Thomas Lape
Thomas Lape

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

THOMAS LAPE was born in Greenbush, Rensselaer Co., N. Y., Feb. 27, 1828, the third child of Nicholas and Catherine Lape. The family are of German descent, and his grandparents, both on his father's and mother's side, were residents of Rensselaer County. On the father's side, of Greenbush, on the mother's, of West Sand Lake. The homestead where his grandfather, John Lape, lived and died, and where both he and his father were born, was situated on the north shore of Aries', formerly known as Snyder's Lake. His grandfather and mother Lape were buried in tire cemetery at West Sand Lake. There were nine children in his father's family, six of whom are still living.

When Thomas was two years of age his father moved from the homestead and settled in Greenbush, two miles south of the old home, where the family remained for six years. They next moved to Poestenkill, a village in the present town of the same name, then Sand Lake, where his father for two years engaged in the mercantile and milling business. The family next moved to the town of Lansingburgh, two miles north of the village, where his father carried on an agricultural, dairy, and milling business. Remained there fourteen years. His father then moved to Crescent village, town of Half-Moon, Saratoga Co., where he engaged in milling until his death, which occurred in November 1855. His wife survived him fourteen years. Her death occurred September 1869.

Thomas as Lape lived at home until twenty-two years of age. He attended the common schools of the neighborhood, also several terms in the Lansingburgh Academy. He taught the district school at Speigletown one season. In the spring of 1851 he engaged in trade in Lansingburgh, dealing in lumber, plaster, grain, hay, and straw, which he followed five years. In 1834 he commenced the manufacture of flax, yarns, and twines, in company with John Sproat, at Lansingburgh. At the end of two years he bought his partner's interest and until 1861 carried on the business alone.

During this time, in 1856, he moved to Valley Falls, where he built a flax-, yarn-, and twine-mill on the site owned and occupied as a woolen-mill for marry years by Lewis B. Slocum. In 1858 he also purchased the plaster-, grist-, and flouring-mill. In 1861 he took Henry Sproat as a partner in the flax-mill, which partnership continued till the death of Mr. Sproat, in 1870. In 1864 be sold his gristmill to Messrs. Andrews & Crapo. For a number of years, and up to 1872, Mr. Lape had also a controlling interest in the straw-board arid straw wrapping-paper mill at Valley Falls.

On the 22nd of December, 1863, he purchased the Daniel Fish farm property, and in the following year laid out what is known as the "Valley Falls Village Extension," embracing land so long held from improvement that it came to be known as, and is still called the "Promised Land.'' It embraces the pleasantest portion of what is now the thriving village of Valley Falls. In 1869 he purchased two farms, south of the Fish farm, embracing together three hundred and ten acres. In 1870 he bought seventy-six acres west of the village a portion of which he allotted, titled ''Valley Falls Village Extension Westward.''

For about two years after disposing of his factory property at the valley, Mr. Lape did not engage in any active business. About the beginning of 1872, he became associated with a number of gentlemen who organized the company of the " Chicago Stove-Works," building a foundry in Chicago, which interest lie still retains. About the same time he united with others in the organization of the Cable Flax-Mills Company," of which he was elected president, which position he still continues to hold. This company purchased the property of the Schaghticoke Linen-Mills, situated on the Hoosick River, at Hart's Falls. Besides their factory, the company has their principal salesroom at Troy, with branch offices in New York City and San Francisco.

Mr. Lape was identified with the Republican Party from the time of its organization up to the period when, in his judgment, it had accomplished its mission, viz., the extirpation of slavery. Regarding intemperance by the use of alcoholic liquors as the overshadowing evil of the land, and one to be reached legitimately by political action, he became identified with the Prohibition party, and has ever since been one of its most prominent supporters. He has several times been its candidate for the Assembly and once for member of Congress.

Mr. Lape is a firm believer in the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion, but owing to what he regards— to state it mildly—a reprehensible indifference in church organizations to the great evil of intemperance, he has not felt it incumbent upon him to unite with any church.

Mr. Lape has been three times married. He was first married, Nov. 11, 1852, to Martha A. Waterman, by whom he had five children, viz., Charles T., Edward N., Francis A., Burton H., and William A. Francis A. and William A. are deceased. His wife died Nov. 20, 1861. He was married June 25, 1862, to Mrs. Emily C. Hamblin, widow of Myron Hamblin and daughter of Peter Stover. By this union there were two children, viz., Franklin Grant and Emily C., both deceased. His second wife died Feb. 22, 1867. He married, June 16, 1869, Nellie Stickles, daughter of J. W. and Eliza Stickles, of Valley Falls. They have had two children, twins, viz., Clarence J. and Clara T. The latter is deceased.

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