Frederic S. Dunn, his time, his character and what the historical record reveals.
When the money stops flowing, the Klan stops klanning.
– Harry Crain, 1922, investigative reporter for the
Salem Capital Journal
I again urge the Trustees of the University of Oregon to stop, examine the evidence, and think about what you are doing. You have been deceived by a false narrative. The Historians who wrote the report on Professor Dunn, upon which you relied to reach your decision, had no background in the complicated and misunderstood topic about which they were writing, and were allowed only four weeks to accomplish both research and writing. Let the actual historic record be your guide. This record, with its stubborn facts, is not going away.
At the Trustees meeting in which the decision to remove Dunn’s name from the residence hall was adopted, UO President Schill stated, “We all know about the murders and lynchings of blacks that were conducted by the Klan, and that the Klan was one of the most notorious organizations in American history.” He has since been publicly repeating and publishing this. The UO’s web page states that Professor Dunn was a “Grand Cyclops of the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization notorious for terrorizing and lynching black people.” This, however, is inaccurate. There were three major, completely distinct, KKK organizations in US history, not one. Those who operated the second group in the 1920’s, the Fraternal Order of the KKK, opposed violence and, as such, did not encourage or in any way sponsor lynchings. Further, the title Grand Cyclops was not even used by the Fraternal Order. It was used by the first KKK organization, composed of violent vigilante groups operating in the post-Civil War South.
Stanley Coben, esteemed professor of history at UCLA, studied this second organization, the Fraternal Order of the Klan. Compare his description of the non-violent nature of the Fraternal Order to the contrived “terrorist” organization in the report presented to the Trustees:
Klan members in the mid-1920’s were not any more violent than other native, white, middle-class Protestant males. After the Klan organized nationally for maximum profit and political action in 1921, the organization expelled members and whole chapters charged with having taken part in vigilante activities. However, inconclusive newspaper and government investigations into the activities of a small minority of early klansmen during 1921 gave the organization a violent image. The name Ku Klux Klan (adopted mainly because of the Klan’s role in the immensely popular film, The Birth of a Nation), the Klan’s secrecy, and the order’s refusal to admit anyone except native white Protestant males contributed to this image, especially among blacks, Catholics, Jews, and champions of civil liberties.
The involvement of the Fraternal Order of the KKK in lynchings is a myth. Corroboration for this assertion can be found at C-SPAN.org. Enter “KU Klux Klan in 1920’s America” in the search field and click on Indiana University Professor Emeritus James H. Madison’s June 11, 2013 presentation. He clearly states that the KKK Fraternal Order did not engage in such violence. (The entire presentation is informative; however, forward to minute 37 for comments specific to this.) Below, I have cited other supporting documentation as well.
There were, of course, lynchings in the southern United States during the 1920’s; however, these horrific acts are not attributable to the Fraternal Order. In fact, as the membership in the Fraternal Order KKK rose from a few thousand into the millions, the number of lynchings of blacks in the US declined sharply. This would not have happened if the KKK Fraternal Order had actually been sponsoring or encouraging lynchings.
Although it has the same name, in no substantive way should the Fraternal Order KKK ever be confused with the two other major KKK organizations of American history that were dedicated to oppressing the rights of black Americans, including the use of threatened or actual violence. The Fraternal Order’s history and nature are almost universally misunderstood, and they are typically confused with those of the other organizations. Indeed, comparing the Fraternal Order KKK to the prior post-war KKK vigilante gangs is akin to comparing an elephant fish with an elephant: Same word, similarly shaped fronts, entirely different creatures.
The actual story of the relationship between Fredric Dunn and the KKK Fraternal Order is that of a relationship that was relatively brief, insignificant, and innocent on the part of Professor Dunn. The KKK side of that relationship is best described as financially motivated con men preying upon many victims, including Professor Dunn. It is important to emphasize that Dunn quickly disassociated himself from the Fraternal Order. Dunn of course, like many others of his time and place, was motivated by many of the same issues that the Fraternal Order claimed to address. For example, as a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Dunn would have been concerned about youthful promiscuity, drinking and driving. The YMCA sponsored alcohol free parties on campus and Professor Dunn was a faculty sponsor. His father had been one of the original members of the Temperance Society in Eugene.
The money motivated sales representatives of the Fraternal Order to come to Eugene and falsely portray their new association as an honorable, lawful supporter of Prohibition, an opponent of the associated corruption of the police and government officials, not as supporters of “white supremacism.”
Reflecting his prestige in Eugene, Professor Dunn was given the honorific title of Exalted Cyclops. He never was in control of the local KKK chapter; in fact, this very busy man would have had very little time for the Klan in any event. Within a few months, Dunn and many other substantial citizens learned that what they had bought was not what they had been sold. They disassociated from the new fraternal order that had victimized them. There is nothing in Professor Dunn’s scrap books about the KKK, evidence that he had little or no relationship with the organization.
The KKK of Dunn’s time was founded in 1915 by William Simmons and was non violent, unlike the prior, post civil war KKK that consisted of criminal vigilante gangs. As a lawfully incorporated fraternal order, it had rituals and regalia that were copyrighted.
By June of 1920, the fraternal order had only a few thousand members, located primarily in Georgia and Alabama. With his organization failing financially, Simmons turned de facto control over to Ed Clarke and Bessie Tyler, savvy and corrupt con artists who agreed to promote the organization nationally. They did not care about the purported concerns that the KKK Fraternal Order had been advocating. Their goal instead was to maximize cash flow that went into their own pockets. Of the ten dollar initiation fee, two dollars went to the founder Simmons and they kept the other eight for themselves. Violence would have attracted opposition from the police, politicians, and the public, raising costs and making recruiting more difficult thereby reducing their cash take.
Due to Prohibition, Clarke and Tyler’s publicity agency had lost most of the business from their largest customer, the Anti-Saloon League. Looking for new opportunities, and Clarke having had experience with fraternal orders, they took the regalia and ritual of Simmons’s Klan and used the exhortation Support Prohibition! in the early 1920’s as their primary marketing tool for the Fraternal Order. The initial individuals who were solicited were often those who had been supporters of the Anti-Saloon League. Many of these individuals were Methodists.
Clarke and Tyler’s most significant innovation was to create a commission-only sales force called the Kleagles. They hired one to two thousand of these agents and expanded marketing nationwide. Once they seized control from Simmons, Clarke and Tyler changed the Fraternal Order into a marketing machine. Tailoring their pitch to each community they visited, the Kleagles told different stories across the country about what this new Fraternal Order stood for. The overriding goal was always to make money for themselves. All of the Kleagles’s income initially came from sales of memberships and regalia. As an organization, it was strictly make sales to make money.
Support for Prohibition, not racism, was the greatest single driving force attracting new members nationwide to the KKK Fraternal Order. In fact, to the national KKK Fraternal Order of Clarke and Tyler, with its more than 80% membership outside the South, black-white relations were of minimal concern. In Eugene, the Kleagles did not represent the KKK Fraternal Order to their first group of recruits as either white supremacist or anti-Catholic, with one exception. The reporter Harry Crain noted that in Eugene, only when a prospect indicated that he was anti-Catholic would a Kleagle then claim that the KKK was also anti-Catholic.
Motivated by cash, the Kleagles sold the new Fraternal Order of the KKK across the nation using any means possible and often targeted Protestant ministers and teachers and others of high standing in a community. When the Kleagles came to Eugene, Professor Dunn was an obvious target, and was persuaded to accept the honorific title of chapter chairman (Exalted Cyclops). The pitch of the Fraternal Order was to encourage temperance and moral probity through support for Prohibition. They represented it to be a lawful, patriotic organization and dedicated to law and order. In 1921, support for law and order meant support for the new nationwide law of Prohibition and opposition to the associated corruption of police officials and politicians by bootleggers. This was the cause Professor Dunn thought he was buying into. It can be said with absolute certainty that Professor Dunn never excised control over the local Eugene chapter. We know this thanks to the contemporary newspaperman, Harry Crain and author Dale Laackman, For The Kingdom and The Power : The Big Money Swindle That Spread Hate Across America. As is well documented, the Kleagles promoted, controlled and operated the local chapters for their own profit.
Michael Schill published statements that the residence hall would be renamed for a man or woman whose life exemplifies the characteristics of racial diversity and inclusion that Dunn despised. (Emphasis added) This appropriately honored man, who is long dead, is unable to defend himself. Those who knew Dunn personally and had put his name forward in 1962 to be honored would undoubtedly find Schill’s remarks disgusting. They would also consider them an attack not only upon Professor Dunn but upon the history and character of the University of Oregon, the citizens of Eugene and the state of Oregon as a whole.
Frederic Dunn was born in Eugene in 1872, the son of Eugene’s second mayor. The University of Oregon came into being in 1876. The history of the University of Oregon is deeply entwined with Professor Dunn. He gave almost forty years of his life in devoted service to the University of Oregon. Twenty five years after his death, the university found him worthy of honor. His history is our history. A university is supposed to be a place where the unfettered search for truth is pursued and freedom of expression is honored.
The famous late historian Stephen Ambrose, in a recorded interview, once talked about how proud he was that his alma mater, Wisconsin, had probably been the first major non “black” college or university to have a black quarterback on its football team in the 1950’s. The UO was ahead of his school by thirty years. In 1926, Robert Robinson and Charles Williams enrolled at the University of Oregon. Robinson played quarterback.`The true history of the University of Oregon leans towards racial progressiveness and religious tolerance, not violent white supremacy and religious intolerance. The racially progressive and ecumenical YMCA sponsored the Y-Hut, a pre-Erb Memorial Student Union on the UO Campus. It served all students regardless of race or religion. Professor Dunn was a faculty sponsor of the YMCA on the UO campus.
In 1962, with good reason, with hundreds of possible candidates, the University of Oregon examined its entire history and honored ten faculty members by naming a dormitory building for each of them. One of these was Frederic Dunn who had died in 1937. During his almost forty years of service to the University, he had demonstrated both outstanding scholarship and decades of extensive volunteer service to the students of the University of Oregon, including his sponsorship of the YMCA on campus. Those who put Fredrick Dunn’s name forward to be honored had a living connection to his memory. They had been young adults when the fraud perpetrating KKK Kleagle sales representatives arrived in Eugene and victimized many people. They knew who Dunn was and who Dunn was not. They knew that he never led the KKK chapter in Eugene; rather, they knew he was one of it’s first victims. My examination of history demonstrates, that in honoring this racially progressive, caring, courageous, ecumenical, brilliant classics scholar, they made a wise choice. It appears that long after his death, Professor Dunn, who deeply loved his university, has arisen to teach his most important lesson, that the University of Oregon is currently in great danger.
Frederic Dunn was a kind hearted, highly intelligent, well educated man. He was a classics scholar. As a devout lifetime Methodist, he followed the teachings of John Wesley. His religion called for him to look for God within and then to go out and be of service to all of humanity. The Methodist religion places emphasis on the need to show respect for all individuals, regardless of station. His many activities, such as being the campus YMCA sponsor, his church involvement, his scholarly society, lectures, and fraternal order memberships show his love of and enjoyment of people. When he died, it was said of him with good reason, “everybody liked him”. There is also something more to consider: character.
In different ways, war often reveals the character of those who participate in it. Already in his mid forties, well established as the head of the Classics Department at the University of Oregon and a family man, Frederic Dunn volunteered for military service in the “Great War.” By the time the US entered the conflict in 1917, the horror of the mass slaughter on the western front was well known. Under no legal obligation or social pressure to do so, he volunteered to serve.
When men of that age, without military backgrounds, volunteered for military service it was because of a desire to serve, not because they were seeking adventure or fame. When the man was a teacher or professor, the motivation often was to look after the young men who would be going. In this respect, it can be said that Frederic Dunn was willing to give his life for his students. Frederic Dunn demonstrated that he was a man of high integrity, conscience, and courage. This is the man that the people of Eugene and the UO Community liked and respected.
Because the historians who wrote the report were not familiar with the misunderstood and complicated subject matter about which they were writing, they miss what is obvious to anyone who does understand what the Fraternal Order of the KKK actually was. They fail to recognize that if the highly moral and honorable Dunn were actually engaged in directing this activity, that he would have actually been engaged as the perpetrator of a sleazy financially motivated con game, not as a genuinely motivated ideologue of any stripe. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Had Dunn been “running things” he would have been running a financial scam. Of course there is absolutely no evidence to support this. The whole idea is preposterous, even ridiculous. Once this is understood, the historian’s report is exposed as a completely failed effort.
The Capital Journal newspaper based in Salem, Oregon, was the most knowledgeable and outspoken opponent of the KKK of any Oregon newspaper during the 1920’s in Oregon. Harry Crain was the reporter who wrote an extensive and insightful series on the Klan in 1922. (Sept-Nov) He is one of the most important, if not the most important, contemporary commentators of the Klan in Oregon in the early 1920’s and an admired and respected journalist until his death in 1948. His series included three days of articles dealing with the Eugene chapter of KKK (October 25, 26, and 27, 1922.) He is cited by the historians report. Unfortunately, rather than utilize his extensive insight into the actual workings of the KKK in Oregon during the 1920’s, the Historians simply extracted little more than some negative comments about the KKK and then moved on to hurry to complete their failed effort.
Crain’s articles as to what happened in Eugene and other communities in Oregon, are consistent with and complement Laackman’s description of what was going on across the nation. When the Kleagles arrived in a community in the early marketing phase of the organization (1921), they were selling what was in effect a new national fraternal order with a clean slate. Their strategy was to try to enlist the most reputable people in each community, i.e., the “influencers” of the day. Laackman states: “The local preacher was often the most influential citizen in each community. Win them, Clarke believed, and you win the town. Kleagles were instructed to stress a shared concern about bootlegging, crime and vice and to give the ministers free Klan memberships.” Capitalizing on the prestige and influence of these individuals, the KKK Fraternal Order was then able to appear to be an honorable organization. After becoming established in communities around Oregon, the Kleagles could then lower the facade and start the hate business which would be the principal driver to generate money for themselves. (Laackman page 89)
Anyone who seriously reads Crain’s entire series on the KKK in Oregon will see the intense focus and central positioning of how he reveals the KKK fraternal order to be an organization that is designed to make money for those controlling it, primarily at the expense of its own membership. Crain humorously wrote, “when the money stops flowing, the Klan stops klanning.” (Oct 24,1922 SCJ) Article after article deals with the financial motivation and misrepresentation of those promoting this fraternal order and how it’s sucking money out of it’s members. This is the central theme of his series! I encourage anyone who is actually interested in the subject of Dunn and the KKK to read this series and to then read the historians’ report on Professor Dunn. Had the historians bothered to read the series with a sincere desire to learn, they would have saved themselves from eternal embarrassment.
