B. FRANKLIN CHAPMAN was born at Clockville, Madison County, N.Y., March 24, 1817. His father, the late Colonel Stephen Chapman, and his mother, Keturah (Palmer) Chapman, were born in Stonington, Conn., and emigrated from there in 1812, settling in Clockville. The life of Colonel Chapman is especially interesting in view of his early military connections with the State militia, as well as his prominence as an attorney, and as an official both in State and local affairs. Among the relics now in possession of his granddaughter, Mrs. Charles E. Remick, of Oneida, and which are valued by her very highly for their historical associations, are his many commissions of appointment to various military and civil offices within the State, some of which date back to the early twenties, one or two of them having been issued by Governor De Witt Clinton. He received the various promotions in the State militia, until his appointment as Colonel of the Seventy-fourth New York Infantry, which commission
was issued to him by Governor DeWitt Clinton in August, 1827. He was a recognized leader of the bar in Madison County in its early history, being admitted to practice in 1822, and later in the same year was licensed to practise in the Supreme Court. He and the late Joshua A. Spencer were mechanics, but were employed in "pettifogging" cases, and soon became adepts in their profession, and finally together entered the law office of General Israel S. Spencer as students, where they prepared themselves for admission to the bar, as before mentioned. Colonel Chapman was an energetic man, full of enterprise. 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 his resignation in 1847. He reared a family of twelve children, five of whom survived him. His death took place in June, 1861.
The subject of this biography, who from youth up was ever familiarly known as "Frank" Chapman, was possessed of an active brain and strong muscle, and was a leader among the "boys." Whatever was to be done, he did it first, and took the consequences afterward. His father early determined to educate him for the legal profession. He was fond of mathematics, and idolized a compass, and always assisted his father in making surveys. In the fall of 1834 he entered Stockbridge Academy, and the next spring went with Professor Ostrander (to be under his mathematical instruction) to the new Hudson River Seminary, where he remained two terms. From there he went to Manlius Academy, and applied himself to the study of languages under the instruction of Mr. Burhans. The next spring he followed his teacher in opening Fayetteville Academy, where he remained until entering the Sophomore Class in Hamilton College at Clinton in August, 1836. In his junior year he was one of the prize speakers, and in 1839 was graduated with one of the five honors--the philosophical oration--and received a certificate from the President of that institution that he was the second student who had ever been graduated from there with a "clean page" and without a demerit mark. Upon leaving college, he entered the law office of his father in Clockville, and was admitted to the practice of law in January, 1841, and subsequently to the District; Circuit, and Supreme Courts 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 of Madison County. His large experience as a surveyor and engineer gave him a thorough knowledge of the country through the region of Central New York, and made his services particularly valuable as counsel in suits involving the title of real estate and water power.
In November, 1841, he was united in marriage with Miss Huldah Wilcox, daughter of Deacon Alanson Wilcox, of Clockville, N.Y. This union was blessed with three children: Elmer W., who died at the age of two years; Mattie M., who married Captain Charles E. Remick, of Hardwick, Vt., who was at that
time engaged in business in Boston, but afterward removed to New York City, and from there to Oneida, N.Y., where he now resides; Stephen, who studied law with his father, then entered and was graduated from the Albany Law School, admitted to the bar in 1874, and entered into partnership with his father. In 1884 he married Miss Kittie M. Spencer, of Rome, to which place he removed in 1888, continuing the practice of law there until his death on the 16th of November, 1890.
In 1880 Mr. Chapman left his old homestead in Clockville, the house in which he (and afterward all of his children) was born, and removed with his entire family to his new residence at Oneida, where he made his home the remainder of his life, recognized as one of Oneida's distinguished and honored citizens. In politics he was a pronounced Democrat, and was one of the influential Democratic orators of Central New York. He was as faithful and unswerving to the principles of Democracy as to the business principles which ever guided his successful career: In early life he held various town offices, such as School Inspector, Commissioner, Town Superintendent, Supervisor, also District Attorney and Postmaster. On January 24, 1883, he was appointed County Judge and Surrogate of Madison County by Governor Cleveland, and the same day was confirmed by the Senate to fill the unexpired term of Hon. Charles L. Kennedy, deceased, the duties of which position he discharged with honor and credit. In September of the same year he received the unanimous nomination of the Democratic Convention for candidate for judge and Surrogate, to succeed himself, running against Hon. A. D. Kennedy, one of the most popular Republicans in the county, and came within one hundred votes of overcoming the Republican majority, which was between two thousand and two thousand five hundred. In 1861, at the breaking out of the Rebellion, Mr. Chapman led off with the first war speech in the county; and no patriot ever worked harder than he during that long, memorable struggle.
He was a constant and hard worker, enjoying almost perfect health, blessed with a constitution capable of great endurance, endowed with a vigorous mind, and entertaining, interesting, and instructive in conversation, which was interspersed with mirth and anecdote. Though thoroughly a business man, amid all the turmoil of life he yet found time for literary work and social enjoyment. He prepared several lectures--" Harper's Ferry," "Washington and its Defences," and especially his last very popular one on "Salem Witchcraft," which was received with great favor throughout the country, wherever delivered. His word pictures of that terrible delusion were as vivid as the closest acquaintance could make them; and audiences seemed to be completely fascinated by his eloquence, and were swayed at his will as he described in vigorous, impressive language the terrible scenes through which the people of Salem passed in that fated period.
Judge Chapman retired from active business cares some five years previous to his death, which occurred March 29, 1892. He left not only the results of his industry, sagacity, and economy, but what his friends and family may prize and value more-his principles of honor and his high moral standard of justice and right. In connection with this memoir the publishers take pleasure in presenting to their readers an excellent portrait of the late Judge Chapman, which will be highly appreciated by his numerous friends, by whom he was held in the highest esteem, and who tenderly cherish his memory.
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