Neighborhood Quarrel Is Aired In Court

Two Women Acquitted of Assault Charges by Jury.

Family Histories and Line Fence Relations Before Justice; Attorneys Indulge in Tilts.

Mrs. Crete Brockway and Mrs. Florence Crispell were acquitted yesterday in Justice Bennett’s court yesterday of charges of assault and battery made against them and on which they demanded a trial before a jury. The defendants, residents of Comstock street, were arrested January 24, after a neighborhood quarrel in which they engaged with Mrs. John Schauger [sic] and Mrs. Earl Goodrich. Brooms, stove pokers, snow shovels and curtain rods figured prominently in the testimony that was given yesterday and both sides went into some detail into the history of their long drawn-out troubles.

Feeling between Mrs. Schauger and Mrs. Crispell was very cordial when the Crispells and the Brockways moved to the Comstock street neighborhood. According to Mrs. Crispell, Mrs. Schauger was “too friendly, if anything,” and she related how Mrs. Schauger had warned her against associating with a majority of the other women in the block if she wanted to “amount to anything.”

Told Conflicting Stories.

Mrs. Schauger, the principal complaining witness, was recalled to the stand when court opened yesterday afternoon and she described her version of the mix-up that led to the arrest of the two defendants. She told the jury that she was sweeping the sidewalk, when Ida Borton, the 15-years-old daughter of Mrs. Crispell, ran across the walk, and struck her in the back.

Thereupon, Mrs. Schauger related, the girl caught hold of her shawl and started to drag her down the sidewalk, meantime crying for aid. The girl’s mother and Mrs. Brockway heard the distress call and came out to the defense of their clan and Mrs. Schauger asserted that in the melee that followed she was tunked on the head with a stove poker, the effect of the blow being to lay her cold in the snow. Mrs. Earl Goodrich, another of the complaining witnesses and Mrs. Schauger’s daughters, came to the aid of her mother and dragged her prostrate form into the house.

That was the Schauger version of the battle. On the other hand, the little girl who was alleged to have started the early morning excitement—the testimony showing that it was not daylight when the festivities began—declared that she was on the sidewalk and paying no attention to her neighbor when Mrs. Schauger walloped her with the broom. The girl said she scurried to her own side of the line fence and then told Mrs. Schauger not “to dare” to hit her again. According to her testimony Mrs. Schauger used the broom a second time and then clinched with her. The girl charged that the old woman was choking her and pulling her hair when her cried brought aid from her family.

Dog in the Background.

Mrs. Brockway testified that Mrs. Schauger was not as badly injured as the earlier testimony might indicate and she said that she ordered Mrs. Schauger to go home “where she belonged.” Mrs. Brockway said that Mrs. Goodrich pulled her beads off and scattered them in the snow and that the loss of the ornaments angered her so much that she struck out at her assailant.

“The whole thing was over in a minute,” Mrs. Brockway said in summing up the tussle.

Back of the quarrel that brought the parties into court lurked the ghost of a dog, an animal of quaint habits and uncertain disposition. Early in the neighborly relations between the Crispells and the Schaugers, the canine troublemaker, alleged to have been the property of the Schaugers, found some old shoes and deposited them in the Crispell yard. Mrs. Crispell declared that she did not want the cast-off footwear and tossed the leathers back in the Schauger yard. In determining the ownership and fixing the final disposition of the shoes, more or less conversation passed over the line fence and from that time relations between the two families became more strained.

Dr. A.C. Wood was called by the prosecutor to testify that he had been called to attend Mrs. Schauger on the morning of the fight. The physician said that Mrs. Schauger was suffering from a scalp wound about an inch and a half long.

Policeman Sid Brown testified that he had been called to the neighborhood and that he had found blood spots in the snow.

Personal Allusions Many.

Frequent personal allusions to the reputations of the parties to the suit, speculations as to their ancestry, verbatim recitals of highly uncomplimentary names that had been shot from one side of the fence to the other and occasional verbal brushes between Prosecutor Leland F. Bean and James H. Baker, attorney for the defendants, offered entertainment for the spectators who crowded the council chambers of the city hall where the trial was held.

One neighbor who was called to give testimony as to the regard in which Mrs. Schauger is held by her neighbors, declared that Mrs. Schauger had called her “an old Dutchman” and a “flatfoot.” Another neighbor said that Mrs. Schauger had referred to her as a “red haired old slob,” and there were more names of a vile nature that often go into court records but which are not printed in family newspapers.

The prosecutor and Mr. Baker very often develop considerable heat when opposed to each other in lawsuits and yesterday’s was no exception. Mr. Baker was continually reminding the court that “his brother knew better and would not do that in a court of record,” and Mr. Bean was telling Mr. Baker that he knew his rights and intended to avail himself of them.

Attorneys Spar.

While the defendant, Mrs. Crispell, was on the stand, Mr. Baker on direct examination was having her enumerate the names she had been called by Mrs. Schauger. She repeated a variety of terms that are not found in the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, and concluded one vivid description with the words, “and Leland Bean knows she called me them names.”

“How should I know? I wasn’t up to call, wos I?” the prosecutor broke in.

Mr. Baker pounded on the desk, the crowd laughed, Mrs. Crispell talked on and on and finally over the hubbub arose Mr. Baker’s demand for an apology.

“The prosecutor has gone too far,” he declared. “He owes an apology to the court and to Mrs. Crispell and to me.”

Mrs. Crispell was still explaining why she didn’t like Mrs. Schauger and the crowd was still laughing but everyone heard the prosecutor shout back, “Well, you won’t get it.”

“Well I’ve got your measure then and it’s just what I thought it measured,” Mr. Baker retorted.

“Alright,” Mr. Bean agreed.

Justice Bennett allowed that it was a case of “six and six” and directed a continuation of the testimony.

Source: Adrian Daily Telegram, February 6, 1920.


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