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Dale Elliott's Notes: "The Chapmans"

by Dale Elliott June 20, 1989

The above photo of Dale Elliott and Jessie Poteee Lance was taken in May 1992 at the site of the Solomon and William Luther Chapman home in Blairsville, Georgia


All of this about the Chapmans was written for Troy Chapman and the Chapman reunion to be held at Buford Dam on June 24, 1989. All of it up to our grandfather, William Luther Chapman, is an excerpt from a Chapman History done by a cousin of ours, Judge Roy Chapman of Tallahassee, Florida, now deceased. He started this study in 1927 and continued up through 1941 (to my knowledge) because around that time, my mother, and my wife and I went with him to Taylorsville, North Carolina to a Chapman reunion. Roy was a grandson of Enoch Chapman who was a brother of Soloman Chapman who was our great grandfather.

The Chapman family came first from England to Halifax County, Virginia then to Rowan County (which later became part of Wilkes County), North Carolina. Chapman is the English name for merchant or peddler.



John Chapman was our first Chapman ancestor that anyone has been able to trace and document. There is not complete agreement on the part of all researchers but I believe the most reliable information is as follows: John Chapman, Sr. was born in 1725 in Louden County, Virginia and his wife's first name was Edrith. We are left to conjecture largely as to the parents of John Chapman. The family background of each parent has never been disclosed nor dependable information about them ever been obtained. The exact place or places of birth are unknown as well as the education, religion and vocation of each.

It appears that John Chapman and wife moved into the Yadkin valley of North Carolina in the years between 1755 and 1760, at a time when but few white emigrants were to be found in the area. Subsequently other settlers arrived from Virginia and other sections and settled in the valley of the Yadkin and along the Catawba. The Browns, Barnes, Robards, Rogers, Coxes, Greers, and others were among the early settlers, and came from the nearby State of Virginia. These names can or may be found in many of the states of the union and no doubt came from the original stock settling in the valley of the Yadkin and Catawba.

Family tradition depicts John Chapman as a high-tempered man, quarrelsome, fault-finding, domineering and a difficult person with whom to associate. When a conclusion on any question was reached by him, it was seldom that his views were altered or changed. He provided for and was highly respected by the different members of his family. His neighbors respected him and observed his idiosyncrasies but made little effort to change his ideas, habits or viewpoint on any question. He never accumulated much property but was recognized by all as an average "good liver" of the early days. Some of his relatives remarked that "John Chapman's marriage helped to make something out of him". Quarrels, fist fights and brawls were very common to him and a person crossing his path or having a dispute with him had either to be further insulted, fight , or decline to do so. It is possible that his disposition reflected the sentiment of the time and the territorial area surrounding him.

John Chapman fought in the several battles against the Cherokee Indians and as a soldier participated in the battles of the South during the Revolutionary war from 1778 to 1781, when the Red Coats were led by General Cornwallis. He loved General Washington and named one of his sons William Washington. Many people seeking homes and suitable farm lands moved into the Chapman settlement, and among them were two young men named Pendleton and Godfrey Isabel. Some dispute or difficulty arose between the Isabel boys and John Chapman, and the feud grew worse with years and it simply resolved itself into a question of who was the best shot when the parties came together. The Isabel boys, conscious of the situation, went to John Chapman's home on a Sunday morning in the Fall of the year 1783 and found him engaged in cutting down a chestnut tree for his children, at which time he was unarmed, and taking advantage of the situation, effected a quarrel and shot John Chapman to death near his own home. The fellows were indicted and placed in jail, but because the Commonwealth of North Carolina failed to establish the identity of the person firing the fatal shot, the two men were exonerated.



Our next direct Chapman ancestor was John Chapman, Jr. who was born in 1747 in Rowan County, North Carolina and died in 1837 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. His wife was Leannah Brown born 1755 in Rowan County, and died in 1842 in Wilkes County. It is believed that John, Jr. and wife had moved to Brushy Mountain near Taylorsville and established the Chapman homestead as we now know it before John, Sr. was killed by the Isabels.



Our next direct Chapman ancestor after John, Jr. was his son, William Washington Chapman, known to the family as "Billy."

Billy Chapman enjoyed the social activities of his community. Occasionally church services were held in the community and camp meetings were held after the crops had been laid-by prior to harvest. People camped around the places for two or three weeks consecutively and whole families would attend. Varied subjects would be discussed by the men and women and the young people would be thrown together socially. It was at one of these meetings that Billy Chapman for the first time observed the charm and beauty of Ruth Barnes, just a few years his junior, the daughter of a farmer of the same community. He commenced to court Ruth in earnest and endeavored to be her companion at all the social functions which included corn shuckings, quiltings, square dances, log rollings, egg-nog parties, horse racing and chicken fights.

