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WASHINGTON, D. C., March 5, 1378. CHARLES FIELD sword and examined.
To Mr. EASTMAN: I reside in Boston. I am special agent of the Post-Office DepartDieot for the New England States. I have held that position since February 14, 1870. I am detailed on wbat we call mail depredations; it covers very many things—all irregularities in post-offices, the examination of postmasters' accounts, the location of post-offices, and all in vest gations.
Question. What is the territory within wbich you discharge your duties ?--Answer. Within the last year I have gove into all the States of New England.
Q. State wbetber you are acquainted with Mr. Cheney, and when acquaintance with binu commenced !-A. My first acquaiutance with Mr. Cheney was at the tiine of my appointment. Mr. Cheney was in the service about seven or eight diouths before I came into the service. At that time the special agents were divided into three classes : one was in charge of the railway mail service, another was post-office inspector, and the third was ou mail depredations.
Q. State to what extent you have been brought in contact with Mr. Cheney in the discharge of your duties ?--A. My business often brought me in contact with him on matters relating to investigations which I was making, not only over different roads, but also at different post-offices. I consulted with him often as to the various men in bis employment, and I also received from him prompt attention aud courtesy.
Q. State whether or not you are familiar with the manner in which the railway mail service in New England is performed ?-A. I should say that it is well performed ; much more improvement has been made iu it since I entered the service.
Q. In what does that improvement consist ?-A. At the time I entered the service it was comparatively dew; that part of the work of the distribution of the mails was done in the post-offices. Boston was the largest distributing post-office in New Eng. land. Most of the mail matter coining for the south was distributed at the Boston post-office by the clerks for the different routes goiug east and north. At present the mails for the south are made on the cars, and when the cars arrive at Boston the mails are transferred directly across the city. They do not touch the Boston post-office for distribution, but go in closed bags across the city, and meet the trains from the north and east. Previously, as I say, they would be made up in the Boston post-office.
Q. What effect has that bad upon the celerity of the service ?-A. It has had a good effect in transferring ma ls with a greater rapidity across the country,
Q. What has been the effect upon the post-offices themselves ?-A. It has rather thrown the work from the post-offices on the postal cars. A good deal of the work which was originally done in the post-offices is now done on the cars, thus saving labor at the post-offices.
Q. Are you acquainted with the reputation of Mr. Cheney in the New England division, among the employés of the department, as superintendent of the railway mail service l-A. To some extent I should say I was.
Q. What is bis reputation I-A. Very good. Q. To what extent are you acquainted with it?-A. My duties call me all over the New England States into the various post-offices. Perhaps I get inside more postoffices than any one else in the railway mail service. I never have heard any complaint of Mr. Cheney, but, on the contrary, have heard compliments as to the way in which the mails are made up and sent to those ofices.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. Do you think that you know Mr. Cheney's general reputation throughout the division as a public officer 7-A. Yes, sir; I think it is good.
By Mr. EASTMAN: Q. What is the condition of the discipline of the force employed in the railway mail service in New England 1-A. I should think it was very good.
Q. How does it compare with wbat it was five or six years ago ?-A. It has improved very much.
Q. Explain to the committee the manner in which special agents are paid.-A. When I first entered the service my pay was $1,600 salary and $3 per diem. At that time there were some incidental expenses allowed, such as for sleeping-cars and for carriagehire across the city or town. In January, 1875, my pay was increased to $5 per day and $1,600 salary, and these expenses that I speak of were disallowed. We were to take care of ourselves, and no allowance was made for sleeping-cars or for carriagebire or such transportation as that. The only allowance that I have to-day is for postage-stamps (a very small amount being required) and for telegraphing, and for the detection of a thief, or anything of that kind, I am allowed-in case of an emergency when I have to call upon assistance—to pay for that assistance on vouchers being sent to the department. Some vouchers that I have sent in have been disallowed. I was up to the department the other day, and I put in my pocket a form on wbich we have to make out our accounts, form No. 47 (handing a copy of ic to the committee).
Q. What do you insert in the blank for expenses ?-A. Everything that I am allowed for-telegrapbing, postage-stamps, and for expenses in cases of emergency.
Q. Have you been at the Boston post-office any portion of your time 1-A. Yes, sir.
8. State whether or not Mr. Cheney has been present at the Boston post-office while yon bave been there, and state what your experience has been in regard to finding him at the office when you called.—A. Since I entered the service in 1870, and up to the fall of 1876, Mr. Cheney was very prompt and very industrions, and I always found him at the office as often as I was there myself. I am absent more than half the time. I never bad any difficulty iu finding Mr. Cheney at his office, until he was taken sick.
Q. How bas it been since then ?-A. Since then I should think that be had been there a part of the time. Then he was absent about three months, I think.
