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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Franklin Clapper

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[This information is from pp. 410-411 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Franklin Clapper, the well-known merchant of Mackey's Corners, Gilboa, N. Y., is a native of this town. He was born on May 4, 1863, and is the only son of Philip and Betsy (Robinson) Clapper. The family is known to be of German descent, and it is believed that Mr. Clapper's great-great-grandfather was its first representative in America.

His great-grandfather, Henry P. Clapper, came to Gilboa from Coeymans, this State, about 1815, and settled in the north part of the town, then in Broome. He took up a tract of about a hundred and forty acres of wild land, and built first a log cabin and later a frame house. He felled the first trees, and did all the clearing. This farm is still owned by one of the family, a grandson of the pioneer. Henry P. Clapper died on the farm in 1849, at the age of eighty. His wife, whom he had married in Coeymans, died some years before he did. They had three sons — Sylvester, Silas, and George; and four daughters — Sarah, Peggy, Polly, and Harriet. George resided at the homestead. Silas settled in another part of the town.

Sylvester Clapper, grandfather of Franklin, was born in Coeymans in 1802, and died in September, 1884. He came to Gilboa with his parents when about thirteen years of age, and in time settled upon a portion of the homestead farm, where he spent the remainder of his life. He acquired some two hundred acres of land. In religion he was a Baptist of the old school. Politically, he was a strong Democrat, and a leader in his party in this vicinity, though he never sought office for himself. As a business man, he was shrewd and far-seeing. His judgment was much deferred to by his fellow-citizens. His wife, whose maiden name was Louisa Ryder, was born in 1807, and died in 1891. Her ancestors were of German descent, and came here from Columbia County. The children of Sylvester Clapper were: Philip, Henry, John, and George M. John, who remained on the homestead farm, died in 1885. George M. went to Michigan in 1883. Henry B. is a very prosperous farmer in Albany County. He is married, and has four children. Sylvester Clapper was interested in the turnpike road between North Blenheim and Potter's Hollow, and together with Mr. Tibbits was instrumental in securing the legislation under which it was built.

Philip Clapper, above named, was educated in the public schools, and subsequently taught school for a number of terms. He has continued to be a student throughout his life, and has been much looked to by his neighbors and acquaintances for information on doubtful points under discussion. In politics he is a Democrat. His first farm consisted of one hundred acres, all tillable land. Later he became the owner of the homestead property, where he has resided since 1863, in his active years devoting his energies to general farming, giving special attention to dairying. His wife, whose maiden name was Betsy Robinson, is the daughter of John D. Robinson, whose ancestors were of Scotch-English descent, emigrants from Connecticut. Mr. and Mrs. Philip Clapper have one son, Franklin, whose personal history is given below, and a daughter Emmaline, who was married in December, 1894, to Edgar Hulbert, of North Blenheim.

Franklin Clapper was educated in the public schools and in a select school, receiving more than ordinarily good advantages. Then for some time he taught school during the winter terms in the towns of Gilboa, Blenheim, Breakabeen, and Fulton, and engaged in farming during the summers. As a teacher he met with great success, and in Breakabeen he had a school of seventy pupils. Deciding to go into mercantile business, he bought out his present stand in March, 1892, and since then has devoted himself exclusively to building up a trade. Although he had no previous experience as a tradesman to guide him, he has prospered even beyond his expectations. He carries at the present time thrice the stock that he carried at the outset, having enlarged his line of drugs, groceries, dry goods, hardware, and farm tools. He sends goods over a radius of four or five miles.

Since 1893 Mr. Clapper has been the village Postmaster. His management having proved satisfactory to both parties, no candidate has been put forth to oppose him. He is also serving on his third term as Notary Public. Mr. Clapper has often been delegate to both local and county conventions. Repeatedly importuned to accept the nomination for public office, he has declined, though he never loses an opportunity to work for the good of his party and of the community. He was instrumental in the construction of a telephone line to Mackey's Corners, thereby giving to the citizens of that little hamlet direct and rapid communication with the county seat and other parts of the county. He is a Mason of Gilboa Lodge, No. 630, of which he has been Junior Deacon, and is warmly interested in the ancient craft. When he joined in 1887, he was the youngest man in the lodge.

Mr. Clapper was married on April 21, 1897, to Harriet E. Wykoff, who is the eldest of the five children of George M. Wykoff. Mrs. Clapper was a successful student in the Oneonta Normal School, and previous to her marriage she taught school. Mr. clapper has been a member of the Baptist choir for five or six years, and at the present time his wife is also a member. Both are popular in social circles, and have every outlook for a prosperous future.

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