Timeline of the KKK in
(mostly northern) Colorado in the 1920s
Robert Alan Goldberg’s 1981 book entitled Hooded Empire: the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado specifically zeroed in on activities that took place during the 1920s in Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Canon City, and Grand Junction. Though northern Colorado cities were occasionally mentioned, Goldberg did not take an in-depth look at our part of the state. So as I read through the book, I made notes particularly about events that took place in northern Colorado. I supplemented that with numerous newspaper articles from the time. Some I was able to access through ColoradoHistoricNewspapers.com and others I accessed on microfilm thanks to the Archive at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. What follows is a timeline that I constructed, including events from throughout the state (and sometimes the nation), when I felt that they either had a bearing upon northern Colorado or they helped to better place what people were hearing about that might effect their view of the Klan.
I constructed this timeline primarily for my benefit, to assist me in writing the previous seven articles. But there are so many interesting details that I captured here that I wasn’t able to include in the articles that I have decided to share it as a resource for others. So you may occasionally come across a few “notes to self.”
Timeline of the Ku Klux Klan in Northern Colorado
(with some state and national context included)
17 February 1910 – The Fort Collins Weekly Courier states that “The Clansman,” a powerful play,” is being performed at the Orpheum (Fort Collins).
A POWERFUL PLAY
Scenes of tremendous power have made the success of “The Clansman,” Thomas Dixon’s thrilling historical play, which will be presented at the Orpheum theatre on Tuesday, February 22d, matinee and night. The awesome convocation of the Ku Klux Klan in the third act has made the dramatist celebrated from one end of the country to the other. But even this Is not the biggest thing in “The Clansman.” The struggle between the white abolitionist and the mulatto politician in the last act is said to be one of the most tremendous and significant passages in any modern drama.
February 1915 – The play “The Clansman” was made into the movie “The Birth of a Nation” which would become a promotional tool for the Klan in coming years. (Wikipedia)
Thanksgiving Night 1915 – In Georgia, William Joseph Simmons persuaded fifteen men to dedicate themselves to the resurrection of the Invisible Empire. He was inspired by a vision he’d had upon returning from the Spanish-American War in which he saw clouds in the shape of white-robed horsemen. (Hooded Empire, pages 3-4) He became the Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
23 April 1920 – In a Q&A column in the Fort Collins Courier, a reader asks where the Klan is located and the response is that the Klan hasn’t existed in over 50 years. “Ask Me! Answers by Carolina Jewett” was a national column similar to Dear Abby.
- Where is the head office of the Ku Klux Klan? A. There is no such organization. It expired about 50 years ago.
Spring 1921 – Leo Kennedy, a Denver Mason and former member of the anti-Catholic American Protective Association, invited Simmons out for a private meeting with a “select group of prominent Denverites” at the Brown Palace Hotel. The men were initiated into the KKK, beginning a movement that would “spread to every county in the state.” (Hooded Empire, pages 3-5.) They founded a klavern named the “Denver Doers Club.” (p. 13)
17 June 1921 – The Denver klavern goes public with a letter in the Denver Times. (Hooded Empire, page 13.) When the Denver Express wrote a series of exposes on the Klan, the organization went back underground, recruiting new members in secret. (p. 14)
23 September 1921 – The Estes Park Trail printed a summary of the state of the Klan in the U. S.
The fight against the Ku Klux Klan Is growing more Interesting and more widespread every day, and the Klan is fighting back against its enemies with vigor. Various papers in many parts of the country have undertaken exposures of the organization and its methods and aims, and the Klan has started or says it will start libel suits against those publications that misrepresent it. In Chicago an organization called the National Unity council has been formed with the avowed purpose of suppressing the Klan and its so called “invisible empire”. The council, which is to he extended throughout the country, is headed by Edward F. Dunne, former governor of Illinois. He says the Ku Klux are a menace to the nation because they “avowedly proscribe millions of their follow citizens soley because, either they worship God in a manner permitted by the Constitution of the United States, or because they were born without the United States. They place the black man without the pale of the law. Such organizations foment racial, religious and political enmities instead of encouraging comity and friendship between all classes of American citizens, which should be the aim of every broad-minded American.” Meanwhile the Klan continues to grow in numbers with extraordinary rapidity, now having, it is said, more than half a million members, and being organized in every state in the Union except New Hampshire, Utah and Montana.
29 September 1921 – Masons in Iowa were being warned that affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan is unpatriotic and a “direct violation of the teachings and traditions of Masonry.” (Fort Collins Courier)
20 October 1921 – Masons in New Mexico were being warned that the Klan was seeking new recruits from among their ranks. (Fort Collins Courier)
2 December 1921 – An aside in the Loveland Reporter wonders…
Apropos the activities and claims of the Ku Klux Klan, some folks wonder why it should be necessary to wear a nightgown and a mask to advocate Americanism.