Q. State whether or not you bad occasion to be at the Boston post-office during the night, at any time.-A. Very often.
Q. State whether or not you ever found Mr. Cheney there at night.-A. Mr. Cheney was always there at night, when he was in Boston; I have found him there late at night.
Q. What was be doing ?-A. I bave found bim there at work at his desk, making up distributions. I have called upon him at times to help me in matters.
Q. Wbat assistance has be given you, if any ?-A. Very good assistance.
Q. In what way?-A. In watching matters and following letters, when we were looking after thieves.
Q. State wbether or not you have received any assistance from him at any other place than the Boston post-office.-A. Yes, sir. I have received assistance from him on the Boston and Albany road, at the time of the great fire. We were bunting up a matter there as to letters being stolen, and Mr. Cheney was with me quite a number of nights, or early mornings, watcbiug for the train on its arrival at Bo;ton.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. Do you know whether this paper is the form of certificate used by superintendents of the railway mail service in making up their accounts 1-A. I thiok it must be, for I have loaned these forms sometimes to Mr. Cheney, wben be bas sent to my office for them.
Q. Are you in tbe habit of charging per diem for every day in the year?-A. There have been some occasions where I have not, but as a general rule I do.
Q. Sundays and all ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you been in the Boston post-office much since you have been in office ?-A. I should judge that I have been away from Boston the greater part of the time.
Q. Where do you make your headquarters 1-A. At the Boston post-office.
Q. How many special agents are there in New England, besides yourself?-A. There is Mr. Bigelow, at Augusta, Me.; and there is also another Mr. Bigelow, appointed within the last year or two, at Burlington, Vt.
Q. Are special agents assigned to any particular territory ! -A. Not directly. I have been called into all the different States in New England. When I was first in the service I was only on wbat we call depredations, and I covered at that time alınost the entire New England States. I know that I bave been called into Maine at times, where it would take a fortnight before I got back. After that Mr. Bigelow was appointed, so that I have not within the last two or three years been called below Portland, except on some important matter that may have drifted below there, and I have been in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Q. When were you first appointed 1-A. In February, 1870.
Q. Mr. Cheney had been in office some time before you ?-A. He was appointed in the July before.
Q. Have you always found Mr. Cheney in his office when you went there ?-A. No, sir.
Q. Do you know where he was when he was not at his office ?-A. No, sir; I do not.
Q. Whom did you find there in his place?-A. There have been, I think, two or three clerks detailed there during that time. I found Mr. Holmes there, Mr. Blunt, Mr. Stahl, and Mr. Merrill-different men at different times.
Q. Who seemed to be representing Mr. Cheney 1-A. Mr. Holmes at present is the
Q. Who was generally attending to his duties when you found him absent 1-A. Either one of those I have mentioned who happened to be there at the time. They were detailed at different times during these different years.
Q. You travel about a good deal through the New England States 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you ever meet with Mr. Cheney at any time on the line of any of the various railroads, looking into the service l-A. Yes, sir; I have.
Q. How many times 1-A. I should judge that I have met him as often as balf a dozen times in the course of a year.
Q. Do you recollect anything about the roads or points where you met him ?-A. I recollect that one night I was passing very quickly through New Hampshire, when I opintentionally tumbled upon Mr. Cheney at Manchester. I was arranging about some mails that were coming across from Portsmouth to Concord.
Q. Can you state any other point at which you met Mr. Cheney, while he was on dnty ?-A. I was with him at New Haven one time, where I was following up some registered matter.
Q. Do you recollect any other time when you were with him ?—A. Yes, sir ; I was with bim when he was establishing a mail over the Old Colony road to Martha's Vineyard.
Q. How far is that from Boston ?-A. One hundred and fifty miles by rail and boat.
Q. Can you state any other line where you saw Mr. Cheney at any other time looking after the railway mail service !-A. I do not know that I can recollect any particular point just now. I bave often met him when I supposed be was on official busiDess, and so I was on my official business.
Q. Do you not think that if you had seen him very frequently you could recollect more times than tbose you have mentioned ever since 18707-A. I can say that I have been with him a great many times. I know that in going over the roads I have met Mr. Cheney very inany times, and have been with bin when he was making the distributions of bis mail; and in one case I know that my journal will sbow (for we are required to keep a journal of every day's work performed, which accompanies our bill to the chief of i he special agents) that I went thirty times on the Boston and Albany road (about 60 miles, I should say) up to a place called Palmer, I think, and that Mr. Cheney was with me a great many times in that matter. I would go up on the train and Mr. Chepey would go in the mail-car and make a deposit of this mail matter, which I wauted to put in, and I would watch it at the other end.
