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SIGNS, CEREMONIES AND OBJECTS
A FULL EXPOSÉ.
BY A LATE MEMBER.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for
the Northern District of Ohio.
It does not matter who is the writer of the following pages. If it did, no inducement likely to be offered, would tempt him to publish his name. He has no desire to be tracked out by the Brothers of the Southern Cross, and he knows too much of their deathless hatred and hound-like pertinacity, their numbers, and the ramifications of their organization, already encroaching on southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, to carelessly take the slightest risk of anything of the kind.
It is due to the public, however, that one who pretends to make an exposure like this, in which the whole nation is interested, should offer some plausible explanation of the means by which he became possessed of the information. For this explanation the reader is referred to the narrative following.
As to the truthfulness of the exposure, the writer is content to leave its vindication to the events of the future, confident that so far as the workings of the K. K. K. are ever discovered, they will confirm the main facts as given here. Of course there are many minor points on which it is not likely there will ever be more positive testimony than that here given. This must be so from the nature of the case, as will plainly appear in the following pages.
After the war, which had not benefited my purse extravagantly, I wandered off into the interior of Georgia, and finally engaged in business in one of the interior counties. I knew the southern people pretty well before the war, had been much among them, and was familiar with their habits, prejudices, etc. For my own convenience and safety, when I went into business I passed as a Kentuckian, and thereby avoided many personal and business annoyances. At first this was not particularly disagreeable, as no very decided opinions were expected while the country was still thoroughly under the national armies. Gradually, however, it became worse and worse, until at length, to keep up my pretensions, and save my business, I was compelled to profess the most ultra southern views and prejudices. I thought that there would never be further active opposition to the national authority, and so submitted to the situation, rather than lose what little I had by leaving it. To sell it for anything worth taking, was simply impossible in the state of the country. So much for the way I came to know what is about to be told.
In the summer of 1867, one of my neighbors called one morning, and said that an important meeting was to come off that night, at a house about three miles from our town. Every good Southerner, he said, was interested, and he wanted me to go. Of course I had heard of organizations throughout the South, and knew from the manner of this man’s talk, that something of the kind was in the wind now. I knew, too, that it would not do to disregard the appeal to “every good Southerner,” and so I went with him.
The meeting was not at any house, however. Half a mile from the house he had named, my escort turned his horse into a bridle-path, leading up into a wild, hilly district, and I followed, of course. A mile or so on this path, away from any habitation, my companion suddenly slackened his horse’s pace, and proceeded very cautiously, bidding me be silent. In a few minutes I distinctly heard the click of a musket lock, as the piece was brought to a full cock. It was too dark to see anything. My companion carried an Enfield rifle, and instantly stopping his horse, he cocked his piece and pulled the trigger, almost without a pause. Of course I was somewhat alarmed and astonished; but before I could do more than stop my horse, my escort dismounted, handed me his reins, and whispering that I was to remain there, walked slowly forward toward the spot where I had heard the first click of the gun-lock. In a moment or so he returned as quietly, and we proceeded as silently as before. As we passed the spot where I supposed a sentinel to be standing, there was no one there! Whatever had been there had vanished, and as I turned to say something about it to my escort, I saw that he too had gone! It was another man riding by my side, his face covered partly by a handkerchief, drawn tightly across the nose. It was too dark in those woods to see much, but to the best of my knowledge I had never seen my new escort before. This operation was repeated twice within three quarters of a mile, and each time I was silently turned over to a new guard, whose face was partially covered, like that of the first.
I was thoroughly alarmed, and more than half suspected that I had been tried and condemned beforehand, and was now being led away to be murdered. There was nothing to be done but to go on, for I was completely lost in the woods, and knew nothing of how soon I might stumble on a dozen enemies, if I should attempt to escape.
Finally my guard halted in a dense thicket, and told me in a low tone to dismount and hitch my horse, while he did the same. Then he once more cocked his piece, and at the sound at least a score of gun-locks, in the hands of men all round us, but concealed in the darkness, were cocked and the triggers pulled, as I have described in the case of meeting the first sentinel. It was still as death when we halted, but I now heard horses which were hitched about us, so that I knew the whole party came there mounted. They began to come around us too, moving slowly, and as silently as possible, each man having his gun, and a handkerchief or something of the kind over his face. The man who brought me there spoke to several of the dimly-seen figures, but so low I could not hear. Then one stepped toward me, leaving the others standing in a circle about us. This was the captain of the band, and he at once proceeded to my initiation, not a word being spoken by any one but him, and the whole formula being of course repeated from memory, for the place was dark as night could make it. The following was the form, not half of which I could have remembered from hearing it at that time, but which has since become familiar by attendance at the initiations of others:
Captain.—(Addressing me, the candidate for initiation.) “When a noble people are crushed by the servile minions of a tyrant, will they submit tamely and basely?”
Captain.—”When a noble cause is lost in the field, when its spotless banners are trailed in the dust by the base hordes of the oppressor, when appeal to the God of Battles is no longer possible, should the friends of that cause fold their arms in abject submission?”
Captain.—”When the homes of a noble people are devastated by fire and pillage, when their women are violated by a brutal soldiery, should that people mete out the same to the destroyers?”
Captain.—”When a brave people are trampled in the dust by tyrants, what is their remedy?”
“Silence, Darkness, and Cold Lead! Do you agree?”
Captain.—”To be of us and not with us, is Treason, and the reward of Treason is Death! Every Southron belongs to us, by birth, by education, by the love of liberty inhaled with the balmy breezes of the sunny South, by the hatred of the northern clans imbibed with his mother’s milk, by the inherent detestation of hypocrisy and the myriad social and political abominations of the North! You are of us, you must be with us! The reward of Treason is Death! You are prepared to take the oath.”