The Edward A. Huebener collection of over 100 bricks originally collected by Mr. Huebener exhibits brick paintings of the houses from which the bricks came. The bricks have upon them painted scenes of (mostly) old Dorchester houses and landmarks. To see a list of all the bricks, choose the term Architecture in the list at the left of the screen and choose the first subsection -- the Edward A. Huebener Brick Collection and scroll to the bottom of that page to see icons for all the bricks.
| The David Clapp House was locate on Stoughton Street.
Click image for more information
Click image for more information
Photo in the possession of the Dorchester Historical Society of the David Clapp House.
David Clapp was a printer in Boston
“Memoir of David Clapp”
Communicated by William Blake Trask, A.M., of Dorchester, Mass.
New-England Historical and Genealogical Register, April, 1894, 145-156
Nicholas Clapp, the first ancestor of David in this county, and the son of Richard, was from Dorchester, Dorset, England. On the 23d of August, 1636, he signed the Church Covenant of our New England Dorchester, drawn up by Rev. Richard Mather and others.
The Clapp family settled, originally, in Salcombe Regis, county of Devon, where Roger, cousin to Nicholas, was born. This place is situated about twelve miles from the city of Exeter, and a little to the eastward of Sidmouth.
David was of the sixth generation in descent from Nicholas through Nathaniel, Jonathan, David and David. Fac-simile autographs of his first, second and fourth ancestors, in this country, are here given.
It is understood that Nicholas Clapp settled on land in Dorchester between what is now Upham’s Corner and Cottage street, the present Boston Street being on the east; where three generations of the family were born. In the year 1754, David, of the fourth generation, moved his residence to the north-easterly side of Jones’s Hill, in Dorchester, what is now Stoughton Street bounding it on the north. For this tract of land of twelve and a half acres he paid in pounds 146. 13. 4. Said land was conveyed to him the 12th of May, 1755, by Thomas Kilton and wife Sarah, of Dorchester. On the 6th of February, 1806, in the house built by his father David in 1794, on the portion of land inherited by him, David, second son and third child of the said David and Azubah (Capen) Clapp, was born.
David, father of the subject of this memoir, in the eighteenth year of his age, was engaged with his father, David, in throwing up the fortifications on Dorchester Heights, in March, 1776. He was, also, a substitute for his father, who was drafted in the Dorchester company the next year, and as a member of that company was stationed at Cambridge to guard General Burgoyne’s army, the prisoners of war. They continued there five months. Soon after his return home from Cambridge he was drafted as one of nine privates, who with a sergeant and corporal were sent to Noddle’s Island (East Boston) to guard the fort at that place. “At the time I was at the Island,” he says, in his diary, “there were only two dwelling houses and two families, the inhabitants, I think, no more than twelve.” “At several times in the years 1779, ’80 and ’81 I enlisted,” he writes, “as a soldier and served under Captain Champney and Captain Clapp twenty-two months at Dorchester Heights.” See “Clapp Memorial,” pages 223, 247; Hist. Dorchester, page 348. The above David died May 15, 1846, in his 87th year. About three acres of land left by him on “Jones’s Hill” came into possession of his son David who retained it intact ntil the year 1889, when the upper portion of the estate was sold in house lots. “A street through the centre from Cushing Avenue is laid out, to which it is proposed to give the name of Salcombe Street, thereby associating this estate, which has been occupied by further generations of Clapps, with the old family estate in England.”
A fac-simile of the autograph of David, born in 1749, is here given.
At the present time little can be gathered in relation to the early life of Mr. Clapp. Presumable, with other boys, his companions and school-fellows, he coasted down Jones’s Hill, skated on Royal’s pond, and attended the dame school of his native district, as was almost universally the case, the teacher receiving the customary fee from each pupil of nine pence (twelve and a half cents) a week. Like other lads he doubtless was familiar with the tall trees, shrubs, fruits and flower of his neighborhood; on Sundays with his parents he probably sat, forenoon and afternoon, under the preaching of Rev. Thaddeus Mason Harris, whom later in life, he designates as “one of the most faithful and affectionate of pastors and best of men,” “ a man of overflowing sympathies, “ who “had a kindness and tender-heartedness towards all. The family afterward became connected with the Second Church, of which Rev. Dr. John Codman was pastor.
