Meet Chapman Dudley

Chapman Dudley web storyChapman W. Dudley, born June 21, 1884, was one of the prominent residents of Union Hall. He once worked as post master there and the old post office building sat in front of his home on Rt. 946, Kemp Ford Rd., just off Rt. 40 today.

His connection to the F&P came when he was appointed as the receiver for the railroad 11 November, 1921. Once appointed he sat about examining the books and condition of the line. He reported that the F&P was in bad condition, both physically and financially and deteoriating rapidly.

Upon his recommendations the court ordered the F&P to be sold April 22, 1922. At the sale that day Nathaniel Angle made the high bid of $6000 but major creditors objected to the low bid and Chapman continued to run it until August 12, 1922 when the sale was approved by the court after Angle raised his bid to $12, 000.

Chapman Dudley web story2During his time as receiver Dudley did leave his mark on the legend of the F&P. While it was under his control the F&P showed a profit for the only time during its existence. It was a modest sum, only $928, but better than anyone else had done. It seems likely this was accomplished by not spending money normally allocated for everyday cost of operation and could not have been duplicated over a longer period of time.

Chapman’s other contribution to the legend of the F&P came in the form of an automobile he had fitted with wheels so it would run on the tracks. The vehicle was built by altering a 1917 Model “T” Ford car. It was used to haul mail, small articles and an occasional passenger. The main use it saw seems to be carrying Chapman and his family for rides on the F&P tracks, often on Sunday when the locomotive didn’t run.

Chapman Dudley web story3After 1925 two miles of track east of Pittsville was removed. The mail was brought from Gretna and Leonard Dudley drove for the Dudley & Dudley Bus Co. carrying the mail to Pittsville, Toshes, Sandy Level, Ajax and
Pen Hook.

The model “T” seems to have been more a folly than an actual asset to the F&P but it may well have planted the idea in the mind of Nat Angle for something a little larger. Angle bought the F&P just a few short months after the model “T” made its debut and he immediately ordered a self propelled street car or bus like vehicle, the Edwards Motor Car.

The Edward’s Motor Car, or “the motor” as the locals called it, was a self propelled vehicle that could carry about 20 passengers and some mail or small packages. It became very successful both in sticking to the schedule and staying on the track, something the steam engine often did not do.

Chapman Dudley web story4The idea to purchase the motor car seems likely to have had its beginning with the Model “T” car that was the idea of Chapman Dudley.

Chapman lived in Union Hall with his wife Mary. He died in 1958 and both he and his wife are buried in the Northfield Cemetery along with a few family members. The small, rural cemetery is located on Rt 945 about a mile east of Union Hall.

The family plot is easily distinguishable by the fact the fence around their final resting place is surrounded by railroad track supported by cement post. A fitting reminder for a man whose life was connected to the F&P in many ways.