GEORGE ZECHMAN – AGE 40 – Not Guilty!
FROM THE BOOK “BLUE EYED SIX” BY Wayne H. Anspach: A true story from the late 19th century about four men who insured the town hobo and then hired a humble butcher and local ruffian to murder him so they could collect the insurance money…. all six having blue eyes!
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: George says to me, “Let us insure that man who you told me that someone was at you to go partner with to work ‘out of the way’ for $500.” I said, “No, George, there is one fellow that has been at me for over a year already. I don’t want to have my life taken and don’t want to take anyone’s.” “Well” said he, “we don’t take his life.” I said, “No, but we would help to be the cause of it, and I don’t want to be sent to the penitentiary for years.” “Oh,” says Zechman, “they can’t do anything to us, for if I tell you to kill a man the law can’t say if you kill him that you had to do it.” (an alleged conversation between Henry Wise and George Zechman out behind the barn)
GEORGE ZECHMAN – The last man in the four man conspiracy was born in Berks county, his forefathers being of German origin many years back. His family worked principally at farming and making fence posts. He was sent to school at age eight and continued going off and on until age seventeen. He left school and worked on boats hauling goods on the Susquehanna River. After quitting the river he began working in the coal mines over a period of 5 to 6 years for five different employers when he was seized with a fit of sickness. When back at the mines his partner was killed in an accident and he gave up working there to begin driving horse teams in Fishing Creek Valley. Married at age 22 he had a wife and six children with the oldest only about 8 years old. He attended the Lutheran church with his wife and family, also the Sunday school, where he taught a class. He claimed to have always gotten along peaceably with his neighbors and had no enemies he was aware of. When single, he was given much to attending dancing parties, and related many amusing incidents of his experience while tripping the light fantastic toe. Zechman was not addicted to the use of strong drink to excess, though occasionally took a glass for his stomach’s sake. A great lover of the weed, he was seldom found without a pipe of tobacco or a chew. He possessed a little home in his own right and was always somewhat prosperous in his own way.
LOBO COMMENTS: In spite of the incriminating testimony of conspirator Henry Wise and the fact that George Zechman was seen multiple times with the other three men involved in the conspiracy, he was given a new trial and found not guilty. How could this have happened? First of all, Zechman was known to be the most well off of the group. This was evident by the fact that he hired a new out of town lawyer. Zechman never confessed to the crime like others did nor was there any evidence of him trying to convince the actual murderers (Stichler and Drews) to commit the crime. Another surprising fact was that Judge Henderson who presided over the trial realized the case against Zechman was insufficient. Listen to his words. “Have you any declaration of George Zechman? Is there any evidence that connects or tends to connect him in a criminal attempt, or conspiracy against the life of Joseph Raber? We instruct you that you must exclude the declarations of the other defendants until he is connected with them by proof in the conspiracy. It cannot be said that because he is interested in the insurance, for this seems to be common, that this imputes to him guilt.” So with a weaker case, and through the talents of a new lawyer George Zechman got a new lease on life. But what kind of life was it? Local legend in subsequent years says that he lived a tormented life and had excruciating boils break out on his body time and time again until he met his Maker just 7 short years later, dying at the young age of forty-seven.
THE BIBLE: Wisdom calls aloud outside, she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses at the opening of the gates in the city she speaks her words: “Turn at my rebuke, Surely I will pur out my spirit on you. I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded. Because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your terror comes.” (Proverbs 1:20-26)
Next up Charles Drews – The Humble Butcher