The "No German" hysteria stemming from World War I pressured Fred Kies into changing the name of the Jackson Deutscher Volksfreund newspaper to the Cape County Post in July 1918. (Southeast Missourian archive)
Recently in this blog, I brought you the story of the Farmers' Mutual Telephone Co. in Pocahontas, which attempted to restrict the use of the German language on its lines. This policy was left over from the days of World War I, when that language was banned from American pulpits, classrooms and newspapers.
The restrictions on the Teutonic tongue by the Pocahontas phone company got me curious about what other area institutions prohibited the language's use. I found it interesting that the strident demands for the elimination of German didn't start until almost a year after the United States entered the war. Here are a collection of articles I found in Cape Girardeau County newspapers concerning the language restrictions.
In the case of the Nancy Hunter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, that patriotic body didn't specify the elimination of the German language in the nation's elementary schools, but of all foreign languages, and only English would be sanctioned.
Published March 28, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
DAR URGE ONLY ENGLISH TONGUE TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS
Passed Resolution and Will Bring Matter Up in Washington.
At a recent meeting of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a resolution was unanimously passed urging legislation to eliminate the teaching of any foreign language in the primary schools of the United States.
Copies of the resolution have been sent to all chapters in Missouri and to all state officers, asking their support, and to the national society which meetings in Washington, D.C., in April.
Whereas, For the safety and unity of our nation, the happiness and prosperity of our people, it is of the utmost importance that the spirit and purpose of our school should be the education of our children as Americans in the highest and truest meaning of the name;
Therefore be it resolved, That it is the sense of the Nancy Hunter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution that no language except English should be taught in any elementary school of the United States whether such school be public or private, denominational or secular; and we ask all members of the Daughters of the American Revolution to join us in securing such legislation as may be necessary to that end.
Mrs. Marie Watkins Oliver,
Mrs. Elma Williams Ealy,
At the 27th Continental Congress of the National Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C., held in April 1918, a number of resolutions were offered and approved by the assembly, including one with very similar wording to the Nancy Hunter resolution:
"Whereas: For the safety and unity of our nation, and for the happiness and prosperity of our people, it is of the utmost importance that the spirit and purpose of our schools should be the education of our children as Americans in the highest and truest meaning of the name; therefore be it
"Resolved, That it is the sense of the Daughters of the American Revolution of the State of Missouri that the German language shall not be taught in any of the elementary schools, which include children to and including the eighth grade, whether such schools be public or private, denominational or secular. We ask all members of the Daughters of the American Revolution to join with us in attempting to secure such legislation as may be necessary to that end. Be it further
"Resolved, That we recommend and urge legislation by the Congress of the United States for the suppression of all German language papers and periodicals in this country."
How much success the DAR had in suppressing the teaching of German and the elimination of German newspapers I don't know, but the ideas seem to gather support as the war progressed.
Published April 6, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
SCHOOL BOARD HOLDS IMPORTANT MEETING
German Language Eliminated and Spanish Substituted...
Following the inauguration of John F. Neal and George L. Meyer as members of the Cape Girardeau Board of Education Friday night, the board unanimously voted to discontinue the teaching of the German Language in Central High School and Spanish will be taught instead.
Lee L. Bowman put the motion to stop the teaching of the German language and John Neal seconded it. Messrs. Nussbaum, Stehr and Meyer then voted with Bowman and Neal to make the change...
Published April 18, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
GERMAN LANGUAGE DISCARDED IN ST. LOUIS CHURCHES
ST. LOUIS — The Evangelical Lutheran ministers of St. Louis, with the support of leading laymen of the same church, have taken the lead, among the hitherto German-speaking churches, in dropping the German language from religious services and from parish school instruction. There are 28 Lutheran churches in St. Louis and the immediate suburbs.
This practically ends the use of the German language in St. Louis churches and at the close of this school year the end will be put forever on the teaching of German here.
Editorial published May 13, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
THE GERMAN LANGUAGE
From all parts of the county come reports of the elimination of the German language in schools, churches and newspapers. It is right that only the language of the country should be used in business activities and German should be eliminated except as an extra accomplishment, the same as any other foreign language.
