During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Madison County Courthouse featured a number of courthouse paintings of prominent judges and attorneys that practiced in the county. During a renovation of the present courthouse in the 1960s the portraits were removed from public view and memory. Recovered portraits are being repaired when possible for permanent display after the future courthouse renovations are completed. All, including one of Judge Benjamin Franklin Chapman, will be displayed as part of the county’s 2016 Archives Day set for Oct. 11.

The son of Colonel Stephen Chapman and Keturah (Palmer) Chapman, Benjamin Franklin Chapman was born March 24, 1817 in Clockville. Chapman entered Stockbridge Academy in 1834 and followed Professor Ostrander to the new Hudson River Seminary in the spring 1835. Chapman moved on to Fayetteville Academy to study languages before graduating from Hamilton College in 1939.

Chapman entered his father’s law office of his father in Clockville and was admitted to the practice of law in 1841. He married Huldah Wilcox of Clockville in November 1841; they had three children. He soon became one of the leaders of the Madison County Bar. On top of his duties as a lawyer Chapman held many positions, including school inspector, commissioner, postmaster for Clockville and others.

In January 1883, he was appointed county judge and surrogate of Madison County by Governor Cleveland. After failing in his bid to keep the seat, Chapman continued to work in his law office. He retired in 1887 and died on March 29, 1892.

Archives Day 2016 will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 11, in building four of the Madison County Office complex.

For more information, call Matthew Urtz, county historian, at 315-366-2453 or email matthew.urtz@madisoncounty.ny.gov.

Works Cited: “Death of Judge B. Franklin Chapman,” Oneida Semi-Weekly Democratic Union, 30 March, 1892. “Death of Judge Chapman,” The Canastota Bee, 2 April 1892. “B. Franklin Chapman,” Oneida Post, 2 April 1892. Tompkins, Brownell Fitch, 1806-1906 Biographical Sketches of the Madison County Bench and Bar, Madison County Historical Society, 1911. Biographical Review of Madison County and its Residents, 1894.

This information was submitted by Matthew Urtz, Madison County Historian, who can be reached at the above number or email.