St. Francis of Assisi Parish
During the 1920s St. Francis of Assisi Parish enjoyed the services of five pastors; Fr. Humilis Wiese, Fr. Felix Raab, Fr. Ildephonse Moser, Fr. Solanus Crowley, and Fr. Clement Berberich. Born in 1881, Fr. Humilis Weiss served as pastor of St. Francis for five years, from 1917-1922. Fr. Humillis took his Franciscan vows in 1902 and was ordained in 1907. He died in 1960 and is buried in the mausoleum at Mission Santa Barbara.
Fr. Felix Raab served two terms as pastor of St. Francis, the first from 1912 to 1914, the second from 1922 to 1923. Fr. Felix was born in Germany in 1871 and immigrated to the United States at the age of fourteen. He professed his Franciscan vows in 1891 at Teutopolis, Illinois as a member of the Sacred Heart Province and was ordained in 1897. He died in residence at St. Elizabeth's in Oakland, California on Holy Thursday 1963. He is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery, Oakland.
On Sunday morning, January 29, 1922 St. Francis of Assisi parishioners awoke to a light snow storm. As they approached the church for Sunday Mass they walked through the still falling snow to see the church dusted in a mantle of white.
Fr. Ildephonse Moser served as pastor of St. Francis from 1923-1924, where, among other duties, he supervised the construction of the school. The new St. Francis School at 25th and K streets was dedicated in 1924. Of thoroughly modern design the building cost $121,000.
Fr. Ildephonse was born in 1876. He professed his Franciscan vows in 1896 and was ordained in 1902. He died at St. Joseph's Hospital, San Francisco in 1951 and is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery, Oakland.
Fr. Solanus Crowley served as pastor of St. Francis parish from 1924 to 1928. Under his supervision the new friary (1925), school gymnasium and auditorium were completed (1926). Born in 1887, Fr. Solanus professed his Franciscan vows in 1909 and was ordained in 1918. Fr. Solanus died unexpectedly on November 28, 1944 at the St. Francis friary he had helped build. He was fifty-seven years old and the previous evening he had been a principal speaker at the banquet celebrating the parish's Golden Jubilee.2
On Thursday Christmas Eve 1925, St. Francis of Assisi parish celebrated a Midnight Solemn High Mass with the choir signing "Holy Night," "Kyrie Eleison," "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," "Agnus Dei," and "Adeste Fideles," among other pieces. The music for the Christmas Day 8:30 AM Low Mass was provided by the Children's Choir who sang Christmas hymns.3
In January 1927 St. Francis of Assisi Parish recorded a census of 3,003 individuals and 1,114 families, which included 1,433 males and 1,570 females. The school enrolled four hundred and fifty-two students — two hundred and thirty-four boys, and two hundred and eighteen girls. By all measures it was a thriving parish.4
Fr. Clement Berberich served as St. Francis of Assisi pastor from 1928 to 1931. Fr. Clement was born in San Francisco in 1881, he professed his Franciscan vows at Santa Barbara in 1904, and was ordained in 1909. He died at St. Joseph Hospital in San Francisco in 1953 at the age of seventy-one. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, San Francisco.
During Fr. Clement's pastorate Anton Dorndorf was hired in 1929 as musical director of both St. Francis of Assisi Parish church and school. Mr. Dorndorf also served as director of the Turner Harmonie for over forty years ending only with his death in 1970.5
Anton Dorndorf became Sacramento's Music Meister. At St. Francis he taught humanities and music classes in the school, conducted music for regular weekly masses and the annual Christmas and Palm Sunday masses featuring full orchestra and choruses. In addition, he served as choral instructor at St. Joseph's Academy and Christian Brothers High School, music director at Bishop Armstrong and Loretto High Schools, and founder and director of the Elks Lodge mixed choir. During the 1950s and 1960s he conducted large mixed choirs at Christ the King and Mary's Hour Rallies.
The new Turn Verein hall at 3349 J Street was dedicated in 1926. Thus, when Anton Dorndorf was hired in 1929, he traveled less than eight blocks from St. Francis of Assisi church to his work with the Turner Harmonie
Sacramento: The Diocese
In December 1920, Patrick J. Keane was appointed co-adujutor to Bishop Thomas Grace. Following Bishop Grace's death on December 27, 1921, Patrick J. Keane was appointed Sacramento's third bishop in March 1922.
Under Bishop Keane Immaculate Conception parish in Oak Park, established in 1909, expanded its facilities, and two new parishes were established: St. Joseph's in 1924 in North Sacramento and Sacred Heart (St. Stephens) in 1926 in East Sacramento.
Grace Day Home, which had been dedicated by Bishop Grace in December 1920, became the first licensed day-care center in California in 1922. In 1923 when St. Stephens at 3rd and O streets closed, the students and teachers were transferred to Grace Day Home.
Holy Guardian Angels school opened in 1923 at 730 S Street — in 1930 it enrolled three hundred and forty students. In 1924 the new Christian Brothers high school opened at 21st and Y streets. In 1926 St. Joseph's Academy dedicated their new elementary school.
Mater Misericordiae Hospital opened at 40th and J streets in 1925. It had a capacity for one hundred and fifty-five beds and thirty-five bassinets. It also housed the nursing school. In 1934 the name was formally changed to Mercy Hospital.6
|Mercy Hospital -Diocese of Sacramento Archives
In 1926 a gym was added to Christian Brothers High School at 21st and Y streets. Also in 1926, an elementary school was dedicated at St. Joseph's Academy. In 1930 St. Joseph's Academy enrolled five hundred and twelve girls.
By 1926 Sacramento had seven parishes — The Cathedral, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Mary's, Immaculate Conception, St. Elizabeth's, St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart was established in 1926 as St. Stephens, but renamed "Sacred Heart of Jesus" in 1929.
