Friday, March 4, 2011

FOOD SHORTAGES AND SEDITION CHARGES

Irene and Harry Wilson homestead just below "Lime Point" at the base of Gin Gulch on the lower reaches of Bull River. Circa early 1900s. Courtesy Granville and Pauline Gordon collection.
Food shortages continued. Elected officials, preachers, teachers, and local Red Cross chapters advocated growing gardens to win the war. Nearly every community organization promoted the same: grow a big garden. The Sanders County Independent Ledger threw its weight behind the efforts on March 21, 1918, by informing its readers of the dire need:
"Every pound of food grown for farm and home consumption will help win the war. The fact that in Montana, one of the great wheat producing states upon which the federal food administration is depending, is right now on a fifty-fifty ration as to wheat flour will give some idea of the food shortage that threatens the world."
Montana shipped an estimated 33,000 head of cattle in 1917, and estimates for 1918 were almost 125,000.

Sanders County Independent Ledger was full of stories about proposed solutions. Dr. W. J. Butler, state veterinarian of Montana, advocated killing 200,000 head of useless lightweight range horses, which would be suitable food for eastern states that were desirous of horsemeat. Westerners didn't want horsemeat, so it would free the range for cattle and sheep.
"From a medical standpoint horse flesh is a desirable food. It is a cheaper food product than beef, pork or mutton...," Butler said.
The article also said that horse meat would lower the high cost of living. It would bring money into the west, which has been sent east in the form of Liberty Bonds; money, which would help, strained financial conditions of small stock growers and farmers, making possible a greater production of beef, pork and mutton.
"From a strictly economical standpoint it would seem profitable for the United States to condemn and destroy all lightweight range horses," the editor continued.
"Less than one week's supply of flour is available for American forces in France when they should have three month's supply; beef must go to market.
"Because of acute shortage of wheat flour for America's army in France, Food Administrator Atkinson of Bozeman, on receipt of orders from the federal food administration, has ordered the promulgation of new rules regarding the use and sale of wheat flour in Montana.
"The new order was made effective several days ago, and provides that until future orders the sale of wheat flour must be on a "fifty-fifty" basis ... all wheat flour must be accompanied by the sales of wheat flour substitutes to an equal amount in weight," the editor wrote.
Substitutes consisted of: cornmeal, corn starch, corn flour, hominy, corn grits, barley flour, rice flour, oatmeal, rolled oats, buckwheat, potato flour, feterita flour and meal and potatoes.

Potatoes had to be sold in proportion of four pounds of potatoes to one pound of flour. Bran and shorts were already on the substitute list, and sugar consumption was further restricted: only two pounds per month per person were allowed now. This meant a maximum daily consumption rate of 6 teaspoons each.1.

 Flour shortages were the most frightening to people in the mountains, where very little grain could be grown. Although a few ranchers had tried growing oats and wheat, the climate was not suitable. Grains were shipped in for the table and as feed for chickens, pigs and cattle.

Now C. R. Weare turned his extra five hundred pounds of flour, stored in barrels in his basement, into a benefit to the community, or so he claimed. Others in Noxon didn't see it quite that way.
"During the war it was arranged so that people had to buy twice the amount in soy beans for every pound of flour they bought," he said.
"If they bought one hundred pounds of flour at the store, they had to also buy two hundred pounds of soy beans.
"They didn't have to buy it [soy beans] if they bought flour from me, you see. So they'd come with a gunny sack and get a fifty-pound sack of flour."
O. C. Matheny, NP Railroad depot agent, who'd been in on Weare's shipment of flour, and listened to a lot of talk, took a three-months lay-off  "to run the farm this summer."2.

Larson and Buck claimed Weare was hoarding flour and that everyone was going to his ranch at night to buy it.
"They reported me to Wade Parks who was the county attorney," Weare said. "Joe Hartman was sheriff and he came out to arrest me."3.
Hartman advised Weare there was a lot of talk going on about what he was doing, so he'd better sell his flour over to one of the stores and let them handle it. Or he could be charged with hoarding.
"So I went over and told Mr. Buck, 'I've got about a ton of extra flour over there at the ranch, and I thought maybe you could handle it here. Sell it out.' He was a big fat fella.
"'Yes,' he said, 'that would be the proper thing to do. You betcha.'
"I said, 'There's just one string attached to this, though. I'm selling it for $1.55 a sack and I want it sold here for the same price.'"
Weare relished the telling of the tale, avenging himself for the wrong he felt had been done him.
"Oh, Buck didn't want that. He was charging almost double of mine.
"Buck said, 'Well, I'll let you know.' "But he never said nothing more about it. The post office was in his store and there was a crowd in there listening. They advertised my flour, talking it about. Here they come. My flour didn't last long after that."4.
Patriotism was not without its personal use to settle scores. Events climaxed when even C. R. Weare's friend, Sheriff Hartman, could no longer ignore Henry Larson and George Buck's complaints about his anti-war remarks.

