Names Index
Portrait Index

    SAMUEL CHAPIN, SR., the first jeweller in Oneida, and for many years the only one in the town, was born on a farm four miles from Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, August 10, 1806. His shop for the sale of watches and jewelry was first opened December 7, 1848, when Oneida was a village of about two thousand inhabitants. These seven years an octogenarian, having outlived most of his contemporaries, he now enjoys the distinction of being the oldest business man in the place.
   His father, Rufus Chapin, was born, reared, and married in Massachusetts, of which State his grandfather is supposed also to have been a native. The name is an honorable one in the annals of New England, and has been borne by people of talent and wide reputation. Rufus Chapin was a pioneer at Ballston Spa, where he bought a forty-acre tract of land and built a house. He worked at carpentering in the summer season and cabinet-making in the winter. In 1813 he removed his family, with his household goods and tools, to Nelson, Madison County, where he bought one hundred acres of land. Hiring the farm work done, he still worked at his trades, living in that place till after the death of his wife, when he moved to Morrisville, where he died in his eighty-fourth year. The maiden name of his wife, mother of his seven children, was Polly Tobey. She was a native of Massachusetts.
   Samuel Chapin, Sr., well remembers the family removal to Nelson, when he was seven years old, and the character of the life that was led on the outskirts of civilization,--the toilsome husbandry with old-fashioned implements in vogue before the invention of modern machinery, the cooking by the great log fire 0n the hearth, the durable homespun clothing of the mother's own carding, spinning, and weaving. At the age of sixteen, already skilled in the use of edge tools, he began to work in a carriage shop in Oneida Castle. Being a natural mechanic, and having the clear vision and nicety of touch needful for finer work, he set about repairing watches and clocks, and in 1830 embarked in the jewelry business in Vernon, where he continued until his removal to Oneida, as above stated. He still has an interest in the business at Oneida, which is now mainly conducted by his son, Samuel Chapin, Jr.
   June 17, 1830, he married Fanny Sage, a native of Hartford, Conn., born February 14, 1809. Mrs. Chapin's father, Elisha Sage, was born in Middletown, Conn., and lived there till after his marriage, when he migrated to New York, settling three miles from Troy. A shoe manufacturer, he carried on that business till 1816, when he removed to the town of Verona, Oneida County. A year later he crossed the line into Madison County, and settled on Indian land, living in a log house, working at farming, and also at his trade. After five years in that place he returned to Oneida County, and, establishing himself in the town of Verona, resided there, following his trade until his death. His wife's name before marriage was Prudence Risley. She was born in Glastonbury, Conn., and died in Verona. Mrs. Chapin was one of a family of six children. Her brother, Russell Sage, the well-known financier of New York City, is the only one besides herself now living. Mr. and Mrs. Chapin have ten children living,--Samuel, Jr., Earl, Helen, Dwight, Angeline, Maria J., Francis W., Homer E., Taylor, and Fremont. All are residents of Oneida, with the exception of Earl, who lives in the West. They are all married except Helen and Fremont. There have been two deaths in his family: Charles, who died in infancy; and Henry R., who died at the age of twenty-three years.
   Mr. Chapin was for some years in early life, a Whig in politics, and since the organization of the Republican party has been a stanch adherent of its principles. His sons are all Republicans also. He is a Baptist in religious belief, as was his father before him. In fact, the family generally were communicants of that church. The Sage family are Presbyterians. It is with pleasure that the publishers of this volume present in this connection a portrait of Mr. Chapin, who is such a worthy representative of the village of Oneida. His business career has always been characterized by careful and straightforward dealing, his aim being to live up to the principles of the Golden Rule. Although impaired in health, he is cheerful and uncomplaining, and is passing his declining years in ease and comfort.


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