History and Opinion
By Phil Roberts
Murder in the Freeze-outs: Loyalty, Sedition and Vigilante Justice in World War I Wyoming
By Phil Roberts
This article first appeared in Annals of Wyoming 85 (Winter 2013)
Wyoming has been the least populated state throughout most of its existence, The small population variously has been a disadvantage, particularly with respect to economics, but also an advantage with respect to personal inter-relationships. With a tinge of romanticism, some have described Wyoming as "a small town with a very long main street."
The state has all of the benefits and all of the problems of any small town--the personal friendships, the rivalries, the arguments, the alliances inherent in any community. Yet, some say that the lack of population requires that the people in the state get along. "As Pinedale’s John Perry Barlow, once said, 'make sure after some bad run-in with another Wyomingite, you ‘heal up and hair over’ because someday you’ll be stuck in a snow drift on Shirley Rim and, sure in hell, the first guy to come along will be that same guy.'” 
Likewise, Wyomingites have had long-standing contradictory attitudes about the federal government. The federal government remains the owner of half of the land area in the state. Wyomingites, in hard times, relied on government help (the New Deal agencies during the Great Depression, for example) and reviled government interference during natural resource booms by restraining full-throttled development.
This article describes a time, almost a century ago, when federal policy and wartime propaganda raised suspicions between long-time neighbors and provided a convenient legal pretext to take advantage of strangers and outsiders. The effect was to undermine community, often by anonymous informants. Among some Wyomingites, another result was to heighten suspicion of federal government power and outsiders coming into the state.
Nationally, during the winter of 1916-17, President Wilson, who had won the general election in November, 1916, partially on the slogan, "He Kept Us Out of War," saw the country drifting into the conflict. Even though war seemed inevitable by the early winter of 1917, many Americans still opposed involvement, particularly members of labor organizations that viewed the war merely as a means to enrich industrialists at the expense of workers.
Congress, anxious to unify the country for war, drafted laws to prosecute spies and saboteurs. The Espionage Act of 1917 passed both houses by substantial margins and was signed into law by President Wilson on February 14, 1917. With potential spies taken care of, Congress and the President adjusted the laws to stifle political dissent--to crack down on those who believed it was not in the national interest to fight in a European war. President Wilson signed the Sedition Act, on May 16, 1918, designed to clamp down on German sympathizers and those who, by their words, gave comfort to the enemy by encouraging resistance to the draft or fulfilling tasks essential to winning the war.
Two months after the Espionage Act passed, the United States entered the war. U. S. Attorneys' offices everywhere were swamped with reports about German sympathizers praising the Kaiser or boasting of eventual German victory in the war. Every community had draft-age men failing to register and others who were openly encouraging resistance to the draft. In a few cases, U. S. officials heard dark rumors about threats made on the life of the President.
Wyoming residents already had the legendary reputation of favoring self-help and tolerance of other points of view. Yet, as soon as the Espionage Act went into effect, Wyomingites from every part of the state reported on suspected disloyal people and "slackers" who they believed had failed to register for the draft. In this atmosphere, Federal officials in the Department of Justice worked with local authorities in investigating the many reports and prosecuting the handful of legitimate Espionage Act and Sedition Act cases. At the beginning of the war, the Attorney General “asked loyal Americans to act as voluntary detectives and report their suspicions directly to the Department of Justice.”
Even before troops made it to France, C. L. Rigdon, the U. S. Attorney for Wyoming, received mail about German aliens planning to foment disloyalty in various Wyoming towns. Guy Shoemaker, mayor of Laramie, wrote to Rigdon on April 10:
[S]uspicion has been cast around certain people of German origin and in probably every city there are more or less of these suspects, a great many, no doubt, unjust. That condition exists in Laramie but during the past two or three days there have been cases reported to my office, the nature of which, I believe warrants investigation.
Shoemaker singled out two University of Wyoming students "coming directly from Germany." He added that one Laramie man "has deliberately torn down and destroyed the American flag." Rigdon dispatched Thomas Holland, a federal investigator, to Laramie to look into the problem. Additionally, Holland was asked to check out the facts contained in two Laramie Republican news stories about a fight resulting from seditious comments. Joe Jacobs, a Laramie barber, purportedly said that if the U. S. were to go to war with Germany, he'd support Germany. Holland asked spectators and found out that, in fact, Jacobs had not said anything. In fact, an Albany County legislator, Jake Berner, made the comments favorable to Germany while getting his hair cut in Jacobs' shop. Jacobs, angry at Berner's seditious words, "blacked Werner's eye." But the revelation did not fully exonerate Jacobs from suspicion of espionage, at least in Holland's mind.
Jacobs is a barber and while in Laramie owned a motorcycle and was in the habit of making trips most every Sunday taking his camera with him and is supposed to have made pictures of various points of interest along the line of the UP between Sherman and Green River.
Along with bridges and railroads, Wyomingites worried about sabotage of power plants and coalmines. Kemmerer Coal Company manager P. J. Quealy wrote Rigdon on April 12, concerned with "a great many foreigners here, including Austrians, many of whom may be disloyal." He asked if the federal government would send some additional deputy U. S. Marshals to "protect the mines, power plants, etc."
Many Wyomingites owned hunting rifles. J. L. Graverson, the Sheridan County attorney, wrote to Rigdon to tell him that many local people were complaining about the "great numbers of foreigners" having guns. He noted that one German received 90 pounds of ammunition by express along with two high-powered rifles. He asked, "Have we any authority to confiscate the guns of foreigners and what should we do about the German?"
Large public works projects seemed likely targets for sabotage. Days after hostilities began, the gatekeeper at Pathfinder Dam in south-central Wyoming, wrote to warn Rigdon about possible saboteurs:
Mr. Schulte, manager of Schulte Hardware and Ed Schulte manager of Webel Commercial Co., father and son, Casper. Lt. Welch told me he had requested the Casper authorities to keep these two men under surveillance. It is reported that the citizens of Casper are quite excited over the talk and actions of these two men. Both of the stores handle arms and ammunition and it would be possible for them to ship in explosives.
As time passed, hysteria over potential German sabotage reached comical proportions. For instance, residents of Sheridan reported seeing a hostile balloon west of town. Torrington citizens saw a similar balloon although some asserted that it "may be an enemy airship planning to blow up the sugar refinery or other industrial works." Dismissing the airship claim, a Cheyenne paper concluded, "The lights in the sky remain a mystery."
When it came to foreigners living in their midst, county officials throughout Wyoming worried about trouble. Suspicion was not restricted only to Germans. As John J. Spriggs, Fremont County Attorney, wrote Ridgon the week war was declared, "We have a Mexican arrested and in jail as a German sympathizer." He said the man was arrested in Hudson. Spriggs said he "drew up the charge of treason" and adding conspiracy to commit treason. "I interviewed him a couple of times, but he is wise," Spriggs wrote. "We had a Mexican in jail with him and he gave the Mexican some information, about a man named Meyer who was to give him money to join the German army." Rigdon quickly wrote back, advising Spriggs that a treason charge was not appropriate in this case. Neither did Rigdon concur with Spriggs' concluding assessment: "There may be a German plot uncovered."
