Profiles In OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Henry W. Head, OC Founding Father

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If it weren't for Google, this series wouldn't exist. And if it weren't for bad historians, there'd be no reason for my write-ups. But there is, and there are--thus, ars gratia artis, or some high-falutin' Latin phrase to justify its existence.

Actually, blame the biographers of Henry W. Head for my interest in OC's pioneer Klukkers. I wrote about Head back in 2008, but I discovered him only in doing research for my book on the history of Orange County that involved random Google images. And I would've let sleeping dogs lie if it weren't for Paul Gillette, a local historian who did a write-up about Head for a book about the Civil War veterans who eventually moved to Orange County. Gillette got so pissy about me noting his omission of Head's Klan membership (under Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest, no less) that he demanded an apology from us for exposing his shoddy work; instead, we showed how he couldn't even write an original bio of Head. BUSTED! The episode just showed me how juvenile Orange County history buffs still are (just check out some of the inevitable comments written under digital hoods whining about the very existence of this series), and thus: ars gratia artis.

Where were we? Oh, a new wrinkle to the Head case.

A source (gracias, source!) forwarded me an 1896 Los Angeles Times piece showing how odious Head was. Apparently, Orange County was suffering from a rash of horse thieves at the time, and a Santa Ana committee was created to try to stave off the crime wave. Head was running for a state senate seat, to follow the state assembly seat he held in the 1880s. At the meeting, Head suggested they all dress in uniform, specifically a "certain kind of uniform that had proved in his old home in Tennessee to be very effective in subduing the people and especially the criminal element."

His fellow committee members had no idea what Head was talking about and asked him to bring that uniform to the following meeting and make some for all of them. And he did: the original KKK outfit, which you can see Head model below in a 1916 photo.

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Henry W. Head, in all his terrorizing glory...

"The moment he stepped into the room, I recognized the uniform," a committee member told the Times. "I had seen them in Tennessee myself, and I had reason not soon to forget them." Head's suggestion proved so vile the committee disbanded on the spot, as no one wanted to lynch or murder.

Mind you, the Klan wasn't even supposed to exist at this time, with Bedford having officially told the Klan to disband and burn all belongings--but that meant nothing. Head, in fact, even provided secret Klan documents to Annie Cooper Burton, whose 1916 The Ku Klux Klan was the literary counterpart to D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation and who, even when trying to offer an apologia on the Klan, revealed its true purpose: "to scare into submission the unruly free negroes and the troublemaking carpetbaggers."

Head, of course, was the father of an Orange County district attorney, Horace Head, who went on to be one of the original settler's in Sant Ana's ritzy Floral Park (whose inhabitants threatened any Mexicans who walked in front of their homes with shotguns when not burning crosses on front lawns), who defended his dad's membership in the Klan, just like many OC historians nowadays defend the 1920s Klan as harmless despite members' white-power beliefs that translated into political actions. The more things change . . .

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

Previous entries:

Dr. Roy S. Horton and Marshall Keeler, Santa Ana Unified trustees
Sam Jernigan and Jesse Elliott, Orange County sheriffs
Herman Hiltscher, Fullerton bureacrat

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21 comments
zqxz
zqxz

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Mitchell
Mitchell

Is there a footnote/source for that picture, looks awful familiar -- like something I saw before I started 'reading' the Weakly.

Jonathan Volzke
Jonathan Volzke

I live in Orange County. I'm white. I appreciate this series in an attempt to show the entire picture of how Orange County developed. I believe knowing our past is important, and I appreciate the effort and courage to publish all sides.

Thanks, Gustavo.

Jonathan Volzke

norris
norris

norris, so 909jeff, gustavo went to a racist university. I don't believe it, you are just another one of those OC apologists for racism and now you attack gustavo by claiming he went to some cracker jack box college, everyone knows he went to UCLA. you need to check yur facts better, 909jeff, then maybe you wouldn't be an amateur historian whatever that animal is.

My Name
My Name

Interesting. I thought a lot of the white supremists stuff came when Southerners came to HB with development of the oil industry there. I didn't realize it started before then.

Is SanTana your way of writing Santa Ana?

909Jeff
909Jeff

Mitchell,

You remember seeing that picture because Gustavo has used it in no less than 4 articles in the last few weeks. He gets a ton of mileage out of it. You see its a mnemonic device. You see a picture of a Klansman it invokes strong feelings of dislike then you read the story and it reinforces you dislike even if what you just read the misleading fables of a CHARLATAN like Gustavo!

You see the standard rationalization of logic the human brain says; I see a picture I don’t agree with, the picture is associated to an article, the quick logic says if I disagree with the article then I agree with the photo, therefore the article has to be factual. See, it’s a simple trick that gets people all the time. And the way it works for Gustavo is he interweaves facts with his opinion which then causes people to see his opinion as fact etc etc etc... Take a logic class and you'll get it which is also where you lean about things like "Argument Ad Hominem" this is Gustavo’s Achilles heel as he commits this fallacy ALL THE TIME! Also you'll learn about "Poisoning the Well" which is basically where he will portray someone in an unfavorable manner before you the reader is ever able to form your own opinion.

But alas Gustavo wont play in the sand box with me anymore...

