As It Was: Medford Vigilantes Run Two Pacifists Out of Town in 1918

May 31, 2018

Most Medford, Ore., residents worked passionately for the war effort in 1918.  Red Cross groups formed, young men enlisted in large numbers, and everyone was expected to buy liberty bonds.

But there were pacifists among Medford’s population, including members of the International Bible Students, a forerunner of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, led locally by tire shop owner George Maynard.  They invited Pastor E. B. Taliaferro to give a public talk at St. Mark’s Hall on April 13.

Mayor C.E. Gates opposed the talk and warned Taliaferro to leave town.  When a large crowd gathered at St. Marks and pacifists didn’t show up, 75 men found Taliaferro meeting in a home in nearby Ashland.

The vigilantes seized Maynard when he came out of the house to see what was happening.  They took him to Medford, stripped him to the waist, painted a large German iron cross on his body with printers’ ink, and ordered him to leave town. 

The next day, Taliaferro and Maynard were gone, but other Medford pacifists sought protection for their religious beliefs.  Instead, the city council passed an ordinance against publicly opposing the war and draft.
 

Source: "Russellite is Tarred, Ordered to Leave City." Southern Oregon History Revised, edited by Ben Truwe, truwe.sohs.org/files/news1918.html. Accessed 20 Apr. 2018.

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