Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chapman Family Home (formerly known as John Chapman House)

Originally built in 1860 in the same city that Greenfield Village is in - Dearborn.
Throughout the decade that the Village was open, Henry Ford had many projects going on at the same time, adding structures numbering in the 60's. While he was adding to his Village, it seemed he nearly forgot a home brought here back in 1929 - the home of a former school teacher who once taught at the Scotch Settlement School (, John Chapman.

Mr. Chapman is said to have been Henry Ford's first teacher as Ford himself wrote so on the back of a photograph of Mr. Chapman. Others disagree and say a Miss Emilie Nardin, who roomed with the Ford family, was. Still others suggest it might have even been a Mr. Frank Ward.
I believe we'll go with Henry's memory - after all, it was Chapman's home that he installed in Greenfield Village, not Nardin or Wards'.

Mr. Chapman kept his pupils from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily with a half hour recess and an hour lunch. This man was massive enough to easily deal with the huskier students, the emphasis being on strength over scholarship. As described by John Haggerty - one of Ford's schoolmates - in the book 'Young Henry Ford' by Sidney Olson: "They used to pay the teacher $45 a month. But, we used to need extra discipline when Henry and I went there, so they hired a cooper (Chapman) and they paid him $5 over scale. He weighed 275 pounds and it was the weight that really counted."
The official Greenfield Village website says it was a boy named Edsel Ruddiman who caused the trouble with Henry. I suspect it could have been all three boys!
Henry enjoyed the good-humored teacher so much that when Chapman transferred over to the Miller school, he followed.

The Chapman house, decorated and furnished in the late 19th century style, had been up on blocks inside Greenfield Village for 11 years before Ford settled on a permanent site between the school where Chapman taught and the Adams Home in 1940.


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