Profiles in OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Samuel F. Hilgenfeld, Buena Park Minister, Founder of Anaheim's Hilgenfeld Mortuary
Look for any hints of Anaheim's Klu Klux Klan past in the city, and they'll be next-to-impossible to find. After voters booted the Klucker-majority council and police force from power in 1925, city fathers did their darndest to eradicate any vestiges of the Invisible Empire, so you'll rarely see the names of any of those councilmembers or other KKK members in the annals of Anaheim's past.
But right across from Anaheim City Hall, in the city's most prestigious mortuary, the memory of the Klan is still strong: Hilgenfeld Mortuary, founded by the Rev. Samuel F. Hilgenfeld, a full-fledged Klan man.
Hilgenfeld (misspelled in the official Klan roster compiled by the Orange County district attorney's office as "Hilgenfield") was pastor at Buena Park Congregational Church when the Klan rose in power in north and central Orange County during the 1920s. The religious connection is crucial, because the Klan found eager members in many of the ministers in Congregational churches, many of whom will be discussed in future posts in this series. But Buena Park wasn't exactly a hotbed of anything in that era (or any era, really, save for Knott's Berry Anything), so Hilgenfeld decided to partner up with another Klan member, an embalmer named C.L. Rollins, and open a mortuary in Brea in 1925, a city that was still in the grasp of the Klan even as their Anaheim brothers were going down in flames.
The minister must've been a quiet Klukker, because he opened Hilgenfeld Mortuary in Anaheim shortly after opening his Brea operation with no opposition from city leaders. The Hilgenfeld family, of course, went on to bury generations of Anaheimers, white and Mexi and every other ethnicity imaginable in our fair city--because what possible profit is there in modern-day Orange County to discriminate?
Tune in every Monday around 5 p.m. for the latest entry exposing Orange County city fathers who were Klan members!
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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