No German plot was uncovered in Lander, but in the same week, a retired army officer from Fort D. A. Russell questioned the loyalty of Atlas Theater performers. He attended a vaudeville performance and was shocked when "one performer rendered a song which constitutes a criticism of the government of the United States and the War Department in view of the announced policy, or plan, of sending US troops to France, and the matter is reported to you in compliance with existing orders." The unnamed song advocated peace. The officer reminded the base commander that "public uttering of such sentiments is contrary to public policy..." After U. S. Attorney Rigdon received a copy of the letter, forwarded to him by the retired army officer, he called the manager of the Atlas who agreed to drop the offending song from future performances.
But it did not take seditious remarks to launch an investigation. People fell under suspicion for refusing to buy war bonds or seeming to admire anything German. By the end of 1917, more and more people in Wyoming were turning in neighbors for making what was perceived to be favorable comments about the Kaiser or Germany's chances for battlefield success.
In Cheyenne, Mrs. J. Tyler complained about her neighbor, Rev. Holmberg, a Swedish minister living next door. After brief investigation, officials found Holmberg had been in the United States for 27 years and handled pastoral duties in Cheyenne as well as serving as missionary minister to congregations in Rock Springs, Rawlins, Superior and Pine Bluffs. Mrs. Tyler told investigators that he was "very close-mouthed and it is almost impossible to get any information about his affairs from him." She said the pastor's family seemed to live "rather extravagantly" on a minister's salary. "When moving into this residence there was a two-party line telephone in the house," she said, "but they had this taken out and a one-party line which costs more than a two-party line--put in." (Presumably, Mrs. Tyler had shared the party line). While she admitted she never heard the reverend say anything seditious, Mrs. Tyler said he "does not look like a Swedish person although he speaks the Swedish language and conducts his services here and elsewhere in that tongue," She said she thought it was "possible Rev. Homberg [sic] is an agent, acting under the guise of a missionary, for the Germans."
With respect to the speech cases, nationally and in Wyoming, many reports clearly lacked merit. As historian Geoffrey Stone states, “In the first month of the war, Attorney General Gregory asked loyal Americans to act as voluntary detectives and to report their suspicions directly to the Department of Justice. The results were staggering. Each day, thousands of accusations of disloyalty flooded into the department."
In one Wyoming case, several Ohio Oil company employees reported that a man recently fired by the company had "made disrespectful remarks about the Red Cross." In another instance, a special agent of the Department of Justice reported to the Attorney General that arms and ammunition had been shipped to Hanna, Wyoming, where there were "troubles amongst the Finns."
As hysteria mounted about German spies and sympathizers hiding in their midst, some Wyomingites turned to extra-legal means to enforce conformity and stop seditious or treasonous talk. In November 1917, "local citizens, headed by Night Marshal Cheney, rounded up three radical German citizens and sympathizers," a Lander newspaper reported. The three were forced to "swear allegiance to the United States and to the President and to kiss the American flag in public." One of the three, Fritz Stille, proprietor of the Home Restaurant on Lander's main street, "protested against his treatment and departed at once for New York." Shoemaker Peter Kuschill apparently accepted the punishment while painter L. W. VonBelker reminded his tormentors that he had served in the American army, "stating that he was a loyal American citizen."
Less than two weeks later, some 200 miles to the southeast, Henry Swanson, a Swedish-born resident of Laramie, was jailed. His offense? After 16 years in the country, he had "made no effort to secure naturalization." Even worse, "Swanson is said to have on several occasions sworn against the United States and wished that Germany might defeat this country."
Later that same week, a refinery worker in Greybull "aroused suspicion that he was pro-German." His co-workers called Deputy Sheriff Fisher who arrested the man, who identified himself as Calvin H. Cass. The deputy "placed him in jail to await an investigation." The report noted that "there is no direct evidence against him" and, consequently, "he will probably be released."
Even though complaint letters flowed in throughout the war, Attorney General C. L. Rigdon rarely saw fit to prosecute such speech cases. "It is important that federal authorities carefully avoid interference not warranted by federal law," he wrote with respect to the report about Hanna's Finns.  In the Red Cross remarks incident, he apparently agreed with the investigator's decision to "merely admonish" the elderly Alsatian man who made the statements.
Cass, the Greybull refinery worker, escaped the difficulties encountered by two other men arrested in Casper about the same time. Will Schau and Robert Jones, both African-Americans traveling through Casper, "were held for several weeks on charges of being slackers." The newspaper complained, "an investigation was unable to find evidence that would indicate they had evaded the draft laws." They were released when officials confirmed their story that they had registered for the draft, but had lost their draft registration cards.
As summer turned to fall and the propaganda war went into high gear, numerous people were charged with failing to register for the draft. Several men in the Big Horn Basin entered guilty pleas for the offense in November 1917. Three men from Casper pled guilty on Dec. 20. By the end of the war, more than 100 were so charged in Wyoming alone. Judging from the names of the accused, most were immigrants or members of ethnic minorities. Most of the remainder were itinerants passing through Wyoming.
The media-spread warnings of German agents caused many strangers passing through town to come under suspicion. The Weston County attorney reported that two men "who have plenty of money and have it telegraphed to them whenever they want more," were being held in the county jail. What made them particularly suspicious--"they have nothing but IWW and Socialistic literature and an abundance of it in their private effects." The county attorney admitted that "I do not know that these men have violated federal laws, but I do want some one to go over their letters and papers." He concluded: "To me it seems they and their work is part of a well-organized plan to at least create dissatisfaction with the government at this time and probably to organize revolt."
One need not be an ethnic minority or a stranger identified as a German sympathizer to come under suspicion of undermining the war effort. In Powell, Georgiana Youngs, a pacifist, was forced to resign her teaching position in the local high school. "The board, after questioning Miss Youngs and learning that she felt she could not refrain from expressing her views on the subject of war when the question came up that the best interests of the school would be conserved if she resigned...." The news account emphasized that she was not a German sympathizer. "No charge of disloyalty or un-Americanism is held against the teacher, but under the trying circumstances in which this country is found, her teachings was objected to as a hindrance."
Some prosecutors reported potential law-breakers to the U. S. Attorney, but many county attorneys were not familiar with their obligations under the new laws. "I am rather in the dark as to the matter of treasonable utterances," the Campbell county attorney wrote to Rigdon in July 1917. "Should this be taken up by me as county and prosecuting attorney or referred to your office? Please advise me that I may act understandingly in the event of a case of this sort."
Rigdon replied, addressing duplicate copies of his letter to other county attorneys. "[Such cases] should be taken up by you as county attorney in the first instance and the defendants held under some county statute, such as breach of the peace, until an opportunity is made for further investigation. In such instance forward me a statement of the facts in the case, together with the utterance thought to be treasonable or a violation of the federal laws or Presidential proclamation, in order that I may, if possible, bring them under some Federal Statute.”
The law also puzzled U. S. Commissioners like John A. Thompson in Thermopolis, who wrote to Rigdon in July. He said the sheriff was holding a prisoner who was charged with failure to register for the draft and "desecration of the flag." The man admitted the charges. "What to do?" Thompson wrote. Rigdon telegraphed a reply, instructing him to hold the prisoner over to the November term of U. S. District Court and fix the bond at $2,000.
Some knew they were being "ratted out," but only on rare occasions might the accused individual even learn he was under suspicion before being confronted by law enforcement authorities. John A. Schneider, a German-American resident of the coal-mining town of Hanna, heard there might be a complaint against him for making pro-German statements. He wrote to U. S. Attorney Rigdon in June 1917 to deny the charge. “There is a party living in my neighborhood who I have had trouble with for several years and he has tried every way imagined without success over Ground Ditches and Water rights.” He added that the county attorney was aware of the neighbor's animosity toward Schneider. Rigdon answered the same day: “I am glad to know that you are a loyal citizen of the country and that you have made none of the statements alleged.”
