Profiles In OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Sam Jernigan and Jesse Elliott, Orange County Sheriffs

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for babyklan.jpg
Baby Klan will do for an image until we get a logo for this series...
Orange County has never exactly excelled in electing the best sheriffs. There was Theo Lacy, who most likely participated in the lynching of Francisco Torres, and James Musick, who paraded around Mexicans during court hearings strapped with a Tommy gun while a sheriff's deputy during the NFL off-season. Logan Jackson infamously uttered, "Shoot to kill" during the 1936 Citrus War, while Brad Gates was a corrupt mofo. And the less that can be said about Mike Carona, the better.

And then there were the sheriffs who were Klan members: Sam Jernigan and Jesse Elliott.

In 1922, both of them worked with the Santa Ana Police Department--Jernigan as the head, and Elliott as an officer. Jernigan left that position a year later to become Orange County sheriff, a position he held until 1931.

jernigan.jpg
Orange County Sheriff's Department
Jernigan
His reign spanned most of Prohibition, and if there was one thing the Klan hated more than minorities, it was hooch, and the Orange County sheriff annals are filled with tales of Jernigan raiding bootleggers. These annals, however, conveniently ignore the 1927 Orange County grand-jury report that deemed Jernigan "negligent, inefficient, unbusinesslike and incompetent" after a couple of his deputies severely beat a prisoner (the more things change . . .) or that Jernigan belonged to the Klan. Here's the proof, courtesy of Robert Johnson, co-author of A Different Shade of Orange: Voices of Orange County, California, Black Pioneers, author of a coming book on the history of African-Americans in Orange County, and a gabacho who hates the Klan:

samjerniganklanform.jpg
Jernigan's Klan membership card

To those of you who say the Orange County version of the Klan were merely good ol' boys who wished no ill will on minorities, note the part where Jernigan, Elliott and all Klan members vow to uphold the "maintenance of White Supremacy."

Now, Elliott's card:

jesseelliottklan.jpg
Elliott's Klan membership card--sure, it doesn't top the "Little Sheriff" card, but it's up there...

Elliott was nowhere near as incompetent as Jernigan, but his claim to racialist fame was rounding up Japanese-Americans during World War II and--unlike the Santa Ana Register--not uttering a peep about internment's evils. There was also a 1945 case in which a Japanese-American woman in Orange County reported that her family had been terrorized by goons, but Elliott told the press he knew nothing about such threats.

Another reason to like (or at least tolerate) current Sheriff Sandra Hutchens: from Jernigan through Carona, Orange County suffered through 80 years of racist, degenerate pendejos.

Tune in every Monday at 5 p.m. for the latest entry exposing Orange County city fathers who were Klan members!

Previous entries:

Herman Hiltscher, Fullerton bureacrat
Henry W. Head, Orange County co-founder.
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23 comments
Mitchell
Mitchell

Are you now or were you ever a member of MEChA?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

That's the dumbest question yet—I wrote a pinche cover story about it! Go find it!

909Jeff
909Jeff

Mitchell,

Yes he was... But what does it matter? As far as I know, no Mecha members ever strung anyone up in a tree or burned a cross on anyones front lawn. Am I a big fan of Mecha? Not really but im also not a big fan of many student unions but they have the right to associate with like minded individuals... And as crappy as it is so does the Klan... But the Klan has a very dicey history.

CHS
CHS

I think this historical KKK series is very interesting.

Even more interesting would be articles about current racist leaders besides Nativo Lopez.

5th Gen OC
5th Gen OC

The thing is CHS, its easier and a whole lot less litigious to smear the names of the dead. Gustavo and the powers to be at the weekly aren’t worried about people, many of whom have been deceased for 80+ years, suing them for libel. You're right, an article listing current racist leaders would make a more compelling read. But it would also open the weekly up to legal woes. Trust me if they ran a story about a local business owner being involved with any of the lovely racist organizations we all know exist, I for one and several of my acquaintances would not support that business in any way shape or form. And the burden of proof is on the weekly or on Gustavo... What does that mean? They better be DAMN sure they have solid proof of said activity. BUT, to the Weekly’s and Gustavo’s credit they found out that you can incite the same level of frenetic ideology by exploiting the deeds of pioneers long gone and not fear retribution.

