George Eliot.

The Chapin gathering : proceedings of the meeting of the Chapin family, in Springfield, Mass., September 17, 1862 online

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The Cliapin Gatliering.












The Ciiapin family is one of the largest in this country. It

is descended from Dea. Samuel CiiArix, who settled in Springfield,

Mass., in 1G12 — a man whose name and blood are now to be found

in every one of the United States. As tlie proceedings recorded

herein will show, it now contains some of the first minds of the na-

«^^ tion, and has been, throughout its history, a family of intelligence, in-

flucnce and virtue. In harmony with the new interest everywhere

y^ observable in genealogical and antiquarian matters, it was determined

that there should be a meeting of this family. The first suggestion

came from the Hon. Henry CiiArix of "Worcester, formerly Mayor

of that city, to the Hon. Stephen C. Bemis, Mayor of Springfield

and a possessor of the Chapin blood. The following is the letter :


WoncESTEn, Jan. Hth, 18G2.

Hon. S. C. Bemis — Dear Sir: — I write you upon a matter iu reference to
which some of the family of " Chapins," have been exercised, and that is a
meeting of the Chapin family. Tlie natural place of such a meeting is the Valley
of the Connecticut, and Rev. E. II. Chapin would naturally be the orator of
the occasion. Now, for one, I should be very glad to have such a meeting held,
and as I am informed that you are one of the stock, and as, from mj' experience,
I know that Mayors are e.xpected to know how to do everything, and to do it,"
I write to you and suggest that such a meeting should be lield, and that you
should take the initiative steps in the matter.

Please to excuse this apparent abruptness in a stranger, but I am writing in
good faith, and simply say what I mean. At any rate, will you do me the favor
to give me your views upon the subject ?

Yours Truly,



Spring piELD, Mass., Jan 21, 18C2.

lion. Hekbt Chapin, "Worcester, Mass. — Dear Sir: Your letter of the 17th
inst. is at hand, I have conversed with Chester W. Chiipin, E(«|., on tho
subject to which you refer, and he is very favorably iui|>res(«od willi your prop-
osition, and suggests that you designate some early day to n>eet a few of tho
"Chapins," whom we can call together in this city and vicinity, and talk over
the matter, and make arrangements for Uie general gathering. If you will des-
ignate some day that you will bo here, I will invito some of U>o family to m««t
you at tho Massasoit House in this city. I have addres*^ a note to Dr.
Holland of this city, who will meet yourself and oUiers at ll>o time ytiu may
designate, for consultation. I have also addressed a note to Vr. K. H. Chapio
of New York, on tho subject, und sluill have an answer from him soon.

Please advise mo further at your convenience, and oblige

Yours, S. C. BKMIS.

According to the pufrgcstion of Mayor Bcmi*, Jiidgp CImpin of
Worcester came to Siu-ingfield, and jiarticipalcd in tho prfliuunary
proceedings. The general plan of the meeting was decided mwn,
and general and local committees were ap|K)inled to curry the plan
into operation. Judge Chapin of Worcester wa." fixed u|»on by the
• rest of the Committee of Arrangement's a;* the Orator of the occa-
sion, and Dr. J. G. Holland of Springfiekl was apiKjinlod to pro-
nounce a poem. The following circular wa.* pul)li>he«l in Tfie
Springfield liepiihlkan and other paper?, and in note fonn was sent
by mail to all known representatives of tLe family throughout the


Springfield, Mass., July 2G, 1 802.
To THE Descendants of Dea. Saucel Ciiapin :

Through the suggestions of individuals and tlie operations of a self-consti-
tuted conniiittee, it has l>een decided to hold a grand gathering of the def<oend-
ants of Deacon Samuel Ciiapin, who settled in Springfield at the early date of
10-42. The family has become a very numerous one, and it is believed that
nearly if not quite all who bear the name in the United States, are the descend-
ants of this man, and that their origin is traceable to the Valley of the Connecti-
cut River.

