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Bert Leroy Chapman. Aggressive methods, keen insight into commercial conditions, a thorough and far-reaching appreciation of the needs of the trade, are characteristics which develop a man into a successful factor in the business life of any community and result in the founding and development of concerns that give that community prestige. Conditions today are so complex, competition is so keen, and the needs of the world are increasing so rapidly that every branch of commercial and industrial life feels the impetus of the times. The day of slow and sure business policies is gone; the business enterprises of today are conducted along entirely different lines than those of our forefathers, and the men who attain success are those who are possessed of power of initiative, resource and aggression. One of the most enterprising of the merchants of Fisher is Bert Leroy Chapman, senior member of the hardware firm of Chapman & Wade. This young business man has achieved success and reputation at a time when many men are merely starting upon their careers, and the characteristics above noted have been important concomitants in the working out of his career.
Bert Leroy Chapman was born in Vermilion County, Indiana, September 18, 1878, the third in a family of three sons born to Nelson and Rosanna (Sims) Chapman. He has one brother living, Pearl Albert Chapman, who was educated in the common schools and is now editor and manager of the Bellflower News at Bellflower, McLean County, Illinois. He married Miss Laura McGowan, and has four children. Nelson Chapman was born in Indiana of English ancestry, and spent his career as an agriculturist. He did not live to see his ambitions for success realized, as his death occurred when his son Bert was three years old, in 1882. His political belief was that of the Republican Party. The mother of Bert L. Chapman was also born in Indiana, where she received a public school education, and after the death of her first husband she married a Mr. Baysinger, who is also deceased. For her third husband she married George Browne, an agriculturist, and they now reside on a valuable property in Champaign County.
The educational training of Bert L. Chapman was secured in the public schools, and when he was still a lad he gained experience in the line of self-support, working long hours in a tile factory at a wage of 50 cents per day. This discipline, while hard, was to prove valuable to him in after years and to make him place a just value upon the worth of money. When he left that vocation he began work as a wage earner on a farm, being thus occupied for ten years, at the end of which time he had accumulated sufficient capital to set himself up as a renter of land in Champaign County. His tastes, however, as well as his abilities, seemed to lie along mercantile lines, and after seven years of struggle with the soil he gave up agricultural operations and came to Fisher, where he established himself in business as the proprietor of a cafe. Less than one year of experience in this direction sufficed to show him that he had not yet found his proper groove, and he disposed of his cafe to embark, in a modest way, in the hardware business. Like all enterprises that grow to be anything worth while, the first several years were lean and hard ones, but Mr. Chapman was possessed of the necessary business acumen, had the courage of his convictions, and was determined to succeed, and through aggressive tactics and progressive and persistent methods won his way through, and the venture that started in a small and inconspicuous way has grown to be one of the foremost business establishments of the town of Fisher. On March 7, 1916, Mr. Chapman entered into partnership with Luther Wade, and at the present time the house of Chapman & Wade carries a full and up-to-date line of shelf and heavy hardware and furniture, and in addition conduct an undertaking department. The volume of the yearly trade is now from $25,000 to $30,000, this having been built up through honest policies, fair representation and honorable methods of procedure. Mr. Chapman is the owner of a handsome residence and is accounted one of the substantial residents of the community.
On January 14, 1903, Mr. Chapman was married to Miss Elizabeth R. Wade, and of the four children born to this union three are living: Mabel R., who is attending school as a member of the fourth grade; and Lucille and Russell L., who are at home. Mrs. Chapman was born in Adams County, Ohio, July 31, 1878, and was educated in the public schools. She is a daughter of Edmund and Susannah (Potts) Wade, her father being a native of Adams County, Ohio. Mr. Wade has been engaged in agricultural pursuits all his life, and at the present time is the owner of 160 acres of land in Brown Township, Champaign County. He is a Prohibitionist and is a member of the United Brethren Church, as was also Mrs. Wade. Mr. Wade has always been a friend of public improvements, one of the public-spirited men who have supported movements making for the general welfare, and a believer in education who has served as a member of the board of school directors. Mrs. Wade, who was born in Ohio, died in Champaign County, January 23, 1897.
Mr. Chapman is a Republican. He cast his first presidential vote for William H. Taft, but has not been active in political affairs. However, he has always been ready to serve his community, and as an official is a member of the school board and of the town council. His fraternal connection is with Sangamon Lodge No. 801, A. F. & A. M., at Fisher, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which has a strong lodge at this place. Mr. and Mrs. Chapman are members of the United Brethren Church at Fisher, and Mr. Chapman serves as superintendent of the Sunday school, which has an attendance every Sunday of about fifty. A further fraternal connection of Mr. Chapman is with Camp No. 2534 of the Modern Woodmen of America, of which he has been clerk four years and of which he is at present banker.
Mr. and Mrs. Chapman are young people who enjoy life and who are eager to help others enjoy it also. While they are greatly attached to their home, they are also enthusiastic about other parts of the great central agricultural country of Illinois, which they frequently visit on sight-seeing trips in their automobile.