Let me start this column by stating two simple facts: I love history, and I especially love family history.
When the two topics combine, I’m in for a treat and a true learning experience.
One of those experiences presented itself to me on Monday afternoon when Teresa Teater of Omaha came by the office to let us know that her great-grandfather, Calvin Chapman, is being considered for inclusion in the Nebraska Hall of Fame.
Teater is an enthusiastic champion for her ancestor, sharing stories, newspaper clippings and photos during our visit.
The Nebraska Historical Society took nominations earlier this year, and Chapman is one of a dozen nominees for possible inclusion in the Hall of Fame at the State Capitol.
The Hall of Fame Commission held a hearing in Omaha on July 13 and has one scheduled in Holdrege on July 19 before making its decision on a finalist on Aug. 2.
If a finalist is chosen, the process will continue to select a sculptor to create a bust that will be included in the Hall of Fame.
That sculpture will be dedicated on June 7, 2019.
Chapman is a prominent figure in the early days of Nebraska City.
He arrived in town at the age of 16 and began helping his older brother, Thomas, who was a preacher, transport fugitive slaves from Nebraska City over the river to Lickskillet, Iowa, on the Underground Railroad.
Chapman estimated he made more than 10 trips when he told his story to Ned C. Abbott, who was the superintendent of the School for the Blind, and attorney Paul Jessen about three years before his death in 1928.
Chapman told the men he would take a wagon to Iowa, crossing the river by ferry, stay overnight, then return to Nebraska City the next day.
During the Civil War, Chapman volunteered for military service and served with the Second Regiment of Nebraska Cavalry.
He volunteered after his initial enlistment ended and served for an additional six months as a second lieutenant of independent scouts under General Scully.
He helped organize the William Baumer Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Nebraska City after the war.
Chapman was active in Nebraska City politics. A page from the 1893-94 Nebraska City City Directory shows him as the acting mayor and the president of the council, as well as being a First Ward councilman, chair of the city’s finance committee, and a member of the city’s judiciary, streets and alleys, and sidewalks and crossings committees.
Chapman had a business on Sixth Street that sold horses and mules, feed, and soft coal.
Teater encouraged anyone who’s interested in seeing Chapman make it into the Hall of Fame to send a letter to the Nebraska State Historical Society,  PO Box 82554, Lincoln, NE 68501-2554 before the decision is made on Aug. 2.