Name:  Ernest/Earnest V. Starr              

Age/DoB:  May 24, 1870

County of Conviction:  Rosebud

Judicial District:  15th

Case No.:  292

Date of Conviction:  Sept. 27, 1918

Sentence:  10-20 years, plus a $500 fine




Allegations: On the evening of March 24, 1918, was confronted by about 15 men in a local committee while reading a letter at the general store in Big Horn township, and asked about his failure to make Liberty Bond contributions. Forced to kiss the flag, he said, "What is this thing anyway? Nothing but a piece of cotton with a little paint on it, and some other marks in the corner there. I will not kiss that thing. It might be covered with microbes."


Case details: Information filed Aug. 1, 1918. Attorney was John C. Lyndes. Convicted  in a jury trial. Habeas corpus petitions denied in state and federal courts. In opinion in Ex parte Starr 263 Fed 145 (D. Mont. 1920), U.S. Judge George Bourquin noted that defendant was "more sinned against than sinning," and added that "Patriotism, like religion, is a virtue so exalted that its excesses pass with little censure. But when as here it descends to fanaticism, it is of the reprehensible quality of the religion that incited the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the fires of Smithfield, the tortures of the Inquisition and is equally cruel and murderous."Served 35 months. Sentence commuted by Gov. Dixon on June 4, 1921, to 5-20 years making him immediately eligible for parole. Evidence that a woman's malicious gossip about Starr, based on comments she said she heard him make in 1917, precipitated the confrontation with his accusers (but her testimony was not allowed for that reason). Released Sept. 18, 1921. Starr's name lives on in several books and articles on the flag.


Personal Information:  Born in Wooster, Wayne Co., Ohio. Attended schools in Kalamazoo County, Mich. Had one sister, a missionary in S. America.  Testified that he worked in North Dakota as early as 1886, worked for the Great Northern Railroad in 1887 and later homesteaded in North Dakota and Canada. In 1910 was single and living in Hillsdale, N.D. Left Canada in 1916 to come to Montana. Lived and homesteaded at the head of Tullock Creek near Hardin, 25 miles south of Big Horn township in what was then Rosebud County. Filed for homestead in 1916 on ceded portion of Crow Reservation. Also worked as engineer and boilermaker. Date and place of death unknown.


The Montana Sedition Project