Westerville was a KKK stronghold in the 1920s.
The Ku Klux Klan thrived in Westerville in the early 1920s. The wave of KKK support that swept Central Ohio channeled into nationwide trends of nativism and xenophobia that were, in part, a reaction against Black migration and eastern European immigration. White supremacists targeted people they perceived as a threat to white Protestant moral values and saw Prohibition as a way to enforce these values. There were both pro- and anti-KKK factions within the Anti-Saloon League (ASL), a political pressure group that headquartered in Westerville. These connections and Westerville’s proximity to Columbus, a Klan stronghold, makes the hate group’s presence in Westerville unsurprising. It masqueraded as a benevolent fraternal organization to gain widespread support. It donated money to help support the family of Reverend S. S. Davis (the Evangelical Church minister) and pledged to care for 10 local children for a Red Cross drive.
The Klan also sent its hallmark message of intimidation in Westerville: cross burnings. One was at Otterbein Cemetery at the funeral of George B. Lane, who died from heart failure while wearing a KKK robe and hood at a massive Klan gathering at Buckeye Lake. A few months later, the KKK burned a fiery cross on the south end of town as they initiated several people into the group under the cover of darkness. About 2500 people were there (the equivalent of Westerville’s population at the time). The Klan also held at least three parades in town in the 1920s. The largest one was 1000-Klansmen strong and ended with a program complete with a cross burning on Frank P. Dill’s farm. The message that such spectacles sent Westerville’s Black community must have been extremely menacing.
 “Big Event Planned at Columbus Sept. 3: 100-Piece Band Will Be Feature of Musical Program – To Initiate Big Class,” Fiery Cross, 8/31/1923; “Klansmen Gather in Rain at Columbus; Parade Called Off: Downpour Causes All of the Thanksgiving Day Program to Be Held Inside: Imperial Wizard Evans Delivers Address – Twenty-five Thousand in Attendance,” Fiery Cross, 12/7/1923; “Big Parade, Meeting Feature Ohio Affair,” Fiery Cross, 10/24/1924; Columbus Dispatch, 11/29/1923. “Klu [sic] Kluxers Present $115 Gift to Pastor” (K19003), File on Ku Klux Klan (K19), 11/29/1923, Westerville History Museum; “Klan Helping Hand Proves Revelation: Donations to Pastor and Needy Children Arouse Interest in Westerville, Ohio,” Fiery Cross, 12/7/1923, page 9.
 Ancestry.com, 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
 “Heart Attack Causes Death of Klansman: Geo. B. Lane Stricken While Attending Session at Buckeye Lake Thursday,” Columbus Dispatch, 7/13/1923, page 3; “Aged Klansman Dies at Buckeye Lake: Organization Has Full Charge of Funeral of George B. Lane at Columbus,” Fiery Cross, 7/20/1923, page 5; File on Ku Klux Klan (K19), Westerville History Museum.
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