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“Reeve Weber Heavily Fined,” Toronto Globe. February 25, 1919. Page 02. 

And Gets Month in Jail at Hard Labor for Uttering Sedition

SCATHINGLY DENOUNCED

Magistrate and Judge Alike Rebuke Neustadt German and Warn Him

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
Owen Sound, Feb. 24 – One month in jail and a fine of $4,500 was the sentence pronounced on Reeve Joseph Weber of Neustadt here to-day. In default of payment of his fine Reever Weber would be imprisoned for three years in the Provincial Penitentiary, but he chose to pay the fine. Besides he has to pay all the costs of the proceedings, amounting to approximately $300.

The trial was held in Owen Sound on February 12 and 13 before Police Magsitrate A. D. Creasor, with N. F. Davidson, K.C., of Toronto, acting for the Crown, and D. O’Connell and F. W. Callaghan of Toronto for the accused.

The charge was laid under the War Measures Act of 1914, whereby Weber was charged with making seditious statements likely to hinder recruiting. It was based on words used by Weber to Arthur Mutton, when he is supposed to have said: ‘The _______ British are licked, and they know it. Before either of my sons go to fight, they will die in the hardware store. If they want any fighting let them come to Neustadt and they will get it.’

Magistrate Creasor found Reeve Weber guilty on this charge and remanded him for sentence. An application for a stated case made by counsel for the accused was withdrawn.

Pleads Guilty on Second Charge
On a second charge before the local Police Court Reeve Weber pleaded guilty to making seditious statements likely to cause disaffection. This also was based on the conversation with Mutton, and on it Weber received a sentence of $4,500 fine and one month in jail, this sentence to be concurrent with the previous one.

In sentencing him Magistrate Creasor said that Reeve Weber was a man born in this country, who had lived here all his life. In times of danger he had used disloyal expressions and had possibly influenced his sons to be disloyal also. When he was through with his sentence the Magistrate hoped that he would remember that everyone living in Canada was supposed to be loyal.

Sentenced Suspended on Other Charge
Reeve Weber also came before Mr. Justice Lennox at the Spring Assizes in Owen Sound this afternoon on four charges. Weber pleaded guilty to one charge and is on suspended sentenced pending his good behavior. The charges against him were the only ones in the docket, and were laid under the Military Service Act.

The first charge was of attempting to resist or impede the operation of the Military Service Act by a written communication to Judge Widdlefield, a member of the local Appeal Tribunal. In this letter Reeve Weber offered to give $500 to patriotic funds if his son, Elmer Joseph Weber, were exempted, and the second charge is of offering a consideration directly or indirectly to a member of an appeal Tribunal. The second indictment was based on written and oral communications by Reeve Weber to secure signatures for his son’s exemption.

Admits Guilt, Stay Granted.
On the first charge of the Widdifield indictment the Grand Jury brought in almost immediately a true bill, and Reeve Weber pleaded guilty. Crown Prosecutor Davidson requested a stay of further proceedings on the second count of this indictment and on the second indictment, and also asked for a suspended sentence. These were granted.

Seething Denunciation.
The denunciation by Mr. Justice Lennox of the Neustadt Reeve was most scathing. He said that disloyalty was one of the gravest offences, and there was no ground or excuse for anyone in Canada being guilty of disloyalty. Reeve Weber was a public man and a leader of the people in his district, yet he was stirring up disloyalty and encouraging his two songs to evade the service of their country. He had also made threats of grave bodily harm. In connection with the war and in defiance of the duties of citizenship, Mr. Justice Lennox said, Reeve Weber displayed some of the worst characteristics of a bad citizen. His father had come to this country to better his condition, and he had prospered here! New citizens were welcomed and encouraged, but they had to behave. The only alternatives were to get in behind the prison bars or to get out of the country. In conclusion the Judge said that if after he was released Reeve Weber was a man of good behavior toward his neighbors and the Corwn his sentence would be suspended. If, however, he showed any intimation of relapsing, he would be brought before a Judge to receive a heavy sentence.

Reeve Most Dejected.
During the rebuke of the Judge Reeve Weber stood in the prisoner’s box with his head bowed, and supported himself with one hand on the railing. He appeared most dejected, both in the Assizes and when receiving his sentence in the Police Court, and his face showed considerable emotion. With hardly a word of his counsel, he was led slowly off to the cells in the county jail.

