Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a series written by Neil Snarr commemorating Black History Month.
After the Klavern was built on Ludovic Street and the parade through town was completed, the Klan became a significant entity in Wilmington and Clinton County. In fact, the Klan was a powerful national entity with significant influence in much of the country.
Demonstrating this national influence was a meeting at Buckeye Lake in Ohio: “Officials of the Ku Klux Klan from all over the country will attend a meeting at the Buckeye Lake starting next Tuesday and lasting through Friday… The policy of the Klan on public questions will be taken up said the announcement. At the close of the session of the national officers the Ohio Konklave will start, and will last through Sunday.” (A Konklave is best understood as a secret or confidential meeting.)
The Wilmington News Journal on Sept. 1, 1925 states that: Reports coming from the 500 men and women from Clinton County who attended the State Konklave of the Ku Klux Klansmen of Ohio, said that Saturday’s crowd more than reached the 300,000 that were expected.
The lengthy description of the Konklave in the WNJ read like a combination of a church revival and a New Year’sEve celebration. There were classes (separate for men and women) where candidates were inducted into the mysteries of Klancraft and Tri-K girls received their obligation (whatever that was) and much more.
“During the naturalization ceremony a fiery cross 100 feet high, the largest ever burned in the history of Klandom, lighted up the never-to-be forgotten scene where men and women pledged themselves to this great Christian organization, who have sworn that they will take up the torch that has fallen from the hand of that great hero for Christ, William Jennings Bryan, and help bear it on to victory to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to its old-time faith.”
Back in Wilmington it seemed that the enthusiasm expressed in the Buckeye Lake meeting was continuing as the WNJ ad in the Feb. 23, 1926 issue indicates.
Another WNJ ad on Oct. 15, 1926 in a “Special Notice” states that, “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Clinton County Klan No. 13 will present an American Flag and Bible to the Cuba High School on Sunday, Oct. 17, 1926, 2 p.m. Prominent speakers will present the Flag and Bible which will be accepted by the Principal in behalf of the students. The public is cordially invited.”
Then, in late 1927 an open meeting of the Klan was held on North Nelson Avenue in which a cross was burned, “… member of the Clinton County Ku Klux Klan held an open-session with members of surrounding county councils and planned a membership drive. About 300 were in attendance.” Just one year later another meeting was held, this time at the Ludovic Street auditorium for “interested non-members.”
Even a few months before this last meeting, things seemed to be changing for the Klan.
In the April 9, 1928 WNJ this article appeared, “More Outrages Of Klan To Be Told Of Today: Former Investigator for Klansmen Tells Federal Judge of Attacks.”
Neil Snarr is Professor Emeritus at Wilmington College.