Lindsborg is a small, Swedish town in central Kansas. The land was settled on in 1869 by Swedish immigrants, and became a city the following year. To this day, one-third of the townspeople are Swedish. Around the time of WW1, most of the city was still speaking Swedish as their first language, as the majority of the citizens were first- or second-generation Americans.
Started in 1917 as the United States was entering the war, and ending shortly after, the American Protective League was an organization of Americans that worked closely with the government to oust German sympathizers, traitors, and spies. At its most active time, the APL had about 250,000 members in 600 cities nationwide.
Just down the road from Little Sweden was Salina, KS. During the War, Salina had its own chapter of the APL. Because Lindsborg did not have a chapter, citizens could travel the 25 miles to become active within the organization. In a town made up almost entirely of Swedes, one might think it would be obvious who the Germans and traitors were. Even so, citizens rallied behind the American government and worked hard to find those they felt they could not trust. One of these citizens was Mr. Eugene Deere.
In a letter from the Chief of Salina Division of APL, sent July, 1918, the Chief addresses Deere as a newly subscribed member to their organization and asks that he be frank and tell him of any strange situations in Lindsborg, as he has heard a great deal of complaints from the town. He makes sure Deere has received his membership card, book, and letters from the organization to get him started. Attached below is the letter to Mr. Deere.
Once again, it is interesting that in such a small community of Swedish immigrants, there was still some uncertainty regarding one’s neighbors and friends. World War I grabbed hold of citizens and drew them in, making them question those they loved for the betterment of their country. Not even in the middle of Kansas was Little Sweden immune to the great sense of Patriotism spreading through America.
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