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Madison County During World War I

 

German Sympathizers and Spies

 

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THE SEDITION ACT OF 1918, ENACTED BY THE WILSON ADMINISTRATION

Source: Wikipedia.org

 

"The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on May 16, 1918.   It forbade the use of 'disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language' about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt. The act also allowed the Postmaster General to refuse to deliver mail that met those same standards for punishable speech or opinion. It applied only to times 'when the United States is in war.'  It was repealed on December 13, 1920."

 


 

 

NAVAL RESERVE LAUNCH DISABLED - WORK OF ENEMIES

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 15, 1917

Enemies of the Alton Naval Reserves, who might have been in the employ of some foreign government, have disabled the engine in the steam launch of the Reserve so it would be impossible to use the launch for several weeks. Before the steam launch can be used, repair parts will have to be received from the United States naval yards. The boat is the property of the United States Government. The acts must have been committed within the past day or two. The boat was laid up for the winter near the boathouse on the Alton levee. Constant inspections were made of the boat. When the engine room of the launch was inspected today, it was discovered that the engine had been completely disabled. All of the valves have been destroyed, the tops have been taken off some of the other vital parts of the machinery, and the brass steam pipes have been removed. Wherever it was possible to do any damage on the engine that would require time and trouble to repair, it had been done. The men did not work to steal the brass, because much of the brass was left behind, and the men destroyed where they would have saved if they had been stealing the brass. There are a number of other boats on the bank near the naval reserve cutter which might have been damaged just as well. These, however, were not touched. It is believed the act was committed at night. The reserves have a watchman aboard the Illinois and they also have a man who sleeps at the armory near the steam cutter. The Illinois is tied below the bridge, and it is more than likely that the act was committed without waking the man at the armory. Lieut. J. B. Maxfield said today that the matter had been reported to the government. Whether or not the guard at the armory will be increased, he did not say. He said that he felt satisfied after investigating the affair that the act had been committed by some person unfriendly to the United States.

 

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SPY SUSPECT ARRESTED AT WOOD RIVER - WAS HEAVILY ARMED

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 1, 1917

A young man suspected of being a German spy is being detained in the Wood River jail for investigation by the Federal authorities in St. Louis. He gives his name as Fred Schultz, aged 22, and says that he is an unnaturalized American, having been in the United States only since the beginning of the war. He says that he is a German sailor, and that he was a member of one of the German ships which were interned in United States harbors after the declaration of war. His partner, who got away at the time of his arrest, is also being sought. The facts of the case, as given out by Wood River officials, are that a tip was given to Marshals Ed Maguire and Gus Haller that two men were overheard talking in German and planning to rob the Ratz and Rigg drug store in Wood River. After receiving the tip, the Marshalls decided not to wait until an attempt was made to rob the store. They secured an accurate description of the two men, and watched for them. They were seen on Ferguson avenue about 9 o'clock. As the officers approached, one of the men escaped through an alley, but the man who gives his name as Schultz was arrested and locked up in jail. As he was being taken to jail, he dropped a thirty-eight blue steel Colts revolver a few feet from the jail. It was seen by Ed Lonie, who picked up the gun and handed it to the officer. It is supposed he feared being mobbed, for he promptly acknowledged the ownership of the weapon and asked to be locked up at once. After being locked up, he refused to give any information about himself. Later on in the evening, a Wood River citizen who could talk German was engaged to converse with the prisoner, and he secured from him the statement that he was an interned German sailor. There were 75 cartridges in Schultz's coat pocket. St. Louis Federal authorities were promptly communicated with and they sent word they would be up this afternoon or this evening to investigate the matter. In case he is truly a German subject, he can be confined in the United States until after the war is over, whether there is any evidence against him as to being a spy or not. His partner's description has been taken and a careful watch is being kept for him. It is known that the partner is out of money and it is believed that he is still in hiding in Wood River. In connection with the affair, it has been learned that two young men, one of who answered the description of Schultz's partner, were seen loafing around the tannery at Edwardsville Crossing yesterday. They were sitting on a pile of lumber making drawings of the tannery. Men employed at the tannery became alarmed, and gave chase to the two men. In their getaway they dropped papers containing an accurate drawing of the tannery, the Standard Oil refinery, and the railroad tracks, besides a bank book on a German bank at Peoria, Ill.  It is suspected that the two men are the same who were seen in Wood River last night, and that one of them is Schultz. Schultz speaks English fluently and would hardly be recognized as a German. He has taken his arrest as a matter of course, and says little. Orders came at noon today from the Federal authorities to Marshall Maguire not to permit the prisoner to talk to anyone. Schultz, when searched, had five dollars in his socks and two dollars in change elsewhere in his clothes.

