Anna and John Chorpenning
By Jake Kelly
John F. Chorpening was born in the month of March, 1832 in Pennsylvania. Throughout John’s life, his last name was spelled in a variety ways such as Chorpenning, Chorpening and Chorpenins. The widest used was Chorpening, so I will follow this form throughout the biography. Coincidently, his wife Anna T. Hatch was born in the same month as her soon to be husband, but was born a year later in 1833 and in the state of Ohio.[i] Johns parents were both from Pennsylvania, but lived in Wayne, Ohio for a short period of time and then later in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Anna’s father was originally from Vermont, but he then moved to Ohio where he met her mother. Her mother was from Ohio, probably in Clark, county or an area close to that of Springfield.[ii] Sometime early in his life John moved to Springfield, Ohio where he met Anna. They were both apart of the Lutheran Church which was literally a match made in heaven between the two and the strict Lutheran College found in the area known as Wittenberg College. The two got married in 1854 and started their lives together in Springfield.[iii]
As early as the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, John served on Wittenberg College’s Board of Directors. At this time Ezra Keller was still the President of the very young “college in the west.” While on the Board of Directors, John held the title of Treasurer. In this position, he attended most every board meeting as a representative of the Wittenberg Synod.[iv] At many of these meetings, John was asked to give a report on the financial condition of Wittenberg College. These reports would come during the first day? Session? of usually the three to four sessions the Board would hold over a span of a couple days.[v] After years of giving satisfactory financial reports, John was officially off the Board of Directors by 1867.[vi]
Before any of their children were old enough to attend Wittenberg, John’s brother sent his son to live with the family in order to attend the great Lutheran school, Wittenberg in Springfield. At this time, his nephew Frank P. Chorpening was only 12 years of age and was originally from Somerset, Pennsylvania.[vii] Frank attended Wittenberg Academy from 1862-1863, but soon dropped out at the age of 14 to serve in the Union army. While in the Union army from 1863-1865, he was assigned the 13th regiment of the Ohio Cavalry in company A. His top rank was a private and because of his age would have probably been the drummer boy for his regiment.[viii] While serving the army he was shot in the cheek and the bullet was lodged in his jugular vein sometime in the year of 1865. After being shot, Frank was taken to the hospital in Washington, D.C. where his father soon found him.[ix] After being released he returned to Wittenberg for one more year from 1866-1867 before leaving the area forever.[x]
When Anna purchased the house, located on Wittenberg Ave on June 15, 1882, its address was not yet 525 Wittenberg Ave, as it is now. At this point in time Wittenberg Avenue was named Ferncliff and the number assigned to the house was 217.[xi] In these early years 10 family members lived in the house as well as a young servant named Belle Ellis. Their kids were George W. Chorpening, John C. Chorpening, Harry B. Chorpenning, Bruce Chorpenning, Anna Chorpening, Belinda Chorpening, Asa Chorpening, and Charley Chorpening.[xii] Around 1889, John, Anna, and most of the family moved to 96 W. Pleasant, in Springfield, Ohio. At this time John was the President of The Book Metal Co. and was also a book-keeper at an establishment located at 58 W. Main St.[xiii] Anna was the main was house wife, along with the servants they had, of every household the family lived in and never held a real job besides this title.[xiv] Her job was to take care of the children, clean the house, and have food prepared when John returned home from one of his many jobs throughout their lives in Springfield.
96 W Pleasant. House is now replaced by a parking lot. Photo: Tyler Strong, 2014.
In 1897 John and Anna moved their household once again, but this time to 96 W. Pleasant. At this location John was now the book-keeper at Foos Gas Engine Co. and many of the original house hold were still living with their parents.
Source: Ohio Built Engines Week, February 8, 1904.
