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Madge Oberholtzer

Madge Oberholtzer (1896 - October 29, 1925) grew up in Fulton County, Indiana, and worked in a state program to combat illiteracy. David Curtiss Stephenson, a powerful political figure, a Prohibitionist, and Grand Dragon of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan, kidnapped Madge, taking her onto his private train, and forcing her to drink. He then brutalized and raped her. The train was believed to have gone to Chicago and back. Madge took poison in an attempt to make Stephenson stop the attack and release her.

One of Stephenson's men drove her home. Before leaving his house she threatened him saying, "The law will get their hands on you!" He laughed and said, "I am the law." Stephenson's Klan connections gave him a good deal of political power in the state. When Madge got home she sought medical attention, though it was too late. With what strength she had left she accused Stephenson and, dying of mercury poisoning, made a deathbed statement detailing her treatment at his hands. Madge died on October 29, 1925 and Stephenson was indicted on charges of rape and second-degree murder. His lawyer's defense was that Oberholtzer had committed suicide. During closing statements, Stephenson was decried as a "destroyer of virtue and womanhood." He was found guilty of second degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison. He was given clemency in 1950, sent back to prison for violating parole, freed again in 1956 and died in 1966.

The conviction of Stephenson helped to spell the end of the Klan in Indiana.

Beforehand, when DC Stephenson was elected (governor?) he made all representatives and all pupils elected into office sign a paper promising they would have some part of the Ku Klux Klan. Thus making Stephenson, a member of KKK, all powerful of Indiana.

At the trial...Two black chest-like boxes that were kept locked, were discovered with Stephenson's belongings. Inside kept the papers the men had signed prior to the election. Finding this evidence definitely finalized the now imprisoned Stephenson. Since Madge accused him, and it was successful, this started the downfall of the Ku Klux Klan. Though her experience was awful, thanks to her the Ku Klux Klan number has decreased greatly!