In 1925, the KKK in Indiana was at the height of its influence, with one third of the state’s population among its ranks. It was seen as a patriotic, pro-working class organization. However, the case of Madge Oberholtzer would change that forever.
Madge was a young, white, middle-class Indiana resident who worked for D.C. Stephenson, a powerful politician in Indiana and former KKK Grand Dragon who led a coup dividing the Northern Klan. On March 15th, Stephenson and his henchmen abducted Madge at gunpoint and forced her to accompany Stephenson on a private train to Chicago, where he would call himself the “law in Indiana” and proceed to brutally beat and victimize her.
Before succumbing to her injuries, Madge provided a full statement of her abuse at the hands of Stephenson which would expose the depths of Indiana’s political corruption and lay bare the true face of the Ku Klux Klan—a revelation that would have a ripple effect on America’s impression of the Klan from that day forward.