After this relocation, with many of the family still around John and Anna relocated again to 97 W. Mulberry in 1897.[xv] While at this house, John F. switch jobs and was now a clerk at Ferncliff Cemetery Association. This cemetery is located in Springfield, Ohio and is a place John helped create.[xvi] John and Anna lived in the W. Mulberry house with their children. From this house John would fill the remaining rooms with children two kids and rent the remaining rooms out to boarders looking for a place to stay. The two together would move one more time to 723 Woodlawn Avenue in 1906 before Anna’s death in 1910. [xvii]
97 W. Mulberry, T Strong Photography
The oldest of the children was George W. Chorpening, who had the most direct relationship with Springfield. When John and Anna moved to 96 W. Pleasant, he lived with them and held a job as a traveling salesman and then as a stock-keeper until 1905. At this point in time he married a lady named Martha A. Chorpening (did not provide a maiden name) and the two then moved to 132 W. Columbia where they started their lives together. He kept in close contact with his mother and father moving around to different house but staying in the Clark County area with Martha.
132 W. Columbia, T Strong Photography
Another prevalent son was the second born, John C. Chropening. [xviii] He lived with the family at 217 Ferncliff Avenue, 96 W. Pleasant, but when John, Anna, and George moved to 97 W. Mulberry he then left the family. While living on Pleasant Street, John C. was a secretary at The Book Metal Co. with his father being the president, as well as a book-keeper at Second National Bank. After a couple years went by, he quit his job at The Book Metal Co., but kept his book keeping job. When the family moved from this house, John C. left the watchful eye of his father and moved to Fountain Avenue with his wife Margaret J. Chorpening.[xix]After a couple years in this house the two moved to 25 W. College Avenue in 1899.[xx]
John F. did not only work at Ferncliff Cemetery, but was actually one of its “founding fathers” to some extent. When the first committee was gathered to talk about creating a new cemetery in its present location, John was a part of it every step of the way. The committee was broken up into different wards, first ward being the best. John F. was very high on the list and was named to the second ward of the committee.[xxi] The committee discussed the terms and then decided to have citizens pay shares of 300 dollars each until they reached the 10,000 dollars they needed.[xxii] One of these 33 subscribers that paid the fee was John F. Chorpening himself. After being on the committee and getting the cemetery started, he began working there around the turn of the century and stayed working here late in his life until his death in January of 1914[xxiii].
Author: Jake Kelly, Class of 2014
[i] Year: 1870; Census Place: New Castle, Henry, Indiana; Roll: M593_323; Page: 148A; Image: 299; Family History Library Film: 545822.
[ii] Year: 1900; Census Place: Springfield Ward 2, Clark, Ohio; Roll: 1246; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0023; FHL microfilm: 1241246.
[iii] Jordan Dodd, Liahona Research. Ohio, Marriages, 1803-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001.
Original data: Full list of sources in the description.
[iv] Board of Directors Minutes, Wittenberg Library
[v] Board of Directors Minutes, Wittenberg Library
[vi] Board of directors Minutes, Wittenberg Library
[vii] Frank P. Chorpening records, Bailey Alumni House, Courtesy of Wittenberg University.
[viii] National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, online <http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/>, acquired 2007.
[ix] Frank P. Chorpening records, Bailey Alumni House, Courtesy of Wittenberg University.
[x] Ancestry.com. U.S., School Catalogs, 1765-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
[xi] Deed of 217 Ferncliff Ave, 1886
[xii] Year: 1870; Census Place: New Castle, Henry, Indiana; Roll: M593_323; Page: 148A; Image: 299; Family History Library Film: 545822.
[xiii] 1889 Springfield City Directory.
[xv] 1897 Springfield City Directory
[xvi] 1899 Springfield City Directory
[xvii] Grave stone from Ferncliff cemetery, Section A/ Burial records from Ferncliff, Heritage Center
[xviii] Ancestory.com 1870 federal census, John C. Chorpenning
[xix] 1897 Springfield City Directory
[xx] 1899 Springfield City Directory,
[xxi] Ferncliff Records, Heritage Center
[xxii] Ferncliff Records, Heritage Center
[xxiii] Gravestone from Ferncliff cemetery, Section A/ Burial records from Ferncliff, Heritage Center