“A Whisky Anarchist” (Cleveland, OH, 1887)


A Young Man Excites People by Calling for Nitro-Glycerine to Make Bombs With.

George A. Schroeder, who keeps a drug store at No. 423 St. Clair Street, telephoned the central police station about 7 o’clock saying that a man had just entered his place and asked for nitro-glycerine. He asked the druggist if he knew how to make a fuse, to which the latter replied that he did not. Then the fellow said that four ofhis brethren had been hanged in Chicago yesterday and he meant to avenge their death, for which he would be vindicated by the newspapers.

“I am an anarchist,” said he.

He had a bundle of cotton batting under his arm with which he said he was going to make the bombs. He was given 10 cents worth of oil of vitrol. Some of this he poured over the batting, burning the paper which was wrapped around it. He then walked down St. Clair street.

The central police station notified the second precinct station, to look out for the man. About fifteen minutes after he had left someone told Officer McCabe of the affair. He went down St. Clair street and found the anarchist in Flandermeyer’s drug store, corner Muirson and St. Clair. There he had renewed his application for nitro-glycerine and scared the folks half out of their wits. The officer searched him and found a bottle of whisky and the cotton batting saturated with vitrol. The man was well under the influence ofliquor. He was taken to the second precinct police station, where he fervently declared himself to be a brother of August Spies, though he said his name is Harry Stephens and afterwards said it was Harry Loomis. As soon as he began to sober. up he denied that he was related to August Spies but said that he was acquainted with him. Then he said that he left Chicago five weeks ago. He claimed that he was only, humbugging on the streets and asked for glycerine for his hands and not nitro-glycerine. He was locked-up on the charge of intoxication. He is a good-looking, intelligent-appearing young man.

[Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 12, 1887.]

The Whisky Anarchist.

Henry Stephens, alias Loomis, the young man who created excitement Friday night in St. Clair street by announcing himself as the brother of August Spies and asking at several drug stores for nitro-glycerine, was arraigned in the police court Saturday morning. Stephens was an altogether changed man and not near so bloodthirsty as on the previous evening. In answer to questions he told Judge Kelly that being drunk and hearing so much of the anarchists he became excited; that he was only joking about carrying or making bombs; that his is a book agent but doesn’t make a living at that occupation; that he came from Chicago and wishes to go to Buffalo. Judge Kelly fined Stephens the cost for intoxication and permitted him to depart.

[Cleveland Plain Dealer (Sunday, November 13, 1887): 16]

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Independent scholar, translator and archivist.