Fridley page 73

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 1, 1941]

TNT Landowners Wait 3 Hours, Go Home Without Seeing Clark
Senator Confined by Throat Infection—Committee Tells Him Property Holders Are Getting Hostile.

            The 146 unpaid landowners who gave up their property to permit the Government to build a TNT plant near Weldon Spring, returned to town yesterday afternoon with their families, 250 persons in all, to enlist the aid of United States Senator Bennett C. Clark in their effort to get the agreed price for their property soon, but the Senator didn’t show up.
            Later, after three hours of milling about on Missouri Highway 94, the town’s main street, they returned to their homes.
            Senator Clark remained in his St. Louis hotel room, he said, on the advice of his physician after he developed a throat infection. A committee of the unpaid landowners, which was unable in time to call off the meeting scheduled for 3 o’clock at Weldon Spring Evangelical Church, called at the hotel to see if the Senator could meet with them today. If he could, the landowners, many of whom had traveled many miles, would have remained overnight at Weldon Spring.
Sees Committee.
            But the Senator had to return to Washington today. Last night he had to go to Columbia where his son, Champ, a student at the University of Missouri, had been stricken with appendicitis.
            He did give the committee an hour of his time and heard the story of the plight of the landowners. When they sold their property, he was told, many of them purchased other tracts, made down payments and obligated themselves to pay the balance soon. But after four months they are still unpaid and in danger of losing the earnest money payments on the new property.
            Many of them have contracted to buy places valued at what the Government agreed to give them for the old tracts and now the Government has announced that the prices were excessive and that it would condemn all property on which it had not exercised its options.   
            The Senator repeated the statement he made in the Senate that he thought the War Department, for whom the land was purchased, was committing an outrage against the landowners, that he thought the options were binding contracts, and that the department was hedging on its agreements to correct an “improvident contract” it made to give R. Newton McDowell, Kansas City contractor, 5 per cent for procuring the options.
Petition Presented.
            He told the committee he had taken the matter up with Undersecretary of War Robert M. Patterson and had given Patterson a copy of the petition the landowners drew up March 12.
            “Patterson was impressed by the facts in the petition and told me he would take it up with the Secretary of War,” Clark said. “I’ll call him again tomorrow when I return to Washington.”
            While the Senator spoke, however, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson was filing notice of taking of the property of five of the unpaid landowners in the United States District Court at St. Louis. Checks representing what the War Department believed was “just compensation” for the land were deposited with the Court.
            The deposits were $1875 for the 10 acres of Grover Cleveland Silvey; $7604 for the 170 acres of Dr. and Mrs. Oscar L. Snyder; $3860 for the 94 acres of Merita Callaway; $9120 for the 161 acres of Tarlton Woodson, and $5100 for the 52 acres of Mr. and Mrs. George C. Willson.
            The Government had options to purchase for $109,768 the five tracts for which it deposited the $27,559 with the court. Individual option prices were: Silvey, $5000; Snyder, $30,395; Callaway, $10,888; Woodson $31,485, and Willson, $32,000.
“People Getting Hostile.”
            Members of the committee stressed the need for speed. “People out there are getting riled up and downright hostile,” Morris Muschany, formerly an undertaker at Howell, told the Senator. “They’ve all been law-abiding citizens, but things are getting serious. They’ve lost their homes once and may lose them again if they don’t get paid soon.”
            “When McDowell came out there,” he explained, “the people were afraid to deal with him and they wired the War Department which informed them they had to deal with him. Many of them signed options under threats of condemnation. Now, after taking their homes, the Government won’t pay the agreed price. They’re getting worked up, I tell you.”
            Eltin Pitman, a well driller, said to the Senator, that “it all has me puzzled.”
            “It just doesn’t look like our Government at all to come in, put our people out, take away our schools and our churches and then refuse to pay us the agreed price for them,” he said. “We’re in bad shape. We can’t borrow money on the land and the banks won’t recognize the options as collateral.”
            Clark promised to do all he could and the committee left. Members were frankly displeased with the outcome, but said “it was about what we expected.”
            The committee has no immediate plans and would await further developments, Dr. O. L. Snyder, chairman, said. In the meantime he said he would communicate again with Congressman Clarence Cannon, who “seems to be working hard in our behalf.”

[no source, no date]

Clark Halts Meeting, Goes to Son’s Bedside

            An emergency appendix operation performed on his 17-year-old son, Champ Clark, forced United States Senator Bennett C. Clark to discontinue a conference with members of the Weldon Springs Landowners’ Protective Committee yesterday and to hurry to Columbia where the youth is a freshman at the University of Missouri. The youth’s condition is reported good.
            The senator conferred with the committee on the government’s action in canceling options on land to be used for the big TNT plant at Weldon Springs. Clark has criticized the government’s action.