History of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey
The Ku Klux Klan has had a history in the U.S. state of New Jersey since the early part of the 1920s. The Klan was active in the areas of Trenton and Camden and had a presence in several of the state's northern counties in the 1920s. It had the most members in Monmouth County, and operated a resort in Wall Township.
The first local chapter of the KKK in New Jersey was organized in 1921, after units had started in New York and Pennsylvania. Arthur Hornbui Bell was the state's first Grand Dragon, and continued serving in that post until the Ku Klux Klan was disbanded in 1944.
As early as 1922, the New Jersey Klan protested Paterson, New Jersey's honored burial of the Roman Catholic priest William N. McNulty, which closed schools during his funeral. They argued it was a breach of the U.S. legal doctrine of separation of church and state. Mayor Frank J. Van Noort ordered the honors for the respected dean of a major church.
In 1923, the Klan provided funding to the Pillar of Fire Church to found Alma White College in Zarephath, New Jersey. It became "the second institution in the north avowedly run by the Ku Klux Klan to further its aims and principles." Alma White said that the Klan philosophy "will sweep through the intellectual student classes as through the masses of the people." At that time, the Pillar of Fire was publishing the pro-KKK monthly periodical The Good Citizen.
On May 3, 1923, around 12,000 people attended a Klan meeting in Bound Brook, New Jersey. The speakers held a meeting at the Pillar of Fire headquarters in nearby Zarephath where a crowd of angry locals surrounded the church to let them know that they were not welcome.
On August 24, 1923 the Klan held a large meeting in a ten-acre field off the Freehold Turnpike in western Farmingdale, New Jersey. The Klan claimed to have drawn members from Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties and inducted 1,700 members. 1,200 cars were said to have parked along roadways, in driveways, and in every available spot. Arthur Hornbui Bell opened the meeting before introducing the principal speaker, dubbed Colonel Sherman of Atlanta, Georgia. Several inductees from Keyport, New Jersey were escorted to the event by Klansmen from that borough.
In 1925 Alma White published The Ku Klux Klan In Prophecy in Zarephath at the Pillar of Fire Church printing press. She writes: "The unrepentant Hebrew is everywhere among us today as the strong ally of Roman Catholicism. ... To think of our Hebrew friends with their millions in gold and silver aiding the Pope in his aspirations for world supremacy, is almost beyond the grasp of ... The Jews in New York City openly boast that they have the money and Rome the power, and that if they decide to rule the city and state, ..."
In 1926, Arthur Hornbui Bell headed a group that converted the former Marconi Station in Wall Township into a Klan resort. (The property was subsequently acquired by The King's College, a divinity school, and later became Camp Evans.). The 396-acre (1.60 km2) resort was open only to officials and members of the New Jersey Realm of the Klan.
In May 1926, birth control advocate Margaret Sanger once spoke to a meeting of the women's chapter of the Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey. Sanger wrote in her 1938 autobiography that the speech was "one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing."
In 1940, James A. Colescott had Bell removed as head of the Klan in New Jersey. Bell was also vice president of the German American Bund. The ouster was from a joint meeting arranged by Bell between the Klan and the German American Bund at the Bund's Camp Nordlund, near Andover, New Jersey.
- Arthur Hornbui Bell was the Grand Dragon.
- Alma White was a local preacher who supported the Klan in her publications and sermons.
- Alton Milford Young, a minister and Grand Kaliff.
- George W. Apgar was the King Kleagle.
Several New Jersey churches welcomed the Klan:
- Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath
- Third Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth
- Grace Methodist Church in Kearny
- First Baptist Church in Bayonne
- Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church in Paterson
- Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Newark
- Colonial United Methodist Church in Oxford
References and notes
- "The good of the Klan". Archived from the original on 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
The KKK first spread to New Jersey from the states of New York and Pennsylvania early in 1921 and has had a history of being a peaceful Klan. Attorney Arthur Bell was N.J.'s first and longest reigning Grand Dragon. He ruled the New Jersey KKK right up to the Klan's disbandment in the 1940s. His wife Leah Bell was the state leader of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan's first strongholds were in Passaic, Bergen, Essex, Union, and Morris counties and in the area around Trenton and Camden. But the Klan grew strongest in Monmouth county. ... The Klan continued in New Jersey, until in 1944, the Klan was nationally disbanded for the second time.