Q. Is that the same route that Mr. Temple ran upon ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What sort of business was he engaged in there 1-A. The last time I was there
Q. How many times bave you been to Ashland ?-A. Not more than four or five times. While he was sick I was there twice.
Q. During wbat year?-A. It was, I think, in the summer of 1876. 8. Did Mr. Cheney have any office at Ashland ?-A. He has a nice library-room there.
Q. Did he have any office there in wbich he transacted business pertaining to his official position ?-A. The business could have been done there very readily i should say.
Q. I suppose that he had no telegraphic connection with his house ?-A. No, sir. There is a telegraph office in the village.
2. Have you bad any conversation with Mr. Temple since you have been here in the city 1-X. But little.
Q. Do you recollect stating to Mr. Temple that you thought Mr. Cheney ought to have been more upon his roads and looked to his business better than he did, or anything to that effect ?-A. I do not recollect it. We talked a good deal ; I might possibly bave said that this trouble probably arose from the fact of Mr. Cheney's sickness.
Q. Do you recollect at any time making a complaint that Mr. Cheney was doing wrong in leaving his office so much ?-A. No, sir.
Q. Have you ever said anything to Mr. Cheney in reference to the removal of Mr. Temple ?-X. I spoke to Mr. Cheney at the time of Mr. Temple's removal, because Mr. Temple is a man whom I have always thought well of. Tbat is a matter which I did not like to interfere with, because I have a good deal of that sort of business to do myself; but I spoke to Mr. Cheney about it at the time; he did not go into any details about it. I know that at that time I was having a little conference with Mr. Temple about a matter in reference to the mail service.
Q. Did you regard Mr. Temple as a good officer?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. A truthful and reliable man ?-A. Yes, sir; so far as I ever saw him. I had the best opinion of him.
By Mr. MONEY: Q. Does the law require you to have an office for the discharge of your duties as special agent l-A. No, sir; not particularly.
Q. Have you one ?-A. Yes, sir. Boston has the largest distributing post office in New England, and is my headquarters, and the postmaster there assigns me a room, which I call my headquarters. I have my office there, and all communications are addressed to me there. There are many special agents who have no headquarters.
Q. You have spoken of an improvement in the railway mail service; when did that improvement take place !--A. It has been a gradual improvement from the time that the railway mail service was started. It was started previously to my going into the service. Before that, there was only one special agent, who did all the detailed work, the depredations and all that matter, and also attended to the railway mail service.
Q. Then the improvement of the service was cotemporaneous with the inauguration of the railway mail service ?-A. Yes, sir; as a general thing. It has been growing from the time of the inauguration of the railway mail service.
Q. In reference to this per diem, I understand you to say that you are traveling nearly all the time 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. If you were required by law to have an office, and if you staid in that office performing the duties of your position, would you consider yourself entitled to per diem ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Suppose that you are absent sick for two weeks at a time, would you consider yourself entitled to the per diem for those two weeks ?-A. I have been very fortunate in not being sick or absent, but I don't think I should be very conscientious about the per diem under such circumstances. I think I should consider it all right, for I have no doubt I should be harassed to death if I was sick for a fortnight. That question was raised at the time that the decision was made, which has been read here this evening. The matter was hung up for a time, and I think that all the special agents are out one month's per diem now, which they never have been able to get.
Q. If you have leave of absence, do you draw your per diem during that time I-A. I never have asked one, but I think I should have tried it on.
Q. If a special agent is absent on leave of absence, drawing his salary, should you think that he was also entitled to bis per diem ?--A. I sbould hardly think so, unless I could cover my absence somehow by some official duty. When my per diem was $3 a day there were a number of times when it cost four or five dollars a day.
Q. How much of your time is spent in Boston ?-A. I should judge, at a rough calchlation, that I am there, perhaps, a little more than one-third of my time.
Q. You spoke of Mr. Cheney giving you assistance; do you mean in the discovery of dopredations ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. He has facilitated you by offering yon every convenience and appliance for the successful prosecution of your work ?-A. Yes, sir; we rather help one another if we can. If I am going over a road, and my attention is called to anything wrong in Mr. Cheney's department, I send word to bim to that effect, and so on the other hand he does with me.
By Mr. EASTMAN: Q. Have you been at any time in Washington in company with Mr. Cheney ?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you, in company with him, received any instructions from any officers of the department in relation to political matters ?-A. About a year ago I was here in Washington on business, and met Mr. Cheney here. In company with Mr. Cheney, I went to the room of Mr. Tyner, First Assistant Postmaster-General. Mr. Tyner, after attending to our business, turned to Mr. Cheney, and said to him, “I have noticed in some newspaper slips that you interest yourself, somewhat, in New Hampshire politics; now, I want you to understand that the department insists upon it that its agents let politics alone, and attend to their business." There were some few remarks made, and when we came out, I said to Mr. Cheney, " That goes for you, Cheney, in New Hampshire, but in Massachusetts it is all the one way; we don't care anything about it. It does not hit me any.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. Did Mr. Tyner say that with a sort of smile on his face ?-A. No. I think there was a good deal of seriousness about it, for I looked at Mr. Cheney and he looked at me.
