I advised him also to get about half drunk, sing the Marseillaise and curse the police. By so doing, I told him, it would not be long before he would find a partner. Several times subsequently the detective visited the Anarchist resorts, accompanied by a little boy who belonged to one of his friends, and in less than two weeks he had wormed himself into the confidence of the gang who frequented Clybourn Avenue. If any one asked him his name he would say:
“I don’t give my name to people I don’t know. I am against law and order, and that is sufficient. I don’t believe in having good men hung to satisfy the rich. They will not hang if I can help any.”
For the first couple of weeks, the newly formed friends of this detective would not take him to any of their meetings. I advised him not to make inquiries. As soon as they thought him all right, they would speak themselves. Within three weeks some one took him to a meeting and vouched for him as being true to their cause. At the first meeting he attended he saw that he was as intelligent as any one of them, and so he delivered a short speech. That captured them, and they pronounced him a good man. They asked him to call again at their next meeting, and he promised that he would be on hand. He then reported to me. I told him to find a weak spot around the building, where I could put some one to protect him in case of discovery and danger. A few days after he reported again that there was a vacant basement under the house, and that it was very low. There was only a common door with an ordinary lock. I then promised him that I would put a strong man in there at every meeting, and in case he should be attacked by the gang, he should shout, “Police.” Then, the moment the door was broken in, he was to cry out, “Brother!” so that the man coming to his assistance would know him at once. I also told him that at the next meeting he should ascertain the size of the room and notice whatever furniture might be there and where it was standing. This he did. He made a small diagram.
I then detailed a man to take a position in the basement at several meetings, but, running short of men shortly afterwards, I was obliged to take this man away. But this did not cripple us. On another occasion the private reported again, handed me a plat of the room and gave me some desired information. I sent for Officer Schuettler. He responded promptly, and I told him what I wanted done. He said that he was ready to carry out my instructions. I told him to go and buy a one-inch auger, and next procure a funnel with the large end the circumference of a saucer, and a pipe about four inches long. After an hour’s absence he returned with the desired articles. I handed him several keys with which to open the door, showed him the plat, and told him where to bore a hole. I also told him to secure a cork and plug up the hole after he was through. I then instructed him to get into the place about half an hour before the meeting opened and have his apparatus in working order. I gave Officer Schuettler the dates on which meetings were to be held, and then he started out with good hope in his new undertaking. A few days subsequently the officer reported back, and his face was wreathed in smiles.
“You must have had success,” I said.
“Yes, everything worked like a charm.”
He handed me a good report and remarked that it contained the most important part of the business done by the meeting. He suggested that he ought to have some one with him so that he could secure all the details. For the next meeting I sent another officer with him, and this man had a dark lantern. Schuettler would listen, and as he whispered the words and sentiments of the speakers, the other officer, with the aid of the light from his lantern, would commit them to paper. The next morning I received a full report of all the transactions.
This sort of work was kept up for several months, and during all this time I was kept pretty well informed of the secret movements of the old North Side groups. At the beginning of all their meetings the speakers would declare their wish to see Judge Gary, Mr. Grinnell, all the officers working on the case and myself hung. They generally closed with a promise to kill all capitalists and blow up all the newspaper buildings.
One private detective, whom I had at work for me for a long time, proved very valuable. He belonged to a union and showed very fine judgment. He would watch only the most radical leaders and ascertain their intentions. He was a rabid Anarchist himself, but he did not believe in killing people or precipitating riots so long as it would not help their cause. He often used to say to me:
“Captain, I will be true to you. I will help you all I can to prevent some of these fools from committing any more murders.”
He said that some of his people had not sense enough to know what they were doing, and that, whenever he met a man of family who talked about killing somebody, he would remonstrate with him. For this good and sensible advice some of the reds called him a coward and a spy. At one time, on Lake Street, a big, burly brute called him a coward and a creeping thing. My man stepped up to the fellow and said:
“I will make you eat your own words, or you will have to kill me.”
“What do you want me to do?” asked the big ruffian.
“Fight a duel,” retorted the detective. “I will give you twenty minutes’ time in which to secure a revolver and get ready. I will pay your car-fare, and we will go out to Garfield Park. No one shall go with us, and if you don’t accept my challenge, I will kill you anyhow.”
“Are you in earnest?” asked the other.
“Never more so in my life,” was the reply.
The boasting coward then begged for more time, which was not granted, and, seeing the challenger determined, he winced.
“I believe you are a good man. I am sorry that I have insulted you, and I beg your pardon. Let up on this. If you don’t feel like doing so, for God’s sake do it for my wife and family.”
The young fellow then struck the braggart in the face and walked away. The whimpering coward never raised his hand nor uttered another word.
