Roy Davis and the KKK
This article is one in a series on William Branham's early life - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:
In an article of "Voice of Healing" magazine published October 1950, it was advertised that the Reverend Roy E. Davis Sr. was William Branham's first pastor. According to Davis, he could "write more intimately of Billy Branham than any living minister." Also according to Davis, he was a member of the Fort Worth, Texas Chamber of Commerce, born and raised near Fort Worth, and ordained to preach the Gospel in a well-known Baptist church in Texas. For a brief period of time, Davis hung his hat in Jeffersonville, Indiana, during which time he introduced William Branham to the Pentecostal religion.
"I am the minister who received Brother Branham into the first Pentecostal assembly he ever frequented. I baptized him, and was his pastor for some two years. I also preached his ordination sermon, and signed his ordination certificate, and heard him preach his first sermon." - Rev. Roy E. Davis.
William Branham acknowledged this several times throughout his ministry, adding titles to Davis such as "doctor" or "lawyer."
Davis' life before meeting William Branham
Roy Elonza Davis, Sr. was reared in Texas, but he did not remain there for the largest portion of his life. After being caught cheating and swindling the people of Texas in 1917, he fled to Georgia posing as a travelling evangelist and singer under the alias "Lon Davis." He tried to settle down in Acworth, GA, but was removed from the congregation for "conduct unbecoming a minister."
Soon after, and under his real name of Reverend Roy. E. Davis, he began holding lectures to promote the interests of the Ku Klux Klan. Filling convention halls and collecting sign-up fees, Davis began asking followers to support his political agenda. According to Davis, the Klan were not as bad as the skeptics had made them to be. He claimed that the Ku Klux Klan was "not anti-negro, Jewish, or catholic" and that the Klan "favored white supremacy but by lawful and peaceful means."
At the time, Davis was the chief editor of the Brickbat, a newspaper published in Meigs, Georgia, as well as the head of the Georgia Farmer's Union. Davis began spreading his propaganda through the publication, and suddenly found himself in trouble with the Georgia criminal system. He was arrested on charges of criminal libel against one Katy Lee Kirk.
After it was made public that Davis was spreading false information, his reputation began to quickly fade. People began to question his motives and intentions. Some went so far as to hire a private investigator to follow the minister on his evangelistic trips, and were shocked to learn that the Reverend Roy E. Davis who lived in Georgia was living a dual life in multiple cities and states of the U. S.
In Macon, Georgia, it was announced that Davis would no longer be operating as head of the Georgia Farmer's union. A dual committee was gathered to review the findings of the investigation, and decided that he would be fired immediately. Davis left Georgia, singing and evangelizing in multiple states across the country. His advertised trail leads through North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, however one can assume that he travelled through many more states throughout the United States. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Davis was arrested for bringing a seventeen-year-old girl from Chattanooga, Tennessee for sexual pleasure. At the time he was arrested, Davis was preaching from a "Pentecostal Baptist Church" at the "Holy Bible Mission Hall" on 711 E. Jefferson Street in Louisville, KY. His son, Roy E. Davis Jr. was a trustee at his church.
But this was not the only trouble Davis would face in Kentucky. Multiple charges of fraud, forgery, and more would place Davis in and out of jail.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Debates (2012) and the Gospel Guardian Newsletter (1947) both refer to Roy Davis as having a Pentecostal Holiness church in Louisville, Kentucky in 1929. This would have been a white-Pentecostal church. In 1929 he participated in a debate with Jefferson Tant of the Church of Christ (http://www.ptc.dcs.edu/teacherpages/tthrasher/listings/Ta.htm). It is recorded that Mr. Tant said the following to Mr. Davis: "If somebody should put your brains into a mustard seed they'd have as much room to play around in as a tadpole would in the Atlantic ocean." (http://www.wordsfitlyspoken.org/gospel_guardian/v1/v1n7p8.html).
Davis comes to jeffersonville
Davis fled across the river to Jeffersonville, Indiana to escape some of the charges. There, Davis connected with William Branham and started a new church also named "Pentecostal Baptist Church" where Davis would claim to base his evangelistic missions. Continuing a life of crime, Davis would be arrested again in Indiana. Eventually, the State of Indiana would extradite Davis to Kentucky for his crimes in that state, though he would still continue to claim residence in Indiana.
