A Painter’s Drummer, Chapin Family Update.

14 Jul

I received a letter from Ms Dana Chapin concerning my article, A Painter’s Drummer.  Ms Chapin is the daughter of drummer Jim Chapin and the grand-daughter of painter James Ormsbee Chapin. Her letter contained important facts about the Chapin family that I had not uncovered or about which I had been mistaken. I apologize for those errors and, in the hope of  informing those who have already read my original article, reprint Ms Chapin’s letter below.


Mr. Engelman,

I so enjoyed reading your piece on visiting the Phillips Memorial Collection and seeing one of the Marvin paintings done by my grandfather James O. Chapin. I will have to get there myself one day. Another Marvin portrait was recently included in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum called Portraits. George Marvin and his daughter Edith I think. The Marvin paintings are a very special American series that not too many people know about.

I felt I must correct you on some points of family history. My grandfather had one child with his first wife Abby Forbes, my father Jim Chapin. But their marriage was relatively brief for the times. He remarried a woman named Mary and had two other sons, Elliot and Jed. They were of draft age during the Vietnam War and had to head to Canada to avoid the war. He and Mary followed them and he became a Canadian citizen before he passed away. Elliot Chapin has two sons and lives in Toronto and Jed has two sons and lives in British Columbia. The family runs to sons. Dad had seven sons and three daughters by three different women.

The Chapins have a further connection to Canada. My half-brother Steve Chapin bought Ovens Park in Nova Scotia over 20 years ago and he and his family run it seasonally. They host a music festival every August where many musical Chapins perform along with local talent. My other half-brother Tom and his wife bought a home near the Ovens and their daughter Lily (James O.’s great grandchild) will get married there this summer. Canada is a very special place to all of us.

My grandfather never seemed to hit the big time although he was widely known and admired. Sometimes his illustration work and drawings show up on eBay. I was so glad to run across someone who appreciated his work.

All the Best,

Dana Chapin, NYC

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