Ruth, with her needle, excelled at the quiltings. Often the completion was by fire light and the country swains assembled would observe with deep interest in whose direction the "black cat" would go when tossed on the quilt by Ruth, as it was expected to go in the direction of the tosser's true love. The young folks agreed that black cats were partial to Billy. Square dances usually followed an all day log rolling or rail splitting in the settlement. The girls of the neighborhood attended and assisted in the preparation and serving of the meals. The social circle always remained incomplete until the arrival of Ruth and Billy.

One day in the early Spring of 1806 Billy suggested to Ruth that across the river lived a Justice of the Peace who had married several couples and if it was to her agreeable, they could ride over and discuss with him a possible ceremony, provided she did not change her mind. The officer performing the ceremony stated that his fee for such work was the amount her husband thought his wife was worth, and Billy handed him a dollar. Ruth retorted, "Yes, that reflects the Chapman blood in him."

When Billy Chapman helped Ruth Barnes Chapman from the back of his favorite saddle horse at the John Chapman homestead in the Spring of 1806, he had been titular head of a family for about ten years. Ruth, although not educated in the modern sense, was qualified by training to discharge well those duties expected of a faithful wife of a pioneer settler. She knitted for her family, was adept at the spinning wheel, unsurpassable in the culinary arts, a good housekeeper, and during emergencies worked by her husband's side during the harvest seasons. Her skill with a rifle was recognized by those who knew her. Frequently her table was adorned with turkey and venison as mute evidence of her marksmanship. She stood with her husband and exchanged shot for shot with the Cherokee Indians when on their raids of stealing and pillaging among the pioneer settlers of the Brushy Mountain area. Frequently in the dead of night alone, she would follow a meandering stream a distance of 3 or 4 miles to the home of a neighbor with the horrible news that the Indians were on the "War Path." She served faithfully and with an undivided heart those she loved.

In the pioneer days it was the custom to produce and rear large families of boys and girls. Billy and Ruth were no exception. They had eleven children in twenty three years, seven boys and four girls as follows:

1. Elisha Chapman 1807 - 1887

2. George Chapman 1809 - 1907

3. Richard Chapman 1811 - 1893

4. Soloman Chapman 1814 - 1894

5. John Chapman 1816 - 1905

6. Elizabeth Chapman 1818 - 1902

7. Edwin Chapman 1821 - 1863

8. Enoch Chapman 1823 - 1911

9. Mary Polly Chapman 1827 - 1900

10. Leanah Chapman 1827 - 1910

11. Adaline Chapman 1829 - 1863

Billy Chapman died in 1868 and was buried in the Chapman Cemetery, Brushy Mountain, near Taylorsville, North Carolina. Ruth died in Union County, Georgia in 1871 and is buried in Ivy Log Cemetery. Ruth was brought to Union County by her son, Enoch, in 1868 and lived the remainder of her years here with her sons Enoch and Soloman.



Our next direct Chapman ancestor was Soloman, the fourth child of Billy and Ruth. Soloman married a girl in the community where he was reared. The exact date is still in doubt but reliable information fixes the occasion in the early 1840's when Soloman and his wife (formerly Mary Adaline Odom), shortly after their marriage, left the Chapman homestead in Wilkes County and on horse-back traveled through the rough and unsettled country of western North Carolina into North Georgia, where gold had recently been discovered and people were rushing there from the different sections of the nation. Congress, by a Congressional Act provided for the opening for settlement of a large acreage of Cherokee Indian lands situated in North Georgia, Southern Tennessee, and Northern Alabama. Soloman Chapman and wife, Mary Adaline Chapman, in 1835 to 1840, settled on an 80 acre tract of land in the Ivy Log section of Union County, Georgia. (They are shown on the 1840 Union County census but not on the 1834 census). Soloman's younger brother Enoch and a friend, William Meadows, had come to Georgia the year before and after trying gold mining and then working with the surveyors dividing the North Georgia area into 160 acre lots, decided to acquire some of this cheap land themselves. They both acquired large tracts along the Nottely River also in Union County, Georgia.

