Chapter 25 Chapman Family Line
My Chapman family is the surname of my MotherÕs born name. The data we have for the Chapman family covers 10 generations, beginning with William Chapman, my 5th great grandfather. He was born in 1652 in Essex County, Massachusetts. We have not found access to his English heritage yet.
Chapman is a word in England usage to mean an occupational name for a merchant or a trader. That trait could be seen in my MotherÕs young brother, Herschell Albert Chapman. He was a very successful insurance salesman. Uncle Albert, as I knew him, was born December 12, 1905 in Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas. He died January 9, 1952 in Alameda, California, where the bulk of his adult life was lived.
As an element of his financial success, it was said that he always drove an up-to-date Packard automobile, which was in the high end of automobile prices. Here is a model from the late 1930Õs when he would have owned such.
My Mother was Martha Dixon Chapman, born April 5, 1904 in Lufkin as well. Their father was Dr. James Herschell Chapman, a physician who trained at a Medical School in Memphis, Tennessee when it took only two years of study to earn a Medical DoctorÕs degree. He practiced medicine as family physician his entire career in Lufkin.
Dr. Chapman was born October 2, 1853 at Cuthbert, Randolph Country, Georgia. We understand that James Herschell Chapman migrated from his Georgia roots to East Texas as a very young man, though we do not have the details about why, how and when that transition was made.
There is family "folk lore" to the effect that James Herschell Chapman owned East Texas land near Beaumont for a while, selling it at agricultural or rates. The motivation to sell was to get tuition money for Medical School. Some years later, on January 10, 1901, the first great Texas oil well discovery, Spindle Top, was situated on that same land, just south of Beaumont, Texas, so the story goes. This was the gusher event that began the Texas Oil Boom! It would be interesting to determine through land deeds, if that is true, or if it merely be typical genealogical "evangelastic" reporting?
Dr. Chapman was a prolific man in marriage. He had three wives, outliving the first two, then leaving the third wife as a widow. His first wife was Minola Manning (1862-1896), whom he married in 1878. They bore five children, but, unfortunately, I have not been able to learn who took them to raise after their motherÕs death. My efforts to contact any of their descendants have been fruitless.
It is of interest to observe that in the 1880 U.S. Census of Angelina County, Texas, James Chapman, listed as a 27-year old physician married to a 17-year old wife, Minola, with an infant son. They lived just three houses down the street from the family of William A. Abney and Martha Jane Dixon Abney. In that household was two-year old Margaret Lavina Abney, who became James' second wife 19 years later.
Dr. ChapmanÕs second wife was Margaret Lavina Abney (1878-1909), whom he married in 1899. It was through her that my Mother and her brother were born. She was known as Maggie. A Yellow fever epidemic killed about 14,000 people in the southern United States, a plague that similarly took Maggie's life in 1909, when my Mother was only five years old.
Since Dr. Chapman was the same age as Maggie mother, Martha Jane Dixon Abney, it seems inappropriate for him to reside as a single man with a woman his same age. So, he moved out to his private lodging. My grandmother raised my Mother and Uncle. Martha JaneÕs husband helped for a while, but he died only four years later in 1913.
Dr. ChapmanÕs third wife was Josephine T. Moore (1868-1959). They bore no children, and Dr. Chapman died March 2, 1925. My Mother lost her parents at her ages of Five and 19, thus depriving me of knowing grandparents on my MotherÕs side of the family.
A June 1940 visit to California was the one and only time ever I was in the presence of Uncle Herschell (Albert) and Aunt Gertrude (Gertrude L. Johnson born 1892). The visit included visiting the San FranciscoÕs WorldÕs Fair in 1940. He died in 1952 and she in 1983, never bearing any children. California was so far away from us in the patterns in which we moved that we never got out there again. Gertrude did have a first marriage and had a child or children, but I have no records of them.
An interesting aspect about that June of 1940 visit to Oakland, California was that my genealogical friend, Mr. Henry Z. (Hank) Jones, Jr., whom IÕd meet some 64 years later, and from whom much valuable genealogical information was learned, was born in Oakland that very same month, June 4, 1940, that my mother and myself, her one-year-old son, were in Oakland! There could have been Divine destiny for me to be there when Hank came into the world! Hank, professionally, is an entertainer and film actor, having appeared in several Walt Disney movies, etc. Another common thread with us was both having been Deacons in the Presbyterian Church at various times.
The ten generations of Chapmans are accessible here. It is a 105 page document. This is a chart showing the relationship between me and my 5th great grandfather. Here are photographs of my Uncle Albert and my Mom, both about 1940.