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Madison County During World War I


Immigrants (Aliens) Plight During The War


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Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 7, 1917

Germans who have taken out their papers to become citizens of the United States can not be naturalized until after the war. Notice to this effect was received this morning by Clerk of the City Court A. G. MacDonald, and he was asked to call the attention of the Judge of the Alton City Court to this. This order will effect a large number of Altonians who had taken out their second papers and were to have been naturalized at the April or the September terms of the Alton City Court. Among those who will be affected this year are Herman Gossrau, Richard Spendler, Feliz Goebeler, Rene Louis Becker, and Herman O. W. Gherich. Besides this, there will be many times that number who have taken out their first papers. The letter from Washington to the Clerk of the Court is as follows:  "To Clerks of Courts of Naturalization: A state of war having been declared b y the Congress of the United States as against Germany, your attention is invited to the fact that until the war is over, and until a declaration of peace, no German subject may under the provisions of Section 2171 of the U. S. Revised Statutes, be naturalized a citizen of the United States of America.  J. Breckenridge."





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 13, 1917

Alien enemies in Alton are to be required to turn in all their firearms to Chief of Police J. J. Mullen, within the next twenty-four hours, or be subject to arrest. The Chief of Police gave out this notice this morning, and said it would be strictly enforced as a part of the government work. All things that might be classed as articles of war will be included in the list. They are to be turned into the Chief of Police at once. The name of the owner will be put on them, and they will be returned to their proper owner after the war. Chief of Police J. J. Mullen received a notice from T. W. Gregory, Attorney General, this morning, to put this into effect. A part of the notice reads as follows: 


"Chief of Police, Alton, IL:  Under the proclamation of the President [Wilson], dated April 6, 1917, it is unlawful for any alien enemy to have in their possession the following articles: Any firearm, weapon or implement of war, or component part thereof; ammunition; maxim or other silencer; bomb or explosives; any aircraft or wireless apparatus or any form of signaling device; or any paper document or any book or any paper printed in cipher code; or any paper document or book written in cipher, or in which there may be invisible writing or printing."


The order further gives the Chief of Police notice to give a twenty-four hour notice to call in all the implements of war in the hands of alien enemies. It stated that arrests should be made after twenty-four hours where everywhere is a violation of this order. Chief of Police J. J. Mullen is prepared to enforce the order to the letter. The notice has been given, and he will expect to start making arrests at the end of twenty-four hours. By alien enemies is meant all Germans and Austrians in Alton who have not taken out their first naturalization papers. How many the order will affect in Alton is not known. The police are making preparations to care for any guns that may be turned in. They are expecting to receive a number of guns of all kinds, and revolvers. This is carrying out the first order in the president's proclamation of April 6. It is expected that further orders will be received and put into effect, including the one which forbids an alien enemy from approaching to within one half mile of a [am]munition plant.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 26, 1918

Female German aliens will please step forward and be registered. A letter received today by the Mayor from the Department of Justice asks that he render the government aid through the police department of the city in registering all women who come under the classification of German aliens. The registration, it is announced, is about to be undertaken by the Department of Justice under the President's proclamation of April 19. The plan of registration of female aliens is substantially the same as that followed in the registration of male German aliens. The police have been instructed to act accordingly.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 14, 1918

The city council chamber in the city hall was a busy place Monday morning, when a large number of persons, mostly enemy alien women, called there to register so they could get cards giving them the necessary permission to live within and move about in the barred zone. Among the persons who were called in were women who had lived in Alton practically all their lives, and some who had lived here all their lives. Some women had come here in girlhood from Germany or Austria, and had never been naturalized, as women not being voters, they did not see the necessity of becoming citizens. Others, native born women, had married men who are alien enemies. The number who appeared today was surprising, notwithstanding the fact that former opportunities were given for registration. Both men and women who are required under the law to secure permits to stay here must do so at once. There were people from all walks in life. Among those who had to register were some members of Catholic religious orders who had come from one or the other of the enemy countries, and had never been naturalized. About fifty came here from Granite City. Miss Francia Wright, who was sent here by the United States Marshal's office, was assisted by Miss Helen Yeothan. She said that cards would not be issued today because of the number who had to be taken care of. Among those who came were many men.





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