ISRAEL CHAPPEL. At the age of eighty-six years Israel Chappell is living retired upon his farm in Honey Point Township, and he and his wife in comfort and ease are enjoying the fruits of their labors. His eyes first rested on Illinois seventy-eight years ago and after arriving at manhood he joined the great army of gold hunters that crossed the plains to California in the pioneer days. It required six months to accomplish the journey from the Missouri river and the long trail was marked in many places with the graves of disappointed adventurers. Unlike thousands of others Mr. Chappell was at least moderately successful in his quest for the yellow metal and after returning from the Pacific coast was enabled to procure a home. He was born in Devonshire, England, February 5, 1825, a son of Bartholomew and Grace (Geen) Chappell. The parents were both of good English stock and were born and reared in Devonshire. In 1833 the father came to America with his family and located in Greene county, Illinois, being one of the pioneer settlers of that county. He purchased a farm upon which he lived until his death, in 1872. The mother survived until 1877, making her home principally with her daughter, Mrs. Thersa Noble, of Jersey county, Illinois. Mr. Chappell was twice married. By his first union there were six children, John, Bartholomew, William, Ann, Elizabeth and Susan. Seven children were born to his second marriage, namely, Solomon, Israel, Richard, Ephraim, Lucinda, Thirza and Mahala.
The district schools of the neighborhood supplied Israel Chappell with an opportunity to become acquainted with the rudiments of an English education and as he grew to maturity he assisted his father upon the home farm. He began to work upon his own account at eight dollars per month, his employer being a farmer named Brown. The second year he received ten dollars per month and the third year engaged under a brother-in-law of Mr. Brown, near Jacksonville, Illinois, at thirteen dollars per month. After three years' experience as an employee Mr. Chappell associated with his brother Ephraim in renting their father's farm of three hundred and twenty acres which they cultivated for one year. In 1850 he yielded to the gold excitement which swept through the country after the discovery of gold at Sutter's Fort, in California, and started for the mining region with a mule team and a covered wagon. After a long and arduous journey in the course of which many dangers were encountered, he arrived in California and applied himself to washing gold out of the sands for nine months, giving the woman who fitted him out and provided him with board one-half of all the gold he secured. At the end of the time named he started to prospect upon his own account. After acquiring what appeared to him in those days a handsome sum of money he returned to Illinois and purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres on section 4, Honey Point township, for which he paid one hundred an forty dollars. This farm belonged to his father and was entered by him from the government in 1848. In 1853 Mr. Chappell took up his residence upon his newly purchased place and began its improvement by breaking twenty acres of raw prairie land. As the years passed this farm became one of the most productive of its size in the township. He also purchased one hundred and sixty acres in Shaws Point township and as he used good judgment in his work, he secured very satisfactory returns from his labor. He has lived retired for twenty-five years past, the cultivation of the farm being carried forward by younger persons.
On the 30th of March, 1854, in Genesee county, New York, Mr. Chappell was married to Miss Sophia Hunt, a daughter of George and Sophia Hunt, both of whom were natives of England. They emigrated to America dn established their home in New York state, where they spent the remainder of the lives. Seven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Chappell. Watson is now engaged in farming in Kearney, Nebraska. George married Lydia Wharton, of Jerseyville, and is now a farmer of Shaws Point township. Grace is the wife of Samuel Dugger, a retired farmer of Carlinville. Richard is engaged in farming near Belvidere, Illinois. Cora married Walter Groves, who is engaged in teaching school in Carlinville. Matilda and William are deceased, the former having died in infancy and the latter at the age of three years.
In politics Mr. Chappell usually votes the national republican ticket. He cast his first ballot for General Zachary Taylor as president of the United States. He is not an uncompromising adherent of the party of protection and in local affairs often supports candidates of acknowledged high character irrespective of their political views. He served as a member of the school board for twenty-five years, as highway commissioner for six years, and as school trustee of Honey Point township for three years, always discharging his duties in a way that met with a hearty response from the people. His religious belief is indicated by membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Shaws Point township, his wife, one daughter and son Richard, being also identified with the same church. He has for many years been connected with the lodge of Odd Fellows at Carlinville but has been unable to attend recently on account of the inconvenience of travel for a man who is advanced in age. Having conscientiously discharged his responsibilities he looks back upon many pleasant experiences and has no reason to regret selecting Macoupin county as his permanent place of abode. He was early animated with the firm purpose to win an honorable name and by the exercise of sound judgment he accomplished the object of his ambition. His name is inseparably interwoven with the history of Macoupin county and it is with pleasure that this record is herewith presented of one of its most worthy citizens.