Even though Congress contemplated that the law would be enforced only against wrong-doers, many Americans and Wyomingites recognized early on that they could use the new federal laws to get even with rivals or ensnare people with contrary ideas or habits. Typical were cases like that of an unidentified man arrested in Worland in July 1917. Judge P. W. Metz telegraphed Rigdon that officers were holding the man, "a slacker who is an IWW" who had "cussed the government and is an all-around bad man." Metz insisted that the man be charged. “If he is allowed to go unpunished, it will establish a bad precedent here."
Vigilance against actual saboteurs appears not to be a common motive. The files include numerous cases of people complaining against neighbors who probably experienced altercations over the years. The complaining neighbor might either assert that the accused was acting suspiciously or had spoken seditious statements.
In fact, most complaints of neighbor against neighbor suggest less than honorable motives. Kent Snyder, U. S. Commissioner in Wheatland, wrote to the U. S. Attorney in April 1917 about reports of pro-German comments being made by the Boderdoff family living on a farm near there. "The exact nature of their statements has not been given to me," Snyder wrote, adding: "May I request that you give me some idea where free speech ends and seditious statements commence?" He concluded: "It is stated that these Boderdoffs are due for final proof on a homestead soon and it is possible that their neighbors desire to take some advantage of them on this score."
In at least one case, a wife turned in her husband, W. A. Frenzel, as a German spy after he was seen leaving Lovell "with a woman not his wife and spent the night with her in Cowley." The story said the man repaired jewelry and watches at a small bench in the Lovell post office and, from time to time, made "utterances which were regarded as disloyal." Nothing was made of the statements until his was arrested on the adultery charge and taken to jail in Basin "where upon his wife is said to have turned over to the authorities sufficient evidence to prove that he is a German spy." He was held for federal authorities, according to the article. The article writer noted Frenzel "ignored the fact that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
Sometimes, the laws punishing failure of young men to register for the draft were used for personal revenge. The U. S. Attorney noted how it likely was used in a particular case being pressed by a prominent citizen in Worland. Discounting the local informant, Rigdon wrote to U. S. Senator John B. Kendrick defending his office's refusal to prosecute the case. “Of course you will understand that a great many complaints regarding failure to register are entirely without foundation, and in many instances complaints are made by persons who desire simply to get their neighbors in trouble, or for other reasons. In these cases, upon investigation, the cases are dismissed." He concluded: "I feel very confident that no person at Worland or in that vicinity, who has deliberately failed to register, has escaped prosecution.”
Once the target of a complaint from a neighbor, even though the charge ultimately may be found baseless, a Wyoming citizen might find it difficult to escape coming under further investigation. By all accounts, a complaint letter to the U. S. Attorney yielded immediate response and, often, launch of a field investigation within the following ten days.
Despite all of the complaints, anonymous letters and investigations, just two men were convicted of violating the Espionage Act in Wyoming. One case followed a relatively standard pattern. It was a simple fact situation for a jury. The U. S. Attorney charged a German-American ranch hand for siding against America and for his mother country.
Complaints came from numerous neighbors and co-workers so the U. S. Attorney brought the charge under the act against German-born sheepherder William Huhn. A federal jury in December 1917 found him guilty of making anti-American statements. The U. S. Attorney brought 11 counts against Hahn, an employee of a sheep ranch in the Big Horn Basin of northwestern Wyoming.
A series of witnesses appeared in the week-long Huhn trial. Adam Darling, a cowboy working for F. G. S. Hesse ranch near Buffalo was a witness; so was Edward Crandall, by the time of the trial, working for a Casper oil company. Howard Schriver, drafted shortly before trial and serving in camp at American Lake, Wash. while the trial was underway, was called as a witness. A subpoena was issued to Stephen Fichian of the Immigrant's Protection League in Chicago. The case went to the jury on Dec. 28, 1917. They returned a verdict of guilty, but only on one count. Nonetheless, Judge Riner in January, 1918, sentenced Huhn to one year and one day in federal prison at Leavenworth..
The second case was far more complicated and, in the end, a puzzling application of the Espionage Act. The convicted man initially faced more than violation of the Espionage Act, but his apparent violation may have precipitated a more serious charge against him.
At first glance, the case was not about espionage or sedition; it was a common enough Old West murder. Two ranchers, neighbors living along the southern edge of the Freeze-out Mountains, feuded. Cattle knocked down the fence between the two ranches. The cattle owner shot two dogs that were attacking his herd as it grazed in the dog owner's pasture. Later, a newspaper noted there had been a long running "strained relationship" between the two men. The accused stood trial and a jury found him not guilty by reason of self-defense. The neighbors never believed the self-defense claim. They turned to vigilante justice, but not in the standard Western way. He was not lynched; he was not confronted by a violent mob. But through quasi-legal means, he was banished, losing his property, reputation, and freedom in the process.
Prosecutors, disappointed with the poor case made against the accused, must have agreed with the Leo neighbors. Not only were the facts not as they first appeared, but a new law, passed by Congress just a few weeks before the incident, influenced how the two men acted and how prosecutors and the neighbors responded to the trouble. It was wartime and Congress had passed and President Woodrow Wilson had signed the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act. Intertwined within this tale of murder are indicators of how the acts and the propaganda surrounding their application influenced local citizen conduct, even far away from desperate saboteurs or their logical military targets.
By October 1917, John Leibig and Louis Senften had been quarreling for some time. Hardly the best of friends, they lived at opposite ends of the same ranch house. When the 26-year-old Senften bought out his older neighbor earlier that year, he agreed to let, Leibig, the seller stay at the ranch until fall when he could sell off the remainder of his cattle.
Before he agreed to sell his land and modest ranch buildings to Senften, Leibig ranched for almost two decades in the Leo community, more than 70 miles north of Rawlins, the county seat of Carbon County. The Leibig ranch, situated between Sage Creek and Difficulty Creek on the south edge of the Freeze-out Mountains, was in an area that attracted only a handful of homesteaders. Too remote from any large town, far from the railroad or good roads, and tucked into dry, sagebrush-covered hills, a homesteader would be able to raise only a few sheep or cattle, eking out an existence from season to season.
Ranches near watercourses (then as now) sold for a premium. Wyoming's prior appropriation system of water allocation gave senior permit holders significant advantage over later junior claimants. Later arrivals, hoping to rely on the annual rainfall in the area, soon learned to expect less than five inches per year, most coming as snow in the spring months of March and April.
Lack of precipitation made crop agriculture impossible but successful cattle and sheep raising required vast expanses for sufficient grass to keep the animals fed. In some places, rugged granite cliffs and steep draws kept livestock from reaching the waters of the North Platte or down to the small tributaries. Without extensive land ownership or access to free open range grazing, ranchers could not survive. Leibig was a pioneer; not only did he have the advantage of Sage Creek, a North Platte tributary running through his land, but he also had a workable homestead acreage he owned outright and good access to public lands where he could graze his livestock for free. Just as important, Leibig's was one of the few ranches with access to the waters of tributaries feeding into the North Platte river some 15 miles to the west.
