N. Ford Chapman was born in Mississippi. When he was a young man, he moved to West Texas with his family so his father could recuperate from an illness and pursue a career in oil. As a boy, Ford accompanied his father on many trips into the oil fields and grew to love the industry. After finishing school in Kerrville, Texas, he returned to West Texas to find work, taking a job as a tool dresser on one of his father’s leases. From there he found work with Henshaw Brothers Enterprises, Gulf Oil Co., McQueen & Stout, Trinity Drilling, and with Sid Richardson, drilling in Texas, New Mexico, and Mississippi. After service in the Army during World War II, he returned to West Texas and started the Delaware Basin Oil Co., a contract drilling company that used cable tool rigs. He worked in Artesia, New Mexico and Ector County, Texas, drilling shallow wells. He discovered the Chapman Field in Reeves County and opened the Geraldine-Ford Delaware Field in Reeves and Culberson counties.