The Life and

Trial

of

Frank James

 

Chapter 6

The sixth day of the trial:

Sam T. Brosius testified: I live at Gallatin; have lived here for the last two years. I am a lawyer by profession. I was on the train that was robbed at Winston. We were about on time at Winston. There was a commotion on the front platform of our car, and two men commenced firing, as I thought at the time, directly through the car. As the two men came in they called out, "hold up" or "show up," and I looked squarely into the face of the smaller of the two men to see that he noticed me; I held up my hands. As soon as the shooting commenced I saw that the conductor was hit. The two men continued to advance through the car till the larger of the two came up and nearly passed, when the conductor commenced sinking. He caught him, and the other man then came up on the other side. They hustled the conductor out on the platform, then came back, and passed me again, going out at the front end of the car. There was firing on the outside after they passed out. The larger man was full-faced, with beard all over his face, and would weigh 180 to 200 pounds. He was perhaps a full half-head taller than the conductor. I do not think the defendant is the man.

Cross-examined: Think I was erect a full half minute of the time during which the men were in the car. I noticed that the bullets all hit in the ceiling. The big man did not have on a duster. I could not swear to a stitch of clothing that either of the two men had on. The smaller man was dark-complexioned and had whiskers three or four inches long. Plenty of people have heard me tell about what I saw. They would tell me I was too scared to notice anything, and I would assent to that to avoid further inquiry. I don't remember telling parties who came to me after the robbery for a description of the robbers that I could not describe them. Believe I told somebody that the muzzle of the robber's revolver looked pretty large and that I thought it was an eight-inch navy revolver. I did not tell Mr. T. B. Gates, the day after the robbery, that I could not recognize either of the men, and that I was under the seat. I don't believe I could recognize either of the robbers right now if he was brought into the court and placed before me. If any citizen ever said that I told him that I was under the seat, he lied.

Re-direct: I don't remember a conversation with Mr. Eli Dennis in which I stated that the shooting was done so quick and there was such confusion that I couldn't tell how the men looked or anything about it. I don't remember telling Mr. Robert L. Tomlin on the first of August after the robbery, that one of the robbers looked as though he was fifteen feet high, and that I was so excited I couldn't tell how the men looked at all. If I had such a conversation I made the statements to avoid inquiry, as so many people were asking me about it. I did not tell my law partner, Mr. Gillingham, in the presence of C. L. Ewing and A. Ballinger, that I was so badly excited I could not remember anything as to how these men looked. When I described them before it was as I did to-day--that they both had whiskers all over their faces.

Re-cross-examination: I am certain the defendant is not one of the men I saw on the train.

Re-direct: I went to Nashville with the following note from the defendant: Mr. Brosius, go to see Mr. Clint. Cantwell by all means. He lives in sight of the Jeff Hyde property. Remember me kindly to all the family. Respectfully, (Signed) B. J. WOODSON May 3, 1883. I did not go to Nashville to get testimony to support an alibi. Did not see the accused until three weeks after my return. I am not interested in this trial. If the defendant is guilty I want him punished.

Fletcher W. Horn testified: Live in Nashville, Tenn. I am now connected with the detective force of that city. I know B. J. Woodson. I believe I got acquainted with him in 1877. I first formed his acquaintance in the summer of 1877, and last saw him in March, 1881. He resided most of the time in the White's Creek settlement. He was either farming or hauling logs for the Indiana Lumber Company. Then I saw him as often as once a week. Saw him last in Nashville, about the 26th of March, the time that Bill Ryan was arrested. When I knew him he wore sandy whiskers, short on the sides, and fuller on the chin, say four or five inches long. He was a hard-working man, who conducted himself as a gentleman. His associates were men of standing and position. I have seen Dick Liddell there in 1879 or 1880. I knew him as Smith. Met him in Bosse's saloon at Nashville. Never saw Liddell and the defendant together. The next time I was introduced to him by Squire Adams, on the corner of Dedrick and Cherry streets, as Dick Liddell. This was after be had been in Alabama. I knew Jesse James as J. B. Howard. Remember his buying a blooded horse in partnership with Taylor, the blacksmith. Afterward be bought the horse "Jim Malone." He owned the horse "Jim Scott." In 1877 I saw Howard and Woodson together once or twice in the pool-room. Believe I knew Jim Cummings, but am not positive. Did not know the Hites. Never saw B. J. Woodson in company with Liddell or Cummings. Never saw Liddell and defendant together. I saw very little of Liddell, and that only by accident. Was subpoenaed here for the State. Was present in June on transportation furnished me by Squire Earthman.