25 February 1922 – Not everyone just let’s the Klan steamroll through. Van Cise was a vocal opponent from early on. (Fort Collins Courier)
KLUX KLAN CHALLENGED
DENVER, Feb. 25–District Attorney Phillip S. Van Cise today called upon officers of the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan to explain a letter purporting to be from that organization threatening the life of Ward Gash, a negro, unless he left the city. Gash, a janitor fled to Ogden, Utah, a few hours after receiving the letter several weeks ago. The janitor, which the district attorney characterized as “the first unlawful act of the Ku Klux Klan” in Denver, is written upon the official stationery of the Klan and bears the order’s seal. “I shall not tolerate any such action upon the part of any organization,” said Mr. Van Cise. “I will guarantee the utmost effort of my office to protect any person who has been thus threatened and will take every action to stamp out such practices.” The district attorney invited the office of the Klan to meet with him at his office. The letter received by Gash declared that he was “charged with intimate relations with a white woman,” and “the use of abusive language to and in the presence of white women.”
10 March 1922 – Three men file articles of incorporation for the Klan in the State of Colorado. (Fort Collins Courier).
The Ku Klux Klan, of which so much has been heard in other states, has now been established in Colorado, articles of incorporation having been just granted at Denver. It is noted in this connection that Attorney General Keyes has given the incorporators of the Klan due notice that he will bring suit for a dissolution of the charter in case any acts of violence are committed by the organization or if the state or national laws are disrespected by the membership. This is the proper attitude for the state officials to assume and in this they will have the support of the law abiding citizens. Perhaps the Ku Klux Klan will give no cause for complaint. It is to be hoped that such will be its career.
17 March 1922 – Of the three men that filed the articles of incorporation, none could be found in the Denver city directory. Several organizations protested the filing which delayed it at least a week. (Fort Collins Courier)
28 April 1922 – Hand bills were posted in Fort Collins over night stating that the K K K was coming. (Fort Collins Courier)
FORT COLLINS PUZZLED OVER K. K. K. SIGNS
Many Mystified By Notices Warning that “K. K. K.” Is Coming To City, But No Solution Found Tho Many Explanations Offered.
Mystery prevails in Fort Collins. And this situation was brought about by the posting thruout the city of small bills bearing the inscription, “Warning, We are Coming to Fort Collins. K. K. K.” Going upon the streets Friday morning the citizens observed the bills tacked to trees, telephone and light poles, on buildings and in fact in all sorts of places. No one seemed to know whence the warnings came and the Express-Courier office received numerous inquiries over the telephone asking some explanation of the affair. Citizens had various explanations and solutions as to the bills. Some declared that It was an official warning from the Ku Klux Klan, while others said they believed that it was some College prank and perhaps announcing a play to be given or some College publication. One man reported that it was an announcement of the coming of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Then some of the people are sure it is the fore runner of a moving picture that will be shown here.
A representative of the Express-Courier interviewed Chief of Police A. C. Baker and the latter said that while he had expected for some time that a branch of the Ku Klux Klan might be organized in this city, he had no evidence to lead to the belief that any such organization had been effected as yet. About this time Police Officer Fred Blumenthal appeared at headquarters owing to the fact that the bills had been posted in violation of a city ordinance which forbids such posting of advertising matter on the streets. He was unable to offer any solution as to the contrary. Later a business man was found who said that as he was returning to his home about midnight he observed a man in the act of tacking up some of the bills. The party was a stranger and was attired in white but the garment proved to be a white rain coat and the man wore a hat not the white-hood which seems to have characterized the parades of the Ku Klux Klan. So there the matter stands so far as a solution has been learned. Time will tell what it all means.
5 May 1922 – The name of the parade was changed to be spelled with all Ks and the Klan was a part of the parade. But the article doesn’t comment at all on their presence there. (Fort Collins Courier)
KOW KOLLEGE KARNIVALIERS OUT ON PARADE
The parade incident to the Colorado Aggie Carnival (the Kow Kollege Karnival) was held thru the downtown section of the city Friday forenoon, and was viewed by hundreds of people along the line of march. Many unique attractions were shown and all indicated that the carnival would be a big affair and surpass any heretofore attempted at the College. The regular program was inaugurated at 1 o’clock Friday afternoon. The exhibits listed were numerous and indicated that there would not be a dull moment during the entire program. The parade was headed by the College Military Band, then came the polo team mounted, the Ku Klux Klan in uniform, a string band mounted on horses, cow boys and cow girls, floats with unique stunts, a tractor drawing a car on which was mounted a “Rube” band of three pieces, the favorite selection played being, “How Dry I am.” Among the stunts presented were the following: “The College Grind” represented by a “Willie Boy” operating a grind/stone and at the same time perusing a book: “Aggie Rooters”, these being several large porkers. A large, masculine goat represented the “Aggie Booster.”
13 May 1922 – A KKK float wins the College Days parade. (Fort Collins Courier)
The white “Ku Klux Klan” auto of Kappa Alpha Theta won the ten dollar prize for the best float in the College Day parade while the second prize of five dollars was awarded to the Disabled Veterans for their wild-west riders.
mid-June 1922 – 2,000 hooded Klansmen gather in Estes Park area for the state’s first publicized outdoor initiation. There were 300 new initiates from Denver and northern Colorado.