This man whom I had employed did not like Spies. He termed Spies a rattle-head, and disapproved of his arguments in the Fackel that the 1st of May was the time for the Anarchists to rise. In this view all the more sensible conspirators agreed. They knew that they could not accomplish anything, and therefore they kept away. My man was one of this latter class. He said everything was working nicely in their favor, but Spies killed everything. He told me that one night he was in company with Spies, and that Spies said:
“I do not care how little I can accomplish. I want revenge on the police. They killed my brother—a d——d policeman killed him at a picnic. He shot him dead, and I will never stop until I have more than double revenge.”
This statement of Spies’ about the killing was true. The brother killed was a young tough, and had been shot by Officer Tamillo.
My man said that from the moment of this interview he had no more use for Spies. This detective ceased work for a few months, but he thereafter resumed his secret service, as he found that, in view of the strikes and laying-off, he could hardly make a living otherwise. I put him to work again, and he did well, continuing for two months. One day he came to me and wanted $30. I gave it to him, and he started away. He would report to me daily through the mail, and whenever he had anything of special importance to communicate he always knew just where to find me. I missed his reports for five days, and I failed to learn anything of him during that time. On the 2nd of August I was severely injured by being thrown out of my buggy, and I was obliged to keep to the house for two weeks. On the 5th of August I received a communication from the Coroner of Lake County, Indiana, asking me if I had a man named Charles Brown working for me as a detective. The letter was as follows:
Hammond, Lake County, Indiana, August 3, 1887.
Captain Schaack—Sir: I enclose a copy of a statement of a witness who identified the bodies of two parties drowned in Cedar Lake; also the badge pin found on the man. A Mr. Heise stated to me before he saw the body that the man was a detective and wore his police badge on his breast. The body had been found by a hard case by the name of Green and some pals of his, on the southeast corner of Cedar Lake. When the body was landed, all the garments on it were undershirt, drawers and pants. All the rest had disappeared. His coat was found later, but nothing in the pockets. The rest was not found. Mr. Heise said that he had some money, a watch and chain and a revolver when he left Chicago. Other parties say that the man Green changed a $20 note for him some time before he was drowned. There are some very mysterious circumstances with regard to his condition as found and reported by Green and Scotty, when they found the body, with regard to vest, watch, money and revolver. I think a little detective work might show up the matter.
Respectfully yours, G. Van De Walker,
Coroner, Lake Co., Indiana.
Three days after, I learned that this was the same man I had employed, and I placed Officer Schuettler on the case to unravel, if possible, the mystery surrounding his death. The officer in a few days reported that it was exceedingly difficult to obtain a clue, as no one seemed disposed to give any information as to foul play; but enough was learned in a general way to warrant the conclusion that underhanded methods had been used to accomplish the man’s death.
I recalled certain incidents in connection with the man’s work as a detective, and, placing them by the side of the seemingly accidental drowning, I became convinced that a deliberate crime had been committed.
BETRAYED BY BEAUTY.
One day this private asked me if I would allow him to tell a young lady what he was working at. I told him that he must do nothing of the kind; that if he did so I would have no further use for him. He then begged me to permit him to use my name as his friend, and I told him I had no objection to that. But I found out later that he had said more to the young lady than I had consented to, and I believe his indiscretion in that respect is what cost him his life.
From the moment that the girl ascertained his secret occupation he was a doomed man. She let other Anarchists into the secret, and they at once set about devising means for ending his life.
The information I received later was that it had been decided upon that the young woman should inveigle him to Cedar Lake, and then, when he was in her power, to do away with him. The two left the city together, and were followed by the others in the conspiracy to the place where his body was found. Before taking the trip on the water, she was seen talking with some mysterious-looking individuals, and they then and there decided upon the details of the plan. She was to get him to row out into deep water, and, when they had got fairly started, her friends were to follow in another rowboat at a convenient distance. When they reached the middle of the lake she was to keep a close watch on the other boat, and as they neared her boat she was to suddenly throw herself on one side and tip the boat over so that both occupants would be thrown into the water. Her friends were then to be close at hand, pick her up and save her from drowning. The programme was carried out so far as related to the capsizing of the boat, but the men did not get near enough in time to save her. She went down with her companion and was drowned with him.
There is no doubt as to the truth of this plot. It was in entire keeping with Anarchistic methods; and parties who were at the lake at the time state that they saw the young lady get up in the boat, and that while thus standing she swung it over, precipitating herself and her lover into the water. I had men engaged on the case for some time, but the investigation always ended in the same way—an undoubted conclusion that the detective’s life was taken by reason of a plot, but no evidence to establish the guilt of the conspirators. From the information I received, I am satisfied that the whole matter was carefully planned and carried out by the woman.
From May 7, 1886, to November 20, 1887, I had a great deal of work, there were so many things to look after, but after matters had become systematized and the force had been brought down to good working order, the burdens of the office became much easier than most people would suppose.
