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Thursday, December 5, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Anti-Catholic group drives big school board election turnout

Big crowds came to the polls on Dec. 2, 1919, after a “secret anti-Catholic” group had injected itself into the Spokane school board races. (S-R archives)
Big crowds came to the polls on Dec. 2, 1919, after a “secret anti-Catholic” group had injected itself into the Spokane school board races. (S-R archives)
Jim Kershner

Turnout was unusually heavy for a school board election, mainly because a “secret anti-Catholic organization” called the Guardians of Liberty injected themselves into the race.

The Guardians of Liberty had endorsed two of the candidates, the Rev. Hugh Jones and Charles H. Smith. Jones, at least, disavowed any connection with the group and said he knew nothing about them except what he read in the newspaper.

In the end, the results were mixed. Jones lost, but Smith won. The Spokesman-Review editorial page said the next day that citizens “should combat any movement by an organized minority to capture the school system, dictate the selection of teachers and direct the expenditure of public funds.”

The other big issue on the ballot was a measure to raise the salaries of teachers. This measure passed overwhelmingly, by a vote of 6,930 to 2,829.

From the bootlegging beat: Spokane police hit the jackpot when they found 10 gallons of moonshine and 40-50 gallons of homemade wine in a Peaceful Valley home.

The homeowner, a 39-year-old mining engineer named J.R. Brown, was caught standing in the kitchen, tending the still. Police also found 12 barrels of “grape and peach mash,” in various stages of fermentation.

A Peaceful Valley grocery store owner was also arrested on charges of selling Brown’s liquor.

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