Bandits, Mad Men, and Suicides: Fear, Anger, and Death in a Troubled Iowa Landscape, 1929-1933

Ossian, Lisa L.
June 2006
Agricultural History;Summer2006, Vol. 80 Issue 3, p296
Academic Journal
Iowa experienced two well-known incidents of rural violence in the early 1930s with the "Cow War of Cedar County" during 1931 and the Farmers' Holiday Movement Strike in northwest Iowa in August 1932. However, the violence in rural Iowa from 1930 to 1933 became far more widespread, insidious, and personal than these two nationally covered mob incidents. The most extensive violence during the early Depression years involved hired hands and family members attacking and killing each other on scattered farmsteads, bandits robbing vulnerable country folk for their hidden money, gangsters stealing from small town banks, prohibition officers raiding rural stills, or farmers hanging themselves from barn rafters. The climate of financial fear, whether real of exaggerated, added to this overall morbid tension, and midwestern rural society no longer projected an idealistic image of strength, peace, and prosperity but rather one of fear and violence.


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