KKK in Athens County Ohio 

 On this webpage you are going to read about the presence of the KKK organization in Athens county, Ohio in the 1920's.  I stumbled upon this topic while reading some obituaries in old articles in the Athens Messenger which are housed at the Ohio University library in their microfilm department. This topic may surprise but will also inform that even a small community like Athens county had a presence of the KKK in the early part of the last century. 

We will begin with an email  from a couple who purchased a home in Waterloo township,  they found what appeared to be an old KKK uniform in their attic:  

Messages: June 2, 2003 to June 7, 2003

"My husband and I bought a house in Athens county last year.  About a month ago I was in the attic and my husband and I discovered a black bag.  Inside it was a KKK robe and hood.   It is an interesting piece of History, but still scary.  I was wondering if you could put me in touch with someone who could date it for me.  I believe the house was built in the early 1900's to 1920's. 

When my husband and I found it, we didn't know whether to burn it or to frame it.  We both are in agreement that it is not a good part of history, but yet it is history.

You can put the story and pics on the web site.  The house is in Waterloo township."

Below are photo's of the articles they found in the attic:

Thanks  for sharing the above for this website! 

Photo's and the above story is owned by the contributor, permission from the owner needed for display and publication.

Next we will read how the organization began in Ohio.

A documentary program on the History Channel was presented  about the 1st and 2nd era of the KKK.  It reported that during the 2nd era of the Klan, a Klan leader would entice a minister of a community to join their organization with the promise of prestige and prominence in the community.  According to the program, the second era Klan was mainly restructured as a fraternal organization by a former Methodist clergyman in 1915 and attracted almost 5 million American people, mainly Christians.  It was particularly strong in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Indiana and Ohio. The organization was presented in such a way at to appeal to the democratic moral, patriotic and Christian values of church goers and Klan programs were being presented in the Ohio churches from 1920-1929. Membership began to wane after an investigation discovered widespread corruption of its leaders.

According to obituaries in the Athens Messenger  in the 1920's the KKK had a strong presence in Athens county, Ohio.  From the Athens Messenger... "Many large, and beautiful ceremonies"  were presented at  cemeteries in the area for Klansman whose family member had passed on. 

(names omitted for privacy of the living)

Doanville Man Dies, Klu Klux Klan funeral

          XXXX XXXXXXXX passed away Tuesday evening at his home at Doanville after a few days illness.  No funeral arrangements have been made.  He leaves a wife and three small children.

          Funeral services for the late XX. XXXXXXXX, Knight of the Ku Klux Klan and Odd Fellow were held at the residence in Doanville, under the auspices of the Odd Fellow lodge and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

          This was one of the largest funerals Nelsonville had for some time.  Three hundred and forty seven cars carried the friends and relatives to the cemetery to pay their last respects to this departed relative and friend.  The Odd Fellows conducted their funeral rites which were very sacred and a beautiful tribute.  Eighty Knights of the Ku Klux Klan escorted the remains to the cemetery where they formed circle around all present throughout the ceremony.  The Knights did not carry out all of their funeral ceremony because of the beautiful ceremony of the Odd Fellows and the length of time it necessitated.  A very expressive and patriotic prayer was rendered by the Klan chaplain at the conclusion of the beautiful ceremony.  1923 (Athens Messenger)

A Large Funeral - Chauncey, Ohio

          The main auditorium and Sunday school room of the Chauncey Christian church was filled Wednesday afternoon with relatives and friends who gathered to pay their last respect to the memory of  Mr. XXXX X. XXXXXXX, a highly respected citizen of this city, who passed away here Monday morning.  The funeral address was delivered by XXX a pastor of the Glouster Christian church.  Forty robed Knights of the Ku Klux Klan  attended the funeral in a body and conducted their services in the church and at the cemetery.  The Christian church quartet composed of XXXX, XXXX, XXXX,  and XXXX, accompanied at the piano by XXXX, sang three selections.  Burial was made in the Greenlawn Cemetery in charge of undertaker Stout.  This was the first Klan funeral ever held in Chauncey.  The floral offerings were many and beautiful.  Mr. XXXXXXX is survived by his widow, two sons, and two daughters, all of this city.   Mr. XXXXXXX was employed on the shop tracks in the Chauncey railroad yards and had been a resident of this city for the past 20 years.  During his residence here he had gained a wide circle of friends who regret to hear of his sudden death.  He is survived by sisters in Des Moines Iowa; Belpre, Ohio, Circleville, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio, and brothers of Roanoke Arkansas, and Frost in Athens county, Ohio. (1924 Athens Messenger)

