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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Ku Klux Klan in Defiance County, 1923 - 1924

The Ku Klux Klan first organized after the Civil War, as an attempt to keep all the freed slaves "in their place."  The whole organization rose and fell again in popularity many times throughout the decades, but there was a time when the KKK had a very real resurgence in Defiance County.   

Recruitments for membership (naturalizations) and meetings were held throughout the county, beginning in about 1923, as evidenced by these newspapers notices:

Defiance Crescent News, September 24, 1923


Defiance Crescent- News, November 23, 1923
Defiance Crescent-News, November 21, 1923
Church pastors preached against the Klan, but recruitments and marches continued, with the goal of political power in the state.  Klan members ran for office, but never could succeed.

No little village in the county was immune to the influence of the Klan.  In 1924, a meeting was held at the Farmer Grange to recruit.  One source indicated his grandmother remembered the Klan members entering the church in Ney, marching up one aisle and exiting by the other as a show of force.

And how about this rare photo of the Klan marching through the Ney's Main Street?

When the W.P.A. workers wrote their local history of Bryan and Williams County in 1941, through the Writers Program Project, administered by the State of Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, the authors noted:

"The Ku Klux Klan, which recruited a considerable membership during the early 1920's, had little appeal for the farmers, perhaps because men who follow plows all day seldom feel the urge to go night riding.  At no time were the klansmen able to control a single office." (p.47)

Yet, they continued to recruit numbers here in Defiance County, and perhaps brought some to them through their donations of money to the indigent.
Defiance Crescent News, March 8, 1924
They attended funerals of members in full regalia and helped support their families.  
Defiance Crescent News, March 17, 1924

In May, 1924, large recruitments and meetings were held throughout the county.


Their heyday was over in our county about 1925 when they suffered a sharp decline in membership and interest had waned. 


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