Fridley page 52

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National Defense Member Favors Official Telling Landowners Their Position
Chester Davis Favors Paying Landowners Off In Full; Contend They Are the Innocent Victims

            A representative of the War Department is expected to attend the mass meeting tonight at Weldon Spring, and assure property owners the government will take up its options on the TNT site. Chester C. Davis, head of the agricultural division of the National Defense Advisory Commission, favored the plan and made the recommendation to Washington Tuesday afternoon.
            It was believed a War Department man would fly here to let the farmers know they can depend on the Government. Davis met with ten St. Charles county landowners yesterday and assured them he would attempt to speed up the final decision and end their uncertainty.
            After a telephone conversation with McDowell, government land optioner, Davis said he is not concerned about the commission in the deal, that is a matter between McDowell and the Government. “I am concerned about the landowners. They went into the deal in good faith and are entitled to know at once what they can depend on the Government doing. Some of them have paid earnest money on new homesites and consequently are the innocent victims of a squeeze if they are not paid soon.
            “1 am further interested in seeing the prices these folks get are not driven down to the point where disturbance compensation is not included. This deal cannot be considered as a free sale of land at a price based on assessments. They didn’t ask the Government to buy the land, they were forced out.”
            Davis says he knows of no national defense condemnation proceedings that have gone entirely through the courts, and was unable to say if the Government had been able to secure better prices by that method. “Some time ago we had our men looking over the situation. Our report was that this area was not a trouble spot, On the contrary it was regarded as a high-class job.”
            The meeting tonight will be at 8:30 o’clock, following Lenten church services.

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Will Ask President to Cancel War Department’s Action and Order Payment In Full
Farmers Abandoning Idea of Moving Back To Homes In Area; Fear Jeopardizing Options

            A petition asking President Roosevelt to intervene in the situation created because of the attempt to cancel options on TNT land, is expected to be drafted Wednesday night at the mass meeting at Weldon Spring.
            Meanwhile a committee consisting of about ten property owners, met in St. Louis today with Chester Davis, a member of the National Defense Committee, with the hopes of ironing out the difficulty.
            The committee that met with Davis reported this afternoon that things looked more favorable for the property owners since Davis announced he favored payment of the farmers in full. Davis phoned Secretary of War Stimson during the session and was told that every effort would be made to have a representative of the Ordnance or War Department at the meeting Wednesday night to explain the government’s views.
             Those who made trip to St. Louis were Arthur Schaefer, H. H. Seib, Dr. O. L. Schneider, Calvin and Dwight Castlio, Fred Hollenberg, Earl Hoffman and Morris Muschany.
            Farmers were in a frame of mind Sunday to move back to their homes in the area but today are waiting for the Government to make the next move. Indignant farmers were quickly talked out of the “back to home” movement when it was explained such a step would probably jeopardize their options and make collection in full a difficult job.
            A quick settlement is desired since new property owners will have to take over land soon if they are to get in a corn crop this season. The farmers moving to new land cannot have a wheat or oats crop and their last chance is corn.
            It was explained that by the time the land is prepared for the crop, it may be too late, unless something is done immediately. A scarcity of help is another problem facing the farmers.
            The farmers will draft a petition asking that Roosevelt stop the War Department’s action and order payment to the owners in full.
            Major Carol R. Dutton, in commenting on the report farmers would move back in the area, said “that would be very unfortunate and disconcerting and would most certainly impede progress.”
            While some homes, club houses and barns in the area have been de [one or more lines missing]

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TNT Appeal to Mrs. Roosevelt

            A 60-year-old St. Louis woman yesterday wired an appeal to Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt to intervene and induce the government to pay options granted on the Weldon Springs, Mo., TNT plant site, while a group of St. Charles landowners sent the War Department a protest against its proposed condemnation proceedings.
            Miss Mertia Calloway, 6229 Derby avenue, former City Infirmary matron, asked the First Lady to “see if you can induce the government to pay me.”
            “My 94-acre farm embraced in the TNT plant project is my whole patrimony and was inherited from my pioneer ancestor, F. H. Stewart. It was a sad experience to sell land that was the hunting ground and home neighborhood of my great-great-grandfathers, Daniel Boone and Capt. James Calloway.
            “Notwithstanding the sentiment I was willing to sell for promotion of national defense. The War Department has contracted to buy my land and I have delivered the deed. Nevertheless, the War Department refuses to pay the stipulated price and threatens condemnation. I work for my living when my health permits, but now I have no resources other than this property.”