 An examination of past dealings shows that Weare was no stranger to Sanders County courtroom.
  • In Case #557, Weare sued Jess Beason for $130.25 worth of lumber and wares. Beason paid $46.67 March 23, 1907; then paid another $5 March 1912.
  • In November 1914, a jury awarded $83.63 to Weare from Beason.
  • In Case #124, April 21 1913, Weare was tried on a second degree assault charge for "beating, wounding and biting Albert F. Cook". Weare claimed the charges,
    • "did not conform substantially to three sections of Montana Laws of 1907. That the facts stated ... do not constitute a public offense under ... Montana law."
  • Between January and February 1913 Weare was again in court. He'd been arrested October 1912, charged with assaulting Charles White with "two pieces of rock." Weare called witnesses A. C. Cook; James Bauer; Richard Granvill; Earl Engle; George Phillips; B. B. Andrews; Perry (a colored man); W. R. Hayes; Irene Bauer; Dr. H. H. Hattery; A. A. Baxter; Mrs. C. R. Weare; E. W. Love and A. S. Ainsworth. States witnesses included Charles White; Emil Mosby; E. Hansen; Mrs. B. B. Andrews; Fred Raynor; Don Maynard; Ed Raynor; Dr. Charles Schofield and Bomer.
While Weare was out on $500 bail, he believed he could not get a fair trial in Sanders county because of prejudice. Fulks, another Noxon lumberman, said it was true. Among persons of repute there was a
"violent prejudice of the people of Sanders County, Montana, generally, and more particularly from Plains west, against Weare ... Weare cannot have a fair trial."
Weare was found guilty of a misdemeanor; assault in the third-degree under a Justice of The Peace court jurisdiction, not in appelate court. Third-degree assault carried a fine of $100.00.

After those episodes, through the lumber industry disputes, the County Council of Defense, the Red Cross, the demand for bridges, war stamps, and rationing, Weare had repeatedly focused attention on himself.

Finally, on June 27, 1918, it seemed some scores were going to be settled. W. E. Hippert was Justice of The Peace, with whom a criminal complaint of sedition was charged against Weare.

Clifford Weare was arrested July 3, 1918 on charges of sedition, by Sheriff J. L. Hartman, which produced front-page headlines.

SANDERS COUNTY INDEPENDENT LEDGER
July 4, 1918
 NOXON MAN HELD TO DISTRICT COURT FOR REMARKS ALLEGED TO HAVE MADE
 "C. R. Weare, a well known rancher near Noxon was arrested Wednesday and upon waiving a preliminary hearing was bound over to the district court under $1,000 bonds on a charge of having made seditious remarks and of attempting to hinder the sale of War Savings Stamps.
"Three neighbors of the accused man have signed statements to the effect that he not only refused to purchase stamps himself, but that he was abusive in his remarks about those who did, that he said he would like to help the Germans defeat the allies and that he hoped they would sink the United States transports as fast as they went across.
"Rumors of an unfriendly attitude on the part of the accused man have been quite common for several months, but heretofore it has been impossible to find anyone willing to testify against him, partly because of his reputation as a steady, hard worker. His alleged remarks upon the War Savings campaign seems to have overcome this unwillingness and resulted in the action against him."
On July 4th Weare plead, "Not guilty," and was released on a $1,000 bail bond.

Weare's trial for sedition began with the complaint filed June 27, 1918, but the trial would not be a cut-and-dried affair, as no doubt those filing the charges believed it would be.

