Thursday, July 30, 2015

Susan Rood Chapin - A Challenging to Research Ancestor - 52 Ancestors #30

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Challenging: It’s a good time to take a look at another challenging-to-research ancestor.

I wrote about this ancestor three years ago, and she is still a challenging ancestor to research, so I thought I'd share what I know about third great grandmother, Susan Rood, again, and share some possible strategies for future research.

The challenging questions are: (1) where was she born and who are her parents and (2) when and where did she die?

Susan Rood was born on January 26, 1799, according to the embroidered sampler that her daughter, twelve-year-old Susan Arville Chapin (1820-1906) created in 1832.

The sampler also shows Susan's marriage date of September 17, 1816, to Orramel Chapin, for whom I've found information. I wrote about his westward migration here and here.

Marriage Intentions for this wedding were recorded in Ludlow, Massachusetts on August 20, 1816, which I found in's Massachusetts Town and Vital Records collection:

Intention of Marriage made publick between
Mr. Orimel Chapin + Miss Susan Rood both
of Ludlow August 20th, 1816.

Orramel Chapin is descended from Deacon Samuel Chapin, who helped found the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Samuel Chapin has thousands of descendants and a few genealogies have been written, trying to keep track of all those descendants.

The Chapin Genealogy, published in 1862 by Orange Chapin, is an early compiled genealogy and it contains many errors. The copy that has been passed down in my family has all kinds of handwritten notes, making corrections. The following image is from page 125 of the book which can be found at the Internet Archive.

It notes that Orramel Chapin "m. Sept. 1815, Susan Rood, dau. of Joseph Rood, formerly of Ludlow, Mass." This marriage and bride's father "fact" is what is often found in online trees.

The bride's father's name is incorrect in the genealogy, based on Massachusetts Vital Records for Ludlow and Hampshire County probate records. Joseph Rood of Ludlow married Paulina Wood in January 1805. Son Joseph was born in late 1805. Father Joseph died in August 1806 and daughter Paulina was born in November 1806.

I also need to explore the statement "removed to Lyons, Iowa, Oct. 1861." Lyons is now part of the city of Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, in the far eastern part of Iowa. The earliest city directory for Clinton is 1870-1871 and there are no Chapins in it.


The Chapin book of genealogical data, with brief biographical sketches, of the descendants of Deacon Samuel Chapin, published in 1924 by Gilbert W. Chapin indicates that Susan Rood was of Sangerfield (Oneida County), New York, but doesn't list her parents. The following image is page 526 and I found this book at HathiTrust Digital Library.

Note that Orramel's name is spelled incorrectly. This is due to challenging-to-decipher handwriting in the Massachusetts Vital Records.

The statement that Susan was born in Sangerfield, New York, makes me wonder if she was orphaned and sent to stay with a relative, Joseph Rood, in Ludlow, Massachusetts? I need to learn more about this Joseph Rood family to see what the connection might be.


By 1840, this Chapin family was in Chicago, Illinois. In 1850, Orramel Chapin's family were living in Port Washington, Wisconsin. He was a forwarder. In 1860, the family was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Orramel was a produce dealer. In fact, I found an 1861 Milwaukee city business directory that listed a business of "Harrison & Chapin produce dealers." Hiram Harrison was his son-in-law and is found in his household in both 1850 and 1860.

Images of these census records can be found at my post about Orramel Chapin.

Orramel Chapin died in 1866 in Chicago, where his daughter, Susan Arville (Chapin) Adsit lived.

Frustratingly, I haven't been able to find the Hiram Harrison household in 1870. I wonder if I might find 71-year-old Susan Chapin in their household, if she is still living in 1870.

I need to get more creative in researching this "brick wall" ancestor. Not only should I research where all her children settled (and died), but perhaps where her husband's Chapin siblings settled and died. There are other Chapins in Chicago and in Wisconsin.

There is also the FAN Principle: researching Friends, Associates, and Neighbors of this family. It is unlikely that this Chapin family migrated from Massachusetts to Chicago to Wisconsin without a greater support system of friends and family.


My descent from my third great grandparents is as follows:

Orramel Chapin  =  Susan Rood
(1791-1866)          (1799-18??)
Susan Arville Chapin
Charles Chapin Adsit
Elizabeth Adsit
Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr.


  1. Elizabeth, what was included about Susan in the 1860 and 1870 census? born NY or MA? So frustrating to have some good relics but not have the real story.

    1. The 1850 and 1860 U.S. Censuses have her birth in Massachusetts. I have looked in the past with no luck, but I should explore the Mass Vital Records again (now that it's indexed on Ancestry) for variations on the name.

      Thanks for reading and for letting me clarify that fact.

  2. 1840 was an interesting and early time to be in Chicago, give that the place was burned to the ground during the War of 1812. I am not surprised that the records aren't very good.

    1. Yes, it is fascinating that we have ancestors who were in Chicago so early. See the obituary for James Adsit for a wonderful description.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. This is clearly one more of those challenging ancestors which force us to get very methodical in our research, making lists & checking them twice, researching all members of the families mentioned. I have a few of these individuals, women of course. Sigh. Thank heavens some of your names and surnames mentioned here are unusual enough to see the 'correct' families when you do find any. Good luck!

    1. Yes, I do need to get more methodical in my searching for Susan, her family, and any friends and associates! I do appreciate that her husband's name is Orramel. Although the spelling is mangled many times, I can usually find the family by looking for him.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.