Profiles in OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Rudolph Kroener, Co-Owner of Former Gas Station that's Now Orange's Filling Station

The Filling Station in Orange is an okay-enough place once you get over their retro design, one facilitated by the fact that it used to be a auto service station (hence, it's name). Doesn't matter what I think–it's always slammed, especially since they now offer dinner. 

But just in case you do go, check out the picture on the background of their lunch menu. “Historical Note: Rudy Kroener- attendant circa 1925 in front of the Filling Station – Old Towne Orange,” reads the caption, and it's wrong in three ways. Primeramente, the old structure was primarily a service station that also happened to serve gas. Kroener was also no mere attendant–he was co-owner of the Kroener and Baker Service Station, according to the city directory circa 1925.

But more importantly? Kroener was a Klan member.


Interestingly enough, Kroener was one of the few OC KKK members of the 1920s who lived in Orange, a surprising fact given Orange was a sundown town and that its neighbors, SanTana and Orange, were hives of Klucker activity. And also surprising considering there was a massive Klan rally in the fair city, a cross-burning–wait, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves in this series…

But the takeaway from this episode is to see how funny it is when Orange County businesses, in their desperate attempt at legitimacy by associating the local past with a bucolic, nostalgic time, too often choose to ignore the facts when reality sets in. Will the Filling Station disclose that Kroener was a Klan member instead of a mere cheery gas pusher? Is Chapman University a fountain of liberal thought?

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

Previous entries:

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *