My desire to do so was further fueled when I came across the plaque for Captain Roger Clapp while walking around Boston, leading me to suspect that I was related to him in some way. Online there was a handy resource on Google Books dedicated to the Clapp family in the colonial era that recorded the lineage of Roger Clapp. With one of his grandsons moving to Connecticut, I felt an even stronger inclination that we could be related, but I couldn’t connect it to my family’s records I discovered online. There was a gap of about one hundred years (1800s) that could potentially be filled with multiple generations (people had babies young back then!).
After emailing the town hall and setting up a time to access their public records, the day I’d been waiting for finally arrived: investigation day!
So there I was, totally oblivious to how or what to do in this room of books filled with yellow-tinted pages, aged from sitting on dusty shelves for years. Probably noticing how lost I looked, a very frazzled man approached me offering to help, except that it wasn’t exactly an offer but more so abruptly telling me what to do. A little put off by his abrasiveness, I decided to look past it and listen to the guy. He was the only person in the room so this was all the help I got. I told him the names I was looking for, the years they were alive, and where I thought they had lived in the area. After pulling out several books dedicated to land records at the time, we set out scanning the pages for “Clapp.”
The whole process was incredibly exciting, even if I was standing in room poorly lit with fluorescent lights and next to a grumpy man that smelled like stale cigarettes. It wasn’t as nice as Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. but I’ll take it! I was pulling my sleeves up and ready to do some digging.
If you’ve never looked through official or family records from the 1800s and early 1900s, they recorded many things by hand, tiny cursive handwriting, specifically.