Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Uncomfortable History

While looking for news articles about my family, I came across this column of Bethel news and was shocked by the juxtaposition of the mundane with the shocking - the revelation that the KKK had a meeting (apparently well attended) in the church my family attended!! I transcribed the entire column to show the matter-of-fact reporting -indicating that a Klan meeting is no more remarkable than finishing haying or recovering from surgery. 

As a history teacher, I know the history of the Klan in the 1920s and even know there was a considerable presence in Maine. It was part of the backlash against Catholic immigrants. The Maine Memory Network has some pictures and a brief history titled "Uncomfortable History." I can't help but wonder if any of my family attended the meeting. I'd like to think they didn't but it's probably easier since no attendance records were kept. I haven't seen any evidence that Bethel formed a chapter but it is likely that at least a few people were associated with chapters in other towns or the state-wide organization. Maine was a one of the states with a large Klan presence and supposedly they helped elect a governor and the mayor of Portland. I've linked some additional sources of information at the end of this post. The bold print was added by me for emphasis. 

The Lewiston Daily Sun - July 30, 1924 
Bethel, July 29 - The young people's department of the M.E. Sunday School will hold a social Wednesday evening in the dining room of the church.

Wade Thurston has finished cutting hay on the Augustus Carter place and has begun cutting his own hay. 

The auditorium of the Methodist church was comfortably filled last night by an attractive audience gathered to listen to an exposition of the tenets and principles of the order of the Ku Klux Klan. Dr. Leonard, of Boston, who is touring Maine lecturing for the order was the speaker. Literature regarding the women's organization, the Kamelia, was distributed. 

Perry Lapham is so far recovered from his recent surgical operation as to resume work at the Merrill Springer Co. - Miss Julia Stockbridge.

More resources
Uncomfortable History
More from Maine Memory Network
KKK in Brunswick newspapers
PBS - Portland Maine elected Klan mayor

1 comment:

  1. Here is a link to story about a 1987 KKK rally in the Rumford area.