Out Door Meeting of Klu Klux
The story that has been going the rounds of the daily press, which seems to have originated with the Denver Times, sounds a little “fishy,”but when no one knows anything about it we suppose it is safe to say what they please. The idea that such a crowd could meet without some one knowing except a man said to have been blinded, sounds ridiculous. But the dailies must have “thrillers.” We publish the story and let our readers take it for what is it worth: Hooded, white-robed sentinels guarded the mystery of a little isolated gulch fifty miles from Denver, below the foothills of Estes Park, last night, where 2,000 knights of the Ku Klux Kian gathered in the largest outdoor ceremonial yet staged by the secret order in Colorado. More than 300 initiates from Denver, Bolde, Longmont and other northern Colorado towns were taken into the society. Hundreds of automobiles conveyed the members and candidates of the mysterious society to the little bowlshaped hollow in the hills. At the center, a large rock formed a natural ceremonial altar, and upon it were two fiery crosses and an American flag.
An elaborate meal was served near the spot, but the reporter was kept at a distance , that he might not reccognize faces of the white robed men who lifted their masks to eat. Notice of the event was given anonymously by telephone to The Times and The News office, the reporter was taken to city limits by strangers, transferred to a car occupied by robed men who guarded him and blindfolded him when the car left Longmont. He was allowed to view the ceremonies only at a distance of several hundred feet. Last Friday’s News adds: Little could be heard of the rites by the writer, and only when the voice of the chief officer administering the klan oath rose high could a word or two be caught . One phrase was particularly emphasized, and the writer’s guards later repeated it for him, declaring it to be one of the most important, parts of the Ku Klux Klan oath:
“And to the government of the United States of America I solemnly swear unqualified allegiance, over every other and any form of government in the whole world.” (Longmont Ledger, 16 June 1922)
16 June 1922 – The Leadville Herald Democrat stated that the Colorado Springs Telegraph had received a letter from the local kleagle announcing their presence and stating that many members were from the Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion.
17 July 1922 – The Fort Collins Courier reports that there is a Klan presence in Boulder with at least 200 men having been inducted into the organization.
7 September 1922 – The third annual state convention of the American Legion was held in Greeley with headquarters at the Sterling Hotel. Business session were to be held “at which time resolutions on big questions of the day, including discussion of the Bonus, Prohibition, Law and Order and the Ku Klux Klan will be adopted.” (Fort Collins Courier)
27 October 1922 – There’s a (tongue in cheek?) call for the KKK to form in Estes Park in order to deal with the problem of large domestic animals trampling lawns. (Estes Park Trail)
27 November 1922 – A group of eight hooded klansmen sped up to an outdoor service of the Salvation Army in Boulder. As they jumped out of their vehicle, attendees began to flee. However once one of the klansmen started to speak, a crowd formed around the group. The man was wearing a “beautiful robe of red and gold.” He “outlined the purposes of the klan as promoting ‘100 per cent Americanism, not anti-anything, but soley pro-American. The great work of the Salvation Army is to save the souls of Americans,” said the klansmen. ‘The great work of the Ku Klux Klan is to save Americanism, to preserve America for Americans.’ As the speaker closed his address, he spoke of the motto, ‘In God We Trust’ as one of the outstanding Seals of the Ku Klux Klan, and he finished by opening a bag and pouring fifty silver dollars on the Salvation army drum, which had been laid the pavement during the ceremony. In another instant the klansmen leaped back into their waiting automobile and disappeared down a side street.” (Fort Collins Courier)
mid-January 1923: Bishop Alma White and her Pillar of Fire congregation begin holding services in Longmont. White speaks out in favor of the Ku Klux Klan and against the Catholic Church. (Longmont Ledger, 26 January 1923). She also advocates for women’s liberation from social, religious, and civil restrictions. (Hooded Empire)
24 January 1923 – Three Weld county towns were placarded with signs reading “Ku Klux Klan Warning. K. K. K. is coming.” It was painted on windows, sidewalks and posts in Greeley, Hudson and Fort Lupton. (Fort Collins Courier, 24 January 1923)
26 January 1923 – The Larimer County Independent stated that a meeting was held at the first union church brotherhood meeting in the city, held at the college dining hall. (No caps used in the newspaper.) Wayne Williams, a Denver attorney, spoke. A. H. Dunn (president of the Methodist and Rev. Rollin H. Ayres made motions during the meeting. (What kind of meeting? I appear to have skipped over that important detail.)
March 1923 – Benjamin F. Stapleton announces his intention to run for mayor of Denver, a position he wins with the help of the Ku Klux Klan. He appoints many Klansmen to local government positions. (Hooded Empire)
14 April 1923 – The Fort Collins Courier quoted the Greeley Tribune Republican as saying, ‘The Klan has one trait of Americanism. It’s genius at getting publicity.”
23 May 1923 – Father Donegan spoke to a packed St. Joe’s to speak about the Biblical basis for the confessing of sins. (Fort Collins Courier, 24 May 1923)
24 May 1923 – Reverend Donegan spoke to a packed church (including non-Catholic citizens) to “explain clearly what is meant by the term infallibility of the Pope and also how far Catholics are bound by the pronouncements of the head of our church.” He also spoke about the “True Meaning of the Lord’s Supper” (including the use of wine – despite prohibition). This is a timely talk as it was exactly the topics that the Klan was bringing up in their anti-Catholic rhetoric. (Larimer County Independent, 25 May 1923)
22 June 1923 – Estes Park Trail includes small aside on the Klan. Is it a true recounting? or did the editor include is as some supposed light banter?
