Contact Us

The Klan in Walsenburg, part 3

by Edi Sheldon

    The period of time when the Ku Klux Klan was most active in Colorado was from the end of WWI till about 1927.  However, there are communities in the state that still seem to have active Klaverns within them.  The communities in which the Klan enjoyed the most support were those of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant majority.  Farming communities on the eastern plains of Colorado were most likely to have strong Klan membership.  However, generally in southern Colorado, where descendants of miners from a variety of nations settled, there was a strong allegiance to the Catholic Church and respect for religious and political freedoms.

    The Klan gained strength in southern Colorado because of increased bootlegging, gambling and other vices which flourished after WWI.  The KKK arrived with a show of bravado and strength to appeal to the regular law-abiding citizens who were interested in subduing the crime waves.  Crime seemed to be increasing due to the surreptitious activity of sheriffs and others in law enforcement.  But, due to the number of immigrants from a variety of different countries who had come to escape persecution, the KKK would find it challenging to continue their promotion of Anglo/Prot-

estant rhetoric.   

    There is evidence of Klan membership in Walsenburg.  A home on Walsen Avenue was built with what appears to be a KKK meeting room accessed by a clandestine entrance.  Carolyn Newman, who is currently a member of the local, Huerfano County Historical Society and the Tourism Board has toured  this residence.  Mrs. Newman also recommends the Florence Colorado Pioneer Museum which has a collection of KKK memorabilia on display.

    KKK activity throughout the State was all but gone by the end of the decade.  Even though the KKK had tried to influence politics and control the government, it was unsuccessful due to the lack of support for its discriminatory philosophy.