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MILLER, HORACE SHERMAN

MILLER, HORACE SHERMAN (1901–1964). Horace Sherman Miller, white supremacist, the son of Claude Thomas and Lema (Yarbro) Miller, was born at Walnut Springs, Texas, on March 21, 1901. In his early life he lived in the country and worked for the Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company. In 1917 he lied about his age and enlisted in the United States Navy for World War I. He attained the rank of quartermaster, second class, but saw no overseas duty. Miller received an honorable discharge in January 1919. After leaving the Navy he married Della Lee Martin, and the couple began a drifting life in which Miller sporadically worked as a railway switchman and yardmaster. He bounced between railway jobs until 1937, at which time he took a permanent position with the Houston Belt and Terminal Railway Company. Miller traveled for the Houston Belt and Terminal. In July 1938 his work took him to Amarillo, where a lightning bolt struck him and incapacitated him for several weeks. Upon recovery Miller returned to Houston, where he assumed yardmaster duties for the Houston Belt and Terminal until his doctors diagnosed him as tubercular in October 1944. When he entered a sanatorium that year for his health, his wife abandoned him. They had no children. Between 1944 and 1949 Miller drifted between sanatoriums and Waco, Texas, the home of his mother and stepfather (William Norris Skinner). During the course of his illness, the tuberculosis settled into his bones, causing him to become a virtual invalid. He then settled with his mother and stepfather in Waco, where he resided until his death in 1964.

To utilize the free time of his invalid state, Miller began a frustrating writing career. His illness made him a bitter man, and he wrote against virtually everything imaginable. The bitterness and his desire to write led him to begin producing and distributing a white supremacist newsletter. This, in turn, led to Miller's Ku Klux Klan affiliation in the aftermath of the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Miller served as the Texas Kleagle, or Klan recruiting officer, for the Atlanta based United States Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, from 1955 to 1957. In 1957 United States Klans Imperial Wizard Eldon Lee Edwards banished Miller from his Invisible Empire for failing to establish a single Klavern (Klan unit) in Texas and for using the Kleagle appointment for his own purposes. Miller then began his own Klan unit, the Aryan Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which resulted in an international mail-order Klan with headquarters in Waco. Miller's newsletter and Klan message traveled throughout America, Britain, Mexico, East and West Europe, South America, Greece, Australia, the Middle East, and South Africa. Miller gained notoriety in July 1957 when he sent a letter threatening a labor member of Parliament with a British version of Ku Klux Klan violence. The 1967 House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee report The Present-Day Ku Klux Klan lists Miller's Klan group as the only Klan group operating in Texas, but concludes that the Klan did not prove a significant force in Texas after the 1920s. Miller's Aryan Knights apparently died out with him. Before his heart-related death on January 8, 1964, Miller bequeathed his papers to the Texas Collection, Baylor University in Waco. The collection, sealed for twenty years, is a resource for research into 1950s and early 1960s American political and social issues, especially white supremacy and its reaction to the civil rights movementqv.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

David Mark Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The First Century of the Ku Klux Klan, 1865–1965 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1965). Committee on Un-American Activities, The Present-Day Ku Klux Klan Movement (Washington: GPO, 1967). James Michael Davis, Horace Sherman Miller and the U.S. Klans (M.A. thesis, Baylor University, 1989). Horace Sherman Miller Papers, Texas Collection, Baylor University.

James Michael Davis

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

James Michael Davis, "MILLER, HORACE SHERMAN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmi93), accessed July 29, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.