In 1929 the diocese opened St. Mary's Cemetery at 65th Street and 21st Avenue to augment the old St. Joseph Cemetery on 21st Street, just south of Broadway. The St. Mary's mausoleum opened in 1934.
Sacramento's third bishop, the Rev. Patrick Keane died on September 1, 1928. On March 4, 1929 Robert Armstrong was appointed Sacramento's fourth bishop. He would serve almost twenty-eight years until his death in January 1957.
In 1930 the Diocese of Sacramento comprised the same area it had in 1920: 53,400 square miles in California, and 38,162 square miles in Nevada, for a total of 91,562 square miles.
In 1930 the diocese had ninety-two priests — an increase of twenty-two since 1920. In 1930 the diocese had one hundred and thirty-three churches — an increase of twenty-six since 1920. There were 2,737 Catholic students in the diocese, and the total number of youth under Catholic care stood at 3,044 — an increase of four hundred and thirty-eight since 1920, comprising a seventeen per center increase. The total Catholic population of the diocese stood at 60,315, an increase of nine and a half percent since 1920.7
Growth in the Diocese of Sacramento, in the number of churches, priests, schools, parishioners and students, reflected the general growth and prosperity of Sacramento City and County in the 1920s.
Sacramento: City and County
Standing on the front steps of the church in 1930, the St. Francis of Assisi parishioner would see significant cultural and architectural additions to the neighborhood. The Eastern Star Temple at 2719 K Streets was dedicated in 1928.
Behind Sutter's Fort rose the six-story Sutter Hospital facing L Street on the corner of 28th Street, which opened in 1923.
The hospital was organized by a consortium of Sacramento physicians, whose experience in the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic convinced them that the city needed more hospital beds. About 4,500 cases of flu were reported; four hundred and seventy-nine Sacramentans lost their lives. At the height of the epidemic the City Library served as a hospital, and prostitutes "were gratefully accepted to do volunteer nursing."8
The Masonic Auditorium stood at the southwest corner of 28th and L streets and next to it the Tuesday Club at 2722 L Street. The Pioneer Congregational Church at 2700 L Street was dedicated in 1926.
In 1930 the county's population stood at 48,249 — an addition of 23,128 over 1920 and a ninety-two percent increase. County resident's comprised thirty-four percent of the county population, but they were growing at a far faster rate than city residents. The total Sacramento city/county population in 1930 was 141,999 — an addition of 50,790 over 1920 and a thirty-six percent increase.
These numbers reflect an early move to the suburbs and outlying areas such as Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Orangevale, Fair Oaks, and North Sacramento which was incorporated in 1924.
| California Western States Life Building
In the prosperous decade of the 1920s, downtown Sacramento developed a skyline, and a number of historic landmarks were erected. Among them:
- the 14 story California Western States Life Building at 926 J Street, the city's first "true" skyscraper.
- the 14 story Elks Building at 11th and J, the city's second skyscraper,9
- the Weinstock-Lubin department store at 12th and K,
- the Senator Hotel at 12th and L,
- the Southern Pacific Depot at 5th and I, and
- the Memorial Auditorium at 16th and J streets.
| Elks Building
In addition, both State Buildings #1 (the Unruh Building) and #2 (the Courts/Library Building of The Capitol Extension were completed.
| The Capitol Extension
The 1920s also saw the addition of new food processing facilities. The California Packing Company plant at 17th and C (known as Calpak #11), and a California Canning company facility at Front and Q streets, (known as Calpak #12), was acquired by Calpak, upgraded and enlarged, The American Can Company broke ground for its new plant at 32nd and C streets in 1926. By the end of the decade, the Philips Milling Co. at Front and P streets was one of four rice mills in the Sacramento area.
By 1930 canning and preserving were Sacramento's leading industries, followed by railroad manufacturing and maintenance, slaughtering, flour and rice mills, bakeries, and auto repair.10
To provide more power, PG&E built a 3,000,000 ;cubic ft. gas storage tank at Front and T streets. Additionally, in 1923, Sacramento voters answering a need for greater control over their electrical power costs approved organization of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Beleaguered by law suits brought by PG&E and Great Western Power, SMUD would not begin full operation until 1946.
During the 1920s Sacramentans also initiated a number of public and private improvements. The 10,000 seat Moreing Field, a new home for the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League opened at Riverside and Y streets in 1922. A $100,000 reinforced concrete structure, it replaced the old wooden Buffalo Park grandstand. The Solons games were as much a civic event as they were a sporting event; on opening day Sacramento children were released from school to attend the game.
In 1923 the city used $250,000 bequeathed by former mayor William Land to buy two hundred and thirty-six acres of marshland north of Sutterville Road.11 The Land Park Zoo opened in 1927 with animals transferred from McKinley, Southside and McClatchy Parks. The nine-hole Land Park Golf Course opened in 1929.12
On December 31, 1923 President Calvin Coolidge pressed a button in Washington D.C. "that illuminated the City Plaza and caused water to flow from its
fountain, heralding the completion of the city's new filtration plant." On the front of the pumping station are inscribed the words, "And everything shall live withersoever the river cometh, Ezekiel 47:9"13 For the first time since 1849 Saacramentans enjoyed clear, clean, healthy drinking water.
In 1924 Sacramento High School opened at 34th and Y streets in Oak Park. McGeorge School of Law officially opened in 1924; it began as a night school in downtown Sacramento in 1921.
In 1924 Weinstock, Lubin and Company opened its new store at 12th and K streets on the former site of Christian Brothers School. Simon J. Lubin, son of the store's co-founder David Lubin, worked diligently to insure that the department store, the Senator Theater at 912 K Street and the Senator Hotel at 12th and L streets all opened within a few months of each other.
