Amzi Chapin

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Amzi Chapin
Born 1768
Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
Died 19 February 1835
Northfield, Ohio
Genres Church music
Occupation(s) singer, composer, music teacher
Years active 1790s to 1830s

Amzi Chapin (1768–19 February 1835) was an American cabinetmaker, singing-school teacher, shapenote proponent and composer.


Chapin was born in Springfield, Massachusetts into a family of cabinet-makers. His father was Edward Chapin (1724–1800) of Chicopee MA. He had four older brothers (Aaron, Lucius, Alpheus and Edward), and a younger sister and brother (Eunice and Calvin). [1] [2] The family is believed to be of Puritan descent.[3]

Chapin worked in Hartford, Connecticut from 1788 until 1791,[4] when he moved to New Haven. Thereafter he embarked on a career as an itinerant singing teacher, composer and cabinetmaker in the South and Midwest.

Chapin married Hannah Power, daughter of Rev. James Power, on 10 October 1800 in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, where he taught and farmed for the next thirty years.[5] They had eight children including six daughters named Mary Jane, Eunice, Eliza, Rebecca and Hannah. All moved to Northfield except Mary who died in Pennsylvania at age 30.[6][7]

[8] A.Chapin's Journal Northfield, Ohio, becoming some of the pioneers of Northfield Township. In November 1831 Amzi Chapin wrote the original proposal and is listed along with eight other men founders of the Presbyterian congregation in Northfield Twp. He died there on 19 February 1835.


Chapin taught singing schools in Virginia and North Carolina, before moving to Kentucky and then Pennsylvania. He was a proponent of Andrew Law's four-note method of shape note notation. Lucius Chapin was also a singing teacher, and the two were apparently among the first to teach sacred music west of the Allegheny Mountains. The well-known tune "Primrose" (47t in the Sacred Harp) is by Amzi Chapin, while Lucius contributed "Vernon" (95) and the Ninety-Third Psalm (31t). "Olney" and "Rockingham" (63 and 300b in the Southern Harmony) are credited to "Chapin".


  • Mary O. Eddy, "Three Early Hymn Writers" in Southern Folklore Quarterly, Vol. 10, no. 3 (Sept. 1946): 177–82, on Amzi Chapin (1768–1835), Samuel Wakefield (1799–1895), and Amos Sutton Hayden (1813–1880)
  • David C. Thomas and Peter Benes, "Amzi Chapin: A New England Cabinetmaker Singing and Working in the South and Trans-Appalachian West" in Rural New England Furniture: People, Place, and Production, ed. Peter Benes (Boston University Press, Boston, 2000), pp. 76–99
  • J. W. Scholten, The Chapins: a Study of Men and Sacred Music West of the Alleghenies, 1795–1842 (dissertation, University of Michigan, 1972)

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ His brother Aaron is the grandfather of Aaron Lucius Chapin, founding president of Beloit College &
  2. ^ His second cousin was Eliphalet Chapin (1741–1805)
  3. ^ "Sherrill Family Roots Go Back To 1830s Home", The Times, Friday June 14, 1957, from The Story of Allan A. Sherrill, Snr., great grandson of Amzi Chapin by Marie Murphy, 1939. The Historical Society of Olde Northfield, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  4. ^ Thomas P. Kugelman and Alice K. Kugelman, Magazine Antiques, February 2005,
  5. ^ "Nordonia Club gathers for program on Amzi Chapin",, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  6. ^ Amzi Chapin's Journal (1791-1835)
  7. ^ Portage County Ohio - History: Northfield 1807–1850, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  8. ^ In 1831 Amzi, his wife Hannah and daughters Hannah and Rebecca moved to Ohio. Their married children followed later