1848 Daguerreotype of Ebenezer Clapp, Jr.

This image of Ebenezer Clapp, Jr. was taken by Peter Foss on 9 September 1848. Clapp gifted the daguerrotype to his sister, Hepzibah Sumner. Ebenezer was born in Dorchester, Mass. on 24 March 1809. He died in Boston on 12 June 1881. Ebenezer was one of the organizers of the Dorchester Antiquarian & Historical Society, He married in April 1833 to Sarah Swan. (William Griffing Collection)

Obituary of Ebenezer Clark, Jr.

Clapp’s obituary, published in the Boston Journal on June 13, 1881, reads as follows: “At Dorchester on Sunday Deacon Ebenezer Clapp, an old and respected resident of that section of the city, died very suddenly. He was standing in one of the rooms of his house, when visited by the fatal stroke and dropping to the floor expired instantly. Mr. Clapp had been a consumptive several years but this sudden termination of his life was an unexpected one. He was born in Dorchester April 24, 1809, and was the fifth son of Deacon Ebenezer and Eunice (Pierce) Clapp. Receiving his education in a brick school house adjoining the old homestead where he was born, he remained with his father until he was in the twenty-third year of his age. His father was carrying on successfully the business of a tanner, and the son worked in the tannery. 

In September 1831, the young man received an appointment in the Boston Custom House as substitute for a relative who was obliged by ill-health to vacate his position temporarily, and in August 1832, he was commissioned as an inspector, Mr. David Henshaw being Collector of the Port at that time. Mr. Clapp held the position eleven years, proving himself a capable and faithful officer, and retiring with the respect and esteem of all with whom his official duties brought him in contact.

After leaving the Custom House he engaged in the book selling and stationery business, having a store on the corner of Franklin and Washington Streets. Here he remained until 1861. Previous to this change in his business he had been instrumental in forming the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society. The preliminary meeting held with a view to organizing that society, was held at his house January 27, 1843, and when the organization was effected, he was elected Corresponding Secretary, to which office he has been reelected every year since that time. He was one of the committee of the society appointed to compile a “History of Dorchester.” Much of the labor devolved upon him and he published the work, a volume of 672 pages in 1839. 

From the corner of Franklin and Washington streets Mr. Clapp removed to (old) No. 308 Washington street, where he continued his business a few years, removing again to No. 7 School street where he remained until within a few years his son, E. Herbert Clapp, succeeding him and retaining the stand until January last, when he sold out.

Mr. Clapp took great interest in historical and genealogical research, had a very retentive memory, adn from June 1834 kept a daily journal. He was therefore a very reliable authority in regard to persons and events. In 1842 he resolved to collect the history of his ancestors, and while engaged in this work became impressed with the importance of the work, and determined to make it a broader one. Accordingly he began to collect material for a genealogical history of all bearing the name of Clapp and the result was a large volume entitled, “Record of the Clapp Family in America,” which was published in 1876 under the direction of a committee appointed for the purpose.

Mr. Clapp has always been a resident of Dorchester. In 1854 he was chosen as Deacon of the First Church there, succeeding his father in that office, adn being the ninth member of the family to hold it. He was also a clerk of the parish many years, and was long a member of the School Committee of the  town. He held a commission as Justice of the Peace about a quarter of a century. On April 4, 1838, Mr. Clapp married Miss Sarah Swan of Dorchester, by whom he had one daughter and three sons. Two of his sons are living, namely Charles Augustus, who is engaged in the publishing business in New York, and Ebenezer Herbert, who has been Assistant Clerk of the Massachusetts Senate during the past two sessions. The funeral of Mr. Clapp will take place at the First Church, Dorchester, at 3 o’clock Wednesday afternoon.

Enclosed in case with daguerreotype

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