Throws Light on Czolgasz [sic]
Father of Would-Be Assassin Examined by City Officials.
Says Son Acted Queer but He Didn’t Think Him Insane.
Yesterday morning Director of Public
Works Salen sent for Paul Czolgosz, father of Leon Czolgosz, who
was working in the trenches with one of the construction gangs of
the waterworks department. The old man answered all inquiries without
hesitation. His family name is Czolgasz, not Czolgosz, as it has
been sometimes spelled in the newspapers. The general conclusion
reached after the inquiry was that the plot to assassinate the president
did not originate in Cleveland, but must have been concocted in
either Chicago or some other western city in which Czolgasz was
stopping. The statement of the old man, taken in the presence of
Police Director Dunn, Assistant County Prosecutor Ross and Detective
Mintz, was as follows:
“I came with my first wife to this
country twenty-nine years ago, having been born and raised in Innowraclaw,
County of Posen, in western Prussia. I lived in Detroit and Alpena,
Mich., for a number of years, and came to Cleveland ten years ago.
In 1882 I bought a house and lot at the corner of Tod street and
Third avenue and started a saloon, running it for eight months.
I lost considerable money in this transaction, and after that worked
as a laborer for a year and then traded the place on Third avenue
for a farm in Orange township, Councilman Springborn negotiating
“I had the farm for about a year and
sold it to part of my children, but stayed there for four and a
half years, after which I came back to Cleveland and resumed work
as a laborer. Leon was born in Detroit twenty-eight years ago. When
we came to Cleveland he got work in the Newburg mills and remained
there for a year after we had moved to the farm. Then he came to
the farm and stayed there until July 1 of this year. Early in the
summer he several times tried to borrow money from his brothers,
and on July 1 my son Jake loaned him $70, which Leon claimed he
wanted in order to pay his expenses to go out west. The day after
that Jake went on the farm to milk the cows and when he came back
Leon was gone and none of us have seen him since. He had not said
he was going away and we were at a loss to account for his disappearance.
I do not know whether he received any letter or telegram asking
him to leave.
“A neighbor, Joseph Klima, received
a postal card a few days afterwards from Leon, in which he stated
he was on his way to the west. Two of my sons received similar postal
cards. I do not remember where they were postmarked. I never heard
from him. After the receipt of the postals none of us received any
further word, and Mr. Klima and the rest of us concluded that he
“The first intimation that I received
of the attempted assassination was last Saturday morning about 9
o’clock. I had been out looking for work and heard that the city
needed some laborers, and at the water works office received an
order to go to work Monday morning. When I came home that morning
the police and newspaper men had informed my family of what had
taken place. No member of the family went to Buffalo to see Leon.
“We did not for a moment entertain
the idea of trying to get him out of his trouble, as we considered
his crime an inexcusable one, and we do not propose to interfere
with the government inflicting proper punishment. In fact, none
of us had a great liking for Leon. From the time that he came to
the farm, about three years ago, he would not work and was entirely
worthless. He continually claimed that he was sick and took some
kind of a herb tea as a treatment. He thought that he had caught
a bad cold by drinking a glass of beer when he was perspiring. He
was treated by Dr. Kohler, a physician on Broadway near Magnet street.
“I have been married twice. My second
wife is living, and Leon hated her to such an extent that he would
not look at or speak to her. This feeling originated from her ordering
him to work and catechising him for refusing to do so. He was morose
and kept by himself all the time. He would frequently take his revolver
and go into the woods to shoot birds. While his actions were queer,
there was nothing to indicate that his mind was unbalanced. He never
had anything to do with women and acted as though he was afraid
“When I kept the saloon on Third avenue,
an organization called the Social Labor party held meetings in the
hall above. I attended several meetings but nothing extraordinary
ever happened. The speakers confined themselves to the subject of
Socialism. Leon belonged to the organization, but never delivered
any speeches because he was not capable of doing so. I never heard
Leon speak against the government or the president, nor did I ever
hear him mention Emma Goldman or any other Anarchist. I never saw
any Anarchist literature in his possession. His reading was confined
to the Cleveland newspapers. He did not attend many meetings. He
was at home nearly all the time, and apparently had no companions.
He is able to read and write pretty well. He attended a Polish school
in Alpena for three years, and after that attended the public schools
for two years. I never heard of Leon passing under the name of Nieman,
nor did I know anybody by that name.
“The revolver with which he evidently
did the shooting he bought four years ago from a photographer named
Piotrowsky, who is now is an insane asylum. The revolver had a single
barrel and five chambers. He must have taken it with him, as we
never saw it afterwards.
“During the last presidential campaign
somebody gave Leon a free ticket to go on one of the campaign excursions
to Canton. Some politician invited him to go on the trip. When he
returned he did not say anything against President McKinley. In
fact, I never heard him make any remarks against the president.
I have been a citizen of this country since the last Grant campaign,
when I took out my naturalization papers. I voted for Garfield in
1880, and for Cleveland in 1892 and for McKinley in 1896. Last year
I did not vote at all. Leon belonged to the Socialist party and
I suppose voted for that ticket.
“I had nine children by my first wife
and two by my second. Nine of them are living, although I have not
heard from two, who are in Michigan, for a long time.
“Leon’s deed is giving us terrible
worry and we feel that he is deserving of any punishment that may
be inflicted. I was born a Catholic and went to St. Stanislaus’
church until I moved to the farm. Leon at first attended and then
dropped off and refused to go to church any longer.”