Profiles of OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Herman Hiltscher

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for babyklan.jpg
Not Hiltscher, but SO adorable!
In Fullerton, the surname Hiltscher is one of the oldest, one whose holders made their mark on the city in its earlier days. Patriarch August ran a farm off Orangethorpe Avenue; his sons operated the Center Meats butcher shop for decades. August Jr. was a Fullerton council member from 1913 through 1918 and has Hiltscher Park, a beautiful expanse of trails and trees, named after him. His son, Herman, served Fullerton for decades--as a planning commissioner, a city engineer and administrator, as well as in other positions. And Hiltscher Photography was a mainstay of the city for more than 40 years until very recently.

But the person we really care about is Herman.


Ol' Herm is probably most infamous in Fullerton's history for not being able to secure the Norton Simon Museum in Fullerton--you know, even though Simon ran the Hunt tomato cannery, one of the largest in the United States, within the city limits. But records show Hiltscher was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in Orange County at some point during the 1920s--records are unclear, but he does show up in the Klan's membership rolls as "H.A. Hiltscher," then just a purchasing agent for the city. 

Later in life, Hiltscher tried to justify the existence of the Klan in Fullerton by telling a chronicler that "one of the main objectives is to see that you have a good, clean city without corruption." That, of course, is bullshit. Unlike the Klan in Anaheim, the Fullerton kluckers were adamantly anti-Mexican and did their damndest to harass the wabs who were making the city wealthy by picking all those crops. In 1919, more than 100 Fullerton residents (including August Hiltscher, Herman's dad) presented a petition to the Fullerton City Council demanding they force the Santa Fe Railroad to stop construction of housing for the company's Mexican workers in the city. The council asked the Santa Fe, and the company agreed on condition they get compensated for the money they had already spent. The council refused, so the construction went on despite a massive protest led in part by the Hiltschers.

Funniest part about the episode? The Hiltschers were Catholic--and one of the few documented hate crimes the Klan in Orange County committed during the 1920s was the burning of a cross in front of St. Boniface in Anaheim, the very church that some of the Hiltschers attended. Talk about self-hate. . . .

Part one of our weekly series exposing Orange County city fathers who were Klan members. Tune in every Monday at 5 p.m. for the latest entry!
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Austin
Austin

Gustavo the amazing thing about this column is that every single time, the comments section demonstrates 1000 times over why a thorough exposition of Orange County's history is so timely. 

norris
norris

Gustavo, what does Mitchell mean when he says dubious documents and I clicked on your suggested links and only saw more blogs. Where may I find these documents? Are they a secret and if others saw them then you would lose your source of information, like deep throat in the movie "All the President's Men"?

5th Gen OC
5th Gen OC

Well Done Gustavo... My family has also been in the region for over a hundred years and no doubt your Great Grandpa picked oranges on property once owned by my Great Grandfather. Or packed oranges in the Villa Park packing house ran by my Grandfather. So What? All that matters is where we are now... I am a Gabacho, as you would say married to a Latina. Would my Great Grandfather have approved? Probably not. But I don’t care because I was raised in Southern California alongside people of color. Taught to judge each based on their character as opposed to color. Each generation is one more removed from the hate. I don’t see a need to drag people’s names in the mud because of transgressions from a hundred years ago. All your doing is fueling hate on the opposite side. Instead of "muckraking" how about if we just talk about what we have in common? The love of a good taco and a good bratwurst... And lets save the Sh!t talking for a quarter of the way into the baseball season for when we all finally realize that once again the Pinche' owner of the Angels didn’t make the right moves in the off season!

Garellano
Garellano

5th Gen: And we'll have those conversations about Moreno when they happen. However, we need to have a full accounting of history—what bothers you about that?

5th Gen OC
5th Gen OC

He probably was Gustavo... But why would that matter? Is it because if my great grand pappy was filthy union buster than I must be as well? And it’s refreshing to see you include everyone in your town. Also I must admit you're right when you say that you've never said the man is keeping you down... But it’s the overly Implied message you send when you are constantly waving the dastardly deeds of the "Gabachos" in everyone’s face. To address your question, isn’t the full accounting of history already there? I mean you found it. anyone else who wants to know surely can find it as well. Or is it not adequately accounted on until you announce it from atop your soapbox? It’s not adequately accounted until someone with the same surname that will soon grace the pages of the weekly gets beat up because they may or may not have been related to a Klan member? Its divisive, and not a constructive. But you are the one with the pen wield it as you shall. The question to you is what do you stand to gain by besmirching the names of families many of whom still reside in the area?