 

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 9, 1917

Fred Schultz, the young man who was arrested in Wood River a week ago on suspicion of being a German spy, was taken to Springfield yesterday by a deputy United States Marshal, where he will be compelled to answer a charge of having firearms without being a naturalized citizen. No direct evidence that he was a spy was found, but he violated the law in that he was an enemy subject and armed while the United States was at war with Germany. It is possible he will be held in confinement until the war is over. Yesterday he was arraigned before Police Magistrate N. J. Jordan on the charge of carrying concealed weapons and was fined $25 and costs. It was planned that he could be held in the Wood River jail for some time until the Federal authorities completed their investigation. But a few hours after he was fined, the deputy U. S. Marshal appeared and claimed the prisoner.

 

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 14, 1917

A Springfield dispatch says that Fred Schultz, who was arrested at Wood River and held as a suspicious alien, had been transferred to an internment camp for the duration of the war, yesterday, on instructions from the War Department.

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U. S. LOOKING UP GERMAN SYMPATHIZERS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 10, 1917

Uncle Sam was busy today looking up Alton people who had been reported to him either as having uttered seditious remarks, or who had acted suspiciously and needed some warning as to what their course of action should be. Clyde Capron, a United States Deputy Marshall, cam to Alton and had with him a list of names which had been sent to him from one time to another by individuals, or by public officials. The offenses were of a varying character. It is said that a good number of people were seen, they were talked with and given a warning. They were reminded that, if citizens, they would be subject to revocation of their naturalization papers; and if aliens, the alien enemy act would be applied to them, unless they comported themselves quietly, and refrained from making remarks that might be construed as disloyal. It is said that many of the men who were seen were very strong in their protestations of loyalty to the American government. They might have had some differences of opinion about the merits of the war in Europe, but that when Uncle Sam came in, they could see but one side, and that was the loyal side of an American citizen. The aliens were informed that so long as they refrained from seditious or treasonable acts, they would be perfectly safe. It is reported that a strong organization is to be perfected in Alton to watch and report the actions of persons who may be under suspicion, and that the government will be urged to cease being lenient if there are any future offenses. The names of the persons suspected could not be obtained.  C. F. Mueggenberg was one of those called upon. The visitor told him about observing rules of discretion in his remarks at the present time. He also suggested it would be well for him to put an American flag in his window. Mueggenberg said his window was small, and he is reported to have said that this was a free country and he might put up a flag sooner if no one tried to force him to do it. Mueggenberg said he had quit the German-American Alliance, had quit his German language newspaper, and had nothing against the United States. Mueggenberg gave no promise that he would display a flag in his window, though it was suggested he might use a small flag if his window was too small for a bigger one. Mueggenberg was asked whether he had property, and he said he did. He was asked if he would like to lose it, and he said no. He was further asked if he would like to be put some place where he could do no more talking until the trouble was over, and he said no. However, he was in no melting mood, and beyond saying he had nothing against the United States, would not consent to make any display of his loyalty to the flag under which he lives. This is said to be the only instance of refusal to comply with suggestions made. Assistant State's Attorney Watson said he is receiving many complaints from Alton people of disloyal sentiments uttered by Altonians. As forecasted long ago by the Telegraph, it is going to be hot for those who are disloyal in speech or acts.

