Witnesses Come to the Defense of Mrs. Ida Haston

Two sets of hearings and trials were planned, one set in the juvenile court for Ida’s daughter Thelma and another hearing and trial in the circuit court for Mrs. Ida Haston.  But accusations against Ida and defense testimonies in her favor were a major part of Thelma’s juvenile case.

Ida's Neighbors and Others Testify of Her Good Character and Deny the Allegations

09-18-1917 – Neighbors defend Ida, none saw or heard anything like she was accused of and paid high tribute to her character and believed she was a victim of a great wrong, said it would have been impossible without their knowledge; Irvin and Ida and family lived on the NW corner of Broad and Orchard Avenues; “Mr. Haston was very particular about how his children conducted themselves”; one neighbor who witnessed on behalf of Ida had lived there three years, which was “much longer than the Haston family had resided in this neighborhood”; Ida – “Without anger or indignation she denied the charges…”

1910 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map - Springfield, MO

09-22-1917 – Mrs. Haston’s (Preliminary) Hearing is Set for Wednesday; before Judge Thomas R. Gibson, justice of the peace; Attorney J.T. Neville represented Ida; [Acting] Judge Guy D. Kirby tried the cases of the girls in the juvenile court

09-26-1917 – 3rd day of testimony; 24 witnesses attempted to prove the good character of Ida; Maude Gibbons (15-year-old high school freshman) made and signed a statement of confession (“last Friday”); said she, Maggie Chandler, Lula Wresche, and Thelma Haston had repudiated their confessions to protect Thelma’s mother from prison; Maude made the statement in the court house one day and went back the next day to repudiate it; Miss Retha Goodman presented an alibi for Maude that she had not missed a day at work in two weeks; Maude said conversations were always moral and no men other than Thelma’s father were ever in the house; said she lied to avoid being sent to Detention Home or reform school; said she didn’t know why she made the last statement (about fear of reform school?); 24 character witnessed from Orchard Avenue neighborhood, all testified of her good character; Myrtle Needham said her mother told her to stay away from the Haston home and Thelma but had never heard anything bad about Thelma; Policewoman Margaret Hull took girls to doctor for physical examination and that the girls had told her their statements were lies; the State tried to impeach character of witnesses; Miss Hull testified about a previous complaint about Maude’s conduct;

09-25-1917 – Preliminary Hearing of Mrs. Haston Tomorrow; would be held in the criminal courtroom instead of Justice Thomas R. Gibson’s courtroom because of crowds;

09-26-1917 Springfield News-Leader, p. 1 – seven or eight neighbors testify they say nothing wrong at the Haston house; a 14-year-old girl told of frequent visits to play with Thelma and other girls [including Maude Gibbons and Maggie Chandler] at the home (“she won the courtroom by her innocence”) – said she “saw nothing improper, nor did men visit the home while she was here”; said she never saw the black-haired woman whom others mentioned; one of the accused girls said this little girl was a companion with them in their misconduct; she told “what appeared to be a straight-forward story of her visits to the Haston home and denied that her playmates ever hinted that their conduct was not proper; a department store manager of a local store said that one of the accused girls worked for her every day during the week until school started and could not have been at the Hason home during the day; Mrs. Haston took the stand and denied anything improper went on in her house and said the girls’ stories were false from beginning to end; Ida’s husband, R.I. (says “L” but it’s “I” for Irvin) testified that Ida had spent some time in an asylum in Texas and that her mind was affected when she worried; courtroom was crowded and a number were high school students; “Indications are that the Haston girl will be convicted of delinquency for the parents admitted yesterday that she went on a fishing trip against their will. It was said that a married man went with her but they did not know that this was true, they said.”

09-27-1917 – Thelma (age 15) on the stand, says the State threatened to send her to reform school – she denied her previous confession; said Ida refused to let her (with Maggie) go riding with two men in a car; boys who were accused were called to witness stand – they denied the truth of the accusations; Thelma went to the river fishing on Sunday morning; Maude said she fainted four times while talking to officials but later said she lied about fainting; Lula Wresche admitted that during the trials “threats” to get Maggie Chandler had been made in the hall on the 2nd floor of the courthouse;

09-27-1917 – postponement of the preliminary hearing of Ida Haston until next Wednesday morning due to the fact that the preliminary hearing of the girls was not completed.

09-28-1917 – (5th day of trial) Judge Johnson said nothing was done to frighten the girls to make confessions; Nellie Ackridge testified that Ida had remarked about her body and clothes and asked her to come to see her; Nellie had a piece of paper with Mrs. Haston’s name and address on it, written by Ida’s hand; Mrs. Grace Meyers lived in the same house as the (Nellie) Ackridge girl; Mrs. Meyers and John, her husband, were known to have “fits” but Nellie said she didn’t think they were real; Mrs. Meyers was charged with the same alleged offense as Ida; Nellie was a ward of the juvenile court; defense said that the name and address paper was about trying to get work at Armour’s, same place Nellie had worked; Nellie testified that she never knew anything wrong about Ida and thought she was a good woman;

If you were sitting in this courtroom now, what would your thoughts about the case be at this point?

The Case Against Mrs. Ida Haston - Guilty or Not Guilty?

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