Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
This name is an old and prominent one in England, and was early established in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Its representataives have been distinguished in many walks of life througout the U. S., and have contributed much to the development and progress of the commonwealth of Maine.
(I) Thomas Clapp, son of Richard, of England, cousin of Roger and Edward, was born in Dorchester, England, 1597. He came over to America probably in a ship which arrived from Weymouth, England, July 24, 1633. His name appears in 1634 on the town records of Dorchester, and he was made freeman in 1638. He removed to Weymouth and Thomas, his eldest son, was born there March 15, 1639, and was the Clapp who removed to Walpole (then part of Dedham), and was the ancestor of the Clapps of that place. Farmer, in his Genealogical Register, says Thomas senior went from Weymouth to Hingham, thence to Scituate; while Deane, in his history of the last-named town, says he had grants of land in Hingham, but never resided there.
Thomas was a deacon of the church in Scituate in 1647, and warmly engaged in a theological controversy respecting the form of baptism, which began in 1641 with the Rev. Charles Chauncy, then minister of Scituate, but afterwards president of Harvard. Deacon Clapp was one of the committee of three in 1675 to send a letter to the second church informing them that a reconciliation had taken place after a controversy of thirty-three years. He was deputy to the general court in 1649. He was a useful and enterprising man, and died April 20, 1684, greatly respected.
Who his wife was has not been ascertained, excepting that her Christian name was Abigial.
(II) Thomas (2), son of Thomas (1) Clapp, born in Weymouth March 15, 1639, went to Walpole (then part of Dedham), and married Mary Fisher, Nov. 10, 1662. He was a houswright by trade, and died previous to Jan. 29, 1691, when his will was probated.
(III) Samuel, eighth child of Thomas (2) and Mary (Fisher) Clapp, born at Dedham, Aug. 21, 1682, married (first) Elizabeth Fisher, July 13, 1709, and (second) Bethiah, daughter of Deacon Samuel and Sarah Dean, of Taunton, who was born Jan. 7, 1697, died Oct. 12, 1778.
Samuel had his father's estate, the barn and six acres, twenty acres by Joseph Hartshorn's, also four acres, one cow-right, one-fourth cedar swamp, six acres at Ridge Pond, one and one-half acres of meadow at Stop river, which list of lands shows him to have been at least comfortably supplied with real estate. He died July 13, 1772.
(IV) Abiel, son of Samuel and Bethiah (Dean) Clapp, born in Dedham, Feb. 7, 1728, was a farmer in Mansfield, and was a prominent and much respected man in the town. He was a soldier in Major Zephaniah Leonard's troop of horse, and was out in the service in 1749. Later he held the office of justice of the peace and was captain of the military company of the town of Mansfield. His death was occasioned by his being accidentally shot while on parade.
He married (first) Bathsheba Pratt.
(second) wife was a daughter of Dr. Caswell, of Norton.
(V) Asa, son of Abiel Clapp, was born in Mansfield, Bristol county, Mass., March 15, 1762. Being deprived of his parents at an early age, he was forced to depend on is own exertions. He was not unmindful of the demands which the future might make upon him, and by energy and perseverance he secured a common school education. This patriotic boy, when only in his sixteenth year, gallantly volunteered to act as a substitute for a young man who had been drafted as a soldier under General Sullivan, for the expulsion of the British from Rhode Island in 1778. Later, on an armed vessel, he displayed such fidelity, intelligence and intrepidity that he was promoted to a first lieutenancy. To him the hour of peril was an incentive to eager and conspicuous activity, and he was found equal to the emergency in many desperate engagements. At one time he adroitly captured a British vessel mounting eight guns, with a complement of men three times the number of the captors. Having acquired distinction by intelligence, enterprise and eminent skill as a navigator, he obtained the command of a ship at the close of the war. He was at Port Au Prince, St. Domingo, when the attacks upon whites was made by the negroes. Mr. Clapp, with Joseph Peabody, of Salem, who was then in the merchant service, rendered essential aid to the white population, who were exposed to plunder and slaguhter during that horrible convolsion.
