Dakota Datebook

We’re Not Spies

Sunday, December 11, 2005

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.”

Source: The Bismarck Daily Tribune. 13 Dec 1916.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

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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