From the “woman’s” school to the “master’s” would be the next step in his educational progress, the “brick school house” being a short distance only from his home. The following, to the point, is the substance of an interview held a few months since by a member of the family, with an aged female acquaintance and school-companion of our friend:
In calling upon a school-mate of my father’s, after his death, the first thing she said about him was, “He was a good boy; he was never known to do anything wrong.” She described him, as all his later friends have known him, as being conscientious and studious, as well as a lovable character. In his studies she referred to his excellence in spelling, in which he took a prize when quite a small lad.
The school they attended was on what is now Boston Street, near Deacon Clapp’s tannery, and opposite the old burying-ground. It was a small one-story building, and in the one school-room were gathered together both boys and girls. The room in the winter was heated by a large, open fireplace, and, although the wood was piled on generously, the cold often penetrated the open cracks in the floor, much to the discomfort of those troubled by cold feet. It was not a luxurious room, nor was the life of those who daily gathered there one of ease and luxury. Those were plain and simple homes from which they went forth, and the school-life was of the same character. The studied the common branches, plain, elementary, but solid; thorough as far as they went. There was a religious element n the instruction given; hymns were taught, and the Assembly’s Catechism. Two instructors were well remembered by the names of Bennett and Gould.
Holidays were few in those days of Dorchester schools, and excursions for pleasure by the students were unknown. Two weeks a year would nearly cover all the vacations enjoyed.
This school-mate of Mr. Clapp’s referred to above, although in her ninety-first year, has recalled clearly to her memory those early days, and described them thus to us with warm praises of him with whom they are connected. Of the above students she remembers the names of Nazro, Downer, Moseley and Humphreys.
John Everett, a younger brother of Edward Everett, though several years older than Mr. Clapp, was for a short time, as he relates, a school-mate in the old brick school-house. This John, a “bud of promise early blighted,” died suddenly, Feb. 12, 1826, aged twenty-five years. He delivered an oration before the Washington Society in Boston, and an ode before the same society, of which he was a member, July 4, 1824. See Loring’s Hundred Boston Orators, page 407. Another school-mate was Foster Thayer, afterwards a Congregational minister. Still another, James Bailey, has been discovered. On the 21st of April, 1820, David received from his teacher, Warren Goddard, a reward of merit, “for his persevering diligence, rapid improvement in the various branches to which he has directed his attention, and truly unblemished deportment.”
Our friend did not enjoy the privilege of going to school the year round. On the 15th of April, 1819, when thirteen years old, according to his journal he went to work in the tannery of Deacon James Humphrey, where he had for wages seven dollars a month.
On the 24th of May, 1820, in the fifteenth year of his age, he engaged to serve Mr. James White for five dollars a month, which as a reduction in price, but the labor probably was less. Mr. White had his summer residence in what is now the Holbrook House, Crescent Avenue, Dorchester. Many years before that, he carried on the book-store in Court Street, Boston, which bore the sign of Franklin’s Head.
The juvenile diary of young David, now extant, commenced this day, May 24th. Though not intended for the public eye, it is entertaining and instructive to the general reader; the spelling, punctuation and composition remarkable; much of it suitable to be put in print without alteration or correction.
June 17th, the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, “Mister White gave me,” he says, “this writing book,” in which the fact is entered, “one quire of paper, and half a dozen pens,” the old-fashioned goose quills, which occasionally required mending, for this was long before the introduction of metallic pens.
He left Mr. White November 1st, and renewed his schooling December 7th, now under the tuition of “Master Pierce,” the next May returning to Mr. White’s, where he remained until the 5th of November; but to school again, December 26th, the day after Christmas.
At length his seat in the old brick school-house became vacant, and the studious tenant left to learn a trade, as was the custom among boys of those days after finishing their studies at school. On the thirteenth of May, 1822, at the usual age of sixteen, he commenced his apprenticeship at the printing business, with Mr. John Cotton, Junior, of Boston, who had served his time with Munroe & Francis; David boarded with Mr. Erastus Bartholomew, blacksmith and engine-builder, in Water Street.(See “Bartholomew Family,” 173-175 for sketch and portrait.) Mr. Cotton’s building was then known as in Marlborough Street, Number 47; a few years later it became 184 Washington Street.
