E. F. A. CHAPMAN is one of the enterprising, prominent and successful
business men of Murphysboro, who since 1866 has made his home in this city,
and has watched with interest its progress and development. He has ever
borne his part in the work of advancement, and has materially aided in its
upbuilding. His name therefore deserves an honored place in the record of
the county, and with pleasure we present his sketch to our readers.
Mr. Chapman was born in Lincolnshire, England, January 3, 1852, and his father, John Chapman, was a farmer of that country, who in 1859, accompanied by his family, came to America, crossing the Atlantic to New York on the steamer "City of Washington." He first located in Odin, Ill., afterward was employed in the shops of the Illinois Central Railroad at Centralia, and in March, 1866, came to Jackson County. He kept a log boarding house in Mt. Carbon, and also engaged in farming. In 1867, he went to Grand Tower, and engaged in the hotel business until his death, which occurred several years later. He married Elizabeth Chapman, but though they bore the same name, they were not relatives. Her people were originally from Scotland, but she was born and died in England. Mr. Chapman was a second time married. By the first union there were three children: Anne and E. F. A., of Murphysboro, and John, who died in Carbondale.
Our subject was a lad of seven when he came to America. Since the age of eight years he has made his own way in the world. He worked for his board, with the privilege of attending school. In 1866, he came with his father to this county, and remained at home until sixteen years of age, when he entered Christian Brothers' College of St. Louis and completed the commercial course. He then secured a position as book-keeper with the firm of A. C. Bryden & Co., merchants of Grand Tower, with whom he continued until 1879, when he took charge of their store in Mt. Carbon. A few months later he removed this to Murphysboro, and continued to carry on the store until an assignment was made by the firm. He also had charge of the store owned by the Carbondale Coal and Coke Company, at Cartersville, Ill., for seven months.
After a time Mr. Chapman returned to Grand Tower, and took charge of the mercantile business of his old employers at that place. In 1884, in connection with W. C. Kent, he bought out Bryden & Co., and under the firm name of W. C. Kent & Co. carried on business. There was also another partner, T. B. Thomas, who later retired, and the firm became Kent & Chapman. In 1889, E. A. G'Sell bought out Mr. Kent's interest, and the firm of Chapman & G'Sell is now one of the leading mercantile firms of the city. Their store is located at No. 32 West Walnut Street, is 23x70 feet, and two stories in height, with a basement. They carry a large line of general merchandise, and receive from the public a liberal patronage, which is constantly increasing.
In Grand Tower, in July, 1874, Mr. Chapman wedded Miss Eugenia A. G'Sell, who was born in New Mexico, and is a daughter of Antoine G'Sell, a native of Alsace, France, who died in St. Louis. They have six children: Charles, Andrew, E. Lizzie, William, Mary and Ethel.
Mr. Chapman is a member of St. Andrew's Catholic Church, and in politics is a Democrat. For a number of years he has been School Trustee of Murphysboro Township. In 1889-90 he served as Alderman of the Second Ward, and was an advocate of the water works, the electric light and sewerage systems which were established during that time. The best interests of the city have ever found in him a friend, and his labors have been untiring for the promotion of the general welfare. He was one of the corporators, and became a Director and Secretary of the old St. Louis Central Railroad. He also served as Paymaster for the division between Pinckneyville and Murphysboro. This is now known as the Cairo Short Line, and Mr. Chapman is still a Director. He has been interested in the development of the coal lands in this region, and owns several acres. He also has business property in Murphysboro. and a pleasant residence on North Cherry Street.
Extracted 01 Aug 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry, and Monroe Counties, Illinois, pages 676-677.
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