© 2019 Doddridge County Heritage Guild

Chapman, while still living in West Union, returned to Highland County, Virginia, and married his first cousin, Mary Ann Stuart. After the loss of a stillborn daughter in 1859, Chapman and Mary had five more children. All but one married and lived well into their 80s and 90s. Their youngest son, Douglas, died in 1902 at the age of 27 after being hit by a train near the east end bridge in West Union.  Their oldest son, Winfield Scott Stuart, was himself a prominent local attorney whose Victorian style home, now known as the Stuart Mansion, is a much-admired landmark on West Union’s court house square.

 

Chapman Johnson Stuart died of Bright’s disease in West Union on April 20, 1888, at the age of 68.

 

Professional Life

Chapman J. Stuart served as Doddridge County prosecutor from 1852 to 1861. An opponent of secession, he sat as a member of the First Wheeling Convention of 1861 and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1862. He was elected judge of the Circuit Court in 1863 and sat on the bench for ten years. Stuart’s public service to the state continued after leaving the bench.  In 1874-75 and again in 1878-79 he represented Doddridge County in the State Legislature.

 

Although Stuart was a staunch Unionist, he did not oppose slavery. As a matter of fact, he was enumerated in the 1860 Slave Schedule as being the owner of a 10-year-old black female and a 22-year-old black female. Stuart came from a long line of Virginia slaveholders.

 

Military Service and Ancestry

During the Civil War, Chapman J. Stuart did valuable service as Lieutenant Colonel of the 14th West Virginia Infantry in recruiting Union soldiers, raising Company A of that regiment. This company consisted almost solely of Doddridge County men and fought battles at Cloyd’s Mountain and Greenland Gap.

 

In researching Chapman J. Stuart, I found that his family tree is replete with military veterans. His great grandfather William Stuart fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant under the command of Captain Robert McClenachan during the Indian Wars. His grandfather Edward Usher Stuart was a Revolutionary War soldier in the Virginia Militia and an Indian Scout. Several of his uncles fought in the War of 1812 as well.

Significance to West Virginia

Chapman Johnson Stuart was chairman of the committee that defined the borders of the new state of West Virginia.  But perhaps his greatest accomplishment, in the sense of having a lasting impact, was in being the motivating force behind the naming of the infant state. At the First Constitutional Convention in 1861, there was a heated debate over what to call the newly-organized counties of western Virginia who refused to secede from the Union. Some of the names suggested for the proposed state were Kanawha, Western Virginia, New Virginia, Columbia, Little Virginia, Alleghany, and Augusta. However, Chapman J. Stuart, who was there representing Doddridge and Tyler counties, was adamant that no other name than West Virginia would do. He gave the following speech, which convinced the other committee members to name these counties West Virginia:

 

“I am not actuated alone by a wish to conform to the wishes of my constituents, but, from my heart I love the name of Virginia; I love the people and the territory of Virginia; and I am unwilling to array all the wrongs and evils she has done, and look at the dark side of Virginia alone; but I would sometimes look at the brighter side, and that is the side my people look upon. And they are attached to the name; and I will say, sir, that although I am attached to the name of Virginia, I would be as far from wanting to sit under the shadow of Richmond, this day I believe, as my friend from Wood. And I know, sir, it is not the wish of my constituents. It is a familiar name. It is a name I have listened to ever since I have been able to speak - that of West Virginia. It is familiar all over this broad land of our country - West Virginia. Something attaches to the name that ennobles us in the eyes of the country. I intend so far as I am concerned, that we will have it.”

 

The exact location for this marker was chosen because of its proximity to the Old Seventh Day Baptist section of Blockhouse Hill Cemetery, the final resting place of Chapman Johnson Stuart, his two wives, and six of his children.

Historical Marker for Chapman Johnson Stuart 

Doddridge County has a new historical marker at the foot of Blockhouse Hill in West Union. It was recently placed there by the West Virginia State Archives to honor Chapman Johnson Stuart’s invaluable service in the formation of West Virginia and his role in the Civil War.

 

Chapman J. Stuart was born in 1820 in present-day Highland County, Virginia. His parents, Edward Stuart Jr. and Margaret ‘Peggy’ Stuart, were first cousins. Edward and Margaret’s fathers were the sons of William Stuart and Margaret Rush. William was of Scotch-Irish descent and settled on the Cowpasture River in Augusta County, Virginia, over 20 years before the Revolutionary War.

 

Chapman’s parents moved from the Cowpasture River settlement to Harrison County (West) Virginia around 1824. He married Elizabeth Litle sometime prior to 1846. I could not find a marriage record for Chapman and Elizabeth, but their first son, William, was born in West Union in 1846.

 

Also living in West Union in 1846 was Chapman’s sister and brother-in-law, Barbara Ann and Joseph Cheuvront. The Cheuvronts had come to West Union in 1845, so it appears that both families had moved to Doddridge at about the same time.

Personal Life

Chapman and Elizabeth Stuart had four children, but tragically, only one survived to adulthood. William died of scarlet fever in 1853 at the age of seven, two-year-old Arthur died of scarlet fever in 1853, and one-year-old Isabella died of dysentery in 1855. Just twenty days after the death of his daughter Isabella, Chapman lost his wife, who also died of dysentery. She was only 32 years old.

 

Chapman and Elizabeth’s one surviving daughter, Anna, married physician Matthew C. Dougherty from Taylor County.  She died in Knox County, Illinois, at the age of 83.

Stuart Mansion in West Union

(NOTE: This article, written by Heritage Guild member Jennifer Wilt, originally appeared in The Doddridge Independent as part of her weekly column “Our Heritage: The REAL History of Doddridge County.”)