The KKK in Edmond

Nationally, the second period of power and significance of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) began in 1915 (the first dates from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the late 1870s) and peaked in the mid-1920s. The KKK appeared in Oklahoma in 1919 and gained membership, influence, and power in the state until tapering off in the late 1920s. The KKK was active across Oklahoma, and Edmond was no different. In January of 1922, the Oklahoman newspaper reported that the Klan had established an Edmond chapter; which was announced along with their offering of “$25 for the deserving poor of the city.”

On Sunday, March 19, 1922 the minister at the First Christian Church of Edmond, Ashley Farnham, gave a lecture titled “Perils of Government and Civil Liberty” that focused on the KKK and other “invisible empires” – specifically, “what they are; why they are; who are members.” An article from the March 23, 1922 issue of the Edmond Enterprise reported on the lecture.

“One of the largest crowds ever assembled on the streets of Edmond.”

The Edmond Enterprise. July 20, 1922

In July of 1922 the KKK staged a parade in Edmond that started at South Park (now Stephenson Park) and traveled to Broadway, then north and east to the Normal School (UCO) before returning to Stephenson Park. The parade was witnessed by “one of the largest crowds ever assembled on the streets of Edmond” with 104 Klansmen taking part. According to an article in the Edmond Enterprise, the parade was headed by a group of Modern Woodmen from Oklahoma City who were in Edmond for a local Woodmen Camp. It was common for members of the KKK to also belong to fraternal organizations such as the Woodmen or Masonic Lodge. KKK members would use this association as a pretext to recruit new members into the KKK, which was often billed as a fraternal organization focused on upholding a strict moral code based on Protestant Christianity.

This photo, which appeared in the November 4, 1937 issue of the Oklahoman newspaper, was taken at the intersection of highways 66 and 77, today located around the intersection of I-35 and 2nd Street. The caption for the photograph read:

275 INVISIBLE—The white-robed brothers of the invisible empire rode again Wednesday night. In cars they rode to the intersections of U.S. highways 66 and 77, three miles east of Edmond. There, 25 of them (count ‘em) stood on a cliff beside a fiery cross, symbol of the Ku Klux Klan and attracted the eyes of passing motorists, not many of whom were interested enough to stop for a better look. J.W. Reed, grand dragon, said, however, the boys back in the wooded area behind the cliff weren’t just standing around. He said they were giving the secrets of the order to 32 men being initiated. He said the brothers at the meeting numbered 300.