Ku Klux Klan Field Day 1925
Western Maryland Field Day Saturday, May 23, 1925
Women of the Ku Klux Klan
The Biggest Event in the History of Klancraft.
Patriotic Americans Everywhere are Planning to Come.
We Have Perfected an Amazing Programme, Which Will Last Throughout the Day.
Aerial Stunt Flying, Day and Night, Aerial Fire Works, Night and Day, Ground Fire Works
Speakers of National Renown in Ku Klux Circles Will Lecture at Intervals throughout the Afternoon. Also Many Added Attractions you Can't Afford to Miss.
Music Will be Furnished by an Orchestra
Spend an American Patriotic Day in the Heart of the Allegany Mountains, Surrounded by Historic Interest, and Scenic Beauty.
THE MEXICO FARM
SIX MILES SOUTH EAST OF CUMBERLAND MD.
Come Men Boys Women Girls
Patriots, Don't Miss the Biggest Day of the Year in the Klan Jubilees.
The Largest Naturalization Ever Staged in Western Maryland. Women and Girls.
Special Trains to Grounds Throughout Day, by B. & O. Railroad
A Brief Overview of the Ku Klux Klan:
From 1991 through 1994 Albert L. Feldstein volunteered as an on-line resource for the Western Maryland Schools Telecommunications Project. This was a program through Frostburg State University and the Allegany County Board of Education whereby local "experts" answered questions from school children throughout Allegany, Garrett, and parts of Washington County over the Internet. The following email was sent on March 23, 1994 and in response to a question raised during that period from a fourth grade student at a local elementary school. She wanted to know about the history of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and if there is, or ever was any local KKK activity in the area:
The Klan was formed after the Civil War during the Reconstruction period. This was a period when black southerners were allowed to vote for the first time, and they were putting Republicans into office. The white Southerners feared the loss of power, and also wanted to preserve white supremacy. Between the years 1866 to 1872, secret societies were formed to terrorize white and black Republican leaders, and blacks that they felt were not subordinate. These organizations and societies joined together to form the Ku Klux Klan. Members were sworn to secrecy. They wore white robes, masks or hoods, and used a burning cross as their symbol.
By the early 1870s, the violence of the Klan, particularly during elections, was very bad. President Ulysses S. Grant had to use Federal Troops to restore order in parts of the south. The Klan collapsed, and had disappeared for the most part by the mid 1870s. Most Americans, even Southerners, had agreed that the Klan had gotten out of control.
In the early 1900s, about 1915, the Ku Klux Klan again emerged. Among other things, they preached hatred against Blacks, Jews, Catholics, and immigrants. By the 1920s the KKK was at its strongest point in history, over 2 million members. By the 1930s it had nearly evaporated, although some pockets of Klan activity remained strong. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s helped breath new life into the Klan in the South during that period. There are several independent Klan groups still in existence today. A report I saw on television a few months ago stated that membership is at about 10,000. But remember, this does not include such other similar groups as the Skinheads and Neo-Nazi types.
Let's talk about local KKK activity. Cumberland was also caught up in the KKK fervor which swept the nation in the early 1920s. Over 1000 Klansman from Cumberland went by a special train to Washington D.C. in 1925 for a national Klan rally (it was called a Konclave) and march. Hundreds more from this area went by automobile and bus.
A "branch office" of the Klan was officially established in Cumberland during the summer of 1921. Three hundred to 500 men participated in one of the first Klan initiations in Cumberland. The local KKK chapter was officially titled, "Fort Cumberland Klan No. 37, Ku Klux Klan." Their headquarters was on South Mechanic Street and in 1925 the City Directory lists a James Webster as their Exalted Cyclops.
The total number of the Fort Cumberland Klan was 3200 members, 1800 of which were from the City of Cumberland. They held a big parade in downtown Cumberland on May 17, 1924, but were given permission to march only if no masks or hoods were worn. According to newspaper accounts, the parade was attended and viewed by thousands of people and Klansmen who arrived by train and automobile. There were several cross burnings, but no violence was reported. Several other parades were held here between 1925 and 1930. Once again, I believe the KKK was allowed to march, but no masks were allowed.
Locally, it appears that the Klan paraded a lot, burned crosses in isolated areas, sponsored some festivals and donated money to such groups as the Salvation Army. They did however believe in "100% Americanism", which meant that they spoke hate against anyone who was not like them.
The KKK was also organized in Friendsville, Garrett County for a brief period following World War I. On May 30, 1925 a fairly large group of Klan members paraded down Third Street in Oakland.
In recent years, Klan activity in this area has been sporadic. I remember several flyers and advertisements being distributed in the early 1970s for a Klan cross burning on Irons Mountain. In July, 1983, several reader commentaries appeared in the Cumberland Times-News from a gentleman in the Keyser-Piedmont, West Virginia area who claimed that the Holocaust never occurred, and that Jews controlled the media, the banks, and were responsible for the white and black slave trade. The editor of the paper at the time informed me that the man was identified on his stationary as a "Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan for the State of West Virginia."
In June 1985, robed members of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan visited Frostburg over the weekend in hopes of recruiting new members. The paper said they attracted a lot of onlookers and curious spectators. The citizens of Frostburg were quoted as expressing disgust and outrage at the KKK visit with one elderly man stating if he hadn't just had open-heart surgery he'd kick their butts. I don't believe they got any new members. I don't believe they've been back. And in 1993 a cross-burning occurred, again in the Iron's Mountain area which evoked a strong community response and newspaper editorial.
Historically, in Maryland the Klan activity seemed to be mostly known on the eastern shore, and the town of Rising Sun north of Baltimore. During the past decade, newspaper accounts show Klan leadership and activity to have been irregular, but still occurring in southern Washington County, as well as Frederick and Carroll Counties.
In summary, the KKK is not as visible as they used to be, but they still exist. The leadership, people like David Duke who ran for the Senate and for Governor in Louisiana, are growing a lot more astute (shrewd, street savvy, or smart) now in a political sense, as to how they can use the media and present their public image and message in a way people will accept. *
* Note: While researching his 2008 website entitled, "Allegany County African-American History", Al Feldstein notes, "With a membership now estimated at over 5,000, the Klan has reemerged again somewhat over such issues as immigration."
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008