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“Pte. Elmer J. Weber Gets 10-Year Term,” Toronto Star. February 5, 1919. Page 04.

Sentence Read Before Battalion at Exhibition Camp To-day.

Standing before his regiment in hollow square and apparently indifferent to his fate, Elmer J. Weber, son of Reever Weber, of Neustadt, Ont., was at the Exhibition Camp today sentenced to ten years servitude on a charge of desertion.

The original sentence passed by the court-martial which took place two weeks ago was fifteen years, but this was reduced by order-in-Council. The sentence was read by Capt. R. A. Plato, Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment, to which the prisoner belonged. Weber took his sentence without a quiver, and now waits at the Exhibition detention room for the escort to take film to Kingston Penitentiary.

The following is a certified copy of a report of the Committee of the Privcy Council, approved by His Excellency the Governor-General on the 30th January, 1919:

‘The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a report, dated 27th January, 1919, from the Minister of Militiar and Defence, stating that before a general court-martial held at Torontoon the 14th day of January, 1919, No. 3810998 Private Elmer Joseph Weber, 2nd Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment, was tried on the charge of having, when on active service, deserted His Majesty’s service.

Was Flagrant Breach of M.S.A.
‘It appeared from the evidence that this was a particularly flagrant case. The accused lived in a German settlement, and his whole course of conduct from the time the Military Service Act went into operation, indicated determination to evade the military service. He applied for exemption, which was disallowed and appealed. His father, who was in business, with the accused and one other son, got up petitions for his exemption, and under threat of boycott, induced manufacturing firms with which he was dealing, to write to the Military Service authorities on behalf of his son. When exemption was refused, money was furnished the accused whereby he went West and lived there for a long time under an assumed name. He was finally apprehended in the Province of Saaskatchewan. It was clear from the evidence that the accused and his family were the centre of a disloyal German community, and it was a clear case of deliberate desertion. The evidence brought forward on behalf of the accused did not cast any doubt on the truth of the facts above enumerated.’

Reduce Sentence.
‘The court found the accused guilty of the charge, and sentenced him to undergo penal servitude for fifteen years.

‘The Judge-Advocate-General reports that the proceedings are regular, the finding properly made and the sentence authorized by law, and Militia Council is of the opinion that the finding and sentence should be confirmed.

‘The Minister, therefore, recommends accordingly.

‘The committee concur in the foregoing, recommendation, subject to the reduction of the sentence to ten years and submit the same for approval.’

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“Neustadt Reeve Begs For Mercy From Mob,” Toronto Star. January 31, 1919. Page 14.

Joseph Weber Now at Home After Being Ejected From Owen Sound.

Special to The Star.
Owen Sound, Jan. 31 – Reeve Joseph Weber of Neustadt, who was sent out of town last night by an angry mob of returned soldiers and their friends, has reached his home in Neustadt. Evidently Weber proceeded by foot to one of the stations on the Grand Trunk outside Owen Sound and there got aboard the early morning southbound train for Neustadt, for according to a telephone message from taht place he reached there on the train this morning. There was considerable anxiety in Owen Sound as to the whereabouts of the man this morning, as there was a heavy snowstorm during the night, and Weber is a man well up in years. Shallow Lake is the nearest station to Owen Sound, and it is presumed he spent the night there.

Chief of Police W. O. Forster told The Star to-day that he knew nothing of the disturbance until an early hour to-day.

The chief declared that no action would be taken against the citizens. ‘He will be safe from any rough handling, too, when he comes back for his trial next Wednesday,’ declared the chief.

Made to Sing National Anthem.
A mob of returned soldiers and their sympathizers about two hundred strong went to the Comely House where Reever Weber was staying about ten o’clock last night and demanded that he be produced. The crowd got round him and made him kiss the Union Jack and sing the National Anthem. They then decked him out with flags in his hat and invited him to get his grip. He was then escorted by a cheering crowd and marched through the streets toward the Grand Trunk station where he was told to proceed to his home town, Neustadt. There being no train until this morning, Weber appealed to the crowd to be allowed to stay over, or to hire a conveyance to take him but they would not be satisfied by anything less than to proceed at once. Weber started off down the Grand Trunk tracks, grip in hand. Part of the mob followed him a considerable distance to see that he got out of town. When last seen Weber was proceeding on the Grand Trunk tracks in the direction of Neustadt, which is about fifty or sixty miles from here.

