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Civil War Blog

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Ku Klux Klan Rally in Elizabethville Attracts More Than a Thousand, 1926

Posted By on June 12, 2017

In the souvenir book for the Elizabethville Sesquicentennial of 1967, page 131, the following brief mention is made of a Ku Klux Klan parade through that borough which took place on 28 August 1926:

KU KLUX KLAN

The Ku Klux Klan paraded through town on Saturday evening 28 August 1926; and after the parade a meeting was held in Memorial Park where a cross was burned.  Borough Council received a fee of $15.00 from the Klan.

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.

This Elizabethville event was announced in the Elizabethville Echo of 26 August 1926:

KLAN TO HOLD FIELD DAY HERE, SATURDAY

The Lykens Valley Klan Field Day will be held in the Memorial park at this place, Saturday afternoon and evening, 28 August 1926; ceremonies will start in early evening with a parade at 7:30.

Mr. C. B. Lewis, a state representative will be among the speakers, which program will be followed by naturalization of candidates by the Women’s K. K. K. and the Men’s order of the Ku Klux Klan.  It will be a public open air meeting.

A communication has come to the Echo office, asking citizens to display the American flag, as has been customary during parades of other orders, held in Elizabethville.

It appears from the above, that the Echo was asked to normalize the Klan by making it a legitimate “order” worthy of equal treatment to other groups that held parades in the borough.  At the time, the Klan was anything but normal, since it was the target of both state and federal investigations.

Following the event, the Elizabethville Echo reported the following in its 2 September 1926 edition:

KLAN DAY ATTRACTS CROWD

C. B. LEWIS, STATE HEAD, ADDRESSES GATHERING

SEVERAL HUNDRED IN IN PARADE IN FIRST EVENT OF KIND TO BE HELD HERE

It is estimated that more than a thousand members of the the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan gathered in the park here Saturday, for the Lykens Valley Field Day, the first event of its kind to be held in this town.

In the evening several hundred women and men of the order, masked and hooded, and following a float of the little red schoolhouse, moved through the main streets of town, with little demonstration, and returned to the grove to continue their program of events.  Mr. C. B. Lewis, the order’s state head, spoke to a very large audience that packed the grandstand and overflowed into the field surrounding the speaker’s stand to hear him explain the principles and ideals upheld by the order.

A fine display of fireworks at 10:30, closed the day’s program in which was also featured a band concert and the naturalization of candidates in the evening.

More information is sought about this event, including other newspaper reports as well as first-hand accounts from any persons who attended it.  One such report for this particular event can be found in the “Curtin News” column in the Elizabethville Echo of 2 September 1926:

Mr. Raymond Deibler attended the Ku Klux Klan parade at Elizabethville on Saturday evening.

However, more often, local gossip-type items appeared in the local and Harrisburg newspapers stating that certain individuals attended “festivities” or “parades,” and/or used other euphemistic ways to describe what it was the individuals were attending – without specifically mentioning that the event was K. K. K. sponsored.

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News articles are from Newspapers.com.

Who Was Michael Renner & What Happened to Him?

Posted By on June 10, 2017

Michael Renner enrolled at Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, as a Private, for a term of service of 3 months.  No date of enrollment is given on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card, shown above from the Pennsylvania Archives.  However, he was mustered into service on 26 April 1861 at Harrisburg, and served until he was mustered out on 31 July 1861.

At the time of his enrollment, he claimed he was 25 years old (born about 1836), was a resident of Lykens, and was working as a laborer.  No other personal information about him was noted on the file card.

To date, efforts to locate him in other records have been unsuccessful.  For example, he was not found in the 1860 census, nor was he found in any Pension Index Cards (Fold3 or Ancestry.com versions).  As a resident of Lykens at the time of the war, he should have been recognized on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument, but no one of that name is on the monument plaque.

What happened to Michael Renner?  If any reader knows, please add a comment to this post or send the information by e-mail.

 

Lykens Valley Pastor Was Ku Klux Klan Leader

Posted By on June 8, 2017

A Lykens Valley pastor was a known leader of the Ku Klux Klan.  He served several churches in the valley, and not only promoted the K. K. K. outside his role of ministering to his congregations, but included K. K. K. activities within the worship services he conducted.

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.

Rev. Clinton S. Miller was a United Brethren pastor who during his lifetime served churches in Killinger, Rife, Tower City, Pine Grove, Berrysburg, Palmyra, Reading, Schuylkill Haven, Mt. Carmel, Lititz, and Williamsport, among others.

An example that Rev. Miller used Ku Klux Klan dogma as part of the religious indoctrination of the church members was found in a brief article that appeared in the Elizabethville Echo of 5 November 1925:

KLAN PRESENTS FLAGS

On Sunday afternoon and evening the Ku Klux Klan presented two eight foot flags to the trustees and pastor Clint S. Miller of the United Brethren churches at Killinger and Forney’s Church at Rife.

Mr. A. S. Hartman of Lykens made fine addresses on “The Flag.”  The Evangelical Church of Dauphin County, Mr. James Shuttleworth, delivered mind and heart moving discourses, touching the high points in REAL Christianity [emphasis in original], taking his thoughts from the words of the Spokesman of the Twelve – John 6:8 – “Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life.

The attendance at both churches were large, and the services were impressive and noble.

