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Old 04-09-2010, 03:34 PM
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Default KKK IN Indiana 1921-1928

KKK IN Indiana 1921-1928

During the early 1920s, the Klan began to take shape in Indiana. The state population was around 3,000,000 people, and the economy was climbing upward with new automobile industries being founded largely in Kokomo and Ft Wayne. The Klan came to Indiana in 1921 courtesy of DC (David Curtis) Stephenson, or the 'Old Man' as he liked to be called. Although Stephenson was no 'Old Man' (in his mid 30's at this time), it was the popular nickname that he had chosen for himself. The Indiana Realm of the KKK began in Evansville Indiana (in the very SouthWestern part of the sate), and quickly spread north. On July 4th, 1923, the largest Klan gathering in Indiana history took place in Kokomo Indiana. The number of estimated Klansman ranges from 10,000-100,000. The Klansman met for a large rally in downtown Kokomo, coming to town in cars, on busses, and even trains. Almost all of the Klansman were from Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, although some were from farther away. During the rally (which was filled with 'Klan Brass Bands', speeches, rides, and other various activities), a plane flew overhead. The plane, brightly orange in color, was much similar to what the infamous "Red Barron" flew in, having 2 open seats, one behind the other, and one wing on top of the other. It was pulling a large banner, which due to it's low flying height, could easily be read....."EVANSVILLE KLAN #1". The plane soon landed in an adjacent field, and out stepped a short, pudgy, blonde man in not a Klan robe, but a 3 piece suit; looking more like a politician than a Klansman. It was DC Stephenson, the Grand Dragon of Indiana and 22 other Northern States (a little known fact). Many in the crowd were at first unaware of who he was (keep in mind that TV was not around at the time to make his face famous), yet, word quickly spread. Later in the day, Stephenson gave a fiery speech, not about the Klan, but about politics, the speech was titled "Back to the Constitution". It sounded more as if he was running for President than Grand Dragon, yet, it would later be known that that was EXACTLY what he had in mind. Stephensons presence was much like that of a King. He was able to build up membership with him wherever he went, building the Indiana Klan to be one of, if not 'the most', powerful political Klan in the Nation.

In the beginning, Stephenson would go to a town or county where the Klan had not yet been established, find willing and desirable men, and get them to sign up. Once he had a few local citizens, they would go to the local Protestant Church and offer free membership and a title position in the Klavern to the Clergyman there in exchange for allowing the Klan to walk in during a Sunday sermon, make a public offering, and then just as quickly and silently, leave, thus letting everyone know the Klan was in town. The Klan spread like a wildfire.

During this time, the enemies of the Klan were largely alcoholics, blacks, jews, people without morals, and most largely in Indiana; Catholics. The Klan (along with most of Christian nation) believed that Catholics worshipped a 'foreign power' (the Pope), and thus, were un-american. It was said in communities that when 'a Catholic child was born, a gun was buried in the churchyard and later would be used against Americans' to allow Catholics to take over. Although this seems absurd now, keep in mind at the time, you had no TV, VERY FEW PHONES, no internet. Only radio and Newspapers, so gossip and misconceptions ran VERY high. Around Indiana, citizens of small and large towns started noticing signs appear in windows with the letters TWAK (trade with a Klansman) written on them, or adds in local papers such as 'Schumans Keeps Klothes Kleener' for a local laundry or soap. This was done to let Klansman and the public know that these store owners were either Klansman, or Klan supporters.

By 1923, the Indiana Klan had amassed 350,000-500,000 members in the mens Realm, roughly 1/3 of eligable White males in the state. Catholic and Jewish owned businesses were 'black listed' by the Klan, meaning that no Protestant citizen or Klansman could shop there. This was adhered to not only by Klansman, but by non-Klansman alike. Many businesses went bankrupt and closed. It was at this time that 'TOLERANCE' was published by the Catholic Church. TOLERANCE was a newspaper put out to compete with the Klan, and help citizens fight the Klan. It was sold on street corners by vendors, right next to vendors who were selling 'The Fiery Cross' (a Klan newspaper published in Indiana). Soon after, membership lists began appearing in TOLERANCE that gave the name, address, and occupation of Klan members in various towns and cities (one of these sold on EBAY a couple of weeks ago with 12,000 Marion County *Indianapolis* Klansmans names in it). This was a HUGE blow to the Klan. Membership in the 20's was SWORN and KEPT SECRET. Often times, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters didnt know that their own family members were in the Klan. These lists were obtained when Klan offices were broken into or disgruntled former Klansman turned them over. Yet, even this did little to slow the wave of Klan Power in Indiana.

