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Biography - WILLIAM B. CHAPMAN

William Barber Chapman, a retired business man and one of the most substantial and respected citizens of LaSalle, Illinois, was born in Petersburg, New York, February 25, 1828. He was one of seven children born to Moses and Lucinda (Collins) Chapman, namely: Moses, of Hutchinson, Kansas; Henry, a resident of Pasadena, California; Wealthy, the widow of Isaac DeVoe, of Seattle, Washington; William B., our subject; Lucinda Chapman, of Forest, Illinois; Mary, widow of J. P. Knight, also of Forest; and Nettie, the wife of Henry Sloan, of Sidney, Washington. Both parents were natives of Springfield, Massachusetts, where they were married. The father learned the trade of blacksmith and carriage making, which he followed. They lived for a time in Orleans, New York, and from that state came to Illinois by horses and wagon, reaching Putnam county, this state, on November 2, 1843. He purchased a farm near Hennepin, which was cultivated by his sons, and upon which he lived until his forty-ninth year, at which time his death occurred. His wife reached the advanced age of seventy-one years. They were of the Baptist faith. He was a prominent man and held the office of justice of the peace in Orleans and was also county commissioner for many years. His father, Moses Chapman, of English origin, was also a blacksmith and reached an extreme old age, living all his life in Massachusetts. He had a small number of children. Henry Collins, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was a military man and connected with the armory at Springfield, Massachusetts. He had a few children and died in his native state when past his ninetieth year.

William B. Chapman was reared on a farm, attending the common schools in the east, and then entered the academy at Granville. Illinois. He remained at home until 1853 and then came to LaSalle and entered the livery business, which he conducted for sixteen years. He then went to Forest, Livingston county, purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, placed it in good cultivation, and remained on it for seventeen years, when he returned to this city and took charge of the land office for the Union Pacific Railroad for eight or ten years. Since that time he has lived a life of retirement from business. He is a stalwart Republican and served under Eli Watterman four years as deputy sheriff of LaSalle county. He was married on December 2, 1857, to Miss Martha Foster, by whom he had four children, all of whom died in childhood. Mr. and Mrs. Chapman are liberal contributors toward the support of the Congregational church, of which organization Mrs. Chapman is a member. Mrs. Chapman is a lady of culture and refinement, having received the advantages of a superior education. She took a preparatory course at Granville Academy and then entered the Albion College, at Albion, Michigan, at which she graduated in the class of 1855. She was the youngest but one in a class of eleven. Her studies having included a business course, she took charge of her father's banking business and acted as his bookkeeper for several years after returning from school.

As the parents of Mrs. Chapman were important factors in the early historv of LaSalle county, a brief sketch of their career will here be admissible. Benjamin G. Foster was born in Barnard, Windsor county, Vermont, where he grew to adult years and married Charlotte M. Brown, a native of the village of Swanton, that state. He was a carpenter and contractor, and in 1836 came to Peru, LaSalle county, leaving his family in the east in the care of his wife, until a more convenient mode of transportation could be provided for them, and it was not until the fall of 1847 that he saw his way to establishing them in this county. With true sturdiness of purpose, he at once began work at his trade and soon found steady employment. He erected nearly all the large, heavy buildings put up at that time, such as warehouses, elevators, stores, etc. Ho constructed the first coal shaft tower in LaSalle, afterward destroyed by fire, and built the first wagon bridge across the Illinois river at LaSalle. He employed a large force of men and made considerable money. He owned four properties on Fifth, one on Wright and one on Union street. The residence now occupied by our subject was owned by Mr. Foster. He was identified with the Whigs, and latterly with the Republicans, but was too much occupied with his trade to allow his name to be used as a candidate for office. The only exception to this rule was when he was elected school director. He was a great friend to education and was a member of the first school board in LaSalle. He was a member of the Congregational church. Mrs. Foster, although a Baptist in faith, was not identified with any church. She was of English descent and died in her fifty-seventh year, December 4, 1876. Mr. Foster survived her until September 1, 1882, when he had reached his seventy-first year of life, joining her in the "city beautiful." An uncle of his. Colonel Joseph Foster, was a well known soldier in the war of the Revolution.

Extracted 26 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 2, pages 438-440.

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