ISRAEL CHAPPEL. In noticing the prominent and successful agriculturists of Honey Point Township we find Mr. Chappell occupying a front rank. A man of more than ordinary ability and sound judgment, he has exercised no small influence in his community, and at the same time, by his industry an perseverance, has gained a competence. His residence and surroundings indicate in a marked manner to what good purpose he has employed his time for so many years, he having a most carefully tilled farm, whereon he has instituted all modern improvements. The buildings and appurtenances are well appointed, and indicate the good taste and ample means of the proprietor.
A native of Devonshire, England, Mr. Chappell was born February 5, 1825. His parents were Bartholomew and Grace (Gean) Chappell, who were also natives of that famous English shire. Their lives were passed there until 1833, when, with their eight children, they set sail from Liverpool in the month of October in an American bound ship, and after a voyage of nine weeks and four days landed at New York. They came directly to Illinois, and located in Jersey County, where the father purchased a tract of land including a part of Gilham's Mound. About fifty acres were improved, and there was a log house on the place. Mr. Chappell erected frame buildings, improved his land, and increased the acreage of his farm so that at one time he had four hundred acres of land. Death closed his career in 1867, and his community was thus deprived of a valued citizen, who had done much to upbuild the township, and his memory is held in respect as one of its early pioneers. He was twice married, and by his first marriage had six children, all of whom came to America, and these are their names: Ann, John, Bartholomew, Elizabeth, Susan and William. His second wife, the mother of our subject, who was the daughter of Richard Gean, survived him, her death not occurring until 1871, when she passed away in the home of her daughter in Jersey County. She reared seven children, as follows: Lucinda, Solomon, Israel, Ephraim, Thirza, Mahala and Richard.
Israel Chappell was in his eighty year when his parents brought him to the United States, and he can remember well the incidents of pioneer life in the early years of the settlement of this State. At that time deer and bears were very numerous in Jersey County, and also coons, wild turkeys and other game. For many years there were no railways in the county, and Alton was the nearest market for supplies. Young Chappell attended the pioneer schools, the first one being taught in the kitchen of a neighbor, as there were then no free schools. The grain then was cut with a cradle and threshed by a flail. The mother carded, spun and wove wool and linen with which to clothe her children, and cooked the meals for the family before a rude fireplace.
Our subject resided with his parents until 1846, and then commenced life for himself, working on a farm for $8 a month, continuing thus employed until 1850, when he went to California. He left Jersey County the 1st of May and made the entire journey across the plains and mountains with a mule team, arriving at Sacramento on the 4th of August without mishap. With the exception of the Mormons at Salt Lake City, there were but very few white settlers west of St. Joseph, Mo., until California was reached. Antelope, elk and deer abounded on the plains, and buffaloes were to be seen in large numbers. There were also plenty of Indians, who were hostilely disposed, rendering traveling very dangerous. Upon arriving in California Mr. Chappell engaged in mining, and resided there until 1852, when he returned to Illinois by way of the Isthmus.
Prior to going to the Pacific coast our subject had bought a tract of wild prairie land in what is now Honey Point Township, and the year following his return he settled on it, and has lived here continuously since. The homestead consists of one hundred and sixty acres of choice land, and he has erected a good set of frame buildings, planted fruit and shade trees, and made all modern improvements. Besides his home farm he also owns one hundred and eighty acres of land in Shaw's Point township, and eighty in Lancaster County, Neb., and is one of the substantial men of his community.
March 30, 1834, Mr. Chappell was united in marriage with Miss Sophia Hunt, who was born in the same shire as her husband. Her father, George Hunt, was also a native of Devonshire, where he married Sophia Willoway, and spent his entire life. His wife was also of Devonshire birth, and was a daughter of Thomas and Charity Willoway. At her husband's death she was left with six children. She afterward became the wife of James Hunt, brother of her first husband, and in 1849, with ten children, came to America. The family located in the town of Stafford, about five miles east of Batavia, Genesee County, N. Y., where Mr. Hunt died some years later. The mother of Mrs. Chappell is still living, aged eighty-seven, and resides on the home farm. The children by her first marriage were named Charity, Frances, Thomas, William, Elizabeth and Sophia. Those by her second marriage were Mary J., Ann, James and Matilda.
Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Chappell there are five children living: Israel Watson, George Milton, Sophia Grace, James Richard and Cora May, Sophia is the wife of Samuel Dugger, of Shaw's Point Township. Mrs. Chappell is actively interested in religious matters, and holds membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church.