For years, KKK has tried to navigate the York County mainstream

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Advertisements such as these were common in York County newspapers of the 1920s. Background posts: Criticism of Geno’s leads to ‘commie’ claim and Leonard Pitts speaking in York, Pa.: Sometimes, history hurts and York, Pa.: ‘It’s a midsize city with an interesting history’.

In recent years, the Ku Klux Klan has tried to sound mainstream – against abortion, drugs and pornography, for example.
But such stabs for legitimacy are not new.
Terry Koller from Dover Township phoned about a family member – his mother – who received such a taste of the Klan operating in the mainstream. And that was early in the 20th century… .


Koller had read my recent York Sunday News column that showed the Klan rearing its ugly head at several inopportune moments in its 1920s and 1930s York County heyday.
Koller’s memories of the Klan came via his mother, who stayed in a Klan-operated orphanage near Harrisburg for 10 years – starting when she was 4 years old.
Yes, an orphanage.
Through a complicated set of family circumstances, she spent her childhood there.
Years later, Terry Koller visited what was left of the facility – a fire had claimed part of it even when his mother was there. By then, it had been converted for use as a treatment center, and the Klan’s affiliation had ended.
So clearly, the KKK has long sought the mainstream. Churches, for example, served as a York County beachhead in the first half of the 20th century. These were Protestant churches and certainly not Catholic. The Klan was distinctly anti-Catholic.
But such efforts spread to other institutions, as Koller evidenced.
Why an orphanage?
Koller could only conjecture that it helped the KKK’s public relations.
“Probably to put a good front on it,” he said.
Hate hidden in plain sight.
Other posts about the Klan or race relations in York County:
Finder of KKK certificate: ‘My first thought was fear … the Ku Klux Klan would have loved us’.
How about a window-shattering ceremony to end icon of York County racism?.
Klan’s presence won’t make York County’s highlight reel.
Klansmen awaited presidential candidate Calvin Coolidge’s campaign swing. (Check out Coolidge entry.)
Part 1: Ku Klux Klan display ugliest part of York County, Pa.’s, ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ exhibit
Part 2: Ku Klux Klan display ugliest part of York County, Pa.’s, ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ exhibit
For years, KKK has tried to navigate the York County mainstream.
Leonard Pitts speaking in York, Pa.: Sometimes, history hurts.
York, Pa.: ‘It’s a midsize city with an interesting history’.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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2 Responses to For years, KKK has tried to navigate the York County mainstream

  1. cAT says:

    I was shocked in my inquiry of KKK. Prejudice in any fashion is against God’s will. The devil is aliar. Ignorance is not bliss and be not deceived whatever a man sow he will reap for God will not be mocked. When we all bleed, we bleed red blood.

  2. Bob Ross says:

    Awesome Fireworks!!

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