In the spring of 1842, William Chapman sailed for America aboard the vessel “Hindoo”. Upon his arrival in Easton, Pennsylvania, he presented his letters of recommendation to Mr. Erie, attorney-at-law. He went to Delaware Water Gap where a small quarry was in operation. After exploring the slate fields, he leased property in Northampton County which he later purchased and began the Chapman Slate Co.
William Chapman married Emily Carry who was born in South Carolina and educated in Baltimore, Maryland. William and Emily had seven daughters and four sons. William Chapman was a staunch Democrat, a devout Episcopalian, and an active Grand Mason. He died on December 13, 1902.
The Honorable Richard Chapman was born in Meadrose, Cornwall, England in 1840 and is a half-brother of William Chapman. In 1862, he came to America and settled in Pen Argyl, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where he served as Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Slate Quarry. In 1866, he became the Superintendent of the Chapman Slate Quarry. Richard Chapman was also active in public matters. He served two terms in the Lower House of the State Legislature, served on the school board, town council, two terms as chief burgess of Chapman Borough, and was a delegate to the Democratic Convention.
His grand Victorian home still graces the southern entrance to the borough on Main Street.
While quarrying operations began about 1850, the borough itself was incorporated October 25, 1865.
The borough’s first assessment was made by John O. Jones, in 1866, and included the following:
Henry S. Boggs, Frederick Braerman, William Bennet, Joseph Bray, Henry Brinter, John Bonny, George H. Bartholomew, Joachin Buenger, Edwintes Bartholomew, Patrick Barry, Richard Chapman, William Curismuis, Robert Danton, John Davey, Mike Duggan, Dennis Duggan, John Duggan, Charles Dick, Charles Delabar, Thomas C. Davis, Warndut Evans, Stephen Fritchman, Edward Finkbaner, James Gist, Thomas Heard, Thomas Hockin, W. H. Hughes, David R. Hughes, Hugh H. Hughes, Lorenz Hagen, Abraham Holand, William Hockin, William Heyside, Richard W. Jones, John O. Jones, Abraham Jones, Roland E. Jones, Hugh Jones, David M. Jones, John Jackson, Sr., John H. Jackson, Samuel Kichline, John Kellow, John Kromer, John O. Lewis, John Lynn, William Lane, John Marshall, William Masters, David T. Morris, Henry Major, Sydney Miller, Thomas Parsons, John Parsons, Lodinous Paul, Lewis Paul, Henry Reimer, Samuel Reeser, John Raegen, John Reimer, Edward Remaly, Samuel Seem, Thomas Seem, Samuel Saeger, Amandus Saegar, Aaron Steckel, William Smith, Charles Venning, William R. Williams, William Williams, Sr., Michael Williams, Richard J. Williams, and Elias Wright.
Into the gentle farmlands of the Pennsylvania Germans came the skilled slaters of Northern Wales, Cornwall, England, Devon, England and laborers from Italy. In its heyday, around the turn of the century, Chapman borough boasted a population of 700; currently the latest census indicated a population of 204.
Chapman was a classic company town, populated almost entirely by Chapman Slate employees who lived in company-owned homes and bought goods at a company-owned store. The borough once boasted two churches, a school, a post office, a hotel, and a railroad station. Only the Chapman Quarries United Methodist Church remains.
The church was founded March 1868 as Chapman Quarries Methodist Episcopal Church and was located next to the old cemetery on the south end of Main Street. The current church building was dedicated November 29, 1891 and is located about two blocks from the site of the original building. The original church was dismantled and the materials were used to build the present edifice. A large segment of the residents are members of the church. The church is the focal point for community activities and meetings, and is active in historical events.
Borough Hall was donated to the borough by the Slate Company and consists of a single meeting room and three small jail cells complete with slate “potties”. The meeting room is used for monthly Borough Council meetings and as a polling place for elections.
At its height, The Chapman Slate Quarry produced about 10,000 squares of slate a year. A square is 100 square feet.
The slate from Chapman Quarries is of a very superior quality, dark blue in color, hard, close grained and tough, absorbs no moisture, will not fade, discolor or decompose. There is no loss by breakage in transportation. It makes the best roof of any material known. A very interesting pamphlet published by the Chapman Slate Company is a little leaflet containing the names of some of the most notable buildings in the country, including the State Capitol, Albany, NY.; State Capitol, Hartford, Conn.; Holy Trinity Church, New York; the new Roman Catholic Cathedral, New York; Presbyterian Memorial Church, New York; the Grand Union, Continental, Gilsey and Brunswick Hotels, New York; Chickering Hall, the Grand Central Depot, Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York; the Episcopal Church of St. Luke’s, Industrial Home for the Blind, Academy of Fine Arts, of Philadelphia, and hundreds of other notable public buildings, depots, churches and private residences, all of which are roofed with the slate from the Chapman Quarries.
The descendants of William Chapman sold the Chapman Slate Company on October 27, 1944 to the Chapman Jones Corp. Mr. Owen Jones who was the Quarry Superintendent from 1928, was one of the principal investors. The Chapman Slate Quarries operation closed in October 1959, putting about 25 slaters out of work.
Today, “The Hole”, now filled with water, the slate factory stack, and mountains of waste slate are all that is left of the former Chapman Quarries Slate Co.
The Borough of Chapman, however, is very much alive. Its homes still look much as they did at the turn of the century and many descendants still live in the former company-owned homes that line the streets. Residents still weed their gardens, while the voices of children at play resound in the backyards. Everyone who lives in Chapman Borough knows that this is the town that slate built!
~Reverend Kenneth A. Klingborg
Pictures and History courtesy of Chapman Borough and Chapman Slate Company – A brief history
By: Chapman Quarries Historical Society July, 1999
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