From the Archives: The Jayhawker American – Harvey Co & the Klan

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Archivist/Curator

In the mails this morning many citizens were said to have received copies of the first edition of what purports to be the official Kansas publication of the Klan. Where the paper, which is a small four-page publication, is printed is not revealed.” (Evening Kansan Republican, 13 September 1922.)

In the Archives at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives there is one issue of the Jayhawker American from 22 October 1922. This document sheds light on Klan activity in Harvey County in 1922-23.  A previous post, Hundreds of Automobiles Were Assembled, focused on newspaper accounts of Klan activities around the county. At that time, the publisher and editor of the Jayhawker American was unknown, but additional research has provided the answer.

Jayhawker American

As reported by the editor of the Evening Kansan Republican, the first edition of the Jayhawker American appeared September 12-13, 1922;

“in the mails this morning many citizens were said to have received copies of the first edition of what purports to be the official Kansas publication of the Klan. Where the paper, which is a small four-page publication, is printed is not revealed.”

The Jayhawker American was published weekly, first in Newton, later Wichita, in 1922.  To subscribe to the paper, interested men were directed to send $2.00 to Lock Box 112, Newton, Ks. The issue in the Archives dated October 7, 1922 is volume 7.

The paper reported national items of interest, and advertising. The October 19 issue included a lengthy letter from Imperial Klokard, Wm. J. Maloney to a Baptist Minister and an essay by Edward Young Park the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan from 1915 to 1922, entitled “Awakening America!”

There is also a short item from Atlanta, GA warning of the dangers of H.G. Well’s “Outline of History.” The Imperial Klokard of the KKK declared that they “were taking steps to block what he terms ‘an organized effort’ to place the history in public schools and colleges . . . the book was teeming with Socialist doctrines . . . and would poison the minds of our youth with destructive propaganda of the worst kind.”

Jayhawker American, 19 October 1922

Who Published the Jayhawker?

Despite claims of transparency, a publisher or editor is not indicated with the paper. In May 1923, two Harvey County men and one former resident were subpoenaed to testify at the hearing regarding the ouster suit in Topeka. Men listed in the Evening Kansan Republican, included Lyle Norton, who had boldly proclaimed his membership in the Klan, and Bert  Fritz, Newton, former publisher of the Jayhawker American Klan publication. The third person was A. M. Morgan, formerly of Newton, who was also involved with the printing of the Jayhawker American. Morgan had moved the printing of the paper to Wichita by May 1923.

The three men were asked to bring any records regarding the Klan to Topeka with them. They all, however “denied that they have any records.”

Newton Kansan, 18 May 1923

Newton Klansman Testified 

“A Newton klansman testified he had led 16 kluxers into a church, where he had made a speech. He said he didn’t know the names of the kluxers. An organizer testified he had ‘lost’ all of the records two days before he was subpoenaed to testify . . . he admitted he had told the county attorney he had ‘disposed of’ the records and the state’s attorney Captain Rhodes ordered the witness held until the county attorney could be called to the stand.” (Emporia Gazette 18 May 1923)

The Newton man testifying was Lyle Norton who had dramatically removed his Klan hood at the church.

Evening Kansan Republican, 18 May 1923

The Printer: Bert Fritz

In the 1922 50th Anniversary Ed of the Newton Kansan, Bert Fritz was praised as a “wide awake hustler, and a consistent booster for Newton, cheerfully supporting all worthy enterprises in a public spirited, conscientious manner.” Fritz started out working at the Newton Kansan Republican as a “printer’s devil” and slowly worked his way up. He worked in various shops in Newton until August 1899 when he “entered the printing business for himself.”   In 1904, he purchased a lot at 114 E 4th and built a new print shop.

Evening Kansan Republican, 22 August 1922

A, M. Morgan also assisted with printing the Jayhawker American and later moved to Wichita, taking the printing of the newspaper with him.

” A Klan Organization in Every Town in Kansas”

During questioning during the “ouster” hearings, Noble T. McCall, former secretary of the Arkansas City Klan  observed that he “supposed there was a klan organization in every town in Kansas.” During the court proceedings evidence was presented that there were about 400 Klan members in Newton

Several of the men that were involved in other fraternal and civic organizations like the Masons and Lions Club were also involved in the Klan. Lyle Norton was heavily involved with the Lions Club and raising money for the Boy Scouts. During the ouster hearings, it became apparent that the Klan had recruited heavily from existing organizations like the Masons and Lions Clubs. On the surface these group had similar concerns for social, moral and civic welfare of the community. Groups like the Lions Club however worked with community groups “looking towards the elimination of class distinction” and integrating immigrants into American society, the opposite of the Klan’s purpose. (Evening Kansan Republican 18 May 1921)

Jayhawker American, 19 October 1922.