With a ballroom, bowling alley and billiards parlor on the second floor that extended from K to L streets, The Senator Theater was an entertainment destination. The Senator Hotel, located across L Street from the State Capitol, became an important center for city leaders, state politicians and industry representatives. Modeled after the Farnese Palace in Rome, it was heralded as the "finest hotel on the entire Pacific Coast."15
The new Southern Pacific Depot opened at 5th and I streets was dedicated on February 27, 1926. The depot was Italianate in design and featured a large mural of the 1869 Golden Spike ceremony. It was billed as "one of the most modern stations on the Pacific Coast and one of the finest structures in Sacramento." As a harbinger of changing transportation trends, 1926 was also the peak year for passenger train traffic at the depot with thirty-two trains in operation daily.16
In line with these changing transportation patterns, the first transcontinental highway, U.S. 40, opened in 1926. Running some 3,300 miles from San Francisco to Atlantic City, New Jersey, it entered Sacramento from the west on the old M Street bridge, ran to 10th Street in front of the Capitol, jogged over to 16th Street running past the Governors Mansion, and thence across the American River to Del Paso Blvd, connecting to Auburn Blvd and on east to the Atlantic coast.17
In 1926 PG&E's streetcar lines ended at 46th and J streets, and in 1929 the company purchased their last electric trolleys. By the end of the decade one in three Sacramentans owned a car. Throught much of the twentieth century, the city had one of the highest per capita automobile ownership rates in the United States.
In 1926 Sacramento Junior College opened on its new Freeport Boulevard campus. The college was organized in 1916 by Sacramento High School math and science teacher, Belle Cooledge, when the high school was located at 19th and K streets. Both Sacramento Junior College and the McGeorge School of Law earned national recognition for educational excellence.
Costing $850,000, Sacramento Memorial Auditorium opened on February 22, 1927. With a seating capacity of 5,000, it was known to some as "the Barn." Lloyd Bruno recalled performances there by Vladimir Horowitz, Sergei Rachmaninov, Jascha Heifetz, Paul Robeson singing "Othello," "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and Puccini's "The Girl of the Golden West," wherein the lead tenor sang the line "I'm Dick Johnson of Sacramento."18
Over the main entrance inside the foyer are inscribed the names of three Sacramento men who gave their lives in the "Spanish American War 1898," and one hundred and forty-eight Sacramentans who gave their lives in the "World War 1917-1918," among them at least three women.19
Over the center entrance to the auditorium itself are inscribed the words, "Dedicated to those who made the supreme sacrifice in service of the United States."
Following the formal opening, the San Carlos Opera Association offered "Aida," as the auditorium's inaugural performance on Monday, February 27th to a packed house. On March 15th, Will Rogers entertained Sacramentans with his one-man performance, and for almost sixty years thereafter Memorial Auditorium played host to Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, the annual Shrine/Polack Bros. Circus (for which schools were closed a half day so that children could see the circus), the Harlem Globe Trotters, boxing matches, ballet, symphony and opera performances, conventions, auto dealer shows and many other events.20
High School graduation ceremonies which included Catholic as well as public schools were held at the Memorial Auditorium each May and June. Thus, St. Francis of Assisi parishioners, in company with growing numbers of fellow Sacramentans, came to treasure the Memorial Auditorium as a repository of individual and community memories.
On September 17, 1927, Charles Lindbergh's visit to Sacramento was one of the highlights of the decade. Following his solo transatlantic flight in May 1927, Lindbergh barnstormed the country. Landing at Mather Field he was greeted by a crowd estimated to be more than 10,000. Along the thirty mile motorcade to Moreing Field and in the packed stands, another 25,000 Sacramentans paid homage to "Lucky Lindy." That evening he was the city's guest of honor at a banquet at the Senator Hotel. Resting on Sunday, he flew on to Reno on Monday, resuming his national barnstorming tour.
The Alhambra Theater at 31st and K streets opened on September 24, 1927. With 1,850 seats, the theater billed itself as "A Palatial Million Dollar Temple Dedicated to Moving Pictures and Art." The event was attended by local dignitaries, Hollywood stars and droves of Sacramentans.
Alhambra management was especially proud of their Vitaphone, an early motion picture sound system which they referred to as "the climax of picturedom." The first talkie feature-length film, "The Jazz Singer," played at the theater soon after it opened.21
With its Concert Grand Organ, and lavish exterior and interior the Alhambra became known at "The Showplace of Sacramento;" and 31st Street was renamed Alhambra Boulevard.
In addition to new movie theatres the 1920s were "Sacramento's golden decade of movie-making." Forty-five feature-length films were shot in and around Sacramento between 1914 and 1935; thirty-four of these in the 1920s. The large majority of the films featured the Sacramento River and Delta.22 As a result, film budgets added significantly to Sacramento's prosperity in the 1920s.
Anti-Catholicism in Sacramento: The Ku Klux Klan, Tom Connelly and "The Catholic Herald"
Two other trends of the 1920s were less promising — the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and Prohibition. Each was anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant, thus having the power to make St. Francis of Assisi parishioners feel uneasy if not threatened.
The Ku Klux Klan
The rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915 and its growth in the 1920s can be attributed to a number of factors.23 Among them the 1915 release of D. W. Griffith's movie, "The Birth of A Nation," romanticized the original Klan, and featured extensive quotes from Woodrow Wilson's History of the American People.
The organizational stimulus for the new Klan came from Colonel William Joseph Simmons of Atlanta, Georgia, when on Thanksgiving night 1915 he led his followers to the top of Stone Mountain where they burned a giant cross that could be seen throughout Atlanta. There Simmons proclaimed himself the Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the second Ku Klux Klan was founded. He announced that any pure, patriotic, native-born white Protestant American [male] citizen over the age of eighteen was eligible to join the noble and mystic order.24
The Ku Klux Klan became a national force during the 1920s. "By 1925, perhaps 5,000,000 men (almost every sixth adult male) were members, including a large minority of mid-western and western legislators."25 These included the governors of Texas, Indiana, and Oregon and the mayors of Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Denver.26 The Ku Klux Klan was foremost of all anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and racist, and was strongly committed to enforcing Prohibition.
