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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Sarah Jane [Zerby] Machamer Buried with Full Ku Klux Klan Rites, 1926

Posted By on February 19, 2018

Sarah Jane [Zerby] Machamer died on 16 Jul 1926 in Williamstown, Dauphin County.  Her parents were Henry Zerby (1829-1922) and Sarah S. [Wolf] Zerby (1833-1906).  Her husband was Charles Machamer.  Her funeral was largely attended by members of Ku Klux Klan of Williamstown, of which she and her husband were leaders.

This post is a continuation of the reporting on hate groups that were active in the Lykens Valley area in the years following the Civil War.  It was a widely known fact that the third iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence in the Lykens Valley and adjacent valleys during the early years of the 20th Century.  This third iteration of the Klan was strongly white supremacist and was opposed to equal rights for African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants.

From the Lykens Standard, 23 July 1926:

MRS. CHARLES MACHAMER

Mrs. Charles Machamer, died at her home on West Broad Street, Williamstown, Friday, 16 July 1926, aged 72 years.

Mrs. Machamer was born 11 September 1853, in Pauls Valley.  She was a member of the Women’s Relief Corps and of the Women’s Relief Corps and of the Evangelical Church.  Surviving are her husband; a daughter, Mrs. Frank Kauffman, of Harrisburg; six sons, Dubbs Machamer of Harrisburg, and Harper Machamer, George Machamer, Victor Machamer, and Mark Machamer of Williamstown; fourteen grandchildren, and a brother, Oliver Zerby, of Minersville.

George Drum, Milton Paul, Samuel Frye, Allen Ralph, Harry Matter, and George E. Davies were pallbearers.

About two hundred uniformed women, members of the Ku Klux Klan attended the funeral Monday morning at 10 o’clock.  The Rev. Geiseke, of the Williamstown Evangelical Church, conducted the services.  Burial was in Wiconisco Cemetery.

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News clipping from Newspapers.com.

The Mystery of Frederick Summers of Hegins Township?

Posted By on February 16, 2018

The 1890 veterans’ census of Hegins Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, shows that a Frederick Summers served in the 3rd Connecticut Infantry, Company K, as a Private, from April 1861 through July 1861.

In searching the Connecticut Civil War records, an excellent resource can be found at the Connecticut State Library, Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, a free download of a book published in 1889.  A cut from page 23 of that book, shown above, indicates that an F. B. Summers of Norwich, Connecticut, enlisted on 22 April 1861, was mustered into service on 7 May 1861, and mustered out on 7 August 1861.  That F. B. Summers served in Company C of the 2nd Connecticut Infantry, which was “known in State organization as Rifle Company B.”  Although the information is slightly different than provided in the 1890 census, it’s the closest match.

The two versions of the Pension Index Card for this F. B. Summers are shown above.  In the first, from Ancestry.com, a Fordyce B. Summers who served in the 2nd Connecticut Infantry, Company C, applied for a pension on 2 August 1892 from Connecticut, which he did not receive.  Then on 4 August 1893, the widow, Harriet T. Summers, applied, also from Connecticut, on 4 August 1893.  She received the pension.  The second card, from Fold3, essentially gives the same information but without the widow’s application date and name.  On the second card, the death date of the veteran is left bank, but presumably, Fordyce B. Summers died some time between 2 August 1892 and 4 August 1893.

So, was Fordyce B. Summers the same person as the Frederick Summers who appears in the Hegins Township census of 1890?  Two factors would indicate they are not the same: (1) Frederick and Fordyce are different given names; and (2) the application of Fordyce and his widow were both from Connecticut which means they would have had to return to Connecticut in the period between 1890 and 1892.

In the 1880 census of Hegins Township, there is a Fred Summers, age 52, a farmer, born in Prussia, living with wife Julia Summers, age 48, born in Bavaria, and son Adam Summers, age 6, born in Pennsylvania.

In the 1900 census of Hegins Township, there is a Fred Summers, age 72, a laborer and widower, born in German, living with son Adam Summers, age 26, a farmer.  All the information such as ages, places of birth, and name of son indicates that the 1880 and 1900 census are matches for the same person.  If so, it would be impossible for Frederick and Fordyce to be the same person, since a pension was awarded to a widow after her application in August 1893, presumably because proof existed that Fordyce had died.

