Dakota Datebook

We’re Not Spies

Sunday, December 11, 2011


When World War I broke out, a large number of North Dakotans still had fairly strong ties to the old country. At this time in 1916, the Bismarck Tribune published a story that showed the lengths to which some had to go to prove they weren’t spies for the enemy:

“The North Dakota railroad commission is a firm believer in ‘Safety First,’” the story read. “That is why the commissioners, when they [soon] enter Canada…, will be armed with showy, official letters of introduction from Governor Hanna [stating] Messrs Stuttsman, Anderson and Mann, regardless of their names and personal appearance, are law-abiding, respectable, innocent American citizens… Chairman Stuttsman is of German ancestry, and Mr. Mann is a very good Dutchman. Mr. Anderson’s name places him above suspicion, but even he is taking no chances… Governor Hanna’s letters [assure] there never was a more harmless trio dispatched from the good state of North Dakota.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

Source: The Bismarck Daily Tribune. 13 Dec 1916.

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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