The Klan came to the Sacramento area in early May 1921 when as many as four thousand attended a rally on Lower Stockton Road about ten miles south of the city. Drawing men largely from San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda this meeting was reported to be the largest Klan rally ever held in Northern California.27
In September 1921, city Manager, Clyde L. Seavey, voiced his adamant opposition to the Klan: "The Ku Klux Klan will never be permitted to gain a foothold in Sacramento as long as I am able to suppress it."28
Klan members later stated that the Sacramento Klan had been organized in the spring of 1922, and that its first initiation had taken place at the Odd Fellows Temple at 9th and K streets.29
The Sacramento Bee vigorously investigated Klan activity. On Monday, April 10, 1922, the Bee reported that "the Ku Klux Klan raised its hooded head last night for the first time in Sacramento." On Palm Sunday, April 9th, six Klansmen in full regalia marched into an evening service at Westminster Presbyterian church and presented the Rev. William E. Harrison with a gift of $50. The Rev. Harrison was quoted in the Bee as saying that the gift was "inspired by the Almighty."30
In another article in the April 10th edition, the Bee reported that Klan organizer, Edgar I. Fuller, was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff on March 29, and gave his residence as the Traveler's Hotel.31
The Bee reported on April 26th that on the previous night, two hundred and fifty three hundred Sacramento men took an oath of allegiance to the Invisible Empire before a "fiery cross" in a meeting at Muddox Hall at 5th Avenue and 35th Street in Oak Park.32
On April 27, the City Council approved by a seven to one vote a measure proposed by City Manager Clyde Seavey that the council had the power and would discharge any city employee who belonged to or sympathized with the Ku Klux Klan.
On May 5th, 1922, the Bee published a list of one hundred and forty-four Sacramento men whose names appeared on membership lists seized in a raid on Klan headquarters in Los Angeles.33
On May 16th a huge initiation ceremony was held on Natomas Lands near Folsom. On May 18th the Bee reported the names of those whose automobiles had been parked near the Natomas Klan rally.
On May 29, Superior Court Judges C. O. Busick and Peter J. Shields issued restraining orders barring the Sacramento City Council from trying alleged Klan members. On June 1, the Bee reported that the Ku Klux Klan case before the city Council against ten city employees would be delayed due to the Superior Court order.
On June 10th, another huge initiation ceremony was held on the John Elliott Ranch near Franklin. This event cosponsored by the Stockton and Sacramento Klans, drew a crowd of 8,000 to 10,000, with an estimated 500 to 1,000 initiates.34
Reverend William E. Harrison of Westminister Presbyterian Church and the Reverend W. A. Redburn of Wesley Methodist Church, were especially vitriolic in their attacks on Catholics and Catholicism. Redburn charged that "nearly all the bawdy houses, bootleg joints, and other dives are owned or controlled by Romanists." He also suggested that "convents were places where beautiful women were kept behind bars for questionable purposes."35
The Sacramento Klan took an active role in the 1922 primary and general elections. Advancing a "Good Government Ticket" the Klan endorsed a number of candidates for Sacramento County office. The Sacramento Klan also began circulating petitions demanding that the City Council remove City Manager Clyde Seavey for failure to enforce prohibition and other ordinances.36
A few days before the primary election on Tuesday, August 29, the Sacramento Klan began circulating what the Bee later called a "dodger" or false pamphlet allegedly sponsored by the Catholic Welfare League, referring to a Bishop Gilmour who urged all Catholics to vote as a bloc. In their "rebuttal" the Klan urged all Protestants to get out and vote their interests; for Klan backed Good Government Ticket candidates.37
The Sacramento Klan continued its activities into the fall of 1922, attempting to influence the November 7th elections. But the Sacramento Klan quickly imploded when the Bee reported on October 21, that Kleagle Fuller had dissolved the local Klan, and brought charges against H. Hugh Sydenham for burglary. Sydenhamn in turn brought charges against Fuller for embezzlement. In his capacity as Deputy Sheriff, Fuller initially issued warrants for the arrest of five Sacramento Klansmen, stating that he intended to issue warrants for one hundred and seventy-four more Klansmen.38
During the first days of November 1922, the Bee covered in detail the Klan's continuing disintegration. On November 1, the front-page Bee article was headlined "Veil of Secrecy Torn, Klan Plots Exposed." On November 2, the front-page Bee article was headlined, "Complete Expose of Local Klan's Workings Given by Ex-Member," while below the fold on page one appeared the head-line: "Divorce Action was Sought by Fuller's Wife." datelined Oakland, California. Fuller had earlier claimed that his wife and four-year old daughter had been kidnapped by Sacramento Klansmen, but the Oakland police declared that Mrs. Fuller was safe in Oakland.39
The November 1 and November 2 front-page Bee stories contained extensive quotes from Klansmen Myrle Moran and P. J. Monihan regarding the inner workings of the Sacramento Klan. Klansman County Assessor Erwin was quoted as stating at an August 19th meeting that he had raised the assessment on St. Joseph's cemetery from $1,000 to more than $2,000 an acre bringing the tax bill to $10,000 — and he "was going to force the Catholics to pay taxes on it."40
In a November 3rd, Bee article, Klan members were quoted as stating that Fuller spent a lot of time "hitting at the Pope of Rome and the Catholic Church in general." A November 4th Bee article stated that the official Klan Newspaper, "The Crusader," carried "vituperative abuse for all Catholics."