The churches at Rife and Killinger were probably the last Rev. Clinton S. Miller served before he retired.  After retirement, he moved to Royalton, Dauphin County, where he died on 11 November 1927.  His obituary spoke to the reasons for his retirement and included his K. K. K. membership.  As per the Elizabethville Echo, 17 November 1927, the following was reported:

FORMER VALLEY PASTOR DEAD

REV. C. S. MILLER DIED LAST FRIDAY

FORMER U. B. PASTOR; RETIRED TWO YEARS AGO

Rev. Clint S. Miller, aged 72 years, retired minister of the United Brethren Church, died at his home on Dock Street, Royalton, last Friday night.  His death followed an illness of about three years, which caused his retirement from the ministry about a year ago.

He is survived by is wife and two sons:  Ray Miller of Asbury Park, New Jersey and William Miller of Florida; and by one daughter Miss Sara Miller at home; one brother, Edwin Miller of Fogelsville, and two sisters, Miss Marguerite Miller of New York and Mrs. Amanda Kramlich of Allentown.

The funeral service were held at two o’clock on Tuesday afternoon and in the Royalton U. B. Church at 2:30 o’clock.  Interment was made in the Middletown Cemetery.

Rev. Miller was ordained as a preacher in the United Brethren Church about forty years ago, and since that time has been stationed in charges at Palmyra, Avon, Tower City, Reading, Schuylkill Haven, Mt. Carmel, Lititz, Williamsport, Pine Grove, Tamaqua, Berrysburg and Royalton.  He was a member of the Columbian COmmandery, No. 132, Knights of Malta, of Middletown; the Masonic Order of Mt. Carmel; and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Lykens….

Rev. Miller until two years ago, was pastor of the Lykens Valley U. B. Charge which included the churches of Berrysburg, Reigle’s [Curtin] and Forney’s Church at Rife.  He had moved to Royalton less than two weeks ago.

While it was customary for noted Klan members to have rites conducted at their funerals, no mention was made as to whether they were conducted for Rev. Miller.  It is possible that the 2 o’clock service was a Klan service, but was not mentioned as such in the obituary.

John E. Roberts – Killed in Virginia, 1862

Posted By on June 6, 2017


The name John Roberts appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a Civil War soldier who was killed in action.  At first, it was difficult to identify him, but recently, a Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card was located for a John E. Roberts, who lived in Dauphin County at the time of his enlistment.

An 18 year old John E. Roberts, by trade a painter, enrolled on 12 June 1861 at Union County, Pennsylvania, in the 5th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry (34th Pennsylvania Infantry), Company D, as a Private.  He was mustered into service on 21 June 1861 at Camp Tennally, Washington, District of Columbia.  At the time of his enrollment he was 5 foot 5 inches tall, had a fair complexion, dark hair and brown eyes.  The card notes that he was killed in action on 30 June 1862, which was during the Seven Days Battle in Virginia.

Previously, it was known that a Joseph Roberts, born about 1835, enrolled at Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, as a Private.  At the time, Joseph was a blacksmith.

In the 1850 census for Wiconisco Township, a Joseph Roberts, born about 1805 in Wales, was the head of a family that included a Joseph, born about 1835, and a John, born about 1843.  It was possible that this was the same family, and that John was a brother of Joseph.

In the 1860 census, the older Joseph, with his wife Mary, had moved to Harrisburg, where he was still working as a blacksmith.  In that same household was John, born about 1843.

No widow ever applied for a pension for John E. Roberts.  However, the mother of John applied on 10 April 1879, and received benefits.  In 1880, a Mary Roberts, a widow, was living in Harrisburg with her daughter Annie [Roberts] Fenn.  Most likely this Mary Roberts was the mother of John E. Roberts who died in the war, as Annie appears in the 1860 census for Harrisburg, born about 1846, as the daughter of Mary and the older Joseph.

One strange record (above, from Ancestry.com) still needs to be resolved.  If John E. Roberts was killed in the war in June 1862, when was the family notified of his death?  In the 1863 United States Civil War Draft Registration, someone in Harrisburg registered John E. Roberts for the draft, but indicated that he was then serving in the 5th Pennsylvania Reserve – hardly possible for him to be a draft registrant if he was dead!

So, does this confirm that the Joseph Roberts who was killed in the war is the same Joseph E. Roberts mentioned in this blog post?  Additional evidence must be seen in order to be absolutely certain, but it appears from what has been reviewed, that it is the same person.

Blog readers are invited to present their thoughts.

May 2017 Posts

Posted By on June 5, 2017

A listing of the May 2017 posts on The Civil War Blog with direct links:

Michael O’Leary – Coal Miner of Wiconisco

George P. Owen of Tremont – Dies in New Mexico – A Connection to the Boer War

Abner M. Pike of Halifax – Some Tragic Stories

April 2017 Posts

Aaron Ossman of Hegins – Spoke Out for Pension Rights

Rev. Ephraim Potts – What Was His Connection to Lykens?

The Tragic Death of Isaac Lyter’s Son, 1899

Grandson of John H. Primm Drowns in Susquehanna River, 1926

John Powell – Killed in Powder Explosion at Kalmia Mine, 1877

Joseph E. Peters Jr. – Located in Elizabethville Area After War

Why Did John T. Pepper Serve in a Pennsylvania Regiment?

Ambrose Rathvon – Emergency Man, President of Millersburg Planing Mill Company

John J. Rathvon – Obituary Notes More War Service than Supporting Records

Peter B. Rank – Merchant of Williamstown

Levi C. Ressler – Lived Last Years in Tower City