 

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BERGER, MAX

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 9, 1917

(Springfield, IL) - The Federal authorities here will return to Alton Max Berger, alien enemy, as soon as they receive word from the Department of Justice at Washington; the Alton hotel keeper for whom Berger has been working assuming responsibility for Berger.

 

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BETHALTO LUTHERAN PASTOR PREACHES PATRIOTIC SERMON - TELLS YOUNG MEN TO FIGHT ... EVEN TO DEATH

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 11, 1917

Preaching to 21 young men in his congregation who have been in the draft, Rev. Brueggemann of the Bethalto Lutheran Church, one of the largest churches in the county, gave them the strongest admonition to exert their utmost in helping to conquer the enemy, Germany. Some time ago press dispatches contained statements that Lutherans in the western country were not showing the proper patriotic spirit. Rev. Brueggemann and his church are not in that classification. Whatever might have been their sympathies in the past, they are said to be united now in favor of a victory for the United States. A gentleman who attended the services Sunday when Rev. Brueggemann preached from the text, "God Is Our Refuge," say that the pastor declared, "We are Americans and we must stand for America; we must fight, fight, fight for America, even if it costs us our lives." He declared that Germany is now our enemy and is a strong one; that the people of Germany had been trained to war from childhood and that we must not underestimate the task we were undertaking. He pleaded for earnestness on the part of the people to help the United States. The Telegraph, recalling the stories that had been published of Lutheran disloyalty, calls attention to this action of the Bethalto Lutheran minister as proof that the Lutherans in this vicinity are not disloyal. Another man who lives in the country east of Alton, where there is a large population of people of German birth, or German extraction, said that a wonderful change had come over the men who had been wavering, and had been expressing sentiments which were not in keeping with what should have been. He said that since the young men of the families had been going into the army, some of them as volunteers and some as drafted men, that there had been a complete subsiding of any talk either against the administration or the fact of war. It is said that among these people there was none who subscribed to the Liberty Loan Bond issue, but that there is no doubt now that the Liberty Loan will be subscribed to by many of them this fall when the next loan is floated. They are giving their sons and they will give their money. They are also putting forth every effort to raise large crops. The change reported in that part of Madison County is declared to be remarkable. Some of the men of German birth who were declaring themselves to be planning to turn Socialists after being life-long members of other parties, have ceased to make such declarations. It is not believed that they were ever sincere about their declarations that they would join the Socialist party because of its anti-war activities.

 

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RUCKER, PAUL - ARRESTED ON CHARGE OF BEING ENEMY

Source:  Alton Evening Telegraph, October 25, 1917

Paul Rucker, a German alien, employed as a mold maker at the Illinois Glass Factory, was arrested at noon today and is held incommunicado in the Alton jail on the charge of making seditious statements against the United States. The Deputy States Marshall has been sent for and he will be down from Springfield to take charge of Rucker, and take up his case before the Federal District Court at Springfield. Rucker is charged with criticizing the United States government in connection with the Liberty Loan campaign, which has been prosecuted this week with great vigor at the Illinois Glass Company's plant. While circulars were being distributed in the mould department, Rucker is said to have taken one of the circulars with a defiant sneer, and to have made a vulgar remark about it, at the same time throwing it away behind his back. He is said to have murmured, "That's what I think about the Liberty Bond." Fellow workmen were shocked by the remark. They immediately sent word to the police department with the result that he was arrested while at work today. A warrant charging Rucker with being an alien enemy and violating the President's [Wilson] proclamation was issued, in addition to the charge of expressing seditious thoughts. Rucker, it developed, was given a permit to work in restricted territory, and it was cancelled some time ago. He returned to work in the restricted territory, and now a double charge is against him. A number of other cases of seditious remarks which have been made by citizens of German descent and aliens in Alton, have been reported to the Federal authorities and arrests may also be made in some of the other cases very soon.