During this time, members of his church combined with William Branham to hold tent meetings of their own and eventually move into Branham's "Pentecostal Tabernacle" on the corner of 8th and Penn Street which would eventually become the Branham Tabernacle. At the same time Roy pastored his church, his brother, the Reverend Daniel S. Davis pastored the "Baptized Church of God Pentecostal Church" on Mechanic Street in Jeffersonville. Later, Daniel would become the head of the East Market Street Mission in Louisville, Kentucky. Interestingly, William Branham gives us a hint that the Klan was very active in Jeffersonville at the time he was in the early stages of his career:
After being caught stealing a piano and a desk from a New Albany organization during a tent meeting, Roy E. Davis Sr. and Roy E. Davis Jr. would flee to Oklahoma. According to William Branham, their church in Jeffersonville was burned to the ground, which leads one to question whether the father-son conmen were run out of town or burned it down to try to claim the insurance money. There they would base their evangelistic operation for an unkown amount of time. The evangelists are advertised speaking at Masonic Order of the Eastern Star meetings, and appear to have been affiliated with the Masons to some extent. Coincidentally, when their campaign came into town, the newspapers also advertised large meetings for Eastern Star members. This is interesting, because above the door to William Branham's original tabernacle hung the Eastern Star tilted slightly to the right as was typical of the emblem for the Masonic order. Also, his sister Deloris was described in her obituary as being a lifelong member of the Branham Tabernacle and the Eastern Star.
Where did the division of White and Black Pentecostals come from?
Before the Pentecostal movement became divided over the Godhead, it was divided over racial lines. This began shortly after Charles Parham visited William Seymour’s church on Azusa Street in 1906.
Seymour was African American, and had attended Parham’s school in Texas (in the hallway due to the Jim Crow laws). Parham was locked out of Seymour’s Azusa street church due to his harsh preaching and criticism, so he started alternative services down the street. After Parham left Los Angeles, he spent much of his time between Zion (Illinois), Baxter Springs (Kansas) and Houston (Texas). Parham also spoke positively about the Ku Klux Klan.
So where did William Branham’s Pentecostal roots come from? From Charles Parham, who was a believer in British Israel, via a minister named Roy E. Davis. This certainly appears to be where William Branham learned the Serpent Seed doctrine from.
In the early 1900’s, Jeffersonville was a town with little law. It was known for a time as “little Las Vegas” for its gambling and related entertainment (which the Branham family participated in with their sales of alcohol). While New Albany and Louisville had strong anti-KKK laws, Jeffersonville did not, which is likely why the Reverend Roy Davis settled there. Roy Davis later moved back to Texas where he became known for his involvement with the KKK.
In Jeffersonville in the 1930's, the issue of race was likely just as important socially as the issue of doctrine. When William Branham went to Mishawaka, Ohio in the mid 1930's, he came back inspired with a new Pentecostal message that he heard from an elderly African American preacher. This was startling not because it was a Pentecostal message (William Branham was already a Pentecostal minister) but the fact that the Pentecostal experience he witnessed crossed racial barriers and included Oneness theology. However, he stated that he listened to his mother-in-law and chose not to associate with the Mishawaka Pentecostals. The question must be asked whether his mother-in-law's concern related to fact that the Mishawaka Pentecostals were African American. It couldn't have been related to their being Pentecostals as William Branham was already a Pentecostal in 1933, well before his attending the Mishawaka meetings.
When William Branham’s ministry started reaching an international audience in the late 1940s, he was no longer concerned with mixing with either Parham or Seymour Pentecostals, or Oneness or Trinitarian Pentecostals. However, the issue of race was also important in the late 1940's when his sermons began to be recorded. At this time, there is no indication of racial tensions in William Branham's recorded sermons other than comments against Martin Luther King Jr. and a prophecy that he would lead millions to their death.
Moving to California
In 1944, the father and son would leave Oklahoma for California, where they would begin a new series of crimes, most of which were attributed to the son. In Upland, California, the "Upland First Missionary Baptist Church" was established under the Reverend Roy E. Davis, and both Junior and Senior appear to have been pastoring it together. After being arrested for swindling people out of money, Roy E. Davis Senior and his wife, Allie Lee Davis sued the chief of police. Meanwhile, Davis Junior was arrested for posing as an F.B.I. agent to swindle others out of money. During the process of the investigation, it was announced that Roy E. Davis had felony charges in Texas for swindling.
