Biography of Edwin M. Clapp
Kalamazoo County, MI Biographies



Kalamazoo County

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Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

In the year 1858 several members of the Clapp family in Boston, impressed with the desirableness of assembling together as many of the name and lineage as could be induced to meet in one place, made an effort to bring about such a gathering in the town of Dorchestet, the venerated home of their first American progenitors. Their desires were consummated on the 24th of July, 1870, not at Dorchester, but upon the grounds of the Hampshire Agricultural Society at Northampton, about one thousand people being present. Prom the address, delivered by the Rev. Alexander Huntington, we glean the following story of the progenitor of the family. On the 30th of May, 1630, Capt. Roger Clapp arrived at Nantasket. He came in the ship “Mary and John,” and was among the first settlers of the town of Dorchester. He was born at Salcombe, in Devonshire, England, in 1609. He married Jobanna Ford, one of his fellow-immigrants, in her seventeenth year, he being in his twenty-fifth. As evidence of the excellence of his character, it may be stated that the people of Dorchester gave him command of their militia, chose him to represent the town in the General Court, and, in 1665, he was, by appointment of the General Court, put in command of "the castle” in Boston harbor, the chief fortress of the province. He died Feb. 2, 1690.

It is not within the province of the writer to trace the genealogy of the subject of this narrative back to his worthy progenitor, a brief sketch of whose history we have here given. Thus much has been said, not that we believe that “blood is thicker than water,” or that the blue blood of nobility nourishes a superior life, but merely to show that the Clapp family is one of the old and reputable families of the nation, and directly descended from good Puritan stock. From a perusal of the family history it is evident that the distinguishing features in the character of Roger Clapp have been transmitted from generation to generation. Edwin M. Clapp, son of Rufus and Elizabeth Clapp, was born in the town of Otisco, Onondaga Co., N. Y., Feb.27, 1805. His parents were farmers, and Edwin was hred to the same occupation. He lived with his parents until he attained the age of twenty, when he started in life for himself withont other resources than a strong pair of hands and a robust constitution. At the age of twenty-two he went to Niagara County, where he rented a farm; but finding this a slow road to success, he decided to try his fortunes in Michigan, which was at that time considered a new El Dorado. In 1831, in company with William Earl, he prospected through different portions of the State, and heing favorably impressed with the soil and natural advantages of Kalamazoo County, located two hundred and twenty acres of land in what is now the town of Charleston. He returned to his home in Niagara County, and in October, 1832, came back and made a permanent settlement. After a residence of about ten years he sold his property in Charleston, and moved upon the farm he now owns in the tuwn of Comstock, which he had located in 1834.

Mr. Clapp has been prominently identified with the development of Charleston and Comstock, and has served both towns in various official capacities. In 1834 he was elected assessor; in 1835, town clerk, and was thc first supervisor of Charleston after its organization, in 1838. In 1838 he was elected county commissioner; re-elected in 1839, and served the county in that capacity until the office wss abolished by act of the Legislature. He has represented Comstock upon the board of supervisors for four terms, and been county superintendent of the poor seven years. Few men in the county know more of pioneer experiences; and did our space permit, we could pen from his lips many an incident that to the present generation would sound more like fiction than fact.

He was the second permanent settler on the south side of the river, between Goguao Prairie, in Calhoun County, and Kalamazoo village. In October, 1837, Mr. Clapp was married to Miss Mary J. Stedman, of Cambria, Niagara Co., N. Y. She was born in Livonia, Livingston Co., N. Y., in 1812. They have reared a family of five children, four of whom are now living. In his political and religious affiliations Mr. Clapp is a Republican and a Congregationalist. He is eminently a self-made man, starting in life with only his natural resources for capital. He has conquered success in various departments of life, and is an exemplar in character and reputation. Mr. Clapp has had a residence in Kalamazoo since December, 1873.

History of Kalamazoo County, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of its Men and Pioneers.
Everts & Abbott., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.