New research proves Seaman High founder’s connection with KKK


Seaman Yearbook Archives

Fred Seaman poses for the 1922 Yearbook. Seaman was the founder of Seaman High School

Rumors tend to spread over the course of a century. Seaman High School’s founder and Principal, Fred Seaman, has been rumored for years to have been a Ku Klux Klan member. The information was never substantiated and the community moved forward. However, information from various sources has recently surfaced verifying this fact. 

Four newspaper articles have come to light which name Fred Seaman as a member of the KKK. They come from 1925 issues of The Atchison Globe, The Topeka Journal, and The Hutchinson News. These articles covered a contentious Topeka mayoral race in 1925. J. E. Thomas, a Klan-backed candidate, was elected over the opposing party’s candidate. As a Klan leader, Fred Seaman was referenced in the articles for openly supporting Thomas’s candidacy. A 1926 article from the Kansas City Star also covered Seaman’s potential candidacy for Kansas Superintendent of Instruction.

The Mayoral race was the first time that Fred Seaman was identified in print as a KKK member and leader. Typically, individual Klan members stayed out of the press, but their desire to influence the election brought Seaman’s membership to light. On April 7th, 1925, the Topeka Journal reported, “It was freely talked on the streets that the Klan slips served to line up Thomas and Hill against Porter and McGiffert. It was most evident that Fred Seaman and his robed brothers are not recognizing the bond issue question in the school board fight.” The Topeka Journal further reported “The Klan ticket, the first of its kind in a Topeka city election, appeared at the election polls… the tiny two inch by four inch slips bear across the face of the endorsement of Fred A. Seaman, exalted cyclops of the Klan organization. Seaman is principal of the Seaman rural high school, north of the city.” Additional articles would come out in other newspapers implying further involvement with the KKK.

Several articles written on April 7, 1925, revealed even further that Fred Seaman was a part of the KKK as a leader. Both The Atchison Globe and The Hutchinson News newspapers reported, “The Klan had not been an issue in the campaign until today and the order had taken no stand in the primary election a week ago. The cards distributed today bore the stamped endorsement of Fred A. Seaman, a Klan leader.” These articles disclose his identity not only as a contributing member, but a chief figure in the local Topeka Klan.

Perhaps the most condemning evidence is connected to Fred Seaman’s attempt to become the superintendent of instruction for the State of Kansas while running on the Klan ticket. The Kansas City Star on January 29th, 1926 questioned, “Whether Fred Seaman of Topeka should become a candidate for the Republican nominations for superintendent of public instruction. Seaman has been the head of the Klan in Topeka… Seaman is so well known as a Klansman that his claims cannot be ignored.” During this time, Seaman lost the election for superintendent, but the name Seaman continued to be attached to Seaman rural high school.

The KKK began during the Reconstruction period. Nathan Bedford Forest was its first Grand Wizard. The KKK is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center as being “the oldest and most infamous of American hate groups. Although Black Americans have typically been the Klan’s primary target, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, and, until recently, Catholics.” The KKK regained popularity in the 1920s, around the time Mayoral race articles came out, and reached its peak in 1925. Even today The US Department of Homeland Security states that “WSE (White Supremacist Extremists) draws on the constitutionally protected activities of a broad swath of racist hate-oriented groups active in the United States ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to racist skinheads.” 

The Clipper reached out to the USD 345 Board of Education after learning of Fred Seaman’s leadership in the KKK. Candace LeDuc, USD 345 Communications Director released the following statement from the Board:

“The board has been made aware of Fred Seaman’s affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan through research conducted by our teachers and students. 

We are grateful our district today is inclusive as we welcome and embrace all students regardless of color, race, ethnicity, etc. and we will continue to listen and support the research of our students and teachers in this ongoing investigation. 

We are proud of our teachers and students for taking a strong interest and stance in learning about and identifying historical figures. Several of these projects have even received national recognition.” 

The Clipper will continue to post updates as the story unfolds.