Bio: Knapp, John J., Jr. (1825 - 1888)
Contact: Sandra Wright
Surnames: Knapp, Holly, Seely, Douglass, Eno, Wilson, Black, Tainter, Stout, Allen, Field, Adams
----Source: Historical and Biographical Album of the Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin (1891-1892) Pages 398, 401-402
Knapp, John J., Jr. (29 Mar 1825 - 14 Oct 1888)
John H. Knapp Jr. (deceased) was born March 29, 1825, in Elmira, N.Y., and died October 18, 1888, in Menomonie. The genealogy of the Knapp family is given in the records as English. Savage, the historian, claims the family came from England in Winthrop and Saltonstalls fleet in 1630, Nathaniel Knapp being the progenitor of the family. The latter died August 16, 1658; his wife Eleanor was the mother of seven children, of whom Jonathan Knapp, born December 27, 1631, was the eldest. The family is traced down in a direct line to Gen. John H. Knapp Sr., a son of Jabez and Hannah (Holly) Knapp. General Knapp was born May 30, 1791, at Horsehead, N.Y. He was a harness maker in early life and at one time managed a harness factory at New Orleans. He also developed the coal and gold mines in his native state and located different industries near his home. He was general of the New York militia and at the opening of the Black Hawk hostilities, came west and participated in that war. In 1833, he came to where Fort Madison, Iowa, now is, and purchased claims, and laid out the town in 1835. His house was built on the site of the old fort, he using the chimney of the officer’s quarters on his house. His was the third family to locate in Lee County, Iowa. The famous chief, Black Hawk, was his near neighbor, being camped within fifty feet of his house, and his son, Nashauskuk, was the playmate of John H. Knapp Jr. General Knapp was a noted figure in his day, a true type of the pioneer. He died January 4, 1837, from quinsy.
January 21, 1813, he married Miss Harriet Seely, a native of Orange County, N.Y., where the Seely family occupied a prominent place among the pioneers of that county. She died at Menomonie, Wis., February 28, 1884, aged ninety-two years. To General Knapp and wife were born the following children: Mrs. Almeda Douglass of St. Louis, Mo.; William D., of Wahoo, Neb.; Mrs. Elizabeth Eno (deceased); Jonas S., of Fort Madison, on the old homestead and John Holly (deceased).
John H. in early youth became acquainted with the celebrated Indian chief Black Hawk, and heard from him the story of the white man’s injustice to his race, and their privations and sufferings. He familiarized himself with the Sac language, and in early boyhood frequently saw the matchless orator and warrior-chief, Keokuk, the Cicero of the western tribes. When twenty years old he went east and entered a collegiate institute at New Haven, Conn., where he remained during one school year. With the exception of a subsequent course at a business college, this ended his school days, yet in a true sense he was a thorough scholar and a man of varies and high culture. He became acquainted with Capt. Wm. Wilson, and having come into possession of $1,000, he left Iowa with Capt. Wilson in June, 1846, for what is now Menomonie, Wis., to commence that career in business which has been marked with a degree of success that has rarely been equaled in the northwest. They purchased of David Black a half interest in a saw-mill and fixtures. Mr. Black dying that fall, they purchased the other half and continued business in the pineries of the Chippewa Valley, and at towns along the upper Mississippi River. The history of development, growth and prosperity of the industries that they then and there inaugurated, comprise no small portion of the history of the material resources. Intellectual and moral force and progress of the Chippewa Valley.
August 19, 1850, Capt. Tainter’s physical and mental powers were added and the firm became Knapp & Tainter, and later J.H. Knapp and Co., and as the business enlarged and became more diversified, more capital and resources were needed, and a little later on (in 1853), H.L. Stout, of Dubuque, Iowa, purchased an interest and became a member of the firm, and its name was changed to that of Knapp, Stout & Co. In 1878 the business of the firm Knapp, Stout & Co. had become so extensive, with ramifications and departments in four different states, that with the vicissitudes of fortune incident to great business enterprises, and the danger of death to the members so apparent, it was deemed expedient to organize the firm into a corporation, which assumed the name of “The Knapp, Stout and Co. Company.” He held that office and discharged its duties with great credit to himself and the satisfaction of this associated until the annual meeting in February, 1886, when, on account of failing health, he tendered his resignation as president, and declined re-election.
Mr. Knapp was married first to Miss Caroline M., daughter of Theodore and Elmira (Allen) Field, a prominent family of Ware, Mass. She was educated at Mount Holyoke Female seminary, and was a woman of rare qualities of head and heart, whose memory is cherished by all who knew her. She came west on a visit and there met Mr. Knapp, to whom she was married November 26, 1849. She died January 31, 1854. She was a Presbyterian, and the mother of Henry Eno Knapp, now one of the most active men in the Knapp, Stout Lumber Company. John H. Knapp’s second marriage occurred October 31, 1855, to Miss Valeria Adams, of Reading Pa. She survives him, and is the mother of the following children: Effie V., William A., John H., Edgar J., Herbert V. R. and Rolla S.
Mr. Knapp, in 1869, accompanied by his son, Henry E., visited Europe, hoping to secure relief, if not a cure, of the disease that had begun to affect him, and which baffled all the skill of the most eminent physicians of Europe and America, and which at last caused his death. During his sojourn in Europe, he traveled extensively in England, France, Germany and Italy. He was an earnest and sincere Christian, a member of the Congregational church and a liberal supporter of educational, charitable and religious institutions. It was his strong religious convictions, his unwavering faith and trust in an infinite and all-wise Father and a Divine Redeemer, that more than all else nerved and sustained him during all the years of his sickness and suffering.
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