Mixed Feelings

There were mixed feeling in Harvey County about the Klan. There were local leaders and businessmen that were members of theKlan, but no one knew who. One local pastor spoke out against the Klan. Dr. J.R. Caffyn of the 1st Methodist Episcopal church spoke for an hour and a half on the subject of the Modern Ku Klux Klan.” (Evening Kansan Republican 9 October 1922) Dr. Caffyn’s speech was reprinted in the October 21, 1922 edition of the Evening Kansan Republican.

The editor of the Evening Kansan Republican was also a frequent critic of the Klan in Harvey County.

On the other hand, some Newton pastors felt the organization was a positive one. In April 1923, Rev. Arthur Brooks gave a speech entitled “Americanism” in ElDorado in which he “lauded the principles of the Ku Klux Klan.”  In an interview with the Evening Kansan Republican a pastor in Hesston, Rev. Tarvin “seemed to be impressed more favorably  . . . and indicated that he believed the organization might be doing a good work.” (Evening Kansan Republican, 20 February 1923). Tarvin had received a donation from the Klan earlier.

Who Were the Members?

Other than Lyle Norton, Bert Fritz and A.M. Morgan there are few clues on who other members might have been. In the testimony during the “ouster hearings”  in spring 1923, it was stated that Newton had a membership of 400.  There are perhaps clues in the  names of the advertisers in the Jayhawker American.  Many of these men were also involved in other civic and fraternal organizations. The original members of the Lions Club, established in 1921 in Harvey County, included several men who were advertisers in the Jayhawker including, Lyle Norton, C.V. McDaniel, N.R. Daugherty.

The list of advertisers in the Jayhawker included: E.W. Skidmore – Little Gem Cafe, Palmores Confectionary, B.H. Downs – Merchant Delivery, C.R. Miller – Tailor, Holman & Daughtery – Barbers ,  E.M. van Aken – Auditorium Cafe, Earl I Schaefer, O.S. Finch, Spear & Munro – owners of a clothing store.

After the Ouster

Even with the “ouster” of the Klan in Kansas, small groups remained somewhat active. In the Sedgwick Pantagraph, September 11, 1924, there was a cryptic note asking about the whereabouts of two men and two women in a Sedan, “no questions asked.”

Sedgwick Pantagraph, 11 September 1924

Meetings continued.

Sedgwick Pantagraph 2 October 1924

One of the last Klan events mentioned as of this writing was a Klan parade was held in Newton the week of August 8, 1927. It included women and children and men in full regalia without the  masks.

Additional Sources

  • Evening Kansan Republican, 22 August 1922.
  • Allerfeldt, Kristopher. “Jayhawker Fraternities: Masons, Klansmen and Kansas in the 1920s.” Journal of American STudies November 2012, Vol. 46, No. 4 (November 2012) pp. 1035-1053.
  • Egan, Timothy. A Fever in the Heartland: the Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them. New York, NY: Viking, 2023.


Hundreds of Automobiles Were Assembled: The Klan in Harvey County

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

“Hundreds of automobiles were assembled in a circle . . .”

On Tuesday evening, September 12, 1922, a gathering was held on a rural property located in Section 3, Newton Township, Harvey County, “just northwest of where the new Santa Fe Trail leaves the railway track and turns north.”  A reporter for the Evening Kansan Republican described an event where

“hundreds of automobiles were assembled in a circle several hundred yards across with lights turn on a huge electrically lighted cross in the center.  White robed figures guarded the approaches to the circle  . . . it was stated that a class of several hundred initiates were received in the Klan.” -Evening Kansan Republican, 13 September 1922.

Participants came from Hutchinson, Wichita and “numerous other neighboring cities.” In addition to participants, the “public highways were jammed with sightseers.”

Notification of the event had occurred with handbills “distributed about the city last evening in some manner which recipients knew not of.” Many also received copies of a first edition of what was called the “official Kansas publication of the Klan.”  The small four page publication called The Jayhawker American.”

