The Graham fire.
Proceedings of the inquest in Aurora.
John Glenn testifies.
Mr. George W. Graham examined as to the loss.
Contradictory statements made—Glenn's connection with the firm—Stocks of wool and wheat.
Aurora, Aug. 28.—(Special.)—The fire inquest was resumed here this evening before Coroner A.J. Johnson, and all the evidence taken. The jury were not charged by the Coroner until over an hour after midnight. The evidence adduced was not directly incriminatory of anyone, but it is not unlikely that the Crown may take proceedings on the strength of facts which they are said to have in their possession and which have not yet been made public. Mr. H.H. Dewart conducted the prosecution, assisted by Mr. C.C. Robinson, and Mr. T.H. Lennox acted as counsel for Mr. Geo. W. Graham. The case has been worked up by Detectives Bay and Cockburn of the Grand Trunk Railway and Constable Petch of Aurora.
Mr. Geo. W. Graham was the first witness called. He is a brother of the witness whose evidence closed the session of the inquest on Tuesday, and is also the senior partner in the firm of Graham Bros. Mr. H.H. Dewart subjected the witness to two hours of rigorous examination. In answer to questions put to him the witness said that he kept purchases made on his own goods account from those made on commission. His firm had never made up any statement of their own separate purchases except that which was prepared for the insurance inspector. In making up this statement hey had used the books at the shed. None of the firm's books had burned in the fire. They had simply picked out of the rough entry books the purchases on their own account. He did not think there was any book in which they had made entries of sales effected at the freight shed. There was no record by which he could find out how much oats there was in stock at any one time.
Mr. Dewart—Then in making up the statement for the insurance company you were simply guessing?
Witness—No. I had the record of what came in, and I knew accurately how much was sold, because it was measured.
Mr. Dewart—But how could you remember accurately when you had no record?
The witness insisted that he remembered accurately what had been sold.
Mr. Dewart asked the witness where he kept his wool entries, and was told that he kept all the record of his own purchases in a wool memorandum book which he produced. The first entry in this book was July 2 of this year. If he had made any purchases before that time, the witness said, they had been recorded in his brother's memorandum book, which had been lost. He would not swear, however, that he made any such entries. He had made not estimate of the amount of wool in the warehouse previous to the 1st of July. The memorandum book produced showed all the wool purchased by Graham Bros. after July 1. All the wool which was in the shed at the time it was burned was purchased after July 1. In making up the statement for the insurance inspector he took his information entirely from the memorandum book. In his statement furnished the insurance inspector he placed the amount of wool in the freight shed at 2,051 pounds. Mr. Dewart here produced a copy of the statement furnished to the insurance inspector and questioned witness on the details. The statement contained an itemized report of those purchases made after the 1st of July, and which were in the shed and were consumed at the time of the fire. The names of those from whom these purchases were made were given in the statement, and Mr. Dewart, taking the individual items and giving the dates and amount of the purchases, asked the witness to give the names of the men from whom the purchases were made. This the witness was unable to do, nor could he, except in one or two instances, tell anything about them after the names he had placed in the statement were given him by Mr. Dewart. During July witness ssaid he had removed all the wool he had sold to Mr. Leadly, but he had not removed any other wool from the freight shed during that month. There was no wool removed from the shed on the 3rd of 4th of July except the Leadley wool. Witness had told the G.T.R. station operator that he had on the 4th of July taken a load from the shed. This wool was returned to the shed, however, as it was too heavy to be driven to Toronto. Witness admitted that within a few days before the first attempt to burn the freight shed he had taken a load from the shed between 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning. He thought it was his brother who was with hum: he would no say postively. It was taken to Eglington and sold to Mr. Boyce, the dairyman. On the 5th or 6th of June he took out the insurance on the goods in the warehouse—$400 on the oats, $500 on the wheat and $400 on the wool. The insurance convered the wool sent to Leadly. Witness knew that Coffee & Co. had, in addition to his insurance on the wheat, put in $200. He said he did not expect to get the original cost of the grain from the insurance company. Witness said he would not swear that he head not told Messrs. Hoover and Smith that he had not wool in stock on July 1. He would not say that he had sold no wool in July. "I did not say to Mr. Hoover, the insurance inspector, that I expected to get the original cost of the wheat." He did not expect, either, to collect both the insurance put on the wheat by himself and by Coffee & Co.
