F. H. CHAPMAN, was born in Staunton township, Macoupin county, Illinois, April 15th, 1828. Richard Chapman, his father, was one of the pioneers and early settlers of this part of the state. He was a native of North Carolina; the family of Chapmans were, however, originally from Virginia. He emigrated to Illinois, arriving in the state in 1818, and settled in St. Clair county, where he remained until December, 1819, when he removed to what is now known as Dorchester, in this county. At that time his own and two other families were the only settlers in this section of the state. In 1821 he removed to what is now known as Staunton township, where he remained until 1857. He died in 1872, in the ninetieth year of his age. He married Celia Davenport, who was also a native of North Carolina. She died in 1852. Twelve children were born to them, nine of whom have survived the parents.
The subject of our sketch is among the younger members. His boyhood days were spent upon the farm, and in acquiring the rudiments of an education, which, in the pioneer days of Illinois, was somewhat difficult to obtain, owing to the lack of educational facilities, and the crude and imperfect system of common schools as compared with the present day. At the age of nineteen years he went to school and taught school until he arrived at the age of twenty-four. He also during that time read law in his leisure hours, intending later in life to adopt the profession of law as the business of his life. In the fall of 1852 he commenced land surveying, and in the following year was elected county surveyor, and again elected, and held the office until 1859, at the end of which time he again took up the study of law preparatory to entering into the practice, and continued so engaged until the breaking out of the war, when he put aside his scholastic duties and entered as a private in the 14th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, Col. John M. Palmer, commanding.
He remained in the service until July 14, 1865, when he was honorably discharged and mustered out. While in the service he remained with his regiment until February, 1862, when he was detached, and took command of company "L", artillery company, as captain. In April his company was consolidated with company "b", of the 2d Illinois Light Artillery, and he took rank as senior first lieutenant. In March, 1863, he was promoted to the captaincy of the company, and remained in command until the close of the war. In 1865 he was breveted to the rank of major for meritorious service during the war.
After his return home from the service in 1865, he was a candidate for the office of county judge, but at the ensuing election was defeated by a small majority. He was then elected police magistrate, and in 1869 was elected county superintendent of schools, which position he filled acceptably to the people until 1873. In 1869 he was admitted to the practice of law, and at the expiration of his term of office as superintendent of schools he entered upon the practice of his profession, at which he has been industriously engaged up to the present. In November of 1878 he formed a law partnership with ex-Governor John M. Palmer, which still continues.
In the practice of his profession, Major Chapman has no specialties, but prefers the probate practice, which by nature and mental training he is specially adapted for. As a lawyer, although comparatively young in the practice, he has already won his way to the front of the profession, and is regarded as a clear, logical thinker, a good pleader, and a man who gives all his energies and best endeavors to the cause of his clients.
In 1854 he was untied in marriage to Miss Sarah McCreary, who was a native of Orange county, New York. She died in 1857. Two children, both girls, were the fruits of this union. In 1862 he married Miss Cecelia C. Burns, who is a native of Dublin, Ireland. One child, a daughter, has been born to them.
In politics Major Chapman was formerly a democrat, and cast his first vote for Franklin Pierce for President in 1852. He remained a democrat until the breaking out of the war, when he arrayed himself on the side of the Union and joined the republican party, and has been ever since a staunch member of that political organization.