Although claiming to rely upon Crain, the historians clearly do not understand what Crain has described. Nowhere in their report is there any mention of the fact that those who initiated, promoted and operated the Fraternal Order of the Klan chapters in Oregon in 1921 and 1922 were money motivated con artists. There is no discussion about the fact that upon learning that they had been lied to and defrauded regarding the nature of the KKK, that almost all of the initial members of Eugene chapter, especially the substantial citizens, dropped out within months of joining. Rather, the report serves to mislead its readers with regard to the fraternal order KKK with such writing as:
We have not been able to ascertain why Dunn, one of the most educated men in the state and a nationally respected scholar in his field of classics not only joined but led an organization dedicated to bigotry, nativism, and terror in its quest for “One-Hundred Per Cent Americanism.” We do know what Eugene Klan No. 3 did in the early 1920s while he was in charge of the Klavern.
Rather than refer to the Fraternal Order as a lawfully incorporated fraternal order, the report repeatedly refers to it as “the invisible empire” rather than a fraternal order. The writing is very dramatic and emotional in a theatrical sense and but it is also factually inaccurate. In a relatively small community such as Eugene, how “invisible” would membership be when members walk with their wives whose faces weren’t masked in public parades? How “invisible” is a fraternal order that lists an office, with a telephone number and a named secretary in a downtown office?
In writing this, the report authors have not succeeded in exposing any actual villainy on the part of Professor Dunn, rather they’ve exposed their own over use of dramatic writing. Frederic Dunn was never in charge of the Eugene Klavern. The organizers and operators of the Fraternal Order of the KKK, in Oregon and nationally were opposed to KKK involvement in violence. In that they were con artists promoting a con, rather than genuine ideologues, they opposed violence. They organized economic boycotts and threats of boycotts, but they didn’t promote burning down businesses or physical attacks on people.
What appears in the report as dramatic proof of the violence of the Fraternal Order of the Klan in Oregon during the 1920’s, upon examination is actually revealed not to be. The report states that there are at least five instances of Klan violence recorded during the 1920’s. A rather small number of acts of violence for a terrorist organization with many thousands of members over about a five year period.
Analysis of these acts indicates that none of these five acts were established as KKK Fraternal Order acts of violence. The Historians failed to distinguish between the acts promoted and authorized by the Fraternal Order and acts by rogue members who were acting on their own. The absurdity of this type of reasoning is demonstrated by the following, “The internment of the Japanese US citizens during WW2 was justified, they bombed Pearl Harbor didn’t they?”
The one actual murder that was cited as Klan violence was never even linked to KKK Fraternal Order members, let alone established as an act that could be attributed to the Fraternal Order as an organization. “There was suspicion” the report read. “Suspicion,” that’s the proof? False evidence was even used to imply that the reason that this murder case was not solved and demonstrated to be a Klan activity was because of the influence of Oregon Governor Pierce who, according to the report, “unfortunately was a Klan sympathizer.” No reasoning or evidence was offered as to how or why the Governor prevented the case from being solved; this is simply mud being thrown.
No evidence of any interference by the Governor’s Office is offered. No evidence is offered to demonstrate that the local authorities did not seriously pursue the matter. In fact, local authorities had offered a large cash reward to solve the case. The murder occurred in 1924; there is no statute of limitations on murder. Although not a Klansman, Governor Pierce had accepted the support of the KKK in 1922 in his race to become governor. He had also supported the Klan-supported compulsory school bill while Pierce’s opponent, Olcott, had not in 1922. However, by 1924, the Klan had turned against Pierce and instituted a recall movement against him that failed.
In view of this, how is it possible that any competent historian could assert that Governor Pierce, by the time of the murder and the subsequent investigation, was a “Klan sympathizer”? The historians suggest he interfered in a murder investigation to protect the Klan at a time when the Klan had, in fact, become his political enemy. This doesn’t make sense. The historians are clearly demonstrating their lack of subject matter competence. There is also an indication of bias.
Southern Oregon, independent of any fraternal order, has a history that includes violence. The three incidents in Jackson County appear to reflect the culture of Jackson County rather than institutional activities of the KKK Fraternal Order, and were clearly initiated by a small number of individuals who were indeed members of the local Klan acting together. There apparently was an unwillingness by local authorities who were also members of the fraternal order to pursue these crimes. As a result, Governor Olcott properly brought outside law enforcement to bear. Governor Olcott then sounded a thunderous warning against the violent nature of the KKK, which was also supporting his political opposition. Politicians usually relish opportunities to denounce their political opponents. Governor Olcott was no exception, and he was dramatically overstating the case to gain political advantage. He was making these statements six days before a hotly contested primary election in which he was facing a Klan-backed opponent. The Historians simply took Olcott’s inflated pronouncements and warnings at face value, rather than analyzing them as the inflated political rhetoric they were. Their report reads:
In response to the growing concern about the Klan across Oregon, Governor Olcott issued a Proclamation on May 13, 1922 condemning the Invisible Empire in the state. He warned of “dangerous forces insidiously gaining a foothold” in Oregon who were “stirring up fanaticism, race hatred, religious prejudice and all of these evil influences which tend toward factional strife and civil terror.” Then challenging the central premise of the Klan, namely that it was upholding law and order and promoting “pure Americanism,” he declared “Oregon needs no masked night riders, no invisible empire to control her affairs. Our courts of law, our law enforcing officers, our whole machinery of government are founded on the fundamentals of true American citizenship and are second to no other state…The true spirit of Americanism resents bigotry, abhors secret machinations and terrorism and demands that those who speak for and in her cause speak openly, with their faces to the sun.” The Klan responded publicly, and it should be noted, non-violently to its critics through a nearly full-page ad in the Springfield News, the paper that had condemned the organization a year earlier. The ad titled, “Here’s the Truth, the Whole Truth About Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” the organization touted its patriotism and described its members as “sworn to protect the weak of the world’s people from oppression by the strong.” The ad claimed the Klan “was not anti-negro, anti-Jew, anti-Japanese or anti-Catholic. It believed in justice to all including the white man.
The Historians have misleadingly listed a generic Klan ad as if it were the response to the Governor’s statements. In fact, the citation is to a generic ad run not in May of 1922, but October of 1922. Therefore the ad was not a response to the Governor’s statements. The actual Klan response to the Governor’s statements and proclamation was to call him out regarding his political motivations and misrepresentations:
Klan officials retaliated with statements charging the governor with making a play for votes at the coming primary election and intimated that his proclamation followed upon his failure to obtain political support from the klansmen.
Statements were issued Saturday evening by F.L. Gifford, exalted cyclops of the Klan, by R. H. Sawyer, grand lecturer of the Klan, who recently spoke at The Auditorium, and by R. H.David, king Kleagle of the Pacific Northwest. Luther I. Powell, organizer for the Klan, who has had his headquarters in Portland for the last year, is absent on business in Shreveport, Louisiana.
GIVES GOVERNOR “SHOT”
Oregon needs no masked riders, no invisible empire to control her affairs, says our ambitious governor, but his personal communication to the knights of the Ku Klux Klan were couched in language much more courteous before it became clear to his somewhat biased mentality that he could not hope for help from that lawful organization to again encumber the high position which fell to his lot by chance,” reads the formal statement issued by Sawyer.
The governor’s statement is termed a “pre-primary proclamation which bears all the earmarks of Roman politics.” It is termed “un-American, unjust, misleading, and untrue.” Sawyer charges the “governor’s unwarranted attack elements.”
In replying to this part of the proclamation, Sawyer announced that many ministers in Oregon are already members of the klan and that applications are being received frequently from other pastors. Sawyer also states the membership of the Klan includes numerous judges, sheriffs and representatives of all peace officers, to whom the governor has appealed for support in suppressing the Klan.
As a citizen who has spoken to many thousands in behalf of the noble principles of this Christian patriotic order, I do not hesitate to characterize this well timed political attack as a greater insult to the citizens of Oregon than anything ever charged against the Ku Klux Klan,” said Sawyer. …
Gifford stated “if the authorities of the several counties and cities of this state were to make public the aid and assistance that they have received through our efforts in the matter of law enforcement and clean government they would give the lie to the statement of Governor Olcott.”
Gifford said the klan is the largest fraternal organization in the state.
– Portland Daily Journal 14 May, 1922
This violence, followed by inaction on the part of local law enforcement, was clearly not a KKK Kleagle management-sponsored activity as it then gave Governor Olcott a state wide forum to denounce the Klan as an organization that threatened violence. This was an election year and Olcott was seriously being challenged; these incidents played into his hands. If one reads the entire statement of Olcott, it includes a portion where he even acknowledges that the acts have not been established as the acts of the organization or even acts by the organization’s members:
Assaults have been committed in various counties of the state by unknown, masked outlaws, the odium of which has reflected on the Ku Klux Klan. Whether or not these outlaws were connected with that organization is immaterial. Their vile acts demonstrate that the name of the organization may be used for evil purposes and that from the nature of its activities it has the moral effect of causing unthinking and misguided persons to enter into unlawful conspiracies and to perpetuate unlawful deeds.
– Eugene Guard May 13, 1922. Front page
Following the governor’s statement of May 13, on May 15, 1922, the Eugene Guard reported that Governor Olcott released some documents, including one which was a communication from the sheriff of Jackson County stating “that while Ku Klux Klan claim that they had nothing to do with it–yet they do nothing to help the officers catch the guilty parties.” The fact that these are the acts of individuals acting on their own as opposed to actions sponsored by the KKK chapter is confirmed by an article in the Eugene Guard published on May 13, 1922 on page 12. A Jackson County Klansman dropped out of the organization, not because the chapter had been sponsoring the violence, but because those directing the chapter had done nothing to assist in the capture of the criminals involved:
QUITS KU KLUX KLAN
Medford, Ore. May 12—J.E. Edmiston, manager of the local fruit association, in a public statement today announced that he had resigned from the local Ku Klux Klan several weeks ago, but had been unable to have his resignation acknowledged, or his statement to the Klan presented to the members. Mr. Edmiston condemned the Klan and declared that he resigned as soon as he secured evidence that the Klan took no action to assist the authorities in running down the culprits responsible for the three outrages in Jackson county.
Crain made clear that in the case of one of the three victims, the victim was being ordered to drop a personal civil lawsuit against a man. The victim was certain that the Klansman who was ordering him to do this was none other than the defendant in the lawsuit. This is personal behavior by an individual who is a member of an organization, behavior that the “management” of the organization would have opposed. Had there never been a KKK fraternal order, the other two incidents might still have occurred or might not have occurred. No one can say, “That’s hypothetical history.” What is clear from the scarcity of actual violent acts by so many people over a four to five year period is that, as a group, the KKK in Oregon was misrepresented by the historians report as being a “violent terrorist” organization. As the expert Stanley Coben made clear, the KKK fraternal organization promoters and operators were opposed to violence. They were running an organization in order to extract money and actual violence would get in the way of their true goal.
Based on a time line of events and the brief and superficial relationship Dunn had with the Fraternal Order, any attempt to smear him with this violence is dishonest. Professor Dunn had dissociated himself from this fraternal order before these events in Medford unfolded. Note especially how, in the article above about the Medford Klan member who resigned, the Kleagles tried to conceal from their current membership that an individual was dissociating himself from them and had in fact become critical of the Order. This appears to be similar to how they treated Professor Dunn’s departure.
In Medford the Kleagle returned a year after forming the local KKK chapter and turned up the anti-Catholic rhetoric to a fever pitch and whipped up threats that Catholics were a serious threat to society. He attracted large numbers of members and their dues and special assessment payments. The members of this fraternal order were ready to defend their community against the marauding Catholic hordes. The hordes never arrived, but the Kleagle walked away with lots of loot. He had never expected to battle the non existent hordes nor did he want to.
Crain’s articles detail over and over again how the KKK in various communities in Oregon was used as a vehicle to put money in the pockets of those who were actually running it. After initially setting up and relying on membership fees and uniform sales, the Klan turned to manipulation and wedge issues to generate activity. By January 1922, the Klan entered state politics as a means to attract more members and extract money from them. It was then, not before, that the Klan on a state wide basis began to use the rabid and bizarre stories of Catholic conspiracies as a standard message to market their product. When funds were collected for whatever the current issue was, a substantial portion of those funds went into the pockets of those who were indeed “running things.” The KKK supported the state wide compulsory school bill to require that all students attend public schools and devoted substantial energy promoting it. Although not explicitly anti-Catholic, the bill was implicitly so. As a state wide program, it created enormous opportunities for promoting memberships and fund appropriating graft.
Had Professor Dunn actually been “running the Klan,” he would have been “running” a cheap financial hustle to extract money primarily from membership. This means that Professor Dunn would have been making appearances at downtown Eugene hotels to bamboozle the “lesser lights” with tales of Catholic conspiracies and “escaped” nuns.
In Eugene, following the pattern of their typical nationwide marketing strategy, the Kleagles initially targeted the most prestigious and respected members of the community as possible, inviting them to become members of their fraternal order. Intending to utilize their prestige and contacts, typically a minister or teacher was sought out to be offered the honorific title of chapter head, the Exalted Cyclops. A free membership was often offered to this person. The representations that were made to these individuals centered around the honorable supporter of Prohibition story. This was the Kleagles’ full time profession, they were always in control, not the honorary chapter head. In Eugene, as in most communities, the Kleagles maintained control of the chapters for years, as this maintained their receipt of substantial revenues that they would otherwise ceased to receive.
As he describes how the KKK operated in Oregon, Crain describes how in many communities in Oregon, not just Eugene, the same process of establishing a chapter operated. The Kleagles, acting out the classic role of con operators, would arrive and misrepresent themselves to the most prestigious people in a community that they could attract, presenting themselves as legitimate and honorable. Using their prestige as a base, they would attract new members. Many of the original members would find out that they had been misused and swindled and then cease associating with the fraternal order. Medford and Salem for example.
According to Crain, the very first community to be marketed in Oregon by the KKK Fraternal Order was Jackson County. It is worth noting that in the first community in Oregon, “white supremacy” was a feature being marketed by the KKK Kleagle sales representative, Powell. However according to Crain, in many other communities subsequently marketed, it is a feature that appears to not have been marketed. Not surprising in that in an almost all white state the sales representatives would have discovered that selling “white supremacy” was a feature that didn’t attract buyers.
In Medford, Oct 28, 1922 Crain wrote:
Started Among Masons
The Klan in Medford was organized at a meeting of 30 men, most of them Mason’s, by [Kleagle] Powell one night in January, 1921. The meeting had been secretly called and it was not until they were assembled that the men knew the purpose of the gathering. Powell placed the proposal to organize a klan before them, declaring that the K.K.K. was dedicated to the separation of church and state, white supremacy, one hundred per cent Americanism and law and order. The prospects were told that 50 members were needed to secure a charter, but that Klan officials of the Pacific coast domain would like to see a lodge of 400 or 500 members organized at Medford. To this suggestion the prospects objected, declaring themselves in favor of a smaller lodge selecting its members with care and some regard for their standing in the community. In the face of Powell’s earlier statement that no man was admitted into the Klan except after he had been thoroughly investigated, he could do nothing but offer to comply with the small lodge desires of the men present.
