Charles Chapman (mayor)

Charles Clarke Chapman (1853–1944) was the first mayor of Fullerton, California and a relative of John Chapman, the legendary "Johnny Appleseed". He was a native of Illinois who had been a Chicago publisher before settling in Southern California.

Charles Chapman
Charles Clarke Chapman.png
Mayor of Fullerton, California
In office
Personal details
Charles Clarke Chapman

(1853-07-02)July 2, 1853
Macomb, Illinois
DiedApril 5, 1944(1944-04-05) (aged 90)
Fullerton, California
Political partyRepublican
Lizzie Pearson
m. 1884; died 1894)
Clara Irvin
m. 1898)
OccupationBusinessman, politician
Sculpture of Charles C. Chapman by artist Raymond Persinger located at the entrance of Chapman University

Chapman was a supporter of the Disciples of Christ, who was a primary donor and fundraiser for California Christian College, which in 1934 changed its name to Chapman College, and is now Chapman University, in his honor.

Chapman Avenue, a major Orange County thoroughfare, is also named in his honor.

Chapman's citrus empireEdit

Early involvement in the California citrus industryEdit

Charles Chapman was born in Macomb, Illinois on July 2, 1853.[1]

In 1894, Chapman moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles. There, he bought an orange grove in Placentia as a hobby; this was his first foray into the citrus business. Chapman's innovation in regards to oranges contributed to his success in the industry. He had his workers wear gloves and use rounded-tip clippers to prevent the creation of small holes in the orange, as these holes could increase the likelihood of the presence of mold. Due to Chapman's innovative spirit, he soon became incredibly successful within the citrus industry and was given the nickname of the "Orange King". However, he was concerned about how his oranges would compete with European oranges from Spain and Italy. Because of this, in 1906, he and a few other citrus growers successfully lobbied the House Ways and Means Committee for a one-cent-per-pound tariff on European oranges.[2]

Valencia orangesEdit

Chapman found that Valencia oranges could be left on the trees for an extra six months after ripening. This allowed him to ship oranges to customers in months that were previously thought to be out of season for oranges. This was in contrast to the more famous Washington navel oranges that dominated the citrus business at the time.[2] Valencia oranges grown in Orange County, at one time, made more profit than the oranges of any other location.[3]

Use of fertilizersEdit

While growing his business, Chapman experimented with different types of fertilizers to see which ones would yield the best orange crops. While Chapman was unsure about a fertilizer's ability to create better oranges than the more traditional method of growing oranges (i.e., plowing, irrigation, cultivation), he vowed to experiment with giving his oranges "plant food." He tested several different fertilizers: sheep manure, lime cake, bone meal, commercial fertilizers, and a combination of each. He found that there were no discernible quality differences between the crops yielded with fertilizers use. He eventually concluded that none of the tested fertilizers' crops resulted in a better orange than the crops grown without fertilizer aid. He attributed these results to sufficient nutrients already present in the soil paired with proper farming techniques.[4]


Chapman firmly believed that the marketing of oranges should begin as soon as it is taken off the tree. In the packinghouses, the oranges must be clean and handled properly since too much fruit arrives in the markets in poor conditions. According to Chapman, shipments sent to the markets should include only the very best oranges. Chapman also thought that orange brands should build up their reputations and establish trade in specific markets instead of pandering to many different markets, as a brand of any item that is met with favor in a particular market will sell better in that market. He also believed in creating demand for oranges by advertising them as delicious, healthful items of luxury.[5] In addition to this, Chapman built his brand's popularity through his impressive crate label design. His "Old Mission" brand oranges' crate labels borrowed their name and imagery of Catholic monks and outdoor scenery from a famous novel at the time, Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson.[2]


A Republican, Chapman was the first mayor of Fullerton, California, serving from 1904 to 1906.[6][7]

Personal lifeEdit

Chapman married Lizzie Pearson in Texas on October 23, 1884, and they had two children. She died in Los Angeles on September 19, 1894. He remarried, to Clara Irvin, on September 3, 1898.[1]

He died at his ranch in Fullerton on April 5, 1944.[6]


  1. ^ a b Guinn, James Miller (1902). Historical and Biographical Record of Southern California. Chapman Publishing Company. pp. 357–358. Retrieved August 5, 2020 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c Zoellner, Tom (April 18, 2016). "The Orange Industrial Complex". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  3. ^ Chapman, Charles C., "Citrus Talks-The Wealth of the Valencia" (1922). Charles C. Chapman Citrus Speeches. 29.
  4. ^ Chapman, Charles C., "Citrus Notes-Fertilization" (2014). Charles C. Chapman Citrus Speeches. 14.
  5. ^ Chapman, Charles C., "Citrus Talks-Marketing the Orange" (1904). Charles C. Chapman Citrus Speeches. 18.
  6. ^ a b "C. C. Chapman Dies at Ranch". Los Angeles Times. April 7, 1944. p. 13. Retrieved August 5, 2020 – via
  7. ^ "History of Mayors". City of Fullerton, California. Retrieved August 6, 2020.


External linksEdit