Friday, May 3, 2013

The Sunshine State

In March 2011, I dissed Alex Jones' The Order of Death documentary (Power, Corruption and Lies) for a variety of reasons, one of which is his claim that Albert Pike, whom Jones calls the leader of world Masonry, founded the KKK.  Both claims are demonstrably false.

In the comments that followed, however, Terry Melanson and I discussed the links between Freemasonry, the Knights of the Golden Circle and the KKK.  Whether the KGC could be described as "Masonic" is debatable, of course, but I'd have to say it was:  three degrees, passwords, grips, hailing signs, etc.  Freemasonry was, like it was for so many other groups, the KGC's model, and membership was not mutually exclusive.

Sad to say, the same is true of the KKK.  Whereas the original Klan had no degrees, the second group (1915-1944) had four and the ladies auxiliary, three.  Freemasonry influenced its rituals and more than a few Klansmen were drawn from its ranks.

All this exposition is really just a prelude to the following two pictures.  I mentioned the first in an April 2011 post about political vandalism, but at the time I'd forgotten the second.  I don't think the pictures prove anything beyond the fact that membership in a Masonic Lodge and the KKK were not mutually exclusive, but it will do little dissuade people from thinking one group was the arm of another.

Meet Roy L. Cook, Klansman and Mason, waving his freak flag high from beyond the grave in Oakdale Cemetery, Deland, Florida.

Ignoring these photos won't make them go away, best to bring them out into the daylight.  Personally I don't see how one could belong to a group promoting universal fraternity and another white supremacy, but there you have it.

This KKK-sponsored page features a photo of Cook's Klan headstone, but not the Masonic one; it does, however, feature the stone of Imperial Wizard James Colescott (1897-1950).  Colescott led the Klan from 1939-1944.  His stone bears the square and compasses.  The page also pictures the stone of one Samuel Grady Roper (1891-1951)--with the square and compasses--and says it belongs to yet another Imperial Wizard.  Trouble is, the Sam W. Roper (b. 1895) who led the Klan in 1949-1950 died in 1986 (after having retired as second director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation).  So, given this blatant error, any info on the site must be weighed accordingly.

The Cook grave is located in Deland, Florida.  Colescott died in Coral Gables.  Roper, in Gainesville.  All of them were contemporaries, Klansmen and finished their days in Florida.  Which is not surprising; even a cursory glance at Klan history reveals that Florida has always had a particularly strong, and violent, Klan presence.

Florida, the Sunshine State!

(Gid and I are both Florida natives, we can thus rag on Florida with impunity!)


  1. Still boggles my mind that someone wanted this carved into stone and planted over their dead body for everyone to see for as long the stone might stand.

    Cook died young, didn't he? 44 years old? I know that people live longer now, but if you account for infant mortality rates, I think that life spans are nearly unchanged -- with the exception of the influence of wars/violence.

    One final thought is that Roy Cook has one of the shortest names I've ever seen: 7 letters without resorting to a nickname. And only one unique vowel!

    1. Which only shows how acceptable it was in Deland to be in the Klan! Maybe the town's lucky before he kicked it. There are still lots of Cooks (family not chefs) in Deland I think. And yeah, that's odd. 1 vowel and really short. Can't think of another shorter.... Lee Ving (pseudonym I presume) is only 7 letters...Cy Young is 7, but his real name wuz Denton. Ty Cobb is only 6 but Ty is short for Tyrus. Both baseballers btw, and Ty active a decade or so later than Cy. Of course you've got Chinese names such as Li Po, ok, but that's doesn't count I think for our porpoises here, which is strictly ethnocentric....wink wink. Though Google "Ed Ng" and there are more than one in the world.

  2. Fascinating. I recently talked to my younger brother who mowed yards here in Deland as a teen. He mowed some yards near the Oakdale cemetary and had noticed the Cook marker (which is why I searched the net for this topic). He mentioned it to a client, a woman who grew up here in the 30's. She remembered the funeral well. Hundreds of robed men came from miles around to celebrate Roy L. Cook ( I still cannot find out if he was an officer, or just well liked). She also noted that all the African Americans left the area, to avoid confrontations.
    So WHO WAS Ray L. Cook? He seems noticeably absent from the internet. Was he an officer or just another member? Was he in a Florida Klan or another state? Did he have family?. Are there any Cook family members here in Deland today?

    1. I've looked up "Cook" in the Deland yellow pages and got some responses. I wouldn't be surprised if they were related. A retired radiologist, Roy Sanford Cook, died in Deland in 1988. Maybe Roy L. Cook's son?


      Dig this comment from 2013 by one Roy Cook writing for the West Volusia Beacon. I can't say if he's a relation or not. May not even be a real person. Someone just using the name as a tribute....


      Roy cook | posted Jul 5, 2013 - 2:55:13pm
      I say we also send the spring hill citizens to Sanford also. After all they are also black useless sludge.