Mr. Clapp, writing in his diary of September 6, 1822, thus remarks: “We have left off printing the Christian Register.” This was volume second, number four of the Register, edited by David Reed. Robert M. Peck, No. 4 Spear’s Buildings, Congress Street, then commenced printing the Register. He was succeeded June 13, 1823, by John B. Russell, of the same place. On the 29th of May, 1823, he writes: “R.M. Peck has begun to print the Boston Medical Intelligencer, at our office.” “We shall in future print books, I expect. We have now begun on entitled ‘Parental Monitor.’” “Nov. 3. Finished the ‘Parental Monitor,’ the ‘Orphan,’ and the ‘Revenge,’ and begun the ‘Uncle and Nephew.’” Nov. 24, 1822, he states that “Mr. Cotton has dismissed his other apprentice, and I am now left alone, with neither master, journeyman, nor apprentice to work with.” A little later he writes: “I still continue to work alone, with nobody but the mice, who scamper around the silent office as if they thought it had been deserted on purpose to oblige them.” He was at that time in the seventeenth year of his age.
He continued working on the Intelligencer, for Messrs. Peck and Cotton. There were about 260 subscribers to this periodical, which was edited by Dr. Jerome V.C. smith, afterwards mayor of Boston, assisted by Dr. George Parkman. He relates some pleasant reminiscences of Dr. Parkman “whose name is so tragically connected with that of Professor Webster.” “It fell to my lot for a year or two during my apprenticeship to become well acquainted with Dr. P.,” while assisting Dr. Smith in editing the first two or three volumes of the Medical Intelligencer. Dr. Parkman gave Mr. Capp instruction in the Franch language, evenings, at his house in Cambridge Street.
June 17, 1832. Mr. John Cotton has bought the Medical Intelligencer of Mr. Peck. I expect to print it alone, for the present.
July 20. Mr. Crocker has begun to print a new publication at our office, entitled Evangelical Repertory.
Feb. 10, 1824, at 18 years of age, he writes:--
I have had the kine pox at last, after being inoculated, once by Dr. Parkman, three times by Dr. Smith, and once by myself, the last of which took.
Importance is attached to this subject, as, according to his account, the small pox then prevailed I the vicinity of Boston, and he, by vaccination, may have been instrumental in warding off the disease from himself.
Mr. Cotton made an arrangement with Francis Y Carlisle to work in the printing-office, Mr. Cotton to find type, paper, etc., and Mr. Carlisle to have half the profits; Mr. Clapp, whos was then engaged alone on the Medical Intelligencer, to exchange work with Mr. Carlisle. Soon, however, the latter having an opportunity of becoming foreman of the Christian Register office, left Mr. Cotton for the above purpose, which Mr. Clapp regretted, for he was thus left again entirely alone. Messrs. Carlisle, Crocker and Oliver, before leaving Mr. Cotton, were engaged in printing a small book for Mr. John Barnard, of about one hundred pages, 18mo, entitled “The Sparrow,” which was finished about the middle of December following, Mr. Clapp assisting in the work.
Mr. Cotton has purchased the Atheneum or Spirit of the English Magazines, of Munroe & Francis, and intends for the future to publish it in his office. We commenced the first number of this volume last month. Samuel Clap Jr., my cousin, came in as an apprentice to Mr. Cotton about the beginning of March, so that my long career of printer’s deviltry has at length terminated, but as John Cotton Jr., will be the foreman of the office I shall be less my own master than I have been during most of the time for two years past.
It appears that John Cotton senior was not a practical printer but carried on the ship and house painting business in Batterymarch Street, and was also engaged in the manufacture of painted carpets, so that the affairs of the printing-office were delegated to the junior member, but the care and labor fell upon his industrious and faithful journeyman, Mr. Clapp.
In the words of another:--
He early assumed pressing and important responsibilities in the printing-office which he had entered as an apprentice at the age of sixteen years. Owing to a peculiar combination of circumstances, in less than two years after he commenced his apprenticeship he found himself in such a position that the chief responsibility of the office devolved upon him; and such was his strict attention to business, his unswerving integrity, his ambition to excel in his profession, united with this faithfulness to his nominal employer, and the rare tact which he even then showed in harmonizing the disagreements of differing parties, that he was found to be equal to the demands of this difficult and responsible position. It is exceedingly interesting to gather from the journal facts showing how steadily and surely, in the course of two years or less, he worked his way upwards in spite of his native diffidence and his ignorance of men and of business, to a position as master printer, for in reality before he was eighteen years of age, very much of the chief responsibility of the office rested upon his shoulders. And it is very pleasant and gratifying to observe, in his modest account of himself during this period, how his successful performance of many most difficult and delicate tasks won for him the confidence of those whom he regarded with highest respect and esteem.
