Scope and Contents
The collection consists principally of contemporary copies of Stephenson’s prison correspondence, made for Indiana State Prison Warden Walter Daly (1925-1933). Included is Stephenson’s correspondence with his attorneys, supporters, and family regarding his attempts to gain release, prison conditions, Ku Klux Klan, Indiana politics, and personal business. Also part of the collection are letters to Warden Daly regarding Stephenson, letters to and from Stephenson that were retained by prison officials, court documents, and news-clippings regarding Stephenson’s case and corruption in Indiana during the late 1920s.
Correspondents include Court Asher, Gutzom Borglum, Clarence Darrow, Edward A. Rumely, among others.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.
David Curtis Stephenson was born August 21, 1891 in Houston, Texas. Stephenson was the leader of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan from 1922 to 1925, held the title King Kleagle for most of the Midwest and Grand Dragon (state leader) of the Realm of Indiana from 1923 to 1925. Stephenson broke away from the national Ku Klux Klan in 1924. Stephenson was involved in Indiana politics as well as a political ally of Indiana Republican Governor Edward L. Jackson during his 1924 election. Stephenson was found guilty of second-degree murder of Madge Oberholtzer in 1925. Because of his conviction and inability to receive a pardon or have his sentence commuted, Stephenson released a list of names that were on the payroll of the Klan. Among the names on the list were Gov. Jackson, Marion County Republican Chairman George V. Coffin, attorney Robert Marsh, and Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall. The aftermath of this exposure resulted in the rapid decline of the Klan by the end of the 1920s. Stephenson was paroled in 1950, after serving 15 years in prison. After his release, Stephenson continued to have brushes with the law throughout the rest of his life. Stephenson died June 28, 1966 in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
1 Cubic Feet (3 manuscript boxes)