As the old town of Springfield was the place from which the family went out,
it has been deemed fitting that it be the gathering place of its members, large
numbers of whom still remain ujxjn the original soil

A large Committee of Arrangements has been appointed, who, at a meeting
held for the purpose, fixed upon the seventeenth day of September, 1862, as the
time of the proposed family re-union. To this meeting you are respectfully and
cordially invited ; and as it is impossible for the committee to know the names

of all the members of the family, scattered over the country, you are particu-
larly requested to extend this invitation to all of the blood living in your vicinity.
It is expected that the meeting will be one of public as well as social interest,
and it is believed that it will do much to cherish that laudable pride, which re-
joices in an excellent ancestry, and that affection which should always tlow iii
the channels of kindred blood.

"We invite you, therefore, whether you bear tlie name and blood of the old
patriarch of the valley, or the blood without tlie name, to come back to the
home from which you went out, and join the assembly we propose.

The public exercises of the occasion will consist of an Historical Address, by
Hon. Henry Ciiapix, of Worcester, with brief addresses by other members of
the family, and music prepared for the occasion. At llie close of the public ex-
ercises, the City Hall will be thrown open for a social re-union.

The Mayor's room at the City Hall will be open on the 16th of September,
and on the morning of the 17th, for the registry of the names of all who wish
to attend the exercises. All will be furnished with tickets on registering their
names, and no person will be admitted without one.

All who accept this invitation are requested to inform the Committee on Fi-
nance and Invitation, at an early date, addressing Rodkuick Burt, Springlicld,
Mass., that entertainment may be secured for them so far as po.ssible ; and they
will please call on Mr. Burt, at his Bookstore, on their arrival in the city.


Hon. S. C. Bemis, Springfield, Mass.
Hon. Chester W. Ciiapin, "
Hon. Henry Ciiapin, Worcester, Mass.
J. G. Holland, Springfield, Mass.
Georce W. Ciiapin, Providence, R. I.
E. A. Ciiapin, Rutland, Vt.
Marvin Ciiapin, Springfield, Mass.
Abuah W. Ciiapin, "

Lyman Cuapin, Albany, N. Y.
Hon. Moses Ciiapin, Rochester, N. T.
Caleb T. Ciiapin, Northbridge, Mass.
CuARLES F. Cuapin, Milford, Mass.
David Ciiapin, Boston, Mass.
E. II. Ciiapin, D. D., New York City.
Edward P. Ciiapin, Buffalo, N. Y.
D. M. Ciiapin, Ogdensburg, N. Y.
Samuel D. Ciiapin, Cleveland, Ohio.
M. W. Ciiapin, Hartford, Conn.
Doct. Ciias. Ciiapin, Brattleboro, Vt.
Rev. Albert Hale, Springfield, 111.
AsAiiEL Ciiapin, New York City.
Reuben S. Ciiapin, New York City.
PuiNEAS Ciiapin, New Hampshire.
Rev. Dr. Chapin, Pres. Beloit Col, Wis.
A. W. Chapin, Newport, Maine.
Sumner Chapin, Orrington, Maine.

P. W. Bartlett, Covington, Ky.
H. Judson Cuapin, Holyoke, Mass.
Giles W. Chapin, Chicopee, Mass.

Moses W. Cuapin, "

Orange Cuapin, "

Marshal Pease, "

Sidney Chapin, "

Lucas B. Ciiapin, *'

PiiiNEAS Stedman, "
Ethan S. Cuapin, Springfield, Mass.

Roderick Burt, "

Frederick H. Harris, "

Abel D. Cuapin, "

S. A. Bemis, "'

A. L. Chapin, "

H. Alexander, Jr., •'

William Bliss, "

E. Bliss Vinto.v, "

Col. Homer Foot, "

Hon. George Dwight, "

William B. Brinsmade, "

Edmund D. Ciiapin, "

Andrew J. Chapin, "

Roswell Lee, "

Charles 0. Chapin, "

S. B. Bailey, "

Mayor Bemis, A. W. Ciunx, Tiubueb O. Ciurni.