The Jayhawker American, Vol 1, No. 7, 19 October 1922, Newton Kansas.

Standard Atlas of Harvey County, Kansas, 1918 Newton Township, Sections 1-6 & 7-12.

Both the 1918 Standard Atlas of Harvey County and the Mitchell Map of Harvey County, 1926 show E.O. Freeman, J.J. Steinkirchner and C.F. Molzen as land owners in section 3 of Newton Township, Harvey County, Kansas.

The Klan in Kansas

 In 1921, the Klan began to get a foothold in Kansas communities, targeting  the civic and religious leaders.  In many communities, membership consisted of mainstream white Protestant men, including elected officials and community leaders. They organized social events for the community and church.  They presented themselves  a reform group promoting Christianity and “Americanism.” They actively worked for limits on immigration and were hostile to groups of people deemed “undesirable” including Catholics. According to one estimate the Klan had up to 200,000  members in Kansas during the 1920s. Historians refer to the time between 1915 and 1925 as the “2nd Klan.”

Camp Ground, unknown location. Photo taken by McDaniel’s Studio, Newton, Ks.

Most of the known Klan activities in Harvey County seemed to take place late in the fall of 1922 through spring 1923, including the meeting in the pasture.

Clip from The Jayhawker American, p. 2.

Advertisers in The Jayhawker American, p. 2.

In October 1922, rumors that several of the Republican candidates on the upcoming ballot were Klan members. To combat the rumors, C.D. Masters, Chairman of the Republican County Central, issued a statement printed in the October 31, 1922 Evening Kansan Republican regarding candidates and membership in the Klan. “There is not a Republican county candidate a member of said organization.”

In the November 23 issue of the Evening Kansan Republican, the editor noted:

“On general principles the Kansan is of course against the Ku Klux Klan, or any other organization or individual that presumes to try to supersede or set aside regularly constituted law and order.  The editor goes on to note that “so far . . .  there has been no breach of the law-no attempt at mob rule . . . or any of the violent conduct in the name of the Klan here” although, he noted, that this has not been the case in other Kansas communities.

The editor also noted:

“We have thought all along that the Klan movement was so utterly ridiculous that it would speedily die out as a useless and unworthy proposition, and we believe it would have done so, had not ardent opponents given it so much free advertising.”

Throughout the 1920s, there continued to be incidents in various Harvey County communities.

Donates Purse to Church 

Hesston, 1923

Early in 1923, the Methodist Church in Hesston received a visit from the Klan. The experience as described in the undated clipping included with a letter written by Waive Kline dated 3 February 1923.   According to the clipping, a twenty-four year old Newton man, Lyle Norton, was  the spokesman of the group of 16.  When asked why they had singled out Hesston Methodist Church, Norton replied:

“they had been observing the work of the churches in the county, and had learned that Rev. Tarvin was doing good work, but not receiving the support he deserved, and that the visit was made so that the people of the Hesston congregation many know that their activities were being watched.”

Clipping included with letter Waive Kline to Glenn Wacker, 3 February 1923.

All 16 members were in full regalia, but only Norton removed his mask noting that he was “not ashamed of their organization” and he requested that the Evening Kansan Republican state that the organization is “not anti -Catholic, not anti-Jew, not anti-Negro, and not anti-anything — just pro-American.”

Norton was a Harvey County native, born to James & Maggie Norton in June 1899. The elder Norton had a monument business and Lyle likely worked for his father. The 1920 Census shows him living at home. He married Martha and by the 1930 Census they had a 5 year old son. In the mid-1920s, he owned Norton Tire Store at 614 Main in Newton. The 1940 Census indicates that he and his family moved to El Paso, Colorado.

The Ku Klux Comes To Town

Halstead, 1923

Halstead Independent, 5 April 1923

The visit to the 1st Methodist Church in Halstead was less friendly. Lydia Mayfield included a description of the event she called a “most ridiculous and shameful show of hypocritical bigotry and silly jingoism” in her “Halstead the Early Years”

In 1923, the annual Easter Cantata was held at the 1st Methodist Church in Halstead. Participants in the chorus were “musically gifted people of the town” usually Protestant.  This year, however, one soloist was Catholic.  Mayfield noted that the “Klan was on hand to prevent this terrible desecration.” Eye witness Grace Barkemeyer described her memory of the event.