Born in Germany in March 1863, Leibig came to the United States in the 1880s. Nothing is known of his life in Germany or his first years in America, but by the last decade of the 19th century, he was ranching in Wyoming. In the 1890s, he filed for a homestead and settled on a quarter section, intending to utilize the ample open range around his land for cattle grazing. Under the terms of the Homestead Act, in order to gain the land patent, Leibig was required to live on the land for seven years. Even though he was not a citizen at the time of his initial filing, he could file as long as he swore he "intended to become a citizen." The General Land Office issued him a patent December 17, 1906.
By all indications, Leibig was a loyal naturalized citizen of the United States. Almost two years before he gained the patent, he was sworn in as a citizen in Carbon County District Court and handed his citizenship papers, dated Jan. 24, 1905. In September 1910, typical of other homesteaders in Wyoming during the period, Leibig purchased a relinquishment—a homestead abandoned by an earlier claimant—giving him another 80 acres adjacent to his existing homestead. In October 1907, the State Engineer granted him a water permit for Sage Creek, a tributary of the North Platte River.
Despite the remote location and harsh living conditions, the neighborhood was filling in by 1910. Congressional passage in 1908 of the Enlarged Homestead Act, sponsored by Wyoming's U. S. Representative Frank Mondell, gave hope to the aspiring rancher that the additional quarter section available under the act would be just enough to turn marginal land into a productive small ranch--and land in the Leo neighborhood was certainly marginal. Only a couple of dozen people in 48 households are listed within the entire census district for 1900, but by 1910, the number had swelled considerably to more than double the 1900 count.
In 1909, Louis Senften, at the age of 19 years old, came to the Leo community where he went to work as a ranch hand for area rancher Lewis G. Carpenter. Senften was born in Claremont, Richland County, Illinois, on June 8, 1889, the son of Swiss immigrant farmers. His father came to America in 1879 and his mother, five years later. By the time Louis came to Wyoming, two of his older brothers--both in their early 20s--were working for a farmer near Buhl, Idaho.
Neighbors viewed Louis Senften as an ambitious, industrious young man. He homesteaded his own place and during the winter of 1916-17, he joined with former employer, L. G. Carpenter and Hanna banker Otto Frederick to form the Indian Creek Land and Live Stock Company. The incorporators filed the charter on March 7, 1917. The three men not only were the incorporators, they were the entirety of the board of directors.
Until August 1917, John Leibig lived alone, gradually accumulating land, cattle and sheep. After some 20 years' ranching, a local newspaper described him as "prominent and wealthy." Senften announced plans to purchase the Leibig ranch, with the financial assistance of the corporation, in the spring of 1917.
Suddenly, without any previous indications that the long-time Leo area rancher might be disloyal, he was turned in as a traitor. An anonymous complaint to the U. S. Attorney in mid-August, 1917, accused Leibig of making treasonous statements. The unnamed informant further complained that John Leibig had been advocating resistance to military service and the draft. No letters, no responses from the U. S. Attorney and no published newspaper source indicates that Leibig had been under suspicion for violating the espionage and sedition acts prior to August, 1917. At the time, he was closing the sale of his ranch to Louis Senften and making plans to move to a warmer climate--southern California--by the end of the year.
Once the complaint came in, it did not take long for an investigator from the U. S. Attorney's office in Cheyenne to go to the remote ranch and ask Leibig some questions. A front-page story in the Rawlins Republican on Aug. 23, 1917, reported that Leibig was arrested August 18 at his ranch in the Leo country. The warrant for his arrest charged him with an "attempt to obstruct the Recruiting and Enlistment Service of the U. S. Army." Affidavits, presented at the preliminary hearing on the following Thursday, stated that Leibig "believes that Germany has acted perfectly right in all her dealings, even as regards the murder and torture of Belgian women and children." Leibig "had disposed of all his holdings in this section" and he planned to go to California and then into Mexico, "so that he can from there aid his native country." Names of the affiants were not mentioned in the news article.
The Rawlins newspaper, in the news report, strongly condemned Leibig: "John Leibig is worse than an alien enemy, having come to this country not worth a cent. He applied for his naturalization papers and was naturalized as an American citizen in the Carbon County court in 1905. He then took up a homestead and has made all his money directly as a citizen of the United States and as a U. S. homesteader and rancher." The paper concluded: " It is the desire and belief of all loyal Americans that men such as this be punished to the full extent of the law, even to including the confiscation of the money that he has made in this country."
Deputy U. S. Attorney Howell, who had charge of the prosecution, went to Rawlins on Aug. 23 for the preliminary hearing. That afternoon, Leibig was bound over for trial by U. S. Commissioner George E. Brimmer.  Leibig posted a $5,000 bond and was released pending the trial to be held when the new court term began in November. Leibig returned to the ranch where he continued to share quarters with Louis Senften and to dispose of his livestock and other effects. No evidence exists that Leibig knew who had informed on him. Was it Senften? Did Leibig have any evidence to suspect the man who was buying his ranch and temporarily sharing the ranch house with him?
On the afternoon of October 20, 1917, Ed Callahan, a youthful hired hand from a local family, was sorting potatoes in a root cellar at the Leibig ranch, helping Leibig clear out his property. The new purchaser, Louis Senften, was at the ranch, too. He grudgingly allowed Leibig to dispose of any items he had accumulated at the ranch over the years. L. C. Carpenter, another neighbor and business associate of Senften, also was present at the ranch.
Senften and Leibig argued earlier in the day, the exact reasons not clear from the later testimony. One account describes Senften's two dogs chasing some of Leibig's cattle after the cattle knocked down a fence separating the existing property lines between the two neighbors. Angry that the dogs were harassing his herd, Leibig took out a shotgun and, after Senften refused to bring the animals to heel, Leibig shot and killed both dogs. (Oddly, Leibig's own later account doesn't mention the dog incident).
Leibig later claimed that whatever the substance, the argument he was having with Senften turned threatening and he decided to go back into the house to avoid trouble. Soon, according to Leibig, Senften stood outside the house, wielding a heavy whip, the end loaded with lead, and challenging Leibig to come out and fight. Senften swung the whip so violently that he broke one of the windows of the ranch house.
From the safety of the house, Leibig saw Carpenter coming into the ranch yard. Feeling confident Senften would not assault him with the neighbor there, Leibig left the house and walked toward the horse corral west of the house on a 90-degree angle from Senften who was standing in front of the structure. Moments later, Senften caught up with Leibig at the corral gate and menaced him "by shaking his fists in [Leibig's] face."
Suddenly, both Leibig and Senften noticed that Carpenter was approaching them from in front of the house. Leibig remained at the corral gate, but Senften slowly walked back about 30 or 40 feet while Callahan, leaving the root cellar, passed Carpenter perpendicular to Senften's path, saying to Carpenter that "there was going to be trouble here." Seconds later, while Callahan walked back to the root cellar next to the house, Senften stood visiting with Carpenter. Leibig remained at the corral.
After another 10-15 minutes of potato-sorting, Callahan returned to the corral where he saddled his horse. He noticed Senften and Carpenter come from a "dugway on the north side of the stable." While Carpenter walked over to the door of the root cellar, Senften went back to the house. Soon, Carpenter, too, was saddling his horse in the corral, preparing to leave with Callahan back to Carpenter's ranch, some two miles west of the Leibig ranch.