Soloman Chapman was better qualified than the average settler of early Union County because his parents had provided him with the rudiments of an education. He could read, write, and calculate and his services were in demand as a teacher for the children of the pioneers. Provisions for a teacher were arranged and a school was opened in the settlement. The settlers came together, pooled their labor and efforts and a school site was selected and a building constructed after which the community opened its first school with Soloman Chapman as its teacher. He taught for many years and tradition refers to him as a great teacher who emphasized the fundamentals of American citizenship. Soloman also was elected and served as Justice of the Peace for Union County and the settlement in which he lived for forty years, and during the time administered a certain strain of rough justice then common to the country. Soloman died on his Union County farm in Ivy Log District on Dec. 21, 1894 and his wife, Mary Adeline, followed some three years later. Soloman and Mary Adeline had the following children, all born and reared in Ivy Log district:

l. Selena Chapman 1836 -1920

2. Ruth Chapman 1836 - 1894

3. Susie Chapman 1842 - 1906

4. Eliza Chapman 1845 - 1940

5. William Luther Chapman 1849 - 1935

6. John W. Chapman 1851 - 1853

7. Leannah Chapman 1852 - 1920

8. Wilson Enoch Chapman 1854 - 1935

9. Pinckney George Chapman 1856 - 1921

10. Larkin C. Chapman 1858 - 1950

11. Nancy Chapman 1861 - ?

12. Minton Chapman 1865 - 1939




Our next direct Chapman ancestor after Soloman was Soloman's fifth child and first son, William Luther Chapman. He was the grandfather of several of us here today, namely: Troy Chapman, Jack Chapman, Robert Elliott, and myself, Dale Elliott. From here on I will refer to him as Grandpa in constructing his biography.

Grandpa was at an awkward age at the onset of the Civil War. He was too young to be required to serve in the army, thirteen years old at the start and too old or mature looking to risk being seen by the Home Guards who sometimes shot those they thought might be slackers and ascertained age and particulars later. His father, Soloman, had friends in Tennessee and he sent him there to stay with them until it was safer at home. Grandpa told me about an incident that happened to him while he was with the old couple in Tennessee. Grandpa was wearing a white hat and working some distance from the house on a rail fence. Soldiers galloped into the yard and he took cover in the surrounding woods. The soldiers demanded of the old man who was the fellow they saw in a white hat in the yard before they came up. The old man told them that they must have mistaken his white beard for a hat because he was in the yard when he first heard them. They believed this and left without looking for him any further. I have always believed that Grandpa and his father were not in complete sympathy with the southern cause and I believe that Grandpa in going to Tennessee planned to join the Union Army if and when he had to join. To further substantiate this belief, Grandpa in about 1869 married the first time a Georgia girl whose first name was Lucinda and they had one child, a boy whom they named Ulysses. This was not a common name in the south nor was it a Chapman name. I believe he was named for Ulysses S. Grant. I have never been able to find out what Lucinda's maiden name was. I have also heard Grandpa refer to her as Jane and possibly she had the double name Lucinda Jane. Anyway, she died when Ulysses was a small boy and Grandpa married again in 1873 with Idella Sumpter. They had ten children, five boys and five girls, including Ulysses made eleven.

Grandpa was a hard and uncompromising man whereas Grandma was the direct opposite. She loved and cared for Ulysses like he was her own and so did the other children. One, in particular, his half sister, Laura, idolized him. She was twelve years old and Ulysses was seventeen when Ulysses left home for good and never returned. The story as told to me went something like this: Ulysses had found a wild turkey roost and he and Grandpa and Laura went to the roost-tree after dark to catch some of the turkeys. Ulysses climbed the tree and was catching the turkeys and passing them down to Grandpa, who in turn passed them to Laura who was putting them in a sack. Laura let one of the turkeys get away. This made Grandpa so angry that he came down, grabbed Laura, and gave her a good whipping for being so careless. This so incensed Ulysses that he climbed down from the tree, went home and got his few belongings, and left. Grandpa worried and inquired for over a year trying to find Ulysses but he never saw his first-born again. He did get one letter from Ulysses saying that he was well and was living in Texas and never planned to return to Georgia.

Grandpa believed in hard work and plenty of it. He was self-sufficient as were most Chapmans before him and thought everyone else should be too. He grew everything the family needed on the farm and even tanned his own leather and made shoes for the family and others. He had little respect for anybody who left the farm and as he termed it, got a job on "public works".

Grandpa was a firm believer in going to church and doing the very best he could under the prevailing circumstances. His fiery temper and his intolerance of some things that others were beginning to tolerate made it difficult for him to fit into the generally accepted mode of Christian behavior. One humorous incident told on him is this: Grandpa had an old mare blind in one eye called "Old Dora." Once during a protracted meeting at Ivy Log, the preacher was staying with Grandpa and before departing for the nightly meeting went out to the barn with Grandpa to feed the stock. Grandpa was busy pouring some cotton seed meal into a bucket to feed Old Dora. (She was old and had to be pampered a little). As he was doing this, he turned to the preacher and said, "Preacher, I am more determined than I ever have been to be a better man and Christian." As he said this, he raised the bucket to pour the feed into Old Dora's trough. This somehow startled Old Dora and she threw her head up knocking the bucket of cotton-seed meal all over Grandpa's blue serge suit. He said,"You damned old son of-a-bitch." Cotton-seed meal on a blue serge suit does not bring out the best in a man.

