brothers John H. and Ludlow E. Lapham came to Penn Yan from Dutchess County
in 1825. They were among the nine children of Eliakim and Rachel (Harris)
Lapham. Ludlow Lapham was 19 years old and his brother 21. The younger boy
was engaged as a clerk in his uncle James Harris's store on Main Street,
which must have been one of the first opened at the foot of the street.
By 1833 Lapham owned
the business, with a partner, and was involved in retail sales for most
of the rest of his long life. In 1830 he married Reliance W. Townsend, daughter
of Henry and granddaughter of Lawrence Townsend. The couple had five children,
all born in Penn Yan:
- Sabra A. Lapham,
the eldest, was one of the first graduates of the State Normal School
at Albany. She married Asa Countryman (a Universalist minister), and when
she died in 1857 was the mother of two daughters who were both graduates
of Iowa State University;
- George H. Lapham,
the only son, was born in 1834, and completed his education at Penn Yan
Academy. He left school at 14 and became a clerk in his uncle John Lapham's
drug store. He pursued this trade in Penn Yan and in Geneva, and then
joined his father under the firm name of Lapham & Son. In 1873 he
left to organize and serve as president of the First National Bank of
Penn Yan. He was a Jeffersonian Democrat and active in local politics
from his youth; in 1876 he was a delegate to the National Convention that
nominated Samuel J. Tilden for the Presidency (Tilden won the popular
vote that fall but was defeated in a disputed election in the Electoral
College by Rutherford B. Hayes, who was known after that, by Democrats
at least, as "His Fraudulency"). Later on he was one of seven
Commissioners appointed by the State Legislature to locate the site of
the cantilever bridge at Niagara Falls, one of the first of its kind in
the nation. His wife was Margaret P., daughter of Ezekiel Castner; the
couple had four children, two sons and two daughters.
- Olive T. Lapham
married Theodore F. Wheeler, a well-known druggist in Penn Yan who built
the grand house at 301 Main Street;
- Mary J. Lapham married
Clarence M. Page of Rochester;
- Agnes R. Lapham,
who married John T. Knox, who was a lawyer and District Attorney in the
About 1840 Lapham's
widowed mother, Rachel (Harris) Lapham came to Penn Yan to live with her
daughter, who had married local blacksmith Melzer Tuell, who was a brother-in-law
of Congressman and businessman William Babcock. Mrs. Lapham died in 1863.
In 1856 Ludlow E. Lapham
remarried, to Susan (Booth) Wilkin, who bore him a son named after himself
who became a professor of languages at Cornell.
The elder Lapham was
remembered as a methodical and accurate businessman, and a genial friend.
He was very active in the affairs of the Methodist Church, and died in 1882
at the age of seventy-six.