Cross-examined: Did not know Woodson and Howard were the James Brothers, or I would have tried to take them. As far as I know, Dick Liddell deported himself well while in Nashville. The defendant has since alluded to me as a "Falstaff." Never saw any of the men I have spoken of in Nashville. After the arrest of Bill Ryan, I went with Mr. Sloan to Mrs. Hite's, and sat round while he asked questions. Mr. Sloan professed at that time to be attorney for Frank James. I wrote a letter to Thomas Furlong, in St. Louis, asking transportation for Mr. Sloan as a witness for the State; also for Mr. Moffatt, Wm. Earthman, Mrs. Hite and myself. I made this request for transportation for Mr. Sloan after I knew he was attorney for the accused. Mr. Sloan did not request me to get him transportation.

Re-direct: The letter is dated July 29, 1883. As far as I saw, Liddell conducted himself as a gentleman, though I didn't see him as frequently as I did the defendant.

Raymond B. Sloan testified: Am an attorney-at law. I live in Nashville. I knew the defendant by the name of Woodson some time during the winter of 1876-77. That winter I discovered he was living in the old Felix Smith house, that had never had a light in it since the war. I have crossed the ferry with him, and seen him driving a four horse team or sometimes mules. I had no intimate personal acquaintance with him. I last saw him in Nashville, March 26, 1881. Once that day I saw him at Jonas Taylor's blacksmith shop, and then again near the Louisville depot. He had light sandy whiskers all over his face, short on cheeks and longer on the chin, and a mustache. I don't think he showed evidence of shaving any part of his face. He was dressed in a light-colored coat, rawhide boots, pants within his boots, and a soft black Derby hat. I remember seeing the defendant after that. I once was a witness in the various continuances and hearings of an assault and battery case. I never missed him after March 26, 1881.

Cross-examined: I remember telling you in the Max--. Nashville, that I thought I was the last man in Nashville who had seen Frank James. That I saw him on horseback shaking hands with a man, and saying, "Good-bye. I may never see you again." I did not know that from February 5 to March 26, 1881, Woodson or James was not doing anything or that he was living in Nashville with Jesse James. I went up to Mrs. Hite's as attorney for Frank James, and reduced her statement to writing. I knew Horn was a witness for the State. Mrs. Hite didn't sign it; and Horn signed a statement that she acknowledged it to be true. I took Horn along, because I considered it would save me a trip to Gallatin if he came here. He could contradict Mrs. Hite if she made a contrary statement. I remember telling you at the Maxwell that perhaps you had better see a man named Sullivan, who pretended to know a great deal about this matter. I was Frank James' attorney at the time. I remember observing to you that the papers said I was Frank James' legal attorney before I knew it myself.

Re-direct: I was engaged as the defendant's local attorney August 8, and saw Mrs. Hite on August 13. Think I saw Mr. Wallace at the Maxwell a day or two after, say about August 17.

Miss Missouri Montgomery testified: I live a mile and a half east of Winston. Am a daughter of the last witness. I remember the night of the Winston robbery, and remember two parties coming to our house that evening about six o'clock on horseback. They remained there half an hour, I suppose, and got their suppers at the end of the house in the open air. I don't think I saw the defendant there. I wouldn't say positively. I don't think he resembles either of them in the least.

Cross-examined: The older of the two, had whiskers all over his face of a brown color. He was a rather heavy set man, and wore dark brown clothes. I never saw Jesse James. The other man was tall and very slim; had light hair and no whiskers, except a little on each side. Neither of them had a large blaze-faced sorrel horse.

John L. Dean testified: Am a farmer, and live seven miles southwest of here. I know Jonas Potts. I remember a conversation with him at his shop November 20, 1882. He said he had been to Independence to see Frank James, and that he had never seen him before. I remember on another day that two men came up to Potts' shop in a carriage and wanted to get a neck-yoke fixed, and that Potts left the shop, and when he came back was somewhat excited and said they were the men he had shod horses for before the Winston robbery. The larger of the two men was a low, heavy-set, dark-complexioned man. with heavy whiskers. The other was about my size, with fair complexion and no beard at all.

Cross-examined: I told Mr. Rush what I knew about this matter. I don't remember talking to Mr. Rush about this case at Winston in April or May last. I don't think Potts was in liquor when I talked to him.

Marion Duncan testified: I am a farmer and live about three and a half miles southeast of Winston. I know Jonas Potts. I remember conversing with him about Jesse James along in the fore-part of the winter of 1882-3. I don't remember any conversation with him before that. Remember Potts' saying to me that Jesse James was at his shop: that he had seen his picture at Winston, and he was the very man he had shod a horse for.

Cross-examined: Mr. Potts had been to town that evening and was pretty boozy in that conversation.

Gus A. Chapman testified: Know Mr. Potts. I remember him saying to me after his return from Gallatin Jail, where he had seen the defendant, that he didn't know if he had ever seen him before and could not tell.