In the first place, I had one hundred and sixty rank Anarchists to look after; but as soon as these became known to my men, it was an easy matter for the officers to report where they had seen them and with whom they associated. Then I had ten small halls to watch where the Anarchists met night and day. There were also seventeen saloons where these people were accustomed to congregate. Three of these latter had small halls connected with them. Twelve of the other saloons had rear rooms where the reds would sit at times and hold small meetings. After we had all their haunts located, and knowing the kind of men who frequented them, the work of keeping track of them was not so hard. Some of these Anarchists would enter boldly into these places, while others would almost crawl on their stomachs to get into the resorts without being seen. Others again would disguise themselves so that their identity could not become known to detectives.
The officers made no attempt to close these places, and possibly the reader may ask why such notorious and dangerous resorts were permitted to continue unmolested.
My reason for not closing them was that the Anarchists were bound to meet in some place. We knew their resorts thoroughly, and I had plenty of my men among them, who worked ostensibly for the cause of Anarchy, but who continually furnished me pointers. Again, we knew just wherethey would meet and could always have our men present. If I had shut them out from these places, they would have been driven into private houses, broken up into smaller factions, and our work would have been made much broader and harder in keeping track of them and their doings. So long as I had the machine, so to speak, in my own hands, and knew all that had been done and said, we let them alone. And the results justified our course.
Among the saloon-keepers there was one who seemed to have a special liking for me. This man, who had a place on Lake Street, on taking his first drink in the morning would invariably drink to my health, saying: “I hope that that d——d Luxemburger, Schaack, will be killed before I go to bed to-night;” and when he was about to close his doggery for the day, he would take two drinks and say: “I hope I will find Schaack hanging to a lamp-post in the morning when I get up.”
When the saloon-keepers were particularly loaded with beer, they shouted louder than any one else for Anarchy, and the louder and more vehemently they shouted the more “solid” did they become with their Anarchist customers. At every meeting held at these places, collections were taken up, and the saloon-keepers could always be counted upon to contribute liberally.
The worst of these ignorant fools never did realize why the saloon-keepers shouted so lustily for Anarchy until they came home to find their wives and little ones crying for bread. Then, perhaps, it faintly dawned upon their minds that the saloon-keepers were after their nickels. These liquor-sellers were Anarchists for revenue only, and they sought in every way to keep on the right side of the rank and file of the party. They always looked to it, the first thing in the morning, that plenty of Anarchist literature and a dozen or so copies of the Arbeiter-Zeitung were duly on the tables of their places, and in some saloons beer-bloated bums, who could manage to read fairly, were engaged to read aloud such articles as were particularly calculated to stir up the passions of the benighted patrons. Robber and hypocrite are terms too weak to apply to these saloon-keepers. Some of them had “walking delegates” by their side, and if an Anarchist seemed to them to be “going wrong” by seeking work, the delegate and assistant robber would tell him to go back to his headquarters and wait, assuring him that they would have all things right in a few days.
And this is the way these poor fools and their families were kept in continual misery. Many of the dupes have had their eyes opened and have quit frequenting these places and the underground caves. What is the result? Their families are better looked after, and the difference in their comfort is very apparent. They used to call the Chicago Avenue Station “Schaack’s Bastile,” but let me say that those saloon-keepers with their low and contemptible resorts were the real bastile-keepers. Hundreds and hundreds of men, heads and fathers of families, have been kept in squalid want by spending their very last cent in these holes, and their dependents have been left without food, proper clothing or fuel. I believe in unions for proper objects, but even these should not be continued for the benefit of such saloon-keepers.
All these men were great heroes so long as they could hope to enrich themselves, but when the chief conspirators were locked up in jail, and liberal contributions were demanded for the defense, their enthusiasm in the holy cause of Anarchy was considerably cooled.
While Chicago is regarded as the head center of Anarchy in America, people of other cities and States should not imagine that the vicious reds are all in this city. There are plenty of them scattered throughout the country, and this fact was made quite manifest at the time the Anarchists were being arrested. Friends of the imprisoned men came to Chicago from all over the United States, and financial assistance poured in on all sides. Those who came here were open in their declarations of sympathy and never attempted to conceal their actions.
When these same men were at their homes they did not dare to openly say a word in favor of Anarchy, because they were few in numbers; but should there be enough to make a formidable showing, they will throw off their mask and assume a defiant, menacing attitude.
These arrivals, just as soon as they became known, were kept under espionage, and every movement they made was looked after, lest they might commit some desperate deed. Of course there were a great many whom the police did not discover, and it is a wonder that, during the excitement incident to the arrest of so many Anarchists and the searches made of Anarchistic houses, some diabolical act was not perpetrated. Possibly they discovered that the omnipresent police were so thoroughly on the inside of their conspiracy that detection was inevitable. It is certain that they knew that I had become thoroughly posted as to the inside workings of Anarchy, and the sound fear which I was able to inspire by a bold and aggressive policy no doubt acted as a restraint upon any violent outburst of passion and revenge.