The local police were powerless to prevent the mob, but they did not at any time threaten him with personal violence. Weber was very much afraid and during the singing of the National Anthem broke down and pleaded for mercy.

Reeve Weber was arrested here on Tuesday afternoon on two separate warrants charging him with breach of the War Measures Act and the Military Service Act. The request for his arrest came from the headquarters of the Dominion Police of this district and they were executed by P.C. Thomas Carson at the Comely House.

Mr. Weber was taken to the Police office and latter allowed out on bail of $2,000, half of which was given by Reeve Holm, and the other half by Reeve Schenk, of Normandy, and the charges will be heard next Wednesday. Mr. Weber arrived on the noon G.T.R. train on Tuesday and attended the first meeting of the County Council at the Court House. He returned to the Comely House and was placed under arrest.

The arrest of Neustadt’s reeve has caused quite a sensation in town and amongst the county councillors here.

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“Reeve Arrested While At Council,” Toronto Globe. January 30, 1919. Page 14.

Joseph Weber of Neustadt is Accused of Sedition and Impeding M.S.A.

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
Owen Sound, Jan. 29 – Reeve Joseph Weber of Neustadt was arrested here last night of five charges of using seditious language and of attempting to impede the operation of the Military Service Act. Weber came here to attend the County Council, and was arrested on two arrants after the first day’s session. He is now out on $2,000 bail, funished by Reeve Holm and Ex-Reeve Schank of Normandy, but will come up before Police Magistrate Creasor of Owen Sound on Wednesday next. Witnesses are being called from Neustadt, Hanover, and Harriston, and the case is arousing great interest in this district.

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“Contends Draftee Planned Desertion,” Toronto Star. January 16, 1919. Page 02.

Judge-Advocate Sums Up Case of E. J. Weber Before Court-Martial.

The trial before a general court-martial of Elmer Joseph Weber, son of Joseph Weber, Reeve of Neustadt, charged with desertion from the Canadian forces, was concluded at noon to-day at the Armories, after lasting two days and a half.

Lieut.-Col. J. A. Macdonald, K.C., Assistant Judge Advocate-General of the Toronto Military District, closed the case by reading his charge to the court. His summing up of the case lasted three-quarters of an hour and then the court reserved their judgement. The finding will be sent to Ottawa for decision and if sentence is imposed it will be promulgated later at Toronto.

Lieut.-Col. Macdonald said that Weber was charged with desertion while on active service. ‘This man is charged with being a member of the 2nd C.O.R. and as a soldier was subject to military law, and while on active service deserted His Majesty’s forces. He was a soldier subject to military law from the date of the proclamation of the M.S.A. in October, 1917, but was on leave of absence without pay, according to the Act.’

Regarding Weber’s application for exemption, Lieut.-Col. Macdonald said Weber’s record as a soldier was unbroken under the M.S.A. regulations.

‘Therefore it appears by the M.S.A. that the accused was a duly enlisted solider subject to military law.’

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“Weber Denies Making Disloyal Remarks,” Toronto Star. January 15, 1919. Page 02.

Father of Draftee Accused of Desertion Admits He Did Little for War.

HAS A BIG BUSINESS

His Voluntary Contributions to Patriotic Find Only $3 During War.

Joseph Weber, Reeve of Neastadt, father of Elmer Weber, charged with desertion, was recalled to the witness box at the general court-martial trial of his son for desertion, at the Armories to-day.

Mr. Weber stoutly denied the statements made yesterday by Arthur Mutton and I. K. Lewmarsh, travelers, that he had made any derogatory remarks about the British arms or about Union Government.

In four and one-third years of war Mr. Weber admitted to Mr. N. F. Davidson, K.C., counsel for Minister of Justice, that he had only contributed $3 to patriotic and Red Cross purposes.

‘Was it in 1915 that the British people of Leastadt refused to contribute to the British Red Cross Fund through you as Reeve, because of your nationality?’

‘No – I don’t know,’ replied Mr. Weber. 

‘You know they sent it direct to Dr. Abbot?’ ‘Yes.’

Opposed Patriotic Grant.
‘Isn’t it true you opposed the grant of the County Council to the Canadian Patriotic Fund?’ ‘Yes, in 1916, I did. But other grants I supported.’

‘Because you saw the majority supported it,’ commented Mr. Davidson.

‘Will you tell me what you, your son or any other member of the Weber brothers contributed to patriotic purposes except $3?’

The witness hesitated.

