Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick
TARRED AND FEATHERED IN FARMINGTON
In 1909 there were two newspapers in Farmington. The Farmington News combined with the Herald in that year and became the News-Republican under the guidance of W. H. Knott, while the Argus was still being published by Taylor and Talbot (History of Farmington, Richard Carroll Tharp, p. 25.)
There was an ordinance on the books at Farmington known as the “chicken law,” which one of these editors opposed. It was said that he was “looking for trouble,” as he constantly placed articles in his paper that caused ill feeling within the community. For example, shortly after seeing the town marshal chasing a rooster down the street, a somewhat satirical editorial appeared in print that put the heat on the town council in regards to the controversial statute.
Angered to the core, and tired of the anti-ordinance articles, the council had the editor’s water turned off. Unfortunately, his press machine ran on water and he was unable to print his weekly newspaper.
The editor successfully sued the city for $300. After winning the suit, he turned up the heat a few notches with his published articles and blasted the city council! Since other people were involved, his attacks began to condemn private citizens as well.
As the editor was leaving his office on the night of January 17, 1909, suddenly out of nowhere, he was surrounded by a posse of masked and painted men! They grabbed him and whisked him away in an old-time bus driven by horses, which had been conveniently parked nearby at the bank. Then the group drove him to Anderson Park where they tarred and feathered him!
The editor selected out and brought suit against several local people, but lost each case. Those involved kept the matter very quiet, and it remained a mystery as to who were the exact participants in the “tar and feather” case. However, the incident served its purpose. The editorial attacks that provoked this colorful episode ceased immediately.
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick