The men of the early 19th century were afflicted with inflated ego-in other words, most of them thought that the male of the species were super-intelligent-the lord and master of his wife and family and vastly superior to women (who had few rights or privileges not sanctioned by her father, husband or other males). If, in this history man is rather condemned for his attitude and women is elevated above the level she should really occupy, then it is because I am looking at the situations with 20th century eyes, that have raised women to a new high level in life- socially, mentally and in the business world.
Although Welcome Chapman, born July 24, 1805 in Reedsborough, Vermont was more humble birth and early training than the woman he married first, he always lorded it over her-his will had to be her will and his word was always laws in their home.
The first we know of him, he was a fisherman on the rugged coast of Maine also on Lake Ontario which was not far from his home. He had also been apprenticed to a stone mason in his early years and learned that trade.
About 1831 or 1832 Welcome Chapman met Susan Amelia Risley, daughter of Eleazer and Amelia Risley, sturdy New Englands, highly respected by their neighbors and fairly well to do. Amelia, as she was called, was born in Madison, Madison County, New York, August 24, 1807. We know that she had two or more sisters but do not know if there were any boys in the Risley family. (Susan Amelia Risley had 6 sisters and 5 brothers.)
These girls were taught all the things it was thought necessary for young ladies of that period to know. They learned to sew, knit, tat and embroider, also to read, write and cipher. (do mathematics.) In fact Amelia, after her marriage, found that she had a better education then her husband, and was able to teach him a great deal. The Risley girls also learned to card, spin, and weave wool, yarn and linen thread and cloth, to braid straw to made hats and cut out, fit and sew all kinds of clothing for men, women, and children.
Flax was raised on the Risley farm, from which the family obtained through carding and spinning their own supply of linen thread which was woven into sheets, pillow cases, chemise, petticoats, etc. Each girl had one dozen sheets, two dozen pillowslips, a feather bed, a pair of pillows besides a good supply of clothes in her hope chest. This not only necessitated the girls carding and spinning but also sewing each article with fine stitching, with needle and thread, (there were no sewing machines of that time,) and the bleaching of linen articles in the sunshine.
These articles were made of such excellent material and fine workmanship that they were hard to wear out. Amelia's linen lasted throughout her married life, in fact, when she died at the age of 75, she was laid out in two of the sheets she had made when she was a little girl.
Mr. and Mrs. Risley were very strict with their children, giving their daughters very little chance to meet eligible young men. As an unmarried girl past twenty in those days were considered an old maid. Amelia was very concerned when she was twenty and was unmarried.
When she was about 24, she met with Welcome Chapman, who wandered into their village after a fishing trip. She fell in love with him and he with her-almost immediately. The Risleys opposed marriage between the two young people as they felt that fishing was a poorly paid, uncertain occupation. However, Welcome began working at his trade of stone mason and made enough success of it that he was given permission to marry Amelia about early 1832 of late 1831. Welcome was age 26 and Amelia at the age of 24.
The young couple moved to Hubbardsville nearby and established a home. Their first children (twin girls) were born in 1833. They died at birth or when very young.
On September 4, 1834, a little girl, whom they named Rosetta Ani Chapman was born in Hubbardsville. She had dark eyes and hair. While she was still a small baby, the Chapmans heard about the strange new sect called "Mormons", that had sprung up near their home. They investigated and accepted the Latter Day Saints together.
The Risleys bitterly opposed their daughters joining the Mormon Church, but they didn't turn against her, but helped her financially, as long as she was near them. Their next child, also a daughter, was born 20 March 1837. She was named Amelia but was very much like Rosetta.
As soon as the Chapmans joined the new church, persecutions against them began, and their friends and neighbors shunned them and looked down on them. This hurt Amelia very much, as her family had always been one of the most prominent and highly respected families in Madison County. However, she remained true to the faith she had embraced, and to her husband, in spite of the persecutions.
When little Amelia was about a year old the Chapmans left Hubbardsville and joined the main body of the Latter Day Saints farther west. The Risleys tried to persuade them to remain in the New York state. The two little girls, Rosetta and Amelia were their only grandchildren and it was a very sad parting when time came to say goodbye, for they couldn't persuade them to stay. However, they provided their daughter and husband with a complete outfit for the westward journey-two wagons, two yoke of oxen, bedding, utensils and even food and clothes. Mrs. Chapman felt that she was leaving her dear ones forever-and so it proved to be.