In 1793 Great Britian, Spain, Russia, Germany and Prussia decided to close their ports against all vessels belonging to France. British armed ships were instructed to bring into port each vessel of neural nations, as they believed they were bound to France, or were proceeding from the French colonies to any part of Europe. Numerous American vessels were detained, but that of Mr. Clapp was captured by Sir Sydney Smith, and with himself carried to England. After waiting six months, his ship was released by a decree of the courts of admiralty and his cargo paid for by the British government. So ably and judiciously was the affair adjusted by Mr. Clapp that it resulted in no loss to the owners.
In 1796 he established himself as a merchant of Portland, Maine, becoming largely interested in commerce. He sent vessels to Europe, East and West Indies and to South America, and by the exactitude and perfection of his business habits, he secured a reputation at home and abroad which was probably superior to any other American merchant of that day.
In 1811, before the separation of Maine from Massachusetts, Mr. Clapp was a member of the governor's council of Massachusetts. During the war of 1812, notwithstanding the fact that nearly all his ships were driven from the ocean, Mr. Clapp gave the government his warmest support, and when the national finances were embarrassed, making it difficult to negotiate loans, he came forward and voluntarily subscribed more than one-half his property to sustain the national credit, and by his example and influence rendered essential aid in securing subscriptions from others. A corps of many of Portland's best citizens was organized for the protection of the place against the fleets which were committing numberless depredations between the Penobscot river and Eastport. Mr. Clapp attached himself as a soldier; his residence during the war was a place of general resort for the officers of the army and navy, who were the constant objects of a generous hospitality unsurpassed in New England. In 1816 he was appointed one of the commissioners to obtain subscriptions to the capital stock of the U. S. Bank, to which corporation he was the largest subscriber in Maine. In 1819 he was one of the delegates of the convention for forming the state constitution. For several years he reprsented Portland in the state legislature.
The old Clapp mansion is one of the conspicuous landmarks of the early elegance of Portland, and has been occupied by the family for three generations. Here on July 16, 1817, a reception was given to President Monroe. The Eastern Argus of July 22, 1817, gives the following account of the affair: "The President honored by his presence in the evening a large and elegant party given by the Hon. A. Clapp. About three hundred persons were present. The house was handsomely illuminated in honor of his venerable guest. We feel outselves incompetent to do justice to the brilliant assemblage of beauty that filled the elgagant apartments of our hospitable fellow townsman. It was a source of regret that Mrs. Clapp was absent on a visit to distant friends, but our regret would have been much enhanced had not her accomplished daughters compelled us to forget that anything could be wanting which good taste, ease and gracefulness of manners could supply. A band of music playing through the evening gave a zest to the festivity. At the time the President retired, the younger part of the company had formed a party and were enjoying a dance under the Piazza. When it was announced that the President was retiring, the dancers immediately withdrew from the Piazza and formed a double line from the door to the gate, through which he passed, and when he reached the gate he was received with three hearty cheers from the large concourse of citizens." In view of the warm support Mr. Clapp gave to Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and their Democratic successors, it would be difficult to name all the distinguished people who have been guests at his home. In his eighty-fifth year Mr. Clapp entertained President Polk and James Buchanan.
