York Town Square

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Klan’s presence won’t make York County’s highlight reel

Klansmen were commonly seen around York County in the first half of the 20th century. This group is from Hanover. Also of interest: Finder of KKK certificate: ‘My first thought was fear … the Ku Klux Klan would have loved us’

A Pennsylvania college student, working on an independent study project, recently wrote seeking information on the Ku Klux Klan. Her primary interest was the hate group’s activities in the Hanover area.
The Klan’s attraction to York County goes way back, and hate groups became particularly evident in the past 15 years in response to unfortunate racial incidents .
The Hanover area suffered through a Klan march after a racial disturbance in its Center Square in 1991. A couple of years ago, the racists swept into York on several occasions in the aftermath of homicide trials for the white men who killed a black woman in 1969.
These were not York County’s finest hours. But one county Klan story should bring satisfaction to many.
In the 1980s, Albert P. Lentz, leader of York County’s White United Party, was prone to saying Hitler was a great man and other such nonsense.
Well, when Lentz died of a heart attack in 1992, his body wasn’t discovered until two weeks later.
Popular guy.
The following is a summary from “Never to be Forgotten” about Klan activity in the county through the decades:

1929: North York
Klan Konklave finds a home
North York’s chief burgess, council members and playground association members ride in two cars leading a parade. Five hundred marchers in full uniform follow. Participants end up in the community playground, where 5,000 people observe an induction ceremony for 51 men, 23 women and 13 junior candidates dressed in full regalia. The last evening of the three-day convention ends with the firing of one 60-foot cross and 15, 15-foot-high crosses. The state Konklave of the Ku Klux Klan in Pennsylvania ends. The convention does not come to the county by accident. York is a hotbed of Klan activity and home to a “great titan,” a state leader in the Ku Klux Klan movement. Earlier in the decade, York counted the sixth-largest KKK lodge in the state with 1,518 members. Neither Allegheny nor Philadelphia counties listed klaverns of York County’s size. Churches often played host to Klan activities. About 100 Klanswomen attended Sunday evening services at a Dallastown church in 1926. The women assembled in the west end of town and marched to the church attired in hoods and gowns. A Dover-area church, constructed in 1927, still displays a stained glass window donated by the KKK. By 1933, KKK membership falls in the state, but the York klavern remains one of the state’s largest. Franklin and Philadelphia counties top the list. In the 1990s, York County remained an area of white supremacist activity. A scholar noted that rightists in York “are divided between overt Nazis and patriotic ultraconservatives. Klan activists in contemporary Pennsylvania ostensibly concern themselves with such mainstream issues as opposition to abortion, drugs and pornography.”