25 Agree to Join
At that meeting 25 of the 30 men present signed up for membership and made their $10 donations. Powell’s statement that he would leave the matter of securing more members to these men temporarily, as he was leaving the city the next day, was not borne out by developments. He remained not only through the next day, but for several days thereafter, soliciting new members without consulting with the men he organized the first night and collecting $10 donations. For at least three nights in succession he initiated classes. His investigations of the character and standing of the applicants was a farce. Throughout the afternoon he would solicit and accept applications: in the evening he would initiate the candidates. It is said that Powell took between $800 and $900 out of Jackson county on the occasion of his first visit.
Path Sugared by Bulgin
During this first spasm of Klan activity the anti-Catholic propaganda played only a minor role, Powell and his converts stressing the alleged law and order ideals of the invisible empire and declaring the Klan to be an organization of law abiding citizens, each one acting in the capacity of a private government agent for the determination of crime and lawlessness. The play was to capitalize a local issue that had grown up out of a series of meetings held by Rev. E. J. Bulgin, itinerant tabernacle evangelist, who had launched the moral reform element of the community into a crusade against alleged wholesale violations of the liquor traffic. In this crusade the law enforcement officers, especially Sheriff C.E Terrill, were bitterly accused of failure to enforce the liquor laws and the community was sharply split over this issue.
There is considerable significance to be attached to the appearance of Bulgin in Medford immediately before the entry of the klan, especially in view of like occurrences in other sections of the state and the fact that Bulgin now occupies an editorial position on the staff of the Searchlight, the official Ku Klux Klan propaganda paper published in Atlanta, Ga.
Indicating the pure graft nature of Powell’s organizing game, it is to be noted that with his departure the klan gradually became less and less active and by December, 1921, had become practically a dead issue. Powell, after his first visit, completely ignored the klan in Jackson county until the time of the statewide revival movement that marked the klan’s entrance into state politics in January of this year .
There are several points worth focusing on from Crain’s writing Oct 28:
- As the first community in Oregon the sales representative visited as the representative of the Georgia based KKK fraternal order, he included “white supremacy” in his “sales pitch.” In other communities, such as Eugene, which was marketed half a year later, “white supremacy” was omitted from the “sales pitch.” Coming out of the South with it’s white supremacy tradition, the representative undoubtedly found that in a state with only 2,000 blacks that “white supremacy” was a feature that wasn’t going to boost sales.
- The organization is being cynically run by a Kleagle to generate funds for his own pocket. After making the sale and scooping up the loot, he proceeded to not reappear for a year. It’s all about the money!
- It appears that the Preacher Bulgin is operating as a shill in the con game. He appears first acting as an independent, outraged, sincere religious man generating concern in the community about the alleged connivance between law enforcement and the bootleggers. Having worked up the members in the community, the Kleagle arrives to harvest the anxiety with new membership sales. (Professor Harold Hill had his pool table to worry the residents of River City with and the solution was his band.)
In the October 30, 1922 article, Crain wrote that:
Soon after its organization the Medford Klan got into the hands of a few radicals and their programs did not appeal to some of the saner members who had become Kluxers in the belief that the order was purely patriotic. To them the cow pasture sessions had no appeal and the growing use of the organization for personal purposes was disgusting. Some of these men even went so far as to defy the klansmen to make them attend meetings.
The revival of the Klan in Medford and its extension throughout Jackson county came simultaneously with the launching of the ku klux state wide political campaign in January of this year. This was accomplished by stirring up the anti-Catholic sentiment and prejudices in the community, to which the kluxers always take recourse when all other methods of arousing enthusiasm for the night shirt order fail. This at the direct instigation of King Kleagle Powell, who had apparently forgotten the Medford Klan from the time he organized it for a harvest of between $800 and $900 until he had use for it in his political maneuvering. Powell sent Elizabeth Chopin, allege “escaped” nun to Medford to spread the propaganda intended to inflame the anti-Catholic hatred and thereby pave the way for the Klan organizers. For organization purposes he sent two kleagles from Portland, John J. Hoogstraat and H.E. Griffith.
The appearance of the alleged ex-nun in Medford was the signal for the loosing upon the community of a deluge of rumors concerning the Catholic church, its members and the purported menace of Catholic domination of the government of the United States, the state of Oregon, Jackson county and the city of Medford. Wild stories of Catholic plots to stage a revolution throughout the country, overthrow the government and place the country under the rule of the pope; of conspiracies to assassinate all protestants and massacre every Mason in the community; of secret plans to dynamite the homes and business places of prominent protestants and to seize and operate the public schools as papal institutions: these and a hundred other equally implausible stories suddenly broke in circulation.
Everywhere the propagandists and their sympathizers were whispering of the huge stores of arms and ammunition that had been smuggled in and hidden around the various local Catholic institutions against the “zero hour” set for the rebellion. The Knights of Columbus were heralded as the militant arm of catholicism, mobilized, in raining and ready to strike when the opportunity presented itself. And it was in this connection that the influences behind the propaganda began to show their colors. The Ku Klux Klan was put forward as the safeguard of American ideals and institutions and the protestant people against such conspiracies.
The Klan, said the Ku Klux organizers and propagandists, was the militant arm of the protestant forces, ready to take to arms at a minute’s notice and drive out the Catholics.
Appeal Brings Results
That such tommyrot could find serious consideration in the minds of intelligent, or even half intelligent American citizens is hard to believe. But the reaction was almost immediate and the Klan’s membership grew by leaps and bounds, its growth only equaled by the increase in the bank rolls of the Kleagles. Nor were only the more ignorant hypnotized by these inspired pleas to their animosities and hatreds. Men in almost every walk of life were caught in the tide of this mob passion and recruited by the Klan. Into its ranks were drawn such men as the mayor, the chief of police, a deputy district attorney, the jailer, local manager of the long distance telephone, local agents of the Standard and other oil companies and the Southern Pacific railroad and a host of other business men connected with enterprises or greater or less magnitude.
Crain went on to explain that once the gullible had reached maximum capacity, the Catholic threat melted away. The imaginary threat having fulfilled its duty of putting money in the Kleagles pockets, there was no further need of its imaginary appearance. He also went on to describe the three acts of local violence. In all cases it is clear that the three acts all represent local acts of groups of individuals within the Klan rather than some Kleagle or management inspired activities. Since there would have been no cash payout for the Kleagles, and a great deal of potential downside for the organization as a whole, these isolated acts could only represent the actions of the individuals who were involved, rather than KKK fraternal order.
A particularly interesting example of how the larcenous and duplicitous KKK Kleagles operated is provided by Crain as to the activities of the KKK in Pendleton. On a nation wide basis, the largest single issue of the KKK was support for prohibition. I don’t have to guess how the cowboy culture of Pendleton, Oregon reacted to prohibition. I once stayed overnight on a Friday night in Pendleton. On Saturday morning, I enhanced my breakfast by making it a cultural experience by downing a breakfast of chicken fried steak at the Rainbow Cafe and soaking up the ambiance. Across from my table were a group of cowboys seated at the bar. They amiably conversed as they downed their glasses of whiskey straight.
Harry Kuck, the editor of the Pendleton Tribune had been editorializing against various local government and police officials because of what he perceived as the lack of serious enforcement of the Prohibition laws. When the local Klan Kleagle approached Kuck to solicit his membership, Kuck not only declined, but proceeded to write editorials attacking the principles and practices of the KKK. In the contentious environment that resulted, the Kleagle proceeded to enroll as KKK members the very government and police officials, their friends and associates who were either supporting or turning a blind eye to the bootleggers. (Capital Journal Oct 17, 1922.)
In Portland, the Kleagle originally “. . .had no visions of building up a political machine in Oregon. He was interested simply in fleecing gullible persons of anti-Catholic, anti-alien and anti-Jewish prejudices out of $21.50 donations..” (Capital Journal Oct 20, 1922) Later to keep the money flowing, (When the money stops flowing, the Klan stops klanning) the Klan involved itself in politics. In the 1922 primary election, the incumbent Republican Governor Olcott defeated the KKK favored Charles Hall. Another opportunity for graft was created by collecting funds for a recount. When that graft created disgruntlement among the membership, the Kleagles diverted attention from their earlier theft by backing the compulsory education bill, thereby creating both a diversion and a new source of graft.
As Crain wrote:
Based on false allegations of fraud and conspiracy against Governor Olcott in behalf of Charles Hall, defeated Ku Klux Klandidate. To finance the recount they are reliably reported to have collected between $50,000 and $60,000 by assessing the brothers. Perhaps one-third of this amount was actually expended for recount expense, and the disposition made of the balance has been the cause of much dissatisfied conjecture on the part of the rank and file of the Ku Kluxers ever since. The foresight of the Koo Koos was not on a par with their ingenuity, however, and they failed to anticipate the reaction that was bound to come with the expose of the farcical nature of the recount …
– October 24, 1922 Daily Capital Journal
The Kleagles had created a great deal of bad feeling by collecting a large sum of money to pay for a recount, most of which was disappearing into the pockets of the Kleagles. By getting behind the the compulsory education bill, the Kleagles had created a state wide cause to collect funds for and to provide a distraction from the recent fund snatching.
Crain described what happened when the Kleagles arrived in Eugene in the summer of 1921. It is important to note here that the Kleagles would understand that Dunn was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a highly educated academic; such associations would have precluded any sales pitch that included a racist or base anti-Catholic appeal. They would have put on their best, most honorable face. Dunn would have been one of the first people these fraud artists contacted. He had an outstanding and prestigious reputation in Eugene and contacts with the young WW1 veterans and Masons, the first groups in Eugene that were being marketed. It would make sense that he would have been offered the chairmanship (Exalted Cyclops position) as a highly respected, prominent, religious older man who was both a WW1 veteran and a Mason.
I think it best here to simply quote Crain verbatim with regard to the initial establishment of the KKK chapter in Eugene and what followed:
C.N. Jones, one of the organizers who moved into the Oregon field in June 1921 along with Major Powell, Gallaway and others, was the Kleagles who organized the Eugene Klan. He appeared in the University City early in July and started his work among the younger generation of Masons and among the war veterans. To them he presented the Klan as a patriotic order designed to perpetuate and safeguard American ideals, only using the anti-Catholic plea where the prospects invited such an appeal. [emphasis added]
The success with which [Kleagle] Nelson operated during the time he was in Eugene is indicated in a measure in the list of converts attributed to his enterprise. As is typical with Klan Kleagles in all of their initial organization work in a town, Nelson played first to the public officials and prominent men, presenting the Klan as a fraternal order dedicated to the cause of Americanism and law enforcement. With a few such men enrolled to give a semblance of respectability and stability, Nelson had little trouble in lining up many of the lesser lights who could be attracted by the mysticism and secrecy of the Klan. In slightly over a month he built the Klan up to a membership of nearly 100. [Oct 25, 1922]
It can be said to the credit of many of those who joined the Ku Klux Klan during the first few weeks it was in Eugene that they joined it without knowledge of the un-American and dangerous nature of the organization. Led astray by the idealistic principles claimed for the order by its propagandists, they joined what they thought to be a patriotic fraternity. Their disillusionment was accompanied by a gradual slump in the attendance at klan meetings, but few, very few, had the courage to tempt the wrath of the invisible empire by withdrawing from the Klan or repudiating it. Of the 83 Kluxers from whom Kleagle Nelson collected $10 initiation fees during the months of July and August, 1921, not more than two or three have renounced their citizenship in the invisible empire, but many of them refused to attend meetings after they discovered the real nature of the organization with its teachings of intolerance, prejudice and persecution. [Oct 26, 1922]
Crain referred to those individuals such as Dunn whose names were on the list of the first group of fraternal order members obtained from the Pacific Coast Headquarters of the KKK as victims of the Klan. He explained that they had been led to believe they were joining an idealistic, patriotic, fraternity. He states that many had dropped out as they realized that they been misled. My analysis of a second membership list indicates that they almost all dropped out within the first year.
There are several points to take away from the above writings of Crain regarding the representations that were being made at the time of the establishment of the Eugene KKK Fraternal Order chapter :
- There was absolutely no reference made to white supremacy being promoted. In that Eugene was essentially an all white community, located in a state with only about 2,000 blacks, a white supremacy sales pitch would have been expected to have generated yawns rather than sign ups. In general, anti-Catholicism was not being promoted, unless the person being pitched indicated that they were anti-Catholic. Dunn was very ecumenical. No one in 1921 Eugene, Oregon thought that they were in any way joining an anti black organization designed to suppress the rights of the nonexistent black citizens of Eugene or anywhere else within the U.S.
- Dunn would have made an excellent target for initial membership in the chairmanship role. Although not a minister, he was well respected in the Eugene community as a whole and in the University. He did periodically give talks or sermons in Protestant churches throughout his adult lifetime. Dunn was both a Mason and WW 1 veteran. The first groups recruited in Eugene for members were young Masons and WW 1 veterans.
- The reference to law enforcement is especially a reference to the new federal law of prohibition. As a Methodist, Dunn had a religious and social basis in supporting the law. The City of Eugene police department had only a few members; even an honest police force would be vastly outnumbered by the organized law breakers and would need the information provided by citizens to provide effective enforcement of the law. Similarly, Dunn was opposed to illegal prostitution which also serves as a potential corrupter of politicians and police.
- This first group of recruits are referred to as victims of the Klan rather than klansmen. Crain, the most knowledgeable contemporary writer refers to people like Dunn and the other initial members of the Eugene Klan as victims of the Klan. This is an accurate description.
By looking at the two sets of membership lists which will be discussed later, strong evidence exists to indicate that the vast majority of the initial recruits to the local chapter dropped out within the first year after finding out that they had been lied to about the organization they were joining. The individuals who are actually running or operating this organization are engaging in dishonest misrepresentation to a achieve a financial gain.
There are essentially four pieces of evidence tying Dunn to membership in the Klan. Two Klan membership lists, a listing of some Oregon Exalted Cyclops, and the letter from Dean Sheldon discussing the Klan on the campus and Dunn being referred to as a “President”of the chapter. The two membership lists and the letter, without question all relate to the first year in which the Klan chapter was created. The Cyclops list is undated. I asked Marsha Weisiger if she knew of any additional known evidence as to Dunn’s involvement with the Klan. She knew of none. This means that on its face the report is erroneous to the extent it claims to know that Dunn was either a member of, or leading, the Klan for years and offers as proof a citation to a book which does not support this and doesn’t even mention Dunn. Because the report claims that Dunn was leading the local chapter for years, on a time line basis this means that most of the report has no evidence to support it and is therefore to be considered discredited per se. With this lack of claimed evidence exposed, in that most of the report lacks any evidence to support its claim of Dunn’s multi year involvement, this gives the appearance something worse than inadvertent error. I brought this to Ms. Weisiger’s attention months ago.