The final Bee article on Fuller and the Sacramento Klan appeared on November 10, with news that E. L. Fuller had been cleared of all charges in the August primary election fraud case, wherein the Sacramento Klan had circulated the "dodger" Catholic Welfare League flyer. Klansman P. J. Monihan testified for the prosecution, but the charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Thus the Sacramento Klan dissolved, Kleagle Fuller disappeared from the city, and a short, but ominous chapter of Sacramento history came to a close.41
Tom Connelly and "The Catholic Herald"
Between April 1922 and the end of February 1923, Tom Connelly published approximately fifty articles on the KKK in The Catholic Herald. Of these articles at least seven referred to specific KKK activities in Sacramento City and County.42
Thomas August Connelly was the editor and publisher of The Catholic Herald, Sacramento's first Catholic newspaper, from its founding in 1908 until his death in 1929.43 Although the weekly The Catholic Herald was not the official newspaper of the Diocese, Tom Connelly enjoyed the strong endorsement of Sacramento's bishops before and after the 1922-23 period here surveyed.44
The question may arise, "Why then did Connelly not devote more coverage to the KKK in Sacramento?" And the answer that comes first to mind is that he ran a small shop — he simply did not have the resources to assign his own reporters, as he did not have any.
He did, however, have his own talents and skills which he devoted energetically to exposing the dangers of the KKK to Sacramento Catholics — often he did so with witty, satirical, whimsical or biting headlines and text. For example: "Hoods and Nightgowns Bob Up in Local Church," — April 15, 1922; "Knights of the Tar Pot and Horsewhip," — April 15, 1922; "Heroes of Lash and Tar Bucket," — May 6, 1922; and "Criminal Possibilities of Coo Coo Mask," — October 7, 1922.
Another line of thought that comes to mind is that Catholics were a minority in the United States in the 1920s; an often embattled minority which Catholic scholars now recognize as a "ghetto mentality." In 1920 the U.S. Catholic population stood at 23 million out of 106 million people — about twenty-two percent — a distinct minority.
From Connelly's reporting it appears that Catholic bishops and clergy across the U.S. remained largely silent on the KKK, judiciously preferring to have Freemasons, Protestant clergy, VFW leaders, city councils, state legislatures and others carry the fight to the KKK.45
To the question, "Was the KKK a threat to the Sacramento diocese and to its parishioners?" the answer would seem to be yes. When eight to ten thousand fellow Sacramentans attend a KKK initiation ceremony, a Sacramento parishioner would have cause for concern. Historian Steven M. Avella has noted that "the size of these rallies must have distressed Catholics."46
When city policemen and county sheriff's were members of the KKK, there would be a greater cause for concern. Especially as Sheriff Ellis Jones had 'hired' Kleagle Fuller, making him a gun carrying officer of the law.47
Moreover, when City Manager Clyde Seavey requested the City Council fire six policemen, three fire captains and the city harbor master, who were dues paying KKK members, the Council refused. Seavey was attacked as a "Red" and lacking the support of the council, he resigned. Because Seavey was strongly supported by the Bee, it seems that this KKK victory would be unsettling if not threatening to Sacramento's Catholic parishioners.48
One might also point out that the KKK was only active in Sacramento from April to October 1922, and the local chapter collapsed from infighting. It is probable that Kleagle Fuller was inept if not grandiose, but this only makes the record of the KKK's successes in Sacramento the more remarkable and disconcerting.
If a man as inept as Kleagle Fuller could recruit hundreds of Sacramentans — including policemen, firemen, physicians, attorneys, a number of city and county elected officials, and numerous Protestant clergy, as well as organize events attended by thousands, then membership and interest in the KKK must have had a strong attraction in its own right.
Thus nation-wide Klan membership peaked in the mid-1920s at between four and five million members. As the prosperity of the 1920s gave way to the adversities of the Great Depression, membership in the Klan fell sharply.49
It seems that Tom Connelly specifically understood both the threat of the KKK to Sacramento and its larger threat to the nation. He therefore devoted his energy to exposing the KKK in Sacramento, and bringing its national threat to the attention of Sacramento parishioners.
Prohibition in Sacramento
Prohibition is one of the central themes of the 1920s. In 1919 the Volstead Act and the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment made the prohibition of beverages containing more than 0.5 per cent alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition went into effect at midnight on January 16, 1920.
Yet, Prohibition was not universally welcomed. In 1920 the federal prohibition director called Sacramento "one of the wettest places in California." On January 20, 1925, federal agents in Sacramento emptied more than 10,000 bottles of liquor; the next day they poured out another 1,000 cases. In addition they seized about $10,000 worth of copper piping. A California prohibition agent testified that "Sacramento was the most flagrant [violator] and San Francisco was very bad."50
Sacramento historian James Henley has said, "There was a full-blown saloon that never stopped operating during Prohibition — in the Capitol."51 Additionally, when they began operation in 1927 the "Delta King" and the "Delta Queen" became popular as floating saloons and gambling houses.
As the Great Depression deepened, Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, in both the 1928 and 1932 presidential elections Democrats favored repeal.
In 1928, Alfred Smith was the first Catholic to run for president. He served four terms as governor of New York State, before losing by a landslide to Herbert Hoover in the 1928 presidential election. Historians have noted that Smith was defeated by "the three P's — Prejudice, Prohibition and Prosperity."52 Nonetheless, Smith carried Sacramento County by 50.8 per cent to 48.2 percent, winning 1,078 more votes than Hoover. No doubt many diocesan parishioners voted for their fellow-Catholic.
October 24, 1929 and the coming of the Great Depression
In October 1929, the New York stock market collapsed wiping out $30 billion in assets in one week. By the end of 1930, U.S. unemployment stood at 8.9 percent with 4.5 million people unemployed.
