ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

KKK Kidnapping, Assault and Murder - Ku Klux Klan Implodes Indiana Politics

Updated on August 5, 2012
The KKK was often associated with white sheets and cross burnings
The KKK was often associated with white sheets and cross burnings

Indiana's Political Landscape Changed Due to Heinous Act

At 33, D.C. Stephenson was enjoying the spoils of his affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan -- a fleet of cars, impressive homes, even a yacht. And, from his beautiful home in Indianapolis, he visualized his ascension to the highest office in the world -- President of the United States. Some historians believe it was within his reach. But, D.C. was a simple man of intense contradictions. Because of his depravity, historians would record another ending to his story.

Birth of the Klan

The Klan was originally formed in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee. Klan supporters depict this organization as a social group, similar to the Masons, whose main mission was to serve and protect. Others paint the Klan as a group whose actions quickly evolved from benevolence to violence with primary goals of crippling reconstruction, keeping blacks in their place, and chasing Northern white carpetbaggers back home.

This early group was disbanded in 1869, only to reform in the 1900s, spurred, in part, by the pro-Southern film Birth of A Nation which depicted a country run amok -- tormented by mobs of blacks (played by white actors in blackface) led by Northern white carpetbaggers.

According to The Center for History, a December 7, 1915 advertisement for the KKK called for southern white men to join a "High Class of Order for Men of Intelligence and Character." Thus, Phase II of the Klan begins.

Indiana Joins the Movement

The Indiana chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, started in 1920 by Joe Huffington, had an operating base in Evansville, Indiana. Huffington soon recruited a brass, young, bonds salesman to the cause -- David (D. C.) Stephenson. Stephenson was charismatic and excelled at recruiting new members.

In fact, he possessed impressive oratory skills despite his rather limited eight grade education. He effectively pushed his platform of white supremacy, religious intolerance, censorship, sexual purity and prohibition. He become grand dragon of the KKK in 1922, and under his watch, Indiana Klan membership reportedly grew to 250,000.

Stephenson's fiscal growth mirrored that of the Klan organization. At 33, he was a multi-millionaire with real estate and personal property which included a private jet and yacht. He recognized the importance of media control and purchased a newspaper to ensure his message of intolerance would spread.

Clip from the film Birth of A Nation supplied by YouTube

D.C. Stephenson

"I am the law in Indiana."
"I am the law in Indiana."

And, as Stephenson's wealth grew, so did his influence. If anyone doubted the extent of the Klan's influence, they need only look to the 1924 Indiana elections in which many Klan endorsed candidates were elected. Those candidates included the Indianapolis mayor and sheriff, lieutenant governor and Secretary of State. Even, Governor Ed Jackson, was the Klan candidate of choice.

As Stephenson's popularity continued to spike, his backers encouraged him to run for President in the upcoming 1928 election. Stephenson's supporters felt he was unbeatable despite several incidents which foreshadowed a lack of moral compass and control. (He was accused of several crimes against women in Ohio, Indiana and Georgia including attempting to seduce a young Indiana woman.) Supposedly, he maintained his freedom through bribes and payoffs. "I am the law in Indiana," he would often boast.

A Date with The Devil

Madge Oberholtzer was introduced to the charming D.C. Stephenson when both were dinner guests at the Governor's mansion. She worked for the Indiana Department of Education, in a state program for literacy. Stephenson was attracted to the 28-year-old teacher from Clay City, Indiana. She agreed to a few dates, but apparently lost interest in the eligible bachelor after she learned of his involvement with the Klan.

Unfortunately, she did not break off all contact. On March 25, 1925, Stephenson convinced Marge to meet him at his mansion to discuss an urgent manner. Shortly after arrival, according to her account, she was coerced into consuming several alcoholic drinks and became ill. Stephenson's bodyguard and driver carried her to his car and later onto a train bound for Chicago.

While on the train, Stephenson sexually assaulted and brutalized his terrified captive, biting her repeatedly until she bled and passed out. Once they arrived in Chicago, Oberholtzer, convinced him to let her make purchases at a store while accompanied by the body guard. There she managed to purchase and hide mercuric chloride tablets.