He quietly remarks:--
If I have been of service to him [John Cotton senior] in conducting the affairs of the office with faithfulness and fidelity, as he has been pleased to acknowledge, it has been entirely the effects of the kind treatment which I have invariably received from him, and the confidence which he has in so gratifying a manner reposed in me.
May 14, 1826. Last week Mr. Cotton commenced printing a new edition of Thatcher’s Modern Practice. He has procured a new press (one of Smith’s patient) and has employed two pressmen in order to keep the press going all the time while the above work. He has, also, employed one more compositor. The appearance of the inside of the office is rather different from what it was two or three years ago, when all the work that was done in the office, both at case and press, was done by me. The new press cost about $230.
This was superior article to the old Ramage press used during the early part of his apprenticeship, when “the printing of each sheet, on both sides, required four separate impressions, or four ‘pulls’ as they were called, with the bar working of the screw. While one pressman was engaged in this process, a companion attended to the inking of the type by the two leather-faced balls then in use.” He writes:--
Feb. 6, 1827. This is my freedom day; twenty one years of age; my apprenticeship ended and manhood attained. Though I am, at present, considerably out of health, the occasion calls for an expression of gratitude to the Giver of every good, for so large a share of health as I have thus far enjoyed, and for the many other blessing with which I have been favored. I shall stay with Mr. Cotton for the present at the at the rate of eight or nine dollars a week, and go on in much the same manner that I have done.
After working a while for wages at the same place, Mr. Clapp formed a partnership, in 1831, with John Cotton senior and Henry S. Hull, under the firm name of Clapp & Hull, which was soon dissolved. Mr. Clapp and Mr. Cotton then became partners, the firm name being D. Clapp Jr. and Co., till the year 1834, when Mr. Clapp bought out the business and continued printing and jobbing on the old corner, 184 Washington Street, until 1861, when Franklin Street was widened on the north side, and the building taken down, Mr. Clapp having been a worker there thirty-nine years. The business was then removed to No. 334 (afterwards re-numbered 564) Washington Street. In 1864, his eldest son, John Cotton Capp, was taken into partnership with his father, and in 1882 they removed to 35 Bedford Street. In July, 1889, the Bedford Street Building being taken down, the firm went to their present location, 115 High Street.
The Boston Directory was printed in this office from 1829 to 1846, and the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register from January 1866 to the present time. Much pamphlet and book work has been done by the firm of David Clapp & Son, an especial attention having been given then and now to genealogical and historical productions. Among them may be mentioned volumes of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, including the History of Dorchester, the “Clapp Memorial,” &c., &c. The latter, compiled by Ebenezer Clapp Jr., was published in 1876. As one of the committee of publication of that valuable work—Messrs. Otis and David Clapp being associates—it is fitting and just for the only survivor to bear witness, from personal knowledge, to the fact that a large amount of matter was added through the untiring efforts and labors of the modest and unassuming printer, in text and notes, judiciously compiled, of a biographical, genealogical, historical and illustrative nature. Several visits for this purpose were made to Newport and Warwick, in Rhode Island; Scituate, Massachusetts, and perhaps other places,; to the first and last mentioned the writer had the pleasure of accompanying Mr. Clapp. From Warwick, by interview and correspondence, a large amount of original matter was obtained concerning the family of George Gilson Clapp. See page 283 and onwards of the “Clapp Memorial” volume. The same general fact may be mentioned as to his prompt assistance in reference to other parts of the book.
As a historian, he was thorough, counting no time spent in patient research for the verification of data as lost, and his published papers, of which there have been many, have been accepted as reliable.
The publication before mentioned, the Medical Intelligencer, printed by Mr. Clapp, commencing in 1823,edited by Drs. Smith and Parkman, in its early days; succeeded by Dr. Chandler Robbins Jr., who took the place of Dr. Parkman as joint editor with Dr. Smith, in 1824, was subsequently merged with another periodical, and called the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal; continued in octavo form, edited at first by Drs. John C. Warren, Walter Channing, and John Ware. It became the property of Mr. Clapp in 1834, and was issued from his press without the omission of a single number until December, 1874, on reaching its ninety-first volume, when the work was purchased by a company of medical gentlemen and removed to another publication house, Mr. Clapp having been connected with its issue for about fifty years.
