11 August 2020

Profile of SLC Klansman: Alex Christensen

Alex Christensen, SL Trib Oct 5 1921
Alexander W. Christensen (1874-1929) was the first King Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan of SLC. Under his leadership between 1921-1922 the SLC Klan failed to establish any significant numbers of membership and ultimately disbanded by Oct 1922 (soon to be reborn, however).

Alex was born in Brigham City to Danish and Scottish immigrants. He moved to SLC as a child after the death of his prominent and civic-minded father.

Author Larry R. Gerlach describes Alex as a professional white-collar drifter who sought employment as an insurance agent or as a manager of small business. He usually did not remain in a job for more than a year and from 1905-1918 he held 12 different positions.

Alex was no more successful as a Klan organizer than he had been a businessman.

Alex conducted a clandestine recruitment effort, mostly through trying to recruit his associates at the Mt Moriah Masonic Lodge where he served as Master. He would talk up the Klan without revealing his membership; as a result, recruiting efforts were slow and in a report to the Imperial Wizard Alex stated he had secured only 9 members by Feb 1922.

Lack of success in recruiting coupled with infighting led to the disintegration of the SLC KKK in Oct 1922. The state charter was surrendered in summer of 1923.

According to Gerlach, the KKK was initially organized by a group of SLC Gentile businessmen, including Alex Christensen, who saw the KKK as, among other things, an economic combine to challenge Mormon mercantile power. This appears to be an unusual and unique aspect of the SLC KKK as Klansmen in other states feared identification would adversely affect cash receipts.

Alex Christensen, the most publicly visible Klansman in the state, apparently paid a heavy price for his association with the Klan. After the SLC newspapers ran articles in Sept 1923 identifying him as a former King Kleagle, he and his wife left SLC and moved to Provo.

Source: Blazing Crosses in Zion by Larry R. Gerlach, pgs 25-38.

Advertisement for Alex Christensen and his campaign
for City Commissioner. From SL Trib Oct 5 1921

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