He married Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. Jacob Quincy, and a descendant of Edmund Quincy, deputy to the first general court of Massachusetts, May, 1634; of Col. Edmund Quincy, deputy for six years to the Mass. general court and member of the council for safety of the people in 1689; of Judge Edmund Quincy, of the superior court of St. James, in 1737. Among her other distinguished ancestors were: Rev. Henry Flynt, minister at Braintree from 1640 to 1668; Major-General Daniel Gookin, speaker of the Mass. general court in 1651; Thomas Willet, first mayor of New York, 1665-67, who was an assistant of Plymouth Colony from 1651 to 1654; Evert Jansen Wendell, magistrate of Fort Orange in 1660; John Wendell, commissioner of Indian affairs in New York, 1690 and Johannes Pieterse Van Brugh, Burgomeister of New Amsterdam, 1673-74. Mrs. Clapp was a niece of Dorothy Quincy, who married John Hancock, and a grandneice of the earlier "Dorothy Q." immortalized by Oliver Wendell Holmes, her great-great-grandson. Many of Madam Hancock's cherished posessions are now owned by Mrs. Clapp's descendants, among these treasures are John Hancock's chariot, furniture, silver and paintings. Mrs. Clapp died at Clapp Mansion, Nov. 21, 1853, in the ninetieth year of her age.
Charles and Eliza W., died in childhood.
Mary Jane Gray.
Asa William Henry Clapp.
Mr. Clapp retained the energies of his mind and the moral firmness for which he had been prominently distinguished up to within an hour of his death; and with such system had he managed the details of his vast property that the only demand outstanding against h im was for the daily paper, the subscription of which had not yet expired. He died in April, 1848, at the advanced age ofo eighty-six years. The flags of all the vessels in the harbor and on the signal-staffs of the Observatory were appropriately placed at half-mast.
(VI) From the long line of distinguished ancestry already traced descended Asa William Henry Clapp, youngest child of Asa and Elizabeth Wendell (Quincy) Clapp. He entered the arena of life in Portland, March 6, 1805, at the beginning of the second presidential administration of Thomas Jefferson. From his earliest childhood there were marked indictaions of the rare qualities of mind and heart which in later years won the unqualified esteem and loving respect of his fellow townsmen. After his graduation from the Norwich Academy, in Vermont, founded by Captain Alden Partridge, partly as a recreation, but chiefly to acquaint himself with the customs, manners and resources of his own country, Mr. Clapp took an extensive journey through the south and west. He visted the Hermitage, General Jackson's home, twelve miles from Nashville, and many other places of interest, which he recorded in a well-kept diary. On his return he had a strict course of commercial training. In 1833 he took a second journey south, and on this trip became involed in an exciting episode on board the steamer, when an assault was made on General Jackson by an ex-naval officer, Randolph. Mr. Clapp hastened to interrupt the flight of the assailant, who was being hurried ashore by his friends. The party were on their way to attend the ceremonies consequent on laying the cornerstone of the Mary Washington Monument, which was not completed and dedicated until May, 1894.
Mr. Clapp was extensively engaged in foreign commerce until 1848, when he retired to assist his father in his varied interests. In many local enterprises he was associated with his brother, Charles Q. Clapp. Indeed, long after his retirement from active business he was an interested and close student of public affairs in city, state and naton, in all of which he had for many years been an able and earnest worker. The great Hospital Fair, held in Portland City Hall, June 10, 1873, which raised the first money towards the erection of the Maine General Hospital, was largely promoted by Mr. Clapp. The fair for the benefit of the widows and orphans of soldiers and sailors was also planned almost entirely by him. To the hospital he gave five thousand dollars, besides gifts to other charitable and educational institutions, but he always gave secretly, preferring to be an unknown benefactor. He served as director of the hospital until his death; the last meetings of the board were held in his library after he was too feeble to go out. Mr. Clapp was also a director of the Public Library, and one of the charter members of the Merchants' Exchange; and, like his father before him, the friend and patron of every deserving project for benefiting the world individually and collectively.
