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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
William W. Chapman

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[This information is from pp. 371, 373 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

William W. Chapman, a practical and prosperous agriculturist of Fulton, Schoharie County, was born on the farm where he now resides, known as the Chapman homestead, November 14, 1846, a son of Jacob Chapman. His great-grandfather Chapman was one of the very early settlers of Columbia County, New York, where he owned an extensive tract of land and about sixty slaves.

William Chapman, the grandfather of William W., was born and educated in Columbia County, but afterward became a pioneer of Albany County, whither he removed with his family at an early day. He also was a slaveholder, and before his death, which occurred when he was but forty-seven years old, he had cleared a large farm, and had come to hold an important position among the influential men of the town of Rensselaerville, in which he had settled. His wife, whose maiden name was Eva Solpaugh, died at the age of seventy-five years, after rearing a number of children. In religion they were both of the Baptist persuasion.

Jacob Chapman was born in Rensselaerville, Albany County, where he resided until twenty-seven years old. Coming then to Schoharie County, he purchased one hundred acres of woodland, on which almost the only improvement visible was a small log house that occupied the site of the present substantial dwelling on the Chapman homestead, the house subsequently erected by him. He cleared a large part of the land he first purchased, and, having bought another lot of forty acres, carried on general farming and stockraising with great success until his death, at the venerable age of eighty-seven years. In politics he was a Jacksonian Democrat, and served one or more terms as Overseer of the Poor. His wife, Huldah Winans, was the daughter of Elder John Winans, for many years a Baptist minister at Preston Hollow, Albany County, where she was born and bred. They had eleven children, eight of whom are living, as follows: Spencer, a farmer residing near the old homestead; Nancy C., wife of Chauncey Shattuck; Adam M., a farmer at Bouck's Falls; Maria, widow of the late Almon Mann; Isabella, wife of Hiram Eckerson; Elizabeth, widow of the late Dr. George Holmes; James P., former Supervisor of Middleburg; and William W., the special subject of this sketch. The mother also attained a good old age, passing away at the age of fourscore and four years. Both parents were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which the father served long and faithfully as steward and class leader. Their son Peter, who was graduated from the Normal School, and afterward attended private lectures and the Philadelphia Medical College, went West when a young man, and, settling in Iowa, was there engaged first as a teacher and later as a physician. He subsequently lived in Nebraska, and for six years was School Commissioner in Lincoln. Returning to Schoharie County, he practised medicine in Richmondville for six years, going from there to New Mexico, where he had a lucrative position in a government land office until his death, at the age of forty-nine years.

William W. Chapman succeeded to the ownership of the home farm of one hundred and forty acres, on which he has spent his entire life, being known throughout the community as one of its most skilful and thrifty farmers. Energetic and industrious, and well versed in the science of agriculture, he is meeting with well-merited success in his chosen vocation. In addition to raising the crops common to this region, he carries on to some extent dairying and the raising of draught horses, in which he has been somewhat interested. A firm supporter of the principles of the Democratic party, he takes an active interest in local affairs. He has served on both the Town and the County Committee and in 1891, 1892, 1893, and 1894 he was Supervisor, having been elected and subsequently re-elected three consecutive years by a large majority.

On November 21, 1877, Mr. Chapman married Emma Zeh, who was born in Middleburg, a daughter of Philip Zeh, a farmer. She died at the age of thirty-one years. She was a devoted member of the Reformed church. On December 29, 1886, Mr. Chapman married for his second wife Miss Keziah Hilts, who was born in Fulton, a daughter of Gideon D. and Elizabeth (Zeh) Hilts. Her father, a native of Wright, removed to Fulton when but sixteen years of age, and from that time until his decease, at the age of sixty-three years, was engaged as a tiller of the soil. He affiliated with the Democrats, and was active in public life, serving as School Commissioner in his district and as Supervisor of the town a number of years. His wife, Elizabeth, who was born in Middleburg, died in Fulton in 1891. Both were active members of the Reformed church. Of their eleven children five are still living, namely: George, who was graduated from Claverack College, and now resides in New York City; Jennie, who married Marcus Zeh; Jay; Keziah, now Mrs. Chapman; and Elizabeth. Mrs. Chapman is a graduate of the Albany Normal School, and has had considerable experience as a teacher, having taught in her native place and for two years in the Ulster Academy. Mr. and Mrs. Chapman have two children — Leo H. and Alice Irene.

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