Name: Janet Smith


Age/DOB:  Aug 29, 1876


County of Conviction:  Custer             


Judicial District:  16th              


Case No.:  861, 875


Date of Conviction:    Oct. 20, 1918


Sentence:  5-10 years




Allegations:  That "she wished the people would revolt and that she would shoulder a gun and get the president the first one," that she "advocated turning the stock into the crops to prevent helping the government and killing off all the cripples, insane, and convicts in order to save food instead of making all the food restrictions," that the Red Cross was a "fake" and "while she didn't mind helping the Belgians with the relief work, the trouble was the damn soldiers would get it." Allegedly sent back War Savings Stamps.                


Case Details: Convicted after the jury deliberated for 50 minutes. She served 26 months in prison (one of only two women in Deer Lodge at the time of the 1920 census and the only female sedition prisoner). Conviction reversed by State Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 1920 (58 Mont. 567; 194 P. 131) because charging language in the information was not specific enough. She was released on Dec. 14, 1920. Case files transferred to Broadus after Powder River split off from Custer County. Powder River County attempted to try Janet and William on the same sedition charges again, but gave up in 1923.


Personal Information:  Born in Iowa. A brother, Hugh Mathian, lived in Alberton, and a sister, Bernice Kemper, in Los Angeles. Another sister, Bertha Rice, and a nephew, Mark Mathias, lived with her for some time in the Sayle, Mont., area. She lived in Deadwood, S.D. for a year and also in Lead City, S.D. before coming to Montana in about 1906 and to the Powder River country in about 1910. Was postmistress at Sayle, a name that was assigned by the Post Office. Became William Smith's second wife. According to Powder River County history, Echoing Footsteps, "Many of the cowboys made [the Smith ranch] their stopping point as they rode between Tongue River and Powder River. On occasions there would be as many as 24 people there for a meal." William also testified that Janet was the owner of a "desert claim." Remarried a man named Thomas in Davis, Iowa. Died Oct. 27, 1966, in Hawthorne, Calif.


The Montana Sedition Project


Revised 7/11/08