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Descendants of Sharpsburg's founder converge on town for 250th anniversary

July 07, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Michael Chapline, of Ft. Worth, Texas, lays a wreath at the gravesite Joseph Chapline, who was the founder of Sharpsburg in 1763. Decendants and their families of the Sharpsburg founder, gathered at Mountain View Cemetery for a wreath-laying cermony Sunday morning.
By Ric Dugan / Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG, Md. — It’s been more than 240 years since Sharpsburg founder Joseph Chapline died, but his bloodline was back in town Sunday as town officials celebrated the town’s 250th anniversary.

Among the visitors was Michael Chapline, a descendant of Joseph Chapline.

Michael Chapline teamed up with Sharpsburg Historical Society member Ed Beeler to write a 54-page history about the founder of the town.

Copies of the book were available Sunday afternoon at the Sharpsburg Library, which was buzzing with activity as town officials and visitors celebrated the town’s anniversary.

“It looks like we sold out of everything we printed,” Michael Chapline said.

Michael Chapline said he realized about two years ago that his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather founded the town and he said it has been a “real journey” researching Joseph Chapline.

Michael Chapline praised the work of past local historians who kept stories about Joseph Chapline alive, and he said it has been his job to dig a little deeper to uncover the history of his relative.

Although Joseph Chapline founded Sharpsburg, Michael Chapline paid tribute to immigrants, frontier people and workers from Chapline’s business — Antietam Iron Furnace — who also had a hand in settling the town. Joseph Chapline died about six years after founding the town.

“These are the ones that really built the town. The citizens of the town have a lot to be proud of (in) what they accomplished,” Michael Chapline said.

Chapline said his participation in Sharpsburg’s 250th anniversary marked his first visit to the community. A corporate human resources worker from Fort Worth, Texas, he was soaking up the town’s traditions over the weekend, including attending Saturday’s Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield with other family members.

Chapline family members participated in Sunday’s events, including attending a ceremony at Joseph Chapline’s grave at Mountain View Cemetery.

Chapline family members were easy to spot.

“It’s all the people in blue shirts,” Michael Chapline said.

The family members donned light blue T-shirts that read “Sharpsburg 250th Anniversary. Chapline Family.”

A wreath was laid at Joseph Chapline’s grave and a 21-gun salute was performed.

After the ceremony, the celebration moved to Big Spring, a source of water behind Town Hall that was the focal point of Joseph Chapline’s layout for the town.

A sign detailing the history of the spring was unveiled and the site was dotted with small American flags.

“Everything looks real nice back there,” said Beeler, who is the town’s resident genealogist.

Other activities Sunday included an information tent at Main and Mechanic Streets, guided walking tours, musical performances and lunch at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

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