 

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STROHE, FRANK/FRANZ                    Wood River Man Arrested Because of His Desire to Shoot Americans

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 9, 1917

Frank Strohe, a German, is now being held in jail at Springfield on account of his desire to shoot Americans. Although he was making his living in this country, he had no use for the men who would fight against his fatherland, and he did not hesitate about telling it. In fact, he told it to so many, that Secret Service men heard of it and he was arrested in Wood River yesterday. Last evening, J. W. Murrey of Springfield, arrived to take charge of him. The German claimed he had done nothing, but neglected to get a card from the Government. Investigation proved that he had done far more than this. At the Standard Oil Co. where he was working as a carpenter, he is quoted as having told the men that he was working as much as he could to get enough money so he might return to Germany to be in the front line trenches to shoot the first of the Americans who arrived to take an active part in the world war. He even hinted that he might meet some of the men from Wood River "somewhere in France" before he did his fighting. Accordingly, he is being held at Springfield. Marshal Ed Maguire at Wood River, acting on telegraphic instructions, had arrested the man just as he was walking out of the Standard Oil Co. office after drawing his pay. He had a good sum of money with him, which he said he intended to use in paying his way to Germany. Even though there was insufficient evidence against him before his arrest, the prisoner said enough to Marshal Maguire to warrant his being held.....Frank Strohe and Fred Schultz, who had been working in industries at Wood River, will be interred as alien enemies. They are now held in jail here (Springfield, IL). Strohe was employed on the German steamer "Energetic," interned at New Orleans and entered the employ of the Standard Oil Refining Co. at Wood River. He went to St. Louis without permission of his employers. Schultz refused to get an alien enemy permit.

 

NOTES:
The actions of Frank Strohe would have fallen under the Espionage Act of 1917, which made it a crime to interfere with the war effort, with military recruitment, or to attempt to aid a nation at war with the United States. Both the Espionage Act and Sedition Act of 1918 (viewed as an amendment to the Espionage Act) were signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. Many felt they limited the Constitutional right of free speech. Protesters, such as the ones shown in the photo, march at the White House demanding repeal of the Acts. The Sedition Act was repealed in 1920, but the Espionage Act is still in effect. In June 2013, Edward Snowden was charged under the Espionage Act after releasing documents exposing the NSA's PRISM Surveillance Program.

 

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WORTHINGTON, FRANK

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 2, 1917                        Man MISTAKENLY Arrested As Spy

Frank Worthington, an aged resident of East Alton, was arrested Sunday afternoon on suspicion of being a German spry, when he directed his large field glasses against the Western Cartridge plant from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad tracks. He was brought to the Western Cartridge Company gates by the National Guards, who are in charge of protecting the plant, where he was identified and was released. Worthington went out for a Sunday stroll along the Burlington tracks. He did not have the slightest intention of harm, and took along his field glasses, which are said to be the best in East Alton. He stood on the Burlington track and took an accurate survey of the plant through the glasses. While he was standing there, he was observed by the guards, and in a few minutes a number of them were rambling up the track after him. What helped to increase the situation was that Worthington was partly deaf and did not hear their commands to halt. He kept on spying until they reached him and jerked the glasses from his hand. Then he was ordered to accompany them back to the Cartridge works. He did not have any trouble in getting himself properly identified. Worthington is one of East Alton's best known citizens, and he is a property owner and also a trustee in the East Alton Methodist Church. He is not even of German descent, and so was quickly exonerated of the charge of being a spry. A company of 84th National Guard came to East Alton from Danville Saturday night. Their tents and equipment are expected to arrive today. They began duty guarding the Western Cartridge works yesterday, and in the absence of tents have been sleeping in No. 3 warehouse at the Cartridge plant.

