"The Puritan" - a bronze statue in Merrick Park next to the Public Library in Springfield, Mass. honors one of the town's founders, the Deacon Samuel Chapin. The artist was Augustus St. Gauden and it was commissioned by Chester W. Chapin, Springfield's railroad magnate, in 1885. The statue was originally unveiled on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 in Stearns Square, and remained there for twelve years before being moved to its current location. In moving the statue, the beautiful bronze fountain and pink granite bench that were constructed to compliment the artwork were relocated to other parts of the city. The working model is now owned by the Carnegie Museum of Art.
"The beginning of the Chapin family is altogether creditable. We may well be satisfied that it should start with this genuine old Puritan and what he did, with his fellow pioneers, to open the American Continent and on it found a city and to establish a model Christian Republic. The rolls of heraldry, even if they could show the name linked with royal or princely blood, would add nothing to the true nobility of its origin. It belongs peculiarly to this country, and the sphere of its highest dignity and honor was no doubt ordained to be here. Our chief anxiety should be to maintain and advance its true nobility by lives and deeds worthy of such a father." - Aaron L. Chapin, President of the Chapin Family Association, at the unveiling of the Chapin Statue at Springfield, MA on 24 November 1887. 60
Samuel CHAPIN and his wife, Cicely, came from England with three sons and two daughters in 1635. He most likely came over in the summer, when the passage was the mildest, and probably landed at Boston, which was then, as it is now, the chief port of New England. They probably settled immediately in Roxbury. Roxbury was founded a few years earlier, in 1630, by William Pynchon. It soon became a small village of from two to three score families, most of whom came from Nazing, London, or the west of England. Possibly it was because he had friends among the latter that determined Samuel to settle in Roxbury. Samuel held land as early as 1639, as is shown by the Roxbury land records.
Like most of the early settlers, Samuel Chapin must have been principally a farmer, although undoubtedly he had to turn his hand to many other pursuits as occasion required, which was in fact very often. In 1636 Samuel, then comparatively a young man, was very probably one "of the Roxbury people" who worked on the fortifications at Cornhill in Boston. In the fall of that year the General Court met at Roxbury, thus giving Samuel a chance to see its workings. During his stay in Roxbury the Pequot War took place, which resulted in making it possible to settle with safety in Western New England as at Springfield. The Chapins lived in Roxbury till the close of the year 1642.
In 1636 William Pynchon, then a resident of Roxbury, led a party of about a dozen families to the Connecticut River, where he founded a settlement then called Agawam, but which four years later was renamed Springfield, after his home in England. Most of the settlers took up farming, as there were many fertile meadows along the banks of the Connecticut, while Pynchon for the most part engaged in the fur trade. The settlement grew slowly at first, but by the time the Chapins arrived, it had become a village of respectable size for New England in those days.
As he had in Roxbury, as at Springfield, Samuel was primarily a farmer, but of course here also he had to do all sorts of other things besides. He soon became one of the leading men in the government of the town and held many public offices during his life including Selectman, Auditor and Magistrate and he was Deacon of the church.
Samuel Chapin lived to be an old man and having borne for over twenty years the burdens of government, now in his declining years withdrew from the center of political affairs. He slowly handed over the reins to the younger men in town. Samuel died 11 Nov 1675; according to the diary of his son Japhet, "My father was taken out of this troublesome world the 11th day of November about eleven of the clock, 1675." His widow, Cicely, died 8 Feb 1683.
Samuel had an inventory of his estate performed for his will. The total sum of his goods, not including his land, was over 45 English pounds. His wife's estate was inventoried in 1682 for her will and the goods were then valued at over 100 English pounds.
A chronology of Samuel Chapin's activities:
1638: Samuel Chapin and wife Cicely were recorded at Roxbury. Came to Springfield, MA from Roxbury, MA.
1641, 2 Jun: Samuel Chapin of Springfield, MA, admitted Freeman.
1643: Town officer. He took a prominent part in all the affairs of the town, both religious and civil.
1648: A member of the Board of Selectmen on which Benjamin Cooley first served. A member of the first Board of Selectmen and served 9 consecutive years.
1652: John Pynchon, Elizur Holyoke and Samuel Chapin were appointed Commissioners, or Magistrates, to hear and determine all cases and offenses, both civil and criminal, 'that reach not to life, limbe and banishment.'
1653: The General Court appointed him and John Pynchon to lay out Northampton and its bounds, and they made purchase of the lands from the Indians.
1664: He petitioned the General Court for some land for services done.
1669: The General Court granted him 200 acres as laid out 4 miles from Mendon, bounded as in the platt which is on file, provided it did not exceed 200 acres and that it did not take in any of the meadows now granted to Mendon.
1674, 4 Mar (1st mo.): Samuel Chapin wrote his will. Bequeathed to wife, son Henry, grandson Thomas Gilbert.
1676, 24 Mar: Will probated. Son Japhet Chapin with his wife Abilene deposed.
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