OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Edmund J. Finley and Tom J. Simmons, Santa Ana World War I Vets

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Remember that controversy a couple of years ago, when the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report talking about the increase in white-power movements in the military, a report that conservatives immediately demonized to the point where the SPLC eventually had to backtrack on its findings even though they were true? I do, because I encounter such radicalism among veterans all the time when scouring through our Ku Klux Klan archives.

The Klan's 1920s ranks were chockablock with World War I who were angry about...what, exactly? To each their own, but let's never forget that all Klan members signed pledges affirming the superiority of the white race, so that's something the ancestors of Edmund J. Finley and Tom J. Simmons have to answer for all these years later.
Were they necessarily pioneers? Not that I can figure out. But Finley, Simmons and all the other gabacho WWI vets indirectly assisted in discrimination of their fellow soldiers. In Samuel Armour's 1921 history of Orange County, almost all of the Latino veterans listed in the Orange County Clerk-Recorder's official roster of OC WWI vets are missing (the only ones who seemed to pass muster were those with Anglo-sounding first names). Think gabacho vets raised a fuss about the exclusion? Is the Klan supportive of Aztlán?

"OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members" is an award-winning series examining Orange County's sordid Ku Klux Klan past. Tune in every Monday around 5 p.m. for the latest entry exposing OC's city fathers who were Klan members!

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Previous entries:

Burton Y. Neal, Yorba Linda Pastor
Eugene Edmund French and Harry E. Byerrum, Huntington Beach Mayor and Fullerton Parks Superindentent with Parks Named After Them
Harvey A. Stryker, Famous Dentist
Walter Verne Whitson, Santa Ana Lumber Magnate
Joe H. Royer, Fullerton Oil Baron, Namesake of Street
Harry Ipsen and E.A. Long, Placentia Treasurer and Councilmember
Emil Carlson, Brea Mayor/Fire Chief, Namesake of Street
Jo Lowell, Santa Ana Rancher, Namesake of Street
A. Verd Napier and James E. Rymer, OC Newspapermen
Walter W. Davis, Health Officer for Brea
Lawrence A. Stevenson, Orange Councilmember
Roscoe Gulick Hewitt, Former Chairman of the OC Republican Party Central Committee
Oswald Richard Meissner, Brea Councilmember
Maurice Enderle, County Assessor
Stanley Edward Goode, Santa Ana Councilmember
Albert Ore, La Habra Pastor
Robert S. Elliott and Dorsey L. Ellis, Santa Ana and Fullerton Police Sergeants
Oliver N. Thornton and James Henry "Harry" Whitaker, Brea and Anaheim Postmasters
Earl L. Matthews, Santa Ana Automotive Electrician Pioneer
Harold S. Twombly, Fullerton Rancher/Black Sheep of Prominent Family
Elvin A. Ames and Osborne Garber, Fullerton and Santa Ana High School Teachers
George Bird and E.P. Rudy, Brea Constable and Marshal
Harry Winchell, Brea's First City Marshal
Charles E. Smith, Brea Justice of the Peace
Earl B. Tozier, Founder of Fullerton High School's Band
Dr. Charles V. Doty, Santa Ana Dentist
Orrin M. Thompson, Fullerton Councilmember
Albert O. Nelson, Placentia Constable
Earl G. Glenn, Santa Ana Postman/Record-Breaking Cyclist
Arnold F. Peek, Santa Ana Butcher
William A. Culp, Brea Schools Board of Trustees President
Harry E. Inskeep, Fullerton Justice of the Peace
Arthur E. Koepsel, Chair of the OC Republican Party Central Committee
Frederick Bastady, Buena Park Citrus Rancher/School Board Member
Charles C. Kinsler, Brea Fire Chief/Clerk/School Board Member/Pioneer
Alvin L. Hitchcock, Orange County Chief Deputy Clerk
George W. Cullen, Brea Schools Clerk
Walter S. Gregg, County Statistician/Aid Commissioner
Forrest Hurst and Ben Blanchard, Brea Councilmembers
Evrit S. Boice, La Habra's First Mayor
Morris W. Martenet, Jr., Anaheim Councilmember, Owner of Martenet Hardware
William F. Espolt, Jr., La Habra Banker/Citrus Grower
Perry Woodward, Deputy County Assessor, Failed Supervisorial Candidate
George Annin, Fullerton Police Officer, Councilmember
Harry E. Becker, Mayor of Brea
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 bureaucrat

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One of the best scholarly studies of the Klukkers' time in OC is the essay, "The Invisible Empire and the Search for the Orderly Community: The Ku Klux Klan in Anaheim, California," by Christopher N. Cocoltchos, part of the anthology, The Invisible Empire in the West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. In it, Cocoltchos methodically examines the background behind the rise of the Klan in Anaheim, arguing it resulted from out-of-towners and temperance fools who chafed at the old German guard of Anaheim and their near-aristocratic ways. He could only find three violent incidents related to the Klan trying to terrorize a religious or ethnic group: crosses burnt in front of St. Boniface Catholic Church and in undisclosed spots in Fullerton and Yorba Linda. All other efforts of indimidation occurred against those people the Klan disagreed with politically, and were usually whites. Of Latinos--who were increasingly becoming the city's backbone of its lucrative citrus industry--Cocoltchos wrote they were "a group the Klan totally ignored."


"almost all of the Latino veterans "


LOL. Scanning thru the linked list, I see about 1% 'Latino' (as if the term had been invented then) veterans. Not surprising, because white folks founded Orange County and the place was overwhelmingly white until the day before yesterday.


This post is especially ironic coming from a dude whose ancestors were in Mexico at the time and who no doubt wishes that Mexico had accepted the Huns offer in the Zimmerman telegram.


Don't confuse them with facts. They would then have to lose their dichotomic "victim mentality/Aztec warrior" view of the world, grow up, and start acting like normal people.

BillxT topcommenter


 A bit like saying Fra. Serra and company settled California, ignoring the fact of the prior inhabitants.

GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

 @Mitchell_Young The leaps and bounds you'll take to excuse segregation know no, um, bounds. Idiot.


 @BillxT  @Mitchell_Young He did.


The first permanent, occupied year round, settlements in California were built by the Spanish (built in the sense of planned, sure Indian labor was used). Strangely, that was  not until almost 250 years after Cortez kicked Aztec butt -- the first mission in Alta California only dates back to 1769. The combined Spanish and Mexican era in California was all of 77 years, lasting until 1846 when John Sloat captured Monterey. If white men weren't such pussies, we'd be celebrating that day instead of Cesar Chavez's birthday.


You should (re?) read Two Years before the Mast. Dana describes the sparsely populated, even desolate place that was 'Hispanic' California. Only the Yankee exploited the land's full potential.


 @ageofknowledge If I recall, the estimate is something like 3000 'Mexicans' . But of course many of them considered themselves 'Spanish' or California. There were several local rebellions agains the Mexican governors set up from 'La Capital Azteca'.

BillxT topcommenter


 R. H. D. hardly got off the vessels (brig Pilgrim, ship Alert), except at San Diego (~6 months, not one of the larger Mexican communities). The only other times were a few day, and shorterr instances in Monterrey, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Pedro and San Francisco Bay.  He clearly described the well-established towns at Monterrey, Santa Barbara (and San Diego). Of course S. F. was desolate in European terms at the time, he never got close to the other communities.


There are other primary sources that are more authoritative on the subject, that do describe the Mexican presence (vis. land grant titles, for one). The ranchos and other communities were well established in O. C. well before 1848.


("Fun is fun, but furling one yard-arm of a course at a time, off Cape Horn, is no better than man-killing.")

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