Monday, August 04, 2014

Mug Book Monday: Joseph Chaplin (1755 - 1812)

"Mug books" are collections of biographical sketches usually found within county histories of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, particularly in the United States. I have been highlighting ancestors or relatives that were featured in these mug books.

It's been a while since I've written a Mug Book Monday post. I was reminded of how much information there is available on my children's paternal ancestor, Joseph CHAPLIN. In my database, I have this gentleman listed as Joseph Chaplin, III, as his father and great-grandfather, as well as his son and a grandson, were also named Joseph. This particular Joseph was born 1755 in Connecticut to Joseph CHAPLIN and Sarah STEDMAN,[1] and is my children's 5th-great-grandfather. (5 August 2014: I've updated this post with corrected information on Joseph's birth.)

These sketches come from History of Cortland County [New York], with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, edited by H. P. Smith, and published in 1885 by D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, New York. It can be found online at the Internet Archive here.


pg. 58
In the year 1792 Joseph Chaplin came into the town of Virgil and made the first permanent settlement; he located on lot 50 and two years later moved on his family. He explored and surveyed the State Road from Oxford, Chenango county to the Cayuga lake during the first season, afterward employing assistants and fulfilling his contract for the construction of the road. It was completed in 1793-94; after which he brought in his family. About the same time a road was surveyed and partially cut through the wilderness from the south, near the river, until the present site of Marathon village, when diverging from the stream, it crossed the south line of lot number 72, about three-fourths of a mile east of the village of Marathon, and continuing in a northerly direction, intersected the State road on lot 42 in Freetown and so passed on northward through the county to the Salina salt works, giving it the name of "the Salt Road." These two roads were the first in the county that were worthy of being called roads.



pg. 60
The principal difficulty with which the pioneer had to contend was the absence of roads, mills and markets. The first authorized road in the county was the old State Road alluded to as having been opened by Joseph Chaplin [1] and finished as far as his contract went, in 1794. This road extended from Oxford, Chenango county, to Ludlowville, on the eastern shore of Cayuga lake, a distance of about sixty miles. Coming into this county in the southeastern part, it passed through Willet, thence along the north line of the present town of Marathon and through Virgil.
1. Mr. Chaplin was drowned a few years later in the Hudson river at Coxsackie. See history of town of Virgil.




pgs. 319-320
To facilitate the settlement of this section of the country, a road was projected, connecting Oxford with the Cayuga lake, to pass through this town. Joseph Chaplin, the first inhabitant, was entrusted with this work. The instrument by which he was authorized to engage in it was authenticated on the 5th of May, 1792. He spent that season in exploring and surveying the route, the length of which is about sixty miles. he came to lot No. 50, which he owned, and afterwards settled, erected a house and prosecuted his work, having a woman to keep the house and cook for workmen. The work for cutting and clearing the road was done in 1793-94; so that he moved his family from Oxford over in the winter of 1894-95, employing six or seven sleighs freighted with family, furniture, provisions, etc.
Mr. Chaplin married Mrs. Abigail Messenger, who was the mother of Gideon Messenger one of the pioneers of Virgil Corners, and of Nathan Messenger. By her had three sons and four daughters. His son Joseph married a Miss Chatterton and finally died in the southwestern part of Illinois. He was distinguished in the locality where he resided as a man of intelligence and integrity, was chosen a justice of the peace and a major in the militia, and was familiarly known, on that account, as "Major Chaplin." His family were Harriet, who married a Mr. Patten and removed to Illinois, where she died; Joseph, who was last heard of in Pennsylvania; Aaron, now living in Jessop, Iowa; Polly, who married a Mr. Cook and lives in Cazenovia; Gideon, who died in Iowa; Cornelius, who married a daughter of Sylvester Crain, of Virgil, removed to Stockton Cal., where he died Feb. 22d, 1874; Sylvester, now living in Harford, this county; Catharine, who married one of the Shevalier family, of Virgil, and now lives at Macomb, Ill.; and Jacob, now living at Union, Storey Co., Iowa. Daniel Chaplin, the second son of the original Joseph, had a family, but we have not found a record of it.
Benjamin Franklin the third son, was father of George A. Chaplin, who now lives in Marathon, and of Walter L., who lives at Messengerville. The daughters were Sally, Ruth, Marietta and Isabella, two of who are still living. Such is a brief record of the descendants of the first settlers of Virgil.

This Joseph CHAPLIN, IV (c. 1786-1854) who married Lana CHATTERTON is also mentioned on page 330 of this book as being a captain for the town militia during the War of 1812. Joseph IV and his son Gideon are my children's direct ancestors.


pg. 331
Early Births, Marriages and Deaths--The first child born in town was John, a son of Joseph Chaplin, who was drowned in the spring of 1798, aged two years. The first who lived to mature age was John Frank, in autumn, 1797. Next to him was James Gee, in March, 1798; Betsey N. Roe and B. F. Chaplin, in February, 1799, and Hiram Ball and Hiram Bouton, in the same year. 


pg. 332
Some of the people in an early day directed their attention to the cultivation of fruit, especially apples. Very soon after his first settlement Joseph Chaplin sowed the seeds for a nursery of natural fruit, and Enos Bouton did the same soon after, and most of the oldest orchards are from these nurseries.

pg. 334
Several events have transpired that have caused great sensation for a time, and made a lasting impression on many minds. The first was that of a boy lost in the woods. In May, 1796, Daniel Chaplin, son of Joseph Chaplin, and father of Mrs. Gleason, aged about fourteen years, set out to drive a cow to Mr. Frank, and took with him a few pounds of flour. The cow became refractory and turned out of the road, and in endeavoring to get her back he lost the road and wandered in the trackless wilderness. The cow returned home, thus giving notice that he was lost. An alarm was given and about fifty men assembled, which was a great number for so sparse a population. He was gone four days and three nights without food, and was found on the 'Bridge Road,' in Dryden, by Aaron and James Knapp, of Homer. They ascertained who he was, and proceeded to help him home. He had the flour with him, but the weather having been rainy, it had become mouldy and they threw it away. He was very faint and weak, but being supported on each side he could walk, and they arrived at his father's house about midnight, where his mother had about thirty men in and about the house, and was preparing victuals for them to take in their search on the morrow. Mr. Chaplin was absent at the time. We shall not make the vain attempt to paint the scene caused by his arrival.

There is more information on the Chaplin family in this book, mainly about descendants who are not my children's direct ancestors. Also, there are several mentions Chaplin's place, indicating that not only the home located on a major intersection of the humble original road system, but that it was used as a reference point by many of the early settlers.


1. Susan Farrell Bankhead, CG, Lehi, Utah [(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE)], to Miriam J. Robbins, e-mail, 5 August 2014, "Joseph Chaplin Blog Post,"; privately held by Robbins, [(E-ADDRESS) & STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington. Mrs. Bankhead wrote an article about Joseph Chaplin which was published in the January and April 2012 issues of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society's Record.

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