Q. Do you suppose that, as a matter of fact, Mr. Cheney understood from Mr. Tyner that he was to take no stock in politics, and did you so understand it from Mr. Cheney ?-A. I think that was really so at the time.
Q. Do you think that Mr. Cheney would have been in danger of removal if he had gone into New Hampshire and taken stock in politics? Would it have been regarded as a violation of orders ?-A. I should have thought he would have acted very wrong if he had.
Q. Do you think he would have run any risk of being removed ?-A. No, sir, I think
By Mr. MONEY: Q. You think that Mr. Tyner said that in a sort of Pickwickian sense 1-A. I do not know; I took it myself in all seriousness.
By Mr. Caxxon: Q. You have no reason to suppose Mr. Tyner did not mean what he said ?—A. No, sir; I believed he did. I know that in Massachusetts they would not even let us go to a caucus.
By Mr. MONEY: Q. Do you know anything about the duties of Mr. Holmes, in Mr. Cheney's office :A. Mr. Holmes is now what is called superintendent of mails in the Boston office. That comes under Mr. Cheney's department; and he is a sort of chief clerk to Mr. Cheney. The distribution of the mails, according to a recent order of the department, has to be done through the saperintendent of mails, and by bim, or through his orders, through the superintendent of the railway mail service.
Q. Have you been under the necessity of having to communicate with Mr. Cheney's office io writing 1-A. Very seldom.
Q. You have sometimes -A. Yes, sir; that is to say, by the reference of cases which come into my bands, but which belong especially to his department; and Mr. Cheney does the same with me. For instance, if a postmaster sends to his office and complains of losses or irregularities, that is a matter which would belong to my department, and the letter is indorsed on the back and referred to me. Letters connected with his department have in the same way come to me, and I referred them to him.
Q. Is it your understanding that Mr. Holmes really does the work of Mr. Cheney's office, and is the head man there?--A. While Mr. Cheney was there, and probably np to 1876, I think, Mr. Cheney was his own head man.
Q. How bas it been since that time?-A. Since that time Mr. Holmes has rather had charge of the business there.
Q. He does the bulk of Mr. Cheney's business, signs his pame to papers, &c., does be pot !-A. I do not know about the signing his name. He may sigo Mr. Cheney's name, and then sign it by Holines.
By Mr. TOWNSEND: Q. Mr. Holmes is Mr. Cheney's chief clerk ?-A. Yes, sir. There is one of the clerks in the Boston post-office detailed in my office to do business, and wben I ain absent complaints and inquiries may come in, which he attends to for nie.
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 5, 1878. W. H. BIGELOW sworn and examined. To Mr. EASTMAN: I reside in Augusta, Me. I am special agent in the post-office department; I have been in the mail service since November, 1871. I was first connected with the railway mail service, for about two years, as a route-agent or postal clerk, running most of the time between Boston and Bangor. I was appointed to my present position on the first of January, 1874.
Q. What are your duties in your present position ?-A. I am assigned to the depredation service, and my principal work has been within the New England States.
Q. State in what part of New Eogland principally.-A. Principally in the three States of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont-somewhat, of course, over the whole of New England.
Q. How long bave you known Mr. Cheney ?-A. I became acquainted with Mr. Cheney in the fall of 1871.
Q. Was that the time of your appointment ?-A. Soon afterwards. Q. While you were a postal clerk or route-agent, did you have freqnent interviews with Mr. Cheney; if so, where, and under what circumstances ?-A. When I was first made postal clerk in connection with Mr. Cheney's department, I, of course, had frequent occasions to call upon Mr. Choney, and I did call sometimes. When I was running through Boston, I 'frequently went to Mr. Cheney's office, even when I had no particular business there. Occasionally I had inore or less business with his office, bat I made it a point to go, more or less, to the headquarters (as we call it, every time that I reached Boston on my run.
Q. State whether or not you met Mr. Cheney when you called at his office.-A. I think that at that time (1371 and 1872), when I was acting as a postal clerk, I found Mr. Cheney at the office in the majority of instances.
Q. State whether or not you saw him anywhere else than in his office, and if so, where!-A. Yes, sir; I saw him frequently on the Boston and Bangor line, going back and forth between Portland and Boston.
Q. State whether he rode in your car.–A. He did quite frequently; and I know in one instance (which I now recollect) of his coming in, I think, at Portland. I am not sore whether he came down on our line, or whether he came on the Boston and Maine line.