Funeral in Glouster, Ohio

          Mrs. XXXXXXX XXXX died in her home in Columbus Friday afternoon, and is survived by her husband and two orphans.  Her girlhood days were spent in this city, but her married life was spend in the capital city.  She had been in poor health for some time, but for the  past month was confined to her bed.  Her condition the past two weeks was considered extremely critical and death was expected at any time.  Funeral services will be held in Columbus Sunday and the remains will be brought to this city Sunday evening.  The funeral party going direct to the home of her mother in Urbancrest.  Funeral services will be held from the home of Mrs. XXXXXX XXXXXX in this city Monday afternoon at 1 conducted by Rev.XXXXXXX of Columbus.  She is survived by the following brothers and sisters XXX and XXX of Glouster, XXX of Jerseyville, XXX and XXX of Athens.  At the close of the funeral services for Mrs. XXX XXXX of Columbus, at the Glouster cemetery, Monday afternoon, about 20 robed women of the Ku Klux Klan appeared at the grave and went through their ritualistic services.  A beautiful cross of red flowers was placed on the grave by the women.  (1924,  Athens Messenger)


Memories Section 

Please feel free to email me with your memories. No names or email addresses will be posted.

(names and email addresses removed for privacy of the living)

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I saw the article about the Klan being in Athens Co. Ohio.  I will not give my name even though my parents are both deceased, as we still have relatives in the area.

In my childhood we moved North from Nelsonville, Ohio.  Several years later at Halloween time our parents were in town shopping, when they came home we had on a Klansman sheet we found in the back of the closet, thinking it would make a great costume for the party we were to attend.  Needless to say we were reprimanded and it was removed from our curiosity.  If there hadn't been a fuss made over us having it I am sure I would not have remembered it, as only by seeing this article did I remember this 50 years later.

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When I was a child I went with my father everywhere.  One night I thought he was going to play cards and I was going to play with cousins.  Without my dad knowing it, I followed him and stayed in the bushes.  Much to my surprise I witnessed a Klan ceremony.  I never did mention this to my father or to anyone.

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My grandfather was a member until shortly after WWII.   He was a Methodist Minister in Athens Co. until his death and no one outside the family ever new about his past.

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When my brother and I were 9 and 12 years old our grandad would take us coon hunting with him in the woods of Waterloo township. This one night he said we couldn't go. We decided to follow him into the woods anyway. That is when we saw a fire burning and 55 men dressed in robes and hoods. We were afraid but we hid and watched anyway. At the end of the chanting ceremony the men took off their hoods and we recognized the men and three were pastors and one of Mineral Church. We never did tell Grandad that we followed him. He is gone now and after grandma died, we were cleaning the house and found his robe and hood, which we still have today. We decided to keep it and let the children find it, but we have a letter with it so they will know what happened.

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My grandmother lived on a street near downtown Athens. She was a widow and boarded male college students of which my father was one. One morning she was in hysterics when my dad came downstairs and said go look in the front yard. Her front yard was a hill (there must have been at least 100 steps to the front door). Lo and behold there was burned in the grass a large KKK cross. Later in the day she received a call telling her it had been a mistake and they had the wrong house.

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The Athens Messenger, January 1993 reported that a woman in the county sleeps with a shotgun by her bed since finding two burning crosses in her yard. The woman said her trouble began after two co-workers visited her home. Two days after Christmas an anonymous phone caller told her that if her black friends came back to the neighborhood they would be hurt. Then after midnight a man wearing a ski mask ignited a five foot wooden cross on her lawn and ran away, four others were seen. She was able to identify the men and one was arrested.  She has since moved from the area.

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Feel free to email your memories to the webmaster!


For more historical information on the Ku Klux Klan click the links below:

                  The Klansman Manuel and above photo was presented online by the Ohio State University Department of History

(The presentation of this 1925 manual is not a promotion of the KKK but merely a historical presentation.

The webmaster does not have a copy of this 1925 manual.  

Sources of the American Social Tradition: volume II, 1865 to Present, David Rothman and Sheila m. Rothman, eds.(Basic Books, Inc., Publishers: New York, 1975) pp. 166-172.

sic Books, Inc., Publishers: New York, 1975) p. 175.  ")

The Klansman Manuel 1925

The Order

The Name
"Knights of the Ku Klux Klan."
"Forever hereafter it shall be known as Knights of the Ku Klux Klan."