On His Way.
Mose, what would you do If you received a letter from the Ku Klux Klan? a local negro was asked. “Well, sah, I’d read it on a train,” replied Mose.
24 June 1923 – Dr. Minor speaks in Fort Collins. He opened the meeting with prayer and the stand on the stage was draped in an American flag. (Fort Collins Courier, 25 June 1923, also in the Larimer County Independent, 29 June 1923
KU KLUX KLAN OFFICIAL GIVES ADDRESS ON KLAN,
DEFENDING IT FROM CHARGES OF VIOLENCE
Dr. G. C. Minor, an officer in the Ku Klux Klan, a minister who has left the pulpit to take up a defense of the Klan and promote its membership campaigns, gave an address at the Empress theater Sunday night on the Klan. The talk, which lasted more than two hours was heard by a large number of people. Dr. Minor said that there were three classes of people opposed to the Klan, the lawless element, those who are opposed on conscientious or religious grounds and those who have their conclusions on misinformation and are uninformed. He directed his remarks to the third group. He criticized three press associations for spreading news about activities blamed on the klan and denied that the klan ever acts without due process of law. The newspapers of the country, he said, have not given the klan justice. They publish reports, he explained, connecting the klan with mob violence and then do not publish the fact when the klan is exonerated. The ritual of the klan he said is copyrighted and is in the hands of the government and this is the only secret organization, he declared, which has had its ritual copyrighted. Dr. Minor mentioned many instances in which the klan was blamed for mob violence and stated that investigation showed that the klan was blameless. He said the Mer Rouge, La., affair was a “monumental frameup” against the klan. He mentioned the governor of Louisiana and Attorney General A. V. Coco, whom he called Attorney General Coca Cola, in connection with the alleged “frameup.” Dr. Minor said that there are seventeen secret membership societies in the United State at the present time. One of the requirements for membership in the klan, the speaker said, is a belief in Protestant Christianity. The klan, he said, stands for law enforcement, supremacy of the white race, the protection of womanhood, the limitation of immigration, the upholding of the constitution, a free press and free speech. Before closing his address he suggested that those interested in the klan who might like to join it communicate with his in Denver, and he gave his box number. He opened the meeting with prayer, and the stand on the stage was draped with an American flag.
27 June 1923 – Mayor Stapleton, in Denver, allows the Klan to use a City owned meeting hall against protests from the governor and others. (Fort Collins Courier)
27 June 1923 – (Probably the same meeting as mentioned directly above.) Dr. Minor stands before a crowd of thousands in Denver but says that if there are any objections, he will not speak. A Catholic priest objects and the meeting is called off. Rice Means, a member of the KKK that was later elected to the U. S. Senate with Klan backing, dispersed the meeting. It’s unclear whether this was a stunt or a hope to hold the meeting without opposition. (Fort Collins Courier, 28 June 1923)
MEANS STOPS KLAN MEETING IN AUDITORIUM
DENVER, June 27. (AP) — Rice W. Means, director of public safety, tonight stopped a meeting being held in the municipal auditorium at which Dr. G. C. Minor, from the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, Atlanta, Ga. was to have been the principal speaker. The meeting had been advertised as a klan lecture and several thousand men and women had assembled in the auditorium. Dr. Minor appeared alone on the stage and said that if anyone who objected to his proposed lecture would stand up and say so, he would not speak. Father Walsh of the Church of Immaculate Conception was the first to stand and voice objection. Father Walsh was attired in the uniform of an army chaplain. “All right,” said Dr. Minor. “If you object, I will not speak.” Others jumped to their feet, some protesting the proposed talk and other expressing a desire to hear it. In the confusion Safety Director Means took the floor and called off the meeting, declaring that he had promised to forbid the address if objection to it was raised. Dr. Minor was escorted from the stage door by a detail of police. There was no demonstration.
5 July 1923 – The Boulder Camera prints an extended diatribe against the Klan which the Fort Collins Courier reprinted. The article stated that it is quite possible racial issues will be the bane of America, but the Klan is a worse threat against the nation.
13 July 1923 – Luther I. Powell, “king Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan for the Pacific northwest,” asked for the protection of the militia when they were told by the sheriff that he would not permit their convention if anyone was masked or disguised as per law (which only exempts masks for masquerades or parties). (Larimer County Independent, 13 July 1923)
3 August 1923 – The Larimer County Independent prints a story titled, “WHITE RACE FACING LOSS OF DOMINANCE: Ratio of Colored Peoples to Light Skinned Population is Growing, Says C. G. Gordon, Speaking at the College.” Gordon was the principal at the Fort Collins high school. “Mr. Gordon’s address was on the subject, ‘Does the World Belong to the White Man?’” He stated that in the past “there have been many checks to retard the growth of the colored races, such as famine and pestilence and warfare, but of recent years the white race has been busy moving these checks. As a result, the colored races are multiplying with amazing rapidity.” He suggests that though some believe racial mixing could create a superior race, “A mongrel race, he said, has always proved to be an inferior race.”
