The Shirley letters from California mines in 1851-52; being a series of twenty-three letters from Dame Shirley (Mrs. Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe) to her sister in Massachusetts, and now reprinted from the Pioneer magazine of 1854-55; with synopses of the letters, a foreword, and many typographical and other corrections and emendations
Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe (July 28, 1819 – February 11, 1906) wrote under the pen of "Dame Shirley".
Louise Clappe was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. As a child, Clappe attended the primary
public education that was mandatory of all Massachusetts schools. Her family valued education
because they believed it was the moral and intellectual center for a persons' wellbeing.
Accordingly, she attended the female seminary in Keene, New Hampshire in 1835. In 1837,
Clappe' mother died after a long battle with tuberculosis and she had to return home to care for
her siblings. After a year the children moved in with a long-time family friend Osmyn Baker.
Clappe continued her education at the seminary in Norton, Massachusetts, the Charleston
Seminary, and concluded her studies at Amherst Academy.
Boston Daily Globe
NORTHAMPTON, May 6, 1899—
The annual meeting of the Smith charities has been held this week. When
Mr Smith died in 1845 his estate was valued at $370,000. Now the figures are
given as, joint fund $663,930, contingent fund $405,533, agricultural school fund
$236,230 and the office building and lot at $30,000. Meantime hundreds of
widows, girls and young men have been aided in assisting themselves. It was in
May, 1848 that the first trustees organized and Osmyn Baker was elected
president and held the position until May, 1871, when falling health compelled
him to resign.
Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School was established as a result of a bequest in the will of Oliver
Smith. Mr. Smith was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts in 1766. He engaged in farming at an early age, and
acquired large wealth by stock-raising. He was a magistrate for forty years; twice he was a representative to
the legislature; and in 1820, he was a member of the State constitutional convention. He never married and
may have been considered eccentric by his neighbors, but he amassed a large fortune, which he bequeathed
to establish the "Smith Charities," a unique system of benevolence. At his death in 1845, his estate was valued
at nearly $400,000; and the will was contested by his family. Legendary lawyer and legislator Daniel Webster
successfully defended the will for the city of Northampton. The fund for the Agricultural School became
available for use in 1905, and the amount of $50,000 was turned over to the City of Northampton for the
purchase of land on which to build Smith School. The school opened for students in 1908 as the first vocational school in Massachusetts.
Fayette Clapp's short biography
Fayette Clapp (page 71)
in The Clapp memorial: record of the Clapp family in America by Ebeneezer Clapp.
Daily Alta California, Volume 7, Number 317, 23 November 1856
Louise Clapp teaching
California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, Volume 6, Number 18, 28 November 1856
Powell Street Grammar School
Daily Alta California, Volume 9, Number 94, 5 April 1857
Divorce of Fayette and Louise Clapp
Fayette Clapp grave
Louise Clapp grave
Louisa Clapp resided in the same residence as John Swett according to the 1870 Federal Census of San Francisco, California.