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Nebraska County Countdown: 77 - Garden County, Ku Klux Klan Encounter

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Welcome to Garden County, Nebraska! Named after the residents’ aspiration of creating the “Garden of the West”, replicating the Garden of Eden, Garden County has a population of around 2,000 people. The largest town and county seat is Oshkosh, Nebraska, named after Oshkosh, Wisconsin. We have had a Wisconsin town in our state this whole time...

In 1987, the Garden County Historical Society published a book Helen M. Robinson’s recollections, which contains memories of Mrs. Robinson and other citizens about the history of the County and towns within.

Here is a part I found interesting occurring on June 5th, 1925.

Dr. Stewart of Kansas City was speaker - national lecturer for the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, delivered an address on the aims, purposes and principles of the Order. The meeting began at 8:30 o’clock, but the crowd commenced to gather at six o’clock, some taking their lunch. The speaker’s platform was placed at the bottom of a sloping hill close to green #2 on the golf course and the big audience was compelled to park their cars at the entrance of the golf course, some being requested to park their cars near the speaker’s stand to provide light for the occasion should any of the gas lamps go out or refuse to work. As soon as it became dark, four fiery crosses illuminated the heavens and the spectacle was beautiful to behold. The white robed figures passing to and fro through the crowd and along the hillside, reminding one of that great day when the Son of Man will descend from the heavens and gather unto himself those who have kept faith and followed in His footsteps. The Lewellen band furnished patriotic music and a quartet of ladies gave several vocal selections. Rev. Goodwin offered prayer.

The speaker said the Klan was against the negro. “We believe in keeping white blood and black blood separate. No intermarrying of blacks and whites. But the Klan has sworn to uphold the law of the land and therefore see that the negro has protection. We are against the Jews because they are gaining control of every important industry in U.S. The Klans have nothing against the Catholics, but they are trying to control many parts of our schools and our government. The Klan is fighting for our free American institutions, and especially the public schools.”

Perhaps all did not agree with what the speaker said, but there was not a sound of protest. Following the completion of the address, cards were passed out through the audience to those who cared to learn more about the workings of the organization. My personal note - some people think that there was a Ku Klux Klan organization here in Oshkosh, or at least in Garden County. I haven’t even talked to anyone who was actually a member. I understand that there are still Klan organizations in the United States, but we don’t hear anything about them.

I would like to think this kind of thing does not happen still today, at least, not this openly.

Other Husker 77 Things:

  • Walt Barnes (All-America and All-Big 8 MG 1964-65)
  • Toniu Fonoti (All-America and All-Big 12 G 2000-2001)
  • Carl Nicks (All-Big 12 G 2007)
  • Adam Treu (LT 1996)
  • Dick Rupert (OG 1971)
  • Monte Kiffin (OT 1963)
  • Current Husker wearing 77 is...nobody...
  • The 1977 Nebraska Cornhuskers went 9-3 under Tom Osborne losing the home opener to an unranked Washington State 10-19. Everyone panicked and Tom Osborne was fired in his fifth season.

Haha! That sounds like something that happens today though, right?

Alabama ranked #4 came in to Memorial Stadium the next week and lost to Nebraska 31-24. “Wow! This guy Tom Osborne is pretty good!”

Nebraska would go on to lose to an unranked Iowa State team at Memorial Stadium 21-24 only to beat #7 ranked Colorado 33-15 the following week, which started a four game winning streak. “I think Tom Osborne is good?”

The big game of the year against #3 Oklahoma resulted in Nebraska getting blown out 7-38. “Fire Tom Osborne!”

Nebraska was placed in Liberty Bowl against #14 North Carolina and won 21-17.

“Tom Osborne should get another year.”