CHS
CHS

I enjoy these historical anecdotes because most folks don't realize that institutions thought to be confined to the "ya-hoo" South (such as the KKK and racially segregated "separate but equal" schools) existed in the OC well into the 20th Century.

Mitchell Young
Mitchell Young

You don't get it, 5th Gen. Stories of oppression, the enemy out to get you, overcoming the evil ethnic opposite, that all serves to cement group solidarity. And groups that stay united prosper.

So here we have an ethnically/racially motivated writer using dubious documents (see the introductory story) and sensationalist tactics to impugn the old white population of Orange County and to help build up a sense of 'us versus them'. He can't show that this guy did anything untoward or violent; he just exercised his constitutional right to free association.

Arrellano also leaves out any historical context -- the 'Klan' of the 1920s wasn't 'nightriders' terrorizing folks like it was in the post Civil War era. It wasn't freaks like Tom Metzger. Indeed Arrellano has to admit there were precious few 'hate' incidents in Orange County, and the one he comes up with here is pretty weak sauce. It was a large group of white, mostly protestant who saw their culture, community, and people under threat from a variety of sources, among them mass immigration. They were right in that assessment, though perhaps wrong in their vehemence. And for all this talk about 'defeating' the Klan, what took the wind out of its sails nationally was the passage of the 1922 and 1924 immigration restrictions -- the same laws that gave rise to the American middle class and the *American* baby boom.

5th Gen OC
5th Gen OC

I get it... My brand is more diplomacy and tact though. Your attacks on Gutavo arent unwarranted though. He used to write a funny little article called Ask a Mexican... The reason I say "used to" is because at some point he decided he was less comedian and more crusader. Maybe it was the first time he was on Kevin and Bean or the Al Rantell show but somewhere along the way he started taking himself way to seriously and started writing more about how the man is keeping him down... Or what was it he said earlier in these postings? "My family has been in Anaheim for nearly century, and we're glad trash like you and your racist neighbors are getting the hell out of our town". Yeah "your" town... named by German immigrants.... Thats rich... Even the Mexicans in the area at the time called Anaheim "Campo Alemon" or German Camp. So all I am saying is he should get back to writing about how to break a fever by putting papas on your head or pennig the praises of tapatio... And stop trying to be the next Ceasar Chavez.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Nice to see the diplomacy gloves off. Yeah, 5th: "our town"—Germans and Polacks and Romanians and Samoans and Ethiopians and Arabs and more than a few Mexicans. Never have said the "man" is keeping me down—and you never did answer my question about what bothers you so about historical accounting? Hey...were your forefathers one of those union-busting bastards from the Citrus War?

Gustavo Arellano
Gustavo Arellano

Mitchell: No, the list is absolutely legit. And the Klan of the 1920s, not night-riders? HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, tell that to all the lynched African-Americans and others in the South, and the sundown towns of Brea—but kudos on trying to defend the indefensible!

Mitchell Young
Mitchell Young

"sundown towns of Brea"

There is more than one town of Brea?

I'm no expert, but I am pretty sure if there was the slightest connection between this Hiltscher fellow and actual violence we'd have read about it in this article.

And I'm still trying to get how one can be for open borders and against union busting. As someone with quite a few relatives in the construction industry, and who humped lumber around construction sites when the workforce there was mostly 'Anglo' and unionized, I can tell you open borders is a primary means of union busting.

Jipper432
Jipper432

I'm out on the fire escape with a lit Sherm Stick. The sky is covered with clouds, clouds you don't see in shape because they carpet the sky.

Looking through the oval holes chaining the fire escape and into the total darkness reminds me of being seventeen and staring down the barrel of a gun in White South Africa.

The truth is that when I was alive, I wasn't anyway. Being left alone, this is how it was before my face fell off. Death disguised as life. Everybody you've ever loved you'll lose somehow.

I'm surrounded by nothing in the cold cloudy air. I rub the Sherm Stick out next to the fall leaves, walk inside where I look at the monster with his skeleton face, and pull a sweatshirt from the closet, remembering Susan's body cold in mine.

I find the release and tell myself this is something worth risking.

Svanderish
Svanderish

Regin, don’t forget to mention the drugs, the shootings, the stabbings, the HS dropouts, the non-license driving illegal drivers with no insurance, and the MS13 gang.