It was constant vigilance alone that averted trouble, and no Anarchist of a specially vicious disposition was permitted to feel that his movements were overlooked or unwatched. For this purpose I had Anarchists among Anarchists to inform on Anarchists, and all the meetings were thus kept under strict surveillance. Even private houses were watched. On one occasion I desired to secure certain information. One of the private detectives was accordingly detailed to watch the rear of a certain building from an alley. He was there for two days without being observed by any one, but on the third day he was noticed by a police officer. The officer asked him what he was doing in that locality, and the private responded:
“I am waiting for a friend of mine who is working in this barn, and I expect him around soon.”
From a Photograph.
The officer placed no reliance on the statement, and so he hustled him out of the alley. The detective walked on a short distance, and, as soon as the officer was out of sight, retraced his steps and returned to the place, this time finding a different point for his observations. He had scarcely thought himself secure from further interruptions, when the back gate of the next yard opened, and in walked the same officer. Both were alike surprised. But this time there were no questions asked and no explanations demanded. The officer promptly seized the detective by the collar and marched him to the Chicago Avenue Station. The detective kept his identity to himself, and of course found himself speedily assigned to a cell over night. On the next morning, as I sauntered through the lock-up, I discovered my friend in durance vile, and, promptly looking up the record, found that he had been booked for disorderly conduct.
I then returned and told him that, when brought into court, he should not say anything to the judge, but play the part of a fool and simpleton. His case came up; he was fined $5 and sent back to the lock-up. I went to him later, handed him the money, and in half an hour he paid his fine and left. The detective went back to his post, but the officer was not put on that beat again. My man worked for about two weeks and finished his job.
Of course, the detectives in the case had varied experiences. On another occasion it was desirable to know what was being done at some secret meetings held at Thalia Hall, No. 703 Milwaukee Avenue. This was after the trial of the Anarchists had begun. I assigned a few detectives in that direction, and shortly afterwards the proceedings might as well have been open so far as the police were concerned.
My boys had a great deal of fun. They managed to discover a way by which they secured an entrance under the stage, and at the first meeting they attended they amused themselves by cutting a hole through that portion of the stage facing the audience. When they had done this, they could see all present and hear everything that was said. Many a night they held to that port-hole and enjoyed the circus on the outside. They heard many a speech of a threatening character against Judge Gary, Mr. Grinnell, Mr. Bonfield and myself, and sometimes they had to listen to some rampant speaker who would depict the pleasure all Anarchists would enjoy at seeing the funerals of these officials passing through the streets. Of course, those who were the most bitter had the least courage, and so long as the auditors only listened to speeches, my boys were perfectly satisfied that no immediate danger was to be apprehended.
I finally learned that some of the Anarchists had become suspicious, and therefore ordered Officer Schuettler and the others to remain away, as they would otherwise be discovered. And they would have been. One day the Anarchists made a careful search of the building, and they found the hole through which the boys had peeped. They then decided on a plan. It was that during the next meeting, which they felt certain some of my boys would attend, a great commotion should be made in the hall. This would surely bring one of the detectives with his eye very near the hole. Then one of the Anarchists should stealthily creep up on the side, suddenly plunge a sharp iron through the hole, and kill the man within.
One officer, who proved of great assistance to me, was Charles Nordrum. He became engaged in the case shortly after the Haymarket riot, and after a time became a regular attaché of the detective department. He was born in Norway on the 9th of November, 1858, and had lived in Chicago since 1868. He joined the police force in November, 1884, and, possessing a great deal of tact and shrewdness, his services were soon enlisted in the work of hunting up the red conspirators. He worked at times with Officer Schuettler, but reported to Ebersold. Both were known to my officers, but they did not know of my private workers. Nordrum was especially detailed to look after some meetings at Thalia Hall, at the Emma Street Hall, in the rear room of Zepf’s saloon, in the rear room of Greif’s saloon, at No. 600 Blue Island Avenue, and at the Northwestern Hall, and he did not overlook meetings held in the cellars of some of the more prominent Anarchists on the Northwest Side and of others who were in sympathy with the Anarchists. He wormed himself into the good graces of quite a number of the reds, and was always kindly received by them. After a time the police stopped the holding of meetings in some of the halls, and then the Anarchist sympathizers harbored the reds in their cellars, furnishing candles for illumination and nail-kegs for seats. On the 5th of July, 1887, Nordrum was exposed at No. 599 Milwaukee Avenue, and he was at once surrounded by an infuriated mob. The Anarchists with whom he had associated attempted to kill him, but the officer, after a desperate fight, succeeded in reaching the door before any serious violence had been done him. This, of course, destroyed his further usefulness among them, but out of his knowledge of the men and their affairs two arrests were effected. He and Officer Schuettler brought in Emil Wende and Frederick Kost, members of the Terra Cotta Union. These men had been selected to buy each member of their group a 42-caliber revolver and one box of cartridges, and the weapons so secured were to have been used on the police on the day of the execution. The weapons had been purchased, and as soon as the principals had been placed under arrest, a descent was made upon the supply. All the revolvers were captured and brought to the Central Station.
