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Below is a family biography included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published by Biographical Publishing Co. in 1894.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JAMES CHAPLIN, whose sketch now claims attention, is well known throughout Randolph County. He is one of the honored and respected citizens of Chester, and is always one of the first to push forward any movement that will prosper his city and county. He is a native of Perthshire, Scotland, and his birth occurred April 1, 1852. His parents, John and Susan (Gow) Chaplin, are both natives of Scotland, and still make that country their home. The father, whom in his earlier days was a lumber cutter, is now eighty-two years of age, while his good wife is seventy-five years old.

Our subject received a meagre education in his native land, and when fourteen years of age entered the flouring-mill of William Whittel, serving an apprenticeship of three years. At the expiration of that time he entered the mill of Panton & Co., of Blair-Gowrie, as second miller. The building soon burned down, however, and he secured a like position in the mill at Hunting Tower. After working at different places for some time, our subject secured the position of assistant manager of the Panton & Co. Mills, which position he filled with satisfaction to all concerned. He remained there until reaching his majority, when he determined to come to the United States, and after an uneventful voyage, safely landed in New York City, where he remained for some time. He thence journeyed to Indianapolis, Ind., and thence on to St. Louis, Mo., but not finding a suitable location, came to Chester and engaged with the H. C. Cole Milling Company. In 1882, when the mill was repaired and a full roller system put in, Mr. Chaplin was proffered the position of head miller, which he accepted and still holds. He has greatly added to the reputation of the various brands of the flour, and considers the “F. F. F. G.” and the “Omega” the best in the world.

Mr. Chaplin was married in 1876 to Miss Fannie, a daughter of Lisander and Mary J. (Sherman) Davis, natives of Illinois and Ohio respectively. To this marriage three children have been born, namely: Arthur, Helen Marr and Hazel B. The children are attending the city schools and are being given the best possible advantages for good educations. Our subject, with his estimable wife, is a member of the Presbyterian Church.

Socially, our subject is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which lodge he joined in 1876, and has filled all the chairs, holding the Noble Grand Chair for four terms. In 1893 he was elected representative to the Grand Lodge which was held at Springfield, and also represented the lodge at the November meeting in 1893, held in the same city. He is at present District Deputy of his lodge, and is a wide-awake and energetic worker. He is greatly interested in all its doings, and is recognized as one of the leading Odd Fellows of the county. He is also holding the prominent office of Past Chief Patriarch of the encampment.

In his political affiliations Mr. Chaplin is a stanch Republican, but in local matters thinks it best to vote for the man, irrespective of party principles. In 1890 he was elected Alderman of the First Ward in Chester, and his service was so satisfactory to his constituents that it caused his re-election in 1892. For two years he was Chairman of the Street Committee, and was especially instrumental in securing the electric lights for the city. He is one of the most active members that the City Council has ever had, and is foremost in all enterprises that will further the interests of Chester, the town he has chosen for his home through life. Mr. Chaplin is one of the stock holders in the Chester Canning Factory, in the Chester Broom Factory and the Union Creamery Company. He is always willing and ready to lend a helping hand, so far as his means will permit, to any creditable movement. His reputation is well established as a man of honor, reliability and true worth, and he is respected in due proportion.

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This family biography is one of 679 biographies included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published in 1894.  View the complete description here: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois

View additional Randolph County, Illinois family biographies here: Randolph County, Illinois Biographies

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