John C Chapman

John C Chapman
b. April 1820, Virginia or Tennessee, to William and Elizabeth (Fisher) Chapman
d. 13 November 1902, Worth County, Missouri

m. 20 August 1843, Campbell County, Tennessee
Orpha Riggs
b. 8 February 1826, Tennessee
d. 25 November 1910, Worth County, Missouri

Children with Orpha Riggs:

  • Polly Anna
  • Thomas Jefferson (d. 14 July 1864, Knoxville, Tennessee)
  • Millie
  • Lindsay
  • Nancy
  • Alexander
  • Olive
  • John
  • Absolom
  • Lavinia
  • William Perry

In the early 1850’s John and Orpha Chapman, along with several families of relatives and friends, relocated to Clay County, Indiana, from Campbell County, Tennessee. Orpha’s uncle, Alexander Cabbage, had moved to Clay County several years before. To provide for his growing family, John worked his farm and made barrel staves and shingles for a sawmill.

In 1856, John sold his Clay County land and in 1859, purchased 80 acres in Vigo County, Indiana. In December 1863, his eldest son, Thomas Jefferson Chapman, enlisted in the Union Army. Sadly, he became ill with dysentery and died in a Union hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee, on 14 July 1864.

By the summer of 1867, John and Orpha had settled near the town of Denver in Worth County, Missouri. Using timber from their own land, they built the two-room cabin, which was their home for the remainder of their lives. John’s brother William had already moved his family on from Indiana earlier and had written promising his brother a better living in northern Missouri.

Several years after John and Orpha relocated in Missouri, more of the Chapman relatives in Indiana followed. Polly Smith Myers, daughter of Elijah and Mary Ann (Chapman) Smith, wrote of the wagon train trip from Indiana to Missouri in 1874:

“It was a hot, dusty trip across flat Illinois. We were six weeks losing sight of the Capitol Building in Springfield…I was only 13 years old and grew homesick for my woodsy Indiana home with its rail fences, covered bridges, and wild turkeys…We crossed the Mississippi River, Hannibal, Missouri. Twelve wagons went onto the ferry and formed a circle. The twelfth wagon caused the ferry to dip, wetting mother’s nice quilts, which were three days drying. Brushy Missouri snagged my sashes and laces as I walked to school and church. I never saw Indiana again.” (Clay County Historical Society, History of Clay County, Indiana, 1984, p. 400.)

Submitted by:
Darla D. Vogel Davis
Hilton Head Island SC

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