- "Ku Klux Protest Honor to Late Dean. Members of Klan at Paterson Try to Prevent the Closing of Schools During Funeral. But Mayor Ignores Them. Declares Semi-Holiday and Orders Flags at Half-Staff for the Rev. W.N. McNulty". New York Times. June 22, 1922. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Ku Klux Klan wrote him urging against closing the public schools here tomorrow during the funeral of the late Dean William N. McNulty of St. John's Roman Catholic Church, Mayor Frank J. Van Noort ...
- "Jersey King Kleagle Hurt by Auto". New York Times. September 9, 1922. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
King Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan for the realm of New Jersey, is in the North Hudson Hospital in a critical condition from ...
- Kenneth T. Jackson (1967). The Ku Klux Klan in the city, 1915-1930. p. 178.
King Kleagle George W. Apgar established state headquarters just outside Newark ...
- "Klan Buys College Close to Princeton". The Harvard Crimson. October 31, 1923. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
Bishop Alma White, the founder of the Pillar of Fire Church, and an author of various religious works, is President of the institution under the new regime. In an interview for the Princetonian today Bishop White deplored the present indifference of the undergraduate to the Klan and predicted that in the near future "it will sweep through the intellectual student classes as through the masses of the people."
- "Klan Will Sweep Colleges, She Says. Princeton Will Soon Be Vitally Interested in the Order, Woman Bishop Asserts. Back From Ku Klux Tour. University Paper Declares Institution Should Not Be Influenced by Specious Arguments". New York Times. November 1, 1923. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
That the Ku Klux Klan is on the verge of 'sweeping through the colleges of the country as it has swept through the masses,' was the assertion of Bishop Alma White, founder of the 'Pillar of Fire,' a religious sect and the head of a small institution called the Alma College, fifteen miles north of Princeton at Zarephath, in an interview published this morning in the Daily Princetonian.
- "12,000 Of Klan Out At Jersey Meeting. Hold Heavily Guarded Initiation on a Lonely Farm Near New Brunswick". New York Times. May 3, 1923. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
Excitement ran high here tonight when it was learned that about 12,000 men had gathered at Hobbs's farm, at an isolated spot between New Brunswick and Middlebush, to attend an open installation of the New Jersey branch of the Ku Klux Klan. ... They clambered into three automobile vans and fled in the direction of Zarephath, two miles from here, where the Pillar of Fire sect has headquarters on a ...
- "Bound Brook Mob Raids Klan Meeting: Thousand Hostile Citizens Surround Church and Lock In 100 Holy Rollers". New York Times. May 2, 1923. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
Until the arrival of eight State troopers to reinforce the local police here at 1 o'clock this morning about one hundred members of the Holy Rollers were locked up in their church, the Pillar of Fire, in Main Street, surrounded by a mob of nearly 1,000 hostile citizens, several hundred of whom broke up a meeting held by the Holy Rollers to organize a Klan here last night.
- "Klan Threatens Boy With Rope And Knife. Masked Men Accuse Him Of Stealing $50 Ku Klux Gift To His Mother.". New York Times. May 10, 1923. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
A month ago a stalwart figure in the robe and hood of a Klansman stalked through the streets of West Belmar to the home of Mrs. Bessie Titus, handed her $50 and without a word disappeared. A few days later Mrs. Titus, who is separated from her husband, discovered the gift money was missing.
- "KKK Has Big Field Meeting In Farmingdale, Leaders Claim That 1,700 Were Initiated, Several Keyport Men Were Among the Candidates and Many Klansmen of the Borough Attended" (PDF). Matawan Journal. August 31, 1923. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
- Alma White (1925). The Ku Klux Klan In Prophecy. Pillar of Fire Church. ISBN 1-4286-1075-8.
- "Klan Has Summer Resort. Buys Old Marconi Radio Station of 396 acres (1.60 km2) on Shark River.". New York Times. June 20, 1926. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
Establishment of a Summer resort for the Ku Klux Klan on the Shark River at New Bedford is being fostered by officials of the New Jersey Realm of the Klan. The project is in its first stages, but tents and bungalows have been erected. Only members of the Klan or affiliated organizations are admitted to the 396-acre (1.60 km2) reservation, which until a year ago was owned by the Radio Corporation of America and was known as the Marconi Radio Station. The property was purchased by the Monmouth Pleasure Club, a holding company of Klansmen, and is now State headquarters of the organization. The Klan is to give demonstrations of its strength on July 3, 4 and 5, and on the last day will parade along the Ocean Boulevard of northern seashore resorts.
