OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Harry E. Becker, Mayor of Brea

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Here's a dirty little secret about the Ku Klux Klan in Orange County during the 1920s: for one part of the Invisible Empire's reach, it was all about class warfare.

We're talking specifically about the city of Brea, which wasn't the genteel suburb we know today but rather a rough oil town whose residents wanted fair wages and guaranteed work--and to keep non-Whites far, far away in the citrus groves. They also wanted the ins to get their buddies work in the oil fields, which is where the Klan came in, specifically in the form of Brea Mayor Harry E. Becker.

I need to brush up on my non-Klan Brea history, but Becker was a major force in the formation of the city, having been president of the town's trustees (before it became officially incorporated) as early as 1915, and remaining mayor until 1924, leaving a Klan majority in the council that would remain until the 1930s. Becker worked with the Union Oil Company, the main employer in the area, and helped determined who worked the oil fields and who didn't. A sure way to work? Join the Klan!

Brea's KKK might've not been as big a bunch of Mexican-haters as those in Fullerton and SanTana (although tell that to Judge Cruz Reynoso...), or as anti-Catholic as those in Anaheim, but under Becker, Brea can claim the fame of being one of Orange County's few bona fide sundown towns. Now THAT'S leadership!

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

Previous entries:

Francis Allen Kidder, Santa Ana Father and Son
Leslie C. Rogers, Santa Ana City Marshal
Earl Sechrist and Burton Young, Brea and Yorba Linda Ministers
Rollin Marsden and Roy Davis, Fullerton Councilmembers
William French, Fullerton's First Deputy Police Officer
Rudolph Kroener, Co-Owner of Former Gas Station that's Now Orange's Filling Station
William E. Fanning, Brea Schools Pioneer, Namesake of Fanning Elementary
Jesse L. Hunter, San Juan Capistrano Innkeeper, Owner of Mexican Restaurant
John A. Leuzinger, Brea Mayor, Founder of Brea Electric
Newton E. Wray, SanTana Rancher, Failed City Council Candidate
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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20 comments
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Truloc47
Truloc47

Fuck the kkk they can suck a dick

Ruben Martinez
Ruben Martinez

I am waiting for Gusano's (I mean, Gustavo's) next big chisme article - OC Residents Who Are Here Illegally. 

Face it, Gusano, this is the kind of (Dios mio, I almost called it journalism) crap you will be associated with.  Your articles never rise above the vapid because you have nothing meaningful to offer.  Somehow, you have been satisfied with languishing in mediocrity.  You are the token white-man hater at the Weakly. 

Quedate alli (stay there).        

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

A supposed Mexi siding with skinheads? Only in Orange County...

909Jeff
909Jeff

Damn Ruben....

You just whipped Gustavo like a rented burro...

junior
junior

nobody cares .....

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

And yet you comment. What a loser, non-Spanish-speaking homophobe!

junior
junior

".. non-spanish speaking .."  That statement speaks volumes by itself.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Its called tongue in cheek when you do it once in a while.  Otherwise its called rimjobbing gustavo...Which is what you and Bill T do!

909Jeff
909Jeff

OUCH! I thought we were making inroads!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Stick to talking about food, Armenian Genocide Denier, instead of opining on stuff you can't comprehend. Further proof that not everyone who has served emerges a man...

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

hey, inbred 909Jeff,

It is called tongue-in-check, you asswipe. You are my second victim. The first was The Foothils Sentry, a sorry ass Mayberry so-called newspaper.You right wingers crack me up.And, yes, Gustavo, keep brining up the worst of what AmeriKKKa has to offer.GRacias...

mitch young
mitch young

Culichi67 is Gustavo --it's his sock puppet for when he feels the need to really let fly.

909Jeff
909Jeff

THANK YOU!  this is what I've been harping on for almost 6 Months... C'mon Gustavo even Cuchi 67 is tired of this bit and he's usually the first one tossing your enselada!  I would rather look at Moxleys dumbass picture of the day... At least its funny!

Diamondben3
Diamondben3

Your a weekly, primarily covering popular cultureand current issues .Give it up there is no KKKpresence in O.C....... hasn't been since the early 20th century.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Yeah, now we have a bunch of skinheads and Mexican-bashers--no connection there!

Bill T.
Bill T.

Hm, don't think you might have touched a raw nerve there, do ya? ...., naaaah.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Missed the point,  boy is that out of character ...

mitch young
mitch young

What, with his narrative account of his own family, delivered under a pseudonym? 

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

I wholeheartedly agree with Diamondbenito3. You, Gustavo, need to let go of the past because, well, that is so yesterday.

We have come a long way since then. Bringing up such trivial facts of yesterday is like bringing up trivial family conversation at the dinner table. I, mean, who really wants to know that an uncle molested a niece? Everyone has such a dark secret, right? Who cares that dad fathered 5 or so spawns outside the family? Or that sis sucks dick for a living? Or that little brother likes to kill cats? Or that the son who became a priest likes little boys? WTF, Gustavo? 

History ain't so bad as long as you don't bring it up, comprende? So stop picking on our disgusting history because, well, it makes us uncomfortable and journalism should not be thought provoking but rather bland just like the 100 or so shades of Irvine beige.   

mitch young
mitch young

Wow, forgot it was Monday ... I used to so look forward to these little pearls, but the series has really fizzled of late, what with little to no 'action' going on. I mean not that I want to read that  a lynching happened in this fair county in the 20th century, but at least a bit more than one meager cross-burning. 

At least this post shows some incite into ethnic-political-economic conflict that was at the heart of the emergence of the second Klan. White folks -- old stock white folks -- quite legitimately wanted to hold on to what they and their ancestors had conquered and the value added they had created. They wanted that value to go not only to a few robber barrons or cheap-labor loving industrialists, but to the people who had created the context for economic growth. So the Klan in Brea, from your unsourced description, seems pretty much like a current Mexican ethnic network, giving jobs to its own.

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