Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Notable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940 » Liewellyn and Edith Banks Trial: 1933 - A Millionaire Before The Depression, Banks Supporters Bully County Officials, Banks Flees To Avoid Arrest

Liewellyn and Edith Banks Trial: 1933 - A Millionaire Before The Depression

fehl newspaper medford candidate

Born in Ohio in 1870, Banks became wealthy growing apples and pears in Oregon's Rogue River Valley. He acquired Medford's Daily News newspaper in 1929 and, the next year, ran as an independent for the U.S. Senate. A reputed millionaire before the Depression, he aligned himself with the smaller growers in southern Oregon by supporting their fight against the large packing houses. A distinguished-looking gentleman, Banks was able to galvanize large audiences with a voice described as hypnotic.

When he faced financial ruin during the Depression, Banks went on the offensive against his perceived enemies by publishing editorials that accused local, state, and national leaders of conspiracy and corruption. Banks attacked Wall Street and the Bank of England. Frequently equating patriotism with his version of Protestant Christianity, he called the Jews a "menace to our free American institutions." Banks also praised the formation of the "Khaki Shirts," a violent, anti-Semitic, paramilitary group formed in 1932, and he called upon retired general John J. Pershing to become a dictator to straighten America out.

A friend of Banks was Earl Fehl, a building contractor, real estate speculator, and perennial candidate for public office. Fehl was also the publisher of the Pacific Record Herald, a weekly newspaper that consistently assailed Medford's business leaders, lawyers, and politicians. Together, Banks and Fehl had a strong following in Medford's lower income neighborhoods and in the rural areas surrounding the city.

In 1932, Fehl was a candidate for Jackson County judge while Banks/Fehl supporters ran for other offices. The election was a particularly ugly one, with the editor of one opposition newspaper threatened with violence and the offices of another threatened with sabotage. Fehl won the election. Also elected was Gordon Schermerhorn, the Banks/Fehl candidate for sheriff, who narrowly defeated the incumbent, Ralph Jennings.

Liewellyn and Edith Banks Trial: 1933 - Banks Supporters Bully County Officials [next]

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