Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Knapp Namesakes

When we explore any family's history, we occasionally run into specific given names which seem to resonate with the family over many generations. In my husband's Stevens line, for instance, it was John for the men in the family. In our Tully line, we have more than our fair share of Margarets.

In the Knapp family we've been studying, it seems there were certain sons named specifically for other relatives. Not unusual, you may agree, but what piques my interest is the story of not only who previously held a particular given name, but what became of him.

In the case of the baby in the picture of the two Knapp boys from Kelso, Washington, young Peter, when he grew up, chose to replace his given name with another. But the name he forsook actually had a significance in the extended Knapp family: it was the name of his uncle—specifically, of one of the Knapp brothers who fought in the American Civil War.

Let's take a moment to get our bearings in the multiple generations of the Knapp family before unfolding the saga of Peter Jones Knapp, the Civil War veteran. My exploration of the Knapp family began when I found a set of photographs which seemed to belong to the William Malphus Knapp family. In addition, the photo of the two Knapp boys in Kelso represented the sons of one of William's brothers, George Harlow Knapp.

William and George were both sons of William Henry Norris Knapp and his wife, Corintha White. Flora Knapp, the young woman whose photo I recently sent home to Texas, was sister to William and George, as well.

Their father, William Henry Norris Knapp, was likely born in Canada, and there was a reason for this. This William's father, John, was born in Canada, following his father Benjamin's possible removal from the colonies during the time of the Revolutionary War. It is possible that this Benjamin Knapp was the one listed in the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada database.

However it happened, at least a few of Benjamin Knapp's grandsons made their way back to the United States—William, eventually, to marry Corintha in Indiana; Cornelius, another of William's brothers whom we'll meet later this week, to head west to Kelso, Washington; and Peter to find himself, while visiting his brother William, enlisting for service in the Union Army.

It is mostly from a newspaper report, upon his death, quoting from his own journal that we know such vivid descriptions of Peter Jones Knapp's Civil War experiences. And that newspaper report was summarized in the Find A Grave memorial for Peter Jones Knapp, put up by the Knapp family researcher who has, by now, received the photo of the baby Peter (Jackson) Knapp, namesake of the uncle we are discussing. How else would I know that he was up in the rain at two in the morning when it was "darker than a stack of black cats," preparing for the march just before the Battle of Iuka—or that over sixty percent of his regiment were either killed or wounded, more than any other regiment had lost in any one battle in that war? The Find A Grave memorial included this information from the original article, published in the Kelsonian on April 16, 1924, upon Peter Jones Knapp's death.

That newspaper article, serving also as obituary for Peter Knapp, noted that the soldier's remains were buried at the Portland Crematorium—one detail, as the Knapp family researcher eventually discovered, which was not entirely correct. And that, as we'll see tomorrow, is how Peter Jones Knapp became the last of all the Civil War veterans to be finally laid to rest.   



  1. How wonderful of this descendent to share this information.

    1. Agreed, Miss Merry. It is good to see people remembering our collective heritage in the genealogy world and keeping up that habit of sharing. This volunteer certainly had.


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