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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM N. CLAPP, a member of one of the old families of New England, who lives on a farm in Easthampton, was born November 3, 1810, near his present home, on a farm owned by his grandfather. He is a son of Solomon and Paulina (Avery) Clapp, and is a descendant, in the seventh generation, of Roger Clapp, who was born in Devon, England, April 6, 1609, a member of “a godly family reared in Christian culture.”

Roger Clapp came to this country in the ship “Mary and John,” which bore a goodly company, including two magistrates and two ministers, and reached port May 30, 1630. He settled in Dorchester, Mass., where he held various public offices. In 1665 he was appointed Captain of the fortifications on Castle Island in Boston Harbor, a position which he creditably filled for twenty years, resigning his commission when the tyrannical Andros was made governor of New England. Shortly after, in 1686, he removed to Boston, where he died in 1691, in his eighty-second year. Roger Clapp married Joanna, daughter of Thomas Ford, who, with her parents, came over in the same ship. Preserved Clapp, one of their fourteen children, born November 23, 1643, settled in Northampton. He was a prominent man in the town, a Captain of a military company, a Representative to the General Court, and a ruling Elder in the church. He died from the effects of a gunshot wound received from an Indian.

Preserved Clapp married Sarah Newberry, of Windsor, Conn., who bore seven children, one of whom, named Roger, was the father of Major Jonathan Clapp, who settled in Easthampton about 1730. Jonathan Clapp was reared by his uncle, Samuel Bartlett, and inherited from him the corn-mill which he had had an early permit to build in Easthampton. Major Clapp was one of the leading men in the early history of the town. During the Revolution he showed his patriotism and his humanity by always keeping two large kettles of food over the fire to supply the soldiers who passed his house, each kettle holding thirty gallons; and the fire was constantly burning, so that the soldier could get his meal by day or night. He was the father of three sons and eight daughters.

His youngest son, Benjamin Clapp, was born December 16, 1738. In 1766 he settled in Easthampton, taking up a large tract of land, which is now divided into some six farms, mostly in the possession of the family, the farm occupied by his grandson, William N., being a part of the original property. Benjamin Clapp, commonly called Quartermaster Clapp, served in the Revolutionary War. He died in 1815, at the age of seventy-seven. A journal which he started on March 9, 1767, is in the possession of his grandson, William N. Clapp, and is in a fair state of preservation. His wife, whose maiden name was Phebe Boynton, was a native of Coventry, Conn., born November 23, 1750. She was married in 1765, at fifteen, and lived to be ninety-seven, and died in December, 1847, retaining to the last activity of mind and body. Fifteen children were born to them, thirteen of whom reared families.

Solomon Clapp was the eighth child of Benjamin. His life began September 2, 1782, Easthampton being his birthplace; and the confines of that town bounded the horizon of his existence. He was engaged in general farming on the land bequeathed him by his father up to the time of his death, which occurred when he was forty-five years old. His wife, Paulina Avery, was a daughter of Abner Avery, a native of Wallingford, Conn., who removed to Northampton in middle life, later removing to Easthampton, where he died in 1836, at the age of eighty-eight. He was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary army. Mrs. Paulina A. Clapp lived to be seventy-six years of age. Her remains are resting with those of her husband in the fine new cemetery at Easthampton. She was the mother of ten children, of whom William N. and three sisters are living, and six brothers have passed away. The youngest, George C., removed to Kasota, Minn., and, joining the army, soon rose from the ranks to a position of authority, his first service being in fighting the Indians.

William N. Clapp was the second son of his parents. He acquired the rudiments of his education in the district schools, and was a student for a year at Hopkins Academy in Hadley, a noted school in those days. In his seventeenth year he was apprenticed to a jeweller and watch-maker in Providence, with whom he remained but a few months, being called home in consequence of the death of his father. He succeeded to the possession of the home farm, and with the exception of three winters spent in teaching at South Amherst, Westhampton, and Grafton, his life has since been devoted to general farming. He has a roomy and homelike residence, which he built in 1836, and owns a fine estate.

Mr. Clapp has been married three times. His first wife, to whom he was united in 1833, was Tryphena Janes, the second daughter of Parsons Janes, of Easthampton. Her grandfather, Jonathan Janes, was a soldier in the French and Indian War, and was present at the surrender of Louisburg. Mrs. Tryphena J. Clapp died July 29, 1847, leaving four children, namely: Sarah Eugenia, who was educated at Williston and South Hadley Seminaries, for ten years was a successful teacher in the public schools of Ohio and Massachusetts, and is now the wife of George W. Guilford, of Swift River, Mass.; William Edgar, who served in the Fifty-second Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, taking part in the siege of Port Hudson, and now has a farm adjoining his father’s, and a wife and two children; Solomon Parsons, who died in 1872, leaving a widow and one daughter, Rosa Ward, now deceased, another daughter, Minnie P., being born after her father’s decease; and Eliza Tryphena, who was first wife of George Guilford, and died February 18, 1879, leaving one daughter, Ena.

On January 4, 1848, Mr. Clapp married Emily Janes, sister of his first wife. The two children born of this union, Emily Maria and Harriet Ellen, are both graduates of Mount Holyoke Seminary. Harriet Ellen, who also received a diploma for proficiency in music from Smith College, is now the wife of Fred E. Gates, of Springfield, Mo., and the mother of three children. Miss Emily M. Clapp was three years a teacher in Utah. Under the auspices of the New West Education Commission she founded a school at Provo in 1883, and taught there two years. The school, which she left in a good condition, is now a large institution. She had peculiar difficulties to contend with, as Brigham Young Academy was at that time flourishing in Provo, which was the strongest Mormon town in Utah. Miss Clapp was three years connected with the American Missionary Association in the South, and has taught in Massachusetts and Vermont.

Mr. Clapp married in October, 1862, his present wife. Prudence T., daughter of Charles Wait, of Easthampton, formerly of Williamsburg. Her grandfather, Joseph Wait, of Williamsburg, was a Revolutionary soldier. Two children were born of this marriage, both now deceased. Mr. Clapp’s grand-daughter, Caroline T. Clapp, is a graduate of Mount Holyoke, has been a successful teacher in Waltham, and is now travelling in Europe. A grandson, William Clark Clapp, who was born on his grandfather’s sixty-third birthday, is an enthusiastic market gardener with his father.

William N. Clapp is a Republican in politics, and has served many years as Collector of Taxes. He was Collector and Treasurer of the town from 1839 to 1854, and was Justice of the Peace twenty-one years, declining a renewal of his commission; and many other offices were at his command, but he refused to cater to the political tastes of the times. He has been Trustee of the savings-bank since its organization. He is active in church work, and was collector and treasurer of the First Parish from 1839 to 1853, ceasing to act in that capacity on the formation of the Payson Congregational Church of Easthampton, to which he now belongs. An unmistakable likeness* of this well-known citizen will be seen on a preceding page.

*Editor's note: Portrait was included in the original printed book.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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