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Charles Clarke Chapman was Fullerton’s first mayor, and he has been called “The Father of the Citrus Industry.” He was hugely influential in shaping the early direction of Fullerton. Chapman Avenue in Fullerton and Chapman University in Orange were named after him.
Chapman was born in Macomb, Illinois in 1853. In 1894, Chapman and his family moved west and purchased a citrus ranch in what would become Orange County. Drawing upon advertising and publishing experience he’d gained in Chicago, Chapman elevated the orange crate label to an art form, using vivid symbols and scenes, careful constructs of fact and fantasy. Chapman’s Old Mission and Golden Eagle orange brands created an idyllic vision of the Spanish past. The Old Mission labels featured peaceful padres in a pristine California utopia.
Conspicuously absent on the Old Mission or Golden Eagle labels were the Chinese, Japanese, and Mexicans whose hands plowed, planted, watered, picked, and packed the fruit. It was largely immigrant labor who ensured the success of the citrus industry in Southern California in the 20th century.
With the enormous success of his citrus ranches, Chapman gained economic and political power, becoming Fullerton's first mayor when the town incorporated in 1904. Chapman, who had become increasingly involved in the Republican party, was asked by Calvin Coolidge and the Republican party to be their Vice Presidential candidate in the 1920s, but Chapman declined, preferring instead oversee his Southern California business and political interests.
He died in 1944.
“If you are strong in faith, clear headed, honest, trusting for divine guidance and with a character built on the solid rock, you will meet all troubles in your life victoriously.”
— Charles C. Chapman, from the inscription on his bronze statue at Chapman University
Chapman, Charles. Charles C. Chapman: The Career of a Creative Californian, 1953-1944. Edited by Donald H. Pfleuber. Los Angeles: Anderson, Ritchie & Simon, 1976.
Dittmar, Susie. “C.C. Chapman: A True Fullerton Story.” Fullerton Stories. http://fullertonstories.com/c-c-chapman-a-true-fullerton-story/—19 March 2011
Turner, Laura Gray. Citrus Culture: The Mentality of the Orange Rancher in Progressive Era North Orange County. Thesis (M.A.)—California State University, Fullerton, 1995
Photo courtesy of the Launer Local History Room of the Fullerton Public Library