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Frank K. Nebeker
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Frank K. Nebeker (1919-1920)

Early History/Schooling:  Frank Knowlton Nebeker was born in 1871 in Utah to Ira and Delia Lane Nebeker.  He graduated from Cornell Law School in 1895.

Tenure as AAG:  In mid-1919, President Wilson appointed Nebeker as AAG in charge of public lands.  His appointment was part of a sweeping reorganization of the Justice Department by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to improve the Department’s “anti-radical capabilities.”  AG Palmer was known as a staunch opponent of communists, anarchists, and others who advocated revolution or the violent overthrow of government, and Nebeker had previously prosecuted a number of Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) leaders.  Given his short tenure as AAG, there is little information about the nature of his work for the Lands Division.

Career: After law school, Nebeker moved back to Utah and entered private practice.  He was elected to two terms as county attorney of Cache County and later district attorney.  There, he prosecuted many criminal cases and notably broke up an organized gang of horse thieves.  He then formed Nebeker, Hart & Nebeker with his younger brother.  From 1909 to 1912, he was a senior attorney for Oregon Short Line Railroad Co.  He then moved to Howat & Macmillian where he later became partner.  Nebeker grew increasingly active in politics, becoming a Democratic National Committee member and contributing to the advancement of the national campaign in the West.  Later on, Nebeker became a Special Assistant to the Attorney General in charge of the government’s prosecution of I.W.W. leaders.  On April 1, 1918,  Nebeker and six other Justice Department attorneys commenced the prosecution of I.W.W. members in Chicago.  In late-spring 1919, I.W.W. supporters sent bombs via mail to dozens of people who had been involved with the prosecution, including Nebeker.  The authorities, however, thwarted the attempt, intercepting nearly all of the bombs.  Only two people were injured.  In 1920, Nebeker moved from the Lands Division to the Antitrust Division where he served as the AAG of that Division for five months.

Personal: Nebeker married Lillian Martinmeau in Logan, Utah in 1890.  Together, they had six children, Franklin Jr., Marjorie, Lyman, Joyce, Delia, and Ruth.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.

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Frank K. Nebeker
Last Updated: June 2013