Marvin- Cuaimx, Rouerjck Bikt, 1L Alkxaxuks, Jk.

Cou HARVEY CIIAPIN, Jtarihal of Ote Dajf.

In addition to the committees mentioDcU in the circoUUi were the

following :

On Printing.— Stetkzs C Bemib, J. G. IIOIXAXD.

On lif/reaftmenfs.—'HARVis CiuriX, E. S. Cuxn», A. W. CtUTUC, & E BaI-
LET, Charles O. Chai'IX, riiiXEAi) Stkdkax.


The dny appointed for the meeting wet ea ezeeediaglj pleejillt
one ; and the registry of tlie name* of thoM prMOit, appended lo
this rei)ort, will sIjow how large the pntherinj» wm«. It filled the
First Congregational Church, it* place of mi-<tinp, to repletion, allow*
ing no room for citi/.ens generally, multitudes of whom dcMre<l to be
present at the exercises. Tl»e music of the occasion wmi given by a
select choir under the charge of Ciiaulkh O. Ciiapix of Springfield.
Ai the close of the somewhat protracted exercises at the church, a
procession was formed under the direction of Col. IlAnvr.T CliArix,
Marshal of the day, and, to the music of the Armory Band, marrhiHl
around Court Square to the City Hall, where the n'm.ainder of llie
day was devoted to fcosting and social enjoyment. It will Im? proper
to record that the first jHjrtion of the proces-nion, composed exclusively
of the family, began to enter the h.ill In-fore the la>t had emerged
from the church, thus passing nearly around Court S<juarc, from three
persons to six and seven abreast.


The exercises of the day were commenced at the First Congre-
gational Church, at ten and one-half o'clock, by a voluntary on the
organ, after which the following song was sung, by the choir : —

"Joy I joy I freedom to-dny,
Carol care! drive it awuy ;

Youth, health and vigor our senses o'erpower ;
Trouble, count it for naught,
Banisit, banish the thought;

Pleasure and mirth shall rule o'er tliis hour.
Joy to-day, joy, joy, to-day,
And care, oh drive it far away.

" Nature all her glory showing,

Azure skies and balmy air.
Equal smiles on all bestowing,

Bids each heart bor bounty shore.
Joyf joy I" Ac.


lion. SxErnEN C. Bemis, Mayor of Springfield, then addressed
the audience, as follows :

Ladies and Gentlemen, — Members of the Chapin Familt
FROM the East and from the West, from the North and
from the South : — In behalf of those members of the family who
reside in this valley, in behalf of the authorities and citizens of this
city, I bid you a cordial welcome to Springfield, to our homes and to
our firesides.

We meet on the spot where our forefathers worshipped, and on
the soil rendered sacred as the depository of their dust, and conse-
crated by their prayers, their tears, and their trials. No sculptured
marble marks the place where they rest, but they are remembered


in the affections and in the hearts of their pcwlerilj. We may not
be able to |Mjint you to iniprovemcnts so vast or a noil »o productive
as may be found in t^oinc other |»ortions of our i-ounlry, where autne
of you reside, and where ente^jrise and energy realijte a more sud-
den reward ; wu can, nevrrtljeU's,*, i»liow you a eily of i<onM' twenty
thousand inhabitants, in<lu^trious, energftic, and frupil in llirir
habits ; we can show you a M>il whidi richly re|tayit for all the lalNir
bestowed upon it ; and a |M)pulation in the iHiuniry around u* wIium:
intelligener, and habits uf Mibriety and indu>lry, are MCon<l to no
otlier. Many of you may have no recollections of Springfield ex-
cept from the traditions of the past, and in looking around you, you
uuiy well jL>k —

" la thi« tlic land our falben lorcd ?
Is tluii tlie aoQ oo which Uipj moTvd ?
Aro Utme the grarM thcjr alumljcr lo f"*

Wc can show you the s|Mjt on which Samuel Cliapin lived and
reared hi-i family — the old burial ground where hin rrmaina were
first tU'pO'ited, and the ci-meirry where hi-* lionen n<»w r«'»t- Wc
can show where stood the old fori, built in 1 CGO, ax a pmtrriiim fmm
the Indiaujt, and taken down in 1S31 ; and we can ikhow you the
fields which our faiher<t cultivated, and the old homc»tond, where
they lived, and where they died.

