Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- January 31, 1879.... A. C. Hesing ....
[Translator's note: For details about this case see the Chicago court records. Several items of more or less significance in the life of A. C. Hesing, prominent Chicago German-American, may be of interest and have been translated. The court records which give an exhaustive account, involve the bankruptcy proceedings of the Germania Insurance Company.]
A. C. Hesing is called [to the witness stand]. He is the president of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung Company [a publishing company], and at present is engaged in forming a mining company in the Globe District, central Arizona [Translator's note: the property comprises twenty mines and a reduction mill; silver is to be mined.] Mr. Hesing has lived in Chicago since 1854, with the exception of two years during which he was in Lake County, near Waukegan, where he operated a brick manufacturing plant; in 1857 or 1858 he was deputy sheriff, and in 1860 he was elected sheriff of Cook County; in 1862 he bought 2shares in the Illinois Staats-Zeitung. He has taken a profound and active interest in politics since he has been in the city; he helped to organize the Republican party; he has known Mr. Blodgett since 1855 and supported Blodgett's candidacy....and when Blodgett wanted to be judge, Hesing wrote a personal letter to President Grant and procured signatures from prominent Germans and others.
Hesing's connection with the Germania Insurance Company was of importance. He founded the Company, obtained its charter, and owned most of the shares. The Company became bankrupt after the [Chicago] Fire; he owed the Company fifteen thousand dollars on two notes which were secured by 170 bonds of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung. Hesing was connected with the nomination of Vocke as receiver: firstly, because he [Vocke] was a German and most stockholders of the Insurance Company, as well as the policyholders, were Germans, almost without exception; and, secondly, Hesing desired to have a friend in the receiver's office.3
Hesing's Cross Examination
[Goudy]: "Were you ever accused Mr. Hesing?"
Goudy: "What for?"
Hesing: "For an alleged conspiracy to defraud the Government."
Goudy: "Did the case go to trial; did you have a trial?"
Goudy: "Did you plead guilty?"
Hesing: "Yes, because...."4
Goudy: "Answer only--confine yourself to my question...."
Goudy: "Blodgett convicted you?"
Hesing: "Yes, to two years in the county jail--a verdict which President Grant considered atrocious and decreased to a total of three months."
Goudy now read parts of the Munn process where Hesing made statements about his [Hesing's] connection with the whiskey ring, and the money he [Hesing] had received from H. B. Mueller, Rehm, Powell, Juessen, etc. [Hesing claims to have been convicted on a technicality: He never handled a barrel of whiskey in his life; he was only a silent partner.] [Other items about Hesing were brought forth.] Facts about Vocke's appointment [as receiver of the bankrupt Germania Insurance Company, and as a personal friend of Hesing] were obtained.....
Hesing: "I explained my financial position to Judge Blodgett at a private conference, and there I told him that when I went to Europe I had 5a net income of thirty to thirty-five thousand dollars unencumbered by debts; that everything I owned was turned into ashes with the exception of the large sawmill, which is bankrupt and which is mortgaged for $250,000. I possess only the bonds which are now in the hands of the receiver, and I implored the judge [Blodgett] to help me protect these securities, so that they would not be disposed of at a public sale. He asked me how high the debt was and I replied, '$15,000 and $5,000 in accrued interest.' I told him that the newspaper was almost as dear to me as my own child; that I helped develope the publication until it became the leading German paper of the Northwest; and I reminded him that I was always a staunch party member [Republican]. The judge said, 'you obtained Vocke's appointment and are on a friendly footing,' to which I assented. 'Well then,' suggested the judge, 'let Vocke obtain some offers on the stock, and you can arrange it so that they are not too high.'"
Cooper: "And you did that?"6
Hesing: "Since 'squealing' has been considered honorable by Judge Blodgett and the Government officials, I may as well tell all. Of course I saw to it. Banker [Henry] Greenebaum was my friend....he offered $5,000 as I suggested. He obtained the bonds and I gave a note for them, and he kept both for security."
Hermann Raster, editor in chief of Illinois Staats-Zeitung since 1874, revealed [in his testimony] that the property of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung in 1874 consisted in the main of its good name, the building, 40 by 150 feet, and 100 feet high, built of brick with a facade of artificial stone, and the cost was $225,000, including the ground. "Its location is the second best in the city, and the site will be of first rank when the courthouse is completed. The debts at the time consisted of a $75,000 mortgage. The paper is larger than any German newspaper west of the Alleghenies. Membership in the Associated Press is worth $25,000....." He considers the name of the paper to be worth $200,000. Mr. Raster also said that on the day after the Fire the paper had nothing except its good name, and on the strength of this, the paper erected a large building, large machinery etc....7
Court was adjourned until 1:45 P.M.
The next witness was Mr. Greenebaum. He was in the banking business and had followed that activity in 1874; he was the president of the German National Bank, and the German Savings Bank at that time; he was a member of the house of H. Greenebaum and Company and knew Hesing for twenty years......He appraised the property of Illinois Staats-Zeitung at at least $180,000, at which time it was encumbered by a mortgage of $75,000; he knew that the newspaper paid dividends prior to that time.....He further said that the Illinois Staats-Zeitung was then worth about $150,000 with enough debts to give one a headache. He could not recall definitely whether he declared that the dividends of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung were equivalent to a capital of $400,000 at the rate of twenty per cent. As far as he knew, the bankruptcy procedures were over; the last installment to the creditors was not paid yet; and only one of the eight hundred creditors objected.....
[Other witnesses followed.]8
[Translator's note: A compilation of A. C. Hesing's endeavors comprised the following diverse activities: politician, sheriff, co-founder of the Republican party in Illinois, newspaper owner, sawmill owner, brick manufacturer, silent partner of a whiskey distillery, insurance company organizer, and a mining and ore-reduction plant promoter.]
II E 2, IV, I D 1 a, I F 5, I F 6, II A 2, II B 2 d 1, II D 2, IV
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