The complaint stated C. R. Weare displayed,
"disloyal, profane, violent, scurrilous, contemptuous, slurring and abrasive language about the form of government of the U.S., and the flag of the U.S. and did with language calculated to bring the form of government of the U.S. in contempt, scorn, contumely, and disrepute, ... to incite, and inflame resistance to the constituted Federal and State authority in connection with prosecutions of the war."
On July 22, County Attorney, Wade Parks, asked for and was granted a 45-day extension to investigate the charges.

November 15, 1918, Parks took the stand to swear Weare had said,
"God damn them (U.S. soldiers) because (U.S. soldiers) won't fight. The Germans (soldiers) will start a movement and will pinch off a bunch of American troops and I don't give a damn if they (German soldiers) do."
The most damning statement Parks claimed Weare said were the words oft-quoted later:
"I would sooner live under the rule of the Kaiser than under England; England rules the U.S. The moneyed interest of this (U.S.) country brought on this war (the war between U.S. and Germany) all of which is contrary to the form, force and effect of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the phase (sic) and dignity of the state of Montana."
Parks solemnly swore this while sitting on the hard maple chair of the courtroom in Thompson Falls, gazed on by avid spectators packing the courtroom.

Weare asked that the information statement be stricken from the record because it was filed illegally.

The trial continued, intermittently. On May 17, 1919, Herman Manicke was subpoenaed as a witness for Weare. Later that month on May 23rd, Weare's attorney, H. C. Shultz called H. C. Neffner, Chas. Fulks, Mrs. C. R. Weare, George Jamison, and Wade Parks to the stand as witnesses for the client he found fiery, determined, and unrelenting in his beliefs.

Also witnessing for Weare were Clarence McFee, Dan Coan, J. C. Colvin, J. F. McKay, Wm. McKiernan, F. B. Lyons and Granville Gordon. Mr. and Mrs. S. S. Brown and Frank E. Harris also took the stand on his behalf.

By 1919 another dispute had grown: J. W. Hammons and Weare's falling out over establishment of the Farmers Cooperative Store which began cutting out the middleman.

G. H. Buck and H. A. Larson each had mercantile stores in Noxon. Mrs. Elizabeth Buck was chairman of the Noxon Red Cross, and was heavily involved in war stamp drives and Salvation Army requests.

Weare's supporters at the trial claimed,
"Weare sought only to question the patriotism and loyalty of some of the loud-mouthed speakers about the country, that patriotism and loyalty are proven by acts and not mere words of pretension."
And that "Weare did deplore seemingly useless and unnecessary sacrifices of lives and property caused by the war."
Hammonds became a state witness. Coan said it was a personal dispute over money matters between Weare and Hammonds. Also subpoenaed were B. B. Bunn; George H. Buck; C. E. Munson; Frank Anderson; Henry A. Larson; J. L. Hartman; Elizabeth E. Buck; Solon Ellis; J. D. Beason; Wm. Ellis; Arthur and Florence Hampton.

B. B. Bunn took the stand claiming he heard Weare say in February,
"This is only a rich man's war and the poor fools are fighting it ... We had no business going to war ... Any commander of a submarine who would not torpedo a ship carrying women and children should be placed with the wall and shot!"
George Buck claimed he had warned Weare to shut up his pro-German remarks or he'd report him. But during March 1918, when the first German offensive was launched, Weare came into Buck's Store, where the post office was, and offered to,
"bet me a suit of clothes that the Germans would win the war." Buck wouldn't make any such bet and the conversation ended.
C.D. Munson swore under oath that Weare also told him,
"I would sooner live under the rule of the Kaiser than under Englands. England rules the U.S." He reported further that Weare had always been in favor of Germany.
J. W. Hammons swore Weare said the people of the U.S. didn't want the war; that President Wilson was a God damned son-of-a-bitch in declaring war; making millions out of it; that the government is persecuting the I.W.W.'s. He claimed also that Weare's sympathies were with the I.W.W.'s, and if a straw vote was, "taken of Noxon ... people of Noxon are not in favor of war."

Hammond claimed Weare also said,
"Jesus Christ! Did Noxon sell $4,500.00 worth of (war) stamps? I suppose that God-damn son-of-a-bitch Beason (meaning J. O. Beason, of Noxon) was over there and I have to sue in order to get what he owes me; I suppose he was over there to buy stamps there that Buck, that God-damn ignorant fool, suppose he bought stamps riding around in an auto; if he (Buck) paid my folks what he owes them, he would not have anything to buy stamps with, I bet he bought."
Hammons said Weare made other seditious remarks on separate occasions, too. Henry Larson reported that some time in the fore part of 1918 he heard Weare say, "I heard the Russians have thrown in with the Germans; going to fight with Germans." Larson said, 'No, I think not.' Weare then said he hoped they had.