The evidence indicates that Dunn was among the first members of the Klan chapter in Eugene, Oregon. Crain tells us that many of these members had been lured into membership through misrepresentation and dropped out. I believe that Dunn is one these members. The report author (s) claim that they know that Dunn was running the local Klan for years. There is not even discussion of a possibility that Dunn dropped out early, let alone evidence to disprove it. The report states that:
While we will never know how Dunn felt about the violence associated with the Invisible Empire, it is certain that he was aware of it and yet continued to lead Eugene Klan No. 3.
This refers in context to activities up to the collapse of the local Klan in 1925. The proof offered is a citation to the book, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940. Not only does this book not support such a claim, it fails to even mention Professor Dunn.
At this point the report appears to transcend mere incompetence and move into something else.
Now let us examine what the report claims has happened here. The authors claim that Professor Dunn joined the Eugene chapter of the fraternal order of the KKK in the later half of 1921, and was leading it through at least the first part of 1925. Any evidence they have offered only supports at most and probably much less, membership through the first few months of 1922. No valid evidence is offered with regard to most of 1922, all of 1923, all of 1924, or early 1925. Not one bit. Now, if Professor Dunn’s membership was obtained by misrepresentation and he dropped out of the organization within a matter of months, that means that he would be an opponent of what the Klan represented, not a supporter! This is what I believe with almost absolute certainty is the actual case. By citing to false evidence to claim that Dunn was “running the Klan for years” and failing to acknowledge the clear evidence that indicates that he quickly disassociated himself from a relationship that was obtained by misrepresentation, it is fair to say that the report should clearly be considered conclusively discredited. It is also fair to raise more serious charges regarding the improper use of the report.
The establishment of a time line destroys the credibility of the authors of the report as to Dunn’s remaining in the Klan. Their report notes that “newspaper exposés of his membership in the Ku Klux Klan was well known by the summer of 1922.” True. Not only that, but many members of the original group of members consisting of WW1 Veterans and Masons, were people with whom Dunn associated and all or almost all of these people quickly dropped out of the chapter. They were disaffected with the KKK and undoubtedly critical of it. So yes, I agree, Dunn’s membership in the KKK fraternal order would have been known in the community during that first year. This is critical to understanding of what subsequently did and did not happen.
When the Kleagles arrived in Eugene in the summer of 1921, the new national Fraternal Order of the KKK didn’t have a national reputation yet. What Professor Dunn and others didn’t understand at that moment, was that the KKK was essentially a giant financial scam and the fraternal order they were joining was not as represented. Within the first year after the Kleagles arrival in Eugene, the educated public in Eugene and throughout America came to understand how this crooked organization operated. But Americans don’t study history generally, and they have forgotten what educated people in the early 1920’s came to understand: that the operators who made the KKK Fraternal Order a national organization were fraud-perpetrating grafters. If you don’t understand this, as the authors of this report obviously didn’t, you can’t possibly understand the relationship of Professor Dunn and this fraternal order.
Because the authors of the report weren’t conversant with the subject matter of which they were writing, a report was produced that contains a large accumulation of irrelevant information and erroneous reasoning. A disproportionate amount of the report is devoted to KKK activities that did not occur in Eugene and occurred after the relatively brief period of Professor Dunn’s association with Klan. These are largely irrelevant to analyzing Dunn and his relationship to the KKK. During its nationwide formation period, in different communities, different sales pitches were being made to attract members. In Eugene, the KKK was not initially anti-Catholic, except where the prospect indicated that they were anti-Catholic. It was not marketed as a racist organization in Eugene. Conversely, for example, had the local residents in Medford generally indicated that they were racist when approached by a Kleagle, then the KKK chapter in Medford would have racist beliefs. Indeed, Crain noted that in Medford, the first community marketed, the Kleagle did include white supremacy as a Klan value.
The authors of the report did not understand that the events that were unfolding in the first years of the national KKK Fraternal Order were driven by financially motivated con artists rather than by genuine ideologues, consequently, they completely misunderstood their topic and what the evidence they were looking at actually indicated. They are like the four year old child who hears mommy moaning at night in bed with daddy and therefore believe that daddy is hurting mommy. They just don’t understand what is happening.
Let us now turn our attention to events subsequent to the arrival of the Kleagles, in Eugene, Oregon in the summer of 1921 to examine why we can feel secure that Professor Dunn was one of the many who disassociated themselves from the local chapter. The first national exposé of the Klan was published on September 6th, 1921, about two months after Dunn presumably would have joined the KKK fraternal order. The World, the New York paper Joseph Pulitzer made famous, ran a front page syndicated series on the Klan over seventeen days. The Seattle Times was one of the papers in the syndicate. The word was being spread among literate people about the KKK’s true nature. As one would expect, the word got to the more literate people in Eugene, Oregon. Of particular interest is the revelation involving the personal lives of Ed Clarke and Bessie Tyler. Although each were married, their partnership extended to the bedroom. In the article the “notorious underworld resort” cited is alternative wording for “brothel.” In other words, Bessie Tyler was operating a house of ill repute. From the September 19, 1921 edition of The World:
Atlanta September 19–The World’s exposure of the Ku Klux took an astounding turn here yesterday when a staff correspondent obtained evidence of the truth of rumors which have long been matters of gossip in Atlanta. This evidence proves that: . . . [a] few days prior to October 31, 1919, Edward Young Clarke of Atlanta, who is at present, by appointment of Imperial Wizard Simmons, the Imperial Kleagle or boss organizer of the Ku Klux Klan, and Mrs. Elizabeth Tyler of Atlanta, who recently, also by appointment and proclamation of Imperial Wizard Simmons, was made Grand Chief of the newly formed women’s division of Kluxsters, were arrested at midnight and in their sleeping garments, in a notorious underworld resort at 185 South Pryor Street, Atlanta, run by Mrs. Tyler, and taken to the city prison, where Clarke was immediately placed in a cell and where Mrs. Tyler, after being searched, was also locked up.
In October of 1921, the World also published an article that revealed that Ed Clarke had been convicted in an Ecclesiastical Court of the Methodist Church of convincing the elders of the church to invest $151,986 in almost worthless stock and was expelled many years earlier.(Laackman)
Investigation of the operations of the office in Atlanta would eventually reveal that Simmons had very little to do while being kept in a state of contentment by the provision of a generous new salary, as well as a generous supply of liquor by Clarke, a rather duplicitous activity. The Klan was supposed to be a stalwart supporter of Prohibition. (Laackman)
An example in Eugene of the educated public’s understanding of the Klan’s nature and dishonest marketing methods is included in the January 13, 1922, the Eugene Guard opinion piece reflecting the revelations of the World’s Expose of the Klan which included the following:
. . . many are temporarily misled and in the end embarrassed by subscribing to something they did not understand.
. . . but those who are really earnest in the movement aim their thrusts at members of the Catholic Church … [emphasis added]
…the present movement seems to be a by-product of a great war which left many persons in an excited and abnormal frame of mind. The originators saw vast financial benefits to accrue from the initiation of thousands of klansmen, and the prison records of several members of the imperial council, including one notorious woman, recently printed in the New York World, is proof that only a desire for ‘easy money’ prompted the resurrection of the ghostly Klan. Like its predecessors, it will pass away in due time and most of those inveigled into it will try to forget that they were so easily duped.
Word of the World’s syndicated series and other newspaper exposés began arriving in Eugene. We know that by early January 1922, because of the tone of this piece, that in Eugene, it was generally known that, to some degree, the KKK was a financially motivated hustle and a corrupt and hypocritical organization.
We can now understand the strange case that involves the heritage of the Eugene Register Guard, long the only daily paper operating in Eugene. After the Twenties, writers, some of whom wrote for the Eugene Register Guard, noted that at the predecessor Eugene Guard, Henry Shelton was the publisher and an active Klansman, while Chas H. Fisher the editor, wrote editorials attacking the Klan. In light of my research and analysis, this understanding of the past is incorrect. Just as in the assumed story of Fredrick Dunn running the Klan, this other story isn’t true either, Henry Shelton, like Fredrick Dunn, dropped out within a matter of months after learning what the KKK was about. His story directly ties to Dunn’s. Here is the explanation:
Like Dunn, Henry Shelton was among the first to sign up for Klan membership when the national fraternal order was being created and had a blank slate and the Kleagles first came to Eugene in the summer of 1921. The Kleagles had not yet been exposed as frauds on the national scene and had presented themselves as legitimate people who were law abiding, patriotic and supportive of the new law of Prohibition. Shelton would have joined believing their representations, or he even might have joined solely to investigate the KKK, or for both reasons. Sometime before January of 13, 1922, Henry Shelton had learned that at least the senior KKK leadership was lead by hypocritical and financially corrupt individuals, and that the KKK organization as a whole was riddled with enormous problems of religious bigotry and hypocrisy. By January 13th of 1922, the KKK in Oregon had become anti-Catholic as part of their statewide scheme to expand membership, involve themselves in politics and create opportunities for graft. The content of this editorial published in the Eugene Guard demonstrates that the Kleagles in Eugene had begun pushing anti-Catholic bigotry as a part of that scheme.
The Kleagles were the “most earnest” in the movement. It was their full time profession. They were utilizing anti-Catholicism as a calculated and cynical promotional tactic. When on January 13, 1922 Chas. Fisher wrote “. . . but those who are really earnest in the movement aim their thrusts at members of the Catholic Church…”, he was referring to the Kleagles. Chas. Fisher began writing his editorials against the Klan after learning about what was going on within the local chapter from Henry Shelton, who had obtained his information first hand. Shelton dropped out of the local chapter because he had information that the KKK was corrupt, vile and not as initially represented. He was then in a position to warn the community through Chas Fisher and the Eugene Guard newspaper about the nature of the Klan.
It is inconceivable that the crooked Kleagles would have tolerated Shelton as a member of their organization once his own newspaper began blasting the local KKK chapter. I now realize that writers who wrote in later years about the seemingly odd case of a small newspaper that had a publisher who was an active member of the local KKK chapter while his own paper’s editor was publishing editorials against it simply didn’t know the history of the KKK Fraternal Order and how it operated.
In a comparatively small community of about 10,000 people, such as Eugene, Oregon. The movers and shakers tend to know and interact with each other to some degree. As a boy, Fredrick Dunn, the son of Eugene’s second mayor was around the famous UO Professor Thomas Condon and learned from him. Men like Dunn and Shelton and Huntington would have been in contact with each other, they were all associated with the initial Klan chapter. What Shelton knew would have also been known by Dunn and Huntington and discussed among these upright citizens and they too, would have dropped out.
We have the writing of Harry Crain from the fall of 1922 on what happened in Eugene and throughout the state of Oregon regarding the KKK. How did Harry Crain obtain his information about what actually happened in Eugene? Harry Crain was a reporter. He talked with people in Eugene. It would have been natural for one newspaperman to talk to another in a given community. Shelton and Fisher were likely sources for Harry Crain. Dunn may have even been a source. Dunn’s name is on the second list, although clearly, he would have separated from the local chapter before the second list was discovered in a field after a KKK rally in the summer of 1922. Crain may have specifically been thinking about Dunn when he called attention to the fact that there were individuals whose names were on lists who had in fact dropped out.
This point was especially brought home to me when I reviewed the names on the second list and compared it to the names on the first list. Only a tiny percentage of the names on the second list are on the first list, the list that relates to the initial members of the KKK Eugene chapter.
Crain made a point of calling the individuals who comprised the first group of recruits, which would include Dunn, victims of the Klan. The Kleagle con artists had come to Eugene and misrepresented what they were selling. This type of activity was going all over the country. Almost all of the members on the second list were new members, so their names did not appear on the first list. As the original members realized that they had been the victims of a con, almost all of them dropped out.
Why would Dunn’s name appear on the second list (July 1922) when we know to a virtual certainty that he would have separated from the Klan chapter several months earlier, if not many months earlier? I write this because I believe it to be impossible that Fredrick Dunn was leading or even associated with an organization that was claiming that the UO was a predatory Catholic institution, run by secret Jesuit priests and comprised of mostly Catholic faculty and students, in order to con gullible people out of some of their money. On the first list Dunn’s name is toward the beginning of the list and on the second list his name is towards the end surrounded by new members. This suggests what I suspect to be true: Dunn’s membership was at least largely, if not entirely honorary, in nature, and that he had a very limited involvement with the Klan during his brief association. This would have put the crooked Kleagles in a position to deceive new recruits into believing that he was still an active member. Since Dunn’s reputation as Exalted Cyclops had been used to promote the initial local organization, when he dropped out in its first year, it would have been in the Kleagles’ interests to deceive the newly recruited “lesser lights” that he was still a member. To do otherwise would have been awkward. The article involving the Medford Klansman J.E. Edmiston, who had trouble presenting his withdrawal to the membership after he became disaffected demonstrates how the Kleagles were quite willing to misrepresent membership status.
Among the solid citizens and many other people, the fact that widely respected people such as Fredrick Dunn and Shy Huntington had been victimized by financially motivated con men was known. Understandably, people didn’t rub their noses in it by publicly by writing about it and naming names. The names had already been published in newspapers by the summer of 1922. When Dunn’s and Huntington’s names were published on the lists in the summer of 1922, if someone were not already aware of what had happened to them and made inquiry, Dunn or Huntington or someone else would have clarified the matter. That’s why no one was concerned about it when Dunn was honored in 1962. If someone had brought up the issue of Dunn and the KKK in 1962, those promoting Dunn had a living connection to the actual history and would have explained what in reality had happened. They knew the fraternal order was an elephant fish and that Dunn had been victimized.
The same applies to Huntington. It has been noted that Huntington’s KKK fraternal membership was known, but yet it had never been a concern to the community. Yes, it was known but the community had indeed nothing to be concerned about. Shy Huntington’s membership had been obtained by misrepresentation, and he dropped out. We know that because had the head football coach at the University of Oregon been a member of an organization that was hustling the “lesser lights” of the community out of money by claiming that the UO was run by “Secret Jesuit priests,” that would have been of enormous concern to the community.
By the late 1960’s and subsequently, there were black students and faculty at the UO who were aware that Dunn had been an Exalted Cyclops of the KKK. The KKK they thought about was the first and third KKK both which were hostile and violent and acted to prevent black citizens from achieving full rights. They erroneously assumed that Dunn’s involvement with the 1920’s KKK reflected this type of racial hatred or disparagement on his part. It didn’t. In fact, the fraternal order KKK in Eugene, in 1921, was not concerned with black/white relationships.
The understanding of people in the late 1960’s of the word KKK was focused on that of their own current events, the third KKK, not that of Dunn and the 1920’s. Most of us see the world through our own lenses and our own lenses are usually our own times. By the year 2016, almost all Americans, lacking an understanding of history simply mush the three organizations together into one lump in their minds and make false assumptions about the past.
There is another reason that newspapers throughout the state of Oregon didn’t write as much about the Klan during 1922, 1923, and 1924 as one might otherwise expect. This was the period of the ascendancy of the Klan in Oregon. Throughout most of the state, newspapers who published articles hostile to the Klan did so at their financial peril. One of the Klan’s power plays was to damage newspapers who wrote unfriendly articles and editorials by organizing subscription cancellations and advertising boycotts. By not writing about the Klan, newspapers avoided financial threats and in at least a relative sense, maintained their integrity. After the power of the Klan was broken, the Klan ceased to be news and became history. Newspapers generally write about current news and events, not history.