Noticing how successfully they had been circumvented in all their movements, the Anarchists naturally came to the conclusion that detectives were working in their ranks either in the interest of myself or of Billy Pinkerton, and they resolved to discover, if possible, the men so engaged. One day a very intelligent fellow called at my office and wanted to know if I desired any more men to work for me among the Anarchists. He stated that he was well acquainted with all the reds, and, if I would pay him well, he would render good service.
I called him into my private office, and I closely questioned him. I learned that he knew a great many of them, and I told him that I wanted one good man. He then considered himself engaged, and said to me:
“Now you had better tell me all the men that are working for you and show them all to me so we can work together.”
I told him that if he could find out any one of my men I would pay him $20 a week, and then he might consider himself engaged. He went away, but he never came back to claim the $20.
This ruse having failed, the Anarchists devised another. One day early in August, 1886, they sent one of my countrymen, a Luxemburger, to me. This fellow began to play his cards very nicely, and sought to carve a very pretty little path into my confidence, but he had not proceeded very far before my suspicions were aroused, and he got nothing to satisfy either himself or those who sent him. While our conversation was going on one of the officers came in, and, noticing the fellow, called me into another room. The officer then stated that he had seen the man hanging around West Lake Street, had seen him drunk frequently, and had once found him in tears, saying that he had come from Paris, had seen the downfall of the Commune there, and that now that Anarchy was suppressed in Chicago all hope for liberty was gone, and he would be ready to die at his own hands after he should have first killed somebody. I returned to the office.
“See here, old fellow,” said I, “I have spies amongst the Anarchists, but I do not want spies among my own command.”
The man was then asked if he could do any work, and when he said that he had not done any work in a long time, I remarked that I had a job for him. He became interested and wanted to know what kind of a job it was.
“It is under Superintendent Felton at the House of Correction, and he will assign you to work that will keep the dogs from biting you for six months. You are a vagrant, and I will bring you into court to-morrow morning and have you fined $100. That will be six months.”
The man begged piteously to be spared that punishment, and I plied him with questions. He stated that, inasmuch as he was of the same nationality as myself, the Anarchists thought he could readily get into my secrets, and they had forced him to come. I told him that my officers knew him and had him spotted, and that unless he left the city by the next day I would have him arrested and sent to the work-house. He left the station, and I have never seen him since. Since then I have received a letter from Michigan, saying that if the writer had me there I would never see Chicago again, as he would find work for me for awhile, and I am confident that it came from my old friend.
During the progress of the investigations some curious characters were encountered. Some sought me, as I have already noted, but in most instances I had to hunt them. One eccentric genius was especially noticeable. He had started out with the intention of reading himself into the Anarchist faith, and for this purpose be became a constant reader of theArbeiter-Zeitung and its Sunday edition, the Fackel. For some time he wavered in his opinion, but the more he read the more he became convinced that there was something in Anarchy. At last he became so deeply imbued that he almost regarded it a sacrilege to destroy the copies he had purchased for his enlightenment. He carefully stowed the papers away in the closet in his room, and when he returned from work he would open the door and examine his collection much as a miser inspects his hoard.
May 4 finally came, and with it the event he had looked forward to so longingly. But the outcome did not suit him. He noticed that the police were getting uncomfortably close to his locality, but he did not feel any special concern until one evening a patrol wagon pulled up in front of No. 105 Wells Street, near his own domicile. He saw the officers approaching in the direction of the entrance, and, jumping from his chair near the window, shouted to his landlady:
“For heaven’s sake!—the police are coming to search the house—what will I do? If they come into my room and find my papers, I will be arrested and locked up as an Anarchist. Let me burn my papers in your stove.”
The landlady would not permit it, as she feared arrest as an accomplice. The young man almost fell on his knees in pleading with her for permission. Finding his appeals useless, he hastened to his room, lit a fire in a sheet-iron stove there, and began to burn his whole collection. His haste was so great that he crammed too many papers in at once, and the stove became overheated. The wall paper began to burn, and the Anarchist had to give his attention to moving the bed and furniture away from the walls. He did not dare to give an alarm of fire, and yet he saw that the whole room would be in flames in a few moments. He seized a pitcher of water, emptied its contents on the wall, opened the door and called for the landlady to come to his assistance. She responded, and when she saw the situation, she cried out, “Fire, fire!” He endeavored to make her desist from her cries and urged her to bring him water. Water was brought and soused all over the stove and the walls.
By this time the house was full of smoke, and they opened the window. An officer in the wagon noticed the smoke, and shouted to some of his companions that there was a fire next door up-stairs. The young man overheard this and hastened to tell the officer that it was only smoke and that no assistance was required.
The landlady now ran away to escape possible arrest, and the young man was left alone. He again assured the officer below that the smoke had all cleared away, and he slammed down the window.
THE SCARED AMATEUR ANARCHIST.