Furthermore, Frederick Summers appears again in the 1910 census of Hegins Township where he was enumerated as an 83 years old widower, born in Germany, living alone, who was a farmer-employer by occupation.  If Frederick Summers was still alive in 1910, and still living in Pennsylvania at the time of his death, which had to occur after the 1910 census was taken, then there should be a Pennsylvania Death Certificate for him.  But, as of this writing, no certificate has been located.  Did he leave the state and die elsewhere?  Finally, in the 1910 census, Frederick Summers did report that he was a Union Army veteran!

Perhaps some of the answers can be be found in the pension application file for Fordyce B. Summers.  It was not consulted for this blog post.  If any reader has access to the file, the first question that has to be asked is whether Fordyce and Frederick are the same person?  If they are not, then why would someone 1890 from Hegins Township report service in a Connecticut regiment?  Did Frederick serve under a different name?  And, if they are not the same person, and Frederick did serve, why would someone who was still living in 1910 not apply for a pension? No Pension Index Card has been located for any person specifically named Frederick Summers who served in a Connecticut regiment.

Help in solving this mystery is requested!

 

Monster Ku Klux Klan Demonstration at Island Park, Harrisburg, 1925

Posted By on February 14, 2018

On Labor Day, 1925, about 30,000 Ku Klux Klan members thronged into the city of Harrisburg for what was described as a the largest Klan demonstration ever held in Central Pennsylvania.

This post is a continuation of the reporting on hate groups that were active in the Lykens Valley area in the years following the Civil War.  It was a widely known fact that the third iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence in the Lykens Valley and adjacent valleys during the early years of the 20th Century.  This third iteration of the Klan was strongly white supremacist and was opposed to equal rights for African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants.

From the Lykens Standard, 4 September 1925:

K. K. K. to Hold Monster Demonstration

Knights of the Ku Klux Klan have practically all arrangements completed for one of the most gigantic demonstrations ever staged by their organization in the state of Pennsylvania, to be held on Island Park, Harrisburg, on Labor Day.

Klansmen, Klanswomen, Junior Klan, and Krusaders of Pennsylvania and surrounding States will be in attendance and it is said the celebration will almost equal the monstrous demonstration staged at the National Capital the forepart of last month.

Excursion trains from every part of Pennsylvania and adjoining states will carry the Klan to the State Capital where band concerts, drills, National Speakers and monstrous fireworks displays will feature throughout the day.

A contest will be staged with the various Klavaliers competing for a silver loving cup which will be awarded to the best drilled team attending.

It is expected a large delegation from this section will attended; hundreds will go by auto, and Lykens and Williams Vaalley will be well-represented at one of Pennsylvania;s largest K. K. K. demonstration thus far staged in history.

The Harrisburg newspapers covered the event in great detail, often effusing praise on the members of the order for their orderliness and colorfulness.  The following description appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph, 7 September 1925:

Picturesque Street Scenes

Garbed in the habilaments of the Klan, with all the various decorations of the different bodies a part of the major order, thousands of Klansmen and Klanswomen walked about the streets of the city this morning or rode in gaily decorated automobiles, the K. K. K. and cross of the Klan being prominently displayed at every point.

Color schemes of red, black and white predominated with the cross of the Klan stamped on every white robe, over the heart, and the colored hoods indicative of higher rank lending a clerical aspect to the costume.

Huge motor busses, filled to overflowing with Klansmen and their wives, reached the city from Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New York, and New Jersey.  The railroads brought their quota of marchers, who debouched from the station to cover the city.  Capitol Hill, the River Park, Market Street, and the Square were crowded all day with the hooded host.  One Klansman in full regalia took it upon himself to direct traffic at Front and Market Streets, but he was shortly relieved by Captain of Police Frank Page in favor of a city policeman.

The river bridges, too, presented colorful pictures as their walks were filled with uniformed Klansmen, hiking to and from the island headquarters of the order.

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News clipping from Newspapers.com.

Statement on Election of 1928 by Imperial Wizard of Ku Klux Klan

Posted By on February 12, 2018

In the presidential election of 1928, Governor Alfred E. Smith, the candidate of the Democratic Party who by faith was a Roman Catholic, was pitted against Herbert Hoover, the candidate of the Republican Party.  Smith was the first of his religious background to be the standard bearer of a major political party.

