The Elisha Palmer Papers Collection largely consists of legal documents (deeds, mortgages, a land patent signed by President
Woodrow Wilson, lease agreements and tax records), correspondence (oil and land related). The collection also contains a great
deal of his records regarding his citrus crops going back to the mid-1920s (harvest receipts and growers association bulletins)
and his oil interests maps and revenues from his property dating back to the late teens). The collection also includes some
advertising pamphlets and blurbs from the mid-1930s to the late 1950s, as well as documents written (mostly) during World
War II on the Japanese in California. The collection also includes the research notes of Ms. Clara Engle, who wrote her Master’s
thesis on the Orange County Citrus Strike of 1936. It is very probable that she was instrumental in getting Betty Palmer to
donate the Palmer family’s papers to the university. The collection, as a whole reveals some more detail on the citrus and
oil industries as well as daily life on an orange ranch in Orange County during the first half of the 20th Century.
Elisha William Palmer (1878-1958) was born in Indiana and moved to Southern California around 1897. He married Garnet Belle
Adams (1886-1974) in Fullerton, California on June 21, 1904. They had three children, Chester Arthur Palmer (1905-1990), Kermit
William Palmer (1907-1938), and Clarence Ivan Palmer (1910-1990). The 1910 census reported Elisha’s profession as “Oil Driller,”
and by 1911 Elisha began to purchase property. First, in the Central Valley of California where he received a land patent
for his Visalia property signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Palmer bought more property, this time the Coyote Hills
area of Orange County around 1914 and began to lease it for oil drilling. He continued to receive revenue from Standard Oil
of California for the oil drilled on his property through the late 1950s. Elisha Palmer took up farming around 1916 and began
to grow walnuts in Placentia with some success. The 1920 census report listed Palmer’s profession as “Citrus Grower” with
a listed crop, however, as Walnuts. A few years later (around 1923 or so) he began to grow oranges in Placentia with much
greater success and continued to grow oranges with the help of his sons Chester and Clarence until his death in 1958. Clarence
Palmer’s wife, Betty donated the family’s papers to the university in 1993.
Access: The collection is open for research. Some materials within the collection are subject to access restrictions and/or
Publication Rights: Property rights reside with the California State University, Fullerton University Archives and Special
Collections. No part may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the University Archives & Special Collections,
CSU Fullerton or the copyright holder.
Requests for permission to quote from these materials should be addressed to:
California State University, Fullerton
University Archives & Special Collections
800 N. State College, PLS-352 |Fullerton, CA 92834-3599
Permission requests for photograph use can be made by the completion of an Application for use-images form.