The Case of Capt. David
Former Clayton county school teacher
Punished - Found Guilty Traitorous Act - Court-Martialed
Compiled by S. Ferrall for Clayton co.
IAGenWeb, April 2019
~McGregor News, Wednesday,
February 26, 1896
University of Wisconsin
From the Wisconsin State Journal:
~Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, Vol. 2,
July 1901, pgs 473-474
~Monona Leader, Thursday,
August 9, 1906
The Case of Capt. David A. Henkes
German American Found Guilty of Disloyalty and Condemned to Military Prison for Twenty-five years
One of the saddest incidents in connection with the war is the story of Capt. David A. Henkes an army officer of German descent, who after being sent to France with the Sixteenth Infantry was returned to this county by order of General Pershing to be court martialed for disloyalty. He was found guilty and sentenced to twenty-five years in Fort Leavenworth. The main evidence used against him was a letter written to the War Department, declaring that as his sympathies for Germany did not fit him to act as a soldier in the fighting line, he desired to resign.
The letter was discussed in the War Department, but Captain Henkes was sent to France in the hope that his service there would work a change in his feelings. It was believed, according to the Secretary of War, that when Henkes at first wrote asking to be allowed to resign that he ight have an excited and confused view of the situation. It was thought that sending him to France would cause "his sense of propriety to reassert itself." Later, when General Pershing reported that there had been no change, Captain Henkes was sent back to the United States for trial.
Immediately the sensational press began to print stories that Captain Henkes had been in touch with German agents or with Bernstorff, but Secretary Baker waid he had no knowledge of any such facts.
Pictures of Captain Henkes show him to be a soldierly looking officer, apparently still under thirty-five, and with a resolute face.
Friends are hoping, the American states, that President Wilson may decide to reduce the sentence of twenty-five years at hard labor, imposed by a court martial on Governors Island.
Mrs. Henkes and her nine-year-old daughter, Frances, are to remain here for a few weeks at the home of a married sister. Then they will find a home close to the prison.
A friend of the former army officer said that soon after his return from France, Captain Henkes was given the alternative of accepting a discharge "for the good of the service" or of standing trial by court martial. He wrote to Washington to learn on what charges he would be tried.
This friend said the captain received no reply, but was ordered to Governors Island under arrest, but not in confinement. That was on December 15. Quarters in "Brick Row," where officers of the Twenty-second Infantry and their families reside, were assigned to Captain Henkes. He lived there with his wife and child until about three weeks ago. The, after a day and a half before a court martial, he was confined in a cell at Fort Jay.
From Fort Jay Captain Henkes telephoned directions to his wife about packing their household effects. According to a friend of the cashiered officer, he instructed his wife to preserve all papers relating to his court martial, but to burn business documents. A few minutes after this message a lieutenant and squad of men raided his home and gathered all papers.
Officers at Governors Island said some of these papers indicated the captain had been in communication with Ambasador Bernstorff and had contributed money to German propaganda funds. This was denied by a friend of the captain, who said the former officer had given $10 or $15 to the German Red Cross long before the United States entered the war. He received an acknowledgment of this contribution from the German Embassy.
Captain Henkes had sufficient money to keep his wife and child from want. Most of this money was invested in oil and mining stocks, but he also owned some German third and fourth loan 5 percent bonds; Hungarian and Austrian war bonds. Besides, he had some war bonds of Japan.
Captain Henkes did not fight in the Spanish-American War. He contracted typhoid fever and never left the cantonments in Florida. In the Philippine insurrection, however, he went into action several times. Henkes was a member of General Pershing's punitive expedition into Mexico.
~Issues and Events-American Liberal Review; A Weekly Magazine; Volume 8; New York, 1918; pg 148-149
Note: the exact publication date of this issue is unknown; likely late February or early March 1918.
Prison - Ex-Army Officer, Stripped of Insignia, Centre of
Curious Throng in Railroad Station
A dejected man, wearing what had once been the uniform
of the regular army of the United States, his khaki
blouse, minus the eagle-crested army buttons, held
together with safety pins, and the two silver bars, the
insignia of the rank of Captain, ripped from his
shoulders, arrived at the Pennsylvania Station, under
guard of two veteran Sergeants of the 22d United States
Infantry, at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. The man
was David A. Henkes, who went to France a Captain in the
16th United States Infantry and who was sent back by
General Pershing to be court-martialed for disloyalty.
~The New York Times, February
Clayton County Man is Punished - Captain David Henkes Found Guilty Traitorous Act - Court-Martialed
Scores of Clayton county people familiar with the name
of David Henkes read with amazement the Washington
dispatch printed a few days ago which told of the
court-martial and subsequent sentencing of Captain David
Henkes to Fort Leavenworth, Kas., for a term of
twenty-five years imprisonment. Henkes had been accused
of traitorous conduct and was found guilty of having
violated his oath of fedality to the service.
