Profiles in OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Ferris F. Kelly, San Juan Capistrano Postmaster

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The Orange County men who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s were almost all residents of North and Central County, specifically the cities of SanTana, Anaheim, Fullerton, La Habra, and Brea. The numerical breakdown isn't really surprising: Orange County didn't have that many cities then, and outside of that core and the coast from Seal Beach to Newport, the rest of the county was mostly hills, agriculture, and ranch holdings. Laguna Beach was a lifetime away; San Juan Capistrano, an eternity connected to the rest of civilization via unpaved Highway 101--actually, it'd be the old El Camino Real, as the 101 wasn't commissioned until 1926. You'd have to be committed to white supremacy in those days to join the Klan from Capistrano, a city chockablock with Mexicans, Californios, and Juaneños even in those days and far, far away.

But that's the type of man Ferris F. Kelly was.
ferriskelly.jpg
Kelly, second from left, with OC supervisors and others discussing the route of the Ortega Highway
Orange County Archives

Kelly was the postmaster for San Juan Capistrano, which didn't have a problem with bootlegging ala Anaheim, was relatively at ease with its brownies--so why did Kelly join the Klan? The answer, of course, is lost to history, although we can all safely surmise that Kelly was a white supremacist--you know, because the official oath of the Klan made people abide by the supremacy of Whites and all that. Tell that to the people who put the Ferris Kelly Buildings on San Juan historical walking tours, going on and on about the niceness and tolerance of their "Spanish" town.

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

Previous entries:

Clyde Fairbairn, Longtime Olive resident/nice guy
Charles McClure, Brea's first police chief
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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18 comments
just was wondering
just was wondering

i once heard long time ago that the owner of Carls Jr was some how connected to the KKK! not sure, but i heard it from 2 people!

Norm
Norm

Is Cliff Claven from Cheers any relation to him? Those postmen always stick together. 

Guest
Guest

One glaring difference between a propagandist like Gustavo and a real historian is that the historian looks for context. Gustavo of course has no context, just a name on a list. In fact he doesn't even know if this Kelley fellow every actually swore the oh so horrible 'white supremacy' oath or attended a meeting.

But the real missing context is that 'white supremacy' was hardly a shocking or outlandish position for a white to take in 1926. Just eight years before the President was Woodrow Wilson, a man who fully supported segregation in the Federal Civil Service and at Princeton when he was president there. Do you suggest that the French rename each BLVD Woodrow Wilson in every major French city? Baseball commissioner Landis was leading the game into its Golden Age, after the dark years of the Black Sox scandal -- and we all know how he stood on the race question. It just wasn't a big deal to be a 'white supremacist' in a country that was 85% white, had always been majority white, was founded by whites.

What is shocking, at least to me, is that in this day and age groups like NCLR and MEChA -- frankly racialist groups -- can exist and even be subsidized by taxpayers and rich (and stupid) 'Anglo' trustifarians.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

 Absolutely not true, but Karcher was a confirmed homophobe.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Careful about hear-say, passing comments without verification is how they become self-sustaining.

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gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

And one glaring difference between normal people and racists is that normal people get disgusted with racists of all kinds (Wilson was a globalist dipshit; Landis an unrepentant Confederate), while the racists grasp at straws to defend the indefensible. Stay classy!

NoSoyRacista
NoSoyRacista

I agree with you GA. As a normal person, I'm disgusted with your overt racism towards whites.

How can you be such a hypocrite? All of your talk of Aztlan and the reconquista, and you dare preach how normal people should react to racism? You're a joke.

Guest
Guest

Well then you are going to have to include Lincoln -- he was for 'repatriating' blacks to Africa -- and Thomas Jefferson who went well beyond merely slave holding to writing some very unflattering observations about blacks as objects of your disgust.

Oh, and you might also start a campaign to rename every 'Marcus Garvey' school in the nation. After all, he was a black separatist.

Or just maybe instead of spending your time picking on corpses, you should investigate why the Feds are denying the Juaneños (or whatever they call themselves these days)  recognition as  tribe. We non-Injuns need a casino down here in South County. Also, one of them Asian massage parlors.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Oh, and of course Kelly and all the members on the KKK list swore the oath--ya had to to be a member, you know? But keep grasping at straws!

Bill T.
Bill T.

If the shoe fits, man, wear it. I take no issue with these stories because they are not about me. What do you want, stories about African-American KKK cells? That would be a fairly thin subject, doncha think? 

Bill T.
Bill T.

But you keep reading to the extent that you qualify as a loyal follower of his stories ... 

NoSoyRacista
NoSoyRacista

Culichi.... Chico-- I'm not talking about this piece. I'm talking about GA long history of bashing Whitey.

Newsflash: just because I don't agree with GA's racist propaganda does not mean that I agree with the racist propaganda on Fox News, either! Pendejo!

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

"..Overt racism towards whites?.." Hombre, that is too funny. Since when is pointing out historical racists behavior racists towards whites? Oh, wait, when you mix it up with sarcastic but enlightened "Ask a Mexi' type of commentary then it becomes racists, right?Vatos, get over it. Me thinks you have been watching too much Hannity or similar asswipes.   

Guest
Guest

And of course Giovanni di Capistrano also will be persona non grata, he led crusades against the Hussite heretics and against the Turks -- he was an 'Islamophobe'. There's a pretty cool picture of him in the basilica -- a Franciscan in a cassock wielding a sword!

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Maybe not.  We don't know.

This article, same as the majority of this series, would have been better if you simply gave the background on the person and stated that you found his name on the membership roles, then readers could draw their own conclusions. 

Just because YOU want them to be racists doesn't make it so. 

Did you call any of the surviving family to ask them if they knew anything about it?  It's great that you found the list but you must work harder. 

NoSoyRacista
NoSoyRacista

It's like you're having an argument with yourself. "Grasping at Straws" implies that people would defend Kelly, which they are not doing in this blog. Instead, they (including myself, so "we") are attacking your lack of journalistic integrity.

You are drawing a conclusion based on a weak premise. Just because someone blindly swears an oath doesn't mean anything about his character; it's a person's actions that mean most.  Here's a perfect example that proves my point: I know a certain journalist who very likely swore the US Pledge of Allegiance on a daily basis in elementary school only to grow up to preach Latino Separatism, Annexation of Aztlan, and branded anyone who disagrees as a Racist, a Know Nothing, or a Skin.

Sound familiar?

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