After thus escaping police investigation, the youthful Anarchist felt happy, and he had reasons to be, as he would certainly have been arrested, in view of his actions, had the officers ever entered his room. Others had been arrested under less suspicious circumstances, and it took some of them a long time to satisfactorily explain their position. The young man has since become connected with a newspaper. He may deny this in his paper, but I will never “give him away.”
While pursuing the investigations, and never losing hope of finding Parsons, I was one day informed by Officer Henry Fechter that a man who knew the foxy Anarchist had seen the fugitive at Geneva, Wis., and his arrest might be easily effected. The officer was a detail at the time at the Northwestern Railroad depot, and his informant was a reliable gentleman. I instructed the officer to report his information to Chief Ebersold, as I was helpless in the matter, having no authority to send an officer outside of the city limits. That was the last I ever heard of it. The information was evidently pigeonholed, and Parsons continued to bask in rural sunshineand enjoy himself until the day he came into court of his own free will. This was not the only instance of supine neglect in the Chief’s office and the detective department. I have already spoken of the case of Schnaubelt, the bomb-thrower, but there is still another striking illustration. It was shortly after the selection of a jury to try the Anarchists. The Bonfield brothers and myself were obliged to be in court nearly all the time, and the Anarchists on the outside, observing this, began to concoct plots for taking revenge on the city. In this emergency the Chief decided to go to California, and, in order that he might have cheerful company, he invited Lieut. Joseph Kipley, of the so-called detective department, and Capt. William Buckley, of the First Precinct.
When Mr. Grinnell heard of this contemplated trip, at a time when, for the sake of public appearance at least, the Chief ought to have remained at home, he firmly remonstrated and reminded the official of his duty. But Ebersold shook his head.
“I have got my tickets,” said he; “what will I do with them?”
“Throw them into the lake,” replied Mr. Grinnell.
But the Chief was obstinate, and he and his party left for the Pacific Coast. The force was then left in command of Inspector John Bonfield, who thus had double duty imposed upon him.
The moment the work of impaneling the jury had begun, the outside Anarchists began to exert themselves to put some of their own men into the jury-box. When they found that the State was too vigilant, however, they next set about to secure such witnesses as could be counted upon to swear their friends out of jail. Take the evidence of the strongest witnesses put on the stand by the defense, and the critical, unbiased examiner will readily discover that many of them were simply perjurers.
But the labors of the reds were in vain, and when they began to realize that the jury did not seem impressed with the character of their evidence, the outside barbarians grew desperate and resolved on a new line of tactics.
One day I received a note from one of my men warning me to protect the jury. The Anarchists, he said, were working out a scheme to injure some of the jurors, and if they could succeed in that, they were confident the case would have to be begun anew. If the case ever came up again, no man would care to risk his life in a trial of the conspirators, and their brothers would go free. If, however, the State should secure a full set of jurors, they would give them a dose of dynamite, and that would certainly end the case. Then they could keep on with Anarchy and make the capitalists cower before them. This plan, I was informed, had met the entire approval of the gang.
I conferred with Mr. Grinnell, and as a result we doubled the watch to protect the jury. We made it a point also to know when the jurors went out for a walk or a drive, and, without their knowledge, trustworthy men were always with them or near them until their return. The hotel in which they were quartered was only about two hundred feet from the Criminal Court building, but whenever they came to the court in the morning, or went to their meals during recess, or left the court building after each day’s adjournment, twelve detectives along the line kept vigilant watch of all suspicious characters. Besides the detectives there were fifteen officers in uniform, and during the last three days of the trial we even redoubled our vigilance. There were twenty-five officers on the street, twenty-five more in the court-room, and twenty-five men about the building. All these men were in uniform, so that the “cranks” could see them, and it proved to be a very good precaution. During the night, detectives and regular patrolmen were watching inside and outside at the jurors’ hotel.
WATCHING A SUSPECT.
On the last day of the arguments, when Mr. Grinnell was closing for the State, something very suspicious was noticed in the court-room. A man with a very mysterious air had been seen around the building for eight days preceding, and it was recalled that he came at varying hours of the day. On each occasion he held a few moments’ private talk with some of those Anarchists who had displayed interest in the proceedings, after which he always disappeared. The parties he generally talked with were Belz, who assisted in conducting the defense, Mrs. Parsons and Mrs. Holmes. He was about five feet ten inches tall, about forty years of age, weighed about 180 pounds, had a round face, short, stubby, sandy beard and mustache, a nose built on the feminine plan, large, gray, piercing eyes, and withal he was not a very prepossessing man.
During the last hour, when Mr. Grinnell was making his plea to the jury, this man entered the court-room and took a seat in the front, right in the midst of the Anarchists’ families. This brought him within seven or eight feet behind the State’s Attorney. He crossed his arms over his stomach, and leaned pretty well forward, keeping his hands concealed under his coat. I was surprised at the fellow’s impudence, because the court-room at the time was so still that a whisper could have been distinctly heard all over the room. I sat at a table, with Mr. Walker to the left and Mr. Ingham to the right, and I called the attention of these two gentlemen to the mysterious man and his queer attitude. They watched his nervous actions, and became alarmed lest he might be there for some vicious object. The man had indeed a desperate look, but it was thought best not to interrupt the proceedings just then. Under the strict orders of Judge Gary, everybody was obliged to be seated in the court-room, and when the seats were full no more were admitted. This was another good precaution at such a trial. The police officials had thus a clear view of the whole room.
