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Elisha Palmer papers (Collection)

Identifier: SC-2016-07

Scope and Contents

The Elisha Palmer papers 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). It also contains a great deal of his records regarding his citrus crops going back to the mid-1920s (harvest receipts and growers association bulletins), his oil interests maps and revenues from his property dating back to the late teens), and a few notable 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.

Ms. Clara Engle's research notes from 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.


  • 1897-1965


Biographical / Historical

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.


13 boxes (12 legal size boxes and one manuscript box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Aisle 13A--Shelf 11

Related Materials

Local History - Oil [258-15-27]. Local History - Japanese Internment Papers [29-7-1]. Local History - Citrus Collections [SC.19].

Elisha Palmer papers
Scott Cleveland
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Repository Details

Part of the CSUF University Archives & Special Collections Repository

University Archives & Special Collections
Pollak Library South Room 352 (PLS 352)
Fullerton CA 92831-3599 USA
(657) 278-4751