September 18, 1918: Finnish pacifist abducted, tarred and feathered, and hung

On this day in Duluth 1918, Finnish immigrant Olli Kinkkonen, a dockworker and logger, was tarred and feathered in Congdon Park—and then disappeared. Earlier that day Kinkkonen and five others had renounced their U.S. citizenship because they did not want to fight for the U.S.—nor anyone else—in the war in Europe. A group calling themselves the “Knights of Loyalty” (also referred to as the “Knights of Liberty” and “Sons of Liberty”) went after the six, but was only able to locate Kinkkonen, who was preparing to return to his homeland. They took him from his rented room in a boarding house in the St. Croix District (Canal Park today), told him they represented the draft board, then drove him out to Congdon Park. After asking him questions concerning loyalty to the U.S., they tarred and feathered him from head to toe as a “warning to all slackers.” Two weeks later Kinkkonen’s body was found hanging from a tree a half mile north of Lester Park. Duluth authorities ruled that Kinkkonen must have committed suicide because he was embarrassed about what had happened to him. His abductors—and probable murderers—were never charged. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the poor section of Duluth’s Park Hill Cemetery. In 1993 a Finnish cultural group placed a marker on Kinkkonen’s grave. It reads, “Olli Kinkkonen, 1881 to 1918, Victim of Warmongers.” Read a more detailed account of the event here.

The marker for the grave of lynching victim Olli Kinkonnen. (Image: Zenith City Press)