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Letter to the Longford Leader editor: Are you a relative of Thomas and Margaret Chapman?

Letter to the editor

A reader is looking to find descendants of a County Longford  couple: Thomas Chapman, born 1828 in St Albans; and Margaret Donlon, born 1836 somewhere in County Longford. 

I'm Eric Kniffin, from the small town of Montgomery, in New York State. My father, Alfred Kniffin, was born in Newburgh, NY.


His original birth certificate said Alfred Chapman. However, he never met his father, and always went by Kniffin, so eventually changed his name to match that of his widowed mother and her other children, Dad's older half-siblings.

We have always known who his father was, and this has been confirmed through DNA matching with a half-brother of the same father, among other Chapman cousins.

However, I would like to trace the Chapman line, and am having a very difficult time. The first Chapman I know of is John Chapman, Dad's great grandfather. The first record of any kind for John is his marriage record from 1858 in Washington, DC. He and his wife raised about a dozen children in DC. All of his US censuses, and all censuses of his children after John died and they moved away to raise their own families, say John was born in Ireland.

That is as specific as it gets. Ireland. Also no mention of his parents’ names.

My biggest clue as to John’s origin is the fact that Dad is a DNA match with many people who are direct descendents of a County Longford  couple: Thomas Chapman, born 1828 in St Albans; and Margaret Donlon, born 1836 somewhere in County Longford. 

Dad matches people descended from at least three of Thomas and Margaret’s children. Many of these DNA matches have been in the US since one son, Lawrence Chapman (born 1866 in Killashee) moved to Missouri, while others are still in Ireland.
Unfortunately, I don't know how my great great grandfather John and Thomas of St Albans are related. There are scant records on Thomas and his parents, including one of a brother named Patrick, but nothing about a brother named John.

I’m looking for anyone who is descended from Thomas Chapman and Margaret Donlon. I don’t know if anyone has a family Bible, or just stories about the family, but I would appreciate anything at all. And maybe it will help me figure things out.
My email address is

Thanks for reading,
Eric Kniffin

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