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Right before Thanksgiving last year, I got an email from a stranger.

He and his sister had been going through the contents of his mother's home, and found of box of photos that belonged to his paternal grandmother, Blanche Willis Beach. From what he could determine, it looked as if his grandmother and one of my far flung Chapin cousins, Augusta Genevieve Chapin, were good friends.

He sent a snapshot of a letter written to Blanche by Genevieve, along with a photo of her, taken when she was a teacher at American Baptist College in Shanghai, China.

Now, I needed to know more about her.
I already knew that Augusta Genevieve Chapin was the only child of Elmer Judson Chapin and Hannah Elizabeth Scott, and that she was born on 24 Feb 1876 in Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., KS, where my direct ancestral line of Chapins had settled.

In 2011, I discovered a Find a Grave memorial for her, and so I knew she died in Greene Co., IL on 17 Oct 1932.

But I knew little else about her, although I now had a photo apparently taken later in her life, due to the kindness of a stranger.
 photo Genevieve close up edit.jpg
back of photo says Genevieve Chapin, teacher at American Baptist College in Shanghai China

From the Find a Grave memorial, I was pretty sure Genevieve had not been married. One of my questions was why she was buried in Greene Co., IL when her parents were buried in Fort Scott - in the same cemetery with my third great grandparents, Nathaniel Chapin and Elizabeth Harris.

The obvious answer to that question was that she died in Greene Co., IL, and there was not enough money to send her body back to Fort Scott.

But given this new news - that she taught at a college in Shanghai - I felt there must be a story behind this relative - another of my orphan relatives.*
And there was.

For most of her life, Genevieve lived with her parents in Fort Scott. The 1900 census, taken on 1 Jun 1900, showed that she was a schoolteacher. The 1905 Kansas state census, taken on 1 Mar 1905, stated that she was a clerk. That did not necessarily mean she had given up teaching school. March was the beginning of the planting season in rural Kansas, and schools often closed to allow children to help get the crops sown.

Genevieve's parents lived long lives, and died within a year and a half of each other. Elmer Judson Chapin died on 3 Mar 1923. Elizabeth McIntosh Chapin followed her husband in death on 13 Nov 1925.

But even while caring for her elderly parents, Genevieve had been actively engaged in her community, and was an advocate for social responsibility. And she had traveled.

In the summer of 1915, she went to Alaska for two weeks. The Fort Scott Daily Tribune and Fort Scott Monitor had a small article noting a talk Genevieve was to give to the Women's Current Topic Club about her trip on the evening of 31 Jan 1916.

 photo Fort_Scott_Daily_Tribune_and_Fort_Scot_Daily_Monitor_31_Jan_1916_p2_Genevieve_Chapin.jpg

An article in the Springfield Missouri Republican, on 26 Oct 1921 (page 10), gave details of the speakers addressing the Pierian club in Fort Scott:
...Miss Genevieve Chapin spoke interestingly on social responsibility and unemployment..." The article went on to note that Genevieve was one of the delegates to the Second district convention later that year in November.
 photo Springfield_Missouri_Republican_26_Oct_1921_p10_Genevieve_Chapin.jpg

It was after her parents' deaths that Genevieve traveled abroad. The List of United States Citizens sailing on 5 Oct 1929 aboard the S S Deutschland from Southampton to New York shows that Genevieve had been issued her US passport in Fort Scott on 29 Jun 1926 and had renewed the passport in Shanghai on 28 May 1928.

 photo Genevieve Chapin travels crop.jpg

She wrote her friend Blanche about her time in Shanghai. ...I am well, but carrying heavy work...

 photo Genevieve Chapin.jpg

So how was it that Genevieve died in Illinois? Two news articles published in the Jacksonville Daily Journal (Jacksonville, IL) cleared up that mystery.

From 1930 until her death, Genevieve had settled in New York, and had been doing welfare work for Grace House in New York City. At the time of her death, she was visiting her cousin, Edith Chapin. Edith lived in Jacksonville, IL. Genevieve had taken ill, and never recovered.

 photo Jacksonville_Daily_Journal__Jacksonville_IL__1_Dec_1932_p4_Genevieve_Chapin.jpg

 photo Jacksonville_Daily_Journal__Jacksonville__IL__18_Oct_1932_p1_Genevieve_Chapin_death_notice.jpg

Everyone has a story. I am very glad that through the kindness of a stranger, I was able to piece together at least a part of the story of this eighth cousin, a woman I would like to have known.

Maybe I'll meet her on the other side.

*I call my relatives who died with no direct descendants orphan relatives, as there often is no one to tell their stories.

Chapin Cousin

Date: 2017-04-07 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Great story of an amazing lady. Glad you found out more about her, what an interesting life she had.

Love you cuz,
(reply from suspended user)


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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