The Hancock County community has been rife with stories about the KKK. I normally don’t want to give it any publicity, but I do believe that by and large that group itself is past history in Hancock County.
Paul McNeil from Hancock County Public Library writes:
“A librarian from IPL called me asking about the link between the New Palestine Dragons and the KKK. I’ve heard the rumors but did not know of any proof that existed on the subject. As far as I know it’s all hearsay/coincidence.
“I had heard that the original owner of the land was big in the Klan and donated it for the building of the school. Hence the mascot name. I checked the 1906 atlas that predates the 1919 NP High School, and the plot says School No. 4. So it seems the school already was established here but maybe not the total land.
“The first mention of the Dragons in the newspaper that I could find was in the early 1930s.”
I do believe that the story about New Palestine Dragons is urban legend and nothing more. I have looked and find no evidence to the contrary. Occasionally students will confront people with this myth, and it is simply not true.
In 1923 the Rev V.W. Blair, a former pastor of the Greenfield Christian Church, addressed a large crowd on the Hancock County Courthouse lawn on the mission of the Klan. The report said, “From the number of cards turned in to the organizer, it is evident we are soon to have a Klan in your midst, who will no doubt display a fiery cross in our midst.”
Also in 1923, the Klan staged a demonstration in Greenfield. By 8 p.m. a crowd of 20,000 persons gathered on Main Street to watch the parade. There were several hundred Klansmen from Indianapolis, Knightstown, New Castle, Anderson, Franklin, Muncie, Elwood and other towns. A rally took place at the fairgrounds to witness the ceremonies, which were secret. The crowds were reported orderly. It was said that 6,040 cars left the fairgrounds that evening.
In 1925 a revival took place at the Greenfield Tabernacle on North Street; 50 members of the Klan attended the service and left a $75 donation and a note of congratulations for the Rev. E.J. Bulgin, who conducted the revival. As the revival ended, a parade was staged by hundreds of persons carrying Bibles and American flags and led by the Presbyterian church band. I do believe the Greenfield Tabernacle is still in existence on North Street.
In 1928 Indiana Attorney General revoked the permit for the Klan to operate in Indiana, saying that the Klan had concealed its true purpose when applying for the permit.
In 1965 four men were arrested for distributing Klan literature around the courthouse.
Enough. I have told you all that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.