Gordon's series of lectures were initiated to offset some specific
items of complaints against the Catholic Church which were asserted
by purposely ill-informed and anti-Catholic talkers touring the
country and very active in neighboring counties.
One man especially, called Pat Malone, was particularly active in
Barron and Rusk Counties. The C.F. Schmit Council No. 2137 of Rice
Lake, Wisconsin, instituted an investigation and reported:
was a Klan speaker spewing forth his rottenness
shooting hot air and running up bills he never paid
into a bad scrape in Neillsville, involving the wife of a citizen
an inmate for a time at the home of the notorious
Kruegers, who killed United States Officers after resisting the
not an ex-priest as advertised
the kind of 100% un-American trash that is out traducing
the loyal Catholics of this country and attempting to remove the
First, Second, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution."
From Ladysmith in Rusk County, under the date of April 22, 1926,
a letter to Father Gordon stated, "
The class of people supporting
'Pat Malone' were either supremely ignorant or bigoted. The intelligent
and the businessmen realized that he was a professional mudslinger,
out to wrest people of their hard-earned money through his malicious
fanaticism. The latter considered him quite a joke. Pat Malone was
abetted by one minister only in Ladysmith, the Reverend Sawyer,
a Christian minister. The others, particularly the Methodist and
Congregational ministers were heartily and militantly against him.
The latter were even challenged by 'Pat' to debate but refused to
have anything to do with the fanatic."
Malone has residence in Milwaukee. His real name is Arthur Malone;
he formerly made a living as a partner of a young doctor who performed
illegal operations somewhere in Wisconsin
It would do my heart
good, and I would feel avenged, if a bunch of sturdy young lads
would give him the fine dunking and a forceful egress from your
town. - Signed L.J. Quigley, O.S.M."
Around the beginning of May 1926, a fiery cross was seen blazing
near the Ed Murphy and Dennis Murphy farms. It was taken as a sort
of challenge by some of the Irish farmers and some feeling was aroused,
particularly against the County Sheriff.
Some suggested that Father Gordon ought to write or telegraph the
governor, John J. Blaine. He followed the suggestion and on May
11, 1926, the governor wrote to Mr. George B. Mattson, Sheriff of
Polk County, Balsam Lake.
Sir: "Complaint has been filed that one of your deputy sheriffs
was implicated in the burning of a cross in connection with some
meeting of the Ku Klux Klan."
burning of the cross is very offensive to a large group of our
people, even to a large group who are not members of any church,
the feeling being that it is a desecration of the very sacred
symbolism of civilization. Due to such feeling and due to the
fact that the Klan is an organization of hates and haters, the
assemblage of a large number of people under such circumstances
in such a demonstration, have a tendency to incite a breach of
the peace and order. In fact, such meetings often incite a breach
of the peace."
think it would be a just cause for removal if a sheriff of this
state participated in any such demonstration, especially when
it is the duty of the sheriff to hold himself in readiness to
prevent any breach of the peace."
if one of your deputies participated in one of these demonstrations,
he should be removed at once
Sheriff Mattson replied on May 14 stating that if any of deputies
were guilty of committing an unlawful act he would be removed from
office at once. He listed his regular deputies who received salary
as: James Ely, Undersheriff, Chris Peterson, Deputy, Louis Soderberg,
Deputy, Harry Mattson, Deputy, and Albert E. Mattson, Special Deputy,
as well as several who served without pay.
On April 26, 1926, August E. Ender, editor of the Rice Lake Chronotype,
Rice Lake, Wisconsin, replied to Father Gordon's letter, saying,
as to the class of people who visited and supported Pat Malone,
the city of Chetek will furnish perhaps the best example. The
city is over 95% non-Catholic and as being more or less opposed
at all time to the Catholic religion. Well, the upshot of the
meetings was that a mass meeting was held at the school, it was
resolved by the Parent Teachers Association that all would stay
away from the meeting, and that they would try to keep their children
away also, especially from meetings for men and women only
Barron the leading KKK among the businessmen, owner of a general
store, incurred the displeasure of the Lutherans, Episcopalians
and members of the Masonic order and others to such an extent
that he has sold out. None of the ministers of Barron supported
Pat Malone, but nearly all actively opposed him, and he was forbidden
to use the Methodist church, and Reverend Clark of the Baptist
Church said his utterances were 'un-Christian.' Pat finally set
up shop in a tent, and ridiculed all the ministers in Barron."