At times, whenever there happened to be some severe allusions to the defendants by Mr. Grinnell, the stranger would twist himself around uneasily, all the time, however, maintaining his peculiar attitude. Mr. Ingham remarked that he was afraid the stranger might suddenly jump on Mr. Grinnell and stab him in the back. Mr. Walker expressed a similar opinion. I said that he should get no chance to do that, as I would kill him before he could take one step toward Mr. Grinnell, and at the same time I got my trusty 38-caliber Colt’s revolver in position where I could produce it the instant it was needed. We all agreed that this would be the right course to take. At one time the man looked sharply at me, and I gave him a savage look right into his eyes. From that time I kept him busy looking at me.
As soon as Mr. Grinnell had concluded the man jumped up, drew near to Belz and spoke to him. Then he turned to a woman and handed her a paper. Meanwhile I had already called a detective to watch him, and as soon as the stranger reached the corridor he was searched. Nothing dangerous was found about his person, but it was impossible to learn where he lived or what was his name. He would give no account of himself, and he was taken down stairs and kept there until all the detectives had taken a good look at him. He was then told to go and never show himself around the building again.
On the next morning a revolver was found in the building, and the opinion among those posted on the affair was that it must have belonged to the mysterious visitor. He had evidently come with a desperate determination to shoot some one, even at the sacrifice of his own life, but, seeing how slim were his chances for getting near his victim after the close watch kept upon him, he abandoned his intention and dropped his revolver to destroy any evidence against himself.
Possibly he may have been simply engaged in playing a “bluff” on his Anarchist friends, his intention being to make them believe that he had nerve enough to go right into a court-room and shoot down an official, and afterwards to excuse his failure by referring to his friends for proof that he was so closely watched that he had no opportunity to get near his victim.
Mr. Grinnell was shortly afterwards informed of the incident, and he remarked that possibly a “crank” might have been found by the Anarchists to make an assault that they themselves had not the courage to undertake.
As I have already indicated, a great many documents and letters, public and private, fell into the hands of the police during the searches made, and from the collection I give a few for the purpose of showing what kind of a dynamite office was being run by Parsons and Spies.
The following was found by Detective James Bonfield on Parsons’ desk in the Alarm office, May 5, 1886:
Dealers in Marble and Granite Cemetery Work.—No. 193 Woodland Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, April 29, 1886.
Comrade Parsons:—Providing we send you the following dispatch: “Another bouncing boy, weight 11 pounds, all are well—signal Fred Smith,”—can you send us No. 1 for the amount we sent you by telegram. Please give us your lowest estimate. Also state by what express company you will send it to us.
Parsons had nothing to do with either handling or selling dynamite, if his own statements are to be accepted. Still he and Spies and their crowd seem to have had a great many inquiries for the “good stuff” Parsons used to refer to in his speeches, and which he urged his followers to carry in their vest pockets during the day and keep under their pillows at night. Another evidence of their guilt was found on the same day by Detective Bonfield in the Arbeiter-Zeitung office, on Spies’ desk:
|The Ætna Powder Company,|
Manufacturers and Dealers.
High Explosives and Blasting Supplies.
|Works: Miller, Ind., Lake County.|
Office: No. 98 Lake Street, Chicago.
|Order No. ——.||Sold to Cash.||Chicago, October 24, 1885.|
10 lbs. No. 1, 1¼, $3.50; 100 T T caps, $1.00; 100 feet double T fuse, 75 cts.—$5.25.
Paid—Ætna Powder Company, I. F.
In justice to the company it should be explained that they had no knowledge of the purposes for which the material was to be used.
I have already referred to the great courtesy shown Schnaubelt at the Central Station—how, when he was brought by Officer Palmer for the third time before Lieut. Shea and the Chief, he was promptly ordered released, and how he finally and hastily concluded to leave the city in order to save the detective department any further trouble on his account. It subsequently transpired that the direction he took was for the great and boundless West; but in all his wanderings he always seems to have kindly remembered his friends in Chicago for permitting him to take so extended a journey. He even wrote back to some of them, and one letter, which, was put in the possession of Officer Palmer, is especially worthy of publicity. It reads as follows:
To the Chief of Police, Chicago—My Dear Old Jackass: Thanks to your pig-headed lieutenant, I am here sound and safe. Before this reaches you I have left here, and the only thing I regret is that we did not kill more of your blue-coated hounds.
