Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LAPltAM, Increase Allen, naturalist, born in Pahnyra, New York, 7 March, 1811; died in Oconomewoc, Wisconsin, 14 September, 1875. He began life by cutting stones for canal-locks, his father being a contractor on the Erie canal, then became a rodman, and for ten years was employed as an engineer in various worlds. In, 1836 he settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was made register of claims and dealt in real estate. Meanwhile he showed great activity in various branches of natural science. In 1838 he prepared a "Catalogue of Plants and Shells found in the Vicinity of Milwaukee." Ultimately his herbarium contained over 8,000 specimens, and at the time of his death was considered the best collection of the flora of Wisconsin. Soon afterward he published " A Geographical and Topographical Description of Wisconsin" (Milwaukee, 1844; 2d ed., 1846). His study of the "Grasses of Wisconsin" (1853), and of other states, led to his suggestion to the commissioner of patents concerning the desirability and utility of a descriptive catalogue of all the native, naturalized, and cultivated grasses of the United States. In 1867 he was appointed by the legislature of Wisconsin to investigate the disastrous effects of the destruction of forest-trees, and subsequently made a report on the subject. His work on the fluctuations in the level of Lake Michigan began as early as 1836, and was continued until 1849, when He announced the existence of "a slight lunar tide in Lake Michigan," and communicated a description of his investigation to the Smithsonian institution. Mr. Lapham was probably best known by his "Antiquities of Wisconsin," published by the Smithsonian institution in 1855. It gave the results of a systematic and thorough investigation of the remains of a prehistoric people who once inhabited that state, and was undertaken at the request of the American antiquarian society. Mr. Lapham was one of the first to point out the value of storm indications, especially on the great lakes, and, in concert with Henry E. Paine, framed the law of 1870, which established the signal-office in Washington. He gave valuable aid to General Albert J. Myer, the chief signal-officer, and the place of meteorologist, now held by Cleveland Abbe, was offered to him, but he declined it on account of the night labor, although for a short time after November, 1871, he held the office of assistant in Chicago. The geology of Wisconsin was the subject of his investigations from the beginning of his residence in that state, and he contributed to Foster and Whitney's "Report on the Geology of Lake Superior" (1852) a chapter on the "Geology of Southeastern Wisconsin," and in 1855 made a "Geological Map of Wisconsin," also in 1869 a " New Geological Map of Wisconsin. In 1873 he was appointed chief geologist of Wisconsin, but a subsequent legislature refusing to confirm him, the office was vacated in February, 1875. In other ways he (lid much to increase the scientific knowledge of Wisconsin, and he was also one of the founders of Milwaukee female college, long president of its board of trustees, and a frequent contributor to the collections of the University of Wisconsin. In 1860 he received the degree of LL. D. from Amherst, and he was a member of various scientific societies. He was one of the founders of the Wisconsin historical society and the Wisconsin academy of sciences, arts, and letters, being president of the former organization for many years. His bibliography, in addition to the works already mentioned, includes nearly fifty papers contributed to scientific publications. See "A Biographical Sketch," by Samuel S. Sherman (Milwaukee, 1876).
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