“The first World war put my convictions to the test. When it broke out I was the pastor in Santa Claus, Ind. I had five children, the oldest ten and the youngest one. My salary was $800. We had nothing else to fall back on. My future was at stake. My pacifist position aroused suspicion, misrepresentation and opposition, especially after the U.S. became involved. If I were to go into detail I could tell you a very interesting story.”


William Weiler was born in Schlierbach, Germany in 1877. He dreamed of going to America. At the age of 14 he got his chance. His father lent him $60, and he steamed across the waters to New York City and landed in New York with hundreds of thousands of other German immigrants in 1891. He became a Methodist minister and was assigned to churches throughout the midwest.

In 1912, Rev. Weiler and his family were assigned to the German church in Santa Claus, Indiana, which happened to be the birthplace of his wife Addie Hanning. But five years later, in 1917 when WWI was becoming a reality to the United States and anti-German sentiment was rampant, the postmaster wrote a letter to the Post Office Inspector-In-Charge:

One Rev. Wm. Weiler… who is of German Birth and is and has been offencively [sic] pro-German ever since the European war started, should be suppressed….

The letter was forwarded to the FBI, and now there is an FBI file on Reverend William Weiler.

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