Copyright © 2011-2016 John N. Lupia III

Ella B. Wright (1877-1952) was born at Philadelphia on June 11, 1877 the daughter of John B. Wright, a Clerk of the City of Philadelphia and his wife Mary E. Early. According to the 1900 U.S. Census she lived with her parents, maternal aunt Ella E. Early, and two sisters : Mary and Alice, and worked as a typist (type writer). She began working for Henry Chapman soon after he had dissolved his partnership with his brother Samuel Hudson Chapman on August 17th 1906 for health reasons. She would eventually work for Henry and his wife Helen for over forty years. According to the 1910 U. S. Census she still lived with her parents and sisters Mary and Alice. Ella is listed in that census as a stenographer working for a numismatist. In 1913 she was the administratrix for her aunt Bridget Wright. According to the 1920 U.S. Census she lived with her sister Alice and brother-in-law William H. Kaiser (Keyser) on Montgomery Street, Philadelphia. According to the 1930 U. S. Census she rented a home at 1710 West Jefferson Street, Philadelphia, where she lived with her sister Mary E. Handley. In the 1940 U. S. Census she is still living with her sister Mary and she is listed as a secretary in the coin business.

On January 28, 1941 Ella B. Wright was robbed while she alone in the coin shop when Helen was at home next door with her cook who was preparing them lunch. Ella was choked, gagged and tied up by three armed robbers who stole mainly Roman and Greek coins and rare stamps valued at $20,000 from the Henry Chapman Old Coin Shop. She was found tied and gagged by the cook who came to call her next door to eat with Helen. Chester Times, Tuesday, January 28, 1941 Front Page; Gazette and Bulletin, Wednesday, January 29, 1941, front Page. A few years afterwards Thomas Lindsay Elder wrote to Helen Chapman about the robbery of $10,000 at Wayte Raymond's office telling her he thought it was the same gang that robbed her (see Figs. 1 & 2).

Fig. 1. Tom L. Elder sent this postal card to Helen Chapman postmarked Chatham, New York, August 24, 1943, 6 P.M. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, Chapman Family Archive.

Fig. 2. The reverse of the above postal card with the message : "Raymond's Office entered by "duplicate keys" & $10,000 stole a few days ago. Likely same gang robbed you. You should have Ins. I carry plenty also hold up Ins. They don't cost much. T. L. Elder Pleasantville, N.Y."

Though given the title secretary rather than assistant manager, Ella co-ran the firm of Henry Chapman Numismatist together with Helen Chapman from the time of Henry's death on January 4, 1935 until Spring 1948. At that time Helen Chapman closed the office of Henry Chapman Old Coin Shop, also known as Henry Chapman Numismatist. Ella died nearly four years later on July 13, 1952 of pneumonia and arteriosclerosis. She is buried in Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia. In the June issue (1954) of The Numismatist S. W. Freeman wrote a few lines of reminiscences about Ella giving him his start in coin collecting in the 1920’s.

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