Biography of John L. Chapman

John L. Chapman, the postmaster and city treasurer of Lewiston, is a native of Wisconsin, his birth having occurred in Evansville, Rock County, that state, on the 27th of December 1850. He is a representative of one of the old American families. His father, Timothy S. Chapman, was a native of New York, and married Minerva Hurlburt, who was also born in the Empire state.

He was a vocalist of superior ability and a teacher of both instrumental music and singing. In 1844 he removed to Illinois, and there his home became a station on the famous underground railroad. He was a lover of freedom, an opponent of oppression in any form, and, just prior to the war, he assisted many a Negro on his way to liberty. Subsequently he removed to Wisconsin, and later came to Idaho, where his remaining days were passed. He died in Lewiston, in 1891, but his wife still survives him, and is now in the eightieth year of her age. In early life they were members of the Presbyterian Church, but afterward united with the Congregational church. Of their family of seven children only three are now living.

John L. Chapman, whose name introduces this sketch, was reared and educated in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, and came to Lewiston in 1870, at the age of nineteen years. He began working in the lumber regions at day’s work and engaged in saw milling, which he followed for sixteen years. He has been a stalwart Republican since attaining his majority, and in 1892 was appointed by President Harrison to the position of postmaster of Lewiston to fill out an unexpired term. At the following election he was chosen by popular ballot to the office of city treasurer, which position he has filled most satisfactorily for the past four years. In January 1899, he was appointed by President McKinley to this position of postmaster, and at once began a work of improvement in the Lewiston office, putting in new boxes of the latest style and otherwise carrying on the business on a progressive scale. As yet this is only a third-class office, but it is now doing the business of a second-class office and will undoubtedly soon be raised to that rank.

Socially Mr. Chapman is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and with the Royal Arcanum, and has filled all the chairs in the former. He was married in 1875 to Miss Emma J. Thatcher. She was born in what was then Oregon, and is a daughter of C. A. Thatcher, an Oregon pioneer of 1852. Eight children have been born of this union, of whom seven are living. Their son, Charles, a promising young man of twenty-two years, was drowned in the Clearwater River while in swimming. The surviving children are Ralph H., John E., Guy E., Fannie K., Roy, Helen and Willard L. John E. is efficiently assisting his father in the post-office, in the capacity of delivery clerk. Mr. and Mrs. Chapman are valued members of the Presbyterian Church and he is serving as one of the elders. Twenty-three years ago they erected their pleasant home in Lewiston, and through the intervening decades it has always been noted for its hospitality and good cheer. Mr. Chapman is regarded as a most trustworthy and efficient officer in both positions which he is filling, and in both public and private life he has ever commanded the confidence and respect of his many friends and acquaintances.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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