The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, April 9, 1859
The Rescue Case.
Fifth Day – Morning Session.
Court opened at nine o’clock. The examination of the defence continued.
Prof. H.E. Peck sworn, was at Oberlin on the 13th of September, 1858. Did not meet Mr. Bushnell on the afternoon of that day near the steps of Mr. Fitch’s book store; heard no enquiry anywhere on that day from Mr. Bushnell whether witness had got the boy John.
[Prof. Peck recapitulated the conversation alleged by the witness Bartholomew to have taken place between Bushnell, Peck, Plumb, and others on the street at Oberlin, and gave a flat denial to the whole story. Witness then proceeded to describe the boy John as being very black, a full-blooded negro, five feet eight or ten inches high, and giving other points of description; when in health, John would probably weigh 150 pounds; broad shouldered.]
Cross examined – Attention of witness was called to John in the spring previous to his being carried off; John was then unemployed and was sick; saw him nearly every day as witnessed passed to his farm; did not see him after September 13th; never knew when he left except by common rumor.
Some close arguing took place between the counsel on the opposite sides as to the right of the prosecution to propound certain questions to the witness under cover of cross-examination.
Witness could not say whether he saw John on the 13th of September or not. Could not say to two or three days when he saw him last; witness saw Mr. Bushnell in Oberlin on Sept. 13th, in a room over Mr. Ells’ store: Mr. Ralph Plumb, Samuel Plumb and J.M. Fitch were present; two students were in the room at some part of the time, and also some other person whose name witness could not remember; this was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon; the room overlooks College street; the windows were closed and dirty. The gentlemen named were in the room about an hour; met some parties previous to this in front of Fitch’s store: Mr. Bushnell was not there; there was no crowd; the time was about a quarter after two; there was some excitement in Oberlin at the time but it was mostly in and about Mr. Watson’s store, about fifteen rods from Mr. Fitch’s store; should remember distinctly any conversation or remarks made by witness at that time in reference to a violation of the Fugitive Slave Law; about five minutes after two walked down towards Carpenter’s store; met Plumb in front of Carpenter’s store; Mr. Bartholomew was close to them; his action was evidently that of an eavesdropper; he was about four feet from witness, stood in this position about sixty to eighty seconds, witness and Mr. Samuel Plumb went to Mr. Goodrich’s corner where he met Mr. Fitch, that gentleman expressed some indignation at what had occurred; did not remember seeing Mr. Bartholomew since he was in front of Mr. Carpenter’s store; frequently noticed John, and frequently remarked his height and his gait; his appearance was such that witness could not help but notice him as he loitered and walked about sot that witness asked what was the matter of him and was informed as to what ailed John and affected his gait.
Ralph Plumb, sworn: - Resident at Oberlin; was at Oberlin 13th Sept. last; heard Bartholomew’s testimony in this case and remembers it; recollect what Bartholomew said as to a conversation near Fitch’s book store; Bartholomew testified that witness, Fitch and Peck were on Fitch’s bookstore steps, and that he, Bartholomew was present; that defendant came up and said that he, Bartholomew said to some of us in presence of defendant that they had got John and defendant asked what had best be done about it, and that some one of us replied to defendant “to go and get them ready,” and we would “tell what was best to be done.” No such conversation took place in presence of witness; did not heed Mr. Bushnell there at that time; he was not there nor was Bartholomew there; witness ought to be able to state something about John being one of those indicted for rescuing him; but must say witness never saw John.
Cross Examination. – Know Bushnell was not in Fitch’s store; have a clear recollection of the persons present, but Mr. Bushnell was not there.
James M. Fitch sworn – Reside at Oberlin; owns the book store; was at home Sept. 13th; heard Bartholomew’s testimony; Mr. Bushnell was not present at that time spoken of in Bartholomew’s testimony: Bushnell had left the store before that time; no such conversation took place in my presence as was given by Bartholomew; did not see Bartholomew.
Cross Examination – Bushnell, the defendant, was not in the store; William Bushnell, another clerk, was in there; is one of the indicted.
J.H. Dickson, sworn – Lives at Wellington; is a lawyer; was there September 13th; a great many people came in the forenoon – two or three hundred – attracted by the fire, and they were there at noon; about one o’clock was trying a law suit and some one came in and said a negro had been kidnapped; the men who had the negro wished to see witness, so said the constable, and he went over where the negro was at about two o’clock; on my way to the hotel, the same fire crowd was there still; Lowe showed the witness his warrant; there was no seal on the warrant, and Lowe said it was customary to have a seal; asked what they would like for the negro, and said $1,400; witness was not posted on the price of negroes, but said he thought John would not bring that in Kentucky; the reply was that they thought they knew better, on e of them said they had better take twelve hundred. [Witness pointed out Jennings as the man who fixed the price on the negro.] Jennings showed no authority for selling the negro; there was no power of attorney exhibited by virtue of which they claimed the negro; think the crowd was not over four or five hundred; not acting in concert but acting each on his own hook; seemed to have no common purpose; at least three hundred people came there on a account of the fire; don’t remember of seeing a gun in any one’s hands but the colored men; there were not more than 20 guns; it was said at the time that the guns were not loaded; one fellow said his was not loaded; did not see Bushnell.
Cross Examined: - Had the idea that Jennings was the owner of the slave; Jennings exhibited no power of attorney; he exhibited no paper at all; none of the crowd came into the room while witness was there.
James L. Patton, sworn: - Is a student at Oberlin; was there on the 13th Sept.; heard in the crowd that the slave-catchers were there and had taken a negro; that a man had been decoyed and caught by persons who had been lying in wait; the rumor for some days was that men were there lying in wait for negroes; that was what brought myself and others together: witness went to Wellington because he heard that John had been decoyed and taken away; at Wellington went into the garret about four o’clock, where the parties were;
Lowe took witness into a small room, and told witness that he, Lowe, had telegraphed to Cleveland, and troops would be there on the 4 o’clock train; that he had papers and they were all right, and showed witness the warrant; Lowe asked witness to go down and tell the crowd that he, Lowe, had a warrant which he had to return to Columbus; wished witness to state to the crowd that they might choose a committee and send with him to Columbus, to see that John had a fair trial; witness stated to the crowd what Lowe had said, getting up on the steps to do so; stated that the warrant seemed legal, and if they wished to proceed according to law, they must send to Elyria for writ of Habeas Corpus; this was before the train from Cleveland was due; nothing was mentioned by Lowe but the warrant; nothing else shown; nothing was said about a Power of Attorney; heard nothing about it until this trial.
Adjourned until 10 o’clock Monday morning.