 

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A WARNING TO GERMAN SYMPATHIZERS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 8, 1918

Passengers on the Wabash are horrified when just as the train is entering or leaving Raymond on the west, they view the body of a man dangling from the limb of a tree, high up, with his head dropped over, as if the neck was broken. The trains pass on and the news is spread throughout the country that a mob has hanged some man in Montgomery county. Occasionally a message is sent to some officer by a passenger notifying him and advising him to cut the body down. "The body" is a dummy man, and has been dangling from that limb for the last week or ten days. It is going to stay there too, according to Joe Crivello, an Alton traveling man who makes Raymond in his rounds. It is gruesome, he says, and a sickening sight when first seen by anyone who does not know that it is a dummy, and when the wind blows a little harder than usual, the body, with its toppled over head, swings to and fro. On the breast of the dummy is painted the words: "Pro-German. He got his. You're next if you are not for Uncle Sam." It was placed there by citizens of Raymond and vicinity as a warning to local Bolshevikis and I. W. W. followers, and while mute, it is one of those things which "speak louder than words." Some men attempted to cut down the dummy a few days ago, but were halted by nearby Americans, who told them to let "it alone; if you cut that down, up you go in its place." That ended the attempt, and the "body," Mr. Crivello says, is going to be allowed to hang and swing from that limb indefinitely.

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COLLINSVILLE LYNCHING OF GERMAN COAL MINER
Source: Auburn, New York Citizen, April 5, 1918
Kneeling with his arms crossed, Robert Paul Prager, who was lynched by a mob last night at midnight for alleged disloyal utterances, prayed in German for three minutes before he was strung up, according to statements today by members of the lynching party. Prager was a coal miner and yesterday at Maryville, Ill., in an address to the miners on Socialism, is said to have made remarks derogatory to President Wilson. Miners became angry and when they threatened to do him bodily harm he escaped to Collinsville, his home. Some of the miners, however, followed him, collected a crowd, took him from his home and led him barefoot through the streets waving an American flag. The police fearing violence took him from the crowd and placed him in the City Hall. Later a mob gathered in front of the hall and demanded the man. Mayor J. H. Siegel counseled calmness but the police force of four was overpowered and Prager was found in the basement of the hall hiding beneath a pile of tiling. He was dragged down the street and beyond the city limits, the crowd threatening to shoot if the officers approached. One mile west of the city the rope by which Prager had been led was thrown over the limb of a tree. He was asked if he had anything to say. His answer was to drop to his knees and with arms crossed to pray in German for three minutes. Without another word he was pulled into the air and allowed to hang. The mob then dispersed. The police said that while in their custody Prager had stated he was registered as an enemy alien, that he was born in Germany but that he had taken out his first naturalization papers and had hoped to become an American citizen. Collinsville is 12 miles east of St. Louis and is in that section of southwestern Illinois that of late has been active against disloyalists. Walter Clark, mine superintendent at Maryville said today he was convinced there was no truth in charges that Prager had hoarded powder while employed at the mine. Miners have expressed fear that German spies would get into a mine and attempt to blow it up. Before the rope was placed about his neck, Prager, wrote the following note in German: "Dear Parents: Carl Henry Prager, Dresden, Germany: I must on this, fourth day of April, 1918, die. Please pray for me, my dear parents. This is my last letter and testament. "Your dear son and brother. "ROBERT PAUL PRAGER." In Prager's pocket was found a long, "proclamation" in which he stated his loyalty to the United States and to union labor, and told of his difficulty in entering the Miners Union. Prager, yesterday afternoon put up posters' at the Maryville mine, proclaiming his loyalty to the government. When the miners left the workings they were incensed by the proclamations and began to hunt Prager.

COLLINSVILLE LYNCHING TRIAL GET UNDER WAY
Source: Rochester, New York Democrat Chronicle, May 13, 1918
The trial of eleven men on murder charges growing out of a lynching on April 5th at Collinsville of Robert Paul Prager, enemy alien, was begun today in Madison county circuit court in Edwardsville. Sixteen men were indicted, including four policemen. The date for the trial of the four policemen has not been set and the twelfth civilian has never been apprehended.
 

 

 

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