Biography of Amos S. Lapham

Amos S. Lapham. There are but few members of the bar of Southeastern Kansas who have exceeded the record of Amos S. Lapham, of Chanute, for length and continuity of service, for devotion to the best ethics of the profession and for connection with important litigation. His standing is that of one of the foremost members of the bar of this part of the state.

Judge Lapham was born on a farm in Champaign County, Ohio, April 6, 1845, and is a son of Oziel and Mahala (Steere) Lapham, and belongs to one of America’s old and honored families. John Lapham, the great-great-great-great-grandfather of Judge Lapham, was born in 1635, in Devonshire, England, and came to America prior to 1673, for on April 6, of that year, he was married at Providence, Rhode Island, to Mary, the daughter of William Mann. He lived at Providence and Newport, Rhode Island, and Dartmouth, Massachusetts. In the same year he was a freeman and deputy to the general assembly, and in 1675 was constable. He owned several hundred acres of land in the vicinity of Providence, but in 1676, at the outbreak of King Philip’s war, removed to Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He was a large landholder for his day, and at the time of his death, in 1710, his estate, of which his wife Mary and son John were executors, was found to be worth $3,000, considered somewhat of a fortune for that time. He had four sons and one daughter. Among his sons was John Lapham, who was born December 13, 1677, in Rhode Island, and died in 1734. He married Mary Russell, April 3, 1700, who was born July 19, 1683. Thomas Lapham, son of John and Mary, and great-great-grandfather of Judge Lapham, was born in Rhode Island about 1710, and was about seventy-four years old when he died in that state. He married Abigail Wilbur, who died aged seventy-four years. The great-grandfather of Judge Lapham, Augustus Lapham, was born November 15, 1750, in Rhode Island and died in that state February 25, 1828. On April 6, 1775, he married Mary Scott, who was born in 1754, and died March 3, 1828. Amos Lapham, grandfather of Judge Lapham, was born in Rhode Island, June 26, 1776, near Smithfield and in 1817 removed to Champaign County, Ohio, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death, April 14, 1859. He married Marcy Aldrich, who was born in Rhode Island, and died in Champaign County, Ohio, in November, 1859.

Oziel Lapham was born in Rhode Island, February 29, 1804, and was there educated, reared and married. He remained in New England until 1817, in which year he removed to Champaign County, Ohio, returned to Rhode Island in 1825, and in 1830 came back to Ohio, and for fifty-seven years resided on the same farm, where his death occurred June 26, 1887. His property was located near the Town of Woodstock, and in addition to being a farmer he was for a number of years a school teacher. Mr. Lapham was one of the well known men of his community and was honored and respected by the many who knew him. His political belief made him a democrat, and he was a member of the Universalist Church. In 1827, while still living in Rhode Island, he was married to Mahala Steere, who was born in that state, October 7, 1800, and died in Champaign County, Ohio, 1857. Their children, all born in Champaign County, were as follows: William Dennis, born May 31, 1829, died December 11, 1830; Olive, born December 3, 1832, died February 3, 1849; Eunice, born July 25, 1834, died August 25, 1838; Mary Josephine, born July 30, 1837, died at Woodstock, Ohio, August 19, 1899; John, born July 8, 1841, enlisted in Company I, Forty-fourth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and died in the Union service during the Civil war, at Fort Meadow Bluff, West Virginia, August 3, 1862; and Amos S., of this notice. Oziel Lapham was married second to Mary M. Perry, of New York State, who died August 10, 1867, in Champaign County, Ohio, being the mother of four children: Lily S., born September 20, 1859, died at Topeka, Kansas, March 23, 1895, as the wife of Henry Ruff, who resided at Washington, District of Columbia, was a clerk in the United States pension office, and died there December 17, 1916; Ala M., born May 19, 1861, married December 28, 1882, Charles Clark, now of Chanute, Kansas, who had been a bridge carpenter for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad for many years; Perry Oziel, born June 7, 1863, died January 11, 1881, at Woodstock Ohio; and Mary, born August 10, 1867, died March 7, 1868. Oziel Lapham was married third to Elizabeth Miller, of Ohio, who died in 1913, at Spokane, Washington, the mother of three children: William M., born July 30, 1870, is a general workman of St. Louis, Missouri; Addie M., born 1872, unmarried and a resident of Chanute; and Arthur, born January 12, 1876, a farmer, died unmarried at Woodstock, Ohio, December 12, 1898.

Amos S. Lapham attended the public schools of Champaign County, Ohio, until between the ages of twelve and thirteen years, and then spent three years in Antioch (Ohio) College. Following this he went to Lombard University, Galesburg, Illinois, for three months, subsequently enrolling as a student at the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, from which institution he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, June 27, 1866. Judge Lapham taught school in Miami County, Ohio, for two winter terms before graduation, and after graduation taught one winter term in Drake County, Ohio. He commenced the study of law in the office of John Little, of Xenia, Ohio, who later became attorney general of his state and a member of Congress. In the spring of 1869 Judge Lapham entered the Ohio State and Union Law College, Cleveland, Ohio, and was graduated in June, 1869, with the degree of Bachelor of Laws. On July 1 of the same year he was admitted to practice and began his professional duties at Iola, Kansas, where he remained for six months. In June, 1870, he came to New Chicago, now a part of Chanute, opened an office, and here had continued his successful and distinguished career in the practice of civil and criminal law. His offices at this time are in the Lapham Block, which he owned, at the corner of West Main and Lincoln Avenue. In 1875 Judge Lapham was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Kansas, and in March, 1889, to the Supreme Court of the United States. His practice had long been of a decidedly important character, connecting him with prominent litigated interests, the conduct of which had proven his ability.

In October, 1876, Judge Lapham became treasurer of Neosho County, an office which he held until October, 1880. In 1899 he was a candidate for judge of the District Court, and while he met with defeat that year, in June, 1907, was judge of the District Court of Neosho County for that term. In 1908 he was a candidate for state senator. He was one of the presidential electors in 1916. He also served as a member of the Chanute Board of Education for five years and as president of that body for one year. Judge Lapham is well known in fraternal affairs, belonging to Chanute Lodge No. 96, Ancient Order of United Workmen; Chanute Camp No. 852, Modern Woodmen of America; Chanute Lodge No. 110, Knights and Ladies of Security; and the Fraternal Aid Union. Aside from his profession he had numerous business interests, being a stockholder and director in the Santa Fe Investment Company and having a voice in the proceeding of other enterprises. He owned his own comfortable modern residence at No. 823 South Central Avenue, and a farm of 200 acres, 3½ miles northeast of Chanute. He also had oil and gas interests in Kansas and Oklahoma.

On February 14, 1875, Judge Lapham was married near Austin, Kansas, to Miss Josephine Bonham, daughter of Garrett and Julia A. (Claywell) Bonham, both of whom are now deceased. Mr. Bonham was a pioneer farmer of Kansas, whence he came in 1869. To Judge and Mrs. Lapham there have been born seven children, as follows: Walter A., born March 18, 1876, who is engaged in the automobile business at Chanute; Olive Agnes, born September 15, 1877, a graduate of the Kansas University, studied instrumental music in Berlin, Germany, for 1½ years, was then a student under Madame Zeisler, of Chicago, and is now a pianist of that city who is rapidly gaining a national reputation; Lily Ethel, born October 11, 1881, died May 18, 1884; Raymond Oziel, born September 29, 1884, died May 30, 1886; Willard M., born April 16, 1886, died April 19, 1886; John Wilbur, born May 29, 1887, now postmaster of Chanute, and is also associated with his father in the law business; and Mary, born September 16, 1889, who is unmarried and resided with her parents.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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