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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Local logger’s photography hobby arouses suspicion

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

Herman Becker, 35, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), was being held by federal authorities in Spokane on suspicion of spying for Germany.

The evidence?

“Becker, who claims to be a logger, was in possession of an expensive camera and photographic outfit, along with a detailed map of the Western states.”

He was arrested after citizens reported that he had been “photographing bridges, trestles, saw mills, machine shops and other industrial plants in and about Spokane for the last six weeks.”

Becker explained that photography was just a hobby. He admitted to German nationality, and said he was working as a logger in the Priest River country before coming to Spokane.

From the medical beat: The parents of John Toms Jr., 3, still refused to bury him or to declare him dead.

The county coroner, however, did not hesitate.

“There was no question in our minds that life had entirely left the little form,” said the coroner, who signed the death certificate after examining the body. He listed the cause of death as pneumonia.

The “divine healer” who had been advising the parents said he still was not convinced the boy was dead, because the flesh was still soft and flexible. The coroner countered “that cases of flexibility in corpses was not unknown.”

The divine healer admitted that a “trace of discoloration” had shown up in certain parts of the boy’s body.

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