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Ku Klux Klan Day in Williamstown, 1926

Posted By on June 19, 2017

An October 1926 Ku Klux Klan rally in Williamstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania was reported by the Elizabethville Echo.

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.

The reporting by the Echo seemed to normalize a group that was under investigation at the time by both federal and state authorities.

From the Elizabethville Echo, 21 October 1926:

KLAN AT WILLIAMSTOWN

On Saturday, October 23rd, from noon until midnight, the Ku Klux Klan of Williamstown and Lykens Valley will hold a demonstration at that place.  National speakers will be present to address the gathering and an invitation is extended to the public.

From the Elizabethville Echo, 28 October 1926:

Williamstown Has First Klan Day

Several Hundred Brave Inclement Weather to Participate; Dr. Hartranft Speaker of the Day

WILLIAMSTOWN, Pennsylvania., 27 October 1926 — This town celebrated its first public Ku Klux Klan Dy last Saturday when members of the organization from all parts of the state gathered to take part in the town’s first public demonstration.

Festivities began at noon and lasted until near midnight.  A feature of the day’s celebration was the parade in early evening in which half a thousand participated with an equal number standing on the sides, who arrived arrived too late from nearby towns to participate.

With visors lowered the men, women and juniors of the organization passed thru the streets of Williamstown with steady pace; there was not a word from the rank and file nor from the sidewalks where thousands viewed the procession; solemnity reigned, and the march of the hooded organization has gone down in history in Williamstown as one of the most orderly ever conducted there.

After parading the streets of the borough, the organization went to the athletic field on the Zimmerman farm in West Williamstown, where an interesting program was presented.  The main speaker of the evening was the Rev. Dr. Harry Hartranft of the Klan Haven Home at Harrisburg.  In an excellent address he implored the Klansmen and Klanswomen to “keep the faith” as they have in the past since the organization was founded and to abide by the principles of the Order.  His address was received with much enthusiasm.

Picturesque was the scene about the speaker’s stand because of the numerous camp fires blazing which helped make the listeners comfortable, for it was a miserable evening, rain falling intermittently and a raw wind blowing from all sides, but these, however, did not dampen the spirits of the Klan; their program was carried out in its entirety and a fitting climax to the day after naturalization was a monstrous display of fireworks, one of the prettiest witnessed in the valley in a long time.  [– Lykens 3302].

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News clippings are from Newspapers.com.


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