February 27, 1918
Army Captain Given 25 Years
The following item appeared in the Chicago papers
Monday, and concerns a Clayton County boy, who was born
and raised near Farmersburg, he has been in army service
for over twenty years, and it is with a feeling of deep
regret that his career should come to such an ending.
Sympathy is to be extended to his relatives here who are
and have been as loyal as any citizens in this county,
and will doubtless feel the disaster most keenly:
~Monona Leader, February 28,
The Captain David Henkes who was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for refusal to bear arms against Germany, is a former Farmersburg man. He is 32 years old and has relatives in this community.
Volksblatt, Friday, March 1, 1918 (Postville,
Allamakee county, IA)
~FamilySearch.org; Duplicate World War
I Selective Service Draft Registration cards, 1917-1918;
Will Serve Full Sentence
Leavenworth, Kan., Nov. 17 - Commutation of sentence for David A. Henkes, former army captain has been revoked, it has become known at the disciplinary baracks of Fort Leavenworth, where he is serving a 25-year term. An order issued in August cut 20 years from the sentence. No reason was given for revocation of the commutation.
~Fairfield Daily Journal,
November 17, 1919
Await Order For Henkes' Release
Although the officials at the Disciplinary Barracks
are expecting an order from Judge John C. Pollock,
federal judge for Kansas, and another from the war
department, regarding the release of David A. Henkes,
"slacker captain" who is serving twenty-five
years because he was opposed to fighting as a United
States soldier against Germany, at 3 o'clock this
afternoon the order had not been received.
~Leavenworth Post, Leavenworth, Kansas; December 3, 1919
Henkes Escapes Punishment
David A. Henkes, a former captain in the United States
arrmy, was released from the Disciplinary Barracks late
yesterday afternoon on an order from Judge John C.
Pollock, of the United States district court.
Case Again in Federal Court
The question as to whether the federal
courts have the right to review the sentences of
courts-martial passed during the World War, will be
argued before the circuit court of appeals at St. Louis
Monday. The question is raised in the appeal of Major
General J.H. McRae, former commandant of the United
States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth from the
ruling of Judge John C. Pollock setting aside the 25-year
sentence imposed by a court-martial of Captain Davis A.
Henkes. Should the court sustain Judge Pollock, several
hundred cases of persons sentenced to the disciplinary
barracks during the war will be open for review by the
United States courts.
Taken Under Advisement
Lee Bond returned from St. Louis this morning after arguing the case of Captain David A. Henkes before the United States circuit court of appeals there Tuesday and Wednesday. No decision will be given for some time. L.S. Harvey, assistant United States attorney of Kansas and Colonel W.A Graham of the judge advocate department of the army made arguments for the government.
Leavenworth, Kansas; Thursday, January 13, 1921
Reverse Decision Giving Freedom to Army Officer
Leavenworth, Kan., May 14 - A telegram
received from St. Paul, Minn., today states that the
United States circuit court of appeals had reversed the
decision of Federal Judge John C. Pollock ordering the
release of David A. Henkes from the disciplinary barracks
at Fort Leavenorth. Henkes' attorney announced that an
appeal will be taken to the United States supreme court.
~Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO;
Sunday, May 15, 1921
Supreme Court of the United States, Monday, March 27, 1922
No. 811 David A. Henkes, petitioner vs J.H. McRae, commandant of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth; petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States circuit court of appeals for the Eighth circuit, denied.
~Washington Post, March 28, 1922 (Daily Court Record)
Transcription note: Definition of "Writ of
Certiorari": Parties who are not satisfied with the
decision of a lower court must petition the U.S. Supreme
Court to hear their case. The primary means to petition
the court for review is to ask it to grant a writ of
certiorari. This is a request that the Supreme Court
order a lower court to send up the record of the case for
review. If the Justices decide to accept a case (grant a
petition for certiorari), the case is placed on the
1925 Kansas State census
Seneca st., Leavenworth, Kansas
~FamilySearch.org, United States
General Index, Pension Files, 1861-1934
1930 U.S. Census
Leavenworth city, Leavenworth co., KS
Veterans National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Leavenworth, KS
David Henkes was admitted to the Veterans at National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Leavenworth, KS on April 28, 1932
~FamilySearch.org, Register of Veterans
at National Home for Disabled Volunteer
Note: Tabes dorsalis is a complication of untreated
syphilis that involves muscle weakness and abnormal
sensations. It is a form of neurosyphilis, which is a
complication of late stage syphilis infection. (source:
Medlineplus.gov; Medical Encyclopedia)
Farley Henkes went to Leavenworth, Kan., Wednesday, to attend the funeral of his uncle, Dave Henkes.
~Clayton County Register,
Wednesday, August 17th 1938 (Farmersburg column)
David Albert Henkes October 27, 1875- August 8,
Son of Adam H. Henkes and Christina Yearous.
Buried at Mount Muncie cemetery, Lansing, Leavenworth county, Kansas.
He shares a gravestone with his wife Amelia (Langer) Henkes 12/23/1884 - 02/12/1963.
They had one daughter, Frances (Henkes) Bodde.
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