A few months later, after the Chapmans had established a comfortable little home among the "Saints", mob violence broke out against the Mormons. They were all given just a hours to vacate their homes which were to be burned by the mob as soon as they were vacated. This was no doubt in August 1838. The mob Crusade against Saints in Missouri began in 1838. Hawns Mill Massacre was October 30,1838.
No one knows, at the time of this writing, what had become of the outfit so generously given to the Chapmans by the Risleys, for it appears they had only horse and no vehicle to move their belongings to the home of friends several miles distant, out of the reach of the mob.
Mother Amelia was expecting another baby in a few months and her health was very poor. Welcome took a chest of clothing and some bedding each trip and the third one he took the baby in his arms, put little Rosetta now 3 1/2 years old, behind him and was able to take two pillows besides.
"I'll come back and get you next time, Amelia." he promised. "And in the meantime you can pack the rest of the things and I'll see if I can get someway to take them away before dark. The mob won't start anything before dusk."
The road led through dense woods part of the way, and as he was returning from the third trip the late afternoon sunshine was almost shut out by the thick grove of trees, making it almost like twilight. When about mile from home, he saw a strange object coming toward him down the winding narrow road. Because of its ***** shape he couldn't make out what it was. Bears were not unknown to those woods at that time but it seemed too top-heavy for a bear. Besides a bear would scarcely be so bold as to remain in the open road in plain sight of the horseman that long and still approached him.
As he drew nearer, he could see that it was a woman with a heavy on burden on her back. He urged his tired horse forward to investigate and help if needed, and was shockingly surprised to find that it was his own wife carrying her own feather bed.
Sliding quickly from his horse he exclaimed, "Oh Mother Amelia, why have you done this? Are you trying to kill yourself?"
"Why Welcome", she protested, "you surely didn't think I was going to let them old mobocrats have my best feather bed, did you, and I am going to be sick in three months? It seemed like you were gone so long this time, I was afraid they'd come back before you could get all the things away and I knew we couldn't ride Old Rally and take the feather bed."
"I'm afraid you'll be sick in less time than that", he told her, sadly. But she wasn't - in spite of the hardships and privations that followed in the next few weeks. (This all happened somewhere in Ohio, or Missouri, no doubt.
Their first son whom they named Joseph Smith, was born. Here Welcome worked at his trade of stone-mason, cutting stone for the Nauvoo Temple. Two more sons were born to them in Illinois - Hyrum and Levi. They established another comfortable home and enjoyed the association of their friends and neighbors in the beautiful little city of Nauvoo.
But the Saints, spite of their industry and faith in their leaders, were not to enjoy the fruits of their labors very long, for again mobs of violent men descended upon Nauvoo in 1846, and again the people left their little homes, taking as much as possible of their movable belongings and crossed the Mississippi River.
The Chapmans and others settled in Garden Grove, Iowa, where they remained for about two years. By the time they were ready to begin their final journey across the plains in 1848, they had six children in the family. Their outfit was as nearly complete as most of their garden seeds, bedding, and a loom for weaving clothe which Mrs. Chapman could use with skill.
They had managed, somehow, to hold onto a few precious articles through all the mobbings and movings they had encountered. Welcome still possessed a black broadcloth suit and high silk hat which were the pride of his heart and reserved to be worn on very special occasions. Amelia still had her precious linen, her white wedding gown, her black taffeta dress with the tiny black bonnet to wear on the same occasions when Welcome donned his high silk hat.
When they arrived in Salt Lake Valley in the fall of 1848, they found that some of the supplies - food especially - which they had brought with them, were in great demand among the pioneers that had already settled in the Valley. They shared what they could spare keeping only enough for their own needs and seed for then next spring.
Mrs. Chapman turned most of the housework over to the two girls - Rosetta now 14 and Amelia 12 years of age and turned her attention to the weaving of linsey-woolsey cloth which was needed badly by the whole community. This cloth, of a coarse wool woof and linen warp, was a dull gray - sometimes dyed by the pioneer housewives with rude dyes obtained from nature - berries, bark and roots - but more often used as it came from the loom, for the making of clothes for men, women, and children. It would withstand the hardest wear for years.
