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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company.  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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WILLIAM CHAPMAN. Through his connection with the far-famed Chapman Quarries, situated by rail about fifteen miles from Bethlehem, the subject of this sketch has gained prominence throughout the United States. Whoever labors to develop latent resources thereby benefits humanity, and may justly be denominated a public benefactor. Such a one is William Chapman, to whose energy, judgment, perseverance and discernment the state of Pennsylvania in general, and the county of Northampton in particular, are indebted for the development of the great slate industry.

A short railroad ride from Bethlehem brings one to the station called Chapman Quarries. Alighting from the train and climbing the hill, the first impression received is that of the magnitude of the slate-quarry industry. The quarry of the company is a hole over twelve hundred feet long, three hundred feet wide, and two hundred and fifty feet deep, which, like all vast hollows, impresses the visitor with a feeling almost of awe. The people of Northampton County are proud of the fact that nowhere in the United States is there a plant so complete as this. It includes a hoisting apparatus, with a five-ton cable, nine hundred feet long, on which there runs a carriage with pulley and chain. Along this, slabs of slate weighing from four to six tons are drawn, and loaded where wanted. The machinery at use in the quarry includes six engines of a combined power of one hundred and twenty horses, eight boilers of four hundred and eighty horse-power, two steam drills, seven derricks, three diamond saws, four planers and one diamond drill.

The slate from Chapman Quarries is of a very superior quality, dark blue in color, hard, close grained and tough; it absorbs no moisture, will not fade, discolor or decompose, nor is there any loss by breakage in transportation. In a pamphlet published by the company appear the names of some of the most notable buildings in the country which are built of this slate, including the State Capitol at Albany, N. Y.; State Capitol at Hartford, Conn.; Holy Trinity Church, New York; Gilsey and Brunswick Hotels, New York; Chickering Hall, Grand Central Depot, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York; and hundreds of other elegant and noted public buildings, as well as private residences.

The area of land surrounding the quarry has been incorporated as the borough of Chapman, and has a population of four hundred, principally employes of the quarry. The town has a public school, two churches and a large number of neat and comfortably arranged houses. The success of this enterprise is due almost wholly to the gentleman in whose honor it has been named, and whose great sagacity and superior business qualities have created one of the most important industries of Pennsylvania. It was in 1850 that Mr. Chapman began operating this quarry, and such was his success that in 1864, by a special act of the State Legislature, he was able to incorporate the Chapman Slate Company, with a capital of $300,000, later increased to $400,000. Of this he is President and Treasurer.

The birth of William Chapman occurred on the plains of Waterloo, at Mt. Tonenshau, France, in 1816. His father, William, was born in the parish of St. Peth, in Cornwall, England, and by occupation was a slater in the Dilli Bole Quarries, owned by Lord T. Avery, who fitted up a company of ninety men at his own expense for the English army, our subject’s father being Lieutenant of the same. They were called to France before the battle of Waterloo, in which they took an active part, and in which William Chapman was severely wounded. He was taken to Mt. Tonenshau, and was there nursed back to health by his faithful wife, who had hastened to his side after hearing of his injuries. While there our subject was born, in 1816. The father, after recovering from his wounds, returned to England, and was made weighmaster in the quarries. His death occurred in Cornwall, when he was over eighty years of age. His wife, Elizabeth Chapman, an estimable lady, also a native of Cornwall, died in 1828, in the faith of the Episcopal Church, of which they were both members. They were the parents of three sons, only one of whom, our subject, is now living. The subject of this sketch was reared in Cornwall, and from the time he was seven years of age worked in the slate quarries where his father was employed, becoming a practical workman and a good judge of slate. He then secured employment in Devonshire, England, where extensive quarries were opened. John Francis (later Sir John Francis), Superintendent of the Penn River Quarries in Wales, while visiting the Devonshire quarries, took a fancy to him and persuaded him to return to his quarries in Wales. With this gentleman our subject remained for seven years, and meantime succeeded in laying up a considerable sum of money. Being aware of the fine slate to be found in Pennsylvania, he then decided to come to America.

In the spring of 1842 William Chapman set sail on the vessel “Hindoo” for the New World, and arrived in Easton, where he presented his letters of recommendation from Sir John Francis to Mr. Erie, an attorney-at-law. Next he proceeded to the Delaware Water Gap, where a small quarry was being worked, and after exploring the slate fields he finally leased the present site with the privilege of buying it. This he did later, and the result is that the Chapman Quarries have long led the way, the slate being used in all parts of the country. They are engaged only in the manufacture of hard slate, which, as above stated, is of a very superior quality, dark blue in color, tough and impervious to moisture. The office and yards of the company in New York are located at the corner of West and Jane Streets.

At Easton occurred the marriage of our subject and Miss Emily Carry, who was born in South Carolina, and educated in Baltimore. They became the parents of seven daughters and four sons, one of whom is deceased. Mrs. Chapman was an accomplished lady, a devoted wife and mother, and at her death in 1883 she left many friends to mourn her loss. In politics Mr. Chapman is a Democrat, and fraternally is a Master Mason. In religion he adheres to the faith of the Episcopal Church, being a member of that denomination in Bethlehem.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

View additional Northampton County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Northampton County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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