ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Grave of Alvin Wentworth Chapman, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Grave of Alvin Wentworth Chapman, Florida
Grave of Dr. Alvin Wentworth Chapman
A noted botanist and writer of the 19th century, Dr.
Chapman is buried beside his wife at Chestnut
Cemetery in Apalachicola, Florida.
Alvin Wentworth Chapman
A trained physician who came
to Apalachicola in 1847, Dr.
Chapman possessed one of
the greatest minds of his time
Florida State Archives.
The Eminent Botanist
Dr. Chapman added dramatic
detail to our knowledge of
Southern botany and was a
friend of such luminaries as
Dr. John Gorrie.
Grave of Dr. Alvin Wentworth Chapman - Apalachicola, Florida
Florida's Noted Botanist & Writer
Chapman Botanical Garden
The beautiful garden in
Apalachicola pays tribute to
the memory of Dr. Chapman
and his work.
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Dr. Alvin Wentworth Chapman was one of the
premier botanists of his time. He is buried
beside his wife at Chestnut Cemetery in
Apalachicola, Florida.

The youngest of five children, Chapman was
born in Southampton, Massachusetts, in
1809, but it was his more than six decades of
work in the South that established his as one
of the brightest scientific minds of his times.
He left the North in 1831, after completing his
studies at Amherst.

Dr. Chapman moved first to Georgia, where
he worked as a teacher briefly before moving
to Marianna, Florida, in 1834. One year later
he relocated to Quincy, Florida, where he
opened a medical practice. He remained in
Quincy until 1847, when he relocated to
Apalachicola, where he lived out the last five
decades of his life.

Soon after he relocated to Florida, Chapman
developed an interest in botany. This was
expanded by his friendship with Hardy Bryan
Croom, who achieved note in the 1830s by
his discovery of the Florida Torreya. Croom
died in a tragic shipwreck off the coast of
North Carolina, but in Chapman he inspired
a lifetime of botanical research.

Over his years of research, Dr. Chapman
roamed far and wide through the South. His
explorations took him from the swamps of
Florida to the mountains of the Appalachians,
giving him the opportunity to discover new
species of plants while better documenting
countless others.

In 1860, as the dark clouds of war loomed on
the horizon, he published the first edition of
his monumental and famous book,
Flora of
the Southern States
. It became regarded in
his lifetime as the standard reference volume
on the plants of South.

Over his lifetime, Alvin Wentworth Chapman
discovered an amazing variety of new plants,
flowers and trees. Among these were the
extremely rare Chapman's Rhododendron,
the custard apple, the wild Florida azalea, the
large-flowered skullcap, the spreading yellow
foxglove, Georgia holly and many others.

After moving to Apalachicola, Chapman was
a member of
Trinity Episcopal Church and
took an active role in the activities of the city.
Among his friends there was
Dr. John Gorrie,
the first man to patent a mechanical
refrigeration system, and Chapman was a
guest at a banquet where Gorrie proved that
he could use his machine to manufacture ice
in the hot and humid Florida climate.

Although he did not involve himself greatly in
politics, Dr. Chapman was a Unionist who
opposed the secession of Florida in 1861.
When the Union blockade ships off the coast
learned that Confederate forces had been
withdrawn from Apalachicola in March of
1862, Chapman was one of the men listed in
their reports as being sympathetic to the
Union cause. He was not, however, part of
the delegation of leading men that met a
Federal boat party on the waterfront in early
April to learn Union plans for the city.

From April of 1862 until the end of the war,
Apalachicola was a city "between the lines"
that was visited occasionally by Union boat
parties and occasionally by Confederate
patrols. Neither side, however, permanently
stationed men there.

Alvin Chapman remained in the city during
this time, although his wife went to live with
relatives in Marianna until the war was over.
He sometimes hid from Southern patrols in
Trinity Episcopal Church.

The doctor continued his botanical studies
after the war and his constant exercise and
outdoor activities undoubtedly contributed to
his long life. A granddaughter later recalled
that he walked three miles to see a rare ash
tree in bloom when he was 90 years old.

Dr. Alvin Wentworth Chapman died in 1899.
His grave can be seen at
Chestnut Cemetery
on U.S. 98 (Avenue E) in Apalachicola. The
Chapman Botanical Garden on Market
Streeet celebrates his life and legacy.