Wm. E. Ray testified: I know Frank Wolfenberger. I saw him in -- James had been brought here. Did not hear him. I think he would be able to recognize him.  The defense offered in evidence the record of the trial and conviction of Dick Liddell for horse-stealing in Vernon County in 1874, Which after objection was admitted to be read to the jury. Recess till 1:30 p. m.

General ShelbyJoseph O. Shelby, usually alluded to as "Gen. Joe Shelby," was the first witness called after recess.

He testified as follows: By Mr. Phillips: I have for .thirty-four years resided in Lafayette County. I live nine miles from Lexington and nearer Page City. I remember Jesse James, Dick Liddell, Bill Ryan and Jim Cummings coming to my place in November, 1880. I was spreading hemp at the time, working some twelve or fifteen men, and when I returned home that evening I found four men with horses in my yard. Jesse James was there. Young Cummings I knew before, and this man Liddell passed as Mr. Black at that time. In the morning I had a conversation with Jesse James in the presence of Dick Liddell, in which I said that a couple of young men had been arrested for supposed complicity with the alleged bank robbery at Concordia, and that I didn't think they had anything to do with. it; and I asked Jesse James if he knew anything about that affair to tell me, and he said, pointing to Dick Liddell, "There is the man that hit the Dutch Cashier over the head." I remember in the month of November, 1881, meeting Liddell and Jesse James in my lane, and when I asked Jesse who was ahead of them he replied, Jim Cummings and Hite. I remember meeting Jesse James and Liddell again in the fall of 1881, and of asking. Jesse where Frank was, and of his announcement that Frank's health was such that he had been South for years, and that when I asked the same question of Liddell he announced that he had not seen him for two years. I reckon I know Cummings better than any man except the Fords and his own people. I knew him in the army and since the war. He has been at my house a dozen times. He was with me in the Confederate army. I have not seen Frank James since 1872. I believe he sits right there now. With the permission of the Court can I be tolerated to shake hands with an old soldier?

The Court. No, sir, not now.

Witness. I did not see him in jail. I have not seen him since 1872. I am correct about it, sir, when I say that the four parties to whom I have alluded by name did not include Frank James, who was not with them. With regard to the arrival of Mrs. Frank James at Page City in the spring of 1881, I have this to say. It seems a lady arrived at Page City. I cannot talk dates, like any other farmer, and Mrs. Scott, a widow woman, whose husband was Captain of the 3d Louisiana, and who died at Wilson's Creek, sent her son over for me, and stated there was a lady there who wanted to see me. I went at once. Mrs. James said to me: "I am in distress. This man Liddell and others are committing depredations in the South, and they are holding my husband amenable for it, as he has been charged with being connected with them. I have come over on purpose to ask you to intercede with the Governor." I told her there was no necessity for that, and no hope of success. I told her further that Governor Woodson had talked to me at the Planters' House. For Hardin I had no respect at all. She wanted me to interfere in her husband's behalf with the Governor. I told her it was folly to do so, and advised her to go home to her father. I think I remained half an hour talking to her. She remained at Mrs. Scott's all night. She didn't stop at my house. She could have stopped there if she had desired. As to the sewing machine, I don't know what time the sewing-machine arrived there. She simply gave Mr. Birch, the agent at the depot, directions for shipping it, and I don't know where she directed it to be shipped at all. I was only assisting a woman in distress, and if she had been Dennison's wife, the most obnoxious man in the country ----"

Here the Court stopped the witness short with a severe reprimand. The fact was, and it was rapidly becoming apparent to everybody in the court-room, that Mr. Shelby was drunk. A sample of this testimony will be given verbatim a little further on.

Continuing, the witness said: Mrs. James left orders with the agent for the shipment of the sewing-machine. She was a lone woman, with a little child, and crying, and any man who would have faltered in giving suggestion or aid ought to he ashamed of himself. I had known Frank James since 1862. I know him now, the first time I have seen him for twelve years. I got acquainted with him in our army.

Cross-examined--By Mr. Wallace: This sewing-machine you didn't see at all?

"Nobody knows better than yourself that I didn't see it."

The Court: Answer the question in a straightforward manner.

Witness: I did not.

"You didn't have anything to do with it at all?"

"Nothing in the world."

"Sir, you are just as sure of that as you are of anything else?"

"Yes, and I am just as sure of anything else."

To the Court: "I would like to know if the Judge is going to permit a lawyer to insult an unarmed man, who is a witness in this case?"

The Court: Every witness comes in here unarmed, sir.

By Mr. Wallace: What are your initials?

"If you are desirous of knowing, go to this bank here and you will find out."

The Court: Answer his question.

Witness: Joe 0. Shelby is my name.

"Then your initials would be J. 0. S."

"Go to the banks in this town and you will find it Joe 0. S."