It is two hundrtnl and twenty years since Deacon Samuel Cha-
pin took up his alMMie on tlu- banks of this river, and within one
hundred rods of the place where wc arc now asAcmblcd. If be
could rend n^sundcr the ceremenu of the tomb, and ap|iear among
us to-day. and look over this vast assembly, he could not my, tu^ did
Logan, the Mingo chief, when bereft of all hi^ kindred, that ** not
one drop of his blood ran in the veins of any living creature;** but
rather wotild he say that the |»mmi«<.'S of (fO«l lo the pntriarrh* of
old had Itcen tulfiUed to him, when He said: ** I will make thy i^oed
as the stars of heaven in number, and as the ramls of the M>a-»hore
innumerable." Two hnndn-<l and twenty ye*r!« ! What memories
rise before us as we look l)aek u|»on the i»ast ! A pilgrim bond,
marching from the sea, through a paihle<<s wilderness, they paused
on yonder hill to admire the lovely land.»cape :

"Swoct fi<!ds beyond the i>wollinjr flowl.
Stand drcjisod in living jrrwn."

Delighted with the spot, they commence a setilemenL Of the

trials and dangers through which they and their descendants have
passed, up to the present liour, it is not for me to speak.

We meet, my friends, when clouds liang over our country. Many
hearts are desolate and sad ; many door-ways are hung with the
blackest mourning, and many houseliolds miss the industrious hands
that once lurni-hcd them with l»rcad. The enemies of our country
are now knocking at our very doors. What shall we do ? Look su-
jjinely on? No! if our country wants means, <rive them; if men,
otVer them. We know that many who bear the family name and
blood are in the ranks of the Union army. One is at the head of a
gallant regiment from a sister State, of whom honorable mention
h:us been made. There are others, as olhcers and soldiers, w ho have
been brave and true in the hour of trial. Our armies are now
engaged in battles in which they are victoriou-; ; may they be the
precursors of yet further triumphs, the defeat of the enemies of the
Union, and the re-establishment of order and a love of the Consti-
tution and the laws throughout the entire country I Ix't us swear
anew our devotion to country and the glorious old flag, and if called
to join the armies of our country, in defence of its rights, let us go


" Like the galley slave, at night, scourged to his dungeon,
But sustained and soothed l>y an unfaltering trust."

After the j-lose of the exercises of this day. there is no pnibability
that we shall all meet again during the remainder ol our earthly jour-
ney. Goil grant that we may be ready for the final hour, when we
shall exchange the nuirtal for inimortality, and may we all meet in a
better and more glorious land I

I renew my welcome to you all, and trust that your vi>it to the
old home may be pleasant and agreeable. [Applause.]


O, Thou who art the God of all the families of the earth, we in-
voke Thy divine jjresence to bless us now. and to hallow this occa-
sion. We praise Thee, O God, our Creator, that Thou hast formed
the race of man into families, and that, in Thy holy word Thou hast
declared Thyself a cH)venant-keeper to all the families of the right-
eous. We praise and glorify Thy name, that thou hast left on reconl
the descent of Thy Son, our nmst holy Redeemer, through the ap-
pointed channel, ami hast thereby disclosed unto us that Thou art truly
a God, holy and righteous, keeping Thy covenant forever, and
''showing mercy unto thousands of generations of them that love



