Who was Mrs. E.L. Chapman?
I found this letter at a flea market in Lancaster, Massachusetts. When I got it home I discovered that there were two newspaper clippings inside. (More on those in a later blog post.) The letter was sent from Mrs. E.L. Chapman in Brooklyn, New York and addressed to her son William Chapman in Bridgeport, Connecticut, thanking him for his birthday gift. Here is the letter:
Having trouble reading the letter? Here’s my transcription (it took me a little while to figure out where she started, what page went next and where she ended!):
[Envelope postmarked 11 Jan 1919 12:30 pm Brooklyn, N.Y.]
Mrs. E.L. Chapman
149 Willow Street
Brooklyn – N.Y.
Mr. Wm. W. Chapman
#446 Park Place
[Letter] Saturday A.M.
My Dear William
My birthday is ended and it was a bright sunshiny day, and I enjoyed every moment. The day was full of surprises. In the morning, when we were at breakfast our bell rang, and I went to the door, and the “Special Delivery” Postman handed me a letter and I recognized the hand writing as Horatio’s a Birthday greeting, and a check for ten dollars. At nine oclock our regular postman came, and filled my two hands with letters. There was a Birthday card from Jennie Bander, Mary Winslow, Eliza Ferris, Emma Clark, Eliza Ferris Jr, Maria Kimball, Betty and your letter and when I opened I was surprised and pleased, and I felt like a millionaire. I thank you very much, and I am going to keep it for my vacation next summer. I enjoy traveling and seeing my dear ones more than anything else, and I know you would enjoy my getting all the happiness I can out of your gift. Cannot go about many years longer. Enclosed find two clippings which I thought would interest you. Glad to hear of Wards returning home safe, and sound. Charles Wicks lost his son and they feel deeply his loss. Only one son left. Elizabeth has a cold. Our steam heat is not sufficient here. I think the plant is worn out. Cannot get it above 60⁰ in the living room, and large bedroom off of it. The dining room bath & two bedrooms comfortable and I remain in dining room most of the time. Cannot get ill. Thanking you again and trust you are gaining all the time & with love to each one.
But who was Mrs. E.L. Chapman?
She was Eliza Lincoln (Dickinson) Chapman born 10 Jan 1838 in Connecticut, the daughter of Nancy Lincoln who was born between 1808 and 1810 in Massachusetts and Rufus Wells Dickinson who was originally from Hadley, Massachusetts. She married William Hiscox Chapman, on 21 November 1857. He later served and was wounded in the Civil War in Spotsylvania, PA. He died 3 October 1879 at the age of 46 (she later received a Civil War pension for his service). Eliza and William had three children: Eliza Lincoln born 7 Feb 1861, William Wells born 11 July 1863 (to whom the letter was addressed) and Horatio Campbell born 23 November 1867.
Eliza never remarried. She died 19 December 1928 and is buried with her husband in River Bend Cemetery in Westerly, Rhode Island.