- Clay Wirestone (March 18, 2015). "NH Rep. Bill O'Brien says Margaret Sanger was active participant in KKK". PolitiFact.
- Walter David Greason (2013). Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-1-61147-570-8.
- Alma White (1926). Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty. Pillar of Fire Church. ISBN 1-4254-9000-X.
- Alma White (1928). Heroes of the Fiery Cross. Pillar of Fire Church.
- "Jersey Klan Leader Doubts His Dismissal. Grand Giant Says Wizard Sent Message for Bund Rally.". New York Times. August 24, 1940. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
[Arthur H. Bell has] been removed from the Klan by James Colescott, Imperial Wizard of the organization, as the result of a Klan meeting at the German American Bunds camp . ...
- "Klan Official's Ouster Decreed". Los Angeles Times. August 23, 1940. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
James Colescott, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. said tonight he had ordered the removal of Arthur Bell of Bloomfield, N.J., Grand Giant of the New Jersey Klan, as the result of a Klan meeting in a German American camp Sunday. ...
- "Jersey Klan Leader Repudiates Bund. Declares Imperial Wizard Is Opposed to All Alien Groups.". New York Times. August 23, 1940. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
Arthur Bell of Bloomfield, Grand Giant of the Realm of New Jersey of the Ku Klux Klan, said in an interview at the Tri-County Country Clubhouse tonight that it was "too bad the reporters did not remain to hear the final speech at Camp Nordland Sunday night."
- David Mark Chalmers (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. ISBN 0-8223-0772-3.
Clad in yellow robes, Arthur H. Bell, the Bloomfield lawyer, who had led the New Jersey Klansmen in the 1920s ...
- Susie Cunningham Stanley (1993). Feminist Pillar of Fire: The Life of Alma White. The Pilgrim Press. ISBN 0-8298-0950-3.
Seven chapters from The Ku Klux Klan in Prophecy and one from Heroes of the Fiery Cross are reprinted in volume 1 of Guardians of Liberty. ... Volume 2 of Guardians of Liberty consists of fifteen chapters, thirteen from Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty and one from The Ku Klux Klan in Prophecy. ...
- "Georgia Orders Action to Revoke Charter of Klan. Federal Lien Also Put on File to Collect Income Taxes Dating Back to 1921. Governor Warns of a Special Session if Needed to Enact 'De-Hooding' Measures Tells of Phone Threats Georgia Acts to Crush the Klan. Federal Tax Lien Also Is Filed". New York Times. May 31, 1946. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
Governor Ellis Arnall today ordered the State's legal department to bring action to revoke the Georgia charter of the Ku Klux Klan. ... 'It is my further information that on June 4, 1944, the Ku Klux Klan ...
- "Dragon's Praise". Time (magazine). January 3, 1927. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
As long as TIME plays fair, it will remain a pleasure for me to receive my weekly copy. I note that some subscribers take exception to things you say about their "pet" ideas. You have rapped my Organization several times but this has not changed my opinion of TIME. In such cases I smile at your mistakes and misunderstanding and wait for the time to arrive when you will know facts. You can rest assured that TIME has a great future before it and will continue to build up a first class list of subscribers.
- Alma Bridwell White (1926). Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty. Kessinger Publishing (Pillar of Fire Church). p. 159. ISBN 978-1-4254-9000-3. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
The Introduction to this book is by Arthur H. Bell, Grand Dragon, Realm of New Jersey, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
- Kristin E. Kandt (2000). "Historical Essay: In the Name of God; An American Story of Feminism, Racism, and Religious Intolerance: The Story of Alma Bridwell White.". Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law. 8: 753.
Alma White and the Pillar of Fire were unique, however, in their public alliance with the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, the Pillar of Fire was the only religious group to publicly associate itself with the Klan.
- Isaac Landman (1942). The Universal Jewish encyclopedia.
The Reverend AM Young, former Grand Kaliff of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey, and Arthur H. Bell, Klan organizer, the two men apparently responsible for the ...