"Look at the way-bill and see if that has ' J. 0. S.' as the consignor of that sewing-machine? There may be a great many J. 0. S.'s, who in that section have those initials beside you."

"You had better go and inquire."

The Court: I won't have any more nonsense of that kind. You will have to answer questions as they are put.

Witness (to Court): You are not protecting me at all.

Mr. Phillips: I simply suggest to the Court that under the circumstances this examination had perhaps better be deferred.

Witness: Not at all. Better let it go on. Now is the time for it to go on.

The Court (to witness): "General Shelby, you are a man that I respect and a man with a State-wide reputation as a gentleman. We did not expect such demeanor in this court-room. I must admonish you that I cannot permit this to go on any further."

Witness: "I want to know from the Court, if, after having said what he (Mr. Wallace) has, he is to charge me with receiving a bill of lading as J. O. S."

To this there was no reply.

Mr. Wallace: "I ask you if when Mrs. Frank James came there with a sewing-machine to be shipped to Mrs. B. J. Woodson, you did not yourself become the consignor and ship it thence to Independence for the purpose of keeping any one else from getting track of it?"

"No, sir, I did not:"

"I ask you if this ' J. O. S.' doesn't indicate that?"

"No, sir, not at all. She arrived there as I related. I gave her a note to Mr. Russell, agent of the Missouri Pacific at Independence, to take it and send her up to Independence." But it would be wearisome to follow the witness word for word.

He testified further: I saw Dick Liddell. I was not brought into court to see if he was the man; neither you nor anybody else can bring me in anywhere. Nobody knows better than yourself that I was not brought in to look at Mr. Liddell. The man I saw was Mr. Black, alias Liddell, the thief.

The Court: I want no more epithets of that kind in the court-room

Witness: Very good, Judge. He has forced it on me. If I am guilty of a misdemeanor, correct me or punish me for it.

The Court: I shall do it.

Mr. Wallace: You saw Liddell down at Capt. Ballinger's house, afterwards, didn't you?

"You don't propose to invade the household of Capt. Ballinger, a soldier of the Federal army?"

"It is very wrong for a rebel soldier to make remarks about what occurred in a Federal soldier's home?"

Mr. Wallace: The war is over.

Witness: I don't like to allude to a visit to a gentleman's home That is indelicate and improper.

"Did you see Liddell there?"

"I did, sir. I saw him like a viper, curled up in a rocking-chair."

"You saw him again at the hotel the other night, or was that a drummer that you took for him?"

"No, sir; by no means."

"Were you not about to kill the drummer, thinking he was Dick Liddell?"

"I have lived thirty-four years in this State and never killed anybody."

"Answer the question."

"I was not."

"This gentleman was seated at the table opposite to me, and he dropped his knife and fork and looked at me. I have his card in my pocket. He is a Michigan man, not one of your people at all, but a better man than yourself for instance. He was staring at me. I am not in the habit of staring at men on the street, especially ladies anyway, and I must have made some casual remark about it."

"Did you get your pistol out?"

"No, sir!"

"Didn't the Marshal of Lexington see you draw your pistol?"

"No, sir; he is a liar, or anybody else, if he says so."

The Court. I want no more such remarks as that, Gen. Shelby, or I will fine you $50. In this way the testimony proceeded.

Witness testified that Dick Liddell had partaken of his meals, and fed his corn to Liddell's horse. That was in 1880, and Jesse James was with him and Cummings and Ryan. Did not know that Jesse James was wanted by the officers. Knew it was asserted that he had been guilty of misdemeanors. Never told any officers where they could find him, but did once notify the Chicago and Alton and Missouri Pacific people that if they were under the apprehension that George Sheppard had killed him they were being misled; and that he was not dead. "The last time Jesse was at my house was at Page City, in the fall of 1881, where I saw Frank James in 1872, which is the last time I saw him. He was bleeding at the lungs, and Dr. Orear was attending him. I don't know that he was an outlaw then, or that he is one to-day. I don't know that he was then fleeing from the officers. He was at my house some sixty or eighty days that time, and everybody knew it. When the four men came to my house, as I have already stated, I told them I could only accommodate two of them for the night. Bill Ryan and Jesse James stayed all night with me. The others stopped with a man from Illinois named Graham, who had been in the Federal army. I am certain that Ryan was not pointed out to me as the man who hit the Dutch cashier over the head."

As witness started to leave the court room he asked permission to go over and shake hands with the defendant.

This the Court refused, saying "You can call on him some other time."

Whereupon Shelby nodded to the accused as be walked out, and said: "God bless you, old fellow."

 

 

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 1

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 2

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 3

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 4

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 5

Go to Chapter 7 - testimony of Zerelda Samuel and Frank James


 

 


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