Indiana 1921-1928 pt. 2

________________________________________
In late 1922, the 'Queens of the Golden Mask' was founded in Indianapolis. This was the first Womens Klan group in Indiana. As women were marching for equality and rights on the streets, wives and acquantinces of Klansman were demanding equal rights in the Secret Society. Daisy Douglass Barr, a Quaker preacher, traveled the state, giving fiery speeches and recruiting women into the Klan. Soon, the Womens Ku Klux Klan and Womens Knights of Camelia were founded. The groups population soon rival that of the men, gaining an estimated 300,000-450,000 members. The womens groups had one large advantage over the men, what the men did with parades, posters, flyers, and marches; the women simply did by mouth. Gossip was the backbone of the WKKK. Without TV or movies at the time, most of the news outside of the Radio and Papers came from word of mouth, and that word of mouth came from Women. The womens chapters could (would) start a rumor about a particular person or group, and it soon spread all over the town and/or county. This played a large part in rumors of drunkenness, unfaithfulness, and even religious rumors (such as the Catholic rumor in part 1). This was a powerful force to be reckoned with.

During this time, most Hoosiers cant afford to have phones in their homes. DC Stephenson has 8 of them, including a 'dummy phone' (one thats not hooked up at all) that he claims is a 'Direct link to the Whitehouse' so he can 'advise the President' if he is so needed. The Klan has become a statewide symbol in Indiana. It begins a campaign to do away with anyone in a public office that is not a Klan supporter, and put in Klan-backed canidates instead. The Klan is most powerful not in Southern Indiana, but in Central and the North. They elect a variety of canidates, both local and state, that are either Klan supporters, or sworn Klansman themselves. Among the most infamous was Govenor Ed Jackson, a sworn Klansman, and brother of Ft Wayne Titan Frank Jackson. The Klan even backed the President of the United States (President Harding and Truman were sworn Klansman, Woodrow Wilson was said to be a sympathizer). A number of local politicians were elected by the Klan. In most counties, anti-Klansman were voted out of office, showing the strong percentage of Klansman state wide, and the political power they wielded.

The Klan not only has an influence in politics, but everywhere. A resident from Jasonville Indiana remembered going to school during this time period. 'When you got to school, every Monday morning we sang 3 songs, the Star Spangeled Banner, America, and the Klan song (he could not remember the title). All I can remember, is the verse that goes "We're not against the Catholic, the Negro, or the Jew; they can have their own religion just the same as I or You; but they better stay together and know where they stand; they better not mettle with the Ku Klux Klan" All the children stood proud and sang that song just as they had the previous 2.' During this time period, the Ku Klux Klan tries to buy Valparaiso University, but because of tension and fighting between Stephenson and Imperial Wizard Hiram W Evans, the deal falls through. Stephenson begins to split from the National Klan, and build his own Klan with his base in Indiana. Most of the state membership follows, not yet knowing that the death of the greatest era of Klansman in history lye ahead...............................

Indiana 1921-1928 pt. 3

________________________________________
In November of 1922, Stephenson backed Hiram Evans in his overthrow of Col WJ Simmons, to which Evans became IW of the Organization. Stephenson ran on a 'high' of power after this, quoted in the infamous phrase 'I am the law in Indiana'. But in September of 1923, Stephenson severred ties with the National Klan, and formed his own Klan based in Indiana, taking many of the states male and female members with him. He had a house built in Indianapolis (from the HUGE amount of money he gained as Grand Dragon) that was an exact replica of the Atlanta based National Headquarters. The National Organization soon dismissed Stephenson, or the 'Old Man' as he liked to be called, from Grand Dragon and replaced him with Union County native Walter Bossert (who moved to Indianapolis soon after). Bossert and Stephenson soon began feuding, and at one point, almost had a physical confrontation (to which it is noted, was stopped by Stephensons guards, who later stated that Bossert was a HUGE man that used to play college football for the U of MI). The 'Old Man' kept his power due to the large amount of Klansman statewide that still recognized him as the Grand Dragon despite what the National Office stated, and it grew even more after the 1924 election of Ed Jackson.

A self proclaimed 'prohibitionist' and defender of 'protestant womanhood', Stephenson was on the verge of a huge downfall. It's name, Madge Oberholtzer. Madge was one of many women to whom Stephenson had a sexual interest in. He ordered his guards to pick her up from her Indianapolis home one evening and take her with them (and Stephenson) on a train ride to Chicago. During this ride, Stephenson brutally assaulted and raped her in a drunken rage, at one point biting her to the point of tearing the flesh off of one of her breasts. They stopped in Hammond Indiana (Lake County) and she bought and ingested Mercury Bichloride, a poison tablet, to kill herself and end the pain. She did not immediately die, and the 'Old Man' ordered her to be driven back to Indianapolis, where she lay in his butlers apt garage for days until she was taken home. She later was able to tell her story, then died days afterwords. Stephenson was charged with the rape and murder of Oberholtzer. Still the defiant and smug politician, Stephenson worried little about the charge, convinced that no Indiana jury would convict the Grand Dragon of the powerfull Indiana Ku Klux Klan. On November 14, 1925, a jury of all white men found Stephenson guilty and sentenced him to life in prison. The 'Old Man' still didnt worry, convinced that Govenor Jackson would grant him a full pardon. When this didnt happen, Stephenson ordered that his guards retrieve 2 black boxes. On September 9th, 1927, Stephenson made public the names of all of those that were backed by the Klan to a public office, and the illegal bribes they had taken. A list of all of those on the Klan payroll was released, and the fallout was more than dramatic. Govenor Ed Jackson and the Mayor of Indianapolis were among them. Some were kicked out of office, some were put in prison, and others remained in office, never to run or be elected again.