norris
norris

how horrible! though nearly a century apart 1922 and 2011 doesn't mean people change their attitudes about each other. OC is just full of racists who hate people of different cultures just because they are from a different culture. why can't people just accept each other and their cultures? gustavo, please expose this racism by releasing your current photos of KKK meetings in OC in 2010 and the list of current OC KKK members. this would be a public service

Mitchell
Mitchell

"why can't people just accept each other and their cultures"

I have no problem 'accepting other cultures', but I also like my own culture and my own people. You don't see Mexicans allowing their 'culture' to be overrun by whites, or Central Americans, etc. Liberals don't expect the Tibetans to acquiesce in their country being demographically swamped by Han Chinese. The Han Chinese of Singapore don't allow the hundreds of millions of poor Malay's who surround them to flood in, they (the Chinese) maintain their 'supremacy' through their immigration laws.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

The KKK is mostly gone from contemporary Orange County, having been replaced by lowlifes that make the old Klan seem like paragons of virtue.

norris
norris

who are these lowlifes? where can we find them?

Mitchell
Mitchell

"maintenance of White Supremacy."

So? Thomas Jefferson may have been conflicted about slavery, but he was firm in his belief in White Supremacy. Lincoln believed in the 'maintenance of White Supremacy'. Theodore Roosevelt believed in the maintenance of White Supremacy. These klan guys were white, protestant Christian men fighting for the land their ancestors conquered and, frankly, made productive, all in accordance with their constitutional rights of free association and free assembly. Still waiting for any indications of unlawful violence -- 'rounding up' Japanese and Japanese Americans was an executive order issued by Democratic hero FDR, after all.

Perhaps, if you are so worried about ethnic supremacist activism, you should turn to those active today -- MEChA (were you a member?, btw) and the 'national council of 'La Raza' whose ideas are channeled in that admirer of Nazis, José Vasconcellos.

Mitchell
Mitchell

In fact, having read your 'account' of the so-called citrus war, the violence I see is on the part of Mexicans. Francisco Torres, however wrong his lynching may have been, assuredly killed his white boss. Likewise the 'scabs' that were attacked by iron-bar wielding Mexicans were simply American kids who had the temerity to work on their parents land.

“We are finding that the American boys and men can pick oranges as well as their fathers did some 30 years ago and as well as any other pickers we have had in recent years.”

And really, isn't that what this is all about? Arrellano's fear that Americans, particularly white Americans, will no longer be guilt tripped into open borders. That we discover that our kids will work at McD's, or even Del Taco, will mow lawns if the price is right. I can even see our ef-upped can collectors taking up the 'fruit tramp' trail again.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Yeah, the Mexican who got his leg amputated after a guard riddled it with buckshot was REALLY violent. But, hey: glad you read my piece!

Katherine Guidry
Katherine Guidry

wow...I thought these guys stayed in the south...thanks for the education

Liuliu152
Liuliu152

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BrownPrideMofos
BrownPrideMofos

those bastards sob's

5th Gen OC
5th Gen OC

Gustavo,

This is exactly what I was talking about last week. Your dancing on the graves of the dead serves only to create more hatred. I answered your question last week when you asked if I was opposed to the full accounting of history. Either you didnt see it or you chose to ignore it because I posed a question back to you. But either way BrownPrideMofos is a little more affirmed that the white devil is out to get him because of your column... Good Job at spreading the message of diversity and tolerance.

The guest that wouldn't leave
The guest that wouldn't leave

5th Gen--- This series does come across as somewhat fanning the flames of race war.Hopefully some folks will realize it was the majority of the regular, non-Klan white folks in OC at the time that managed to expose these inbreds... and doing that back then was much more heroic than Gus's articles are today.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Talk about projecting! Never said my intentions are "heroic"—where did you ever get that idiocy from? Oh, and as I've written before, those people that did expose the clan were hardly "heroic"—they were actually even nastier in their racism toward Mexicans than the Klan. Way to fan the flames of race wars, eh?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Oh, please: the guy above is obviously a troll, just like the people who rail on and on about illegal aliens—in fact, I bet you it's one of those. But, hey: Gracias for reading, and there's more to come!

BillyBob
BillyBob

good job gustavo, you out did yourself with these findings. keep up the good work.

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