Thee and keep Thy commandments." "We tlinnk Thee, O God, and
praise Tliy name, that we arr as-embUd hen- to-day to celebratf the
memory of one who was known Iktc two ofiituries n;.'o, and who
walked before Thee in this earthly church n faithful officer mid holy
man; and also preserved and transmitted to his |M»<terily hen* as-
sembled to-day, the priceless heritaj^e uf i\ pure hiilh and a holy life.
"We beseech Thee now, O Gotl, as the mcmorie* of tliat nnceMor shall
here be renewed, — as these, his descendants and fri«*nd*, art* oMem-
blcd to conmu-morate his memory and ehanuter, and to reuiembcr
all the grace with which Thou hast leil them and iheir ance«i(on from
that time to this, — we do b<'seech Thee liv Thy i«pirit hen* to abide
with us, preside over our lu-arts, and lead u« eaeh and all l«» draw
lessons of virtue, wisdom and holinew from iIkkm? record* that wc
shall hear, and from all thai .-hall l>c said of the holy men who have
jionc to rest.

We thank and praise Thy name that Thou ha«t recorde<l in Thy
word a promise unto th«»se wh«» k«'ep Thy name nn<I honor tln-ir
fathers. Thou do-t say of .Tonadab, the s<m of Heehab, that ".lona-
(lal), tlie son of Kechab, shall not want a man to stand before Theo
forever," because his childn-n kept the comniandments and faith of
their fathers. So do we pniise Thee that Thou ha-t fjraciou-ly ful-
filled Thy covenant to the patriarch of thi- family, in that there ban
not been lacking:, in the penerations .sin«-e hi- departure, a man to
stand before the Lord in the eluirch an<l W-ar his -landan] and Im- an
officer of the church. We glorify Thy name for Thy mercy, for
Thy loving kindness, for Thy tender «'are of those who have riM-n
from him ; and we beseech Thee now that Tlmu wilt ble-s these,
his numerous descendants, who arc here gathered. Give to them
each one the fear of the Lord God. If any of them have departed
from the faith of that tirst father, we pniy Thee constrain them, ujkiii
this anniversary occasion, to renew their cr»venanU» Ijcforc the Lord
Jehovah, and folhnv the G«k1 of their fathers.

We l)e>efcli Thee, O I>onl (i<k1, that Thou wilt blew thii* family
in all its branches. May those who are not here be under Thy ci»-
pecial giiidanee, and thrr»ugh Th\' ri«'h mercy have that hope In
Jesus Christ whieh shall la>t when thi- witrld end*. Wc Ijcseech
Thee, grant unto u-i all here, that Thy wonl may l>e precious to us;
that Thy truth may be indeed in our hearts; that each one of
the descen<lants of that holy man who walked In-fore Go«| in this
church two centuries since may have the same faith in Thee, and


through that blood which cleanseth from all sin, may have good hope
of acceptance in Je>u3 Christ the righteous.

Let Thy spirit abide with us. Bless the families of those here
assembled. Be with them, we pray Thee, and teach them how to
train up those whom Thou hast given them, that they may glorify
Thee in their day and generation, and be worthy of that ancestor
whose name is precious and commemorated here to-day. Wilt Thou
forgive us our sins. "Wilt Thou grant unto us acceptance in these
petitions, and Thy most holy blessing to rest upon us each one.
Even now grant us the pardon of our sins, and eternal life, through
Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Grant, we pray Thee, to those families
who arc assembled in this, Thy house, to-day, that when this life
shall end, they may go to sleej) with good hope in the resurrection
of all the Christian just, of a reunion in heaven, to join him whose
name will be on their lips to-day, and all his descendants who
through Jesus Christ have found that "rest which remaineth for the
people of God."

Hear us in these petitions and prayers. Grant us Thy most lioly
presence and blessing in all the exercises of this hour, and all the
exercises of this day, and accept us thrt)ugh Jesus Christ, to whom,
with Father and Spirit, be glory forever — Amen.

The principal address of the occasion was then delivered by Hon.
Henry CnArix, of "NVorcester.


