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jMoses aplam: AiLs rife a#d Some
Selected Correspo#dence, I
Edited by JOE B. FRANTZ
ARAPHRASING William Dean Howells, this article could have
been called "The Rise of Moses Lapham," for like the
chronicle of Silas Lapham it is the story of a man unim-
portant in either long-range or short-range historical perspectives
but whose actions and thoughts may be worth recording for the
clarity they add to the rounded picture of an era. In the instance
of Moses Lapham the era extends from pre-revolutionary Texas
through the first two years of independence.
Like, say, Nestor Clay, Lapham was that comparative rarity in
early Texas, a college man. Sensitive to surroundings, he found
Texas rawness unbearable rather than stimulating, the Texas
penchant for broad horseplay no substitute for subtlety and
graciousness, the challenge of the unsolved frontier inferior to
the intermingling of cultivated minds, the easy morality of
uninhibited Texians less palatable than the stricter behavior of
Ohio's transmontane Puritans. Yet like many another man he
fell victim to Texas fever and could no more remain east of the
Sabine than could the most sentimental patriot.
Lapham was born in Smithfield, Rhode Island, on October 16,
18o8, the fifth of seven children. When his father, Amos Lap-
ham, immigrated to Mechanicsburg, Ohio, Moses, still a youth,
followed dutifully along. After attending Miami University at
Oxford, probably for only two years, he decided to see for him-
self whether the wonders of the great Texas country being
opened up under Mexican aegis were really true.
iMost of the material for this article and all of the correspondence which follows
come from a five-hundred-page-manuscript volume of letters in the possession of
A. L. Heminger, of Keosauqua, Iowa. The volume contains correspondence of the
Lapham and allied families for the period from 1817 through 1838. An approxi-
mate one-htth of the material pertains to Moses Lapham. I am indebted to Mr.
Heminger for permission to use these letters.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101133/. Accessed July 2, 2015.