Finder of KKK certificate: ‘My first thought was fear … the Ku Klux Klan would have loved us’

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Anna Olmeda of Dover recently discovered this KKK certificate in the back of a framed photograph. 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’.

Signs of the Ku Klux Klan’s presence in early 20th-century York County are pretty common around here.
The various chapters held regular picnics, cross burnings and parades in small towns throughout the county. So, this secret society left a public trail.

A reminder of those days came recently when Dover Township’s Anna Olmeda found a certificate in an old picture frame granting Claude A. Slyder, presumably from York County, membership in the Klan… .


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Scenes like this were common around York County early in the 20th century. This KKK group hailed from Hanover.

York Daily Record/Sunday News writer Mike Argento interviewed Olmeda about her find. Excerpts from his story (8/8/09) follow:

“Dog gone it,” she recalled thinking, “this is really a serious thing here.”
It is a very serious thing. The certificate — issued by the Imperial Palace of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, located, then, in Atlanta, Ga. — certifies Slyder as a “Knights Kamellia” in the white supremacist group.
The certificate states that Slyder “having served faithfully, honestly and loyally as a probationary Klansman and his services have been satisfactory and by virtue of the authority vested in me and as evidenced by this document, do certify the advancement” of Slyder to “the primary order of Knighthood.”
The certificate is dated March 1, 1926.
“My first thought was fear,” she said. “I was really, really shocked when I took that off and saw that. All I thought was, ‘Oh my God, the Ku Klux Klan would have loved us.’”
Olmeda is of Sicilian descent and her husband’s family is from Puerto Rico. They are Catholics. The Klan didn’t have much love for any of those groups.
On occasion, stories surface about people buying antique frames at estate sales and finding historical documents — such as the Declaration of Independence — under the framed prints.
“I would have rather found that,” Olmeda said. “This one is fearful because of what the KKK stood for through the years.”

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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