The Capital Journal in Salem was an exceptional paper in that it openly attacked the KKK both with frequency and with articles of penetrating depth. Portland was the center of Klan activity in the state. As a paper that catered to the local Salem retailers who competed with the Portland retailers, it’s editor had a loyal group of advertisers who resisted pressures to boycott the newspaper, allowing it to openly oppose the KKK.
It is important to note that those who honored Dunn twenty five years after his death did so because of his character, and his character is inconsistent with operating the Eugene chapter of the KKK. The KKK chapter, like the other KKK chapters in Oregon, in 1921 and 1922, was a financially driven fraud operated and controlled by the Kleagles.
If exposure of the organization as a financial fraud wasn’t enough to cause Professor Dunn to drop his membership by the fall of 1921, subsequent events would have been. By January 1922, the KKK began a state-wide political campaign utilizing Anti-Catholicism. When the Kleagles came to Eugene in the summer of 1921, they were marketing the Klan as Anti-Catholic. On a state-wide basis, the Klan by January 1922 began promoting Anti-Catholic stories to generate fear as part of its political activities and as a means of attracting members. As Crain notes, the initial KKK attitude to the UO was friendly. Not surprising in that the original honorary chapter head probably was Fredrick Dunn, the head of the Classics Department. Crain notes that the Klan never made much progress on the UO campus. Only a matter of months, not years, into their presence on campus, the KKK began to attack the UO. When you realize what that attack consisted of, any doubt about the Historians’ report being a laughable failure is eliminated.
Let’s read what Crain wrote :
The most damaging result of the Klan in Eugene, however, has been the disruption of the unity with which the community stood behind the University of Oregon. Previous to the entrance of the Klan the entire community was as a unit in support of the university and its activities and needs. Nor was this cooperative spirit impaired immediately by the establishment of the Klan in the city. At first the Klan catered to the university faculty members and students and succeeded in enrolling a few of them as members, but their meager success there, coupled with reports that university official were openly discouraging affiliation of students or faculty members with the Klan acted to place the school in disfavor with the knights of the Knightie. Condemnation of the university as a pro-Catholic institution employing mostly Catholic instructors and attended largely by Catholic students has been consistently voiced by the klansmen ever since. The fact that less than 5 percent of the instructors and fewer than 7 per cent of the students at the university are Catholics is carefully concealed by the pillow cased propagandists, who continue to berate the university for the alleged pro-Catholicism of the students it turns out and the purported Catholic sympathies of its administrative officers. Carefully analyzed, their opposition to the university appears to be based on the fact that it has refused to be Ku Kluxed, and that a goodly share of those fighting the Klan throughout the state are former university students.
Now let’s add to Crain’s observations the May 15, 1922 letter the report cites that was written by Dean Sheldon, but we’ll cite a portion of the letter which the Historians left out of their report: “As is usual in such cases the wildest rumors are afloat. A large number of faculty members are supposed to be Jesuits in disguise. The whole thing is very silly and yet is likely to have considerable influence in the next year or so.”
The Historians here missed two critical points that the letter reveals:
- The letter actually indicates that Dunn separated from the KKK months earlier because of the fact that the Dean has such little information about Dunn and involvement with the Klan. The Historians’s report can’t be correct when it claims that Dunn is openly running the Klan chapter. If he had been, he would have been doing this through almost the entire academic year of 1921-1922 which, by May 15, 1922, was almost over. Even if he had been attempting to operate the chapter in private, we know that large numbers of disaffected initial recruits of WW1 Veterans and Masons would be verbally bashing the Klan and its members in the community. By January of 1922, the Eugene Guard has begun exposing the corruption and anti-Catholic attitude of the Klan. The University only had about 150 regular faculty members at this time. If Professor Dunn was going about claiming the University was run by Secret Jesuit priests, and comprised almost completely of Catholic students and faculty, this would surely have generated a great deal of discussion about Dunn and the Klan.
- The Dean in his letter only states that it “is said to be” that our “old friend, the head of the Classics Department” is the “president” of the organization. If Dunn had been openly operating, directing and promoting the local chapter all year long, there would have been specific references such as “Dunn talked to Fred, or Bob or myself about joining” or references to his defending the chapter against accusations, etc. The fact that the Dean is writing on May 15, 1922, after allegedly an almost entire academic year of this activity by Professor Dunn, only that he “is said to be” rather than specific knowledge about what Professor Dunn actually had been doing, indicates a brief relationship that had been terminated early on. The Historians would have us believe that Professor Dunn had been openly heading an organization all academic year which began claiming by January of that academic year that the UO was run by secret Jesuit priests. This would have drawn sharp attention.
The report clearly, illogically, and improperly misuses the evidence from the Dean’s letter. It states:
Because of newspaper exposés his membership in the Ku Klux Klan was well known by the Summer of 1922. In a letter to Joseph Schafer, a former University of Oregon faculty member who had become director of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, from Henry D. Sheldon, dean of the UO School of Education, Sheldon confides: “. . . several of the members of our august faculty have joined its ranks. In fact, the president of it is said to be our old friend, the head of the Latin Department . . .” Schafer responded after reading an article about the Oregon Klan in a Madison, Wisconsin, newspaper, “I personally feel that men who participate in a movement of that kind have forgotten a good deal of recent history.
What the Historians have done here represents the misuse of evidence. Here a letter is presented as being the reaction of Dean Sheldon to Professor Dunn’s name being included on published membership lists in the summer of 1922. It wasn’t a reaction to Professor Dunn’s name being published on the list and it couldn’t have been. The letter is dated May 15, 1922 (this is during the spring before the lists were published). This demonstrates why establishing a time line is crucial for analysis and why the Historians’s failure to do so exploded in their faces.
The letter actually provides enormous evidence that Dunn disassociated from the chapter long before May 15, 1922. Dean Sheldon would have had a large amount of information from multiple sources if Dunn at that late date had an active relationship with the Klan. The Dean clearly doesn’t know what is going on as of May 15, 1922. That Dean Sheldon didn’t have this information strongly indicates that Dunn had disassociated much earlier. That the Dean used the term “President” as a title for chapter head further demonstrates his lack of knowledge about the organization in that “President” is not actually a term used by KKK to designate a chapter head. Interestingly, Marcia Weisiger used the same improper title in her presentation at one point to designate Professor Dunn’s position within the Fraternal Order.
After Dunn’s name was published as being on the membership lists during the summer of 1922, what did the Dean write about Dunn? Nothing. What do we hear from any other Dean, faculty member, student, politician or community member or any then living human about Professor Dunn and the Klan? Nothing, apparently for the next 70 years, nothing but silence, not even when he’s honored forty years later. Seventy years later, Historian Toy publishes an article, and after expending almost no effort on research or analysis, erroneously claims Dunn operated the Klan for years. Had Toy’s story had even a small amount of truth to it, there would have been much comment that would have generated a large amount of documentary evidence.
The complete silence that followed the publication of Dunn’s name on the two membership lists during the summer of 1922 proves that Professor Dunn was one of the original victims of the crooked Kleagle salesmen. There was nothing to discuss. The University community and the solid citizens of Eugene knew what had happened. The fact is, Americans generally don’t study history and today misunderstand what the Fraternal Order of the Klan was and how it was marketed by crooks.
THE SECRET JESUIT PRIESTS REVEAL THE TRUTH! The Klan claimed that the UO was actually run by secret Jesuits. Married men with children were actually secret Jesuit priests and the majority of UO faculty and students were Catholic. Implicit was the notion that Catholics were a threat because they were fifth columnists of a foreign Pope, and the university was in the clutches of wicked and threatening Catholics who made up most of the faculty and staff. And all were being controlled by such men as that deeply underground secret Jesuit Priest, Prince Lucien Campbell, President of the University of Oregon.
The story of Prince Lucien Campbell, secret Jesuit Priest, is one of those stories that never made The New York Times, nor even the local Eugene papers. The son of a Protestant Minister who served as President of Christian College in Monmouth, OR, he concealed his identity as a Jesuit Priest through a lifetime pretense that he was a Protestant. Married twice, having children and step children, he maintained deep cover. Naturally, many of the other married deans and faculty were part of this underground cell.
So, according to the Historians’s report that Michael Schill has been promoting, Professor Dunn was openly going about and controlling an organization which claimed that the U of O was run by a secret cabal of Jesuit priests and the majority of the student body were in cahoots. The report doesn’t mention that the Fraternal Order was a fraudulent organization, but it does tell us that Professor Dunn was running it openly for several years. No evidence is provided by the historians to support this assertion other than quoting the earlier historian Toy, who also had no evidence and indeed couldn’t have had such evidence because Dunn was never in control of the Klan nor even associated with the Klan during most of this time period.
If you read what Toy wrote, you will see that he intentionally uses language that implies that he has an in-depth understanding of Dunn and his relationship with the KKK. He states that Dunn was an early and ardent supporter of the Klan. The documentation that exists supports the early, but not the ardent. Toy must believe that the Kleagle list that includes Dunn as a chapter head demonstrates that he is ardent. But that is incorrect. On page 165 of his “Robe and Gown,” he writes, “Once organized and under the leadership of Exalted Cyclops Fredrick S. Dunn. . .”. Here again, Toy is relying on the fact that Dunn had a title of chairman to establish that he is the leader. However, what Laackman explicitly tells us is going on nationally, and an understanding reading of Crain confirms is going on in Oregon, the Kleagles were always running things in the early periods of the Klan’s existence and they had enormous financial incentives to remain as the ones running things for extended periods and they did.
Now, we have established that Toy and the Historians have all misunderstood the difference between being conferred a title and “running things.” It is important also to note that the Historians’s report does not organize events tightly along a time line, another critical failure on their part. So, with this in mind, let’s look at a number of things in a new light.
The Historians who wrote the report on Dunn are not aware of the central role that financial graft played in the formation of the Eugene Klan and the Klan throughout Oregon. They never mention it in their report. The best primary source material, the news articles written by reporter Harry Crain, repeatedly emphasized how the Kleagles were using the Fraternal Order to obtain money from their members by graft. Over and over again, the Historians demonstrate that they brought their preconceptions to the research and, rather than learn from the primary source material, select only the information supporting their preconceptions.
This lack of awareness was an important factor that led to their misinterpretation of the evidence they were looking at and having to spend a great deal of their severely limited time looking at matters that were irrelevant to the assigned task of analyzing Dunn and the Klan. Had they payed serious attention to the most important contemporaneous commentator who lived and wrote about the Oregon Klan during the 1920’s, Harry Crain, they could have saved themselves a great deal of embarrassment. They could have easily done so since Crain is clearly the most important primary source of information on the Oregon Klan, his writing is extensive, penetratingly insightful, and fun to read! If anyone has any doubts about what I write in this report, I encourage them to read the series in the September through early November 1922 Capital Journal to be convinced.
Unfortunately, rather than utilize Crain’s insights, his writing is only used to bolster the historians’ preexisting ignorance and prejudice with such quotes as, “Bigotry and prejudice, suspicion and discord, strife and hate are the returns Eugene and Lane County people have realized on their investment in the Ku Klux Klan.” True, but this offers little more insight into the dynamic of what is actually happening than chanting , “KKK bad, bad KKK.” The Historians were so misdirected by their ignorance and tendentious viewpoint that they also failed to realize the need to seriously study the man Dunn beyond superficial biographical data, a very important misstep on their part. He did leave a record, and that record indicates clearly that, far from being a racist or religious bigot, he was a racial progressive and a very ecumenical individual.
Professor Dunn’s ecumenical and racial views are clear from the life he lived. His high functioning ecumenical views are eloquently expressed in a sermon entitled, ” Sanity And Insanity In Religion.” He delivered this address in his church in Eugene, reported in He would have abhorred religious harassment of Catholics or any other religious group. See Morning Register, Feb. 11,1912
The confusion caused by conflating the first and the second KKK’s is evidenced by individuals who reason (including report Historian Marcia Weisiger) that, because of the showing of the movie “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915, individuals who subsequently joined the fraternal order KKK, believed that they were joining an organization that had the same values and activities of the first KKK. In fact, watching this movie, if anything, would actually prove the opposite. The story told in the “Birth of a Nation” is a romanticized version of the actual first KKK, which was comprised of violent, abusive homegrown groups of vigilantes. The movie is indeed very fraudulent, condescending and insulting portrayal of black Americans, but equally fraudulent in its portrayal of the KKK as a collection of noble individuals who defend their community from the ravages of a corrupt and incompetent government imposed upon the defeated southerners by the North. In the movie, unlike in real history, the KKK never lynched or physically abused a black American so as to re-subjugate them to white control. The movie even includes a scene where a “faithful soul,” a local black woman, attacks a guard so that a white Klansman can escape from the military-established government. In the original promotion of the Fraternal Order of the Klan, Mr. Simmons, the creator of the Fraternal Order KKK, used the popularity of the movie, which was a great technical achievement in movie making, to promote his new Fraternal Order. He was relying on the mythical history of the Klan presented in this movie to promote his fraternal organization that, over a period of the next five years, from 1915 to mid 1920, achieved a membership of only a few thousand located mostly in Georgia and Alabama. This would relate to the time period of 1915 to mid 1920.
According to the reasoning of those who believe that the showing of this movie has great significance, when the Kleagles arrived in essentially all white Eugene, Oregon, in 1921, they were asking local people who had seen this movie to join an organization that would fight the corrupt federal government that had been imposed on them after their defeat in the civil war. This never happened. Oregon was never a part of the Confederacy. The movie viewers who saw the movie six years before couldn’t have believed such a thing. As an alternative line of reasoning, the movie viewers theory of history might have been that in 1921, because of the movie, they were going to be joining an imitation of the actual original KKK of the post Civil War, a vigilante group dedicated violently to deny the local blacks their rights or otherwise repress them. The problem with this reasoning is that there essentially were no blacks in Eugene, in 1921 and only about 2,000 blacks in the entire state. This makes no sense. The reasoning fails.
The national fraternal order of the KKK of the 1920’s, although originating in the South, had a largely non Southern membership and non Southern concerns, especially when being marketed outside the South. There is a very clear explanation as to what was happening in the minds of the citizens of Eugene when the sales representatives of the lawfully incorporated (and with federally copyrighted regalia and rituals) new fraternal order of the KKK invited them to become members in the summer of 1921. It isn’t difficult to grasp. They believed correctly that they were joining a perfectly lawful new fraternal order. It was being represented as supporting the new federal Prohibition law, and was opposed to vice and corruption. Yes, imagine that. When they joined a lawfully-incorporated, with regalia and rituals that had been copyrighted under federal law, fraternal order, they believed they were joining a lawful fraternal order! There was no discussion involving black citizens;blacks weren’t actually a part of this narrative. The citizens did not believe that they were joining a post Civil War southern band of vigilantes or the equivalent when they became members of a new fraternal order in Eugene, Oregon in the summer of 1921.
