The Plaza - People

Alfred B.
William T.

Alfred B. Chapman (1829-1915)

Alfred B. Chapman Alfred Beck Chapman, one of the founders of Orange, was born September 6, 1829 in Greensboro, Alabama. His grandfather, Robert Hett Chapman, was born in Orange, New Jersey, studied theology and was a pastor from 1796 to 1812, at which time he became president of the University of North Carolina until 1816. His father attended the University of North Carolina.

Alfred Beck Chapman's maternal grandfather was a colonel in the United States Army, and Chapman graduated 29th in his class at West Point in 1854. Upon graduation from West Point Chapman was assigned to the First Regiment of Dragoons in Florida. His various postings eventually brought him in the late 1850's to California. Chapman resigned from the army in 1859, having achieved the rank of major, and married Mary Scott, daughter of a prominent Los Angeles attorney. He studied law with her father, Jonathan R. Scott and was admitted to the bar in California. In 1863 Chapman became city attorney of Los Angeles, and in 1868 he was elected district attorney of Los Angeles County. He went into partnership with a boyhood friend, Andrew Glassell (first president of the Los Angeles Bar Association) when the latter arrived in 1866. Col. George H. Smith, a former Confederate Army officer and brother-in-law of Glassell, later joined the firm. Chapman and Glassell are best known in Orange County for being founders of the city of Orange. Their law practice was confined chiefly to real estate transactions and they made their fortunes by handling the large partition suits. Chapman was the businessman of the firm. He would take his compensation in land, and nearly every final decree in partition would find that Glassell & Chapman had acquired acreage.

The firm represented the Yorba and Peralta families in the partitioning of Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana in 1867-68, and had received for a portion of their fees certain grants of land in the partition. He joined with one of his partners, Andrew Glassell, to develop a new community, Richland, which would eventually be named Orange. They hired the land surveyor, Frank Lecouvrier of Los Angeles to map this tract, to which they gave the name Richland Farm District. Richland was the name of the Virginia plantation owned by the father of Andrew Glassell in the 1830's.

A large transaction by Chapman was the purchase of confiscated Verdugo property at its foreclosure sale in 1869. Along with Andrew Glassell and two additional partners, Chapman brought the legal suit that resulted in "The Great Partition of 1871," one of the most famous land trials in Southern California. Not wanting to leave Julio Verdugo homeless, Chapman quit-claimed 200 acres to the aging man, including his adobe.

Chapman continued to practice law until 1880. After retirement he devoted full time to managing his 700-acre rancho in the upper San Gabriel valley, a portion of the Santa Anita grant, and became involved in citrus production. He would remarry after the death of his first wife in 1883. He had six children by his first marriage, and one child by his second marriage to Mary L. Stephens, daughter of a pioneer California attorney and judge.

Chapman died at his residence on January 16, 1915.

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Andrew Glassell (1827-1901)

Andrew Glassell was born in Orange County, Virginia September 20, 1827. He came to San Francisco in 1853 and established a law practice. His appointment as the United States attorney at Sacramento soon followed. During the Civil War his sympathies were with the South, and he left his public office and engaged in other pursuits, as he refused to take the loyalty oath to the United States required of lawyers. After the war he came to Los Angeles in 1865 and was the first President of the Los Angeles Bar Association.

He formed a partnership with Albert Beck Chapman and Col. George H. Smith, a former Confederate Army officer, the firm becoming known as Glassell, Chapman & Smith. Their law practice was confined chiefly to real estate transactions and they made their fortunes by being retailed in the large partition suits. Chapman was the businessman of the firm. They would take their compensation in land, and nearly every final decree in partition would find that Glassell and Chapman had quite an acreage in severalty. The law firm looked after the interests of the Yorba family of the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, and when after a drought, the final settlement was reached there was not enough cash to satisfy attorney fees. Reluctantly a few thousand acres of land were taken in payment, and Chapman and Glassell came into possession of the land on which the City of Orange was built.

In 1872, the Richland (later Orange) subdivision was placed on the market by Andrew Glassell. Glassell and Chapman employed the former's younger brother, Captain William T. Glassell to plot the town site. Captain Glassell surveyed a section of land for his brother and Chapman in 1871. He divided the tract into 60 ten-acre lots surrounding a 40-acre town site, which he called Richland, and served as sales agent for the property. In 1873, when a post office was sought for the village it was discovered that there was a town in Sacramento County by the name of Richland. As an alternative, Orange was chosen in honor of Andrew Glassell's home county.

