In August 1923, during a time when several of our family members lived in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, Imperial Wizard Hiram Evans and ten thousand Ku Klux Klan members tried to march through the streets of Carnegie. The town’s large Catholic population refused to let the Klan march and violence broke out. One Klansman was killed and Evans declared him a martyr. He hoped the death would inspire new recruits. Hundreds of people were wounded during the violence. Protestant membership in the KKK of the 1920s had been growing and by 1923 Carnegie had one of the largest Klans in the state.
Evans had been the highest-ranking leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan organization. He was a native of Alabama, had attended Vanderbilt University and was a dentist. In 1923, Evans had presided over the largest Klan gathering in history, attended by over 200,000, and endorsed several successful candidates in the 1924 elections.
In the early years of Evans’ tenure, the Klan reached record membership, and he dramatically increased the Klan’s total assets. In the 1930s, the Klan’s public support nearly vanished and their membership dropped to about 100,000 people, primarily concentrated in the south.