In their old age both Grandpa and Grandma lived in the house with us and Grandpa used his last energies, I believe, trying to reform and transform me into something useful. He was confined to a wheel chair the last two years of his life and he would wait for me to return home from school each day with his newspaper and a good lecture for me. I could not get around him, he was on the front porch and to get in the house I had to pass close enough so that he could head me off. He would commence by relating all the news that he had just read and disagreed with which was most of it. Also how sorry and no good Franklin D. Roosevelt was and how--if there was any hope at all for the country--it would have to come from somebody like Eugene Talmadge. Then he would remind me how no-account I was getting to be and urged me in every way he could to learn farming, learn to work, learn to handle stock, learn to be beholden to no man for my bread and butter. He would wind up these lectures with the statement, "There ain't a job for every man with a fountain pen." It must have been a frustration hard to deal with for Grandpa in that not the first one of his children chose to be a farmer. I can remember him saying this about Troy's father: "Why he don't even own a mule."

One of Grandpa's pet worries was that he might get buried in a sorry, squinched up, (his words) store-bought coffin. Several years before he died, he had some clear-pine lumber sawed to build his coffin with. He stored this lumber up in the attic of the house he and Grandma were living in next to our place. He went to see Solomon Deaver, his nephew, and gave him detailed instructions on how exactly to build his coffin--big and roomy. Sometime after this, my Uncle John came home from California. This was during the depression and a lot of our people lost their jobs and came back to Georgia to live until things got better. Uncle John and my older brother decided to build a fishing boat and knew about Grandpa's lumber. After much discussion, they decided to get some of it for the boat project. I remember when my brother sort of objected to this Uncle John said, "Why Pa's got enough up there to build a house, he'll never miss it." I remember it was a warm January day in 1935 when someone came for me at school and told me that my Grandpa had just died. The first thing I thought of was whether or not I had gone in and spoken to him before leaving for school that morning. In spite of his lectures, I liked him and he did me too even if I was, in his opinion, no account and would never amount to a hill of beans. The next thing I thought about was the lumber but this was a needless worry, there was plenty and enough for Grandma too when she died in 1939. Soloman came and got the lumber and built the biggest and strongest casket ever seen in Ivy Log. They buried him in the place he had previously selected in Ivy Log cemetery. He said it was where he had professed religion. It was where the mourners bench had been in the old church-school building -- the one in which his father, Soloman Chapman, taught the first school in Ivy Log.

The eleven children born to Grandma and Grandpa (among them our parents) were:

Laura Chapman Watson 1875-1938

Louis Napolean Chapman 1877-1956

Leana Chapman Elliott 1879-1966

Ida Chapman Lowe 1881-1962

Joseph Wilson Chapman 1883-1938

Lassie Chapman Elliott 1886 -1973

Edward Carwassus Chapman 1889-1960

Opla Chapman Poteete 1891-1970

Solomon Lester 1895-1897

John Gordon Chapman 1897-?

Robert Wayne Chapman 1901 -

All of these children are dead except Robert Wayne (Bob) who is in a nursing home near Murphy, NC. Uncle Bob is about gone. He can't walk and is confined to a chair or bed all of the time. His mind wanders but he still recognizes those of us who visit him. Last week I dropped in to see him and in the course of conversation he said, "Dale, last week I got awful damn mad." I said, "What about, Bob?" He said, "Oh, hell I can't remember but I remember exactly what I told them, I said get a hammer and knock me in the head and send me on, It's my day off anyway."

I am going to stop here with this final note:

Louis Napolean Chapman is the Chapman parent of Troy, Jack, Ida Lou and Dorthy who may be in attendance. Lassie Chapman Elliott is the parent of Robert Elliott, and Leana Chapman Elliott is the parent of myself, Dale Elliott.

Attached is a picture taken in 1934 showing W. L. Chapman (Grandpa) and some of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Also attached are the family records (best we know at present) of the early Chapmans including a record of Grandpa's Uncle Enoch's family. So far as we know Enoch and Soloman were the only two Chapmans to come to Union County so most of the North Georgia Chapmans are descendants of these two brothers.