Superintendent of the Children's Playgrounds,
by Corporal Jacob Steinman of the National Guard.
On the night of April 19, Columbia Square, located at Eighth and Harrison streets, was filled with refugees who were surrounded by the great fire, which spread from one to two miles in all directions. A detachment of National Guardsmen was assigned to preserve the Peace in the square, and in this detachment was a Corporal named Jacob Steinman.
About 9 p.m., on this date, Steinman, accompanied by one Bush, approached Joseph Meyers, the Superintendent of the Children's Playgrounds, which was located in the vicinity. At the time, Meyers was conversing with a Miss Kessel, who gave the following version of what transpired:
"Bush and Meyers became engaged in an altercation and finally Meyers called to Steinman, who was standing a few feet away, and said, 'You know me,' to which Steinman replied, 'No, I don't know you and don't want to.'
"Meyers and Bush then grappled with each other. At that instant I attempted to lead Meyers away, but Steinman pulled out a revolver and shot Meyers, killing him almost instantly."
Steinman was arrested on May 2 and his preliminary examination was held before Superior Judge Graham, who sat as a committing magistrate. The defendant was held to answer on May 15.
On September 4 his trial began before Judge Lawlor, Hiram Johnson appearing for the defendant, and S. Shortridge appearing as special prosecutor.
Steinman produced witnesses who swore that Meyers assumed the attitude of a man who was about to draw a pistol when Steinman shot him. It was also claimed that immediately after the shooting the defendant exclaimed: "Well, this is pretty rough work, but it is an act of martial law."
In charging the jury judge Lawlor said in part: "Mayor Schmitz's proclamation was void and illegal and therefore cannot legally justify the defendant in the commission of the act upon which the charge before the court is based.
"In stating the law there is no disposition to criticize the Mayor in meeting the extraordinary
conditions prevailing at the time and which involved the highest interests of the
On September 13 the cause was finally submitted to the jury, and after deliberating fifty
minutes a verdict of not guilty was returned.