FULLERTON — Cal State Fullerton and the Orange County Pioneer Council inducted a new series of books into their collections of Orange County history this week in a ceremony at the campus.
The most-prized addition to the separate collections is a series of interviews with Arthur J. McFadden, who was instrumental in the development of Orange County's agricultural base after the turn of the century. The interviews were conducted about five years before his death in 1975.
The bound book took more than 20 years to complete and was presented for the first time Tuesday.
In it, McFadden recounts his friendship with James Irvine and his memories of Santa Ana's ill-fated Chinatown and the sugar beet factory built in 1911 by Irvine in Santa Ana.
The McFadden interviews, along with interviews of eight other prominent families in Orange County, will be added to the collections maintained by the Oral History Program at Cal State Fullerton and by the Pioneer Council.
Both groups collect transcripts of interviews with those who helped shape the county and the relatives of pioneers as a way to preserve Orange County's history.
The first copies of the new series of books were presented to the people included in the volumes or to their family members as well as to libraries at UC Irvine, Chapman University, and the Old Courthouse Museum in Santa Ana.
Although McFadden's name may be recognizable to many residents only because of the street through central Orange County named after him, he was a farmer during the county's early days and the son of a founder of Newport Harbor, Robert McFadden.
The book includes McFadden's remembrances of witnessing the 1906 torching of Santa Ana's Chinatown. He says in the book that county developers had "maliciously" displaced Chinese settlers living on the north side of 5th Street and east of Bristol Street from the area by burning down their rented houses at the site where City Hall is now situated.
McFadden also spoke of a flood in the early part of the century which submerged the county all the way from the coastline to Santa Ana. He commented: "I pretty near had to swim the horse in lots of places that are solid houses now."
He also recounted that farmers on horseback delivered loads of sugar beets to the sugar beet factory on Dyer Road. Some of the longtime residents at the ceremony said they remember the whole town smelling of sugar beets in those days.
The Oral History Program, located in the library at Cal State Fullerton, is open weekdays and some Saturdays.