You better get ready to move to a better area, because Mission Viejo apartments are getting an influx of Mexicans.

There are still some pockets of SA and Anaheim that still OK >> maybe you should learn some Spanish give it a try.

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

Svanderish,

Yes, you are right about all the category results that you list. Unfortunately, it is all relative and pretty damn representative of every demographic, including your Scandanavian culo: The drugs, well, who uses them more? Wabs merely supply the voracious anglo appetite. The shootings? Sadly, Afro-Americans lead the category of gun deaths followed by anglo-sangrones. High school drop-out rates: Yes, wabs lead the race there, lastima. But since 1980 all groups, inc wabs, whites, and negros, have cut those rates in half. Unfortunately, with the continuing effort to dumb down Amerikka by corporations, Supreme Court, and Tea Bagging fools, I am sure those rates will increase shortly. We shouldn't have undocumented wabs driving without licenses (I'm with you on that). Let's give them one so that they can tend to your garden faster or to work wherever gabachos exploite them the best. Besides, it will drive down everyones car insurance rates and help out with our patriotic national security effort or whatever that fascist law is called. As for the Mara, well, I say we line those fucktards up next to the Aryan good ol' boys and PEN pendejos and let them go at it. Those three groupos do tend to add significantly to the unwanted tally on that side of the gene pool, que no, vato?

Mitchell Young
Mitchell Young

"Afro-Americans lead the category of gun deaths followed by anglo-sangrones"

Seeing as how many crime statistics -- esp. at the federal level-- are *not* broken out by 'ethnicity' -- i.e. cholos count as 'white', this is impossible to know. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that Mexicans are prone to gunplay. I can't remember the last time two 'back easters' got into an argument over which state was best that escalated into violence, gun shots, and death.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Of course, what you conveniently forget to mention is that the Bureau of Justice (which keeps track of crime stats in the U.S.) breaks it down for Hispanic non-white and even Mexicans. Go chew on THAT taco, sucker!

Regin
Regin

When I was a kid growing up in Anaheim in the 1960s, there was this guy that held KKK meetings in his garage once a week with the garage door up.

As a 11 year old kid, I remember sitting on bicycle on the sidewalk to look in and listen.

There were lots of neighborhood guys and even a few that I knew. There were vets that fought in the Vietnam war, a police officer, a plumber, auto mechanic, accountant, even our mail man was there.

I remember how concerned they were that Mexicans would one day destroy part of Orange County like Santa Ana and Anaheim.

Most of these families moved away in that neighborhood moved away in the 1980s…. My family got out in 1983 and moved to Mission Viejo.

I drove though that neighborhood last week and when I saw all the graffiti, gangs, broken beer bottles, cars leaking oil, taco shops etc. I realized that what they were predicting finally came true.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Regin: And here, I thought you were going to decry the Klan. My family has been in Anaheim for nearly century, and we're glad trash like you and your racist neighbors are getting the hell out of our town.

El Colorin
El Colorin

Sadly, this doesn't surprise me at all.There used to be a bar in downtown Fullerton called the Melody Inn. Well into the early 1950s a sign was displayed next to the entrance reading "No dogs or Mexicans allowed."

norris
norris

this is so sad a chapter in OC history.gustavo, where are the documents located that gave you the info for this article?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Ah, reporters don't kiss-and-tell on all their sources...but the membership rolls of the Klan are in the museum I mention at the link at the end of this article!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Ah, reporters don't kiss and tell everything they know...but you can find the membership rolls if you click on the article at the bottom of the piece

American.
American.

Good Article Gustavo, but it's heartbreaking to see child forced by adults (parents?) to be cloaked in a cloth associated with history of mass hatred and murder, being brainwashed by domestic terrorists a.k.a. white supremacists to breed a new generation of terror. That is the most disturbing photo i've seen in a long time.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

American.: The photo is actually from San Diego and dates from the 1930s, I believe. It shows up in the opening credits of True Blood...

Mitchell
Mitchell

Looks like Semana Santa in Seville to me.

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

Keep 'em luscious stories coming, 'Tavo. It's sad to know about our county's lametable history but also absorbing since we are witnessing an anti-wab/anti-muslim rennaissance. I guess we never learn from our history. Pinchi gabachos...

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Culichi: Every Monday!

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

Culichi= aka Cheeser, guey!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Of course, cabrón: ¿quien más va' saber que chingada significa "culichi" in the first place?

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