That the Historians would suggest they did, demonstrates their own ignorance, not the violent racist tendencies of Professor Dunn and many other honorable citizens of Eugene.
The Historians posed the possibility that when crosses were burned on Skinner’s Butte that this might have represented terrorism. This is silly. The purpose was to advertise, not terrorize. Descriptions of the events often illustrated the openness of the events. If they were intended to terrorize, who was being terrorized? Why are there no reports of people being terrorized? The initial members include one or more medical doctors. Was Dr. X going to whip Mrs. O’Malley and then hand her some ointment for her skin, and then tell her to come by the office in a day or two?
By January of 1922 or earlier, the KKK sales representatives had been revealed to be disingenuous in regard to the direction and use they intended for this new fraternal order. Their actual intentions were to separate the “lesser light” members from some of their money by sponsoring anti-Catholic legislation and political activity, not to engage in violent terrorist activities against anyone. The objective evidence indicates that, upon learning ofthe direction that those who were leading the fraternal order were going, almost all of the initial members dropped out.
I offer my own personal testimony to this commentary. I was born in Eugene, Oregon and was raised here. Eugene then was also a very white community. For many years as a young child, I was taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Parsons to be cared for. Mr. Parsons played on the 1917 Rose Bowl team with Shy Huntington, whose name appeared on the first list of Klan members. During my many, many hours spent with them, I never heard any racial references or hatred directed towards anyone for any reason. This experience is representative of my entire childhood in Eugene. I never heard adults making racist remarks, with one exception. I have a distinct memory of being offended the one time during my childhood that I heard an adult make a joke deprecating blacks. This came from a man who had recently moved to Eugene from the southern US. I appreciate that some people in Eugene might easily have held what we might call racist views, but it wasn’t something they thought about, or were concerned with, or acted on. Why would they in an essentially all-white community? I also never heard disparaging remarks about Mongolian horsemen or Australian Aborigines.
With this in mind, I personally find it laughable that anyone in a very white Eugene of 1921 would want to join a new fraternal order because it was promoting “white supremacy.” What would the members do at the meetings? Sit around hour after hour, week after week, telling each other how superior they were? Wouldn’t that become very boring, very quickly? After such an endlessly boring meeting, wouldn’t many a Klan member feel driven to drink? But alas, this fraternal order was dedicated to Prohibition.
We see that those who advocate the “movie” theory of history are searching for fools gold, because they’ve mistaken an elephant fish for an elephant. Those who initially joined the Fraternal Order of the KKK in Eugene during the second half of 1921 believed that they were joining a lawful fraternal order with copyrighted regalia and rituals. In this respect these new members were correct. Their mistake was in believing that it was being run by people with legitimate and honorable intentions towards their own members and society at large. In reality, those initial members, including Professor Dunn were victims of crooked sales people, the Kleagles of the KKK fraternal order.
Unlike the original KKK, the fraternal order KKK, after it became a large national organization in 1921, wasn’t very concerned about black Americans. It was primarily concerned about other matters on a national basis, the most important of which was support for Prohibition. In this respect, the mythical history presented in the movie “The Birth of a Nation” would support the fraternal order KKK’s purported concern with supporting Prohibition and opposing vice. The bootleggers and pimps are the corrupters of the government and the police. Even honest policeman and government officials are overwhelmed by the task of dealing with mass violation of the law.
Eugene had a small number of policemen in the 1920’s attempting to deal with all forms of law violators. How could they deal with the thousands who were violating the Volstead Act? An organization of concerned citizens who kept tabs on and reported the illegal alcohol dealers would be essential to the success of the law. In this respect, the movie could indeed serve as an inspiration to join the Fraternal Order of the KKK: Not to join a racist vigilante organization, but to join a new lawful fraternal order committed to support the new law of Prohibition.
Of the initial members of the national fraternal order of the KKK, many were policemen. An incident in Englewood, California, in which KKK members went after a purported bootlegger, resulted in the shooting death of a Klansman by a police officer. That Klansman was an off duty policeman. The resulting investigation revealed a membership list that included Professor Dunn’s name and other lists that included the names of the L.A. City Police Chief and L.A. County Sheriff who had briefly been KKK members. Their membership had been obtained because of their interest in fighting bootleggers, not their racial views. This list is one of the four pieces of evidence that link Professor Dunn to this fraternal order.
Even in the South during this period, the KKK chapters weren’t focused on black/white relationships for the inverse reason that Eugene residents wouldn’t have signed up for membership because of an interest in white supremacy. Before, during and after the rise and fall of the Fraternal Order of the KKK, white southerners were maintaining a racially segregated dominant position over blacks with a potential for violence always present. As the black owned Tribune of Savannah, Georgia, wrote in an editorial published on July 13, 1922:
The evidence is that in the South the Ku Klux are not bothering with the Negroes. The naked truth is that when a band of lynchers sets out to kill a negro they do not take the trouble to mask. They do not think it necessary to join a secret society, pay initiation fees and buy regalia when Negroes are the quarry. (Coben)
This editorial is unfortunately supported, for example, by a front page article in the Eugene Guard on May 6, 1922 graphically describing the killing of a group of blacks accused of murdering a seventeen year old girl in Texas. The killers do so without bothering to conceal their identities.
“The Invisible Empire in the West,” the collection of writings that includes Eckard Toy’s contribution on the KKK in Eugene in the 1920’s, also includes Christopher Cocoltcho’s contribution describing the KKK in Anaheim, CA during the 1920’s. The primary focus of that Klan chapter’s activities was the support of Prohibition. In Indianapolis, Indiana, as was often the case, the Klan represented the political “outs”. In 1925 the KKK candidates successfully took control of the school board and put into action the building of new public schools for the children of Indianapolis, hardly a violent racist activity. Because the KKK Fraternal Order was marketed by different people, telling different stories of what the KKK was to different people, there was a variety of understandings regarding what this new fraternal order was and wasn’t. When over time, control subsequently shifted to the local chapters from the Kleagles, these differences resulted in further variations of what an individual chapter represented. As a result, it is necessary to examine Klan chapters on both a regional and individual basis and at what period it is in the evolution of the chapter to truly understand what a Klan chapter believed in and/or activities it was involved with. In addition, there are a variety of motivations that would induce an individual to join a particular chapter, but that is beyond the scope of this commentary.
In a recent presentation, Marsha Weisiger demonstrated her lack of subject matter competency by making this 1915 showing of “Birth of a Nation evidence” a central part of her embarrassing presentation. I say embarrassing because, at my own expense, I had purchased for her a copy of Laackman’s book as a gift and provided her with extensive analysis that demonstrated how flawed her report was months before her presentation, including an explanation as to why the “movie” evidence was invalid. Warned months in advance that she was peddling “Professor Dunn claimed that Prince Lucien Campbell was a secret Jesuit priest nonsense,” she continued to present her false history to the public. She informed me immediately before her presentation that she hadn’t had time to read the materials provided her. Nonetheless, she did find time to continue to promote her false history. The sad thing about anyone who tries to use such “evidence” as the 1915 movie showing is that it demonstrates their lack of knowledge of their subject matter–critical reasoning skills.
Crain’s articles on the Eugene Klan formation make very clear that, when the sales representatives of the new nationally marketed fraternal order first came to Eugene, they did not promote the KKK as a racist organization, they actually promoted it as a patriotic and active supporter of law and order, hence a supporter of Prohibition. This is exactly what someone who was conversant with the Fraternal Order of the Klan formation would expect. Eugene serves as only one of countless examples of what the Klan sales representatives were doing across America.
The new national fraternal order KKK was being promoted as a supporter of law and order and hence Prohibition. This is the exact opposite of the earlier vigilante groups in the South who were lawless violent criminals. It is the most important aspect of the Fraternal Order of the Klan and it is essential to understanding the KKK in Eugene and throughout Oregon. The Kleagles were financially motivated con men who were pandering to whatever like or dislike they could use from their checklist of potential Klan attributes to get the locals to sign up and hand over money for membership fees, gowns, regalia and to be available to be tapped for special assessments. They were insincere in what they were promoting. They are the opposite of what Dunn was, and they were the ones running things, not Dunn. Dunn was never in control or directing the activities of the KKK in Eugene.
Professor Dunn had to have either dropped out early or stayed in. How did the report deal with this critical issue? Its authors didn’t even recognize that it existed! Instead, it falsely claimed that the authors knew that Dunn was running the organization for years and offered false proof by citing A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 by Elizabeth McLagan. This book does not support such a claim and doesn’t even mention Professor Dunn! When I brought this to Ms. Weisiger’s attention, she stated that the citation was for “background information.” I then stated that the agreed upon evidence could only support a relationship during the first year. She had no response, then or in the following weeks and months. I personally find that very, very, peculiar indeed. I had urged her to call me and told her that her report an F grade.
It is worth noting here Marsha Weisiger’s appalling lack of understanding of the history involving Dunn. During her presentation, she referred to the Spring 1922 editorial published in the student newspaper, the Oregon Daily Emerald, in which the Emerald opined that the UO was no place for organizations such as the Klan. A woman in the audience asked her if the students of that time were aware that he was running the Klan. She responded that she didn’t know. In that Dunn never “ran the Klan,” they never knew it and, therefore naturally didn’t include it in the editorial, as we would have expected the students to do if Dunn in fact had been controlling the Klan. I say appalling lack of understanding because if she were familiar with her own report, she should have remembered that it favorably quoted Toy, stating that: “According to Eckard Toy, he made no secret of his dual role as college professor and Klansman.” If that were the case and he were indeed running the Klan, then the students would have known it and almost certainly commented on it. That they didn’t comment, is one more proof that he had no association with this new fraternal order in May of 1922.
Nowhere in the report is there evidence that shows any connection between Dunn and the local KKK chapter that’s longer than a matter of months, beginning with creation of the local chapter in July of 1921.
There are only four pieces of evidence that connect Dunn with local KKK chapter. These are:
- An undated list that lists Exalted Cyclopes from several communities, including Dunn;
- A membership list that came out of investigation at the regional headquarters in L.A. in April of 1922, the contents of which were released to the public, after Dean Sheldon’s letter of May 15, 1922 was written;
- A membership list that was dropped and left behind after an initiation ceremony in the summer of 1922;
- The letter from Dean Sheldon dated May 15, 1922.
Marcia Weisiger examined Dunn’s scrap books and said initially that records regarding the Klan were missing. Later, Marcia Weisiger acknowledged that no records had been removed. The reason that there are no records regarding the Fraternal Order of the KKK in Professor Dunn’s records is because he had almost no relationship with this fraternal order. Shouldn’t the finding of no records have stimulated some thinking along the lines of”no relationship ?”
Here we see what the Historians and Michael Schill are claiming and what they would have us believe: the KKK Kleagles are financial con men, if in fact they convinced Dunn to “run things” it means that they were able to get him to join in their scheme and to operate a financial fraud ring. This fraud ring, as is often common in many fraud schemes, when it first arrived in Eugene (as in other locations) put on its best face and presented itself as an honorable, forthright organization. It represented itself as a supporter of Prohibition and anti-vice and convinced many honorable people like Dunn to join it by engaging in misrepresentation. So Professor Dunn has for some unexplained reason decided that, despite his overloaded schedule, he would like to earn some extra money by joining the con game and begin conning people out of some of their money by running the local KKK chapter.
The people who are being conned out of their money are the “lesser lights” of the community, according to Crain. Professor Dunn goes about the community in search of the gullible, and convinces them that the University of Oregon in particular and society in general are under the threat of the evil Papist Catholics. He does this by claiming that UO is run by “secret Jesuit priests,” and that the student body and faculty are almost all Catholic. No doubt, that as head of the Classics Department at the University of Oregon, he is well positioned to appear to be a very credible authority on the subject of secret Jesuit Priests and their control of the University. Professor Dunn is not saying these things because he believes them but, rather, he is saying these things to manipulate the “lesser lights” out of some of their money.
The silliness of what the Historians report claims is revealed by logically applying its reasoning to the real world and observing the hilarious results:
The educated and prominent members of the community know that Dunn is running this hypocritical con game and they never mention it. It’s reasonable therefore to assume that while they are not participating in the scam themselves, they think it’s a laugh a minute!I can well imagine them passing Professor Dunn as he walks about in public shouting, “Hey Dunn, how many did you con this week?” He might have cheerily responded, “only a couple, but with the upcoming campaign there’s going to be plenty of loot that I am going to suck out of those idiots!”
Likewise, at his weekly attendance at the Methodist Episcopal Church, which emphasizes respect for all, regardless of station, the other members must have been willing to overlook this financially-motivated misconduct that went on for years. No doubt they all enjoyed being regaled by his stories of how he was milking the suckers. Obviously, they treated it as just one big laugh a minute, an endless naughty joke and then went about their activities of trying to be of service to humanity. In fact, they were so comfortable with and admiring of this openly operating con man that, when he died, they hung his portrait in their heritage hall for generations.
The Methodists usually appear in history as sincere, caring people. Who knew that some of their church groups had such a rich, widespread appreciation of dark humor? And, besides, no doubt Dunn’s financial misdeeds allowed him to increase his church offerings so that those in need could benefit from his defrauding of the “lesser lights.”
As Dunn is doing this over the years, he must bifurcate his persona. He must present himself to others forthrightly as the con man that he is or he must, in the alternative, be presenting himself in his role as a con man in action. To demonstrate how this would have worked in real life if it had actually occurred, image the following: The Emerald actually did report that Professor Dunn spent a weekend at the coast as the featured speaker at Friday and Saturday back to back high school graduation ceremonies, and then presented a talk at a local community church on Sunday.
Let’s assume that those who invited Dunn to speak at the High School graduations were looking for the forthright con man as a speaker. His talk to the graduating seniors might easily have focused on looking for alternative opportunities in life such as, “How I fleece gullible dimwits out of money by running the local Klan chapter using religious bigotry against Catholics.” No doubt the graduating seniors would have been enthralled by his recounting of how he had bamboozled countless lesser lights out of their money. How he participated in dog and pony shows that had been well advertised and were free and open to the public in downtown Eugene hotels. How the wide-eyed suckers showed up and were mighty impressed to be hearing from not only the Exalted Cyclops of the local Klan, but the distinguished, well respected citizen of Eugene, the honorable Chairman of the University of Oregon Classics Department, Fredrick Dunn. How he, more than anyone else ever could, was able to convince the suckers of the build up in arms in the basements of the university buildings, the Catholic conspiracies being hatched, and the erotic nights of illicit passion. How he plucked the ten dollar bills from the hands of the suckers, pocketing the four dollar commission for himself. How he and the Kleagles had become active politically in order to have causes to raise money for. How a significant portion of the money they raised they pocketed for themselves. How his colleagues and the students at the UO, even the Catholics, who knew he was running these financially fraudulent scams, were so comfortable with his doing this that not one of them is ever recorded as being unhappy or concerned about it.
