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American Medical Biographies/Chapoton, Jean

Chapoton, Jean (1690?–1760)

Jean Chapoton, post surgeon-general, son of André Chapoton and Ann Cassaigne, was born in the village of Bagaille, diocese of Uzes, Province of Languedoc, France, about 1690. After receiving a good education, he entered the government service and rose to the rank of major in the Royal Marines and surgeon in the French Army. In 1719 he was ordered to relieve Dr. Forestier as post surgeon at Detroit (or Fort Pontchartrain). In the records of St. Anne's Church at the post, Dr. Chapoton first appears as best man at the marriage of Jean Baptiste Gouyon, and was among the first in the settlement of Cadillac to take up land for permanent occupancy. On June 13, 1734, he received a government grant of land known as a private claim number 5, being two arpents in width by forty in length, the title running to Jean Chapoton (Chirurgean). Dr. Chapoton's name appears spelled variously, as "Farmer's History of Detroit," vol. i, p. 50, Pierre Chapoton, "Jesuit Relations," vol. lxix, p. 308, Jean Baptiste Chapoton, and plain Jean Chapoton. Little is known of the extent and method of Dr. Chapoton's practice. Aside from his service to the soldiers and their families at the post it could not have been great, as Detroit had little resident population until the twenties and little land was taken up until the thirties. In the Jesuit Relations, vol. lxix, p. 249, it is said that on June 13, 1742, Sieur Chapoton, Surgeon of this port, borrowed the sum of one hundred livres in raccoon and lynx skins, promising to pay in similar peltries in May, 1743. That Chapoton was a devout Catholic appears from entries in the manuscript of Fr. Pierre Portier, Jesuit priest at Assumption Mission, Sandwich, viz.: In 1748 the father says that Surgeon Chapoton arranged for offering six masses; and in 1750 Chapoton became indebted to the mission for the same, but in 1845 the father began masses for his soul. In 1752 Dr. Chapoton resigned his post and retired to his farm. He had married in July, 1720, Magdalene Frappere, whose family had lived in the same province in France with the Chapotons, but at the time of her marriage were living in Quebec. At marriage Magdalene was fourteen years old, but bore the doctor twenty-two children! Of these, four died in infancy, two in childhood, five single in adult life, and eleven intermarried with prominent families. From his sons are descended the numerous branches of the Chapoton family in eastern Michigan and lower Canada. His second daughter, Madeleine, married Dr. LeGrande, who, in 1852, succeeded Dr. Chapoton as surgeon of the post.

Jean Chapoton died at his Detroit home November 12, 1760.

Pioneer Biography of Wayne County, Mich. Fred. Carslile, 1890.
Farmer's History of Detroit.
Jesuit Relations, vol. lxix.
Records of St. Anne's Church, Detroit.