The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, April 8, 1859
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case.
United States District Court,
Northern District of Ohio.
Geo. W. Belden,
U.S. Attorney. For Government.
F.T. Backus. For Defence.
Fourth [Third?] Day – Afternoon Session.
R.P. Mitchell – testimony continued on cross examination.
Witness has been in Ohio twice before this expedition, for runaway slaves: had no arrangement with Mr. Bacon about compensation for catching John; have worked, as a hand, for Mr. Bacon, by the day, in the same field with John; this was after witness was constable. [Mr. Backus suggested that that was following the example of Cincinnatus, who laid down the robes of office to follow the plow.] Witness, in answer to a question of Mr. Backus said “There is a nigger behind you I should call a mulatto”; think there are mulattoes who are full blooded niggers; the light niggers are “mixed,” such as are seen about Oberlin’ witness talked with Dayton after getting to Oberlin; - Bacon, before witness left Kentucky, told him to enquire for Dayton, the Deputy U.S. Marshal: told Mr. Dayton witness’ business; told Mr. Wack witness was hunting niggers; witness carried with him a revolver and a thing we in Kentucky call an Arkansas toothpick – in other words, a dirk. [On request of Defendant’s counsel the witness displayed his “Arkansas toothpick.”] When took John from the buggy John had a small knife an witness put his hand towards his revolver and told John to drop the knife, and John gave it up; there was no house near; got to Wellington and had dinner; John eat with us, and it was the first time witness ever eat with a nigger; after dinner went up back stairs shown to us by the landlady, who said the people were in the hall.
[A long cross examination revealed nothing of incident or interest to general reader.]
Bela Farr sworn – Resides at Oberlin: was at Wellington day of rescue; Dep. Marshal Dayton went with witness; let Wellington before the trouble; heard defendant and another man some days after at Oberlin talking, as witness supposed, about rescue of John; Bushnell said if taking him from Wellington and carrying him away, was a crime, he supposed he was guilty; Bushnell called no names and did not say who he carried away.
Barnabas Meacham sworn – Live in Wellington, and was there day of rescue; am constable; had warrant for the Kentuckians, and was urged to make the arrest, and witness said if they would give him a bond of indemnity witness would execute the warrant; got a number to go in and examine the papers the Kentuckians had; examined the papers myself; Lowe, at witness’ request, came out of the house, and going two or three rods, got on some steps and read his warrant to the people: some of the crowds said they were satisfied; witness told the crowd that the Kentuckians had a warrant for John.
Cross Examined. – Witness had examined the warrant, and so had Squire Bennett, Dickson, Mandeville. Soule, and on this examination witness told the crowd that the Kentuckians had a warrant: witness called attention of the crowd to the fact that Mr. Lowe was reading his warrant: when witness was in the room where the negro was the Kentuckians claimed they held the boy on a warrant, and not on any power of attorney.
David L. Wadsworth sworn. – Was at Wellington on the day of rescue – there were from four hundred to one thousand people there; general topic of conversation was relative to the slave; the remarks were various; some said break in the house, some said tear down the house, some said bring him out; witness mentioned a num- he saw: Watson, two or three Wheeler’s, Wadsworth, Lovejoy, Warner, Bradner, Houck, Bushnell, Phelps, Bassett, &c.
Cross examined. – When Lowe read the warrant from the steps over two-thirds of the crowd were farther away from Lowe than witness was; and witness could not hear Lowe read that paper; witness don’t know that there was any public notice that the warrant was to be read.
Isaac Bennett sworn. Am Justice of the Peace at Wellington and was in Sept. last; was present on the 13th when the rescue was; think there were a thousand or more people there; the most part of the gathering was on account of a fire that had occurred that morning; (witness gave the detail of the doings of the crowd, very much as other witnesses did), witness went up [……] and Lowe said that if witness would go down and tell the people so, he, Lowe, would go to the town house and show his papers; witness went out on the balcony and asked the crowd to hear him; a colored man with a gun, right below, said, bring out the man, we will have the man; the crowd did not seem disposed to hear witness; a ladder was put up and witness held the ladder to prevent people coming up; no one came up that ladder and it was taken down as witness thinks; guns were pointed at witness; witness saw what was said to be a warrant issued by a commissioner at Columbus and also a power of attorney; witness stated to some of the crowd that they had a warrant for John and that it was legal as witness thought (we omit much of the testimony being a repetition of the scene at Wellington.)
Adjourned to 9 o’clock.