The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, April 8, 1859
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case.
Fourth Day – Morning Session.
Cross-Examination of Isaac Bennett. – In the room with the negro; Mr. Lowe gave witness to read a paper purporting to be a warrant from the United States Commissioner at Columbus; some one gave witness a paper which was said to be a power of attorney; in referring to the papers seen by witness meant the warrant; might have said “papers”; understood that the paper read by Lowe to the crowd was the warrant and no other paper; witness was in the room with the intention of keeping the peace; witness presented a pistol towards the crowd to keep them from the ladder; the talk in the crowd was that the negro was kidnapped and carried off with out legal right; some said that the men had power for the arrest of the negro; heard it said after crowd dispersed that the warrant was spurious not having a seal; supposed that Lowe had the negro in custody.
Direct examination resumed. – Did not see Mr. Lowe address the crowd in any way except to read the warrant. Heard no one in the room explain matters to the people: was not there all the time; the general talk of the crowd was that the negro was enticed out of Oberlin, and brought away without legal right: those so talking were mostly black men.
E.S. Kinney sworn. – Resided in Oberlin: on the day of the rescue, there was a crowd in front of the Commercial Block in Oberlin; Bushnell was not in that crowd; saw him passing along the street; did not notice any one in particular with him: afterwards saw him and Mr. Wall in a buggy going South: Bushnell had no arms; Wall had a gun; this was about three o’clock; did not see Mr. Bushnell in the crowd at anytime in Oberlin that day; witness reached Wellington: met Mr. Bushnell and Mr. Windsor in a buggy coming from Wellington; a colored man was with them, known in Oberlin as “John;” this was two or three rods north of the N.E. Corner of the Public Square; the buggy was going fast; Mr. Bushnell held the reins: the negro was leaning back: Mr. Windsor had a gun about the middle, and was swinging it; the crowd was shouting; Mr. Windsor, as he passed witness called out “all right:” did not see Mr. Bushnell again that night.
Cross Examined: - The Oberlin community had been excited for about a week. It was suspected that a negro family named Waggoner were to be kidnapped in the night. It was also understood that some three or four persons from the South were at Wack’s tavern, in Oberlin for the purpose of running off some citizens of Oberlin to the South. It was anticipated that the attempt would be made in the night or when the people to be taken were alone or unguarded. About a week previous to the rescue there was a midnight alarm of murder, which called up a large number of people. The general talk of the crowd of Oberlin was that the colored man, John, had been decoyed out of town and kidnapped by an old citizen of the town, or his son. Believed that the pursuit was undertaken under the impression that the negro had been kidnapped. Mr. Bushnell was about the last of the first party that went out. After that a message came from Oberlin and a second party started.
Examination-in-Chief resumed: - The apprehension at Oberlin was that an attempt was to be made to take away some inhabitants of Oberlin – not fugitives, but free person. Mr. John Lang told witness that he had apprehensions that free colored men would be taken away; the object of witness in going to Wellington was “to do unto others as I should wish to be done by” – that is, to help John: the intention of those who went to Wellington was, to get John out of the hands of persons who had decoyed John out of town to seize him, and for what they seized him witness did not know; it was supposed that Southerners had seized John, as they are the ones who generally do such things.
Cross Examination. – [Mr. Backus stated that the defence mean to show that the cry of murder at Waggoner’s was made when Jennings, at midnight, attempted to kidnap the family. The Court allowed the question.] Witness in answer to the question said that it was understood that the cry of murder came from Waggoner’s house when an attempt was made to kidnap them. Witness did not know John was Bacon’s slave: saw no power of attorney, saw no warrant; witness supposed John was not legally arrested and went to rescue him from illegal captors; witness had no intention to rescue John from any legal arrest, and knew of no one who went down there for any illegal rescue; from no act or intention was it, so far as witness knew the intentions of the people of Oberlin, to rescue John from legal arrest by his master under proper warrant of attorney.
Charles D. Marks, sworn: - Lived at Oberlin on day of rescue; went to Wellington and was at Wellington until John was taken away; saw Bushnell there, out and in a buggy.
(This witness knew little of the affair, and nothing additional to what has gone before.)
Chauncey Wack sworn: - (Defence wished, before this witness testified, to offer proof that witness had been, repeatedly, in the Court Room listening to the testimony, notwithstanding the injunction of the Court, but wished to offer other witnesses than Mr. Wack himself. The State claimed that Mr. Wack was the proper person to enquire of as to that. The Court sustained the view of the prosecution. The defence then declined to enquire of Mr. Wack if he had been in the Court. The Court, however, ordered the prosecution to enquire of Mr. Wack if he had been in.) Mr. Wack said he had been in a number of times, but had heard not testimony to amount to anything and that he did not know of any order of the Court excluding the witnesses.
At this juncture the defence called Mr. Anson Lyman, who swore positively that Mr. Wack was in the Court room when the Court made the order that the witnesses for the prosecution should not remain in the Court room during the examination. The Court, however, allowed the witness to testify.)
Mr. Wack then testified; he was at Wellington on day of rescue; heard some of the crowd say they didn’t care for papers or anything else, they were bound to have the negro out any how; crowd said a great many things; some said they were “Higher Law” men and did not care for the laws or man; that the law was wrong; the crowd quieted down after a while and for the reason, as witness found out afterwards, that soldiers were expected on the four o’clock Cleveland train; thought a dispatch had been sent to Cleveland and that troops were coming, and so the crowd held on to see if the troops came, and if they did not then “they would be all right.” When John came out on the balcony and told the crowd he was going back, the crowd told him not say any such thing, but to jump over, and they would protect him.