Benjamin Franklin Chapman
(March 24, 1817- )
B. FRANKLIN CHAPMAN, was born in Clockville, Madison county, N. Y., on March 24, 1817. His
father, the late Col. STEPHEN CHAPMAN, and his mother, KETURAH PALMER, were born in
Stonington, Conn., and emigrated with a large number of families from that locality in 1812, most of
whom settled in "Palmer Hill" in the town of Lenox; but Col. CHAPMAN located in Clockville. He
and the late JOSHUA A. SPENCER were mechanics, but were employed quite extensively in
"pettyfogging" cases, and soon became adepts in their profession, and finally entered the law office
of Gen. I. S. SPENCER as students,, and were admitted to the bar in 1822.
Col. CHAPMAN was a strong, vigorous, energetic man, full of enterprise, liberal and confiding.
Through his efforts the first post-office was established in Clockville in 1814, and he was appointed
the first postmaster, an office which he held (with a brief interval,) until he resigned in 1847. He
reared a family of twelve children, five of whom survived him and are still living, NOYES P. CHAPMAN,
WM. H. CHAPMAN, MARY ANN, wife of CONRAD G. MOOT, AUGUSTINE, wife of CLINTON L.
COLTON and BENJAMIN F. CHAPMAN, the subject of this biography, who, from youth up, as ever
been familiarly known as "Frank Chapman."
He was born with an active brain and strong muscle, a leader among the boys; whatever was to
be done, he did it first and took the consequences afterwards. Much of the mischief in and out of
the school house was laid to him, and he generally got the "lickings", and never grumbled.
On the death of his brother STEPHEN, in 1831, who had been previously admitted to the bar, his
father decided to educate and make a lawyer of him. He assisted his father in making surveys; he
readily took to mathematics and idolized a compass.
In the fall of 1834 he entered Stockbridge Academy; the next spring he entered the new Hudson
River Seminary, where he was under the mathematical instruction of Prof. Ostrander. In the fall of
1835 he went to Manlius Academy and applied himself to the study of languages, and the next spring
he followed his teacher, Mr. Burhans, in opening Fayetteville Academy, where he remained until he
entered the Sophomore class in Hamilton College, at Clinton, August, 1836. In his Junior year he was
one of the prize speakers, and was graduated in July, 1839, with one of the five honors - the
He then entered the law office of his father, and in January 1834, was admitted to the bar, and
subsequently to the District, Circuit and Supreme Court of the United States. By his indomitable
industry and perseverance he acquired a large practice, and soon became one of the leading
members of the bar in his county.
He married Miss HULDAH WILCOX, daughter of Deacon ALANSON WILCOX, November 10,
1841; they had three children - ELMER, who died at the age of two years; MATTIE, who married
Captain CHARLES E. REMICK, of Hardwick, Vt., who was then engaged in business in Boston, and
subsequently was with the firm of E. S Jeffray & Co., New York, and now is established in
business at Oneida, N. Y.; STEPHEN, who studied law with his father, then entered and was
graduated from the Albany Law School, and was admitted to the bar in May, 1874, and is now in
company with his father.
In April, 1880, he left the old homestead, where he and his children were born, and with his entire
family moved into his new house in Oneida. It is a model residence, a view of which will be found in
In politics he is a pronounced democrat, and has ever been one of the influential democratic
orators in Central New York. In early life he was connected with schools, holding various town
offices, such as school inspector, commissioner, town superintendent, supervisor, also district
attorney and postmaster.
In 1861, at the breaking out of the Rebellion, Mr. CHAPMAN lead off with the first war speech in the
county, and no patriot ever worked harder than he during that long and memorable struggle.
He has had large experience as a surveyor and engineer; and his services have been sought for by
the most eminent lawyers in Central New York in suits involving the title to real estate and water powers.
To-day he stands erect and has the vigor and step of youth; a constant and hard worker, enjoying as
he ever has good health, blessed with a constitution capable of great endurance; endowed with a
vigorous mind, entertaining and instructive in his conversation interspersed with mirth and anecdote.
Amid all the turmoils of life he has found time to devote to literary works; he has a model library, and
for years has been accustomed to deliver popular lectures on various subjects, and among them,
"Washington and its defenses", "Harper's Ferry", and especially his late and very popular lecture on
"Salem Witchcraft" which has been received with great favor throughout the country.
The Jackson Citizen (Mich.,) in speaking of it says: "Mr. CHAPMAN is a lawyer of superior ability,
and his word pictures of that terrible delusion were as vivid as the closest acquaintance could make
them. The audience seemed to be completely fascinated by his eloquence, and were swayed at his
will as he described in graphic language those terrible scenes through which the people of Salem
passed in that fated period."
From "History of Chenango and Madison Counties, NY" starting on page 734.
Transcribed by Sandy Goodspeed
Date: Wednesday, August 4, 1999 11:14 AM
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