Andrew Glassell was one of the incorporators of and attorney for the Farmers and Merchants' Bank. He also incorporated the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad, and was prominent in its management until it was absorbed by the Southern Pacific Company. When this transfer was made he became chief counsel of the railroad company in Southern California, and remained in that capacity until he finally decided to retire.

In 1857, Andrew Glassell married Lucy Toland, daughter of Dr. H.H. Toland, a pioneer physician of San Francisco. Several children were born to this union. After her death he married Mrs. Virginia Micou Ring of New Orleans. Glassell died at his home in Los Angeles on January 28, 1901.

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William T. Glassell (1837-1879)

William T. Glassell William T. Glassell was born January 15, 1831 in Culpepper County, Virginia. He was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy from the state of Alabama (March 15, 1848). When he was still a midshipman, his ship, the St. Laurence was sent to the World's Fair in London. Lady Byron, widow of the famous lord, visited the ship and invited only Glassell to dine with her the next evening. He accepted and "had a very pleasant interview."

Promoted to lieutenant in 1855, he was aboard USS Hartford off China when the Civil War broke out. When Hartford reached Philadelphia, Glassell declined to swear an additional oath of allegiance prescribed for Southerners, and was consequently imprisoned at Fort Warren and dropped from the U.S. service (December 6, 1861). Confederate authorities issued him a lieutenant's commission, arranged his exchange, and assigned him to CSS Chicora in the Charleston Squadron. Glassell commanded his ship's forward division during the squadron's attack on the Union blockade (January 31, 1863). Intrigued by the army's experiments with torpedoes and mines, he requested and received assignment to a special command training to attack the blockading fleet's monitors.

On the night of October 5, 1863, Glassell and a crew of three in the diminutive torpedo boat David attacked the most powerful ship in the U.S. navy, New Ironsides. The Confederates rammed a spar torpedo against the ironclad six feet beneath the waterline. The explosion threw a geyser of water over David, extinguishing its fires and leaving it immobile in a hail of small-arms fire. The Confederates abandoned ship. The pilot and fireman soon reboarded the drifting boat, relit the fire, and reached the safety of Charleston Harbor. Glassell, however, was captured and returned to Fort Warren. New Ironsides, initially thought undamaged, was leaking so badly that repairs kept it out of action until the last months of 1864.

Glassell, while in prison, was promoted to commander for his attack on New Ironsides. Exchanged in the last six months of the war, he returned to Charleston. On the evacuation of that city he was transferred to Richmond and assigned to command the ironclad Fredricksburg in the James River Squadron. With Richmond's evacuation, the squadron's personnel were reorganized as artillery and infantry, and Glassell commanded a regiment. He was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina, on April 28, 1865.

The city of Orange was founded by attorneys Andrew Glassell and Alfred B. Chapman, who had participated in the partition of Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana and were active in similar lawsuits in other parts of the county. Glassell and Chapman employed the former's younger brother, Captain William T. Glassell to plot the town site.

Captain Glassell is reputed to have been a man of refinement. His health had been broken as a result of his experiences while in the Confederate Army, both by his hazardous undertaking, and subsequent capture and eighteen months in a northern military prison. It was the climate of Southern California that decided him to stay, when he came on a visit to Los Angeles, and help in developing the Richland Tract in the capacity of surveyor.

Captain Glassell surveyed the 600-acre section of land for his brother and Chapman in 1871. He divided the tract into 60 ten-acre lots surrounding a 40-acre town site, consisting of eight city blocks, each containing twenty building lots, which he called Richland, and served as sales agent for the property. In the center of the town eight lots were set aside for a plaza or city park. Around the town site land was laid out in ten-acre tracts, 600 acres. In 1872 the Richland subdivision was placed on the market. On the southwest corner of west Chapman and Plaza Square, a two-room batt-and-board house was built as a home and office for Captain Glassell. Captain Glassell acquired the irrigation ditch from the Santa Ana River, developed by the Yorba family during the Mexican days.

In 1873, when a post office was sought it was discovered that there was a town in Sacramento County by the name of Richland. As an alternative, Orange was chosen, possibly as for the Glassell family's home county in Virginia.