Just as Carpenter was cinching up the saddle, both men heard a gunshot, apparently coming from the creek some 80 yards from the corral. Some 15 seconds later, Callahan and Carpenter had run over to where Leibig was standing. "What did you do?" Callahan asked him. Leibig replied, "I did not do it. He shot himself."
Carpenter leaned over Senften who was lying on his back on the ground. Leibig, referring to the still-living Senften, said to Carpenter, "Speak to Leo, he is my best witness." In another account, Leibig was quoted as "stating that he had left the shot gun standing against a bank and that Senften had come along and picked the gun up, being accidentally killed when he started to break it over a rock." Carpenter "straightened up Senften" and asked him what had happened, but Senften was dead.
Leibig stepped into the creek and picked up the shotgun where he later claimed "the stock had floated from the point of the accident." He threw the gun up on the bank at Callahan's feet. A newspaper account published shortly after the incident states that, when the two men found Senften dead, "Leibig was near him, calmly washing his clothes in the creek."  Leibig then offered to ride to the nearby Cowdin ranch to summon help, but Callahan already had returned from the horse barn with a horse blanket. He and Carpenter wrapped Senften's body in the blanket.
Carpenter telephoned Carbon County sheriff M. E. Pickett who, with undersheriff Glunz, took Leibig into custody a few hours after the incident. A coroner's inquest convened the following morning concluded that Senften had been murdered. Leibig was taken to Rawlins where Jonathan C. Friend, the Justice of the Peace, presided over a preliminary hearing. Leibig entered a "not guilty" plea, but after hearing seven witnesses (including Sheriff Pickett, L. G. Carpenter and Dr. E. A. Kell, county coroner), Judge Friend determined there was probable cause to charge Leibig. He ordered him held without bail. Carbon county attorney A. J. Rosler filed first-degree murder charges against Leibig and the rancher was bound over for trial in district court in Rawlins.
Newspaper reports detailed the incident, generally conforming to the main facts in the story previously laid out. But some additional curious facts emerged from those first news stories about the murder that raise numerous other questions about what actually was at the root of the incident.
A Rock Springs Miner story, published six days after the incident, was headlined "Man Facing Trial Kills State Witness." The lead paragraph stated: "John Liedie (sic) of Carbon County, an alleged German sympathizer, who since early this fall has been under a $5,000 bond pending trial in the U. S. court in Cheyenne, on the charge of having made treasonable utterances and threats against President Wilson, is in jail at Rawlins, charged with the murder of Louis Senften, 27, the government's chief witness." The story included the following statement: "While the direct cause of the shooting it is charged, was the dispute over the cattle breaking through Senften's fence, the prosecution will bring out the strained relationship between the two men as a result of the charge pending against [Leibig] in federal court in Cheyenne."
The Rawlins newspaper gave details as to Leibig's arrest, but does not mention how federal authorities had learned of his treasonous statements beyond noting the presence of the affidavits. In any event, Senften's name is not mentioned as the anonymous informant. In fact, not one printed source prior to Senften's murder named him as the informant. Only after the murder do newspaper articles state that Senften was the one who told the U. S. Attorney about Leibig's German sympathies.
Oddly, none of the newspaper articles cite a source for that fact. Was the U. S. Attorney's office the source? The Carbon County attorney? Or did those facts come from Leibig's neighbors? If the posthumous information about Senften published in the newspapers is correct, when might Leibig have discovered that fact? Was it when Leibig was first arrested? Was it before Leibig appeared before the U. S. Commissioner in Rawlins or prior to the time he was bound over to federal court in Cheyenne?
The time Leibig found out the name of the anonymous informant had additional implications. There is the matter of the sale of the ranch Leibig had homesteaded and owned for more than two decades. "Sentfen....bought [Leibig's] ranch from him soon after [Leibig] was arrested...." It seems unlikely that Leibig would sell off his ranch to someone he knew had turned him in for treason. The negotiations must have happened before Leibig knew of Senften's identity as the anonymous complainant.
Further, as the Rock Springs story states, the two men agreed that they "would occupy the same ranch house until the fore part of December, when [Leibig] was to move. This they were doing at the time of the tragedy." Again, it is unlikely Leibig would have agreed to such an arrangement had he known what Seften had done. Leibig expected his money on December 1. Given that the sale had not closed at the time of the murder (and would not close until December), might Sentfen and his business associates have a motive to implicate Leibig in treason?
An Evanston newspaper ran an item in November 1917, responding to rumors that Leibig's attorney, Hugo Donzelman of Cheyenne, would request a change of venue. Such action was "denied by the attorney who has charge of Leibig's defense." Donzelman was assisted by veteran Rawlins attorney L. E. Armstrong. The prosecutor, County Attorney Rosier, was assisted by N. R. Greenfield.
Throughout the winter, regular press mention was made of the forthcoming trial. The regular term of court began on Monday, March 4, 1918, and the Leibig case was the first on the docket. Counsel for Leibig filed a series of motions prior to trial. One motion tried to get the case dismissed because key witness, Ed Callahan, was stranded by heavy snows and might not make it to Rawlins in time to testify. The judge denied the defense motions and, by Wednesday morning, the trial got underway with jury selection. "When court adjourned last evening the first panel summoned had been exhausted and the attorneys had ten challenges left," the Rawlins Republican reported.
The trial lasted more than a week, beginning on Monday with examination of the jury. Once the jury was secured on Wednesday morning, the counsel presented opening arguments in the afternoon. Newspapers noted “The case was very hard fought throughout, both the prosecution and the defense using a large number of witnesses.”
The witnesses, including those who testified at the coroner's inquest and the preliminary hearing, had consistent stories about the main facts, but contradicted one another as to key details such as how the shotgun discharged. The prosecution tried to show that the shotgun was damaged only after Leibig threw it violently against a rock after shooting the victim. Throughout the trial, Liebeg maintained that Sentfen’s death was an accident. It happened when, in the course of an argument, Sentfen picked up Leibig’s shotgun and broke it over a rock. The defense argued that the gun was damaged when Sentfen grabbed it by the muzzle and smashed it on the rock, causing the weapon to discharge, fatally striking Sentfen at point-blank range.
On the following Monday morning, the testimony concluded and that afternoon, the attorneys presented closing arguments. By the time the attorneys rested the case and the judge gave instructions to the jury, it was about 10 o’clock on Monday night.
The jury returned a verdict on Monday night at 11:45 p.m., after deliberating less than two hours. Leibig was acquitted. “Leibig was released from custody immediately upon the rendering of the verdict. He will, however, have to answer before the federal court at Cheyenne for alleged treasonable utterances against the United States government.”
The record suggests that Leibig did not return to the Freezeout neighborhood. The ranch he had homesteaded and built over three decades was now in the hands of Sentfen's business partners. Newspaper reports stated he was not welcome back into the community. Instead, he was arrested by federal authorities for sedition on the two Grand Jury indictments brought the previous August prior to Senften's murder.
The U. S. Attorney filed six counts against him under the first indictment--one for threatening the life of President Wilson, others for "knowingly and willfully cause and attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of duty in Military" by means of "words or statements then and there public ally uttered." Under a second indictment, Leibig faced five charges of encouraging draft-aged men to refuse to comply with the law. Under these provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917, if found guilty, Leibig could be sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of $10,000 on each of the eleven counts. The court set the trial date for the June term of court.