In 1930, Sacramento Community Chest found itself $32,000 short of its goal. The county registrar of charities, Mary Judge, was overwhelmed by unemployed seeking benefits and the police were called to her office to restore order. By 1932, there would be 27,000 unemployed in Sacramento — these numbers would grow in the months and years ahead.
In response to the Great Depression, Bishop Armstrong hired Mary Ellen Grogan, a social worker from Los Angeles, to coordinate child care and other social programs. He also opened the Catholic Welfare Bureau.53
|St. Francis of Assisi Parish — 1930
In 1930, Fr. Clement Berberich was serving as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, assisting him were Frs. George Wehmeyer, Anselm Boehmer, and Athanasius Morath. St. Francis elementary school enrolled four hundred and twenty-five students taught by eleven Franciscan sisters.
In addition, the Franciscan sisters also staffed Grace Day Home where seven sisters taught one hundred and twenty students. In 1929, in cooperation with the diocese, they opened the Japanese Catholic Mission adjacent to Grace Day Home where they provided education to children and social services to adults.54 At Holy Angel's School eight Franciscan sisters taught three hundred and forty students.
Thus in the fall of 1930, St. Francis of Assisi parishioners could be thankful for the contributions of their parish — centering on the church at the corner of 26th and K streets, but also including a new elementary school, a new friary, gymnasium and auditorium. And not least of all, the Franciscan Sisters Convent on the northwest corner of 26th and K streets from which the sisters served so many — Catholic and other — in Sacramento.
Fr. Humilis Weiss — Santa Barbara Mission Archives
Fr. Felix Raab — Santa Barbara Mission Archives
St Francis of Assisi Parish Church, January 29, 1922 — Center for Sacramento History
Fr. Ildephonse Moser - SBMA
Fr. Solanus Crowley — SBMA
St. Francis Elementary School, 1927 graduation - St. Francis of Assisi Parish Archives
Fr. Clement Berberch — SBMA
Anton H. Dorndorf — Sacramento Turn Verein Archives
Bishop Keane — Diocese of Sacramento Archives — Funeral Card
Holy Guardian Angels School - photo by author
Mercy Hospital — DSA
Bishop Armstrong —DSA
Sutter Hospital c. 1920s — CSH
Cal Western States Life Building — Courtesy of the Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
Elks Building — Courtesy of the Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
Capitol Extension — CSH
William Land Park Entrance Monument — photo by author
Filtration Plant Brochure, 1923 — CSH
Sacramento High School, 1924 — CSH
Fox Senator Theatre, c 1939 — CSH
Historic Route 40 Marker, 16th Street (Governor's Mansion) — photo by author
Sacramento Jr. College — Courtesy of the Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
Memorial Auditorium San Carlos Opera performance, February 27, 1927 — CSH
Lindberg (sic) Dinner Invitation (Hotel Senator) — Courtesy of the Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
Alhambra Theater — Courtesy of the Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
Birth of a Nation poster — Wikimedia
Woodrow Wilson quote — Wikimedia
Clyde L. Seavey photo — CSH
"The KKK in Sacramento, 1922" — Sacramento County Historical Society "I have only heard back from 3 board members who all agreed that the Golden Notes Cover image could be used for your one time purpose...I am copying them all in on this message so if you do not hear back negatively from any of them within the next 48 hours I would say go ahead...you have unanimous approval of those who responded." September 14, 2009
PO Box 255345, Sacramento, CA 95865-5345
Westminster Presbyterian Church, 13th and N — CSH
Bee Cartoon, November 3, 1922, Sacramento Bee
Thomas Augustine Connelly — CSH, family photo cropped by author
"Hoods and Nightgowns Bob Up in Local Church," Catholic Herald, April 15, 1922 — photo by author
KKK March, W, DC, photo — Wikimedia
Delta King — Courtesy of the Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
St. Francis Elementary School, graduation 1930, St. Francis of Assisi Parish Archives
"Alhambra Theatre. The Premier, September 24, 1927," Pamphlet File, Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
Avella, Steven M., Diocese of Sacramento: A Journey of Faith, 2006
Avella, Steven M., Sacramento: Indomitable City, 2003
Avella, Steven M., Sacramento and the Catholic Church: Shaping a Capital City, 2008
Bruno, Lloyd, Old River Town, 1996
Boghosian, Paula, "The Architecture of Water in Sacramento," Sacramento History Journal, Special Edition, Water: Our History & Our Future," 2006
Breault, Fr. William, S.J., Archivist, Diocese of Sacramento
California State Historical Landmarks, http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=21381
California Historical Landmark #594. Southern Pacific Depot, also on the National Register of Historic Places. See:
Celebrating 90 Years: Sacramento City College, 1916-2006, 2006
Dictionary of American History, 2000
Diocese of Sacramento, Archives: St. Francis Parish Box — "St. Francis Parish Bulletin, Christmas Program, 1925," and "Status, St. Francis Parish, January 1, 1927."
"Direct the Mild Fund Benefit Show," Sacramento Bee, April 22, 1936, p. 5 — reference to Anton H. Dorndorf
Directory, Diocese of Sacramento, 1920 and 1930
Emporis commercial real estate Web site: www.emporis.com
"Franciscans Lose Noted Padre in Death of Fr. Solanus, O.F.M.," The Tidings, Los Angeles, December 8, 1944
Frombose, Paul, "Golden Decade," Golden Notes, Summer 1992
Jackson, Kenneth T., The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930, 1992
Joyce, Cathy, Catholic Herald, Diocese of Sacramento
"KKK: Inside American Terror," National Geographic TV, 2009
Lubin, Mrs. Simon J., "Reminiscences," Bancroft Library, 1954
McGowan, Joseph, "Clear Clean Water," Golden Notes, Winter, 1978, Sacramento County Historical Society
Mahan, William E., "William Land: A history of the man and the park," Golden Notes, No. 43, Volumes 1 and 2, Spring and Summer 1997
Necrology, Volumes 1 and 2, Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara
Reid, Dixie, "Alhambra was the crown jewel....," Sacramento Bee, "Our Century — 1920-1929, December 31, 1999.