The people of German origin in Cape Girardeau County have proved themselves loyal and patriotic in buying of the Third Liberty Loan bonds and in their support of the Red Cross, but some of them seem to possess a desire to cling to the German customs. This is not right. Why should they expect or desire to change America to suit the language and customs of the country from which they fled. When they come to America for protection they should endeavor to Americanize themselves and not to Germanize America.
The Missourian has a great admiration for the sturdy and honest citizenship of German origin that has helped to make Cape Girardeau the progressive community it has become, but it realizes that the time has come when each must show his complete loyalty to America and her institutions.
In future The Missourian trusts that none of its fellow American citizens will send in for publication any church or school announcements calling attention to exercises or services in the German language. That language is now the language of our enemies and should not be used by loyal Americans. At least The Missourian will not be a party to its use, or the advertising of its use, so long as the war with Germany continues.
Published July 12, 1918, in The Weekly Tribune and Cape County Herald:
THE VOLKSFREUND CHANGES ITS NAME
Jackson Paper to Be Known as Cape County Post -- Printed Two Languages.
The Jackson Deutscher Volksfreund (The People's Friend), the only German newspaper in Southeast Missouri, appears this week under a new name and is printed half in English and the remainder in the German language. The new name is the Cape County Post.
Fred Kies, the editor, announces that the change will remain in effect during the duration of the war, at which time he will decide whether to return to the German language or abandon it.
All news pertaining to the war will be printed in English, while local news is printed in both languages. Mr. Kies announces that the feature stories that have been carried in the paper for years will be continued and will appear in the German language. The editorials will be in English.
The Deutscher Volksfreund was established in 1885 by Frederick Kies Sr., father of the present editor. The Rev. Kies first published a religious paper, which was abandoned 36 years ago and the newspaper took its place. When the elder Kies retired, hos son Fred Kies Jr., succeeded him. For many years the paper was the only newspaper printed in the German language south of St. Louis.
Published July 18, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
LUTHERANS DISCARD GERMAN IN SCHOOLS BY UNANIMOUS VOTE
Resolution Was Adopted at Meeting of Congregation -- To Last During War.
At the meeting of the (Trinity) Lutheran congregation last Sunday afternoon a resolution was passed stopping the teaching of the German language in the Lutheran school in Cape Girardeau. A vote taken on the resolution was unanimous, not a dissenting vote being recorded.
Some time ago the printing of the monthly publication which is circulated among the members of the local church was changed from German to English and members of the church then decided that the German language must be changed in their school.
Whether the teaching of the German language will again be taken up in the school is not known, a member of the church told The Missourian this morning, but it is positive that it will not be taught until the close of the war and the settlement of all matters pertaining to the great conflict.
At the same meeting last Sunday the Rev. A. Lohmann of the Lutheran Church at Egypt Mills was called to fill the pastorate of the local church caused by the death of the Rev. August Wilder.
The Weekly Tribune and Cape County Herald published much the same information in an article the following day. But that newspaper took the issue a step further and approached the Rev. Eberhard Pruente, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Cape Girardeau, on the question of whether German would continue to be taught at its parochial school:
"It was reported last night that St. Mary's Catholic Church had also discontinued German in St. Mary's Parochial school, but Father Pruente, who is pastor of the church and the head of the school, informed The Tribune last night that no action had been taken. 'That action was contemplated, but I have no decision to announce,' said Father Pruente."
Whether St. Mary's School eliminated German classes during World War I, I don't know. If so, it was done quietly, as I have found no reference to it in newspapers of the time.
Published July 20, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
TO ABOLISH USE OF GERMAN LANGUAGE
Resolution Passed by Missouri Council of Defense at Cape Girardeau Meeting.
At its recent meeting in Cape Girardeau the Missouri Council of Defense discussed the using of the German language in churches, schools and public meetings and unanimously passed a resolution to eliminate the use of German in Missouri. The following address to the people of Missouri has been sent out over the signatures of Chairman F.B. Mumford and Secretary William F. Saunders:
"To the People of Missouri:
"The Missouri Council of Defense heartily approves the patriotic effort of Gov. Frederick D. Gardner to abolish the use of the German language in this state.