Frank Anderson, the ferry attendant at Noxon since 1917, who'd known Weare since 1908, gave the following deposition: That Weare had said,
"The German government is just as good as the United States Government, and the Kaiser is a damned sight better than the President; (meaning President Wilson) "that just after the German offensive drive in March, 1918, this affiant was reading the "Spokesman-Review" and was engaged in transporting Clifford Weare and his wife across the Clark's Fork River at Noxon. Weare asked Anderson relative to what the news contained; Anderson said it seemed that the Germans are pressing the Allies pretty hard and are putting them toward the English Channel. "Weare then said: 'That is good enough for the English sons-of-bitches, I would like to see them (meaning the Germans) push the English into the English Channel.' "That a few days subsequent to the above conversation an article appeared in the daily papers giving account of the American Army in France, stating that they were on the French front and had taken part in some minor engagements." Weare and Anderson had a conversation about it, he claimed, and in the course Weare said in substance: 'The Germans will start a movement and will pinch off a bunch of American troops.' Anderson said that he wasn't much worried about the Germans doing that; Weare replied, 'I don't give a damn if they [the Germans] do."
Anderson claimed that in numerous conversations between May 1917 and April 1918 Weare had always favored Germany against the Allies; that particularly sometime during the middle of the summer of 1917 he expressed himself most viciously against the English people; that some time during October or November, 1917, Weare had said the above remarks. He went on to claim that some time "during the spring of 1918 and after" they'd had conversations in which he told Weare he was getting pretty sore. Weare replied,
"That god-damn fool pretends to be so patriotic. Nobody wants this war; 90% of the people don't want this war; 5% wants it for the money that there is in it and the other 5% wants it because they want to make good fellows of themselves. About the first part of June 1918 Weare said that the English and Allies were just about licked.
Anderson said, 'General Foch had a large reserve and would use them.' Weare replied that was all goddamn newspaper lies about Foch's reserves. They argued about who started the war and who was going to win.
 Anderson asked Weare where he got his ideas. "Right out of the casualty lists," Weare replied. Anderson told Weare, "A lot of the people around here don't like the way you talk."
"The god-damn sons-of-bitches are afraid to tell me that. I'd shove my fist down the throat of the first man who called me a Pro-German," Weare replied.
Anderson testified that later that summer, while visiting in the Anderson's home Weare said,
"I hope the Germans sink our transports; my sympathies are with Germany, and if I could get to Germany I would join the German army tomorrow. I'd sure like to go to Germany."
According to Anderson, Weare also opposed joining the American army, and claimed that,
"The officers will never get me in the draft. I will kill the first blue-bellied son-of-a-bitch that comes after me."
During the time of the last part of June 1918, about the time of the last thrift stamp drive, Weare exploded again to Anderson,
"Jesus Christ, Noxon can never sell $2500 worth of Thrift Stamps; I will not go over to the sale and no one can make me buy any stamps; I don't want any stamps."
Anderson claimed since Weare was brought in on the charges for his careless talk, he [Weare] had been more cautious about his comments on the war.

On and on the testimonies condemed their fellow resident for his anti-war opinions and his failure to invest any money in the war effort. Colvin and Lyons heard Weare's remarks, and claimed they were radically different than alleged during the trial and that,
"Weare sought only to question the patriotism and loyalty of some of the loud-mouthed speakers about the country, and that patriotism and loyalty are proven by acts and not mere words of pretentious ..."
McKiernan, McKay and Gordon testified Weare's acts were loyal and his talk was not seditious. The penalty for sedition was a $200 to $20,000 fine or imprisonment in the state prison for 1 to 20 years.

On May 23, 1919, Weare was found not guilty.5. (*Subsequently the Morgan Trust trials proved correct Weare's charges that there was a great deal of American profiteering during the WWI.)

FOOTNOTES
  1. Sanders County Independent Ledger, August 8, 1918.
  2. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 6, 1918.
  3. Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history, March 20, 1970.
  4. Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history, March 20, 1970
  5. Case #213, May 23, 1919, District Court, Sanders County, Montana. 

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