“I have a clear picture in my mind of how things looked the evening of the Klan visit.  I remember how Elmer Ruth looked around to see what made the chorus look so startled and how each one in the audience looked as they caught sight of the intruders.”  Grace Barkemeyer, quoted in Mayfield, “Halstead the Early Years”

The reporter for the Halstead Independent noted that “the leader made as short speech in which he berated the morals of the community and the churches, castigated the clergy and said that the Klan was going to weed out the sinners and anybody not one hundred person American.” At the conclusion of his speech, he announced that he was “not ashamed” and removed his hood “when the features of Lyle Norton of Newton were recognized by many.” After a short prayer, the leader put a few dollars on the pulpit for “moral and religious training of young boys and girls of Halstead” and the eighteen “hooded sheeted Klan marched out.

Nobody knew for certain who the Halstead members were, but Lyle Norton was again the spokesman for the group.

The Klan held Their Regular Meeting 

Sedgwick, 1924

Several meeting notices and advertisements appeared in the Sedgwick Pantagraph throughout 1924.

Sedgwick Pantagraph, 13 April 1924

O.S. Finch (1869-1940), was a businessman in Sedgwick, married with at least two children.  His possible involvement in the Klan is unknown other than this advertisement.

Sedgwick Pantagraph, 11 September 1924, p. 3.

Sedgwick Pantagraph, 2 October 1924, p. 1.

Klan Parade

Newton, 1927

The Evening Kansan Republican, reported in 1927 that a “Klan Parade Was Held.” According to the notice in the August 8, 1927 issue, the Klan parade began at “Athletic Park coming in on Fifth, north on Poplar to Seventh and thence back south.” The column of participants was “two to three blocks long with three persons abreast, including women and children, all with full  regalia except masks.  A band headed the parade.” The parade was followed by a speaker.

By the late 1920s, the Klan was in decline in Harvey County. On January 25, 1925,  Kansas became the first state  to legally “oust the Klan” after a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that the Klan was a foreign corporation and need a Kansas charter to continue in Kansas.


  • Jayhawker American Vol. 1, Number 7, published in Newton, Ks, 19 October 1922.  HCHM Archives.
  • Newton City Directories: 1917, 1919, 1934, 1938, 1940.
  • U.S. Census: 1900, 1920, 1930, 1940.
  • Standard Atlas of Harvey County, Kansas, 1918. 
  • Mitchell Map of Harvey County, Kansas, 1926.
  • Newspapers:
    • Evening Kansan Republican:  14 September 1906, 11 March 1909, 20 March 1909, 28 June 1912, 23 July 1921, 22 March 1922, 5 April 1922,  3 May 1922, 19 May 1922, 7 July 1922, 21 August 1922, 13 September 1922, 6 October 1922, 20 October 1922, 21 October 1922, 28 October 1922, 30 October 1922, 31 October 1922, 23 November 1922, 4 December 1922, 2 April 1923. 4 April 1923, 23 October 1923, 7 December 1924, 8 August 1927, 21 June 1946.
    • Halstead Independent, 5 April 1923.
    • Sedgwick Pantagraph: 14 February 1924, 13 April 1924, 6 September 1924, 11 September 1924, 2 October 1924, 9 October 1924, 16 October 1924, 28 October 1924.
    • Clipping of Klan Activities in Hesston, 3 February 1923 HCHM Archives.
  • Kline, Waive to Glen Wacker, letter dated 3 February 1923.  Wacker Collection, HCHM Archives
  • Mayfield, Lydia.  “Halstead: The Early Years” Halstead, Ks, 1987.  HCHM Archives.

Additional Resources

  • Sloan, Charles William, Jr. “Kansas Battles the Invisible Empire: The Legal Outster of the KKK From Kansas, 1922-1927” Fall 1974 (Vol. 40, No. 3)  at
  • Grinspan, Jon. “The KKK’s Failed Comeback”
  • Jones, Lila Lee. The Ku Klux Klan in Eastern Kansas during the 1920s. Emporia State Research Studies, Winter, 1975.
  • Rives, Timothy. “The Second Ku Klux Klan in Kansas City:  Rise and Fall of a White Nationalist Movement” Dwight Eisenhower Presidential Library.  Kansas City Public Library, The Pendergast Years.
  • Schruben, Francis W. Kansas In Turmoil: 1930-1936.  Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1969.
  • “The Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s” at
  • “Klan Painting” at
  • Ku Klux Klan in Kansas – Kansapedia – Kansas State Historical Society at