Sunday, April 27, 2014


© Kathy Duncan, 2014

This is the story of my great-grandparents told in the few pictures that they left behind.

First, the pictures taken of Willie Sargent Chapman and Mary Charlotte "Maggie" Cawthon at about the time they married on 24 Dec 1889 in Mt. Pleasant, Titus County, Texas.

Willie Sargent Chapman Sr.

Willie Sargent Chapman Sr. was the son of Martha Frances (Meadows) and Abner Chapman, who had removed from Marion County, Georgia to Titus County, Texas prior to the Civil War.

Mary Charlotte "Maggie" Cawthon

Mary Charlotte Cawthon was the daughter of Susan Jane (Mason) and Rutherford Porter Cawthon. She was called "Maggie." for most of her life.

In these portraits they look so young and healthy - with their whole lives ahead of them.

Only a couple of years later this photograph (below) was taken at Willie's instance and over the objections of Maggie. She had been at the creek doing laundry when an iterinent photographer appeared at their place. She was upset because she did not have time to fix her hair. How lucky we are that Willie insisted on this photograph being taken any way because it is the only surviving photograph of them together.

Willie Sargent and Mary Charlotte "Maggie" (Cawthon) Chapman

A few short years of hard work were beginning to take their toll. Both of them look leaner, a bit pinch faced, and work worn. Willie Sargent Chapman Sr. died a few years later in 1893 in a hunting accident, leaving Maggie a widow with two small children. Photographs became a luxury she would no longer be able to afford. Maggie and the children spent the next several years living with one relative or another. At one point, they lived in Mt. Pleasant, Texas with Maggie's mother-in-law, Martha Frances (Meadows) Chapman, widow of Abner Chapman.

Martha Frances (Meadows) Chapman

At another point, Maggie and the children lived with Maggie's brother Willie Porter Cawthon and his wife in Collin County, Texas. When Willie Porter Cawthon went blind, Maggie and her children returned to her mother-in-law's in Mt. Pleasant, Texas.

Willie Porter and Maggie Cawthon

Fortunately, Maggie's brother Jesse Franklin Cawthon stepped in and financed additional photographs over the years. He was a bachelor, living in a small cabin in Spokane, Washington. He wrote regularly to Maggie and on several occasions enclosed money for her to have portraits made of her or the children. He was convinced that he would always be a bachelor and would not have much use for his money.

Jesse Franklin Cawthon

This photograph (above) was taken of Jesse Franklin Cawthon in his cabin. "Uncle Jesse" eventually, however, married "Aunt Clara."

Clara, wife of Jesse F. Cawathon

This photograph (above) of Clara Cawthon was taken in my grandfather W.S. Chapman Jr.'s home in Avery, Texas. But back to the photographs that Uncle Jesse Cawthon made possible.

Willie Sargent Chapman Jr. and Mattie (Chapman) Schuler

This is a photograph (above) of Maggie's two children: Willie Sargent "Bill" Chapman Jr. and Mattie (Chapman) Schuler.

Left to right: Willie S., Maggie, and Mattie Chapman

This photograph (above) was taken of the three them  - Bill, Maggie, and Mattie - probably within a few years of the time that Maggie's brother Willie Porter Cawthon died.

Willie Sargent "Bill" Chapman Jr. and Maggie (Cawthon) Chapman

Mary Charlotte "Maggie" Chapman

These two photographs (above) were probably made near the time that Willie Sargent "Bill" Chapman Jr. was drafted into World War I.

Willie Sargent "Bill" Chapman Jr.

This is a photograph of Willie Sargent "Bill" Chapman in his World War I uniform. Prior to leaving for basic training, he took his mother to live with his sister Mattie (Chapman) Schuler. 

Back row left to right: Mattie (Chapman) Schuler and Maggie (Cawthon) Chapman

This is the last photograph that I have of Maggie (Cawthon) Chapman, taken with her daughter Mattie (Chapman) Schuler and Mattie's children. This picture would have been made some time prior to Maggie's death in 1918. While at the Schuler's, Maggie contracted measles and died. Willie Sargent Chapman Jr. also contracted the measles and had to postpone his entry into the service for a few weeks. Prior to leaving for Ft. Hood, he purchased a tombstone for his parents and had it erected in Damascus Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant, Texas.

Many years later, W. S. "Bill" Chapman Jr. had curbing added around his parents plot. Their tombstone had to be moved out of the way and then returned. In the process, it was turned around so that Willie Sargent Chapman's name is over Maggie, and Maggie's name is over Willie's. My grandfather often grieved over this, saying that once he was gone there would be no one left who knew the difference. 

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