OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Morris W. Martenet, Jr., Anaheim Councilmember, Owner of Martenet Hardware

Last year, Martenet Hardware in Anaheim closed after a century of serving the city. We went there as far back as I could remember for our construction needs, never completely forsaking it for Home Depot or even when a Lowe's opened up nearby. By then, the Martenet family no longer owned it, having sold it in 1979.

So I have to wonder out loud how Morris W. Martenet, Jr., the longtime owner of the store, must've felt during his store's later years, when most of the clientele was wabs like us. See, Martenet was one of the few Kluckers not driven out of town after the Klan's embarrassing defeat in 1925 after the Klouncil was recalled—but that's only because Martenet sold his hooded brothers out.

Everyone—including OC's orange-crate historians—assume the Ku Klux Klan disappeared from the Orange County scene after the famous recall of four Anaheim councilmembers who also were Kluckers, but this series has disproven that myth—and then some. Hell, the Klan didn't even disappear from Anaheim's government until the 1940s, after Martenet was voted out of office for reasons I've yet to determine, after having served on the Anaheim council since 1930.

So how did a KKK member like Martenet get elected just five years after his group of hilarious haters got collectively booted from Anaheim politics? Easy: Martenet went to the anti-Klan faction in Anaheim and promised to join their ranks in fighting the Klan (without renouncing his own KKK membership) under a "harmony ticket." A boycott of Klan-owned business was devastating Martenet Hardware (started by Morris' father, Morris, in 1910), and he saw that being an open racist just wouldn't work anymore. Martenet's strategy worked, and he showed fellow Klansman that as long as they voted with anti-Kluckers, that all would be fine in Anaheim—unless you were Mexican, black, Asian, or Jewish, of course.

Martenet's strategy worked: his hardware store was saved, he became a respected member of the community, and historians can no longer say Anaheim leaders bravely drove out the Klan from town. Let's see our orange-crate historians write THAT.

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

Previous entries:

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 bureacrat


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