Profiles in OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Charles McClure, Brea's First Police Chief

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Anaheim's Klan was more obsessed with temperance than minorities; Fullerton's Klukkers were mostly obsessed with booting out Mexicans from the city limits. But for a bit of the old Klan, the guys who hated blacks and wanted nothing to do with them, you'd have to travel up to Brea, the county's only verified city that was a sundown town, that peculiar Southern institution that forbade African-Americans from staying within a city's limits after sunset--or else.

The man in charge of enforcing the "or else" provision in Brea's early days was its first chief of police, Charles McClure, a Klan member long after the Orange County District Attorney's office discouraged public employees (if not outright banned; need to remember) from joining the Invisible Empire.

Years ago, I gave a talk to senior citizens and talked about Orange County history, touching only briefly on our sundown-town heritage (Orange, Huntington Beach, and Newport are also alleged to have been sundown towns, but there's never been any concrete evidence to support the assertion). An elderly lady raised her hand and promptly recalled segregated Brea in the 1930s, saying she remembered how the town had a few blacks workers--maids, a shoeshine man, and a couple of other people--who carried on fine until 4 p.m., when they hurriedly packed their belongs and high-tailed it out of Brea. "It was sad to see these people, happy, and talking, all of a sudden turn frightened, just because the sun was coming down," she said. When I asked her if any brutal crackdowns on tardy African-Americans ever happened, she said she couldn't remember but wouldn't have been surprised: "Brea in those days wasn't a nice place to live."

What's crazy about Brea is that, although it was a sundown town, it didn't mind Mexicans too much. In an oral history, former California State Supreme Court judge Cruz Reynoso remembered that the Brea schools didn't segregate him and his brothers from their gabacho peers. Then again, Mexis don't represent a threat to the status quo when only two families lived in town--but how to explain the ban on African-Americans?

The Klan. McClure was just the enforcer; he didn't set the laws. That would've been the Brea City Council--and that's an episode for another post...

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

Previous entries:

John F. Pieper, Tustin feed store owner, councilmember
William Starbuck, Fullerton school trustee, druggist
Hoyt Corbit, Yorba Linda Pioneer, Fan of Richard Nixon
Lucien Proud, La Habra mayor/school trustee
Albert Hetebrink, Fullerton rancher
Henry W. Head, Orange County godfather
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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Diane Lenning
Diane Lenning

This line of writing here, based on "allegations and false assumptions" is not beneficial to anyone. As a history teacher, only "objective" writing is acceptable for publication as "history." I grew up in HB when those laws were "allegedly" on the books. We only had between 6,000-10,000 people in HB and about 250,000 in the entire county. We have 200,000 people today in the city of Hunt Beach. Our towns in OC were very small then and most of us were living from one paycheck to the next. Most of the kids had to work part-time jobs to supplement family income. There are many old laws on the books carried over from many years ago by other people that in some cases have not been taken off yet. I respectfully request you stop these "mud-raking" prejudicial articles apparently intent on casting OC people as "racists" which we of all people in America were NOT. What we need are the articles that show how we worked together to try to get everyone a job and take care of their families, regardless of ethnicity. I know, because I lived here during the time you write about from 1946 to present. Diane Lenning, Ed.M. (History teacher)

Guest
Guest

Everytime I see the picture of the two people standing next to the car, I wonder.....is Gustavo on the left, or on the right?

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

Guest,

Gustavo is neither the rascist baby on the left nor the crazy rascist mom on the right. He is the vato hiding inside that baaaad-ass bomb of a car. He is about to hot-wire it in order to run over those two pendejos in order to lessen the shallow end of the gene pool.

Guest
Guest

Actually, I really liked your response. I didn't even think of that. After he runs them over, he'll probably lower it, and trick it out completely. Just to impress his novia that is knocked up.

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

why do so many crackers have a problem reading about our colorful (sans black) county history? doesn't surprise me. most people abhor history let alone reading about it. people, la historia is a fascinating thing. don't fret about your bigotted and rascist past. acknowledge and accept it. heck, we wabs are some of the most rascist people around. we make fun of our living indios even though we praise past aztec/mayan/olmec advances. we make rascist comments about negros who actually compromise a good sized community in the mexican interior region. so, you see, you aren't the only rascists around. the difference is that we are ok reading and being reminded about ours. hell, the truth should never hurt.now shut your gabacho ass up and go and praise your negro president who continues to outdo the rpevious village idiot.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Hey Chotchi,

I dont have a problem with the history of OC. I have a problem with the way that Gustavo tries to admonish the current White citizens for the transgressions of a few idiots that lived here 100 years ago and paint the OC with a wide brush as an ignorant intollerant county. Apparently is ok for Gustavo to allign all white republicans with that loopy old bitch that sent the ape e-mail but dare anyone associate Gustavo with an illegal immigrant or point out the level of crime in SanTana (rightfully do mind you!) then they are either a Troll, a peckerwood, a member of stormfront, etc etc etc... so in stark contrast to what you believe it doesnt go both ways. As far as President Obama goes... Yeah good Job I suppose.

senator mccarthy hall
senator mccarthy hall

culichi and gustavo, I'll never post on this site again because reading both your comments is like peering into hell.

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

nancita,

You leave me in tears to hear that you will never post again. Where the hell will I find my inspiration from now on? YOU CAN'T DO THAT TO ME!!!

Bill T.
Bill T.

promise? What's really funny is the number of Gustavo bashers that apparently are dedicated followers.

togwoo
togwoo

Oh wow, OK you have to admit thats some pretty crazy stuff dude.

Guest
Guest

"the county's only verified city that was a sundown town"

better

The county's only city that was a verified sundown town.

You need to re-read Strunk and White.

And how exactly is 'sundown town' verified? Is there like an official association or something?

nancydebbiepatty
nancydebbiepatty

Mitch, can you believe this guy, teaches college courses at CSU fullerton? Professor Arellano's presence at my alma mater shames me

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Nancy aka senatormccarthyhall aka norris aka man, you're our biggest sock puppet! Please pick one identity and stick to it; otherwise, we'll give you the boot. You've been warned. Take the example of your fellow White whiner, Mitchy, who always maintains the same identity.

senator mccarthy hall
senator mccarthy hall

I tried to post it as senator mccarthy hall but it came up nancydebbiepatty, anyway, I'll stick to senator mccarthy hall as long as you don't block me because I ask you questions. You are emotionally fragile and abhor persons who ask you for specifics on your sources that you cite in your KKK articles. Any academic knows you have to reasonably defend your research, not flounce off in a huff.

Edmbates
Edmbates

I want to be a Klansman where do I sign up?

Fgrfgt Frgtyht
Fgrfgt Frgtyht

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