In late September 1928, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Hiram W. Evans, sent a statement to the Lykens Standard, claiming that the Republican Party was not contributing any money to the Klan for efforts against Governor Smith. Today, this type of letter sent to a local newspaper in an area of the country where there was strong anti-Catholic sentiment and where the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence, as an effort to “solidify the base.”

In the statement, Evans did not deny that the Klan was working actively against Smith, but claimed that this effort was because the Klan considered his “ideas” as un-American and subversive.  “Ideas” was a code word for Smith’s Roman Catholic faith, and anyone reading the statement at the time clearly understood what Evans was saying.

This post is a continuation of the reporting on hate groups that were active in the Lykens Valley area in the years following the Civil War.  It was a widely known fact that the third iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence in the Lykens Valley and adjacent valleys during the early years of the 20th Century.  This third iteration of the Klan was strongly white supremacist and was opposed to equal rights for African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants.

From the Lykens Standard, 28 September 1928:

STATEMENT FROM IMPERIAL WIZARD OF KU KLUX KLAN

For days certain propaganda agencies have filled the newspapers of the United States with articles charging that the Ku Klux Klan was being financed by the Republican Party to make a whispering campaign against Governor Alfred E. Smith.  The fact that for years we have been maligned by such agencies caused us to ignore these statements.  Now, however, since they have been advanced by Governor Smith, the responsible head of the Democratic Party, we can not longer remain silent.

The Klan has never in its history received one dollar for any purpose whatsoever, that did not come from one of the following sources:  (1) From its Kleetoken or membership donation; (2) From Dues; (3) From Klans.

Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party, neither any individual or corporation has ever directly or indirectly furnished a single dollar to the Klan for any purpose whatsoever.  The Klan seeks no political preferment and has no political affiliations.

For years we have been fighting to preserve Americanism against subversion by un-American agencies and ideas.  Our fight against Governor Smith is because he represents these agencies and believes in these ideas.

Because of these facts the Klan has for years been publicly fighting Mr. Smith by the widest possible dissemination of the truth.  We have shouted, not whispered, and Governor Smith need not be surprised that millions of the American people know that he is unfitted for the presidency.

His statement that the Ku Klux Klan is receiving money from any source outside the Klan is unqualifiedly wholly false.  His attempt to raise the religious issue and to arouse hatred is clearly the desperate expedient of a man who knows he is beaten.

(signed)………………..

HIRAM W. EVANS

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News article from Newspapers.com.

This post was previously published on the Lykens Valley Blog.

Obituary of John H. Wert of Coaldale

Posted By on February 9, 2018

John H. Wert, Civil War veteran, died on 18 November 1913, and his obituary appeared in the Lykens Standard on 21 November 1913:

DEATHS AND FUNERALS

John H. Wert, an old resident of this section, died at his home in Coaldale, Wiconisco Township, at 6:30 a.m., Tuesday, after a week’s illness of bladder trouble, aged 76 years.  The funeral will be held from his late home at 2 p.m. today.  Interment in Wiconisco Cemetery.

Deceased was the father of eight children, of which number the following survive:  Annie [Wert] Nolen, Mrs. Clen Nolen, of Pemalton, Illinois; James Wert, Charles Wert, and William Wert of Harrisburg; Emma [Wert] Laudenslager, Mrs. Ed Laudenslager, at home; and Mattie [Wert] Enders, Mrs. Frank Enders, of Philadelphia.  He is also survived by three sisters, Mrs. John Madden of Ohio; Mrs. George Hochlander and Mrs. Susannah Boyer of Enterline.  There are 17 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.  His wife preceded him in death about three years ago.

Deceased was a veteran of the Civil War, having served nine months in Company I, 177th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry [177th Pennsylvania Infantry], and was honorably discharged at the expiration of his term of enlistment.  He has resided at Coaldale for the past 42 years.

The family desire to thank all who assisted them during his last illness and at the funeral of deceased.

Previously, John H. Wert was featured in this blog in a post on honorable discharges from the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company I. and he was also featured in a post on burials at the Calvary United Methodist Church Cemetery, Wiconisco.

Also, it should be noted that he is also named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a veteran who joined the Heilner Post after its organization.

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News article from Newspapers.com.