      There was a play produced in Deland in 2013 called "The Volusia Lowdown" about the politics of the county back in the 30's. Roy L. Cook is a character in the play. I've read that there was a cabal called "the Ring" and another called "the anti-Ring" which struggled for political dominance of Volusian in the 30's, and the KKK was aligned with one of those factions. I'd imagine Cook was a local KKK leader and political intriguer.

      My instinct is that he was definitely more than just a popular klansman. If you're in Deland, there's a historical society in town. I bet they could give you a bunch of info. In fact, I'll contact them and post back on what they let me know....

      Thanks for contacting us!

    2. So, I contacted the historical society and they sent me a text that includes this:

      As Grand Dragon of the Klan in Florida, Cook found a way to leave a granite testament to the Klan upon his death

      ....World War I saw a resurgence of their “Invisible Empire,” and a peak in their power during Cook’s watch in the 1920s and early 1930s. However, their new more formal organization compromised many of the original Klan’s principles, and a number of the old members dropped out because of this. This deep influence in the community created the conditions that were the backdrop to Cook’s funeral in 1931. Hundreds of hooded men from across Florida, Georgia and Alabama descended upon DeLand, Florida to pay homage to him, the Florida Klan leader and respected car dealer. The funeral procession started downtown at the First Baptist Church and headed north along Woodland Blvd. An estimated 2,500 solemn mourners, each holding an American flag, attended his late afternoon funeral in Oakdale Cemetery. Up the hill from his gravesite, a tall cross was set ablaze, illuminating the darkening sky. Among the twelve pallbearers were city and county commissioners, a judge, a lawyer, a state legislator, and prominent businessmen. When this strange and awesome spectacle was over, the News-Journal reported that: “Ghosts of the Old South stalked here again.”

  3. Damn Yankee
    Just came from the site of the Roy Cook Grave marker. It is 2016 and this definitely still the South. IMO this state should have been carved by Lincoln's plan of 40 acres and a mule.

    1. Yeah, general the further inland you get, the more red the necks. Hell, some group wanted to plant one of those massive car-dealership flags at the junction of I-4 and I-275 in Tampa. A tent-sized Confederate flag looming over the city from a small private Confederate war memorial.

      Check out this page
      about the Rosewood Massacre. A white mob with the KKK at the vanguard razed an entire town and killed blacks at random after a white woman claimed to have been raped by a "Negro". Officially 6 blacks and 2 whites were killed, but there are eyewitness accounts of much higher numbers of both blacks and whites. Apparently a local shopkeeper, sheriff, and a pair of independently wealthy train conductors (all white) saved a lot of lives from the mob numbering as high as 300. The site above features a headstone of the sheriff's father, for some reason, perhaps because it features a very striking Masonic square and compasses.

      "The black community of Rosewood never returned. Their land was confiscated under tax fraudulent sales. Many left for other cities, losing touch with each other. Some never shared the Rosewood story with family members. Some changed their names...."

      Another massacre, in Ocoee, resulted in massive destruction, like Rosewood, but there were perhaps as many as 500 blacks killed, though the official figure is much lower. This was in 1920. Until at least 1959 there was a sign posted at the town line that said: “Dogs and Negroes Not Welcome.” No African-American lived there again until 1981. After the massacre, which like Rosewood had been stoked by the KKK, blacks were driven out through intimidation and the threat of further violence. All this because the African-American population dared to try to exercise their right to vote. Details of this tragedy

      If I recall correctly, the Florida school system weren't fully de-segregated until 1974. Anyway, not to bash Florida, you can find this kind of sick sh-t in many states' histories, but the Sunshine State certainly has a lot of dark and shadowy episodes in its past.

      You get pretty frequent reminders that Florida, despite the diversity of its population, is still the Deep South. You won't hear me saying "the South sill rise again" anytime soon, but it does ruffle my feathers a bit when my wife (an Argentine) or her sister refer to me as a "Yanqui". And the Brits will occasionally let slip a "Yank" this or that.... Call me a gringo or a cracker, but good god, not a Yankee!

    2. It's OK to be a I am originally from Pennsylvania but now live in Deland. I just happened to stumble across this marker while out taking pictures and was looking for more info and stumbled across this post. I've read some really disturbing tales of KKK activity in Florida in the past. The murder of the Moore's on Christmas, Sheriff McCall, etc... Usually I hear about Mississippi but you are correct about the Sunshine State.

    3. Haha. It's OK to be a Yankee...if you are one! (wink) I never really felt like a "Southerner" until I lived in New York for a while. I noticed the cultural differences and people would often remark on my accent. I'll never forget the humiliation of being laughed at by a roomful of people the first time I asked "How y'all doin'?" It had never struck me as something strange. I mean, in Florida I barely have an accent at all, but I guess to those people I was practically Gomer Pyle.

      I do criticize the South, but in a way it's a kind of family squabble. My sister has a Confederate flag on her porch for God's sake! So I don't mean to overly rag on Florida, I love the place, it will always be "home" (even after 14 years in France), but there are some deep and dark stories to be told, and it still, as "Florida Man" can attest, has a twisted side.

      And then there's Orlando. Sigh. I don't want to talk about that yet.


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