The following, received by Parsons and Spies, are self-explanatory:
Eufaula, April 13, 1886
Dear Comrade Parsons:—I have received your papers and am very much obliged for them. Glad that you like my article. I am writing now for To-Day, of London, and for the Alarm, and am going to write for La Tribune du Peuple de Paris. Situated as I am now, I can be of no good but by writing, and I intend to avail myself of it. You may be astonished if I tell you that I never use the word “Anarchy.” I stick to the old word “Socialism.” It can be understood and does not require any knowledge of Greek to make out its meaning. If I was to seek in the Greek language for a word to express where I stand, I would call myself an Anticrat, opposed to any kind of crazy notions, democracy as well as aristocracy. I am for individual responsibility and social action. I am for liberty, but within society, not above it, and, first of all, I am for equality of conditions. I want organization first, revolution second, social economy reorganization third, and abolition of governmental action last of all. If you could confiscate the government to-morrow, I would have no objection to use it for a while.
Anarchism has a very dangerous drift toward individualism, as you may perceive by reading Liberty, of Boston, and individualism is bound to generate some kind of a crazy notion and end in despotism. Beware of individualistic Anarchism and stick to the socialistic.
We are in a state of warfare with all the crazes and must use all the weapons of warfare within our reach. Our present weapons—strikes and boycotting—are dangerous, and expulsive if we were to use the ballot. The workers are the many; the masters the few. Before upsetting the government, let us try to use it. Mayors, councilmen, aldermen, governors, and so forth, have a good deal to say about how the police and militia shall be used, and judges have a good deal to say when workingmen are prosecuted for claiming their rights. Could not the workers organize to conquer these offices? What do you think of that? What do you think of that?
Salute and Fraternity.Frederic Tafferd.
What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa, April 18, 1886.
A. R. Parsons, Esq.—Dear Sir: We organized a group of the Lehr und Wehr Verein in this town on the above date. The organizer was your comrade John McGinn, of Rock Spring, Wyoming. Inclosed you will find the amount for the cards—names as follows:
|John H. Nicholson,||miner;||age,||41|
|Benjamin E. Williams,||”||”||37|
|William H. Osborne,||”||”||36|
|John R. Thomas,||”||”||33|
I suppose you will need to know who is chief and secretary of the group. John McGinn is chief and John H. Nicholson is the secretary. I remain yours, in the care of John H. Nicholson, What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa, Box 697.
St. Louis, March 27, 1886.
Mrs. and Mr. Parsons:—We were quite sorry to learn of your sickness, which prevented you to be with us at the Commune Festival, while we were just as glad to see that Mrs. Parsons did accept our invitation. My hope and wish that you are well again for the present. The Commune Festival was well attended by a large crowd, and it was a great disappointment for the J. W. P. A. being forced to announce the absence of the English speaker. I am quite aware that it would have been a great lift for our principles if Mrs. Parsons could have been present. However, St. Louis is not Chicago, and the movement is not as well progressing as in Chicago. No wonder. I have been teached lately a lesson myself, and therefore withdraw as a member of the group. We herewith send you a little collection of picture cards, which Mary had saved up for your children. We intended to send them along with Mrs. Parsons. Mary has already two large scrap-books full of such collections. Hail for the revolution.
Yours respectfully, J. M. Mentyer.
P. S.—If you have any old Alarms to spare, I would make good use of them at present during this railroad strike. I shall soon send some money again. I also send you the Chronicle so you can see what declaration the Knights of Labor have issued in answer to Monster Robber Gould.
Personal.Port Jarvis, N. Y., October 31, 1885.
My Dear Comrade:—Well, I will stay here, as I wrote you. I started out on a “tramp” to look for a job. I stayed nearly a week at New Haven and spoke there, though why Liberty should head his letter from there “Unfortunate for Herr Most,” is more than I can see. I came here and looked up an old friend, John G. Mills. He proposed starting a small job book-bindery. He puts in capital and I the skill. That seems fair; while I will be sure of a mere living for the winter, there is no guarantee that capital will gain by it. So the timidity of capital must be overcome. Well, the bargain is this: When I pay back the advance capital (and until I do so I am not to draw in amount over $5.00 a week), paid it all, then I am to own half and we will start equal partners, and he furnishes more capital if necessary on half paid back. I have agreed, as I believe it is the best I can do, and it opens a good prospect. It is probable that I will not be very active in “the cause” here, as every moment will be occupied, but I am willing to go anywhere within reasonable distance this winter and give a lecture to any group for mere expenses—car-fare and board—and believe I could stir up the boys. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, all three join together here, and any of the three States would be convenient. I should give a lecture rather than a speech, but it would be extempore. Can’t you drop a line to Philadelphia, or some point near? Buffalo is nearly as near.
When I feel like giving you an article I shall mail it, but, of course, you will use it or lay it over as you feel about it. I think I can put a point strongly, but do not want to crowd out anything else.
If you can use me on your paper, draw on me for all the copy you like. I like the Alarm and think it has improved since last spring. Any points I can get from French papers, I will give you the benefit of. I never got that card. Is it contrary to custom?
Yours truly, Lum.