In his political life he acted from the same lofty patriotism that animated the spirit of his honored father. Personal aggradizement, either in purse or in power, was always subordinate to the public good. Mr. Clapp was intensely interested in the principles of the Democratic party. From his youth he had an ardent admiration for General Jackson, which increased with the development of his personal acquintance with the old hero, and he did his utmost to sustain his administration. By his energy, executive ability, intelligent and prudent counsels in state politics, Mr. Clapp commanded the respect of the leaders of the Democratic party. With singleness of mind, he sought the success of party principles, and the selection of efficient officers to carry them out. He was effective in campaign struggles, wielding a powerful and trenchant pen. He attended the Baltimore National Democratic Convention in 1848; and in 1852 was a delegate-at-large to the convention in that city which nominated Franklin Pierce for president. Some party exigency made it desirable that Mr. Clapp should be its congressional candidate in 1847; and he yeilded to the entreaties of his friends and served the thirtieth congress. The Daily Argus of August 28, 1847, contains a copy of the resolutions of the conventon: "Resolved that Asa W. H. Clapp, by his integrity, ability and undeviating devotion to the cause of Democracy merits the confidence of the Republicans of this Congressional District. The unamimous nomination by him received this day in convention is a sufficient guarantee that he will receive at the polls the undivided support of our constituents for the dignified and responsible station, which as their candidate he is expected to fill, Sept. 13, 1847."
Mr. Clapp's commercial training made him efficient on committees, and he had the good fortune to secure the passage of several acts of great advantage to his district. His fellow citizens were especially pleased with his success in securing an appropriation for the purchase of the Exchange building for a custom house an post-office. This act for a young man and a new member was considered a great triumph.
"City of Portland, in Common Council,
Oct. 10, 1849.
"That the Hon. A. W. H. Clapp, late member of Congress from this District, is entitled to the thanks of this City for his services in procuring the passage of the act of Congress for the purchase of the Portland Exchange.
"And therefore Resolved, That the City Council do hereby tender him their thanks for his efficient aid in the premises.
"In Common Council, Oct. 10, 1849.
"Read and passed, and sent up for concurrence.
"Attest: J. H. Williams, Clerk.
"In Board of Aldermen, Oct. 24, 1849.
"Read and passed in concurrence and the City Clerk was directed to furnish a copy hereof to Hon. A. W. H. Clapp.
"Attest: W. Boyd, City Clerk."
His private affairs were too important to admit of his running again; but by his observance of public questions he kept himself in touch with the leading statesmen of all sections, being broadly cognizant of the issues of the day. This interest was unabated at the age of eighty-three, when he came down from Crawford's, New Hampshire, going from the cars to the polls, to vote for Judge Putnam, who was the nominee for governor. Mr. Clapp had a social, genial nature and made friends wherever he went; and no one who has ever been entertained by him will fail to say, with the poet:
"Sweet courtesy has done its most,
For he has made each guest forget,
That he was not the host."
In public life he was always the courtly, dignified gentleman, but in his home life he was the tender, sympathizin husband and father. In personal appearance Mr. Clapp was tall and slender, with an erect, soldierly bearing. He had a high-bred face, with features as clearly and delicately cut as a cameo, and it was the unmistakeable witness of well-ordered life. The grand character of the man was typified by his noble brow.
Mr. Clapp had an abiding interest in all reforms, and sought the amelioration of the unfortunate, whether from illness or mismanagement. Many a timely loan has saved the credit of a young and struggling business man.
On June 23, 1834, Mr. Clapp married Julia Margaretta, only daughter of General Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn, of Roxbury, Mass., where, at the ancestral home of the Dearborns, the wedding took place.
Mary J. E., who inherited the Clapp mansion.
The last summer of Mr. Clapp's life was pased at the White Mountains, which he loved so well. Being keenly alive to the beauties of nature, he found a constant delight in the wondrous beauty of the hills. He died March 22, 1891, at the advanced age of eighty-six years, well rounded with high and purposeful activity. A prominent gentleman of Portland said of Mr. Clapp: "For serentiy and urbanity, for a true sense of justice, for a thorough submission of himself to the rights and sensibilities of others, Mr. Clapp had no superior, and I might well say no equal among those I know. These traits were illuminated by his absolute conscientiousness and firmness in applying to his own course in life the strictest rules of rectitude. The privilege of enjoying his acquaintance has inevitably raise up an affection for him which now cuts much deeper than mere friendship. All who know him well must long cherish his memory for its example and its lesson for good, while not forgetting to be grateful that through his traits of character, of which I have spoken, his affection for his home and the city of his nativity, and his pleasant surroundings in all respects, his life extending far beyond the period ordinarlily allotted has been fortunate and happy to a degree rarely excelled."