Once they returned to the train, Madge swallowed six of the tablets and after becoming violently ill, devulged her suicide plan. Accounts differ on how Stephenson reacted to this emergency. Some state he made an offer of marriage which she refused; others that he immediately rushed her home. Nevertheless, he did not provide medical assistance, Instead, he had his driver drop her off at her parent's home. Almost 24 hours had expired since she had taken the poison.

Madge would die approximately two weeks later, but not before providing her mother with signed details of the attack. Stephenson was charged with kidnapping, rape and second-degree murder. During his trial, Oberholtzer's doctor testified that the injuries she sustained in the rape were adequate to kill her. In addition, he testified that Stephenson's delay in seeking treatment for her, had led directly to her death.

Klan Membership Begins to Slide

Stephenson's broad public support dissolved as details of the crime were disclosed. His behavior directly conflicted with the Klan's message of sexual discretion, temperance and respect of women. The jury returned a guilty verdict, and the man, who "was the law" in Indiana ,was sentenced to life imprisonment. But, Stephenson was confident he would serve little time in jail; in fact, he felt certain he would receive a pardon from his political buddy, the Governor. However, Stephenson would discover that his days of political influence were over as the governor abstained.

Stephenson Gets His Revenge

Stephenson was enraged and decided to play his trump card. If he was going to suffer, so would his former political bedfellows. He had maintained evidence of the political corruption that had stained Indiana politics, and he disclosed documentation of political malfeasance including payoffs and bribes.

Indictments were filed against the governor, the Marion County Republican chairman, George Coffin, and attorney Robert Marsh. Mayor John Duvall received a 30 day prison sentence. The subsequent scandal was the death blow to the political incumbents and the Klan in Indiana. In 1956, Stephenson was released from prison after serving 31 years -- including a release and reimprisonment for parole violation. In 1961, he was accused of the sexual assault of a 16 year-old in Missouri, but apparently was cleared due to lack of evidence and/or bribery. He died in Jonesboro, Tennessee at 75.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      History is full of stories about people like Stephenso, could he be one of Dr. Robert Hare's "Snakes in Suits".

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Great observations, SpanStar. Thanks for stopping in and your comments.

    • SpanStar profile image


      8 years ago

      I am impressed with the comments here regarding preparing to stop hate, I guess times are a changing. This cancer called hated doesn't only effect the victim/s but society as a whole for tensions between cultures can last a lifetime.

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      All . . . as more eloquently stated decades ago . . .if we don't heed the lessons taught, we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. Peace.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      God bless you Sir! God bless you Sir! Let's not forget Madge and lies of the KKK. It's poison that killed her. It was murder. The poison was that D.C. Stephenson. The KKK has told me that they are just keeping peace. They've said they police the whites. Lies. It's a hate group. One showed me his "bill of sale" of a "person". Yep! One of FOREFATHERS no doubt. True history is hard and impossible for some to swallow. God bless you Sir!

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Glad it was beneficial. Thanks for stopping in.

    • junko profile image


      9 years ago

      thanks for the info. i had a need to know

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Asherlee, I agree. This is a terrifying historical chapter. We have to stay diligent and ready to combat evil in any form. Thanks for stopping in.

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for stopping in, Greg. I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading more of your writings.

      peace... always

    • gg.zaino profile image

      greg g zaino 

      9 years ago from L'America- Big Pine Key, Florida

      Great hub "E Y M" ... As a history major in college at Auburn U., I worked for the Dept. of Archives and History at the state capital.

      My focus was Antebellum Southern history through the Civil War and post Civil War followed by the Reconstruction era. These were mandatory in my studies and when i saw this hub i was automatically drawn. Thanks for the lesson!

      thank you also for stopping by and taking the time to read the hounds hub.. he thanks you too Expand..

      peace my friend... greg z

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting but also terrifying.

      We need to put an end to all this. The question is how???

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Samsons1 and tonymac04 -- thanks for stopping in.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting, terrifying history. Thanks for the write up.

      Love and peace


    • samsons1 profile image


      9 years ago from Tennessee

      rated up & useful! thanks ExpandYourMind, for this descriptive and informative look into the KKK & politics in Indiana.

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for checking it out.

    • mquee profile image


      9 years ago from Columbia, SC

      This is a very interesting narrative of both the Klan and Stephenson. I remember seeing a documentary some years ago on him. Thank you for good historical information.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)