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Oconto County, Wisconsin
Mountain Memories
Pages  - 84 & 85

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Page 86 - 87 


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.The Ru Klux Klan Arrives
One Saturday morning in the mid 1920's a convoy of automobiles came into the town of Mountain. It was a warm summer day when this army of strangers appeared on our main street with license plates from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin on their cars. These new faces in our town created an atmosphere of perplexed anticipation among the locals; what did these hooded men in white cloaks want here in a small town that had no real troubles ?
These men, a hundred or more, masked and robed with high pointed hoods, invaded all of the places that had slot machines and turned the machines toward the walls so they could not be operated.
They then organized a march through the town to begin at the town creek heading north to the Town Hall where ,. they then held a meeting, the leaders of this group setting themselves up on a raised platform at one end of the hall.
The speaker for the group addressed the assembly of local people who had obviously followed the procession, and he first spoke of patriotism, good government, and the fine gualities there abouts. Then he went into a diatribe of condemnation of the black man.
The townspeople were silent except for a few who applauded, in minding their manners.
Next came a condemnation of the Jews, and then the Catholics. This time no response was heard from the townspeople, for this kind of talk was not to anyones liking , . -though they had heard of such troubles in other places, there were no blacks nor Jews in this community, Catholics had given no one any troubles, so why this ?
Finally the speaker showed his contempt for the foreign bom and this hit a raw nerve in the crowd, for this assemblage was either foreign born or the offspring of the foreign born and were proud of their heritage.
My Uncle John Olson, a native of Sweden, then strode up to the platform and confronted the speaker directly. In his strong Swedish accent he bellowed, "I'll tell you mister, I'm yust some good, some citizen, some nobody !" The crowd immediately broke into applause, cheering loud and long, which took quite a bit of wind
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out of the sails of the bigots who called this assembly !
The Ku Klux Klan did manage to organize a cell in Mountain, about 15 to 20 members then gathered at the meetings, and burned a few crosses as scare tactics. They were harassed unmercifully by a group of young men from town and one time when the Klan was having a sort of picnic on a Saturday evening, the local boys drove clear to Green Bay and located a crate of rotten eggs since they had found out about this upcoming assembly. At the height of the party the picnic-ers were pelted with the entire crate of eggs !
Every Saturday Night there was a moving picture play held in the High School Auditorium in those years and one night when the townspeople were returning to their homes after the movie they were treated to this sight;
A dummy, dressed in a sheet and hood, with the letters K.K.K- printed in black letters across his chest, was hanging by a rope around his neck, to dangle from the main roads street light.
Several times crosses that had been made by the members of the K.K.K. were discovered by our young opponents of the Klan and burned at locations other than those which had been designated as 'targets' of the Ku Klux Klan.
It took about 2 or 3 years before the K.K.K. finally got the hint and left this area. No more has been heard of them since !
The 'Dry1 Years
Starting in 1931 Mountain was hit with a triple whammy. The Great Depression had commenced its awful reign, the lumber companies had completed their total destruction of these virgin forests, and, the drought of the 30's was now in the full process of development.
The lumbering companies that had gained vast wealth from these lands now sold what cut-over land they could with the rest left to become tax delinquent except for areas of land around certain lakes, which they thought might one day gain a certain value.
The cut-over, burned over wastelands reverted to the County, thus the tax base for the Towns in this area of Oconto County were greatly reduced. To many of the
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