Hugo Donzelman, who successfully defended Leibig in the murder trial, again was retained to represent him, this time in federal court in Cheyenne. The Grand Jury indictments did not mention Senften as a complainant, but numerous other neighbors made statements for the record. Leibig was charged with saying to neighbor Daniel Cowdin on July 1, 1917: "I will chip in on a purse to have President Wilson killed." He said to Roy Cowdin on April 15, 1918: "I will throw in $10 to any man who will kill President Wilson." He said to neighbor Mabel Slaney on July 15, 1917: "I have sold part of my cattle and purchased German war bonds with part of the money and I am going to chip in the rest with other loyal Germans to hire somebody to kill President Wilson."
Under the second indictment, Leibig supposedly told Daniel Cowden on Oct. 1, 1917:
That nothing about the war with Germany contained in the newspapers of the US, printed in English, is true, and that the only newspaper publishing the truth are those printed in the German language; that Pres. Wilson is the biggest grafter in the US; that the government of Germany is right in its contentions; that the US is wrong; that the soldiers of this country are going to fight the battles of the rich men and millionaires of this country and not for the country itself; that the US will get the worst of it, that they will be defeated; that the US can never whip Germany even with the help of all of the other Allies; that the US will never be able to transport troops to Europe; etc. "that he is not afraid to blow up Pathfinder Dam.
Just before the case was to go to trial, Leibig changed his plea from "not guilty" to "guilty" on all counts. Given that he faced a possible 220 years' sentence if found guilty, his decision to plead guilty likely came as the result of a plea bargain. Once the plea was entered, U. S. District Judge John Riner immediately sentenced him to 1 /1/2 years in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Leibig became only the second man in Wyoming sent to federal prison
Leibig was released from Leavenworth in the spring of 1919. President Wilson commuted his sentence to one year. He did not return to Wyoming, but moved to Denver where he was noted as living in a boarding house in the 1920 census.
By all accounts, this should have been the end of the Leibig saga. But in April 1922, the U. S. Attorney initiated an action to cancel his citizenship he had been granted in 1905. The government argued that Leibig had lied when he applied for citizenship because "he swore allegiance to the United States with a mental reservation." Leibig's address was unknown so legal notices were published in the Wyoming State Tribune during the early summer of 1922, alleging that the certificate of naturalization had been obtained fraudulently and stating that if Leibig did not respond, default action would be taken.
You did not, at the time of taking said oath, renounce all allegiance and fidelity to the German Empire and to said Emperor of Germany, and that you did not intend to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States and did not intend to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States....Thus, forfeiting your citizenship.
U. S. Attorney Albert D. Walton, who replaced Wilson appointee Rigdon when Harding became President, wrote to the postmaster in Hanna, Wyoming, asking about Leibig's whereabouts, adding that he assumed Leibig was dead. The postmaster answered, "In reply to your letter of May 2 relative to the death of John Leibig, [I] will say that I have no direct proof." He wrote that a local man, John Dolling of Medicine Bow, had received a letter stating that Leibig had died in Mexico and asking him to "advise relatives in Germany of his death." The postmaster also suggested that Walton contact Hugo Donzelman in Cheyenne, known to have been Leibig's attorney in both the murder trial and the sedition case. Leibig did not appear; the new U. S. Attorney, Albert D. Walton, asked the court to revoke his citizenship when Leibig "failed to answer this summons." The court complied and entered the order.
Why the government would go to such a length to strip Leibig of citizenship seems perplexing. Even U. S. District Judge John Riner "seemed to doubt the necessity for cancellation proceedings in this case on the ground that conviction of a felony under the Federal Statute would, ipso facto, take away the citizenship of Mr. Leibig," the Chief Naturalization Examiner for the district wrote to U. S. Attorney Walton. So why was the action continued?
The only practical reason for the cancellation of Leibig's citizenship--even if he would not be aware of such an action--may have had to do with Leibig's ranch and the fact that he had homesteaded portions of it. But it could have been an even less obvious reason.Was it necessary to quiet title to the property, given that Senften apparently had not completed the purchase before his death? The surviving directors of the Indian Creek Land and Live Stock Company (Carpenter, Hanna banker Otto Frederick, and Ed Callahan) must have worried that Leibig still had an ownership interest in the property. What would happen if Leibig were to return and challenge the disposal of his property? After all, there is no evidence he received any of the purchase money prior to Senften's murder.
This rationale for stripping Leibig's citizenship gains currency from a letter written by Carpenter's lawyer. Rawlins attorney A. McMicken wrote to the U. S. Attorney in May 1922, asking what the effect of the citizenship cancellation might have "on lands patented to Leibig and sold by him to another who has since died and his estate has been closed and settled in probate and the lands disposed of to a third party under order of sale in probate." McMicken said the "last purchaser desired me to make inquiry."
McMicken represented Lewis Senften's estate. At his death, the murder victim was still a key shareholder in the Indian Creek Land and Live Stock Company. An examination of Senften's probate record shows that Louis G. Carpenter, fellow shareholder and a witness to his death, was made administrator of Senften's estate because all of Senften's heirs--his parents and four brothers--were not residents of Wyoming. The Petition for Letters of Administration included an inventory of Senften's property:
[A] homestead on which final proof has been made, but no patent yet issued, of probable value of $1,600; about 65 shares of capital stock of the Indian Creek Land and Live Stock Company, a corporation of the par value of $6,500, against which there is an indebtedness a balance due for the purchase price thereof, $2,124. Thus, total estate value of $5,976.
Carpenter, as estate administrator, set about disposing of Senften's property. The former Leibig ranch was held in the name of the corporation, but Senften's own homestead was subject to sale by Carpenter, the estate administrator. At the end of December 1919, Ed Callahan, the man who was sorting potatoes at the time of Senften's murder and witness in Leibig's murder trial, offered to pay $580 for the title to Senften's homestead of some 160 acres. On Feb 10, 1920, the record contains an order confirming the sale of real estate to Callahan. Earlier, in March 1919, Carpenter sold the shares of the Indian Creek Land and Live Stock Company to one of the initial directors, Hanna banker Otto Frederick for $2,838. There is no reference to any money held in escrow for Leibig or any reference to a corporate debt payable to the now-missing man.
The aftermath of the Leibig case, specifically the unusual lengths through which various parties sought to strip him of his citizenship, suggest possible motives on the part of many individuals involved in the case. Did Carpenter, Senften and the other directors plan to accuse Leibig of traitorous talk in order not to have to pay for his ranch? Might Leibig have become aware of the scheme and, in the confrontation with Senften, end up shooting him for his role as an anonymous informant?
Why would the neighbors testify to hearing Leibig make treasonous statements and threats against the life of President Wilson if Leibig, in fact, had not made any such threats? It seems likely that the neighbors were reacting to the "not guilty" verdict in the murder trial. Here was a unique opportunity to extract some revenge on Leibig for Senften's death. And, would it not be honoring Senften's memory by simply repeating the charges he had made anonymously to the U. S. Attorney?
Even after examining all of the documents and assessing motives of various participants, the entire story never will be known. The hysteria whipped up by the government as a means of gaining universal support for the war led to passage of laws that could be used to threaten individual civil liberties. The results might have punished many of the guilty, but it also ruined the careers of many others and cost others their very lives. All of these results occurred in the Leibig case, but it also provided an outlet for individuals believing that justice had miscarried.