Reid, Dixie, "City residents found a way to drink during Prohibition," Sacramento Bee, "Our Century — 1920-1929, December 31, 1999.
Reid, Dixie, "People had money to spend....," Sacramento Bee,"Our Century — 1920-1929, December 31, 1999.
"Requiem Mass Today for Choral Director," Sacramento Union, February 12, 1970. Anton Dorndorf death notice
Rodgerson, Eleanor, MD, Adobe, Brick Street: A history of hospitals and shelters for the sick in Sacramento and El Dorado Counties, 1993
Rogers, Richard C., "One-hundred Years of the Sacramento City Schools, 1854-1954," 1981?
Sacramento Bee, "Our Century,"
Sacramento City Directory, 1920 and 1930
"Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, February 22, 1927." Pamphlet File. Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento Room
Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento Room; Claire Ellis, James Scott, Tom Tolley
Sacramento Railroad Depot, California Historic Landmark #594,
Santa Barbara Mission Archives, Fr. Timothy, archivist
"Sacramento's Catholic Schools' 'Man of Music' is Dead," Catholic Herald, February 12, 1970 — Anton Dorndorf death notice
Senator Hotel, www.senatorofficebuilding.com
Snyder, B. W., and Boghosian, P. J., Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium: Seven Decades of Memories — 1927-1997, 1997
Talaga, Deborah Ann, Historical-Analysis of the Ku Klux Klan, 1865-1982, 1982, CSUS, Maters Thesis
The Catholic Herald,. 1922-1923, Volume 15
Von Brauchitsch, Dennis M., "The Ku Klux Klan in California 1921 - 1924," MA Thesis, Sacramento State College, 1967, esp. Chapter III "The Klan in the Lower Sacramento Valley," pp. 126 - 164
Walker, Clifford James, One Eye Closed, the Other Red: The California Bootlegging Years, 1999
"Who We Are: A history rich in caring,"
Wolman, Abel, "Sanitary Engineering, Sacramento's  Filtration Plant, p. 450. www.ajph.org
1 Necrology, Volumes 1 and 2, Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara
2 Necrology, and "Franciscans lose noted Padre," The Tidings, December 8, 1944
Former St. Francis of Assisi pastor Fr. Gregory Wooler presided at Fr. Solanus' funeral attended by priests and students of the Mission Santa Barbara Seminary. He is buried in the mausoleum at Mission Santa Barbara. Fr. Gregory served as pastor from 1937 to 1943.
3 "St. Francis Parish Bulletin, Christmas Program, 1925"
4 "Status, St. Francis Parish, January 1, 1927"
5 "Sacramento's Catholic Schools' 'Man of Music' is Dead," Catholic Herald, February 12, 1970; "Requiem Mass Today for Choral Director," Sacramento Union, February 12, 1970.
6 Who We Are: A history rich in caring,"
7 Directory, Diocese of Sacramento, 1930.
8 Rodgerson, Adobe, Brick and Steel, pp 52-53
9 While historic records list that both of these buildings at 14 stories, the commercial Web site, Emporis, lists each at 15 stories. In early 2009, the refurbished California Western States Life Building reopened as the upscale Citizens Hotel.
10 Redi, "People had money to spend. . ." Sacramento Bee, "Our Century: 1920-1929."
11 The site was drained, 4000 trees were planted and the resulting park was named for William Land.
12 Mahan, "William Land," 1997, p. 17
13 Wolman, "Sanitary Engineering," p. 450: Boghosian, "Architecture," p. 290; McGowan, "Water," 1978. Located just south of the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, at the time it was the largest filtration plant on the Pacific Coast.
14 Mrs. Simon J. Lubin, "Reminiscences," Bancroft Library, 1954
15 www.senatorofficebuilding.com The Palazzo Farnese in Rome, currently the French Embassy, has been judged "the most imposing Italian palace of the sixteenth century" [High Renaissance].
16 California Historical Landmark #594. The depot is also on the National Register of Historic Places. See:
17 The Federal Highway Act of 1924 created the funding for U.S. 40. In 1919, when this route was called "The Lincoln Highway," Lt. Col Dwight David Eisenhower was assigned to the first transcontinental Army convoy. Made up of eight-one vehicles the convoy left Washington, DC on July 7, arriving in San Francisco on September 6. It traveled an average of fifty-six miles per day, at about six miles per hour. Sacramento Bee, July 7, 2009, p. B2
Eisenhower recalled this as one of the worst experiences of his life, as the "Lincoln Highway" was merely a series of roads ranging from poured concrete, to tracks across quicksand and alkali mud. This trip is one of the reasons he was such a strong advocate of the 1956 National Highway and Defense Act, creating the interstate system. Via current Interstate-80, the trip would cover 2,935 miles.
18 Bruno, Old River Town, pp. 99-101
19 Note that in 1927, World War I was referred to as "World War," World War II still being twelve years in the future.
20 "A Theatre Reborn," Sacramento Bee, November 10, 1996
21 "The Premier, September 24, 1927 — Alhambra Theatre" and Reid, "Alhambra was the crown jewel . . ." Sacramento Bee, 1920-1929
22 Frombose, Paul, "Golden Decade," Golden Notes, Summer 1992. Films that used the river as a setting included such titles as "Huckleberry Finn," "Tom Sawyer," "Show Boat," "Steamboat Bill, Jr." and many others.
23 The first Ku Klux Klan was formed in 1865 in Tennessee and suppressed with the 1871 Federal Anti-Klan Act.
24 Talaga, The Ku Klux Klan, p. 19.
25 Dictionary of American History, 2000, p. 218
26 Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan, pp. vii-viii.