The Pied Piper of the OC weekly strikes again!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Jonathan: Thank you, but your wise words are wasted on the loser white supremacists that pad this series with comments! Gracias, losers!

Mitchell
Mitchell

Jonathan, just keep in mind that Arellano's narrative is completely disjointed -- e.g. jumping back and forth between the the 'First Klan' and the second while showing absolutely no connection of one with the other. Also note that even if the events related in the LA Times story of 1896 occurred as related, that (1) Head was reacting to an outbreak of crime, which pretty much squares with Southern narratives of why the Klan came into being in the first place --that is, to protect the white population of the south and (2) the overwhelming number of white folks on the committee rejected Head's suggestion.

In other words, it is not an "attempt to show the entire picture of how Orange County developed." Or even of this Head fellow's life. It is an ethnically oriented series, because nothing builds solidarity than tales of persecution -- real or imagined (mostly imagined here). And unfortunately, nothing induces Stockholm syndrome in whites like tales of the KKK.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Uh hmmm...

http://www.ocweekly.com/2003-0...

"I had been apprehensive about joining MEChA when I attended Chapman University in the 1990s"

"But then I actually attended a meeting"

His Words. Your knee jerk reaction to protect your Charlatan helps prove my point.

Chapman is far from a cracker jack box college... The very fact that it was all inclusive at a time when it was "Okay" to segregate makes it quite the contrary.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Gustavo,

Thanks for the shout out in the article!

"The episode just showed me how juvenile Orange County history buffs still are (just check out some of the inevitable comments written under digital hoods whining about the very existence of this series)"

Looking back at my posts as 5th Gen OC (I no longer wish to be a “Sock Puppet” or “Digital Hood” as you put it) I don’t believe I have been Juvenile at all in attempting to dialogue with you about whether or not your platform for allegedly exposing long dead Klan members is a wise use of your journalistic influence. I was wrong about one thing though, The first comment out of the gate this week wasn't another pissed off Latino. However still an uninformed reader.

My Name,

While I can’t account for the home of origin for every oil worker who came to California during the boom days, the major Oil players that came to HB weren’t from the south. They were Standard Oil headquartered out of Ohio and New York and founded by Rockefeller. By the time they came to HB in our around 1915 Standard Oil as the monolith had already been broken up but Standard Oil of California became a major player in the region and now you still give them your money under the name of Chevron. Also, Signal Oil which was originally from the mid-west is now part of Allied-Signal corp they produce the Fram line of automotive products amongst other things. And, Burmah Oil which was a British company they were acquired by BP in 2000. Finally was Union oil which leased land from none other than Charles Chapman the namesake for Gustavo’s Alma Mater! Mr. Chapman through very generous donations from that terrible blood oil money secured his immortality by changing the name from California Christian College to Chapman College (later University). Which brings me full circle to how Gustavo the cracker hating, Jew Loathing, Muslim apologist saw his way clear to attend a University deeply rooted in Christianity. One other poke in the eye for Gustavo is that the college where he was a MECHa member was began classes on March 4, 1861, timed to coincide with the exact hour of President Lincoln's (GASP! A REPUBLICAN!) inauguration. Its founding principle was a dedication to Lincoln's belief in equality in education, which is also a current belief of most Republicans, but if Gustavo keeps calls them Racist long and loud enough people will begin to believe him. Hesperian admitted students of both sexes and all races (Don’t forget this was 1861). Which goes to show you while there was and is racism everywhere it is nowhere as bad as Gustavo would have you believe. The greater Los Angeles area including Orange County all the way to San Diego is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world and while yes Gustavo… A full accounting of History is necessary, you should however stop trying to rub the white man’s nose in it like a little puppy that just crapped on the carpet.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Actually, I use that shot FAR more than what you allege, but gracias for paying such close attention to what I write!

909Jeff
909Jeff

I certainly hope your not refering to me?

Why are you Ignoring my posts? Not up to the challenge? again I have challenged you with thoughtfull insight and again you choose to atack the messenger and not the message... Dont be scared little puppet!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

AWESOME to see you continuing to act as an apologist for the Klan. God bless peckerwoods—your sole purpose in life is to squeal like the babies ustedes are! Toodles!

Mitchell
Mitchell

I always thought of Chapman as being for the kids without the academic chops to get into UC, too proud to go to state, and rich enough to afford the former.

My Name
My Name

Thanks for the info. I saw something where they said a lot of people who worked on the oil in HB were from the south. Maybe that show was wrong.

I admit I am not very informed on this issue.

Can you please hit enter every now and again to make your posts easier to read?

Mitchell
Mitchell

Actually, if you go out on the oil rigs today, you'll find a bunch of Southern good old boys still, more particularly guys from Louisiana, Mississippi. You see, contrary to popular belief, white folks will work physically demanding, dirty and even dangerous jobs, if they are paid enough. Unfortunately our elites have sided with Mechista types in denigrating us to create the myth of 'jobs Americans won't do'.

909Jeff
909Jeff

You very well may have a point though I'm not discreditng you. 100 years ago people actually relocated to find work as opposed to today where people by and large whine about politicians not "Creating Jobs". So, very much so some of the racist elements from that time were people from the south seeking employment. As far as hitting enter, Yeah, sorry about that I get carried away when I'm going after Gustavo.

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