Yes, I can well imagine that overwhelmingly the graduating high school students would have wanted to volunteer, even the Catholics, to assist the good Professor Dunn and act as his shills (or Schills if you prefer) at his presentation to the “lesser lights” of the community church on Sunday. No doubt inspired by such thrilling tales of profitable skulduggery, the overwhelming offers of assistance would have required the drawing of lots, with only a lucky few of the graduates being selected to assist. What a rare opportunity to have the chance to work with a seasoned professional con man as Professor Dunn! It must have truly been an inspirational moment for each of the graduates as they commenced their careers as young adults!
An aspiring thespian disguised herself and appeared in the role of “escaped nun” and gave witness to her defilement at the hands of the vile Catholic Churchmen. This was followed by a male graduate (who appeared as himself) and testified as to how he came accidentally, to overhear a sinister Catholic conspiratorial meeting where the overthrow of the entire government was being planned. This was followed by Professor Dunn’s arousing presentation on “Prince Lucien Campbell, his endless erotic nights of passion and wenching with the secret nuns of the University of Oregon and tales of Campbell’s stashing weapons in the basement of Deady Hall for the coming violent takeover of society by the Catholic Church.”
I was able to imagine the above following the reasoning of Michael Schill. Not surprisingly though, I found no evidence in the report or anywhere else of anything like this happening or of Schill’s “prestigious” Historians being in the least aware, if their narrative were true, of what that would actually imply.
The UO administration is discouraging KKK membership and the student newspaper has written an editorial against it in particular and secret organizations in general. The students and the Oregon Daily Emerald know that Dunn is in charge of the local Klan, but this is never mentioned in their editorial or subsequently after his name appeared on the membership lists that had been published in newspapers. There are no letters from the Deans, no complaints about Dunn from Catholic students or faculty, ever. The Catholic Archdiocese never complains about Dunn in its newspaper or anywhere else.
Although names are mentioned in the press regarding specific individuals’ various KKK anti-Catholic activities, those names are never Dunn’s, yet he is supposedly in charge. No editorials or letters to the editors of any newspaper appear about this crooked man, Professor Dunn, who not only promotes religious bigotry, but as the person in charge, is doing it so that he can defraud the gullible out of their money. No examples exist of anyone ever commenting on this in any regard despite the fact that Dunn allegedly continues to do this year after year and everyone knows it or would have known it. No politician ever brings up his name in the legislature to complain about what’s going on. This is kind of weird; at this state owned-and-operated University? No local politician ever brings this matter up. Had the Historians’s report even been remotely true, there should have been a mountain of complaints and comments regarding such goings on, yet not one exists!
Conversely, Dunn and his activities do appear featured in the Emerald on numerous occasions in the early to mid twenties and describe only pleasant mundane activities. His openly operating a violent white supremacist anti Catholic organization goes unremarked. The reason it goes unremarked is obvious: It never happened! There is for example, Professor Dunn’s deliciously ironic interview with an Emerald reporter in which Dunn presented his views on the naming of campus buildings. The Emerald reporter neglects to bring up the Klan. Not surprising in that Dunn’s relationship with the Klan at that point would have consisted of bad mouthing it.
Young men then were not unlike young men now. Had Dunn actually been involved in this nonsense, can you imagine that the young reporter wouldn’t have slipped in at least a few questions such as, “How many nuns does President Campbell wench with every night?” or “Do you think Mrs. Campbell Knows?”or “I’ve looked, I can’t find any of those guns in the basement of Deady: where are they?”
Why is there not one single example anywhere of someone saying, “I talked to Dunn” or Dunn said, “____” or “Fred was talking about Dunn” regarding Klan activities? His name was published in newspapers by the summer of 1922. If he had been involved with the KKK at that point, he would have been asked about it. If he were active at that time, it would have been discussed and documented. No such documentation exists.
Obviously, by the time Dunn’s name appeared in the paper, many people were already aware of what had happened, and those who didn’t know would have asked and found out. A very good man among many others locally was taken advantage of by con men and the community knew about it at the time. Understandably, the community’s assessment of their character at the time was accurate: that this was a nonevent, that it didn’t reflect negatively on them. The Eugene community in 1922 knew what had actually happened and its assessment of Dunn’s character was accurate.
How does the Historians’ report deal with this very important omission of documentation to support their claim that Dunn ran the Klan for years, documentation that should have been available in massive quantities if their narrative were true? How is this enormous and obvious problem with their narrative dealt with by the Historians? What evidence do they offer to explain this problem? They missed it entirely. They don’t even realize it exists.
Anyone who reviews the failed history report on Professor Dunn can review the actual history of the period and start pointing out the endless analytical red flags that jump out.
For example, when in 1926, Robert Robinson and Charles Williams enrolled at the University of Oregon and played on the football team:
- Why isn’t the allegedly rabidly racist Dunn recorded as objecting?
- Shy Huntington had retired as a football coach, but wasn’t he still a big influence and a big supporter of the football team? If his brief relationship with KKK chapter was actually a reflection of racism, how is that Robinson and Williams were recruited?
Another example is Dunn’s Republican Party membership. Toy mentioned that, after failing to take over the Republican party in Lane County during 1922, the KKK chapter succeeded in taking over the Democratic Central Committee in Lane County. Why didn’t Dunn become a Democrat? If Dunn were running the KKK chapter and the KKK chapter took over the local Democratic central committee in a year in which the KKK affiliated candidate for Governor was a Democrat, Dunn almost certainly would have become a Democrat. Why didn’t he? Here again, the report not only offers no answer, but demonstrates its lack of credibility by missing the issue entirely.
In another key “missing in action” analytic point is exhibited by a citation (72) in the report. What is missing in the interview?:
(72) Interview of Frederic Dunn by Ruth Storia, Eugene, Oregon, March 4, 1935, “Frederick Dunn,” University Archives Biographical Files, UA Ref 2, University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives.
Here Professor Dunn, late in his life in 1935, is giving an interview with regard to his own life. What’s missing? The KKK involvement is missing. Why aren’t there hundreds of questions posed by Ms. Storia regarding this activity? The community knew what Dunn’s involvement with the fraternal order KKK was or wasn’t. There were all those disaffected members in the Eugene community who had dropped out in the beginning as well as the fact that, by the second half of 1922, Dunn’s name had been published in two membership lists in public newspapers. If the narrative of the historians were true, Ms. Storia (“and if not Ms. Storia, others”) would have recorded an enormous amount of information about the KKK fraternal order from Dunn.
The reason that neither Ms. Storia, nor others ever sought to interview Frederic Dunn about the KKK chapter in Eugene, was because his involvement was known to be so insignificant. In point of fact, Professor Dunn would have only known little more than the average citizen in Eugene about this fraternal order. The crooked Kleagle salesmen came to town. Following their typical pattern of misrepresenting themselves as legitimate and honorable and misrepresenting what their intentions actually were, they were able to approach Dunn because of his support for Prohibition and opposition to vice and corruption. Knowing the implication of his being a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, they never would have either verbalized or shown any form to him advocating white supremacy. It was a common practice to offer free memberships to prestigious individuals from the local community who became the nominal but not actual chapter heads, known as Exalted Cyclops. It’s quite likely that Dunn’s recruitment would have been completed and documented with only a handshake.
While Crain was writing his series on the Klan in Oregon, he noted that in the first community approached, Jackson County, the fraternal order did represent itself as white supremacist. This attribute was not listed as one of the selling points in Eugene. Dunn would have had very little involvement with Kleagles and within at most a few months he would have disassociated himself from them. He never “ran” the local chapter.
I am offended when I see not only inept research, but clearly misused evidence to reach an unjustified conclusion. For example, the report offers what comes across as damning, emotionally charged evidence:
On August 7, 1921 the Springfield News, upon discovering that the Invisible Empire was organizing in Lane County, published a condemnation of the Klan. The News traced the history of the organization back to the Reconstruction-era South and reminded its readers that Klan violence was suppressed only by the prosecution of many of its members, many of whom were prominent citizens. It then added, “On this account the name [Ku Klux Klan] deserves to be detested by all loyal and law abiding citizens. It is hardly conceivable that any well intentioned citizen should be willing to bear a name which comes down to us tainted with the odor of treason and lawlessness.”
In reality, when one looks at the date of the article, it becomes clear that since the chapter in Eugene has just been established, that the author doesn’t actually know anything about the new fraternal order. Someone writing for the Springfield News in 1921, who doesn’t know anything about the new fraternal order which has just arrived in the area, has described the original use of the term KKK in the 1860’s. He or she then reasoned that the new fraternal order must be bad, because it has the same name. It may or may not turn out to be “bad.” What I am sure of, though, is that this is the writing of someone in Springfield, Or in early Aug of 1921 who doesn’t actually know anything; this writer is merely speculating. The Historians have presented this writing in a manner that implies that what is actually speculation on the part of a then-contemporary writer represents sound insight. It doesn’t. It’s merely speculation. Presented in the context of the report as it was and implying more insight than it actually has, represents the misuse of evidence by them.
Crain is publishing his series on the Oregon Klan in the fall of 1922. Dunn’s name has already appeared on both public lists identified as a member of the KKK fraternal order. Crain has talked to people who would have identified Dunn as the chapter head, if in fact he were. The UO administrators had been actively discouraging membership in the KKK fraternal order and many current and former students are opposed to it. The Historians report states approvingly that, “According to Eckard Toy, he made no secret of his dual role as college professor and Klansman.” However, Toy offers no evidence to support such a statement; yet, the Historians approvingly quote him, even though his work was published 70 years after the events in question, and no primary or other source of evidence exists to support this impossible assertion.
According to the Historians report, everyone knows that Dunn is the chairman of and is operating, the local KKK chapter as it falsely claims that the UO is run by secret Jesuit priests and its’ students and faculty are mostly Catholic. Everyone of any intelligence and substance in the community knows that he is doing this in order to financially defraud the gullible of the local community. He does this while at the same time that he is employed as the very well respected chairman of the Classics Department of the University of Oregon. How do the Historians deal with the fact that, unlike what any rational person would expect, neither Crain nor anyone else is recorded as making a comment on this bizarre story for seventy years? They don’t see the problem.
Had Dunn been running the local Klan to hustle money from these gullible members, Crain would have known this by virtue of his contact with members who dropped out and almost certainly would have, as result, commented on this. He didn’t comment on it because Dunn was no longer even the honorific chapter head. The head of the Classics Department had to be either one of the original members of the chapter who were victims and dropped out or he had become a conscious calculating conman. That Crain, writing in the fall of 1922, does not point to and call out Professor Dunn is conclusive evidence that Dunn is one of the victims who dropped out. Had he become one of the conscious con men, Crain would have known about it. He would have written about this strange Professor Dunn who was leading the hustling KKK con games in hotel meeting rooms in downtown Eugene, putting on dog and pony shows to hustle the gullible.
There are two lists of Eugene KKK Chapter members. The first came out of the L.A. KKK headquarters as the result of a police investigation. Memberships were for one year, and the list was obtained by the police about the end of April, 1922. This is within the first year of membership for the initial Eugene Klan members who would have joined during July or August 1921. Appearance of a name would mean that the individual had signed up within first year, not that he was currently a member. The second list was a working membership list that was dropped and left behind at a Klan rally in Eugene, in July of 1922. Crain makes some points about the members. Most of those who left the chapter didn’t bother to formally resign; they rather, disassociated from the group. That is to be expected in social groups: individuals normally cease associating, rather than formally resigning. So, of those who left, some would be expected to still be on both lists. Crain stated that there were only two or three who had in a formal sense resigned. He makes it clear that there were many names on the first list and not the second list, which indicates, that the chapter was acknowledging the departure of some who had simply ceased showing up.
I compared the membership lists. Knowing that anyone with any mental substance who was associated with the UO would certainly have disassociated themselves or resigned from the KKK chapter before the summer of 1922, I checked both lists and indeed found confirming evidence. Shy Huntington was not on the second list. I haven’t made a study of Shy Huntington, but I have found references to the fact that in later years, although he had been a member of the KKK chapter, this did not concern people. This explains why. I continued checking names. Graduate manager Jack Benefiel was also not on the second list.
Further, the Historian’s report listed the names of other prominent members in the Eugene community who had been “klansmen”. I examined these additional names as well. Two of them are on the first list, but not the second list. This is very strong evidence that they dropped out earlier. They are:
A.O. Waller, the head of the American Legion post
J.E. Shelton, publisher of the Eugene Guard
It is worth noting that C. E. Fonda, who apparently was the first person to be the secretary of the chapter, was not on the second list. Again, it is important to note that Crain makes a point of stating that many who are on the first list have actually dropped out soon after joining. The appearance of a name on the second list does not mean that the member is still active with the organization.
I checked to see how many of the names on the second list were on the first list. There is some uncertainty as to whether, in the case of a few names due to spelling or otherwise, a name is on both lists, but, assuming the highest number of matches, at best only a small percentage of the names match. This makes sense, once we realize that the Kleagles misrepresented what they were selling and with leading citizens bailing out, most of the other members went with them. How did the report deal with this very solid evidence that was staring them in the face? They didn’t see it.
Now let’s examine the unbelievable events that the report would have us believe. Professor Dunn is openly directing the operations of the Eugene Klan, the Oregon Daily Emerald writes an editorial stating that there is no place for the KKK on campus and neglects to mention that the head of the Classics Department is the head of this very Klan. Unbelievable. His name appears on two membership lists that are published in newspapers a few months after the editorial, yet that fact is never mentioned. Not only that, according to the report as Dunn continues to lead the Klan, year after year, even though they interview him and report on him repeatedly, they never ever mention his belonging to the Klan.
An extremely important example of what the combined effect of incompetent scholarship and faulty reasoning produced is demonstrated by the almost total reliance on the application form as proof of the views of Professor Dunn on matters of race. The report in multiple ways misused the application for membership in the KKK to misrepresent both the attitude of Professor Dunn, as well as the actual operation of the Klan chapters. This is the only evidence the report offers as to Dunn’s views on race. His entire life is ignored. In what is an attempt to dramatically convince the reader of Dunn’s infamy toward the end of the report, the report states:
What is also certain is that Dunn by joining and leading the Ku Klux Klan in Eugene, Oregon, embraced all its values which were unequivocally articulated in the application for membership in the Oregon Klan. That application required each new member to be a “native born…white male Gentile person…and a believer in the tenets of the Christian religion, the maintenance of White Supremacy, and the principles of ‘pure Americanism,’” It also required the prospective candidate to answer three questions:”Are you wholly of the white race?” “Do you believe in upholding the supremacy of the White man’s civilization and racial purity?” “Are you opposed to the intermarriage of persons of the White and colored races? (See citation 96)
As well as the reports summary point number 5 which includes:”the membership application for the Klan, which Dunn not only had to have signed himself but also urged others to sign, endorsed the ideology of white supremacy.” The Historians, have without actual supporting documentation, assumed that because of Dunn’s holding the title of Exalted Cyclops he must have been promoting memberships and signing up new members.