10 August 1923 – The Knights of Columbus (a Catholic fraternal organization) saw a large increase in membership internationally as reported by the United Press. The KKK was not mentioned at all in the article, though the Supreme Knight did mention that there were those who were challenging the integrity of the organization, though their assets are strong and their solvency rating was 126 percent (based on independent insurance examiners). (Larimer County Independent, 10 August 1923)
10 August 1923 – A black man, B. Thorpe, was accompanying a white girl (woman?) from Westcliffe to Pueblo. He was apparently accompanying her to help her arrive safely to Denver (though he wasn’t planning on accompanying her the whole way) and to help pay her fare. The police came and averted proposed violence (mob violence against the man), but the man was fined $100 and the girl was fined $25 (apparently for simply being in each other’s company). They must have known each other fairly well because when the police were going to arrest the man, she “threw her arms about his neck and begged them not to arrest him.” (The girl/woman is not mentioned by name.)
18 October 1923 – A national meeting of the American Legion in San Francisco results, after a significant amount of debate, in a statement by the organization against the Klan. (Larimer County Independent, 19 October 1923.)
16 November 1923 – The police built a “shack” in the Jungles from which to more effectively continue their campaign against the liquor traffic. (Larimer County Independent, 16 November 1923) (Though not specifically klan related, the “Dry” movement and the klan often worked in tandem.)
21 January 1924 – The Fort Collins Express Courier published the following:
KLANSMEN VISIT CHURCH IN LOVELAND
Loveland, Colorado., Jan. 21. – Five men in the long robes and peaked hoods of the Ku Klux Klan created a sensation in the Baptist church here last night at the closing service of a series of revival meetings conducted by “Big Jim” Kramer, evangelist, when they quietly entered the church, deposited a substantial offering on the platform and marched out without a word. The men entered the church at a side door, marched slowly to the platform, deposited the money, then faced about and walked single file down the main aisle and out of the door. Not a word was uttered by the members of the band or the audience, but as the five men walked from the church the audience applauded.
31 January 1924 – The KKK pays bill of $254 for “Negro Church At Trinidad.” “Marched into the African Methodist Episcopal church, down the aisle to the pulpit and presented the pastor with a receipted bill amounting to $254 covering the indebtedness of the curch to a Trinidad hardwarde [sic] firm. An appeal has been published in the newspapers asking for contributions that the church might pay this debt. The leader of the klansmen handed the pastor a letter in which it was stated that the klan is ‘ever ready to assist all Protestant organizations that exalt the living Christ,’ and also that the klan had no fight upon the colored citizen who was law abiding, honest and ‘lived up to the constitution.’ After delivering the receipted billed and the letter the klansmen marched out of the church. No word was spoken by any member.” (Larimer County Independent, 1 February 1924.)
3 April 1924 – There is a news report in the Fort Collins Express Courier about a cross that was burned at Columbia University in New York across from the room of Frederick W. Wells, an African American law student.
7 April 1924 – The Knights of Columbus added 150 members in ceremonies that “brought hundreds of visitors from other parts of the state to participate. The Knights of Columbus are a Catholic organization and an increase in membership could have been in response to the growing Klan numbers. (Fort Collins Express Courier)
20 April 1924 – The Fort Collins Express Courier includes an article about Methodist students attending the National Conference of Methodist Students in Louisville, KY which publicly condemned organizations “which thrive upon or seeks to propagate race, creed or class prejudice.”
1 August 1924 – The Larimer County Independent includes a short story on the front page about a clash in Massachusetts between residents and Klan members.
15 August 1924 – Ben Stapleton was re-elected in Denver in a special recall election that had been quite contentious. No mention was made of Stapleton’s ties to the KKK. (Larimer County Independent)
20 August 1924 – Article in the Larimer County Independent that the Klan in the state of Washington had send out questionnaires to all candidates for political office, making this the first official appearance of the Klan in Washington politics.
24 August 1924 – Article in the Denver Post (followed in later papers throughout the state) stating that trains brought people from Denver, Greeley, Brush, and Fort Morgan to Loveland (fair grounds?) for a Klan parade and political rally. There were an estimated 20,000 people in attendance, “the largest crowd ever seen in Loveland.” The crowd loudly applauded speakers favoring Clarence Morley and Rice Means (both klan members) as candidates. (Denver Post, 24 August 1924. Loveland Reporter Herald 27 August 1924.)
12 September 1924 – “Denver Vote is Pro-Klan” read the front page article in the Larimer County Independent. Seems to refer to primaries.
26 September 1924 – The Larimer County Independent reported that the “imperial convocation” of the Ku Klux Klan was taking place in Kansas City. Also on the front page that day was another article about the New York GOP Platform condemning the Klan.
24 October 1924 – A front page article in the Larimer County Independent speaks directly to the Klan in Fort Collins.
KU KLUX KLAN GETS AIRING IN FORT COLLINS
Considerable excitement was caused in Fort Collins this week by the circulation here of the “ku Klux courier,” an anti-klan paper purporting to be published at 1818 Williams street, Denver.
