[June 22, 1886]
ANARCHIST PARSONS WALKS CALMLY INTO JUDGE GARY’S COURT.
Consternation at His Appearance—He Won’t Say Where He Has Been – Pleading Not Guilty. He Takes His Place with the Other Prisoners—Progress of the Trial—No Jurors Secured Thus Far in the Proceedings.
“Parsons has come into court!” was the announcement that set every one about the Criminal Court Building and police headquarters agape yesterday afternoon. A few moments before 2 o’clock Gerhard Lizius, a former reporter for the Arbeiter-Zeitung, and known to everybody from his arrest in connection with the Socialist agitation, stepped up to hansom cab No. 182 at the corner of Randolph and Clark streets and told the driver to take him to the corner of Morgan and Randolph streets. Arrived there, he told the cabby to draw up in front of the third house south of Randolph, on Morgan, and to head his horse toward the former street. This done, he carefully pulled down the curtains of the cab and then stepped into the house. After a lapse of ten minutes Mrs. Parsons came out, inquired if the cab would carry three, and took a seat in it. Next followed the Anarchist editor himself, who walked down the steps and across the sidewalk holding a handkerchief to his face in order to conceal his features. The reporter then seated himself between them, and the driver was ordered to go to the Criminal Court Building.
Mr. Black, the attorney for the defense, was stalking up and down the sidewalk in the sun in front of the Michigan street entrance when the cab pulled up. Parsons jumped out after Lizius, and the attorney and the much-sought editor walked into the building together. Parsons himself is decidedly tanned, as if from exposure, and looks as if he had gained a trifle in flesh since he parted from Brom at the Milwaukee avenue viaduct the night of the explosion.
“O, I’ve been out West to a watering-place,” he said to a reporter after he had sat in the court-room an hour or two. “No, it wasn’t the Hot Springs of Arkansas, and you couldn’t guess where it is. Never mind where I’ve been, for I won’t tell you, and I don’t think you can find out.”
Mrs. Parsons took one of the side seats in the court-room after her husband’s arraignment and sat smilingly watching the proceedings. When questioned about Parsons’ movements since May 4 she replied: “I can’t tell you. If you want to find out for certain go ask the detectives. They probably know all about it. O, yes, he’s been more than 500 miles from Chicago, and so thoroughly disguised that his own mother wouldn’t know him.”
Mr. Black said to a reporter, while his colleague Foster engaged the attention of the court, that the defense would make no detailed statement of Parsons’ movements since the riot. “All we have to say is that he’s been outside of Cook County all the time, and has been perfectly safe. He came into town at 7 o’clock this morning and passed the forenoon visiting his family. Then he came here. We knew that he could not be apprehended until we were ready, and we did not care to subject any more of our clients to the brutal handling of the police.”
Rumor has it that the Parsons watering-place was a back township ranch in Kansas. His counsel having come to the conclusion that it was best for him to appear and stand trial, his wife wrote him last week and every effort was made to surround his return with as much mystery as possible.
When Parsons marched into the court-room and stood in front of the Judge there was considerable stir and craning of necks. He was quickly recognized, and many in the room rose to their feet. State’s Attorney Grinnell arose quickly and called the attention of the court to the presence of Parsons, and asked that he placed in the custody of the Sheriff. Mr. Black said he thought it very discourteous in Mr. Grinnell to make such a motion when he saw the man in his care.
“Mr. Grinnell,” he said, “made a poor apology for a leader of dramatics, and his effort fails of its purpose.”
Black then formally surrendered Parsons to the court, saying he desired to stand trial with the others. He was conscious of his innocence and desired to be heard along with the others. A plea of not guilty was entered for him and the court ordered the same motions entered of record as had been made in the case of the other prisoners. He too a seat with the other prisoners, after shaking hands vigorously with Spies, Schwab, and Fielden, all of whom greeted him warmly. He seemed in the very best of spirits, and bowed politely to the reporters whom he knew.
“Parsons drove up in an open barouche to the south door of the Criminal Court at 2 o’clock by a previous appointment with me,” said Mr. Black.
“You have known where he was for some time then? When did you make the appointment with him?”
“I ought not to say when I made the appointment with him.”
“Two weeks ago?”
“No, I haven’t known where he was as long as that.”
Capt. Schaack said he knew several days ago that Parsons was in the city, for he had been seen last Saturday walking on the sidewalk at the corner of Huron street and Dearborn Avenue.
Parsons was very ill at ease when he came into the court-room, and trembled so that he was forced to cling to Mr. Black’s arm for support.
A call was made in the evening at the house were cabman No. 182 took up the Anarchist and his wife. It is a building of six flats, but no one could be found about who would acknowledge having seen Parsons. Immediately after the riot, when the police were looking for Parsons, they were informed that he and his wife were in the habit of calling upon a widow named Gorschaber, who lived in the upper front flat of this same building. Thursday, May 6, a descent was made upon the place, but no one except Mr. Malkoff, a reporter for the Arbeiter-Zeitung, was found in Mrs. Gorschaber’s rooms. He was taken to police headquarters, but as he had been arrested the day before and released he was allowed to depart again. Mrs. Gorschaber could not be found last night. It is said she has been intimate with the Anarchist leaders, and for that reason her house was chosen for the meeting between Parsons and his wife.
There is a theory among the knowing ones that Parsons has been at Fort Smith, Ark., ever since he left this city. It is even said the police had traced him to that locality, and found that he was stopping out in the country at a distance of some fifty or sixty miles from the town. The authorities at that point were notified, but did not wish to take any steps to verify the information of the Chicago officers unless they were certain that all expense as well as the reward, if there was any, would be promptly paid. They accordingly took no steps in the matter, but wrote back here asking what could be done. State’s Attorney Grinnell at once said that he would pay all expense and do the right thing by the Arkansas officers. The officers here notified the Sheriff at Fort Smith of this decision about two weeks ago; but, as no answer has been received there is great probability that the blundering search of the Southern Sheriff warned the Anarchist that he had been located.
A.R. Parsons was put into cell No. 106 with August Spies, the latter having been alone since Neebe got out on bail. Parsons and Spies spent last night until 10 o’clock talking and laughing heartily with each other. Parsons told Spies with a great deal of merriment on his part that he outwitted the police nicely. They thought to get hi at close range in one of their little sweat-box cells and “dog, and worry, and annoy” him, but they didn’t do it. This narrative of Parsons’ cleverness including the worrying police was taken by himself and his cell-mate as the jolliest and most laughable thing they had heard since they were born, and the walls of the cell echoed with their boisterous laughter at the trickiness of Parsons, the “sly one.”