Colonel William A. Phillips

Chester William Chapin (December 16, 1798 – June 10, 1883) was an American businessman, president of the Boston and Albany Railroad from 1868 to 1878, and U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.[1]

Biography and career

Chester W. Chapin, six generations removed from the family's Puritan forebearer, Deacon Samuel Chapin, was born in Ludlow, Massachusetts to Ephriam and Mary [Smith] Chapin,[2] the youngest of seven children.[3] He married Dorcas [Chapin] Chapin on June 1, 1825, and had four children, Abel Dexter, Margaret, Anna, and Chester W.[3]

The family moved to Chicopee and in 1806 his father died, leaving Chester and his brothers to maintain the family and work their farm. He attended common schools and Westfield Academy, Westfield, Massachusetts. One of his first paying jobs was when local cotton mills were being built, when he earned $1.50 a day. He quickly went into business for himself, opening a store, and in 1822 was appointed town tax collector, for which he received $80.[4]

Around 1826 he bought an interest in the stage line from Hartford, Connecticut to Brattleboro, Vermont, soon holding extensive mail and stage contracts. In 1831, when steamboats first began to run on the river between Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts he bought an interest, soon became sole proprietor, and for about 15 years controlled all the passenger traffic on that route. He also became a large or principal owner of the steamship lines between New York City, Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut. He later extended his interests into railroads and banking, becoming founder, principal or president of many companies, including the Western Railroad, the Agawam (National) Bank, and the Connecticut River Railroad. He was one of the earliest advocates of a bridge over the Hudson River at Albany, New York.[5] He served as president and a director of the Western Railroad Corporation from 1854 to 1867, president of the Boston and Albany Railroad from 1868 to 1878, and a director until 1880.

Prior to his time in Congress, Chapin would also serve as a delegate of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1853 and, as a War Democrat, purchased the uniforms of the 10th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the outset of the American Civil War.[6] Chapin was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1877), and served on the Committee of Ways And Means.[7] He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1876 to the Forty-fifth Congress. He died in Springfield on June 10, 1883 and was interred in Springfield Cemetery.

See also


  1. ^ "Chester W. Chapin". Springfield Republican. Springfield, Mass. June 11, 1883. pp. 4–5.
  2. ^ Noon, pp. xiv – xvii.
  3. ^ a b Chapin, Gilbert Warren, p. 219.
  4. ^ Chapin, Charles Wells, p. 100.
  5. ^ Chapin, Charles Wells, pp. 100-101.
  6. ^ "Chester W. Chapin". Springfield Republican. Springfield, Mass. June 11, 1883. p. 5. He was a working member of the constitutional convention of 1853, held sundry town and city offices, and good-naturedly consented to run for Congress several times when there was no possible chance for one of his part to be elected. He was a war democrat, and largely paid for the uniforms of the City guard when that organization joined the 10th regiment.
  7. ^ Chapin, Charles Wells, p. 102.


  • Chapin, Charles Wells. "Sketches of the Old Inhabitants and Other Citizens of Old Springfield of the Present Century, and its Historic Mansions of 'Ye Olden Tyme,' with One Hundred and Twenty-Four Illustrations and Sixty Autographs" Press of Springfield Printing and Binding Company, 1893. Springfield MA.
  • Chapin, Gilbert Warren. "The Chapin Book of Genealogical Data with Brief Biographical Sketches of the Descendants of Deacon Samuel Chapin; Vol. I: First Seven Generations and Vol. II: Eighth to Twelfth Generation". Chapin Family Association, 1924. Hartford, CT.
  • Noon, Alfred. "Ludlow: A Century and a Centennial, Comprising a Sketch of the History of the Town of Ludlow, Hampden County, Massachusetts, Together with an Account of the Celebration by the Town of Its Centennial Anniversary, June 17, 1875. C. W. Bryan and Co., 1875.

Historical Websites

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Henry L. Dawes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts district 11
March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1877
Succeeded by
George D. Robinson