This is a meeting of the Chapiii family. "We have
come toETcthcr from different sections of the country,
drawn by an elective athnity which runs in the blood.
AVe claim as our own all of you who have happened to
connect yourselves with the tribe, and for one day, at least,
whatever may have been the name which you inherited
from your fathers, or which, for domestic purposes, you
have consented to assume, you sink your own identity,
and imagine that your name is Chapin.

The part which the speaker took in getting up this
meeting, was not taken with the remotest idea that he
was to occupy this responsible position. Our eyes were
all turned towards one whose abilities and eloquence have
shed lustre upon the family name, and we doubted not that
his words would thrill our hearts upon this joyous occa-
sion. The hand of disease is upon him. Banished by
the stern decree of his physician from his pulpit and his
home, he wanders in foreign lands, in pursuit of the boon
of health once vouchsafed to him in such rich exuberance,
while we vainly lament the absence of one who entered
most heartily into the plan of this gathering, and who
would have gladly contributed to its successful accomplish-


When the invitation to perform this duty reached me,
it struck me with disappointment and discouragement.
I felt that among the descendants of the sons and daugh-
ters who settled in Western Massachusetts, there must
be numerous persons far better qualified than myself to
address this large assembly, and that it was to be deplored
that the committee had fixed upon a descendant of that son
of the family who was so early separated from the home cir-
cle, and who neglected this fertile valley for more sterile
regions nearer the great sea.

It is not easy to hold a family meeting without doing
and saying many things which to outsiders may 'seem to
savor of egotism. Without these it would hardly possess
the characteristics of family confidence and sympathy.
Every person knows that when we are surrounded by our
own kindred and friends, the tongue becomes loosened,
the spirits are set free, and unconsciously sending care
and caution to the winds, we say what we think in our
own way, regardless of consequences, and fearless of crit-
icism. It is the feeling which produces this state of
things, which perhaps more than any other cause gives to
such a meeting its pleasure and importance. It is well to
throw aside the cares, perplexities and jealousies of life,
and to feel, for the moment, at least, that we are in the
midst of friends wdiose charity for us shall cover a multi-
tude of sins. With this feeling we come hither to-day.
We have had no general meeting of our family for a very
long period of time, and now when we are assembled upon
our own ground, and upon our own business, we may be
eloquent or not, grammatical or not, genealogical or not,
egotistical or not ; and kindness and good will shall sanc-
tify all our efforts, and the attempt to make the day pass
pleasantly and sociably shall be a sufficient excuse for any
errors in taste or judgment.


Had the speaker been called upon to enlighten the fam-
ily in his own section of the commonwealth, he might
have hoped that he had gained some information as to the
family history which would be interesting to them, but to
come up to the old homestead to which his immediate
forefathers had become strangers, and to undertake to
present to the descendants of Japhet and Henry and Cath-
erine and Sarah and Hannah anything either instructive
or interesting, seemed to imply a degree of confidence in
one's capacity and intelligence to which he could lay no
claim. But what was to be done ? The rest of the Com-
mittee had assembled without any notice to him to be
present, and had quietly informed him by letter that the
Rev. Dr. E. H. Chapin was sick and obliged to visit Eu-
rope, and that they had unanimously elected the speaker
to deliver the address upon this occasion, and had ad-
journed. Although provoking, this state of things was
interesting, because it might be developing a family trait.
It has been said that genius is of two kinds. Genius of
one kind leads a man to do a thing himself, while genius
of the other kind is shown in the ability to make some one
else do it. Which is the most useful and effective to its
possessor, has never yet been entirely settled. From
what I have seen of our family, although they are not defi-
cient in genius of the first description, I am inclined to the
belief that the latter is most fully developed in them.
At any rate, it had placed the speaker in the predicament
referred to, and he was obliged either to show a want
of courage and dodge the meeting, or a want of prudence
and make a sacrifice of himself, in order that there should

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Online LibraryGeorge EliotThe Chapin gathering : proceedings of the meeting of the Chapin family, in Springfield, Mass., September 17, 1862 → online text (page 1 of 9)