A mass fallout of Klansman resulted, not only in Indiana, but nationwide. By 1930, there were less than 1,500 Klansman. The most powerful organization in the Nation, was brought down in the most powerful state, by the most powerful man overnight. By the late 20's, people say that it was 'almost as if you've never heard of the Klan. People didnt talk about it, if you were a member in the early 20's, you never brought it up again. Robes and Hoods were burned, any sign that you had anything to do with them simply vanished on November 15, 1925. It's as if people wanted nothing to do with Stephenson.' After the mass fallout in Indiana and Nationwide, the Klan had one last hoorah. On September 13, 1926; 40,000 robed Klansman marched down Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC to show the Klans power even after the Stephenson trial. It was the last peak of power for the Klan. Soon after, the Klan fell into dissaray, and was sued by the IRS for back taxes. Although it didnt put an end to the Klan that many anti-Klansman wanted, it slowed the growth for a time, and left the future of the Klan in question.
************************************************** ***********************************

I know that here, after the conviction of Stephenson, many Klan items (robes, membership lists, booklets, photos, etc) were burned or thrown away for fear of being affilitated with DC. Although I have access to some of my families Klan items, such as the Womens Seal, and I'm trying to buy Bosserts original white Klan robe from 1922 from an antique delaer, items from this era are VERY hard to come by. I feel that this is perhaps when many of the 'mystic ways' of the Klan (ie, Klancraft) were lost as well. People didnt discuss them, nor were they easy to find such as they were 10 years earlier. Many of the traditions simply 'died out', and can only be regained by TRUE and TRADITIONAL Klansman. Let us not forget the past, as we will be doomed to repeat it in doing so. Learn from Stephenson and the countless others like him, and may the Klan be blessed, and grow to become what it once was again.

I will be posting pictures from Indiana on here, they will be titled "Indiana Photo History" with captions under them, including one of all 92 Indiana counties with the percentage of Klan membership of each one at a later date, due in large part because of some computer/scanner/printer issues right now. I will hopefully have this posted very soon with photos of Stephenson, Klans in Wayne, Lake, Marion, Union, Henry, Allen, and other counties as well. I hope that you all take time to view them, and the other pictures of the 20's era Klan from around the nation I'm posting today.
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:19 PM
redneck IN redneck IN is offline
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What is the status of this project brother?
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:46 PM
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What is the status of this project brother?
Sorry, what do you mean with "What is the status of this project"?
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:58 PM
redneck IN redneck IN is offline
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Originally Posted by whitelegionknight View Post
KKK IN Indiana 1921-1928


I will be posting pictures from Indiana on here, they will be titled "Indiana Photo History" with captions under them, including one of all 92 Indiana counties with the percentage of Klan membership of each one at a later date, due in large part because of some computer/scanner/printer issues right now. I will hopefully have this posted very soon with photos of Stephenson, Klans in Wayne, Lake, Marion, Union, Henry, Allen, and other counties as well. I hope that you all take time to view them, and the other pictures of the 20's era Klan from around the nation I'm posting today.
I was referring to the posting of pictures and other things. I was just curious if you was still working on it or what as it is extremely interesting to me being my home state and its history.
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Old 09-05-2011, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by redneck View Post
I was referring to the posting of pictures and other things. I was just curious if you was still working on it or what as it is extremely interesting to me being my home state and its history.
Oh ok...now I understand

Well....this statement "KKK IN Indiana 1921-1928" was once posted by the Imperial Klokard on our old forum...and at that time I have copied it to my Klan files and have just copy and paste it on the new forum. So maybe you will ask the Imperial Klokard if he has some more infos, sadly I have not.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:03 PM
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ahhh ok I'm sorry I thought this was a post originally by you I didn't realize it was carried over from the old board.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:19 AM
Trikkken Trikkken is offline
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There's a book on this brother

http://www.amazon.com/Citizen-Klansm.../dp/0807846279
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:03 PM
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Indianapolis Ku Klux Klan funeral


Banner for Hendricks Co (IN) Ku Klux Klan


Klan parade in Hobart Indiana


Ku Klux Klan members in Valparaiso Indiana (where the Klan tried to buy the University)
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:13 PM
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Indiana Grand Dragon DC Stephenson during his trial for murder


Indiana Ku Klux Klan wedding


Queens of the Golden Mask, the first Womens KKKK group which was invented by DC Stephenson (Indiana Grand Dragon) as a way to not only bring women into the Klan, but most importantly, make money for the order as well as 'spread poison throughout the state'. Stephenson (during the early 20's) boasted that his 'poison squads' (his nickname for the Queens of the Golden Mask) could spread a rumor from Evansville all the way to Gary in less than 24 hours (keep in mind telephones were only for the rich back then). Evans quickly took notice of the QOTGM and expanded it to the Womens Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, under Emperor Simmons, until Simmons was completely admonished from the Klan.


Women of the Ku Klux Klan, New Castle IN, 1923
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:50 PM
redneck IN redneck IN is offline
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Thanks for the pictures brother. I really like the Hendricks county banner since I spent half my childhood in that county.
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