The Community Houseby Donald Hildebrand
Wealthy land baron Fenton and the town
Mayor Hank Smid learned early July 8, 1900, that his family bank had been robbed and his long time friend murdered. Small Midwestern town Snyderville would never be the same. The beginning of the twentieth century now required the two struggling cultural groups to resolve their differences if progress was to be achieved.
Wealthy land baron Fenton and the town people were compelled to work together and it appeared that a new meeting place, a community house, appeared to be the answer. Draining the low swampy areas surrounding the town was finally accomplished after a gigantic grain elevator fire, a tornado, a diphtheria epidemic, a rape-murder, and other natural and human disasters of epic proportions. Electricity had finally arrived and changed the mood of all the inhabitants. Now issues of capital punishment, women's rights, and political agenda's were readily apparent.
The trial of two men accused of murder in the 1900 bank robbery was held in the newly dedicated "Community House" and the spectacular trial drew national attention. Significant attention was focused on Gerhard Smid as he prosecuted the defendants and skillfully introduced trial tactics dealing with issues of capital punishment.
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If you enjoy small town American history, here is a read you will enjoy. A page turner.