Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Elijah S. Clapp

ELIJAH S. CLAPP. Hamilton County was organized in 1886. At first its territory included portions of several of the present adjoining counties and by the proclamation of the governor the county seat was located at Kendall. Kendall is now one of the towns of the past in Kansas. Its high tide of activity and prosperity was for two brief years, 1886 and 1887. Practically all the early residents of the town in the flush of its boom days long since departed. One who has chosen to remain and grow up with the country as a farmer and stock raiser is Mr. Elijah S. Clapp, and he is probably more competent to tell the variegated fortunes of that community than any other man.

Mr. Clapp arrived at Kendall in 1886. He came for the purpose of locating and arrived in the month of June. He found Kendall the chief town of Hamilton County, and it was then a thriving business point. Four lumber yards distributed material for local building and also for the upbuilding of Johnson City. From these yards were furnished the material for the first buildings at Leoti, the county seat of Wichita County. Kendall then possessed a bank and certain parties were talking of establishing a second one. There were several good general merchandise stores, and all of them were doing a big business. It was then recognized as the metropolis of the county, but when the large area at first constituted under the name of Hamilton County was subdivided and the present county limits established the choice of the county seat had to be settled and Syracuse was the fortunate town chosen. That action killed Kendall, and little now remains to tell of the glory of departed days.

As an indication of value placed upon business lots in those early times it is said that Doctor Greer, who desired to start a second bank, offered $500 for a lot upon which to build it. The owner asked double that amount and "won't take a cent less." The doctor finally agreed to split the difference and give $750, but the owner still declined. A year later the owner left the town, and so far as the public knows never received a penny out of his highly valued property.

On coming here Mr. Clapp entered as his homestead the west half of section 4 township 23, range 38. That was the scene of his active career in Kansas. He had been a Union soldier, and that allowed him to have his selection of a homestead made by a comrade. This business was therefore transacted by G. W. Langford, who located several other claims for his comrades. Mr. Clapp arrived at Kendall by railroad and brought very little with him besides his own family. A blacksmith by trade, he opened a shop at Kendall, his being one of the four then in existence, and there was plenty of work for all of them. He conducted his shop for seven years, and at the end of seventeen months had secured a patent for his homestead. He also went to farming, and from one sowing of wheat he harvested an excellent yield before the return of the drought. He finally moved out to his farm, and for a number of years continued crop raising and stock growing actively after leaving his trade. Through all the subsequent years he has remained in the vicinity of Kendall and his present farm is in section 24, township 24, range 39, being the southwest quarter of the section. This place is of considerable historic interest.

It was owned by an old soldier, John Williams. Williams was a merchant of Kendall during its prosperous days. When the boom subsided and people began moving out of the country he accepted as pay for the large credits he had extended the residences and other property of the emigrants. All the houses which he took on bills were moved into the yard of his home, and these were among the other stuff which Mr. Clapp bought along with the land. There were perhaps a dozen of the frame shanties, sufficient to start a small town. Some of these were used for improvements by Mr. Clapp and others were torn down and the lumber sold.

Williams was one of the characters of Kendall who deserves some special mention here. He was without fear, drank some liquor, believed in law and order and insisted upon it with a vengeance. He would shoot or fight if necessary, and there was more than one opportunity to demonstrate his bravery and his ability to enforce his demands. On one occasion some toughs were kicking in windows and doors along the street and he arrested them and held them until the prisoners volunteered to "be good" if he would turn them loose. He did so and they crossed the street and repeated their previous performance. He went after them again and in the battle, being hard pressed, he called upon citizens for assistance but no one volunteered. Thus he was left to fight the mob alone. That angered him and he declared he would not live in a place where such orgies and such outlawry were permitted. He made good his threat by locking up his store and getting out of the town. Later his stock of goods were shipped away. Williams had another fight at Kendall in which he was forced to use his pistol. His assailant had buried his teeth in his cheek, and Williams making an effort to shoot the man loose shot a little too close to his own face and the bullet took away a number of his own teeth and missed its mark altogether.

In those early days Kendall had a noted stone quarry. This was located just north of the town. The stone was valuable as building material and many carloads were shipped to towns along the Santa Fe, much of it going to Garden City for the building of the Buffalo Hotel and other business houses still standing there. A lot of this stone was also shipped to Colorado for building the first sugar beet factory of Prowers County. This stone quarry furnished a place of work and also of refuge to the imported voters during county seat elections. There was an old stone schoolhouse which became a bunk house and there the imported men lived while working in the quarry or while earning the $100 offered them for their vote.

While a witness to all these strenuous times in Kendall Mr. Clapp himself has been contented to live a private life and one without important incident except as connected with the course of events in this locality. He served twice as township trustee, also as township treasurer, and declined to qualify as justice of the peace when elected. He was brought up as a republican, cast a vote for Abraham Lincoln in Tennessee in 1864, but after the war was converted to the free trade principles of the democratic party and that has since been his affiliation. Soon after leaving the army he joined the Masonic Lodge and is a member of Syracuse Lodge No. 309, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

Elijah S. Clapp was born in West Stockholm Township, St. Lawrence County, New York, January, 8, 1843. His father, Nelson B. Clapp, was born near Rutland, Vermont, in February 1820, and died in 1867, while a resident in Livingston County, Illinois. He had grown up in New York State and had married in St. Lawrence County Arvilla Converse, a daughter of Elijah Converse. She was born near Lake Champlain and died in Kankakee County, Illinois. Her children were: Elijah S.; Mrs. Mary E. Lowden, of Kankakee, Illinois; and Sawyer S., of Syracuse, Kansas.

In 1847, when Elijah S. was four years of age, the family moved to Illinois, first settling in McHenry County and later moving to Grundy County and finally to Livingston County, where the father pre-empted a quarter section of land. In Illinois Mr. Clapp grew up and received his education, and after his war service entered Fowler Institute in Kendall County of that state. In February, 1864, at the age of twenty-one, he enlisted in Captain Colvin's Independent Battery. Captain Colvin was a son of Mayor Calvin of Chicago. This battery was consolidated with Battery M, and was first known as Battery K. It was made a part of the army under General Thomas and arrived at Knoxville toward the end of the siege and battle. Mr. Clapp and some of his comrades were called upon to bury some of the rebel dead at that city, and he remained with his command there until the close of the war. He was given his honorable discharge at Chicago, and after the war he had some further education, kept up his trade as blacksmith, and was a farmer chiefly until he removed to Kansas.

On June 4, 1868, he married Miss Mary Myers, who died in Illinois. Her father was John Myers. Mr. Clapp by his first marriage had the following children: Genevieve E., wife of John Hughes and living in Ford County, Illinois; Elbert Benjamin, of Livingston County, Illinois, married Emma Wagner; and Myrtle, who married George Lamb and at her death left children. In Kansas on January 1, 1891, Mr. Clapp married Miss Emma Jane Kinghorn, who was born in Canada, her father, Andrew Kinghorn, being a native of Scotland. Mr. and Mrs. Clapp have two children: Elmer S., who married Ivy Plunkett and lives at Kendall; and Orrin F., who is a sheep raiser in Hamilton County.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

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