Then back to Texas
Not long after, Roy E. Davis, Sr. moved back to Texas and the article was published in the Voice of Healing Magazine. It is unclear whether or not both Senior and Junior relocated to Texas at the same time, because this is the last trace of Junior to be found. And it is unclear where, exactly, Roy E. Davis relocated to. It appears from Klan-related articles published in Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana that Davis was again living a dual life in multiple states. While living in Texas, Davis organized and operated the largest Klan sect in Louisiana called "The Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." At the time, little was known about the leader, just that he was "a man named Davis from Texas." Interestingly William Branham gives several locations for Davis during this time period:
But it wasn't until 1959 that things got REALLY interesting. At a large meeting in Samsula, Florida, a Klan rally was held. And during this rally, something happened that was unheard of during the gathering. The Imperial Grand Wizard, the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, took off his mask and presented himself in plain sight. When doing so, he claimed that he was "Lon Davis," the same alias that Roy E. Davis used in Georgia when he was found to be living a dual life in Georgia and Texas. "Lon Davis" presented himself as a 71-year-old ordained Baptist minister from Dallas, TX.
Years later, after investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it was learned that the Imperial Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan was actually Roy Elonza Davis, Sr. It is the middle name for Davis that helps us bind all of the many newspaper articles together, and link them to William Branham's mentor. According to Texas state records, Reverend Roy Elonza Davis Sr. was the father of Roy Ennis Davis Jr. This confirms the swindlers in the state of California, and gives us his wife's name. Through his wife, and through the District Attorney statements concerning his swindling people in Texas, we can bind him to the Georgia Davis living dual identities. And through genealogy records listing his siblings, we can match Roy E. Davis, Sr. to the obituary for his brother in Louisville, Kentucky. With the archives of the Jeffersonville Evening News available in the Jeffersonville public library, we can place Roy E. Davis Sr., Roy E. Davis Jr., and Daniel S. Davis in Jeffersonville helping William Branham get started into his evangelistic career, just as both Roy Davis and William Branham state in their testimonies. The Imperial Wizard of the White Knights was William Branham's teacher.
It gets even more interesting after the election of President Kennedy. The Ku Klux Klan was strongly opposed to the Democrat, and started using hate speech to promote the idea that by having this Catholic President in office, the nation would come to ruin. It was during the height of this propaganda that William Branham gives us a hint that he is of the same political persuasion as the Ku Klux Klan:
When examining his sermons as compared to the political agenda and doctrinal stance of the Ku Klux Klan, William Branham surprisingly appears to be more aligned than many realize. One of the doctrines Branham claims to be "fundamental" for salvation is an idea he calls "Serpent's Seed." This is the theological stance that sin entered the world through the sexual union between Eve, mother of all living, and the serpent in the Garden of Eden. This ideology is used by the Klan to racial hatred and abuse, as well as the oppression of women, by promoting the idea of supremacy in the white race. Believing that their bloodline is "pure," they produce hate-speech propaganda against the other races.
After John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were immediately under investigation for conspiracy to murder the President of the United States. It was a highly organized operation, with trails of conspiracy from every angle. Though Lee Harvey Oswald was credited with the kill shot, it was believed that several shots from several angles had killed the President.
On November 9, 1963, a Miami police informant named William Somersett met with Joseph A. Milteer, a wealthy right-wing extremist who promptly began to outline the assassination of President Kennedy. During the course of his testimony, he declared that Dallas Klan Leader R. E. Davis was one of the actual triggermen in the assassination of the president. Instantly, Davis was the target of a Secret Service investigation. And interestingly, the Secret Service has destroyed their records on Roy E. Davis. But in the aftermath of the events that unfolded, "R. E. Davis" was named Roy Elonza Davis.
Interestingly enough, of the four distinct Klan organizations in Louisiana which were described, the largest was the Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, headed by the Imperial Wizard identified as "a man named Davis from Dallas Texas. "Davis" appears to be Roy Elonza "R. E." Davis. Willie Somerset named Dallas Klan leader R. E. Davis as one of the actual triggermen in the assassination of the president. Davis became the subject of a Secret Service investigation, based on Somersett's allegations in connection with the assassination. In response to the author's Freedom of Information Act request, the Secret Service stated they had destroyed their records on Davis. Roy Elonza Davis was a member of the Dallas Indignant White Citizens' Council, which was described as "an extremist organization composed of people opposing integration of the races."
In 1965 the U.S. House of Representatives held Hearings on the Activities of the K.K.K. organizations in the United States. These Hearings revealed that in 1960, the Reverend Roy Davis of Texas tried to organize the old Original Knights of the KKK, at which time he held the authority to appoint the Imperial Dragon of this organization, and designate who would receive the royalties from the sale of robes (http://archive.org/stream/activitiesofkukl03unit/activitiesofkukl03unit_djvu.txt). US Army records also show that on August 18, 1963 Roy Davis participated in a meeting of the Indignant White Citizens Council (Book: “Kennedy Assassination: Surveillance of Civil Rights Activists”, Barry Leonard, Editor).
(Much of the above information was the result of research by John Collins on the Seek the Truth website)