‘You were solicited as reeve of Newstadt council by the Lieutenant-Governor every year of the war,’ said Mr. Davidson.

‘The people could not afford it,’ said Mr. weber.

‘You took the position that your sons were better at home than in the forces?’ ‘That’s so.’

‘How did you help the cause of the allies?’ ‘I paid taxes of $200.’

Didn’t Buy Victory Bonds
‘Your firm could have bought Victory bonds?’ ‘I never bought one,’ said Weber.

‘Any patriotics organization of any kind in Neustadt since the war?’ ‘I don’t know of any exept some knitting done by women. There are some who contribute.’

‘Were you against conscription?’ ‘I don’t know about that.’

‘Then why did you go to Ottawa and Toronto?’ asked Mr. Davidson. ‘The was the purpose of the meetings.’

‘There were 20,000 people there.’

‘Am I correct if I say you were opposed to raising armies by conscription?’

Mr. Weber did not answer.

‘Were you in favor of Canada participating in the war by volunteer enlistment?’ ‘I never objected to it.’

Never Urged Enlistment.
‘Did you suggest to any man to go to the war?’

‘I never advocated it, as I had sons of my own,’ replied Mr. Weber.

‘Did you ever in your store, or in Neustadt, or in Council, say you did not want to see Canada participate in the war?’

‘Nothing like it,’ replied Mr. Weber.

Here, Mr. Dan O’Connell, counsel for Elmer Weber, objected to Mr. Davidson’s cross-examination, as his boy was being tried on a charge of desertion and that Mr. Davidson was trying to show the father was not inspired by high patriotic motives. An argument ensued. Mr. Weber was requested to leave the court, and it was arrived that no examination would take place along this line.

Letters Seeking Exemption.
Regarding letters written to manufacturers to secure assistance for Elmer Weber to get exemption. Mr. Weber admitted that International Harvester was the only firm that gave him a favorable reply.

The letter written to Hon. J. C. Doherty, Minister of Justice, Ottawa, by Arthur Muton, of Mitchell, Ont., traveler for Maxwells, of St. Mary’s, Ont., regarding alleged statements made by Mr. Joseph Weber, was admitted as an exhibit. The letter, which is dated Dec. 28, 1917, is as follows:

‘The Jon. J. C. Doherty,
Minister of Justice, Ottawa, Can.
Dear Sir: The writer is a traveler for Maxwells, Limited, St. Mary’s, Ont. Sometime in October, 1917, I called on a firm in Newstadt, Ont., by the name of Weber and Sons, hardware merchants. Mr. Weber asked me to sign a petition for exemption of his two songs. This I refused on the ground that it would be interfering with the Military Service Act.

A few days later I called at our head office in St. Mary’s and Mr. Maxwell showed me a letter from Weber ordering some goods on condition that they would sign the exemption for his boys. Mr. Maxwell refused and answered him to that effect the same as myself. Of this we have a copy and also Weber’s letter which you can get by asking for.

On December 20, 1917, I called and got something which was hard to take. Weber called me _______. He also said the _______ of British was licked and they knew it, and before either of his boys would go they would die right there in the store. One of the young Weber’s also said he would blow the brains out of the first man to out his head in the store to take him.

Now this is hard medicine to take after my eldest boy, Sergt. A. R. Mutton, No. 475410, paid the supreme sacrifice on Oct. 30, at Pasachendale, and my youngest boy, Pte. Fred Mutton, No. 727107, 58th Battalion, Canadians, was wounded the same date after having been in the trenches one year on his nineteenth birthday.

Yours faithfully,
Sergt. Arthur Mutton,
Mitchell, Ont.’

The accused Weber said he never made a statement to Mr. Mutton that he would shoot anybody who tried to put him in the army.

Had German Blood.
In his address to court, Mr. O’Correll said there could not be any doubt in mind of the court that there were several issues raised in this cases, which might prejudice the trial of the accused. Mr. O’Correll contended the orders-in-Council regarding the Military Service Act are ultra vires. Mr. O’Correll argued that it was only human nature that Weber sought exemption.

‘The case shows that this man, his family, and neighborhood deliberately set themselves against the law to a man,’ said Mr. Davidson.

Mr. Davidson cited to the court the purchase of the farm by Mr. Weber for his son to escape military service.

‘It was a farcial attempt after being trained in business for years,’ commented Mr. Davidson. ‘He was only on the farm two months.’

An adjournment was made till tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock, when Lt.-Col. J.A. Macdonald, judge advocate, will sum up the case.