When it came to ratting out neighbors or using the law to get even for private disputes, Wyomingites were no different than all other Americans. What may have made the Leibig case unique was how neighbors in a remote section of Carbon County used those laws in lieu of a lynching to extract what they believed was just punishment for the murderer of an admired neighbor. In that respect, this group of Wyomingites using the Espionage and Sedition Acts were ingeniously carrying out a variation of vigilante justice without the hangman's noose, the firing squad or mob violence.
 At least two people are credited with popularizing the statement: U. S. Senator Al Simpson and Gov. Mike Sullivan. The sentiment, however, had been expressed by numerous politicians and writers throughout the state's history. Politics, too, is very personal and, therefore, relations among politicians are perhaps less edgy than in more heavily-populated states. T. A. Larson, in his classic history, suggests that politics in Wyoming is “a game played seriously by a few hundred people, most of them men. In even-numbered years they maximize their efforts and activate temporarily a few thousand recruits.” Larson, History of Wyoming (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965, 1978), 542.
 As Stone pointed out, “Wilson was a man with little tolerance for criticism.” During his speech requesting the war declaration, Wilson stated that “if there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression.” When the two acts were proposed, the President insisted that disloyalty “was not a subject on which there is room for debate,” noting that disloyal individuals “had sacrificed their right to civil liberties.” Stone, p. 137.
 The Sedition Act of 1918 passed the Senate by a vote of 48-26 and in the House, 293-1, in May 1918. Unlike the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act was quietly repealed after the war on Dec. 13, 1920. Even with the law in place, an estimated 300,000 men evaded the draft during the war. Stone, p. 137.
 How much of this was inflamed by the government’s own propaganda apparatus has been debated. For the role of the Committee on Public Information (CPI), often referred to as the Creel Committee for its director, journalist George Creel, see Harry Schreiber, The Wilson Administration and Civil Liberties (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1960).
 An exact count of complaints made to the U. S. Attorney in Wyoming is impossible to make. An estimate drawn only from U. S. Attorney’s Office correspondence files, Box 16 in a dozen files arranged by date and labeled, “Aliens and Slackers,” suggests the persons for whom complaints of possible draft-dodging were made numbered at least several hundred. Wyoming State Archives.
 Stone concedes that the Department of Justice “played a curiously uneven role in both exacerbating and moderating the suppression of dissent.” Stone, p. 212. Nonetheless, he notes that federal enforcement was far less extreme than enforcement in the states. Stone, p. 224. At the beginning of the war, the Attorney General “asked loyal Americans to act as voluntary detectives and to report their suspicions dire
 Report, Thomas Holland to Rigdon, April 12, 1917, in U. S. Attorney Correspondence, Box 16, Wyoming State Archives. Holland wrote that he interviewed Cook, the manager of the Laramie Republican, who told the investigator about the articles: "there was nothing authentic...and were simply based on rumor." He did list names of individuals said to be disloyal. " Following names were mentioned as much in sympathy with Germany: Jake Berner, a lumber dealer, Lewis Slump and Joe Jacobs, and Jake Bouse, barbers. Ferdinand Brueckner, a plumber; Fred E. Nraspahr, a blacksmith, Henning Svenson, a photographer, Rev. Sichtman of the Lutheran Church, Baron Von Puhl who claims to be an officer in the German Army, It is rumored that he has made the remark that he is only half American, as he only signed half his name to his naturalization papers.”
 Two Worland men, John M. Hudson and Ralph Parsons, entered guilty pleas on Nov. 16, 1917; Hubert F. Dickinson, Downing, Crook County, on Nov. 27; and George Kropin, Gebo, on Dec. 1, 1917. Hudson, Parsons and Kropin were each sentenced to one day in the Laramie County Jail; Dickinson was sentenced to three months in the Crook County Jail. Case files 781 (Hudson), 783 (Kropin), 784 (Parsons), 801 (Dickinson), U. S. District Court Records, RG 21, "Wyoming Criminal Case Files, 1890-1925," Box 29, National Archives, Denver Branch.
 Peter Moreno, Case file 842; Bulmero Meros, Case file 843; Frank Gonzales, Case file 844. The court appointed and paid for an interpreter for Gonzales. U. S. District Court Records, RG 21, "Wyoming Criminal Case Files, 1890-1925," Box 29, National Archives, Denver Branch.
 Examples include Kune Fus (Case file 868); John Immonen (Case file 869); Nick Nykaza (Case file 878); Visente Hernandez (Case file 888); Paro Provanio (Case file 889). Throughout the United States, thousands were arrested for failing for register by the end of the war.
 Clyde E. Zachman, Weston County attorney, to Rigdon, Aug. 24, 1917, "Aliens and Slackers" folder, U. S. Attorney's Correspondence, Box 16, Wyoming State Archives. The same day, Rigdon dispatched an investigator to Newcastle who reported back that "no evidence" warranted holding the two men, Poetshold and Michaelson. He instructed Weston County officials to release them. Lang telegram to Ridgon, Aug. 30, 1917, and Rigdon telegram to Lang, Aug. 30, 1917. "Aliens and Slackers" folder.
 "Miss Youngs Resigns," Powell Leader, Nov. 22, 1917, p. 1. Just above the article was a notice that "A Patriotic League Has Been Organized." Known as the "Shoshone Project Patriotic League," it had as its purpose "the promoting of patriotism and loyalty to the national government and all free institutions and for the suppression of sedition, disloyalty and unpatriotic speech or conduct whatever nature tending to give aid or comfort to the enemies of our country."
 Letter from U. S. Attorney to Sen. John B. Kendrick, August 23, 1917, U. S. Attorney’s Correspondence, August 1917, Box 10 “Several men in Worland arrested for failure to register.... “and making complaint that the Federal authorities have not undertaken to prosecute the cases. I have had this matter thoroughly investigated. No arrests have been made at Worland or in the vicinity for failure to register, that have not been investigated, and where the facts warranted, prosecuted...."
 Several historians, including T. A. Larson in his definitive history of Wyoming, mistakenly notes that no one in Wyoming was convicted of violating the acts. T. A. Larson, History of Wyoming. 2nd rev. ed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1974), p. 400.
 For a thorough treatment of how the Sedition and Espionage acts were utilized nationally, see Geoffrey R. Stone, Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), chap. 3. See also, Paul L. Murphy, World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States (New York: W. W. Norton, 1979).
 The Wilson administration launched a propaganda campaign to convince Americans of the dangers of subversion. For the effectiveness of the campaign, see O. A. Hilton, “Public Opinion and Civil Liberties in Wartime, 1917-19,” Southwestern Social Sciences Quarterly 28 (1947), 201-12.
 Terms of the Homestead Act changed frequently after initial passage of the law in July 1862. Intention to become a citizen was present in the initial act and was not removed. On the other hand, the original act specified that no one who had "taken up arms against the United States" could file--limiting former Confederates from homesteading in the first 15 years of the act. See Paul W. Gates, Landlords and Tenants on the Prairie Frontier (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1973); and Paul W. Gates and Robert W. Swenson, History of Public Land Law Development. (New York: Arno, 1979).
 Notice of Appropriation, Rawlins Republican, Oct. 30, 1907, p. 2. Leibig sought an additional water right almost a decade later. A Laramie newspaper stated that Leibig’s “case before the State Engineer for a petition on water” was postponed, but a final hearing was to be scheduled in November 1916. Laramie Republican (Daily), April 15, 1916, p. 5.
