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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Washington: The nation saw its first conviction of ‘airplane bootleggers,’ and the local KKK said it would stay politically neutral

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Frank Kepl and Benton Warner – said to be the first airplane bootleggers to be convicted in the U.S. – were each sentenced to one year plus one day at the federal prison at McNeil Island.

Yet the notorious rum-running pilot, Jack Smith, was still free as a bird. He simply flew away when Prohibition agents approached. He remained a fugitive from justice.

Kepl and Warner, on the other hand, were the men on the ground, caught unloading cases of booze from Smith’s plane.

From the Klan beat: C.C. Higgins, the “Exalted Cyclops” of the Spokane Ku Klux Klan chapter, announced that his group would not issue political endorsements in the upcoming special Congressional election.

“We are not taking part in the election,” he said.

Klan endorsements had become a political hot potato in a previous election. Meanwhile, the local Klan appeared to be in turmoil. The Klan had changed leadership, with Higgins taking over from Sam E. Carleton; elected a new slate of officers; disbanded the auxiliary Ladies of the Invisible Empire and replaced it with the Women of Ku Klux Klan; and moved its headquarters to the Realty Building.

Higgins declined to give further details except to confirm one point: “Masks will still be worn.”

Also on this day


1916: First use of tanks in warfare, “Little Willies” fight at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, part of the Battle of the Somme.

1928: Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin while studying influenza.