Here’s an interesting photo I found in the Old Homecoming Week Magazine . Click here to see the full size version because there is a good bit of detail you can’t see in the image above. You can see what 7th street looks like today here.
Here’s a detail of a drawing of Monongahela done in 1902:
You can see that there is an empty lot across from Chess Park in the both the photo and the map. I believe this area was farmland at one time. I wonder if the Chess family felt disappointed about all the development going on and left their property somewhat undeveloped. They must have wanted to preserve some green space for future residents because they donated Chess Park to the city of Monongahela. It would be interesting to do a blog post about the history of the park. Let me know if you have any ideas.
Anyways… THE KKK MARCHING IN THE NEW YEARS DAY PARADE? How bizarre! The weird thing about this is that whites and blacks seem to have co-existed peacefully in Monongahela and were well regarded from what I’ve read in the Old Homecoming Week magazine. The local AME church is even famous for being a stop on the underground railroad during the civil war and had the support of several white people in town. I think the KKK activity in Monongahela was instead due to the huge influx of immigrants to the area around the turn of the century . I recall reading derogatory remarks being made in local newspaper stories toward immigrants while researching coal mining accident articles quoted in the Old Home Week magazine of 1908. Here’s a few quotes I found over at Wikipedia:
A significant characteristic of the second Klan was that it was an organization based in urban areas, reflecting the major shifts of population to cities in both the North and the South. In Michigan, for instance, 40,000 members lived in Detroit, where they made up more than half of the state’s membership. Most Klansmen were lower to middle-class whites who were trying to protect their jobs and housing from the waves of newcomers to the industrial cities: immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, who tended to be Catholic and Jewish in numbers higher than earlier groups of immigrants; and black and white migrants from the South. As new populations poured into cities, rapidly changing neighborhoods created social tensions.
In reaction to social changes, the Klan adopted anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, anti-Communist and anti-immigrant slants. The social unrest of the postwar period included labor strikes over low wages and working conditions in many industrial cities, often led by immigrants, who also organized unions. Klan members worried about labor organizers and socialist leanings of some of the immigrants, which added to the tensions. They also resented upwardly mobile ethnic Catholics. At the same time, in cities Klan members were themselves working in industrial environments and often struggled with working conditions.
I came across another picture which showed the KKK marching down main street. I’ll post it later when I get a chance.