Clothes for the entire family had to be made in the home with needle and thread, even the boy's trousers, jackets, caps, and even hats and women's bonnets. Winter caps and jackets were often made of fur and animal skins, while summer hats were made of hand-braided straw.
The Chapman girls learned to card and spin wool and to sew, cook, and clean with the inadequate supplies of the household. Most of the women and girls owned calico sunbonnets fitted with stiff slats to hold them in shape and long caped in the back to guard the necks of the fair wearers from the hot desert sun. A few of them had bright calico dressed which they wore for best, and still fewer had black silk dresses which they had brought across the plains, and tiny "boughten" bonnets which were only brought out for special occasions.
Mrs. Chapman was glad that she kept her white wedding gown when she learned that there was going to be a grand celebration on July 24, 1849, and girls with white dressed would be in great demand to walk in the parade. She made the dress over for Rosetta, who with Brigham
Young's oldest girl, was chosen to lead the parade and carry the American Flag. (These two girls no doubt lead the 24 girls, who marched and sang in the parade.)
Jerome Kempton, whose history appears in later pages of this book, married Rosetta Chapman when she was sixteen and a year later married Amelia also as a plural wife when she was not quite fifteen. This was after the Chapmans had moved in Manti where they had been called by leaders of the Church to help settle.
In spite of her family and household duties, Mother Amelia Chapman found time to work in the Church and observe social customs of the day. She was president of the Relief Society for several years there in Manti and fulfilled the duties of that office with honor and ability.
During their entire sojourn in Manti, and Chapmans' home was chief headquarters for Church authorities and official visitors from Salt Lake City. Their home was better furnished than many of their neighbors and Mrs. Chapman was an excellent cook and housekeeper.
President Brigham Young always made the Chapman home his headquarters while he was visiting in Manti and nearby towns. An incident relating to Pres. Young's carriage, while it stood in front of the Chapman residence will be told later in the history of Harriet Kempton Potter.
It is hard for housewives of today to realize how many things that we consider absolute necessities, our pioneer women never knew about or if they did, they were unable to get them. For example, the rough wooden floors must be scrubbed with sand (not soap) and also tables, chairs, stools and benches had to be cleaned the same way. What little soap they had for washing clothes and bathing was made from wood ashes and tallow, by a long tedious process. A form of alkali called "saleratus", the pioneers gathered from the soil dissolved in water, so that any soil adhering to it might settle to the bottom of the vessel, and then the liquid was then carefully poured off, used with sour milk or sour dough as we would use soda as a leavener in making bread.
All ebidle plants or weeds that could be used for food, were gathered and cooked for "greens". Mrs. Chapman was an authority on the medicinal properties of many roots, herbs, berries and plants. She was a midwife, and practical doctor and nurse and was often called, by her neighbors for many miles around to assist at births, and treating cut, burn, bruises and even contagious diseases.
Welcome had not had as many educational advantages as his wife, but she willingly taught him all she knew and helped him in many ways in his later public life. He was chosen as presiding elder of Manti soon after arriving there and also was one of the first selectmen or city councilmen as we now call them, belonged to the first militia 1850- 1853 and also helped build the Manti Temple as eh had helped with the Nauvoo and Kirtland Temples, before crossing the plains. As has been stated before, he was an excellent stone mason, and after so journing in Manti a few years was called to go back to Salt Lake Temple.
Welcome married four other women as plural wives at intervals of a few years apart-the last two were just young girls whom he married at the same time, but who didn't live with him as wives.
The Chapmans were community builders wherever they lived and raised a good honorable family. Amelia was always kind, generous and self-sacrificing. She would often give to her grandchildren, neighbors and friends food, clothing and toys that she made and no one knew of her generosity except herself and the ones who received the gifts. She acted as midwife for some of her grandchildren and even assisted at the birth of some great-grandchildren.
The children of Welcome and Amelia Risley Chapman were Rosetta Anis Chapman Kempton, Amelia C. Kempton, Joseph Smith Chapman, Hyrum Chapman, Welcome Jr., Levi Chapman and Fidelia Chapman Babbitt, Almina Chestina, Benjamin.
Amelia Chapman died at Fountain Green, 18 Feb. 1888 and Welcome Chapman died at Fountain Green, 9 Dec.1893. They are both buried in the Manti cemetery.
This article could do without the editorializing. Stick to the facts, and they'll speak for themselves. JACOB FINDLAY • 2013-05-06