Profiles in OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Newton E. Wray, Santa Ana Rancher, Failed Council Candidate

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Most of what passes for the early, non-Mission or -Anaheim history of Orange County has come out of Samuel Armour's 1921 History of Orange County, California: with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present. There is a lot of valuable information in there, written by Armour--a former OC supervisor--and a collection of other people. But most of the book is a load of crap, especially when it came to the "leading men and women" profiled in the massive tome. The book belongs to a literary genre whose name I always forget but were popular from the late 1800s through the mid-1950s: municipal histories that carried biographies of whoever paid to get into the book, a literal case of the victors writing history.

And that's exactly what Newton E. Wray of SanTana did.

"A rancher, who is well pleased with his realty investments and with whom, as a capable and faithful public official, the public is quite as well satisfied, is Newton E. Wray," read his bio, and it just became more hagiographic from there. For some bizarre reason, Wray made it a point to let people know that his place of birth, Placerville, "used to be known as Hangtown, on account of the vengeance meted out to culprits there by citizens who finally took the law into their own hands." Now, why would a good Klansman want the OC populace to know that?

Wray's sole claim to fame is that he was part of the Klan slate in 1923 that tried to take over SanTana politics but publicly claimed they weren't KKK. His fellow Klukkers, Roy Horton and Marshall Keeler, won spots on the SanTana School District board of trustees; Wray, in his push for the City Council, finished dead last.

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

Previous entries:

Samuel F. Hilgenfeld, Buena Park Minister, Founder of Anaheim's Hilgenfeld Mortuary
Elmer E. Heidt, OC's First Scout Executive for Orange County Boy Scouts Council
James W. Newell, Fullerton-area Miner/Mason
Garland C. Ross, Santa Ana dentist, batted against Walter Johnson
Ferris F. Kelley, San Juan Capistrano Postmaster
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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