The following resolutions and letter were received by Miss Clapp soon after her father's decease:
"Maine General Hospital.
"Extract from the record of a meeting of the directors, held April 4, 1891.
"Voted", That the following memorial of our late companion on this Board, the Honorable A. W. H. Clapp, be adopted and entered upon the records of the Hospital, and that a copy of the same be communicated to Miss Clapp.
"On the 22nd day of March, A. D. 1891, the Honorable A. W. H. Clapp ended a long and useful life. From its organization till his death he was an active, judicious and generous Director and friend of the Maine General Hospital, taking deep interest in its prosperity and contributing to its success by wise council, by frequent and liberal aid of its resources, and by an almost lavish use of his time and influence on its behalf. His associates in the Direction have been cheered by his unstinted sympathy and strengthened by his hearty cooperation. They, better than all others, can appreciate the value of his service to the Hospital. They feel profoundly their own loss and that of the Hospital in his decease. It is appropriate for this Board, speaking officially, to regard him particularly as he was related to the great charity which he so early took into his affection, and so long aided to administer. But they would wrong their own feelings if they passed over in silence the many and striking graces of his character. They hold in reverent remembrance his unfailing kindness, his uniform courtesy, his spotless judgment, his devotion to what he esteemed true and right, his charitable spirit, and his abstinence from censorious speech and unlikely criticism in respect to his fellow men. Living long in all serenity and dignity, even after he had passed within the limits of old age, he seemed in the later years like a tradition of what was noble and fine in private, social and public life at an earlier period of the State. The directors rejoice that so large a measure of life was granted to him, and, while they lamented his decease, are comforted by the recollection of his virtues and by the thought that the example of his life will continue to work for good long after his disappearance from their sight. To all most nearly and keenly touched by this dispensation of Providence the tender sympathy of this Board is afforded.
"True Extract. Attest: F. R. Barrett,
"Portland Maine, April 28, 1891.
"Miss Mary J. E. Clapp,
"Dear Madam: The trustees of the Portland Public Library have received your note of April 8th, announcing the gift of one thousand dollars to the Library, in memory of your father, the late Honorable A. W. H. Clapp. I enclose herewith a copy of a vote of the Board, at the last meeting, accepting the gift upon the conditions prescribed by you. The trustees direct me to express to you their profound sympathy in the bereavement you have sustained, one in which they, with this whole community, bear a share. Portland indeed has lost one of her first citizens. Be assured that we deeeply appreciate the generosity which prompted this gift, and the interest it testifies in the institution which is thus enabled to do so much for the well-being and education of those your father so bountifully helped in his lifetime.
"Such benefactions are a fitting crown of a long career of worth and public spirit, and the "Clapp Fund" will be a memorial in its founder's honor which will perpetuate the fact that he deserves well of his native city. With the respect of the members of the Board for their late distinguished associate and their esteem and regard for his daughter, I am,
"Very respectfully yours,
(Signed) "Thos. L. Talbot, Secretary."
This sum was given to the Public Library at the request of the Hon. A. W. H. Clapp.
"Whereas: 'The All Ruling Power' has seen fit to take from our midst our esteemed friend, Asa W. H. Clapp.
"Resolved: That in his death, the Irish-American Relief Association loses a dear and valuable friend; and
"Resolved: That we tender to his daughter, Miss Mary Clapp, our sympathy in this hour of sorrow.
(Signed) W. H. Dougherty,
Jas. L. Owen,
T. E. Coyne,
Committee on Resolutions.
"Apri l8, 1891."