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Frank Marion Chapman Papers, 1886-1909.

 Series — Box: 1

Scope and Contents

The Frank Marion Chapman Papers consists of mostly business records relating to his real estate interests in Covina and Los Angeles, California. In addition, they include papers related to his political activities, and his personal files which contain various business cards, correspondence, the Bennett Medical College class schedule, and biographies and a family history written by his daughter, Grace Chapman McCarn and biographical sketches by his brother, Charles.


  • 1886-1909.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Marion Chapman was born in Macomb, Illinois, January 1, 1949, to Sidney Smith and Rebecca Clarke Chapman. As a young man, he enlisted on May 2, 1864 in the northern Army of the Republic in the Civil War, joining Company C 137 of the Illinois Infantry and was mustered out Sept. 24, 1864 After the war, moved to Chicago where he worked at various jobs--a mercantile clerk, a contrator, a building foreman. He saved his money and entered the Bennett Medical School and earned his medical degree in 1877.

Following medical school, Frank went into the real estate business with his brother, Charles Clarke Chapman. He also worked in the very successful enterprise, the Chapman Brothers publishing business which published city and county biographical histories. On September 9, 1886, Frank married Wilhelmina Zillen, a copyist in the Chapman Brothers' office. Wilhelmina was born in Friedrichstadt, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, on July 2, 1861. Frank and Wilhelmina had four children--Frank Jr., Grant, Grace, and Clarke.

In 1889, Frank was elected Alderman for the twenty-fifth Ward and introduced the first resolution to elevate the street railway tracks in that city. The brothers invested in hotel enterprises during the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, and built and ran the Vendome Club Hotel. However, with the Panic of 1893, Frank and Charles decided to sell the Hotel. This financial turn along with Charles' wife Lizzy's poor health saw the brothers and their families move to California.

The brothers traded Chicago property for property in Los Angeles County held by Mr. George Rohrer. The Rohrer properties included an orange ranch in Covina at the corner of Cypress and Grand, a residence at Figueroa and Adams Streets in Los Angeles, and a fruit ranch in the Fullerton Placentia area of Orange County. The brothers and their families lived in the LA home together for a time. In 1895 Frank moved to the Covina ranch, formerly named Etna Green, which Frank re-named Palmetto Grove, and Charles moved to Fullerton.

At Palmetto Grove, Frank built a 15 room home of cobblestones hauled by mule team from the San Gabriel Canyon. The house had its own electric light plant to furnish electricity. Frank built a packing house and marketed oranges under the name Golden Eagle and Old Mission Brand.

Frank and Charles also acquired an 80 acre property in Los Angeles in the Wilshire District which they named Chapman Park. They turned this formerly poor swamp land into a showcase which included commercial buildings such as the Chapman Park Hotel. Frank also owned over 1,000 acres in the Covina area with George O. Shouse, including the Hollenbeck Ranch.

Frank was deeply interested in politics and a staunch supporter of the Republican Party. He was appointed Lt. Colonel of the National Guard by Governor Gage and reappointed by Governor Pardee and Governor Gillett. Frank was the first president of the Covina Republican Club and was a delegate to many state and national conventions.

He was also extremely civic minded and through his friendship with henry Huntington, Frank drove the spike that started the Pacific Electric Railway in Covina. He also was a founder of the Columbia Land and Water Company which developed water at San Dimas and built pipe lines to convey water to the ranches in the Covina and Charter Oak districts. He was a charter member of the Pomona Elks 789, and was a founder of the Los Angeles Athletic Club and the Jonathan Club.

Frank donated the land for the Wilshire Christian Church and was a member of the Covina Christian Church.

He passed away in Covina at the age of 60 on March 18, 1909.


1.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged by material type, topic and chronology.

Separated Materials

Obituary of Frank Marion Chapman is oversized and shelved in File Cabinet B, drawer 14.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections & Archives Repository

Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange CA 92866 USA US