Carbon County, Wyoming; Roll: 1993071; County Draft Board
 His parents, Fredrich and Susannah Senften, were born in Switzerland, his father coming to the United States in 1879 and his mother, five years later. Father was a farmer. Brothers Frederich, 14, Henry R., 13, William C., 10, and Walter C., 6. Sister Helma was 8, a year younger than Lewis. 1900 Census, Claremont, Richland, Illinois, Roll T623 338; Page: 15B; Enumeration District 119.
 Two Senften brothers, Fred, 24, and H. R., 23, are listed on the 1910 Census, living in the household of John M Murphy, Buhl, Twin Falls County, Idaho; U. S. Census, Idaho, Sheet 6B, family 147, T624, microfilm reel 1374241.
 Articles of Incorporation, Indian Creek Land and Live Stock Company, organized by Lewis G. Carpenter, Otto Frederick and Louis Senften, had a capital stock of $20,000, divided into 200 shares of par value of $100 each. All three were listed as directors. Principal office was in Hanna. Filed March 4, 1917, the charter was revoked May 15, 1929. Corporation files, Record 18660, Secretary of State's office, Wyoming State Archives.
 The required incorporation notice was printed in Carbon County Journal for three weeks starting March 16, 1917. Principal office: Carbon State Bank, Front Street, Hanna. Senften signed as secretary of the corporation.
 The three-man land company almost certainly paid for Senften's purchase of Leibig's ranch, but this only can be inferred from the record. Senften and Carpenter applied for a loan of $9,000 from the Carbon State Bank in January 1917. Frederick was the bank’s cashier at the time. See “Record of Proceedings, Carbon State Bank Minutes of Meetings, 1904-1930,” C. D. Williamson papers, American Heritage Center, Acc. 147, Box 1, Folder 13.
 A thorough search of the U. S. Attorney's correspondence files, held in the Wyoming State Archives, failed to reveal any mention of Leibig in any letter. Further, no reference is made to his appearance before the U. S. Commissioner nor the fact he was bound over for trial in federal court. It is impossible to conclude that such documents never existed, but the fact of Senften's role can not be confirmed or denied from the existing record.
 Ibid. Other papers in the state mentioned the story but with less detail. See, for instance, the Riverton Review, Aug. 31, 1917, p. 9: "John Liebig [sic], a prominent and wealthy rancher and land owner of Carbon County is being held by government authorities on the charge of 'an attempt to obstruct the recruiting and enlistment service of the U. S. Army,' by his utterances of German sympathy.”
 This account is from Leibig's statement to the court requesting a continuance in order that witness Callahan would be able to appear. "Affidavit for Continuance due to absence of Ed Callahan," Leibig file, State of Wyoming v. John Leibig, case no. 929, Carbon County Clerk of the District Court files, Wyoming State Archives.
 Complaint for Murder in the First Degree, signed by Justice of the Peace Jno. C. Friend. Oct 24, 1917; "Complaint signed by [Sheriff] M. E. Pickett that on Oct. 20, 1917, in Leo Precinct, Leibig murdered Louis E. Senften. Leibig file, State of Wyoming v. John Leibig, case no. 929, Carbon County Clerk of the District Court files, Wyoming State Archives.
 See, for instance, "Man Facing Trial Kills State Witness," Rock Springs Miner, Oct. 26, 1917, p. 4, that provides some of the best detail about the incident even though it spells Leibig's name as "Leidic."
 Rosier, born in Minnesota in 1880, practiced law in Rawlins for another 15 years and was elected to the Wyoming State Senate. In April 1932, he was chased into the First National Bank of Rawlins and shot to death by a disgruntled former client. “A. J. Rosier Shot and Killed by Drug Addict,” Rawlins Republican, April 21, 1932, p. 1.
 Ibid. The Rawlins Republican noted that witnesses “in town for the case” were: L. G. Carpenter, Ed Callahan, Dr. E. A. Kell, H. Rasmussen, Mrs. and Mrs. Matt Makinon, Pete Bergerson, a gun expert, Joe Stimpson [sic] of Cheyenne, a photographer, Dr. Dinesmore of Cheyenne, Lee Knapp, a gun expert of Denver, Coroner H. K. Bennett and William Loomis. Jurors were: W. O. Collins, H. A. Reinke, George O’Brien, E. O. Nelson, James G. Harris, John Swanson, Charles Wester, George Breniman, george Vermillion, Ed F. Bennett, W. M. Cranor and Oscar Holmquist.
 A probate notice published in the Rawlins newspaper named Senften's parents as his next of kin, but apparently the ranch property was corporate held and only Senften's shares were part of the estate. [Cite to come]
 Ibid., Case file 901. The provision had been enacted as the “Threats Against the President Act,” 39 Stat. 919. Some 60 cases were prosecuted under the act, resulting in 35 convictions. Stone, fn. 70, p. 588. Like the Espionage Act, the measure is still law.
 "N. J. Socialist Given Pardon by President: Clemency granted in 53 convictions under Espionage Act; Bible Students Cases are Undetermined,” Casper Daily Tribune, March 5, 1919, p. 1. "Among the 53 cases of conviction under the espionage act in which President Wilson has granted clemency is that of Frederick Kraft of Newark, N. J. Secretary of the Socialist Party of New Jersey He was granted a full pardon. …. Among the sentences commuted were those of J. A. Miller of Colorado, to a year, and John Leibig, of Wyoming to a year.”
 U. S. Census, Colorado, 1920, Denver City, E. D. 152, Sh. 21, Line 57. The 57-year-old Leibig is listed as living at the rear of the building at 1011 13th Street in downtown Denver. Listed with him is Diana Leibig, 58 years old and noted as coming to America from the Rhine in 1893 and naturalized in Nov. 1905. There were no listings of Diana Leibig in earlier census reports and John Leibig is always referred to as “single” prior to his incarceration.
 The record indicates that an initial action for cancellation of citizenship had been filed April 24, 1920, but because the defendant "was not found within the District of Wyoming," the case became inactive.
 "Legal Notice," Wyoming State Tribune, May 25, 1922, p. 2. Also published in the State Tribune on April 27, May 4, May 11, and June 1, 1922. The U. S. Attorney mailed copies of the various newspapers to his last known address, Leo, Wyoming, but the papers were returned, marked by the postmaster there as "deceased." United States v. John Leibig, Case 1115, Civil, Suit for Cancellation of Certificate of Naturalization, folder, Carbon County Clerk of the District Court Files, Wyoming State Archives.
 A. McMicken to Albert Walton, U. S. Attorney, May 5, 1922, United States v. John Leibig, Case 1115, Civil, Suit for Cancellation of Certificate of Naturalization. Carbon County Clerk of the District Court Files, Wyoming State Archives
 The estate files list the following heirs of the deceased: "Fred Senften, Sr. aged 60, Buhl, Idaho; Susan Senften, mother, age 57, Buhl; Fred Senften, Jr., age 32, Buhl; Henry R., age 30, Buhl; William C., age 28, Buhl; Walter C., aged 23, soldier now at Fort Dodge, Iowa."
This article describes how the Espionage and Sedition Acts actually were handled by attorneys and law enforcement officers at the state and local levels during World War I. The Wyoming activities likely mirrored similar actions by officials in other states. The case analyzed at length in this story has the added complication of a murder by the later defendant in the sedition case. What are the links of the one unrelated case to the later one? This article proposes some possibie answers.