Saturday, January 26, 2019

Orramel Chapin ~ Boarding House Keeper

Because I'm still trying to determine the parents of my third great-grandmother, Susan Rood (see Susan Rood Chapin ~ A Challenging Ancestor), I am going back to look more closely at any and all records that I have for her and her family.

Since I wrote about the family's westward migration at Orramel Chapin Moving West Part 1 and Part 2, I have found a couple of additional pieces of information about Orramel Chapin, my third great-grandfather, who married Susan Rood in 1816.

I knew that he was in Hartford, Connecticut, in the 1830 U.S. census, in a household with a total of nineteen, ten of whom were men between the ages of 20 and 29. This puzzled me until I recently discovered a Hartford City Directory at Ancestry in the U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 database. It listed "Chapin, Orramel, Boarding house, front 71."

That explains the additional people counted in his household.

Hartford City Directory, for 1828 (Hartford: Ariel Ensign, 1828), p. 21;
digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 January 2019).

By the time of the 1840 census, he was in Chicago, Illinois, with thirteen in his household including six men between the ages of 20 and 29, who didn't fit into the family as I knew it.

Here is a page from the 1839 Chicago Directory that lists "Chapin, Orlando, boarding-house, Clark street."

Fergus’ Directory of the City of Chicago, 1839 (Chicago: Fergus Printing Company, 1876), p. 10;
digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 26 January 2019).

I believe these are the same man, Orramel Chapin, my third great-grandfather because:
  • Orramel and Orlando are not particularly common names and I know that my ancestor's name has been mangled in several records that I've found.
  • Although in different cities, they are both running boarding houses.
  • Orramel is in Hartford in the 1830 census which corresponds to the 1828 directory. He is in Chicago in the 1840 census which corresponds to the 1839 directory.
  • Both censuses include many more in number than expected for the family of Orramel Chapin.
The population of Chicago was growing exponentially during the 1830s and would have needed places for men to live as they moved there to help build it, so, as an experienced boarding house keeper, it made good sense for Orramel to move west between 1830 and 1839.

This discovery doesn't help with identifying Susan Rood's parents, but is an interesting addition to the story of Orramel Chapin's westward migration.

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