It appears that the original Ku Klux Klan with headquarters in Georgia has a rival organization or two in Colorado. One of these organizations has incorporated in Colorado under the name of the Ku Klux Klan. The old Klan had not incorporated; hence the new organization got the name in this state. There appears to be a bitter war between these organizations. The general object of the “Kourier” circulated here apparently was to show up the Klan and give reasons the public should not support it. The “Kourier” states that the Ku Klux Klan policy throughout the United States is to enter politics secretly and it is claimed a special effort is being made to elect klansmen to the offices of sheriff, judge, governor and other law enforcing positions.
The chief item of interest in the “Kourier” to Fort Collins people is an article published under a Fort Collins heading purporting to give Samuel J. Salyer’s side of his trouble with the Klan. The paper states in substance that Mr. Salyer was “Exalted Cyclops” of the local Klan and because he believed in treating Jews and Catholics with a Christian spirit and suggested to the organizer that only men of good reputation should be proposed for membership in the Klan, that word was sent from the chief office in Denver deposing Mr. Salyer as cyclops and appointing W. H. Althouse in his place. The article purports to quote Mr. Salyer as saying that he is in the grocery business and that after he was put out of the klan a boycott was ordered on his grocery business.
November 1924 – Election results in “the Denver area, the Greeley-Fort Collins region, and Fremont County” gave Morley and Means sizable leads. Clarence Morley became governor and Rice Means became a United States senator representing Colorado. (Hooded Empire, page 81.)
2 January 1925 – The Longmont Daily Times explained that the burning cross appearing on top of the Pillar of Fire church was not using City electricity, nor was it on City property… as had been the case the year prior.
KLAN CROSS BLAZES FROM TOP OF CHURCH
The Klan cross, which put in Its appearance on the municipal Christmas tree last Christmas eve, later disappearing on orders of Mayor Hays, who held that the Ku Klux Klan nor any other organization had a right to use the municipal tree and municipal flag pole for the displaying of its emblems, again put in its appearance New Years eve when It I blazed forth from the steeple of the Pillar of Fire church, at Sixth and Main street. The cross is still in place and blazes forth each night. It is being displayed, however, from private property and is supplied from meter service in the Pillar of Fire church, and not connected with the city street lighting service, as was the case on the municipal tree.
2 January 1925 – Also in the Larimer County Independent:
The Klan Cross At Longmont Down From the Flag Pole
“This emblem on the municipal flag pole is not in conformity with my idea of the Christmas spirit of ‘Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.’ And I regret very much that this has happened,” writes J. F. Hays, mayor of Longmont, in a statement to the Longmont Call, in which he says the klan cross had been erected without his knowledge.
The city electrical department had charge of connection and disconnection of the cross, says the Longmont Times, but did not divulge from what source their orders to do the work emanated. Objection was expressed by a great many people. The Longmont Times says: “It would seem that whoever was responsible in having the cross placed on the flag pole exercised poor judgement, the affair having caused considerable feeling.”
20 February 1925 – Larimer County Independent reported that “Former Guard’s Testimony Readmitted After His Klan Membership Acknowledged.” The guard had refused to divulge the information and his testimony was going to be stricken from the record in a case against Thomas J. Tynan, penitentiary warden, of prison mismanagement. W. W. Ireland finally confessed to being a member of the Klan.
13 March 1925 – A religious education bill was advances through the state government that would allow public school students a 90 minute break from school in order to attend a religious school during that time. (No mention of the Klan in the article, but the people mentioned as backing it were known Klan members – Morley, Knauss.) (Larimer County Independent)
3 April 1925 – The Boulder Klan newspaper, Rocky Mountain American, publishes an article stating that Masons built America and that only one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was Catholic. The article ends with the statement,
Think of this. Fifteen million Roman Catholics in the United States, organizing and working as a unit through many societies that are military and are drilled and equipped with arms and ammunition, what for? “To make America Catholic.” Patriots, awaken! Klansmen on guard!
May 1925 – “Klan candidates for board of education positions were defeated in Fort Collins…. At the same time eleven communities located primarily in the Greeley and Denver areas chose their board members from Klan ranks.” (Hooded Empire, p. 103)
6 May 1925 – The Steamboat Pilot gave a bit more detail regarding the school board elections stating that, “The klan issue was injected into a majority of the districts of the state. The klan won in Ault and Longmont. It was defeated in Fort Collins, Flagler, Woodland Park, Pueblo, Greeley and Burlington, altho in the three latter cities it obtained one of the three members.”
Spring 1925 – Governor Morley tried to appoint klansmen to vacant positions in the State government. Among his 25 appointees included the Exalted Cyclops of Fort Collins. Not all of the appointees were approved by the Senate. (Hooded Empire, page 92.)
3 June 1925 – A parade in Longmont drew klan members from Loveland and Fort Collins according to the Longmont Daily Times.
