The America First crowd was in full force and Bishop Agatha Birdwell delivered a fiery sermon denouncing bootleggers. Her “good citizens” turned out to be Ku Klux Klan marchers and things nearly turned nasty as they clashed with Purgatory Springs’s immigrant population.
The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s was a national movement that gained its greatest political success in Colorado, maybe because Colorado, in a perversely progressive way, was the only Klan realm with a women’s auxiliary. It was national organization of white Protestants who supported “100% Americanism” and opposed lawlessness— especially the rampant violation of Prohibition.
In Purgatory Springs, where the sheriff and a deputy had been murdered by an Italian bootlegger, 350 Klansmen marched on September 5, 1927, demanding justice and carrying banners that said “America for Americans” and “We’re for Restricted Immigration.”