OC's First Black Resident was an Anaheim Barber Named Drew

When one just reads stuff–as opposed to Google, Proquest, Lexis-Nexis or Reddit–you'll discover amazing things. And that's what happened while I was doing research on Rosario “Zarco” Sainz, the Anaheim murder who was OC's last desperado.

I was in the SanTana Public Library, going through microfilm, when I decided to walk around the library stacks. I came across “The History and Development of the Negro Community in Santa Ana, California,” a 1967 Cal State master's thesis documenting the city's significant African-American community at the time. Did you know, Orange Countians, that SanTana at one point was not all Mexican? Of course not.


Anyhoo, author Jean Mahlberg did a great job in her paper, showing stats, addressing issues and the like. But the best part of the paper was when she interviewed Leo Friis, a legendary OC historian whose Orange County Through Four Centuries remains a quick, informative read of county history with surprising hints about the county's radical past. In trying to establish the county's African-American history, Friis told Mahlberg nothing much except this fascinating nugget: that OC's first-ever black resident was a barber named Drew who lived in Anaheim.

He gave no other information besides that–no last name, no secondary sources for Mahlberg to follow up on, no nothing. But Friis is as authoritative an expert on OC history as any, so one cannot doubt the validity of his tip (hell, entire OC history cottage industries have been based on far less). So that said, it's extra-awesome that Anaheim has turned into a Chocolate City of sorts over the past decade, and that one of the city's premier African-American businesses is–you guessed it–a barbershop.

And, in honor of Drew, this:

Email: ga*******@oc******.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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