Reuben Chapman

Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama
 13th Governor of Alabama 1847-49

Born:July 15, 1799, Caroline County, VA
Died:May 17, 1882, Huntsville, AL
Buried:Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, AL
Husband of:Felicia Ann Chilton Pickett Chapman
Brother of:Samuel Chapman


•  "CHAPMAN, REUBEN, lawyer, Governor of Alabama, was born July 15, 1799, in Bowling Green, Caroline County, Va. and died May 17, 1882, in Huntsville, Ala.; son of Col. Reuben and Ann (Reynolds) Chapman, the former also a native of Caroline County, Va., and the latter of Essex County, Va. Col. Chapman fought for the independence of the colonies in the Revolutionary war and became a man of considerable means. He was the son of a Scotchman. Gov. Chapman received a high school education at Bowling Green, Va., and later read law in the office of his eldest brother. Judge Samuel Chapman, of Huntsville. Ala., later of Cahaba and Selma. On his admission to the bar he began to practice in Sommerville, Morgan County, but later removed to Huntsville, where he continued to reside until his death. He came to this state on horseback in 1824. Gov. Chapman was a member of the Protestant Episcopal church, and as a Democrat he always took a very active and prominent part in political affairs. In 1832 he was elected to the state senate, and in 1835 to the U. S. congress; two years later was reelected; and in the four succeeding elections had no opposition, save 1841. In 1847 he was elected Governor of Alabama, and it is said that he received the nomination entirely without solicitation, and in order to remove him from his apparently lifetime contract with the people of his section to represent them in congress. His inauguration was rendered memorable in a social way by a public reception given by him at Montgomery hall on a scale of extraordinary liberality and hospitality. When he took the governor's chair Alabama was financially embarrassed because of mismanagement of the affairs of the state bank and its trustees, and he had the good fortune to be able to remedy the difficulty and relieve the treasury. His term was characterized by wisdom and devotion to duty. In the convention which chose his successor he had the majority of the votes but yielded to the two-thirds rule, which he believed was right. Withdrawing from political life, he devoted himself to the care of his handsome estate until 1855, when he consented to become the Democratic candidate for a seat in the state legislature and was elected, this being his last official service. In 1860 he attended the Baltimore convention, held after the break in the Democratic party at Charleston, and used his utmost efforts to bring about an understanding between the northern and southern men there. He came near succeeding but was defeated by the irrepressibles on both sides. During the War of Secession the U. S. troops burned his residence, desolated his possessions, imprisoned and harrassed him, and finally forced him out of their lines. He was also a delegate to the national Democratic conventions of Cincinnati in 1856, of Charleston in 1860, and of New York in 1868. It was said of him that "his worth and weight could not be measured, for in all matters requiring manhood, judgment and honor, personal or political, he stood forth as an exemplar and a sage." Gov. Chapman was a man of splendid figure and proportions, erect in his carriage, handsome in feature and frank in expression. Married: October 17, 1838, at her father's country house in Limestone County, to Felicia Pickett, daughter of Col. Steptoe and Sarah Orrick (Chilton) Pickett, who were natives of Fauquier County, Va., and lived on a plantation in Limestone County, Ala. Mrs. Chapman was a second cousin of Gen. George Pickett, of Gettysburg fame, and a granddaughter of Col. Martin Pickett, an officer in the Revolutionary war. Gov. Chapman had four daughters and two sons who lived to be grown: 1. Steptoe Pickett was killed in battle at the age of twenty-three years while serving in the C. S. Army; 2. Reuben, m. Rosalie Floyd Sheffey of Huntsville and d. April 24, 1891; 3. Juliet, m. Col. Turner Clanton, of Montgomery, survived her husband some years, and d. January 6, 1910; 4. Felicia Corbin, m. Boiling Hubbard of Buckingham County, Va., and d. January 4, 1876; 5. Ellelee, m. Milton Humes of Abingdon, Va., and later of Huntsville, Ala.; 6. Alberta Pickett, m. John G. Taylor of Huntsville and later of Denver, Colo., survived her husband and d. May 16, 1912. Last residence: Huntsville, Ala." - Alabama Biography

•  "Gov. Chapman is six feet in height, and his frame well knit and sinewy. His complexion is florid, with auburn hair, and firmly set jaw. His manner, though not cordial, is plain and agreeable; while his conversation embraces an extensive range of valuable subjects. His mind is of the practical and active order, and his sagacity and tact are unquestioned. As a public servant, he was of that resolute, vigilant, and faithful type of which the present time does not appear to be prolific." - Brewer

•  He "owned land around Chapman mountain and in 1873 he bought a home there, where he resided until his death in 1882." - Nilsson

•  "At age 39 he married 16 year old Felecia Pickett with whom he had 6 children." - WAAY tv

•  Reuben Chapman was buried alongside one of his black female slaves in what was then a whites-only cemetery. -

Related Links:

•  Alabama Biography - Bio in History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 3 by Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen pp. 317-8, © 1921.

•  Alabama State Archives - Short Bio

•  Brewer - Alabama, Her History, Resources, War record, and Public Men: From 1540 to 1872 by Willis Brewer, © 1872, p. 361-2.


•  Encyclopedia of Alabama - Bio from Encyclopedia of Alabama

•  Flickr: Family Plot - Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll photo b King Kong 911, taken on May 4, 2010.

•  Flickr: Gravestone - Maple Hill Cemetery photo by King Kong 911 on May 4, 2010

•  Flickr: Plaque - Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll photo taken by King Kong 911 on May 4, 2010.

•  National Governor's Association - bio info (Originally found at;jsessionid=80DEADA6B2E9C50110B36183E90E604A.)

•  Nilsson - Why Is It Named That? By Dex Nilsson, Twinbrook Communications, © 2003, p. 21.

•  WAAY tv - Did You Know: Chapman Mountain by T. W. Starr (Originally found at

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Alabama Biography
•  Felicia Ann Chilton Pickett Chapman
•  Nilsson
•  Samuel Chapman