Our History

One of the earliest archived invoices from Adams, Chapman Co.

Adams, Chapman Co. was established by Amos Adams and Edwin Chapman in 1867.  The company was first located at 17 Faneuil Hall Square in the original Boston Food Market, and a year later moved to 37 North Market Street.  They started off as commission merchants; they would take anything a farmer had on the farm, such as fruit, poultry, veal, beef, eggs, maple syrup, goats, rabbits and even bear, and they would sell it to a retailer or wholesaler, taking about a 10% commission. They were a great pair; Adams managed sales at the shop while Chapman went on the road soliciting suppliers. In the fall of 1868 they hired their first employee, Luke Farmer, who was just out of school, to be their book keeper.

To help grow the company, they began transporting poultry from the Midwest.  During that time Chapman became close friends with George Hammond, a beef supplier originally from Ashburnham, MA and now living in Chicago. Mr. Hammond had just started to ship already slaughtered beef into Boston via refrigerated rail cars. At the time, beef usually came into Boston live and was “dressed” in Brighton.  Adams, Chapman (AC) took in cars of already processed beef from Hammond; it became a very profitable venture for both.  Chapman was appointed to and served for many years on the board of directors of the G. H. Hammond Co., which later became the Armour Company.

The original store front on North Market Street, Boston MA.
The sign now proudly hangs in Faneuil Hall.

Adams, Chapman was very prosperous for the rest of the 1800s. In fact, Amos Adams built the Adams Library in his hometown of Chelmsford, MA in 1895. Not to be outdone, Chapman built and presented his home town of Ashby, MA the Ashby Free Public Library in 1902. Now, over one hundred years later, both libraries still stand in their respective towns.

Between 1910 and 1915, the Amos Adams and Edwin Chapman era was coming to a close. At the time, Frank Benson bought a piece of the business. Through World War I and the Great Depression, AC continued to provide farm goods as commission merchants to the Boston area. Eventually Frank Benson bought out his partners. Frank Benson’s sons, Frank Jr., Arthur and Richard Benson, all joined the company after serving in World War II. Through the fifties the company continued to thrive under the management of the three brothers. During that time, AC began to expand its poultry products. The fresh chicken, largely transported from Maine, was of such high quality that it attracted a new customer base of smaller, upscale butcher shops and restaurants.

In 1962 the three brothers bought AC from their father. In 1969 the Boston Redevelopment Association decided that the Faneuil Hall-Quincy Market area was better suited to be a tourist and entertainment district. The BRA moved all the meat and provision suppliers to the “New Boston Food Market” in South Boston. AC relocated to 13 Foodmart Road, where it still stands today.

Unfortunately Arthur Benson passed away shortly after the move. Frank (Bud) and Richard (Dick), although a little nervous about the move at first, realized that the new location was more efficient and better for business in general. They continued to concentrate on selling fresh poultry to the upscale markets. Eventually Maine’s fresh poultry industry was not able to compete with the mid-Atlantic region’s lower costs, and AC began to transport most of their poultry from the Pennsylvania and Delmarva Peninsula areas.

Our current location.

Brad Benson, Dick’s son, began working at the firm in 1978. By this time, people were becoming more health-conscious and the move towards lean protein had begun. Poultry consumption was rising. In order to keep up with the trend and grow the business, the company specialized even more in providing high-quality poultry. Bud Benson retired in the mid-eighties and Dick Benson sold his shares to Brad in 1990.

The 1990’s brought an appreciation of natural foods, and the firm realized it was the wave of the future. They also realized that customers who once patronized upscale butcher shops were now shopping at natural food stores. AC began to sell meats and other provisions under natural food labels. Essentially the company was a forerunner in providing Boston and the New England area with all-natural poultry and meats throughout the 1990s and into the next century.

Now, in 2016, the ever-changing economy continues to challenge the food industry. Adams, Chapman still prospers through hard work, dedicated employees, and solid partnerships with their customers and suppliers.