27 Von Brauchitsch, Dennis, "The Ku Klux Klan in California: 1921-1924," 1967, p. 126, San Francisco Examiner, May 6, 1921, p. 14
28 Von Brauchitsch, p. 127, San Francisco Examiner, September 19, 1921, p. 2.
29 Von Brauchitsch, p. 161.
30 Von Brauchitsch, p. 127 ff, Examiner, April 10, 1922, p. 13; Bee, April 10, 1922, "Six Ku Klux Klan Visit Local Church and Present Pastor with $50," p. 1; see also, "The Ku Klux Klan in Sacramento, 1922," Golden Notes, Vol. 27, #2, Spring 1981, Sacramento County Historical Society
31 Bee, April 10, 1922, "Police Question Organizer of Klan Found Here," p. 4. The Bee followed this up with a page one story on April 12: "Sheriff Gave Organizer of Klan, Stranger to Him, Right to Be Armed."
32 "Klan is Watched While Initiating Sacramento Men," Bee, April 26, 1922, p. 7. Among the men named were H. Hugh Sydenham, former chief of police; M. Mervin, a city policeman; H. M. Mitchell, former city prosecutor and Albert Greilitch, city harbor master.
33 Bee, May 2, 1922, p. 1., Bee, May 4, 1922, p. 1.
34 Von Brautchitsch, p. 142; Bee, June 12, 1922, p. 1.
35 Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan, pp. 188-189.
36 Bee, June 19, 1922, p. 1. Among those endorsed were Ellis Jones for Sheriff, Byron C. Erwin for Assessor, H. Hugh Sydenham for County Justice of the Peace and George E. Andrews for Public Administrator (An usher at Westminster Presbyterian Church).
37 Von Brautchitsch, p. 148, Sacramento Bee, August 26, 1922, p. 1. Verification of the false nature of this pamphlet came to light in a Bee article on November 10, 1922 headlined: "Fuller Freed in Election Conspiracy Case."
38 Von Brautchitsch, p. 156; Bee, October 31, 1922, p. 1.
39 The Edwin I. Fuller family arrived in California from Virginia in March 1922, whereupon Edwin Fuller ensconced his wife and daughter in a house in Oakland, before proceeding on to Sacramento. When questioned by the Oaklnad police, Mrs. Fuller said she had lived in California for eight months and that she was kept a virtual prisoner in the Oakland house. Bee, November 2, 1922, p. 1.
40 Bee, November 2, 1922, p. 11. "Erwin Denies He Was At Meeting Admits Assessment."
41 In a footnote to Edgar I. Fuller's subsequent career, on March 20, 1923, he announced in Omaha, Nebraska that he was forming the "Fascist of America" — an organization replace the Klan. "The symbol of the Fascist was a black shirt with an outstretched golden eagle over the heart." Von Brautchitsch, p. 164.
In 1925, Edgar I. Fuller published The Visible of the Invisible Empire: The Maelstrom; in 1967 Edgar I. Fuller published "Nigger in the woodpile." It appears that the 1925 book was self-published. Fuller might have been in his early seventies in 1967, thus he could also have published the second title as well.
42 The Catholic Herald, 1922-1923, Volume 15
43 Avella, Diocese of Sacramento, pp. 47-48.
44 Every edition of The Catholic Herald here surveyed to August 5, 1922, contained bishop Grace's endorsement. Bishop Thomas Grace died on December 27, 1921, and Bishop Keane was installed as Sacramento's third bishop on Wednesday, May 17, 1922. The August 12, 1922, edition of The Catholic Herald contained Bishop P. J. Keane's even more ardent and positive endorsement dated August 5, 1922.
See Avella, Catholic Church, pp. 144-147.
45 Von Brauchitsch for example names only one Catholic clergyman in his "List of San Francisco Bay Area officials who denounced the Klan" — Rev. W. J. Cartwright, St. Mary's Catholic Church, San Francisco, p. 259. He includes no list of Sacramento area officials who denounced the Klan.
46 Avella, Catholic Church, p. 111.
47 The Catholic Herald, April 15, 1922, p. 1.
48 Avella, Indomitable City, p. 87.
49 On August 8, 1925, 40,000 Klan members marched in Washington, D. C.; See also "KKK: Inside American Terror," National Geographic TV, http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/ Photo: 1928, Klan March, W, DC.
50 Walker, One Eye Closed, p. 67.
51 Reid, "City residents found a way to drink," Sacramento Bee, Our Century, 1920-1929
52 "Alfred E. Smith, Jr.", Wikipedia
53 Avella, Diocese of Sacramento, p. 69.
54 "Franciscan Sisters . . . .," Catholic Herald, 2001.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish
California State University Sacramento
- Fr. Anthony Garibaldi, Pastor
- Fran Anderson, Administrative Assistant
- Cathy Flores, webmistress
- Susan Silva, volunteer editorial reader
- Rose Cartmill Joss, volunteer initial historical research
- David Sundquist, volunteer historical research Santa Barbara Mission Archives
Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento Room
- Professor Christopher Castaneda
- Ryan Arndt, Information Technology Consultant
- Khoa Van Do, Classroom Computer Lab Services Consultant
- Shawn Sumner, Information Technology Consultant
- Professor George Craft
Sacramento Archives & Museum Collection Center [SAMCC]
- Clare Ellis
- James Scott
- Tom Tolley
Diocese of Sacramento
- Pat Johnson
- Carson Hendricks
California State Archives
- Rev. William Breault, S. J., Diocesan Historian and
- Professor Albert L. Hurtado
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Long-time member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish and professional historian, Gregg Campbell (b 6/17/1935; d. 11/28/2015) wrote this history of St. Francis and its surrounding community for the 2008 Centennial of our church building.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Sacramento, CA