William T. Glassell died in Los Angeles, California on January 28, 1879.

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Alice Armor (1848-1939)

In 1886, Alice Armor organized a group of civic-minded women in fund raising for the first Plaza improvement project. This also entailed thwarting plans to eliminate the plaza in favor of continuing Glassell and Chapman through the intersection. The enterprise was a success and provided a fountain and foliage for the community. All through her life, Alice Taylor Armor was not afraid to meet a challenge.

Alice L. Taylor was born August 20, 1848 in St. Lawrence county, New York. Her father was one of six brothers, all Congregational ministers. The Rev. Taylor and Mrs. Taylor taught in various schools in the area. Alice Taylor entered Oberlin College in 1867 and there met and later married Samuel Armor, the pioneer civic worker. Shortly after their marriage they were employed as principal and matron of a manual labor boarding school on an Indian reservation at White Earth, Minnesota, a frontier in the 1870's. After two years they went to a similar school in Dakota, but Samuel Armor's failing health necessitated their coming to California after a year.

They first moved to Los Angeles where they compiled a city directory. In April of 1875, they moved to Orange. Mrs. Armor secured a position as a teacher and taught for many years in the local schools in Orange, Garden Grove and Tustin. In 1890 she quit the teaching profession and began work on the Orange Post as proofreader, city editor and bookkeeper. In 1892 she purchased the paper, which she got out on time for 23 years without missing a single issue. In 1915 she disposed of her interests in the Orange Post and devoted herself to charitable and church activities. Alice Armor died at her home September 12, 1939, after several years of failing health.

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Adolph Dittmer (1872-1924)

Adolph Dittmer provided us with many of the early photographs of the Orange Plaza. A very successful businessman, photography was one of his many interests, and he made numerous scenes of Orange and the surrounding vicinity into postcards. He was born in Chicago June 11, 1872. His family moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa three years later and there he attended school and started his first job with the local paper. As he grew up, Dittmer learned to play the coronet and led a band for many years. His vocational interest was pharmacology, and after completing an apprenticeship in a Fort Dodge drugstore, he became a licensed pharmacist. Through the years he kept meticulous information on his formulas in small notebooks, which have been donated to the City of Orange Archives.

In 1896, Adolph Dittmer married Louise Gunther, and they moved to Orange, California in 1905, where they raised four sons and established Dittmer's Mission Pharmacy. The first location for the pharmacy was close to the Plaza, at 131 S. Glassell Street. In 1910 Dittmer moved the pharmacy to a better location at the Southeast corner of Glassell and the Plaza. Residents could find more than prescriptions there. A wonderful soda fountain, phonographs and records, photograph processing and rental books were some of the amenities available.

The 1921 edition of Armor's History of Orange County, California states: "For six years he served the city of Orange as a trustee, and for four years was chairman of the board, presiding during the period when the town put in paved streets and curbs, and the sewer was started, the sewer farm was purchased, and new water mains were added to the public works. This was a crucial time for the city, and only those who passed through the days and months of responsibility, when much opposition had to be overcome, and a good deal of unpleasant responsibility assumed by individual citizens for the public, know how valuable was the service to contemporaries and to posterity rendered by the doughty city fathers. Intensely interested in civic and business affairs he is a charter member and ex-secretary of the Merchants and Manufacturers Association of Orange."

After a brief illness, Adolph Dittmer passed away December 28, 1924. Dittmer's Mission Pharmacy continued to play a role in the history of Orange until 1937 when it was sold.

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Charles McCandless (1908-1997)

In the 1930's Orange wanted to refurbish the Plaza Park with a new fountain. The choice was an electric fountain, decorated with tile. Charles McCandless set the tile around the fountain in 1934.

Charles McCandless was born in Encampment, Wyoming in 1908. In 1916, he moved to Orange with his family, where he attended Orange Union High School. He would start a tile company with other members of his family, but by 1938 only Charley was left. With a helper and hard work, the Charles McCandless Tile Company would grow and flourish.

In addition to the Plaza fountain, other examples of his work abound. The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Disneyland in Anaheim, Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, and the Wrigley Mansion, casino and tile store fronts on Catalina Island are but a few examples.

Charles McCandless was a humanitarian and philanthropist, a man with many interests that kept him young. He died May 14, 1997 at the age of 89.

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