Name: William K. Smith; aka W. K. Smith


Age/DOB:  abt. 1869


County of Conviction:  Custer


Judicial District:  16th              


Case No.:  861 & 874


Date of Conviction:    Oct. 10, 1918


Sentence: 10-20 years plus a $20,000 fine





Allegations:  That on April 15, 1918, at Sayle, said: "This (meaning the United States) is the worst damn country on earth; that defendants were German sympathizers and if it wasn't for being sunk they would go to Germany and help them, but they didn't want to be fish bait; that the war was for the benefit of the rich people; that the Liberty Bonds of the United States were By God all a damn graft and that one could borrow only $140 on a $1000; that they would not buy a Liberty Bond under any consideration and that the Government ought to strike greenbacks instead of taking money from the people; that Wilson got us into the war and now let him get us out; that the war was none of their affairs and none of their war; that they would let their stuff rot in the ground before they would let clerks from town help harvest it; and that as soon as the war was over they would go to Germany and take up a farm because Germany would be the best place to live; that they would not plant their wheat because they would have to sell it and haul it to the railroad and they would feed it to the hogs instead; that Germany is going to win the war; that the US ought to get licked in this war because we had no business in the war."


Case Details:  Defense atty. Sharpless Walker presented no defense case except for putting William on the stand. Found guilty by a jury after 23 minutes. Smith sold 80 acres to help pay his fine. Smith served 24 months in prison, working as a weaver. Conviction reversed by Montana Supreme Court (57 Mont. 349; 188 P. 644) on March 8, 1920, because improper evidence was introduced. Released on Oct. 10, 1920.


Personal Information:  Born in Ohio.  Came to Montana about 1911. Known as "Glass Arm Smith" after a fight in which he rammed his arm through a window. Also known as a very kind man who helped area homesteaders and fed passing cowboys. Had three sons, including son William "on the road to France." "Well-known" sheepman and rancher in the Moorhead area with at least 640 acres, 320 through homesteading. Second wife Janet ran the Sayle post office. He owned 300 cattle, 35 horses and a full set of machinery and implements and ran around 2,000 head of sheep with R.R. Selway.  Relieved of the postmaster's job after charges were filed. Was in Sheridan, Wyo. in 1921. Date and place of death unknown.


The Montana Sedition Project

Revised 4/9/06