John Glenn, the witness said, had done much work for him about the warehouse. He always hired him when he had work for him to do, when he was sober. Witness first learned of the first fire at the freight shed by hearing the fire bells. He was in bed at the time, but he got up and went to it. He saw Glenn there, who he found was in his normal condition, namely, drunk. As soon as witness saw Glenn he (witness) accused Glenn of having set fire to the shed. Glenn was indigant, though he did not say anything in reply, except that he was in bed when the alarm sounded. Witness also saw Glenn at the fire which burned the freight shed on the 19th of August. Glenn was not drunk then. Witness did not say anything to Glenn that night, but did next day. He then said to Glenn, "You made a pretty clean job of it this time." Glenn replied that he was at home and in bed when the fire broken out, and he could prove it. Glenn told witness that he had had a row with Mr. Wells, the proprietor of the Queen's Hotel, who had accused him of the same thing. Witness had told Glenn that after the fire Neale's house he (Glenn) was accused of starting it. Glenn said it was a blanked lie, that he had not done so, but he knew who did. Glenn said the man was Norman McLeod, and that it was done in order to carry through a horse trade.
The next witness was Mr. J.R. Hoover, insurance inspector, who swore that Graham told him there was no wool in the warehouse previous to the 1st of July. The list of names of those from whom Graham stated he had purchased the wool after the 1st of July, the witness said, had been given to him voluntarily by Graham. He stated that from information he had received from Mr. Wiley, an expert on the question, it was utterly impossible for the wool in the warehouse to have burned as was claimed.
Mr. O.C. Tillman, agent at the Grand Trunk station, was then called, but gave unimportant evidence. Constable C.A. Petch also gave evidence of a negative character.
Mr. John Glenn, the man whose name has figured so much throughout the case, was then called. In answer to Mr. Dewart, he said he was a laborer and lived a couple of hundred yards or so southwest from the station. On the night of the fire in the carpenter shop he had in the early part of the evening been about town and at White's hotel. He remembered getting a cigar and some matches from James Bell. That was about 10 o'clock. The hotel was the last house he was in before going home. He got home shortly after 10 o'clocl, going from the hotel south, past the freight shed. His mother was not in bed. Witness sat down on the lounge, and when he heard the alarm he went out to the fire. The night of the fire at Neale's house he got home about a quarter to 11 o'clock, and after shaving went to bed. When the alarm sounded he got up and went out. About a week before that fire he had had a conversation with Norman McLeod. McLeod came for him to go and plant some potatoes. McLeod told him that he had a chance for a good deal. He said he had an opportunity of getting Neale's horse in exchange for his pony if he would fire the house. Witness, according to the story, replied to McLeod that it would be a dear deal if he did that. Witness admitted to Mr. Dewart that he had never heard or known of McLeod's firing buildings before or being engaged in any such transactions. McLeod did not propose that witness should help him or do it for him. McLeod had just told him in a burst of confidence. Witness had afterwards told Neale of what McLeod had told him, and McLeod, when he saw him next, blamed him for spoiling the deal. The house was subsequently burned and McLeod told him next morning that he had skinned his house the night before by running against the stump of a tree when coming from the house when the fire started.
Mr. Dewart examined the witness very closely as to his whereabouts on the night of the first freight shed fire. Glenn stated that on the night of the fire, about 11 o'clock, hwe was in Waite's hotel, and after getting a cigar and match he went straight home. His mother was not in bed when he reached the house. He had a lame back and he went to bed. When the alarm sounded his mother awakened him and he got up and went out to the fire. He met Geo. Graham, who said something to witness about having set fire to the building. Witness thought Graham was jesting and paid no attention to him. Witness had been in Graham's compartment in the freight in July and had seen a quantity of wheat, oats, salt, seeds and wool. There was considerable wool. On the night that the freight shed was burned witness was at home when the alarm sounded. He had been in Waite's hotel during the evening and had had several drinks. Next morning George Graham said to him: "You have made a job of it this time," but while witness knew that the allusion was to the fire he took it as a jest. He had become accustomed to be being accused of being the cause when a fire occured. We had come to take it as a matter of course. The witness denied that the reason why he had not said anything in answer to Graham's remark was because he knew Graham expected him to set fire to the freight shed. He had never had a conversation looking in this direction with Graham. Witness had told Mr. Graham that McLeod had set fire to the Neale house because he thought Mr. Graham would not divulge iut. He denied that he had offered to tell Mr. Jesse Smith who set fire to the shed if he got $100.
George Harris was the next witness called for the defence and his evidence was not important.
The Coroner then charged the jury.