A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

History: Ku Klux Klan Meeting in Farmingdale; Several Keyport Men Initiated (1923)

KKK meeting, 1921-22 (Granger Collection)
The 31 Aug 1923 edition of The Matawan Journal had the following article discussing a KKK meeting held on Friday 24 Aug 1923 in Farmingdale and attended by men from Keyport, three of whom were inductees and the rest their sponsors. The article reads like any stereotypical Klan meeting, in a field with a cross burning, etc. 

Several Keyport Men Were Among the Candidates and Many Klansmen of the Borough Attended

Several Keyport men were among the number who were initiated into the mysteries of the Ku Klux Klan at Farmingdale last Friday night, when Klansmen from all parts of Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex Counties assembled in a big field meeting. The ceremony was under the direction of A. H.Bell, Klan leader and organizer of this section. Leaders of the order claim that 1,700 applications for membership were acted upon. Many Keyport Klansmen accompanied the candidates.

The meeting was held in a ten-acre field in the western section of Farmingdale on the Freehold Turnpike and it was estimated that 1,200 cars were parked along the roadside, in driveways and on every available spot.

Guards were stationed around the field at intervals of fifteen feet and all who entered were compelled to pass a table where clerks examined the credentials presented by those seeking admission. The candidates brought passes vouched by Klansmen.

In the center of the field a speakers platform was erected. Two American flags were on the stage, a small cross and a box, upon which a Bible and a small flag laid. The meeting was opened by Leader Bell, who introduced the principal speaker as "Colonel Sherman" of Atlanta, Georgia. The Klansmen were grouped around the platform and few of them were robed or hooded. He spoke for nearly two hours and it was nearly midnight when the initiatory work was started. Two giant crosses were burned during the ceremony, one of which was eighty-one feet high. It was nearly 3 o'clock when the ceremony was concluded.
President Lyndon Johnson ordered the Justice Department and the FBI to assist the Congress in its investigation of the Klan and its activities, according to the 31 Mar 1965 edition of The Red Bank Journal. The Committee on Un-American Activities was still reeling from the backlash against its efforts against Communism in America via the Internal Security Act of 1950, so the Committee would likely refer the matter to the Judiciary Committee.
 The Monmouth County Historical Association Archives and Manuscripts Collection includes the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Collection, 1924 (Coll431).
 Wikipedia has an article called History of Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey. The article identified Klan leader A H Bell as Arthur Hornbui Bell, Grand Dragon of the KKK.


  1. I live in this area and everyone here denies all this. Why? Why is Camp Evans still named after a Klansman? Why isn't there more of this hateful history revealed. I mentioned this once on fb and was chastised for insinuating that Klan could be in our history. Truth is Power. The hate is still here. Denial feeds the hate.

  2. Camp Evans is named for a signal corps officer named Paul Wesley Evans. There was a KKK connection to part of the property in the 1920's, but there is no truth to the rumor that Camp Evans is named for KKK Grand Wizard Hiram K Evans of Illinois, according to the US Army "On March 31, 1942 the laboratory was dedicated as “Camp Evans Signal Laboratory”, in honor of World War I Signal Corps officer Lt. Col. Paul Wesley Evans (Thompson 1954 Pg. 62). In spite of his former association with the site, Camp Evans was not named after Hiram K. Evans of the KKK, yet the story persists to this day among local residents (Zahl 1970b)." For many details about the association with the KKK, and the disclaimer about the name, see http://www.campevans.org/_CE/html/9001-7-statement-of-significance.html