Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Home Front–Night Riders

The handbill says it all:

One of the less attractive home front activities was the assault on those who stood against the war, or were basically considered disloyal Americans.  This was particularly noticeable in the German communities, as well as the Mennonite communities of central Kansas.

German spies . . . German sympathizers . . .Dirty Slackers.  If you were considered by your neighbors as one of these, you could be a target.

The above handbill was distributed in Barton County in mid-April 1918.  Late at night the handbills were distributed to every home in Great Bend.  A plane dropped handbills on Hoisington, Larned and Redwing.  Men on horseback firing pistols in the air was the method of delivery in Ellinwood.

In June two Mennonite leaders were tarred and feathered in McPherson for speaking out against the war.

And of course, no one knew who the Night Riders were.

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.

1 Comment

  1. Kirk Hjelmstad Sr.

    I was glad to be able to look up info about this stuff. It’s important to keep it alive for others to find out about. Good Job and thanks !

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