Norton P. Chipman, a man of state and national prominence and for many years an honored and influential citizen of California, was born in March, 1839, at Milford, Union county, Ohio, a son of Norman and Sarah (Parker) Chipman, both natives of Vermont and of old families of that state. The Chipman ancestry was identified with progress and development during the colonial days, and our institutions and social and political fabric have been strengthened by men of the name since their arrival from England during the first half of the seventeenth century. Nathaniel Chipman, an early member of the American family, wrote a treatise on the principles of government which anticipated many of the forms of the present Constitution of the United States.

Norman Chipman, father of the distinguished Californian, was a pioneer settler of Union county, Ohio, and for some years conducted a general mercantile business at Milford. The family moved to Illinois in 1848, and a year later to Van Buren county, Iowa, residing in different parts of the latter state until the time of the Civil war, at which time the Chipman residence was in Washngton of that state.

It was from Washington, Iowa, that Norton P. Chipman enlisted for service in the Union army. He became a private of Company H, Second Iowa Infantry, under Colonel Sanuel R. Curtis, who was afterward promoted to major general. By the choice of the members of his company, Mr. Chipman was elected second lieutenant, and Colonel Curtis soon afterward appointed him adjutant of the regiment, in which capacity he served in the Missouri campaign up to the time of the appointment of Governor Kirkwood, major of his regiment. Major Chipman fought at Fort Donelson and was wounded there. He returned to his regiment shortly after the battle of Shiloh. While participating in the siege of Corinth he received his promotion to the colonelcy and as aide de camp on the staff of Major General Halleck. He was ordered to report for duty to Major General Curtis, his erstwhile colonel, then at Helena, Arkansas. He was mde chief of the staff and served with General Curtis until ordered to report to the secretary of war at Washington, early in 1863, and his remaining war experience was for the Union though in a less conspicuous department of activity. At the close of the conflict he was brevetted brigadier general. Among other important duties assigned to him at Washington, was service as judge advocate of the military commission which tried and convicted the Andersonville rebel prison-keeper, Henry Wirtz, and he also served as judge advocate in other military trials.

At the close of the war General Chipman resigned his connection with the war department and entered upon the practice of law at Washington. When the District of Columbia was reorganized with territorial form of government he was chosen by the people as their delegate to Congress, serving two terms, and was the first and only representative given the District, whose form of government was soon afterward changed.

In 1875, after the close of his congressional term, he came out to California and located at Red Bluff, Tehama county. He entered upon the practice of law and various business enterprises, and was soon an influential figure in that part of the state. In April, 1897, he was appointed commissioner of the supreme court of California, which post he has since ehdl. Before becoming identified with the courts of the state he was an active leader in the affairs of the Republican party. The industrial development of the great state has been a cause especially dear to him, and for many years he has been president of the California State Board of Trade, which is the most influential organization endeavoring to promote immigration of high-class settlers and the increase of state wealth and resources.

General Chipman was married at St. Louis, during the course of the war, in 1865, to Miss Mary Isabel Holmes, a daughter of Robert Holmes, who was a prominent merchant of that city, a strong Union man and a member of the constitutional convention which formed the new state constitution. There were two children of this marriage. One is deceased, and Alice is now the wife of Mr. Chester S. Smith of San Francisco.

General Chipman is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and with the Union League Club, of which he was president for one year. He is a member of the Ohio Society. One of the foremost members of the Grand Army of the Republic, he was adjutant general of the order at a very early period in its history, when General Logan was commander in chief. He took an active part in forming the present rules and regulations and ritual governing the Army. He wrote the order in 1868 which created Memorial day, now so generally observed throughout the Union, in both north and south.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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