The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, April 6, 1859
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case.
Second Day – Forenoon.
Court met at nine oÕclock.
Examination of Jennings continued. Had no conversation with witness Bacon relative to the case last evening after the examination. Bacon did tell witness last evening that he (Bacon) had offered $500, or half the value of the nigger, in case of his being returned. Never saw the nigger after he run off until he saw him in Wellington.
[Question was put, what arms were taken by witness on his way from Oberlin to Wellington to arrest the boy John. U.S. Attorney Belden objected to the question. Witness was in pursuit of a lawful object, and had a right to carry arms. Judge Willson overruled the objection.]
Witness said he had two revolvers (produced one in court) on that occasion. Had two pairs of handcuffs with him.
[Judge Willson, on motion of Judge Bliss, ruled out the testimony relative to the use of shackles.]
Did not tell any one at Oberlin, except under the injunction of secrecy that witness was in pursuit of a slave. Had been in Oberlin two or three days just previous to the capture of the boy John. Previous to this was in Oberlin about a day and a half, after which went to Kentucky before his second visit to Oberlin.
[Mr. Backus wished to show that the witness, a short time before the arrest of John had attempted, secretly and clandestinely to remove persons from Oberlin against whom he had no claim, and therefore, when attempting to arrest John, the people had a right to suppose he was attempting another illegal act. But the Court would not permit the introduction of such testimony.]
Witness proceeded: First saw Lowe and Davis after the capture of John at Wellington, in a house in a room with John on the first or second floor; there were fifty or sixty persons there crowding on the steps. Do not know the man now on trial; do not know Bushnell. A good many men were outside and good many inside, the hall above and below was filled, the stairs were filled, and the steps were filled; witness squeezed his way through the crowd up stairs and went into the room; found John in a room on the upper floor; and the men with John let witness in; Lowe, Mitchell, Davis and John were in the room; nobody passed in when witness did; did not show any weapon; did not say anything to the crowd when he went up; when witness went into the house there were guns and the people were enquiring for the man who had John, and did not stop long to talk; people were coming in buggies and wagons enquiring for the man who had John; none of the crowd attempt to follow the witness into the room where John was; there was no fastening and we went up higher to get a better room; Mr. Wadsworth came into the room, donÕt remember that he rapped to come in; donÕt think the door stood open; Mr. Wadsworth told us he would give us a better room above; the crowd made no demonstration when we took the boy up another flight of stairs; Wadsworth went first, the witness next and John was with us; two could walk abreast up the stairs; we were in the upper part of the house then; canÕt say whether the boy, when witness got there, was on the first or second floor.
When I got into the upper room I took my stand at the door, Wadsuer on the left and Lowe, Davis and Mitchell, and John remained; [staid there from 3 oÕclock till little before dusk; donÕt recollect but one window in the room and that looked out on the town square; some men came and asked to let them in; we let in a good many; let in every man who wanted to come in; people were let in within five minutes after we got up stairs; they came generally two at a time; would rap at the door and ask to come in; sometimes witness asked how many there were wanted to come in and let them in; donÕt recollect seeing anything of Bushnell; the Sheriff of Lorain came in and brought a parcel of men; Sheriff wanted us to show our authority for taking the boy; staid some time, long enough to read our papers and had time; witness supposes to make a short prayer if he had wished; the Sheriff passed out and in a number of times; suppose we let in first and last some twenty, after we got ŌshutĶ of the Sheriff we concluded to let no more in; some four or five staid, three or four staid in all the afternoon; these were white men; the first force witness knew about was a ŌjahĶ through the stovepipe hole at witness; have the hat which had a hole made in it by the thing that jammed through. There was a hole made in the hat [hat here produced with a hole in it]; suppose the weapon was a gun; it must knocked me down; witness was holding the door close to stove pipe hole; had a rope tied in the handle of the latch; door opened out, and witness held the door by the rope; it was a smart stove pipe hole, big as six such inkstands [inkstand pointed out]; one of the men on the inside left by the sheriff called to the crowd outside, calling them d—d cowards because they did not come in; did not address the crowd; did not tell them what witnessÕ business was; told nobody my business but those who were inside the room; did not address the crowd from the window, or any where else; supposed those in the hall could hear what I said to those inside; supposed they were listening; donÕt know that the people outside in the hall heard what witness said; it was about half an hour after the lick of the head that John was taken away; the men than broke into the window; having got up on a ladder to the platform from which they all piled into the room, five or six through the window; they could get into the window from the balcony very easily; think 15 stood on to the balcony at a time; they broke the window in, and a good many piled in; donÕt think there were any means used to prevent the crowd getting into the window; there were at least fifteen who got in to the window; witness was perfectly cool at the time.
After the crowd came into the window they took out John; they seized nobody else; we made no demonstration of fight; they surrounded John and had him go out in the center; the crowd was so thick witness could just see the top of JohnÕs head; they surrounded John and supposed they pushed John towards the door; they had the nigger surrounded before witness let go the door; as the crowd passed out John passed out too; never saw John but once after he got out and that was just as they landed him in the wagon; was looking out of the window; donÕt think they let the nigger hit the ground at all; there was a right smart little bunch of men with John who put him in a wagon; it was a good big crowd; the crowd went from the house; they put John in, drew the lines, cracked the whip, and put out; saw John five or six feet from the wagon, the wagon was about the center of the square; could not see whether they were carrying John or not the crowd was so thick, or whether he walked; he was put into the wagon; saw several catch hold of him; had hold all over him; did not see whereabouts any man had any particular hold of John; witness swears positively that John was put into the wagon, but wonÕt swear that John resisted.
Direct examination resumed.
John was a full-blooded nigger – there was not a drop of white blood about him. The boy John was the one witness knew in Kentucky; there was no arrangement with Mr. Bacon about compensation for taking the nigger. The witness happened to go to Oberlin the first time as follows: Went there from home first to look after a negro that belonged to witnessÕ Uncle, of whose estate the witness was administrator; at that time witness first saw John. Witness has not been engaged commonly in negro catching; did hear of a nigger at Oberlin, two or three years ago; but this was his first expedition catching niggers, and he got his head punched; think the wagon was ten or fifteen yards from the house; when witness said feet he meant yards.
Cross examination resumed:
Some niggers in Kentucky are called copper color, some light, some black (full blooded); the [different names we have in the South – black,] copper, another yellow – those three are the kinds: yellow means it is not black; we call those black that are black; one half white and half black we would call yellow; never saw a slave so white as not to be easily distinguished from a white never saw but one slave that had more than one-half white blood: that one came from Ohio; a copper color is one between a black and a bright mulatto; there are some negroes called copper color who have no white blood in them; some would call John copper colored but witness would call him black; witness knows there was no white blood in John.
[This witness was under examination over five hours, a most searching cross-examination being conducted by Mr. Backus. The witness showed a low order of intelligence hence portions of the examination were very slow.]
Adjourned to 2 oÕclock. P.M.