William Saier was tarred and feathered on the first tee of a Lansing golf course because he committed what The State Journal called “an unprintable crime against the Star Spangled Banner.”
It was Nov. 2, 1917, more than three years after a Serbian nationalist’s bullet sparked the First World War and seven months since the United States had joined it. In Belgium, a months-long horror of death and mud known as the Third Battle of Ypres was breaking in favor of the British and their allies. In Lansing, patriotic and anti-German feelings ran high.
Saier, a butcher, was grabbed from the corner of Capital Avenue and Kalamazoo Street. At the golf course, surrounded by men in white sheets, “he apologized with all the emotion of his terrified heart for the insult to the flag and for cursing the government which had given him freedom and protection all the years of his life,” the Journal wrote.
They covered him with hot tar and feathers until he “looked like a goose.”
An echo of Saier’s story appears in the pages of “Foreign Born,” a novel written by Lansing-born author John Herrmann in the mid-1920s but never published until this year.
Source : Matthew Miller, “A man was tarred and feathered on a Lansing golf course. It became part of this novel”, Lansing State Journal, November 9, 2018.