Its Divisions
"There shall be four Kloranic Orders of this Order, namely:

1. "The order of citizenship or K-UNO (Probationary).
2. "Knight Kamellia or K-DUO (Primary Order of Knighthood)."
3. "Knights of the great Forest or K-TRIO (The Order of American Chivalry)
4. "Knights of the Midnight Mystery or K-Quad (Superior Order of Knighthood and Spiritual Philosophies)."…

Its Government
The Constitution provides for and establishes that form of government that will best further the interests of the movement and develop to the highest possible efficiency all of its component elements.

1. This form of government is military in character. It will suffice to compare the Klan's form of government to the government of an army. As the United States Army is duly organized with its various officers and troops, so is the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan welded together as an organized force for the fulfillment of its patriotic mission. The Commander-in-Chief is the Imperial Wizard. The divisional Commanders are the Grand Dragons. The Brigade Commanders are the Great Titans. The Regimental Commanders are the Exalted Cyclops. All of these Commanders have their respective staffs and other subordinate officers and aids.
2. This form of government is necessary. (a) For efficient administration: (b) For effectiveness in method and operation: (c) For the preservation of the order.

Fraternal order history records the failure of many patriotic societies that were organized on a so-called democratic basis. Without this feature of the military form of government which is designed to provide efficient leadership, effective discipline, intelligent cooperation, active functioning, uniform methods, and unified operation, quickly responsive to the call to put over the immediate task at hand, even the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan would degenerate into a mere passive, inefficient, social order. The military form of government must and will be preserved for the sake of true, patriotic Americanism, because it is the only form of government that gives any guarantee of success. We must avoid the fate of the other organizations that have spilt on the rock of democracy.

Objects and Purposes (Article II, The Constitution)

Mobilization
This is its primary purpose: "To unite white male persons, native-born, Gentile citizens of the United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature or degree to any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person, or people; whose morals are good; whose reputations and vocations are respectable; whose habits are exemplary; who are of sound minds and eighteen years or more of age, under a common oath into a brother hood of strict regulations."

Cultural
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a movement devoting itself to the needed task of developing a genuine spirit of American patriotism. Klansmen are to be examples of pure patriotism. They are to organize the patriotic sentiment of native-born white, Protestant Americans for the defense of distinctively American institutions. Klansmen are dedicated to the principle that America shall be made American through the promulgation of American doctrines, the dissemination of American ideals, the creation of wholesome American sentiment, the preservation of American institutions.

Fraternal
The movement is designed to create a real brotherhood among men who are akin in race, belief, spirit, character, interest, and purpose. The teachings of the order indicate very clearly the attitude and conduct that make for real expression of brotherhood, or, "the practice of Klannishness."

Beneficient
"To relieve the injured and the oppressed; to succor the suffering and unfortunate, especially widows and orphans."
The supreme pattern for all true Klansmen is their Criterion of Character, Jesus Christ, "who went about doing good." The movement accepts the full Christian program of unselfish helpfulness, and will seek to carry it on in the manner commanded by the one Master of Men, Christ Jesus.

Protective
1. The Home. "To shield the sanctity of the home." The American home is fundamental to all that is best in life, in society, in church, and in the nation. It is the most sacred of human institutions. Its sanctity is to be preserved, its interests are to be safeguarded, and its well-being is to be promoted. Every influence that seeks to disrupt the home must itself be destroyed. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan would protect the home by promoting whatever would make for is stability, its betterment, its safety, and its inviolability.
2. Womanhood. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan declare that it is committed to "the sacred duty of protecting womanhood"; and announces that one of its purposes is "to shield… the chastity of womanhood." The degradation of women is violation of the sacredness of human personality, a sin against the race, a crime against society, menace to our country, and a prostitution of all that is best, and noblest, and highest in life. No race, or society, or country, can rise higher than its womanhood.
3. The Helpless. "To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal." Children, the disabled, and other helpless ones are to know the protective, sheltering arms of the Klan.
4. American Interests. "To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and all laws passed in conformity thereof, and to protect the states and the people thereof from all invasion of the right from any source whatsoever."


If you have any historical information about the KKK presence in Athens county, Ohio in the 1920's that you would like to share I would love to place it on this webpage.  Names will be left out for privacy of the living.  Email me.

If you are interested in a comical historical fictional perspective I suggest the following movie:

"Oh Brother Where Art Thou" starring George Clooney.

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