Charles C. Chapman – First Mayor of Fullerton, CA

Charles Clarke Chapman (1853–1944) was the first mayor of Fullerton, California, 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, CA 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.

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.

Chapman founded Chapman College through a $400,000 challenge grant after World War I. Land he leased to Union Oil yielded over 5,000 barrels of oil a day. He and his brothers published county almanacs and county histories under the name “Chapman Brothers.” And he was a relative of John Chapman, the legendary “Johnny Appleseed.” His autobiography is entitled, “The Career of a Creative Californian 1853-1944.