Chapman Carrell was my great great grandfather. He was a farmer who valued community education so much that after his death, to address his concern that the community children had adequate educational facilities, his widow donated land for the Cairo High School and its grounds to the town–about 9 acres–in exchange for a concession from the BOE to expend a certain minimum amount on the school buildings and maintenance, and other requirements. (What they did with this bequest is a story for a different time…)

Chapman Carrell’s beautiful obituary exemplifies the values of rural West Virginians.

The Cairo Times

Friday, June 11, 1897

CHAPMAN J. CARRELL

Chapman J. Carrell died at his home in Cairo, Saturday, June 5, 1897, at 10 o’clock A.M. of tuberculosis, after a lingering and painful illness lasting many months, and which he endured with heroic fortitude and a patience born of resignation.

maurice-carrell
Maurice Carrell

The funeral services took place at his home, Monday, June 7th, at 10 o’clock A.M, Rev. Monfort of the Hughes River Presbyterian Church, officiating in a beautiful and touching service, after which all that was mortal of Chapman J. Carrell was conveyed by a large concourse of neighbors and friends to the family burying ground in Egypt Cemetery and laid to rest by the side of his little son Maurice, who had preceded him nearly two years.

Deceased was born in Doddridge County, this State, December 24, 1850, but when he was six months old his parents removed to Cairo, and all his life has been spent on the Carrell farm here, which to him contained all the elements necessary to his enjoyment and happiness.

sara-merchant-jennie-carrell-gertrude-carrell-3-generations
Sara Merchant (his mother); Jennie Merchant Carrell (his wife); Gertrude Carrell Douglass (his daughter, and my great grandmother)

He was essentially and truly a lover of home, and while others dreamed of political honors, power, fame, position and social success, he was more than content by the fireside of his youth and at the home of his people, and to him the most pleasant society was that of his mother, his wife and children. The lowing of the cattle and the music of the birds had for him more charms than the artificial eloquence of men and the pomp and parade of political strife.

The lowing of the cattle and the music of the birds had for him more charms than the artificial eloquence of men and the pomp and parade of political strife.

He saw more beauty in the growing grass and the fields ripe for harvest than in the artificial glitter and display of social life, and in his silent, quiet way he taught many of his associates that the noblest and grandest life that can be lived is the quiet, unobtrusive life “far from the madding crowd”: the life that is divested of the mean and petty ambition which takes from us the noblest and best impulses, and substitutes therefore a morbid and overweening desire to follow after things which, if attained, never satisfy an honest craving of the heart.

He saw more beauty in the growing grass and the fields ripe for harvest than in the artificial glitter and display of social life…

chapman-and-jennie-carrell
Chapman Carrell and Eugenia “Jennie” Merchant Carrell

In October, 1887, he was united in marriage to Eugenia Merchant, and his married life was a most happy one.  Three children were born of this union, one of which, Maurice, was nearly all his short life a great sufferer, and died in April, 1895, living long enough, however, to serve a useful purpose—that of making gentle and patient the father and mother who were compelled unwillingly to witness his suffering for years.

About a year ago, Mr. Carrell first began to manifest symptoms of the disease which finally carried him away.  At first, he regarded it but lightly, but gradually he became worse and finally at the urgent request of relatives and friends, he sought relief from various specialists and at different hospitals, all of whom were compelled to tell his anxious wife that there was no hope, and so with a brave heart which manifested no outward signs(?), she brought him home and tried to inspire him with a hope(?) she could not feel, and bravely and kindly, through months of ceaseless vigil, night and day, administered to his every chapman-carrell-obit-generatedwant.  He was a patient and considerate sufferer, making no complaint but suffering the intense torture incident to his disease in uncomplaining silence.

For a week before he died, he had partaken of practically no nourishment, but was calm and patient.  Early in the morning of his last day he was seized with an attack that he felt he could not endure, but he was conscious, cool and collected to the very end.  He called his aged mother, his loving and faithful wife, his sisters and his children, and bade them goodbye as if(?) he were taking a journey, and lapsed into unconsciousness with the kisses of his sweet baby on his lips, then passed into the great beyond to meet the spirit of his once suffering but now transformed little child, who went before.