KLANSMEN CAME AND PARADED, HAD A LUNCH AND INITIATED A CLASS; MANY ON SIDELINES
The announcement of a Ku Klux Klan demonstration for Tuesday night, proved a big drawing card for the Longmont people and those living in this vicinity. It seemed that everyone who could get away from home came to town to witness the parade of members of the order in regalia, and by the time the parade put in its appearance, Main street was lined with people. It was the first time that a klan parade bad been staged in Longmont and everyone was curious to see what the “kluckers” looked like. The klansmen, a large number from
other places, gathered in the Dickens field south of Longmont, and it was after 8:30 that the paraders filed out of the field and up town. The procession was headed by robed men on horses and followed by the marchers to the number of between 475 and 500. The line of parade was up Main to Fifth and Terry, back to Main and to the Dickens field. At the conclusion of the parade lunch was served, after which a class of candidates was initiated, a large fiery cross being burned as part of the ceremonies. Denver, Boulder. Lafayette, Loveland, Fort Collins, Greeley and other places were represented in the parade, each division in the line representing a town, it is understood. The parade was not as extensive as was expected, reports being that there were to be 2,000 or more in line, with one or more bands to furnish marching music. But the paraders moved in silence without music of any kind. According to reports a larger number gathered in the field for the ceremonies than took part in the parade. Following the parade, spectators drove out on the Main street road in autos to see the grounds where the exercises were held. The grounds were illuminated, but were well back in the field and from the road nothing could be seen but the lights and the outline of the klansmen gathered. Many autos were caught in the traffic jam and it was an hour before some of them could get out. No one but klansmen were allowed to drive inside the field. The meeting here was similar to other meetings of the kind held in different Northern Colorado towns during summer months, when members from the different places participated.
July 1925 – Governor Morley encouraged prohibition enforcement that led to vigilante justice. According to Goldberg,
Morley agents staged a night raid in Weld County. Armed raids, lacking criminal or search warrants, ransacked several suspected residences and hauled twelve men to jail. The presiding justice of the peace levied fines for possession which he subsequently divided with the dry agents. The Greeley News censured the actions of these officials and angrily asked: “Has Colorado come to a stage in her development where that sort of thing is to be permitted? Is there no law that must be observed any more except for the liquor law?” (Greeley News quoted in Denver Democrat, July 11, 1925, via Goldberg’s book, Hooded Empire.)
3 July 1925 – The front page of the Larimer County Independent declared
Dr Locke Reported Asked to Resign as Klan Dragon
Denver, July 1 – The Denver Times says today that Dr. John Galen Locke, grand dragon of the Colorado realm of the Ku Klux Klan, was asked at a general meeting of the State’s Klan organization here last night to resign his post vy a representative of the imperial Klan wizard, H. W. Evans.
William Zumbrunn was the spokesman for the imperial wizard, the story says. No action on the resignation was taken.
At the same meeting, the newspaper reports, Dr. Locke ordered the suspension from the Klan of seven Denver men, including United States Senator Rice W. Means and Mayor B. J. Stapleton, Dr. Locke, the story states, would give no reasons for the suspension. The newspaper story say that the meeting included representatives of the Klan organizations of the state.
23 July 1925 – Nine hundred and eighteen members of the Greeley Klan decided unanimously to secede from the national organization and follow Locke. The 18-acres of land that the Klan owned west of town was being held in trust by a local klan trustee until legal proceedings could determine whether the property would remain in the local group or revert to the state or national organization. (Longmont Daily Times)
24 July 1925 – Carl S. Milliken, Secretary of State in Colorado, officially quit the Klan. He had been a member for four years. He was one of the first 15 members of the Colorado Klan. He held the office of Klaliff of the Denver Klan. He left when the Klan (being directed from Kansas after Locke was kicked out) told him to fire Charles Armstrong, the deputy secretary of state, and replace him with a klansman. (Larimer County Independent)
19 August 1925 – The Steamboat Pilot reprinted a critique from the Weld County News.
Who Shall Burn the Cross?
In the separation of klan and minute men the public should be advised which of the two organizations is to have the sole and exclusive right of frightening weak-minded people with the flaming cross. We can’t have two bands of embryo [sic] arsonists working at the same time . —Weld County News.
In this same paper, the Greeley News is quoted as referring to the klan as the Knights of the Nightie. lol!
28 August 1925 – The Greeley klan had to hand over all of its property to the national organization as it followed the former Colorado Klan Dragon, Galen Locke, in his break from the KKK. The Longmont Daily Times stated that, “The Greeley klan was at one time the largest in the state.”
August/September 1925 – As klaverns began to defect from the national organization of the KKK and follow Dr. Locke and the Militia Men, the Greeley-Fort Collins region followed suit. (Hooded Empire, page 110.)
2 November 1925 – “Fort Collins.—Samuel J. Salyer, former Fort Collins business man. and R. H. Bentz. also of Fort Collins, were instantly killed and Mrs. Salyer was seriously injured, probably fatally, when an automobile in which they were riding was struck by a Union Pacific train near Maxwell Crossing, Neb.” (Moffat County Bell, Volume 10, Number 30, November 13, 1925. This story was picked up by several Colorado newspapers.)
6 November 1925 – The Larimer County Independent reported on elections particularly in New York and New Jersey where “wet” Democrats won against “dry” Republicans. A Catholic one in Virginia. The elections in Louisville had gotten violent with people killed. There doesn’t appear to have been a local election at the time.
