From Yahoo! Voices, "When the KKK Ran Indiana: The Story of D.C. Stephenson," by Elliot Feldman 2 April 2010 -- In 1924 Ed Jackson, the Ku Klux Klan's supported candidate, was elected governor of Indiana. At this time, the Hoosier Klan members numbered over 250,000. Six major Indiana cities had KKK backed mayors, including the capital city of Indianapolis. And the Klan even controlled the state legislature's lower house.
There were two reasons why the Ku Klux Klan blossomed in Indiana. First, the overall success of the 1915 D.W. Griffith film "Birth of a Nation", glorifying the KKK's emergence after the Civil War, spurred a resurgence of the long dormant Klan throughout the country. Second, Indiana Klan leader Joe Huffington met D.C. Stephenson in 1920.
David Curtiss Stephenson, also known as "Steve", was a former Texas coal salesman who had just moved to Indiana and was looking for a new job. Joe Huffington hired Stephenson to sell KKK memberships in Indiana. Stephenson thought that this could be lucrative. For every $10 initiation fee, he would be paid $4.
Stephenson, in fact, did so well in boosting membership that he replaced Joe Huffington as the Indiana Grand Dragon in 1922. While it was probably anybody's guess if he really believed in the Klan's tenets, D.C. Stephenson's power throughout the state grew and he became rich. He would often boast loudly, "I am the law in Indiana."
Mysteriously enough, during this period, very few ordinary Indiana citizens knew what D.C. Stephenson actually looked like, and very few knew his name. His many followers simply called him "The Old Man."
The Fall of D.C. Stephenson
The Old Man, however, had an Achilles Heel, his insatiable sexual appetite. He often held orgies in his private railroad car. In 1925, D.C. Stephenson kidnapped Madge Oberholtzer, an Indiana statehouse employee, took her to his railroad car, and raped her. When the KKK Grand Dragon left her go, Oberholtzer was covered with bite marks. Several days later, she committed suicide and "Steve" was arrested for murder.
Stephenson went from being the shadowy clandestine "Old Man" to a subject of public hatred, humiliated in a tabloid-like trial. The judge sentenced him to life in prison, and Indiana Klan membership hit rock bottom.
New Castle, Indiana
In 1950 D.C. Stephenson was paroled and immediately violated the terms of his parole. He went on the run, was captured, and sent back to prison. In 1956 he was paroled again, but was re-arrested in 1961 for sexual assault. In 1966 David Curtiss Stephenson died. (source:Yahoo! Voices )