"The Missouri Council of Defense is opposed to the use of the German language in the schools, churches, lodges and in public meetings of every character. The Council believes that the elimination of German and the universal use of English at all such gatherings is essential to the development of a true, patriotic sentiment among all the people.
"The general adoption of English by all patriotic German organizations is a national duty and prompt action by all such will be regarded by loyal Americans as the clearest evidence of loyalty and a sincere determination to help and not hinder the American Nation in this war.
"Loyal and zealous Americans should refrain from violence and disorder and under no circumstances and no conditions, should our people be guilty of injustice, oppression or atrocious conduct toward any class of our citizens."
Published July 22, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
ZION M.E. CHURCH ABOLISHES GERMAN
Gordonville Congregation at Sunday Meeting Unanimously Voted It Out.
The members of Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, near Gordonville, is 100% American and insists that it be no longer called the German Methodist, but Zion Methodist Church.
This fact was told to The Missourian today by the pastor, the Rev. W.P. Ludwig, who says: "We want to do everything possible to help our government during the war, and so will only use the language of the country and will insist that we no longer be spoke of as a German Methodist church."
Editorial published July 25, 1918, in the Southeast Missourian:
A 100% COUNTY.
The action of Zion Methodist Church at Gordonville in voting unanimously to drop the use of the German language, and to drop the word "German" from the name of the church, expresses the sentiment of Gordonville community, as it has been strikingly expressed in recent campaigns for war funds. Gordonville has gone over the top every time it has been called upon. The few in that community who have held back on the ground that they are neutral have been marked and are now suffering the consequences.
The German M.E. Church in Cape Girardeau gave up its title some time ago and discarded the use of the German language. It had long been a most valuable institution for this community, and since it made the change and went upon a complete American foundation, it is stronger than ever and its usefulness will continue to increase.
Cape Girardeau County is setting a patriotic example that other counties may well follow. It is doubtful if German will be taught in any school of the county hereafter and very likely ever church has now cut out the use of the language.
A final note...
The Cape County Post, published in Jackson, continued its arrangement of printing five pages in English and three in German until Aug. 28, 1919. On that date an angry mob -- including World War veterans who had attended a soldiers and sailors reunion at Homecomers -- approached the Post office, threatening to remove the German type from the premises and destroy it. However, editor Fred Kies Jr., avoided further violence by agreeing to cease publishing the German language pages of the Post. The Cape County Post's Golden Jubilee Edition, published March 12, 1936, explained the incident and also remarked on the whole "English only. No German allowed" hysteria that marked World War I:
"During the Great War the world became insane, and this extended to individuals, who said and did things they would never have been guilty of in normal, sane times. So it came that on the night of Friday, Aug. 28 (1919), a mob gathered in front of the office of the Post with the avowed purpose of destroying the German type, as was explained, to prevent any further use of German in the publication of the paper, to which we were forced to agree in order to prevent great destruction of property and likely bloodshed. This was almost a year after the close of the war, during Home Comers when a reception was given to veterans and a detachment returning from France, when an unfortunate incident occurred of which we were in ignorance until long after, but which aroused a mob spirit. Almost 18 years have since passed; its recollections should perhaps be buried with the past, yet in writing this history of the paper this incident should be included and we have a chance to express our views at this late date, when calm and harmony again prevail. These views are: That the occurrence formed a blot on the name and fame of the county; that it was wholly uncalled for, but attributable to the general war hysteria which had not yet died down; that the act was one of great hardship and unfairness to many citizens who were deprived of learning of local happenings in the one language which they could read; it was an act which took us many years to forget, though never faltering in loyalty to our country, our state or our city. At that time propositions were made for the paper to be moved to Cape Girardeau, but we preferred to remain in Jackson and face the future, which became pleasant after the dark war days. The act was furthermore wholly wanton; the use of any language was not a prerequisite or evidence of good citizenship, and beside the natural course of events would have brought it about that finally the Post would have become a publication in the English language alone."