Francis Minot, M.D., of Boston, who for a time edited the Journal, writes:--
My acquaintance with Mr. David Clapp began in the early part of 1855, when an effort was made by several of the younger members of the medical profession in Boston to revive the standard of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, which for some time had fallen into a condition of decrepitude. Although doubtful of our success, Mr. Clapp cordially seconded our efforts, and before long the subscription list contained the names of a large number of our profession, not only in Massachusetts, but in almost every part of the country; and its reputation as a scientific journal has steadily increased, until it has become one of the most valuable medical periodicals in the United States.
It was impossible to be associated with Mr. Clapp without being impressed with his character as a man of honor, as well as with his kindness and courtesy towards all with whom he came in contact. Modest and retiring in his disposition, he was one of the most intelligent of men, while his ability and knowledge in every department of his art, and his familiarity with the requirements of medical journalism, contributed greatly to the success of his undertaking.
About the year 1828 or ’29, he made proposals for establishing in Dorchester a circulating library. To this end he wrote a pleasant letter to the Rev. Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Harris, his earliest minister, asking advice on the subject, thinking he would soon be obliged to resign his printing business on account of ill health; but the project, probably, was not carried into effect.
Mr. Clapp never held a public office, or seldom went from home for any purpose until the infirmities of age compelled him to retire.
St. Matthew’s Church was the first incorporated religious society in South Boston, dating back to June 24, 1816. The connection of Mr. Clapp with this Church began in 1843, in which year his wife and himself were confirmed. He was chosen junior warden in 1846. In 1858 he became senior warden, which office he held until his death. He wrote for publication a number of articles concerning “The Early Days of St. Matthew’s.” These were printed in a paper called the St. Matthew’s Echo. They contain a valuable summary of the history of the Church for several years, with some account of its rectors.
Mr. Clapp was made a member of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association in Boston in 1839, and subsequently a life member. On the 7th of March, 1866, he joined the New-England Historic Genealogical Society, and was connected with the Boston Old School Boys Association for a short time before his death.
On the 9th of April, 1835, he married Mary Elizabeth Tucker, a daughter of Atherton Tucker, of Milton, where she was born the 25th of August, 1808. They had six children, all living, namely: Mary Susannah; John Cotton, married Julia Curtis Crane; Elizabeth Atherton; David Capen, married Constance Leocadie Pierrerelee; Caroline Tucker, married Albert A. Chittenden; Sarah Ellen, married Samuel Newman Chittenden.
He retired from active business in 1892, gradually failing in health until his decease, May 10, 1893, at the advanced age of 87 years, 3 months. The funeral services took place at S. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, on Sunday afternoon, May 14th, at one o’clock, in the Church where he had been warden nearly fifty years; the present rector, Rev. Albert E. George, Rev. Dr. James I.T. Coolidge (a former rector), Rev. Alfred F. Washburn, Rev. John T. Magrath, and Rev. Frederick M. Brooks, officiating. In the morning the rector preached a sermon appropriate to the occasion, which was printed. The interment took place in the old cemetery at Dorchester, corner of Boston and Stoughton Streets. His estimable wife followed soon after, passing away Oct. 2, 1893, aged 85.
Mr. Clapp was a remarkable man. Having been acquainted with him nearly half a century, we can safely say there are but few among our acquaintances of whom we should dare to use language applicable to him. His great diffidence and modesty curtailed somewhat his status with the public. The golden rule was to him, we doubt not, a standard of duty in his business transactions; conformity thereto his aim and object. His religious views were well defined and positive. He was straight-forward, upright and honorable. During his apprenticeship, early life, and later manhood, he seemed to have had a commendable degree of firmness and self control, based, as we believe, on principle, with a sincere desire to do his whole duty, as he understood it, in his dealings with his fellow men.
Let others speak, as we are pleased to know they do, in commendation of our friend.
