Something They Don’t Talk About in Pawhuska

In downtown Pawhuska, Oklahoma, county seat of Osage County and the capital of the Osage Nation, is a small plaque that reads “ON THIS SITE IN 1897 NOTHING HAPPENED HERE.”

Well something did happen here 24 years later, when the Klu Klux Klan attempted to roust all the “idle negroes” out of town.

December 8, 1921:

“Thirty negroes boarded a Midland Valley passenger train here yesterday after Ku Klux Klan warnings had been posted in all sections of the city instructing idle negroes to leave town and order all other negroes in the white section to immediately moved into the colored district.

[…]

The warnings painted in red ink read: ‘Warning–All idle negroes art to leave Pawhuska at once. All negroes residing in servants quarters in the white district must immediately move south of the railroad tracks.

These notices posted throughout the white residential section, the business district and in ‘negro town,’ bore the signature ‘The Ku Klux Klan.’

A letter received by a local newspaper asked for fullest publicity in the matter and said ‘The Klu Klux Klan’ meant business. The paper was instructed to inform the negroes that severe punishment would be dealt to negroes who failed to abide by the warnings.

It was the contention of the letter that negroes are becoming too numerous in the white section of the city and that negroes employed by white people and housed in servant quarters have been harboring idle negroes.

Raids this week by police officers on servant quarters in the rear of prominent citizens homes have resulted in the seizure of considerable booze and goods stolen from Pawhuska stores have been found in the possession of these negroes, this letter declared.”

Source: “Negroes Warned by the Klan.” Oklahoma Weekly Leader, Guthrie, Oklahoma, December 8, 1921: 1.

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