Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas
Endorse the Good Work of the Klan
Bonham Daily Favorite, September 11, 1994
Seemingly the first notice of Ku Klux Klan activities in Fannin County by the area newspapers came in a short notice in the December 21, 1921 edition of The Honey Grove Signal. In what was its first act in the county the Klan moved to develop a positive image. This was, however, a year or more before the increase in violent acts involving the Texas K1ansmen.
The Honey Grove paper, on its front page, began its report by stating, "Many people have asked whether there is a Ku Klux Klan in Honey Grove. Until this time we have not been able to answer the question. We can say now without hesitation to fear that there is a Klan in Honey Grove."
The paper's editor went on to recount an incident that had taken place earlier that day. At some point unknown to the newspaper staff someone had entered the newspaper office and left an envelope on the editorial table.
When the envelope was opened crisp new five dollar bills were found wrapped inside a note. The note read, "To The Honey Grove Signal, Honey Grove. Dear Mr. Signal. Enclosed find $25 in currency which kindly deliver to Mrs. T_____ M______ a Christmas token from the friends of the needy. Ku Klux Klan #163 Honey Grove, Texas."
The effort was successful for the editor completed the article with glowing words of appreciation. "Whether one endorses the Klan as an organization or not, all will endorse the good work of the Klan. The world is in need of thousands of Klansmen of this type. The Signal congratulates its good officers and will deliver the money as requested."
It is not known how the hierarchy of the Texas Klan awarded the charter or permission to organize to regional groups. These local organizations seem to have been identified only by the name of the town and a number. Assuming that the numbers were issued in numerical order it appears that Honey Grove jumped ahead of Bonham in organizing its rank and file. The letter to the Honey Grove Signal was signed Ku Klux Klan #163. The Bonham Klan advertising its rally eighteen months later was designated as #194.
After the discovery of the Honey Grove group it was not until nearly eight months later before any further activity was reported in the county. This was not true statewide or nationally for local papers frequently reported a variety of incidents involving the Klan.
The Bonham Daily Favorite reported briefly in its August 10, 1922 edition that a barbecue and initiation were planned the next night east of town. The paper had few particulars reporting only that trenches were being dug in preparation for the barbecue of several hundred pounds of meat. The meeting site was just across Bois d'Arc on the Dodd City road. The newspaper admitted that it had no official source for its information but was dealing only with hearsay.
The next afternoon's edition of the paper carried slightly more information but the article was relegated to page 6. "On a high hill just east of Bois d'Arc a fiery cross will shed forth its light tonight as two thousand or more Klansmen assemble to initiate a class of one hundred. The arms of the cross stretch eighteen feet across, and will be brilliantly illuminated. Those who want to see the firey cross ablaze and the crowd gathering can do so - at a distance - soon after dark tonight."
The next day the Favorite returned the event to front page prominence but as before the reporter's information did not come from first hand observation but from information provided from other sources.
In something of a petulent tone the reporter opened his article with "There is no doubt that the Klansmen were here, and we have no reason to question that a big class was initiated and that a barbecue was held. The firey cross was in evidence we know for it stood upon a hill on the White farm just east of Bois d'Arc and everybody within five miles of town could see it if they looked. It was ablaze with electric lights!"
The paper observed that late in the afternoon cars began arriving in town from all over the county and also from other counties. Cars were identified as being from Sherman, Denison, Paris, Greenville, and Dallas with a fair number representing still farther distant towns and a few carrying Oklahoma plates.
The reporter did not hazard a suggestion as to the number of cars except to say that it was obvious that many hundreds crossed Bois d'Arc and drove onto the White farm.
There was an enclosure of some sort where the initiation took place. Estimates given to the paper suggested that the number ranged from fifteen hundred to three thousand. As indicated by the writer, making allowances for exaggeration did not lessen the fact that the number was very large.
In addition to those who actually gained access to the initiation site Bonham police reported that several thousand additional sightseers crowded the roads from the eastern limits of Bonham to the other side of the hill past Bois d'Arc. All traffic policemen were put into service to control the crowd. The paper stated that it was an almost continuous mass of cars, buggies, wagons, and persons on foot which surged over the countryside.
The informants to the paper said that it was "a sight to impress one, especially if he were gifted with some imagination. The firey cross, the white robed figures, the indistinct light of a starry sky, the moving throng, all combined to make an impression on the onlooker."
Concluding his article the Favorite reporter very tersely stated that no invitation had been forth coming for him to view the events first hand. Therefore it was impossible for him to say what took place under the blazing cross.
His informants gave the information that a class of about one hundred new Klansmen were initiated and more than two thousand men partook of the barbecue that followed.
In no sense of an apology the reporter then stated that if the information was incorrect the Klan had no one to blame but itself.
In summation the article ended with, "Even though he may be opposed to the Klan, as he is to other things, this reporter always tries to give the actual facts as near as he can get them and lets it go at that, this is what he did this time."