26 March 1926 – The Klan held a parade in Greeley with the Grand Dragon present. As told by the Brush Tribune
GREELEY WOMAN COMMITS SUICIDE: WEDNESDAY
Greeley. Colo.. March 24.—Mrs. Jessie Porter, 37, wife of a merchant and street preacher here this morning committed suicide by shooting herself as a result of what her husband declares was fear that she would be attacked by members of a secret organization. The body was found by the husband on the outskirts of the city, when he awakened to find his wife missing. According to the story told authorities by Porter, his wife became terror-stricken Monday night following a parade of a secret organization. This terror was increased, he said, when neighbor women told his wife that she might be taken from her home by members of the organization. She has asked repeatedly since Monday, the husband said, to be allowed to return to her former home in Cincinnati. Aside from the husband. Mrs Porter is survived by a sister, Mrs. W. H. Parker of Canon City, and a mother. Mrs. Martha O’Dell, matron of the Nazarene school at Nampa, Idaho. Monday night 400 members of the Ku Klux Klan paraded the streets of Greeley. Members of the Klan were present from Fort Morgan, Sterling, Longmont, Loveland, Denver and other towns of eastern Colorado. Rev. Fred Arnold of Canon City, grand dragon of the Colorado Klan took part in the parade, carrying a huge flaming cross.
21 April 1926 – Under the “Colorado Comment” section of the Steamboat Pilot was the following snipe showing that the Klan was on the wane, “The Greeley News says if the next klan parade in Greeley compares with the last one as the last one compared with the first one , it won’t be visible to the naked eye.”
4 August 1926 – A statement in the Longmont Daily Times hints at the waning influence of the klan, and its malodorous cousin, the Minute Men, in Greeley.
GREELEY—A resolution condemning the political activities of the Ku Klux Klan and Minute Men, as organizations, was adopted at. the Weld county Republican convention. The convention endorsed but one candidate for high state office—Harry N. Haynes of Greeley, as candidate for justice of the state supreme court.
22 January 1927 – The Longmont Daily Times printed a list of Governor Morley’s appointees, separating the lists into those that were approved by the State Senate and those that weren’t. Among those rejected is William H. Althouse, the Fort Collins Exalted Cyclops that replaced Samuel Salyer in 1924. The article explains, “Among those rejected are said to be a number of close friends of Morley, men who were formerly associated with the Klan and more recently with the Minute Men.” Althouse is listed as representing Denver, though city directories continue to list him as living at 229 W. Mulberry in Fort Collins.
1930s – Kleagles tried to revive the organization. (From the book?)
1940 – Last cross burned in Colorado. (No clue where I got this little tidbit from, nor how that could be verified.)
1976 – “Thirty-six years later, at a time of racial unrest precipitated by court-ordered school busing, the Klan was resurrected in Denver. ‘Grand Wizard’ Jerry Dutton of Louisiana was looking for men who would work for the expatriation of blacks and fight the international Jewish conspiracy.
1977 – Peter John Peters becomes the pastor of the Laporte Church of Christ. Peters “spearheaded an October 1992 meeting of white supremacists and antigovernment leaders at Estes Park, Colo., two months after the FBI siege at Ruby Ridge in North Idaho, which claimed the life of a deputy U.S. marshal and the wife and son of Randy Weaver.” “In a 2005 report, the Anti-Defamation League described Peters as one of the ‘leading anti-Jewish, anti-minority and anti-gay propagandist’ in the United States.” (Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2011/07/15/influential-christian-identity-pastor-dies)
Events for which I have no date
“Rumors of papal intrigue spread all over the state. In the Fort Collins area klansmen circulated faked copies of the oath of the Knights of Columbus, ‘the oily knights of the Pope’s militia.’” – Robert Alan Goldberg, p. 8 of Hooded Empire.
All local newspaper articles referenced from 1922 or earlier were accessed through ColoradoHistoricNewspapers.com. Some less local papers (like the Longmont Daily Times) was also accessed through this website and included papers from dates after 1922. Local newspaper quotes from subsequent years were accessed on microfilm at the Archive at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.
Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado, by Robert Alan Goldberg. University of Illinois Press. ©1981. Checked out from the Poudre River Public Library District.
This timeline is part of a series. Read the other articles here:
– An Overview of the Klan in Colorado, Part 1 – Chronological Context
– When the Klan Came to Colorado, Part 2 – Rise to Power
– When the Klan Came to Colorado, Part 3 — Denouement
– How the Klan Took Over Colorado, Part 4 — Shrewd Planning, Crafted Messaging
– Colorado Women of the Ku Klux Klan, Part 5
– The Klan in Colorado Part 6 — Bringing Religion into It
– The Klan in Northern Colorado, Part 7 — We Weren’t Immune
– Timeline of the KKK in (mostly northern) Colorado in the 1920s — An Appendix
Cartoon image taken from the September 30, 1924 Fort Collins Express Courier. It reflected the belief of many that law enforcement wasn’t able to handle the onslaught of bootleggers, hooch makers, and other outlaws. This feeling that criminals were getting away with things that were bringing society down was a strong motivator for people to join the Klan, which promised to bring about law and order.