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“Father Bought Farm To Let Son Evade Act,” Toronto Star. January 15, 1919. Page 05.

Reeve’s Son Was Draftee, But He Was Not Anxious to Fight.

DESERTION CHARGED

Bruce County Man Faces General Court-Martial at the Armories.

Joseph Weber, father of the prisoner, was recalled at the resumption of the court-martial yesterday afternoon, of Elmer J. Weber, charged with desertion after being ordered to report.

‘Do you recollect a notice being sent to your son to report for duty?’ asked Lt.-Col. Biggs, a member of the court.

‘Yes. It was expected. It did not cause any excitement,’ said Mr. Weber.

‘Were you at home when he left?’

‘Yes. There was no reference made as to his journey.’

‘Did you ever encourage your two boys to enlist during the long period of war?’ asked Lt.-Col. Butcher.

‘I did not want them enlist, but I did not say one way or another.’

‘Isn’t that the reason you bought the farm?’

‘Yes – so they wouldn’t have to enlist.’

‘Did you do anything for your son to evade the act?’

‘No.’

Didn’t Want Sons to Enlist
‘Don’t you think, like every loyal and patriotic citizen, you should have seen that one of our sons enlisted?’ asked Lieut.-Col. Butcher, president of the court. 

‘I did not persuade him to enlist,’ stated Mr. Weber.

‘Were your sympathies against your sons aiding in the cause?’

‘The stand I took I did not persuade them to enlist or not to enlist.’

‘Where were you born?’

‘In Bruce County.’

‘We are not trying Mr. Weber, senior,’ broke in Mr. O’Connell, counsel for prisoner.

‘That’s right; I am not being tried,’ said Mr. Weber.

‘Despite all the efforts you made to prevent him from enlisting, such as buying the farm, you say your intentions were not opposed to the boy enlisting?’ asked Lieut.-Col. Macdonald.

‘I did not do anything to prevent him,’ stated Mr. Weber.

Arthur Mutton, of Mitchell, Ont., salesman for the Maxwell Limited, agricultural implements, of St. Marys, Ont. In his visits to Weber’s store, Mr. Mutton said the language among the customers was generally carried on in German.

Were Talking German
‘Was there anything else said?’ ‘I don’t know, they were mostly talking in German.’

‘How is it that you came to contain this in your mind ever since?’ ‘It was implanted there – I could not forget i. I reported it to the authorities,’ said Mr. Mutton.

Mr. Mutton stated he believed that the Weber family enjoyed a respectable reputation at Neustadt.

‘Do you know what official position the father occupied in the village?’

‘Reeve, I believe,’ stated Mr. Mutton.

‘When did you learn they were Germans?’ – ‘The first time I met them.’

Wrote Letter to Firms
In a letter to Maxwells, Limited, Mr. Joseph Weber said in part: ‘All I ask of you is to state that Elmer Weber and Wilfred Weber’s present occupation in taking care of the farmer’s requirements is indispensable, and that you d not make this statement for personal gain, but knowing their need and ability you feel confident that their service in present occupation is of more benefit to the country than serving in uniform for the country’s cause, and trusting you will see your way clear to do me this personal favor. P.S. – You can ship me a 2 1-4 horse-power engine at once, providing you will assist me in obtaining this business; if not, you need not send same at all.’

Wm. I. Newmarsh, traveler for the Canada Cement Co, of Toronto, stated that Mr. Joseph Weber, in the presence of Elmer Weber, the prisoner, said that in October, 1917, just after the M.S.A. became law. ‘I would like to see who would come to take my sons; he would shoot the _____. He said his two sons would not register under the Military Service Act.’

‘I met Mr. Weber and his son in the store; others were present, and they were talking in the German language.’

‘I submit to the court that there has not been any case made out under the charge,’ stated Mr. O’Connell, after the Crown closed their case, in addressing the court.

Robert H. Fortune, of the members of the M.S.A. tribunal at Ayton, was called by the defence. Mr. Fortune said the prisoner was granted exemption.

When Mr. O’Connell produced the certificate of exemption Mr. Davidson objected, stating the appeal had been disallowed by Justice Duff.

Mr. O’Connell said he produced the certificate to show that Weber thought he had permanent exemption and he had no intention of deserting.

The court was adjourned till 10 o’clock to-day.

The cartoon at top is At The Weber Court Martial at the Armories.

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