Fridley page 56

[no source, March 2, 1941]

[Handwritten: March 2]
350 At Mass Meeting Counseled Against Taking Any Drastic Action To Settle Problem.

            Counseled against taking any drastic action in the settlement of their differences with the Federal Government, 94 farmers among a crowd of 350 who attended a mass meeting at Weldon Springs last night directed a petition to President Roosevelt asking him to “command” the War Department to honor options on their lands in the TNT area. The signers were that portion of the crowd which so far has not been paid for land occupied by the War Department.
            The meeting, held within eyesight of the brilliant lights which mark the entrance to the TNT area at Weldon Springs, almost from the start showed the spark of drama. Beginning with the group-singing of “America” and a prayer by the parish minister, the sober-faced crowd of men, women and children looked expectantly toward the small stage for encouragement and some sign of hope for redress.
            A show of hands revealed that more than one-third of those in the audience had not yet been paid by the government for their lands and homes. Faced with what they termed in their petition, “financial embarrassment and a dire need” to rehabilitate themselves, the crowd cheered loudly when a telegram from Congressman Clarence Cannon was read in which he stated, “Referring to action of War Department in holding up payments for land in Weldon Springs area. This is an outrage and a violation of contract. Have just returned from Department and while there decision is still unfavorable. Am working on it from another angle. Am doing everything I can from here to arrange for government prompt compliance with its agreement. Hope to be able to get results.”
Reviews Happenings
            The petition to the President reviewed occurrences in the TNT area since last October. It pointed out that after options to their lands had been accepted, the farmers and businessmen sacrificed their livestock, farming equipment and stocks of merchandise. It stated that checks for their property were in the hands of the Kansas City Title Insurance Company when the company received a communication from the War Department instructing it to held up all payments pending the investigation of the process of land acquisition.
            Declaring that the contracts with the government are “binding and can be enforced,” the petitioners state they are putting “implicit reliance” upon the government to carry out the terms and promises of its contracts.
            Fred C. Hollenbeck, Superintendent of Schools of Consolidated District No. 2, who acted as chairman, told his audience “we can’t accuse the government of being unfair. It’s not the government we are seeking to blame. It’s possibly some agent. ” He said that the situation may have grown out of some “misunderstanding.”
            “Many of you husbands and wives, strong people, cried when you left your homes,” he said. “That’s worth a great deal. We could almost grant that you were not paid too much. You were giving up your homes, your churches, your schools and crops. I believe we have friends who will watch after [one or more lines missing]

the TNT area yesterday afternoon. He concluded his talk by saying: “I wouldn’t have thought that this government would have made refugees of its own citizens. That is just what happened, temporarily, I hope.“
            Dr. O. L. Snyder, a medical doctor; Morris Muschany, undertaker; Elton Pitman, a well driller; George Hackman, farmer and Earl Sutton, circuit clerk, were appointed on a committee to look after the farmers’ interests in the event the government follows its decision to condemn the land in the TNT plant area.
            The meeting decided to send copies of the petition to Senators Bennett Champ Clark, Harry Truman and to Davis.
            “Wasn’t it Bennett Clark who started all this delay in the first place?” someone in the audience asked.
            “I think he did,” responded Dr. R. L. Snyder, who at that time was acting as chairman of the meeting, “but it might be a good idea to send him one anyway, so that he will know what we are thinking about.”