that came from Ladysmith say the last meeting was a joke, and
God in his infinite mercy may have seen fit to send Pat there
because since then the Masons and Knights of Columbus have often
been honored guests of each other at invited meetings, and the
value of free advertising to the Catholic Church is too great
to measure in dollars and cents. Pat said the Methodist minister
at Ladysmith, Reverend T. Harry Kelley, was a Romanist in disguise,
and Kelley came back at him and silenced him for good in that
have been doing noble work in educating the people as the aims
of Malone's panhandling tactics. He is always looking for trouble
and to put enough kick into his meetings he usually has to jump
onto some unoffending Protestants. - Cordially, A.F. Ender"
In 1941, Father Gordon was to reminisce about the affair, "After
fifteen years and knowing the people of the county better than in
those days, I often wonder if all the perturbation was worth the
while or was necessary. In later years, I even came to think that
someone of the Irish themselves might have burned the cross 'to
get Murphy mad.'"
But, he said, "the letters will indicate how degenerate became the
workings of an organization such as the Ku Klux Klan, built on racial
and religious prejudice. I often wonder if the set of men and women
who do so much criticizing of any anti-Semitic utterances in these
days and are willing to bar Father Coughlin from the air, because
of alleged anti-Jewish sentiments felt the same when their Catholic
fellow-citizens and Catholic neighbors were under fire from the
likes of creatures known as 'Pat Malone.'"
Pat Malone apparently left the scene. Most Catholics were not particularly
aroused. Some members of the American Legion urged some action,
but there was really nothing that could be done and so the event
passed into history.
However, in 1941, Father Gordon wrote, "One of the most remarkable
coincidences that I have ever noted was to read the following news
clipping from the Minneapolis Star-Journal issue of August 9, 1941:
MALONE WILL GIVE TWO TALKS"
"Evangelist Pat Malone, guest speaker, will deliver another of
his series of sermons at Prospect Park Baptiste Church Sunday.
He concludes his series the following week."
morning sermon topic, 'The One Besetting Sin,' will follow the
morning worship at 11 a.m."
Greatest Tragedy Ever Recorded' will be his evening topic and
follows prayer service at 7:30."
Father Gordon thought it would be worth a great deal if someone
undertook to satisfy his curiosity and find out if this Pat Malone,
Evangelist, is by any means the same Pat who had stirred up the
community fifteen years earlier.
(as I sincerely hope) the resemblance of names is purely accidental.
Two men can easily have the same name in this vast country of ours.
If by chance, it is the same Malone, then God help the Baptist!"
Father Gordon felt progress had been made in at least one area when
he quoted a write-up of what he called one for the most unique events
in which he had been involved:
the committee in charge unwittingly arranged it so, or perhaps
they did it deliberately but Centuria Commercial Club banquet
staged last Thursday, aside from being one of the most enjoyable
and most successful occasions of its kind ever staged in the village,
was also one of the most unique of its kind ever held in this
part of the state."
banquet was successful from the standpoint of attendance, over
one hundred partaking, successful also because of the general
spirit of good cheer and sociability which pervaded, the fine
eatables served, and the interesting program."
the unique feature was called to attention by Reverend Philip
Gordon, toastmaster for the evening, who in his inimitable, humorous
way, pointed out that the banquet was being held in the dining
room of a Swedish Lutheran Church, with the pastor of the church
asking grace at the beginning and pronouncing the benediction
at the close; the band was under the direction of the pastor of
the German Lutheran Church; the Methodist pastor was on the speaking
program; the toastmaster was the pastor of an Irish Catholic parish;
of the three members of the committee in charge, one was an Englishman,
one a Dane and one a German; the main speaker of the evening was
a Scotchman; the entertainment of the evening gave Italian and
French dialect reading as a part of the program; and to further
complete the mixture, there was one real American present - an
Indian - no one, but the Reverend Gordon."