Please take note of the citation 96 “Application for Membership in the Improved Order of Klansmen,” Date Unknown, Ku Klux Klan Records [Manuscript], 1922-1971, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Portland. I will call your attention to this citation shortly.
The Historians have truly gone off the rails here. What they have done is unbelievable!
- The Historians don’t know what they are writing about. That’s why they expect that Dunn as chairman of a chapter would be signing people up. I know what I am writing about. I expect that Dunn would not be signing people up. The Kleagles receive their four dollar commission a head for each person they sign up. They want to use Dunn’s name, not Dunn, so as to be able to tap into his prestige and contacts to help them attract new members. Dunn is hardly going to drop all of his responsibilities so he can go about and sign up members for a new fraternal order that has just approached him.
- As previously demonstrated, Dunn never was the leader of the local chapter and, not understanding the dynamic of what is going on here, the report doesn’t acknowledge that if this actually were the application for membership in the KKK, that any knowledgeable, rational person wouldn’t believe that Kleagle con men would have show it to Professor Dunn since they would know that doing so would have offended him and he wouldn’t have signed it. The Historians provided no evidence that this form was ever shown to Professor Dunn or for that matter to anyone else in Eugene. Of course, the Kleagles wouldn’t have shown it to Professor Dunn. Crain specifically informed his readers as to what representations were made by the sales representatives of the new fraternal order to the initial members of the Eugene Chapter. White supremacy, unlike in Jackson County, was not among the features being promoted in Eugene. There were no promoted features which indicated racism. The fact that the report would place such emphasis on such flimsy evidence which is clearly overshadowed by Crain’s narrative, Dunn’s lifetime membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, long association with the YMCA, pride in the family relationship with Abraham Lincoln, as well as a lifetime association with the University of Oregon (which would have to be described as a relatively racially progressive institution despite its imperfections) makes one wonder.
The report does not in any way discuss the fact that forms that use terms of “white supremacy” were essentially the creation of the original Fraternal Order Klan controlled by Simmons during the period of 1915-1920. As the organization that came to Eugene, and throughout the US in 1921 was marketing different ideas than those reflected in any “white supremacy” forms, this should been addressed at length. There is no demonstration that the forms were ever used. Or if used, were ever used on more than a “sign here at the bottom please” manner. Absolutely no evidence is offered to indicate in any way that these forms were ever used, let alone used as a basis for the organization’s beliefs that were being marketed in Eugene.
In that the forms reference to white supremacy are inconsistent with what Harry Crain stated was the marketing pitch when the Kleagles first came to Eugene, the content of the forms is clearly in these circumstances to be subordinated to Crain. Here Historians make extravagant claims that cannot possibly be supported by the mere existence of forms, thereby offering another example of defective scholarship. How did they deal with the conflict between the content of the forms vs Harry Crain’s writings and everything else? Yes, they missed it. How did they deal with the fact that different stories were being told indifferent communities about what principles the KKK Fraternal Order stood for? Why they missed it! What about the fact that being a member of Dunn’s church was similar to a being a member of the NAACP?-They missed the issue. How about the implications of the YMCA association? They missed it. How did they deal with the issue that had Dunn actually been “running the con”, Harry Crain would have had an amazing story to write about and he didn’t? They missed it. How did they deal with the issue that they had produced no copies of actually used forms? They missed it. How did they deal with issue that the forms may never have been used to represent the views of the organization, simply presented as “sign here please”? They missed it.
If the above were not enough, we know with absolute certainty that this form was never shown to Dunn when the Kleagles came to Eugene in the summer of 1921 because this form didn’t exist in 1921: It’s the form of a different Fraternal Order that was created in 1926. The citation in the report clearly states, that this is an “Application for Membership form of the Improved Order of Klansmen.” The Improved Order of Klansmen came into brief existence only in Oregon in 1926 and is independent of any other Klan. (see Eckard Vance Toy, The Ku Klux Klan in Oregon, UO Master’s thesis, page 147.)
100% OF THE REPORT’S EVIDENCE OF DUNN’S RACIAL VIEWS HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE FALSE !
One of the most important credibility issues of the many that overwhelm the Historians’s report is the lack of discussion on the part of the Historians regarding the fact that Fredrick Dunn was in fact honored by the University of Oregon in 1962. They offer no explanation as to how that he possibly could have been selected to be honored considering that he had been openly running a white supremacist, anti-Catholic terrorist hate organization’s local chapter. That is unless we assume what Michael Schill has. Schill assumes that in 1962, the attitudes of those on the campus would have been such that we would find that a vile racist religious hate monger was worthy of special honor.
The Historians and Michael Schill think that the mindset of the University of Oregon of 1962 was racist and bigoted. I was here in Eugene. They were not. I completely disagree. The only person of any consequence I’ve ever come across in Eugene, Oregon in my entire life who argued for racist segregationist policies is Michael Schill. I do not think of him as either a deep thinker or serious scholar, obviously. By “of any consequence”, I am only referring to the position he currently occupies.
I can prove my point. Let’s examine the honoring of Dunn in 1962:
By 1962, hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals had served the University of Oregon as faculty members. Of all these faculty members, Fredrick Dunn was selected as one of only 10 to be honored by the University of Oregon for their service by having a building in the Hamilton dormitory complex bear his name. It is important to note that Dunn had died in 1937, twenty five years later in 1962, Dunn’s name would have been put forward by individuals who knew him personally, knew of his service to the University and knew of his involvement or lack of involvement with the KKK of the 1920’s.
According to the Historians report, these people who knew Fredrick Dunn would have known that he had headed a KKK chapter that engaged in harassment of local Catholics. While this chapter was not violent, it was a member of an organization that, according to the Historians’s report, was a violent terrorist organization. (Although in reality it wasn’t)These attacks went on for years as Dunn directed these activities according to the bizarre claims made by the report.
Nonetheless, we are are expected to believe that of all the individuals who could have been honored, Fredrick Dunn was one of only ten people to be selected despite his being a rabid bigot and deranged personality. The report provides no information as to why we such make such a leap of faith. To assume that the faculty and administration were so warped as to have done such a thing requires quite an unbelievable leap of faith. Let us consider here the viewpoint of only three people so as to demonstrate how ridiculous the scurrilous narrative that Schill has been promoting is when placed under closer scrutiny.
Consider the following:
Arthur Fleming became the new President of the University of Oregon in 1961. Now if we accept the report, we have to believe that Arthur Fleming had no objection to Dunn being one of the few individuals to be honored in that Dunn was selected. We have to believe that no one raised serious objections because Dunn was selected. There was a large pool of other faculty members to choose from, yet Dunn is selected.
Isn’t that inconsistent with the views of a man like Arthur Fleming? A man who as UO President was accused of being too liberal, but not too conservative. For example:
- In an oral history Fleming is quoted with regard to Eisenhower’s Attorney General Brownell, “I thought that we were deeply indebted to him in terms of the types of persons that he recruited for service in the judiciary, including his recruitment of Earl Warren…” Yes, Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U. S. Supreme Court of Brown vs Board of Education fame, the decision which mandated school desegregation. Fleming is enthusiastic about Earl Warren whose court mandated school desegregation. (Washington, D.C ,June 19, 1989, by Niel M. Johnson)
- Fleming served as Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights 1974–1981.
- In 1966, he was elected to a four-year term as president of the National Council of Churches, the leading Christian ecumenical organization in the United States.
- He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala said of Fleming:”He was one of the great intellects of social policy, combining extraordinary knowledge with a rare gift for policy-making.” (Wikipedia sourced)
Wouldn’t we expect Arthur Fleming to object to a racist, Catholic hating KKK chapter head who had attacked the UO for years from being honored by the University of Oregon? Wouldn’t the other members of the UO community also have objected? How about Len Casanova, the popular football coach and future athletic director? He was a communicant at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Eugene. How about Bill Bowerman, UO Track Coach and subsequent US Olympic Track Coach?
History has a long arm. Fake histories can have long arms also. I believe it worthwhile to examine Mr. Schill’s fake history to examine what it says about his view of the heritage and people of this community and the UO.
The fake history promoted by Mr. Schill has Professor Dunn openly operating and directing the chapter of a violent racist actively religiously bigoted terrorist organization. This activity had it actually occurred would have represented the central theme of the reputation of Professor Dunn when he was honored in 1962. If there were one feature of Professor Dunn’s life that would have stood out above all else, as memorable as Mount Hood stands out on a sunny day to the residents of Portland who look to the east, it would have been his heading of such an organization as this was alleged to have been for a number of years. In other words, according to these historians and Michael Schill, the University of Oregon, in 1962 would have been the kind of place where the members of the University Community would honor those who were racists and religious bigots. Not only willing to honor individuals who were racists and bigots, but they would be willing to honor members of organizations that were noted for lynching and murdering black people.
According to Schill, Bill Bowerman didn’t object to the honoring of a hate monger associated with the murdering of black citizens. Phil Knight graduated in 1959 from the UO. So according to Schill, Phil Knight was the product of this sick, hateful environment. So much so that he felt quite comfortable having as his partner in business, none other than this horrible man Bill Bowerman who thought that the honoring of Dunn who had associated himself with religious bigotry and the murdering of black citizens was a perfectly appropriate thing to do. So implicitly, Michael Schill is saying that Phil Knight is a very calloused, warped and hateful person. I completely disagree with Schill. I know enough about Bill Bowerman, the UO, and Phil Knight to simply shake my head in disbelief.
When I form my opinions about matters related to history, I like to gather evidence. According to a recent autobiography written by Mr. Phil Knight, who had more than a passing acquaintance with Mr. Bowerman, Mr. Knight noted that when Tommie Smith and John Carlos made their human rights protest at the 1968 Olympics that Mr. Bowerman was sympathetic and supportive. If he were a racist, he won’t have been. I believe Mr. Knight is telling the truth. I’ve got a great deal of other objective evidence that will demonstrate that Mr. Bowerman liked, respected and cared about many people who were black and they reciprocated his feeling. If Mr. Schill has any evidence to the contrary, let him produce it.
Using Schill’s bogus Professor Dunn history report as a basis, I can just imagine future historians writing about Mr. Bowerman and Mr. Knight and how terrible they were. Using the same keen eyed insightful research techniques that the Historians employed in the report on Dunn, I can well imagine the future proposal for de-naming of Knight buildings on campus. A new generation of historians might publish that, based on Phil Knights long known history of racist views as revealed in the Dunn report, what had long been thought to be an ancient cemetery in some Asian country must actually be a burial ground of shoe manufacturing employees who had been executed for attempting to unionize. The proof would be the discovery of a pair of old running shoes within a mile of the cemetery.
I can’t believe the trustees are in agreement with this denigrating view of Mr. Bowerman. I can’t believe that Phil Knight, the management or board of directors of a certain company famous for its athletic footwear, agree with Schill’s assessment of Bill Bowerman. I enjoyed the excellent autobiography written by Mr. Knight. It’s every bit as good as everyone who has read it says it is. It deserves high praise on many different levels. I can’t think of a better autobiography or biography I’ve ever read. I completely disagree with Mr. Schill’s implicit assessment of Mr. Knight. I thank Mr. Knight for his loyalty and support to the University of Oregon, as well as for writing his wonderful autobiography that clearly demonstrates his belief in honesty, loyalty, and the study of history.
The future de-namers of buildings on the UO campus would hardly want to stop with Mr. Knight’s name. Undoubtedly, just as there are vacuous student activists making inane arguments for removing names from buildings, such as Natalie Fisher, Quinn Haaga and the so-called Black Student Task Force today, there will be others in the future. They’ll want to remove the names of hate mongers who went to the UO in the 1960’s when all those hate mongers were around, people like hate monger Chuck Lillis. Better get his name off any buildings. Didn’t that fellow Ford like to chop down trees? Let’s get his name off! How about that nice Mrs. Ballmer? She must have done something wrong. No? Doesn’t matter;just like Dunn; we can make something up. Let’s put her name up where she can be shamed!And on and on.
The Trustees will make a decision with regard to the renaming of Cedar Hall, previously Dunn Hall. I recommend that it be renamed Dunn Hall; however, the decision is, of course, the Trustees to make. To rename this building for Mr. Unthank, after removing Professor Dunn’s name based upon a completely false narrative, would be to sully Mr. Unthank’s memory, not honor Mr. Unthank. As an alternative, the building could be renamed with both men’s names included. They were both inclusive in their outlooks. Their names being together might be very appropriate. It would reflect that, happily, the University of Oregon does have a tradition of inclusiveness. It had both Professor Dunn and Mr. Unthank.
Mr. Schill, as a part of the original recommendation, has stated that there will be a plaque explaining the history that led to the de-naming. Whatever name is selected for Cedar Hall,that the plaque should be installed. That plaque should have the name of each of the members of the Black Student Task Force, Quintard Taylor, Marcia Weisiger, David Johnson, Natalie Fisher, Quinn Haaga, Michael Schill, and each and every member of the Board of Trustees, with special emphasis on Andrew Colas, the major proponent of de-naming on the board; however, by taking appropriate action on the renaming, the Trustees wouldn’t have to be listed by name. The Trustees would have demonstrated that they had attempted to reform and redeem themselves. The plaque might merely note that the Trustees were misled. I will send you more particulars.
You should also consider some displays such as those planned for Deady Hall. They could include, for example, photos from the de-naming meeting showing Michael Schill and Chuck Lillis. The photos could highlight the smug, self satisfied look on Schill’s face and Chuck Lillis’s look of fawning appreciation. Mr. Schill’s quote will undoubtedly become famous:
A really good learning opportunity . . . I am proud of the fact we’re approaching this in a way that I think befits a great research university, which is based upon facts, which is based upon understanding, which is based upon a collegial discussion of … of history that’s what we do best, right, we’re a learned institution, we do best at dialogue and logic and … research and I’m very pleased with that so far. This should be followed by Mr. Lillis’ statement that, “You deserve recognition for the process alone!” Even without the displays, Mr. Lillis’ statement will be borne out.
As Mr. Schill said at the de-naming meeting, “Let the healing begin.”
1) The video of the Trustees meeting of the de-naming of Dunn Hall is at:
2) The link to the Deady-Dunn Historian’s reports:
Important Resources Used:
Dale W. Laakman, For The Kingdom And The Power : The Big Money Swindle That Spread HateAcross America (S. Woodhouse Books, 2014)
Hatred and Profits: Under the Hood of the Ku Klux Klan* Roland G. Fryer, Jr. Harvard University and NBER and Steven D. Levitt University of Chicago and NBER February 2011 (The lack of lynchings by the KKK Fraternal Order.)
Stanley Coben, Rebellion Against Victorianism: The Impetus for Cultural Change in 1920’s America (Oxford University Press 1991) Chapter 7 “The Guardians”
Shawn Lay, Editor, The Invisible Empire in the West:Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920’s (University Of Illinois Press 1992)
A collection of articles including Eckard Toy’s flawed history.
Harry Crain’s series on the KKK in the Salem Capital Journal (Sep to early Nov, 1922)