Five Japanese section hands on the Northern Pacific railroad at Superior were transported to the Missoula jail, reportedly for their protection.
Mineral County deputies took the laborers into Missoula on a Sunday evening after Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii earlier in the day.
The five men, ranging in age from 55 to 67, were threatened with lynching by fellow workers. They were identified in the newspaper as W. Hamada and T. Tetsuga, both 67; K. Shinamura, 59; and A. Shinamura, 55, as well as 57-year-old section foreman B. Oato.
The attacks in Hawaii stirred instant, intense anti-Japan feelings in Montana and across the nation. Milwaukee Railroad workers in Miles City refused to work until seven Japanese-born colleagues were removed from the job.
On Tuesday, a day after President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed the United States' entrance into World War II, Missoula Undersheriff Robert MacLean said all five men detained in the county jail were returned to their homes in Livingston.
Within a couple of weeks, the first of what would be 1,000 Japanese aliens in the U.S. were sent to a federal detention center at Fort Missoula for loyalty hearings.
Most were gone by June 1942, sent to other detention camps for the duration of the war. Most were prominent businessmen or community leaders in Seattle, Portland and other West Coast cities. None were charged with acts of disloyalty. The average age of the detainees was 60.