Sunday, June 02, 2013

Those Ku Klux Klan snapshots

I've written quite a bit here about Ku Klux Klan activity in Lucas County during the 1920s --- not among our finest moments, but important to remember --- and had planned to round up and scan these two snapshots, but procrastinated. They're the only photographic evidence I've seen, although it's likely more exists, somewhere.

Ursula Bingham beat me to the punch, however, and posted versions of the two images yesterday to the "You grew up in Chariton if you remember ..." Facebook page. So I've shamelessly lifted the images and reposted them here.

The occasion was the funeral of a Klan "sister" at what then was the United Brethren Church at the intersection of North Eighth Street and Roland Avenue, north of the Chariton Public Library. The building still stands, sort of, although shorn of its bell tower and its stained glass and in an accelerating state of deterioration.

I've never taken the time to try to track down the identity of the deceased or to figure out the date, but it probably was during the period 1923-25, when the Klan was strongest.

The Klan seems to have had a funeral ritual and, if permitted and requested to do so, conducted last rites for its members. During October of 1924, for example, Klan organizer J.D. Pontius --- then pastor of Chariton's First Christian Church --- presided at funeral services at Belinda Christian Church for John H. James, "under the auspices of the knights and women of the Ku Klux Klan."

Writings here about the Klan are found in three posts, which may be accessed by following these links: Ku Klux Klan Part 1, Ku Klux Klan Part 2 and Ku Klux Klan loose ends.

It's useful to remember that everything that contributed to the rise of the Klan in Lucas County and elsewhere is still there, bubbling just below the surface --- racism, intolerance and scapegoating based upon skin color, place of origin, religious preference, sexual orientation and more.

If you're not familiar with the "If you grew up in Chariton you remember ..." page, you'll find it here. There's a similar although less active "you grew up in Russell" page here.

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