Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deacon Samuel Chapin Magistrate; Town Commissioner; Church Deacon

Going to NERGS in April 2011 is a bucket list thing for me. I first became aware I was related to Deacon Chapin as a direct ancestor in 1976. In 1976, during the countries bi-centennial celebrations, my mother often spoke about her favorite grandmother. Mother would ask me to study her grandmother's lineage. She told me that she remembered hearing about my grandmother's lineage and wanted me to research the lineage.

The reason my mother wanted me to do it was because my mother was very intimated by research. Although she got to a place where she would read fiction novels with vigor. She was never one to read or enjoy non-fiction books.

My mother was raised by a houseful of family. Her grandmother, her parents, her uncles, and her younger siblings.

The younger siblings were very healthy, smart and active. While they left each day my mother was either in bed at the home or in the hospital. My mother was very ill,bedridden, as a child and was not expected to live. So my mother did not benefit from a formal education. Mother's first 15 years of education was very sporadic and limited. Mother's education was limited to oral family stories, being read the classics and simple math.

On Christmas of 1976, I presented my parents and siblings each, a hand typed handbook of our Chapin lineage. Complete with a photo copy of the Chapin statue and photos of our granny, Armineta Clementine Chapin. Mother was pleased but skeptical. In 1983 a family historian wrote our Chapin lineage and included more data about the statue, the children of the Deacon and more data. It was then I began dreaming of going to the statue someday.........and mother appreciated my hand typed notebook a little more.

This trip to the statue will be better than ever I could have imagined. Through the Internet I have met many wonderful friends. Lots of these friends will be there the week end I visit the statue. I am staying with a fellow blogger, Chapin cousin and her delightful husband in New Hampshire. We are hoping to identify more Chapin descendants to take a "cousin" photo at the statue.

Imagine my surprise in the movie I see
Deacon Samuel Chapin statue, Springfield, Mass.

"One of the founding fathers of Springfield" according to the base of the statue. He's certainly an imposing figure.

As a side note, this statue played a prominent part in the almost unknown 1970s movie, "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud."
Professor Proud keeps having visions of different sites in a New England town, and the "puritan statue" of Deacon Samuel Chapin is one of them. Eventually he travels from California to Massachusetts, where he discovers the statue.

Imagine my surprise when the only vision I had seen of the statue looked like this:

and then to see this beautiful garden looking like this:

Deacon Samuel Chapin
Magistrate; Town Commissioner; Church Deacon

b. 8 Oct 1598 in Paignton, Devonshire, England - d. 11 Nov 1675 in Springfield, MA at age 77
m. Cicely PENNY 9 Feb 1623 in Paignton, Devonshire, England

"The Puritan" - a bronze statue in Merrick Park next to the Public Library in Springfield, Mass. honors one of the town's founders, the Deacon Samuel Chapin. The artist was Augustus St. Gauden and it was commissioned by Chester W. Chapin, Springfield's railroad magnate, in 1885. The statue was originally unveiled on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 in Stearns Square, and remained there for twelve years before being moved to its current location. In moving the statue, the beautiful bronze fountain and pink granite bench that were constructed to compliment the artwork were relocated to other parts of the city. The working model is now owned by the Carnegie Museum of Art.

"The beginning of the Chapin family is altogether creditable. We may well be satisfied that it should start with this genuine old Puritan and what he did, with his fellow pioneers, to open the American Continent and on it found a city and to establish a model Christian Republic. The rolls of heraldry, even if they could show the name linked with royal or princely blood, would add nothing to the true nobility of its origin. It belongs peculiarly to this country, and the sphere of its highest dignity and honor was no doubt ordained to be here. Our chief anxiety should be to maintain and advance its true nobility by lives and deeds worthy of such a father." - Aaron L. Chapin, President of the Chapin Family Association, at the unveiling of the Chapin Statue at Springfield, MA on 24 November 1887. 60

Samuel CHAPIN and his wife, Cicely, came from England with three sons and two daughters in 1635. He most likely came over in the summer, when the passage was the mildest, and probably landed at Boston, which was then, as it is now, the chief port of New England. They probably settled immediately in Roxbury. Roxbury was founded a few years earlier, in 1630, by William Pynchon. It soon became a small village of from two to three score families, most of whom came from Nazing, London, or the west of England. Possibly it was because he had friends among the latter that determined Samuel to settle in Roxbury. Samuel held land as early as 1639, as is shown by the Roxbury land records.

Like most of the early settlers, Samuel Chapin must have been principally a farmer, although undoubtedly he had to turn his hand to many other pursuits as occasion required, which was in fact very often. In 1636 Samuel, then comparatively a young man, was very probably one "of the Roxbury people" who worked on the fortifications at Cornhill in Boston. In the fall of that year the General Court met at Roxbury, thus giving Samuel a chance to see its workings. During his stay in Roxbury the Pequot War took place, which resulted in making it possible to settle with safety in Western New England as at Springfield. The Chapins lived in Roxbury till the close of the year 1642.

In 1636 William Pynchon, then a resident of Roxbury, led a party of about a dozen families to the Connecticut River, where he founded a settlement then called Agawam, but which four years later was renamed Springfield, after his home in England. Most of the settlers took up farming, as there were many fertile meadows along the banks of the Connecticut, while Pynchon for the most part engaged in the fur trade. The settlement grew slowly at first, but by the time the Chapins arrived, it had become a village of respectable size for New England in those days.

As he had in Roxbury, as at Springfield, Samuel was primarily a farmer, but of course here also he had to do all sorts of other things besides. He soon became one of the leading men in the government of the town and held many public offices during his life including Selectman, Auditor and Magistrate and he was Deacon of the church.

Samuel Chapin lived to be an old man and having borne for over twenty years the burdens of government, now in his declining years withdrew from the center of political affairs. He slowly handed over the reins to the younger men in town. Samuel died 11 Nov 1675; according to the diary of his son Japhet, "My father was taken out of this troublesome world the 11th day of November about eleven of the clock, 1675." His widow, Cicely, died 8 Feb 1683.

Samuel had an inventory of his estate performed for his will. The total sum of his goods, not including his land, was over 45 English pounds. His wife's estate was inventoried in 1682 for her will and the goods were then valued at over 100 English pounds. hapin.HTM
His wife Cicely PENNY came from a very prestigious family herself and as a "good woman" held special seating and honor within the church. It is interesting she did well with her savings after his death. It is her families name used in much of the emigration records. The records show her parents and daughter Cicely PENNY and husband.....

Next blog I hope to write how the statue came about and is that really what he looked like?


  1. Love it, Ruth! Can't wait for the next installment...

  2. My mother would have loved you. I just had a thought. I will bring a picture of my mother and take a picture of her at the statue. Mom would like that.