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Prisoners and Persuasive Patriotism

October 4, 2000

Historian's Notes

Wartime always means a restriction on personal liberties. The First World War, however, seems to me to be one of the worst cases of rights violations. The Creel Committee and the various town loyalty committees enforced an agenda of obedience driven by fear and ignorance. The town name changes of Oklahoma are just a small example of such behavior.

Of course Geronimo is in the Almanac!!

Resources for "Persuasive Patriotism":

Fugate, F. L.& Fugate, R. B. (1991). Roadside history of Oklahoma. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Pub. Co.

Resources for "Prisoners":

The Angie Debo Papers are held at OSU's Special Collections & University Archives.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

This week prisoners and persuasive patriotism make the news! In the spring of 1917 the United States declared war on Germany, and as a result many Oklahomans with German ancestry became the target of suspicion, violence and prejudice. The German language was banned from meeting halls, and schools, German newspapers were driven out of business and buildings owned by German-Americans were looted and burned. People who refused to stop speaking German or who continued to espouse a love of their old homeland were driven out of their towns, sometimes beaten or jailed and in a few cases brutally tarred and feathered. Because of the large German population in Oklahoma there were a large number of towns or settlements with Germanic sounding names. It was in this week Oct 1, 1917 that the town of Kiel changed its name to the much more patriotic sounding name of Loyal. Other towns that followed in the wake of patriotism, or fear as the case may be, included the town of Bismark, which was changed to Wright to honor the first soldier of the county to die in the war, the town of Korn, K-o-r-n, changed its name to Corn, C-o-r-n, and the township of Bismark in Logan County was renamed, the much more acceptable, LeBron.

A mere twenty-three years before the U.S. declared war on Germany, Geronimo and his band of Apaches were brought as prisoners to Oklahoma. It was on October 7, 1894 that U.S. soldiers escorted the 296 remaining Apache prisoners of war onto their new permanent jail-reservation at Fort Sill. Although still technically prisoners of war, Geronimo and other leaders of the tribe were eventually made U.S. Army Scouts and worked in exploring un-chartered areas of the west. Geronimo actually traveled with Wild West shows during his time at Fort Sill and made a sizable amount of money selling autographs. Geronimo passed away in 1913 the same year that the Apache tribe was deemed no longer prisoners of the state and finally allowed to leave their Fort Sill confinement...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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