In 2002, when I researched the history of the Borough of Chapman, I attended both services at the Methodist church and a borough council meeting to better understand the community.
The council meetings are held in a building dating back to 1909 when a bond for $1,000 was issued to pay for the building. The stove for the new hall cost $37. The borough had a balance of $177.44 in its ledger. The structure even had a jail to house any law breakers. In those years, the population peaked at 700. Presently, the population is estimated at 200 residents.
In this sixth column in the Chapman series, we reach an inspirational memory of a Marine who went to war. The late Joseph George compiled a meticulous notebook remembering his fallen brother, Quentin George.
In today’s column, I am recalling when I visited Mr. and Mrs. Lakey, who resided in a former company home of the Chapman Slate Company. Many of these homes still grace the small Northampton County borough. Mrs. Betty James Lakey remembered when the slate quarries attracted hundreds of slaters to the community. Chapman’s peak population reached 700 in the early 1900s. Today, the borough is home to about 200 residents.
In the boom days, slaters boarded at many homes.
Mr. Ron Koch was raised in Northampton, graduating from Northampton High School in 1982. He wrestled four years in over 100 matches under coach Gordon Bartholomew.
“I admired Gordy,” he says. “He kept me on the straight and narrow path of life and always stressed respect in teamwork.”
After graduation, he worked for his father, Ron, at their popular Pennsville market. He later was employed by ITT, installing business telephones and servicing them. It proved to be a valuable learning experience. Ron started his cement career at Lafarge in 1994.
In this fourth column on the history of Chapman Borough, I am recalling an interview with the late Mr. Joseph George, who was a highly respected resident of the borough and an expert on the Chapman Slate Quarry.
The George family, like many of Chapman’s early residents, had its roots in the quarry district of Cornwall, England, where quarries were productive for 400 years. Over the generations, seven men have carried the name Joseph George.
In today’s column, we continue to “remember” life in the Borough of Chapman, when the slate industry prospered in the small Northampton County community. I was fortunate to gain a vivid picture of Chapman a number of years ago when I interviewed lifelong residents; unfortunately, most of these fine people are no longer with us.
In this second column, I am visiting a very unique community, the Borough of Chapman. William Chapman, a native slater of Cornwall, England, came to America in 1842 and organized the Chapman Slate Company in the community that bears his name. After extensive research, he purchased an area in Northampton County containing prime slate deposits. Thus was born the Chapman Slate Company. The quarry began operations in 1850.
Mr. Don Levonian was raised in Wynnewood and graduated from Lower Merion High School in 1972, where he was on the track team and was a school photographer. Kobe Bryant, NBA star, was also a graduate.
“I had a keen interest in chemistry. The school had excellent teachers and resources and gave me a great education,” Don says.
Today, I’m up in the Borough of Chapman. Chapman is part of the Northampton Area School District. Probably most of our loyal readers have never visited the quaint community with a population of 200 citizens.
Last year the borough observed its 150th anniversary. This writer was happy to participate in the anniversary celebration.
Fourteen years ago, I spent considerable time researching the community’s history and wrote numerous columns for a weekly newspaper. I thought our readers would enjoy reading about the interesting history of Chapman.
On June 4, 2016, my wife and I attended the 100th anniversary of the Buzzi Unicem Cement plant in Stockertown. Most of my readers recall when the plant was named Hercules Cement.
Today Buzzi Unicem is one of the five remaining plants in the Lehigh Valley. Over time, 30 cement companies that operated 60 plants have called the Valley home.
The plant, as the other plants, uses the stone from the Jacksonburg vein of cement rock that graces Northampton and Lehigh counties in Pennsylvania and Warren County in New Jersey. There is abundant raw material here for another century.