Albert H. Hoyt, A.M., for many years editor of the Register, uses the following language:
My acquaintance with Mr. Clapp began in 1867 or 1868, and during the eight years of my service as editor of the Register I met him very frequently, sometimes daily. The acquaintance thus begun was continued to his death. I was impressed with his quiet disposition, his strict sense of justice and fairness, and his intelligent mind. He was, of course, a master of his craft and art. But he was more than this; he had a very full knowledge of some important periods of New England history, while the history of many of his contemporaries in Boston, and of events, which occurred during his active life, was at his ready command. In this way he was of constant assistance to contributors to the history of our local affairs. He had a clear and terse style of expression, and his suggestions were often helpful to those whose writings came under his eye. He touched nothing with the pen, as proof-reader, that he did not improve. His own frequent contributions to the “Notes and Queries” of the Transcript are of permanent interest and value. No one who had dealings with Mr. Clapp, or who met him socially, could nave failed to be impressed with his modesty, his refinement of feeling and manners, and his unfailing kindness.
Mr. David W. Lothrop, of West Medford, for many years connected with Mr. Calpp’s office, furnishes the subjoined estimate of his associate:
When, in 1842, I first saw and became acquainted with Mr. Clapp. In his office, I was struck with the gentle, spiritual glow resting on his countenance, so rarely seen among business men. Then his modesty; his simple, unpretentious manners seemed to sit so easily upon him, and so to become him, that I regarded him as a man of remarkably happy elements. Not long after, on a particular matter of business which I though I might explain to him, he seemed much pleases at what I had to say, and I was gratified; but I soon found he knew more about it than I did.
In businesses, Mr. Clapp was industrious, frugal, and remarkably faithful and prompt to his patrons—which latter did much to win him success. His manner was quiet, with little talk. Noisy and blustering men he dreaded; yet was frequently obliged to meet them, and at times suffered from them. Mr. Clapp’s aim was not to do a great or showy business, for which he was not well fitted, but a moderate and honest one.
Although Mr. Clapp was not ambitious, in its broadest meaning, he took a reasonable pride in his business, and studied to give a respectable stamp to his typography, particularly to the books from his press relating to history and genealogy. His proof-reading, which he always attended to himself, was very careful and thorough, though often trying to the nerves. He was too conscientious to delegate it to others, and would seek to correct errors in quotations and dates when he thought they might be wrong; also to make the sense clear by proper punctuation. Consequently, authors were frequently under great obligations to him for the accuracy of their productions. In reading roof he employed no one to go through the manuscript while he looked at the printed matter, but glanced from one to the other, with a result remarkable for correctness. In this way, during his long term of service in the printing business, the amount of his labor was prodigious.
In one sense of the word, Mr. Clapp was a timid man—not born with the frowning brow or club of Hercules. I have though sometimes he felt and regretted his deficiency in this regard. His was the courage of right, the timidity of wrong. His opinions he deliberately formed, and held to them with reasonable tenacity.
Another noticeable characteristic of Mr. Clapp was his reticence. He said little to others of his opinions or business; enough to him was his own. He rarely spoke of religious subjects, especially during the business hours, though his veneration for the Deity was evidently profound. Apparently, as a consequence, he ever seemed happy to make the acquaintance of and respect persons of a religious character. To him a Christian was the highest style of man.
Intellectually, Mr. Clapp had a very fine head and brain, and this latter was well cultivated by his own efforts. He never aspired to become a noted writer, yet his productions were clear. In his early life, he was a respectable French student.
Durian an unbroken term of forty-six years (save a few months absence) with Mr. Clapp in the Medical Journal office, from 1842 to 1888, I trust we respected and appreciated each other. Our tempers seemed to fit remarkably well for what we had to do, and we never passed an angry word.
John Ward Deane, A.M., editor of the Register, says:
My acquaintance with Mr. Clapp began in the autumn of 1864, when he contracted for printing the Historical and Genealogical Register. I, being a member of the publishing committee, saw him frequently. In October, 1875, I became the editor of the Register, which had just completed its twenty-ninth volume. My predecessor was Col. Albert H. Hoyt, who had edited the work for the eight preceding years.
At my first acquaintance with Mr. Clapp he impressed me as a man of sterling integrity, who was conscientious in all his business transactions; a longer acquaintance confirmed the impression. He took a deep interest in the success of the Register, and in fact he was one of the original members of the Register Club that for a few years bore the pecuniary responsibility of this periodical. I am glad of this opportunity to acknowledge the literary assistance which I received from him during upwards of seventeen years that our connection continued. He was a careful proof-reader, but was not content with the ordinary work of proof-reading. He scrutinized the articles carefully, and often detected errors in the manuscript that had escaped the eye of the editor. In a periodical so largely composed of names and figures, this was an important assistance.
