The Plaza - People
Alfred B. Chapman (1829-1915)
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.
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
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 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
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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