Profiles in OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Clyde Fairbairn, Longtime Olive Resident/Nice Guy
The secrets people keep. A couple of years ago, a couple of amateur historians wrote up reminisces of Clyde Fairbairn, for whom Fairbairn Street in Orange is named. Fairbairn was a longtime resident of Olive, a community now mostly gone, gobbled up by Orange in the past half-century, but once centered largely around what's now Orange Olive Road. "He led a quiet life in Olive with relatively few personal changes, and was regarded by many citizens as a community-minded individual," one writer wrote.
Of course, the brief history didn't mention that Fairbairn was a member of the Orange County chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
What's remarkable about the Orange-Olive area during the 1920s is that, despite the longstanding Mexican communities in El Modena and Cypress, and the hundreds who worked its orchards and packing houses, few Orange residents joined the Klan. In fact, in the more than 1,000 individuals listed in the membership roster of the Orange County Ku Klux Klan assembled by the DA's office during the mid-1920s, only 10 have Orange or Olive addresses; compare that with the hundreds in Fullerton and SanTana alone.
Of course, that doesn't exculpate Orange from its own racialist comedy. It definitely enacted Mexican-only schools in the 1920s, and was reportedly a sundown town well into the 1940s. And the Olive community now? Mostly Mexican, with Taqueria Guadalupana its shining beacon, in a shopping plaza anchored by a thrift store that attracts a bunch of wabs, across the street from Shaffer Park, which wabs overtook decades ago. Oh, how Fairbairn must love this new normal!
Tune in every Monday around 5 p.m. for the latest entry exposing Orange County city fathers who were Klan members!
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
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.