It gives me pleasure to recall his friendship, and I shall long honor his memory for his many noble qualities.
The Rev. John Wright, D.D., of St. Paul, Minn., once a rector of St. Matthew’s Church, writes:--
David Clapp was one of the whitest souls I ever knew. His friendships were strong, his spirit gentle, and his piety sincere and unobtrusive. He was wonderfully self-contained, and when he expressed himself uttered the wise and the right word. He disliked contention of any kind, and was always foremost as a peace-maker. And when I preached a sermon from the text “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” he came to me to ask for the manuscript that he might publish it at his own expense. While I declined to comply with his request, the incident shows how large-hearted was his love for his fellow men. For thirteen years I was associated with him in the work of St. Matthew’s Church, and in all that time I never witnessed in him other than attractive traits of character.
Mr. Oliver B. Stebbins of South Boston, a near neighbor to Mr. Clapp, uses the following language:--
He was a good citizen, kind friend, and able and conscientious adviser in all that pertained to the welfare of the community in which he had spent so many years of his life. His gentle manners, kindliness of disposition, wise counsels, unassuming deportment, ready willingness to render assistance when required, his virtuous life and high character, all rendered him a man worthy to be honored, respected and beloved.
The Rev. James I.T. Coolidge, D.D., a former rector of St. Matthew’s Church, in two communications to the children of Mr. Clapp, thus expresses himself:--
I loved your father almost with a child’s love from the first. I sought and relied upon his advice, and believe I never went wrong when I followed it. Sometimes when I have tried to speak the word of our blessed Lord and my heart began to fail me, as I looked over the congregation the reverent and believing attention of your father has been an inspiration, for I knew that I had at least one whose sympathy was all my own.
As the rector, so also the parish, of St. Matthew’s has every reason to remember and honor him with deepest gratitude. It was not possible for one to be more devoted to its best interests. His long service as its senior warden was the sincere work of disinterested desire for its best growth and prosperity. No one was a more generous supporter of all its burdens. Every appeal for labor or money received from him a ready answer up to and beyond his proportion. He loved his Church, and as often as the Sundays came it was his welcoming smile which made all feel that we were brothers one of another in the Household of God. Especially was he thoughtful of strangers; and so quietly and simply was his service rendered that I believe many wist not who it was that made them welcome. I always felt that when the offerings were gathered the gifts were more abundant because the plate was presented by him.
The present rector of St. Matthew’s Church, the Rev. Albert E. George, remarks:--
Anyone who had intimate acquaintance with this god man will bear me out in the statement that his life was as nearly the ideal one of humanity as any thing human could be. He had that attractive simplicity which naturally evolved itself from his heart because he had a deep love for all that was good and true. Simplicity must be accompanied with other characteristics. Modesty and sweetness of temperament will soon make themselves known. He had these, and because they were his in a marked degree no one ever could be his enemy, much more no one desired to be his enemy. He never met you in a way which would convey any other impression except that of love and kindness. There was a depth to his spirituality. His long service as senior warden of St. Mathew’s Church, through many periods of anxiety and discouragement, was never broken by any disloyalty to his Church or tyranny over those who served as rectors. There is not a rector living who is not ready to declare that the inspiration of his life was an honor to the parish and a stimulation to the joy of being a Christian. He never used his office for any other purpose except the glorification of the highest objects. Always peaceable, kind, courteous, discreet and loving, he sought the opportunity where these could be shown. Men never mistook his motives. You knew him before he acted upon any measure; you found in him the same gracious, tender and pleasing disposition afterwards. He was a model warden, and stands out before the Episcopal church in this city as such.
Above all, he was a Christian in the best sense. He lived the life he professed; no false notes were ever heard. He did not go to Church out of mere sentimentality. He went because he knew it be more than a duty. It was his real pleasure. His venerable form adorned the sacred place. Always generous, always seconding any noble undertaking, he identified hi zeal to the very last with those works which would show forth the Lord’s praise.
Here are some images from the Atheneum archive related to this topic. Click on any of these images to open a slideshow of all 1500 images.
Do you know something about this topic? Do you have
other pictures or items or knowledge to share? What
about a personal story? Are you a collector? Do you
have questions? Contact us
Created: January 16, 2011 Modified: April 16, 2011