Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Notes from the Special Collections



THE COLLEGE ARCHIVES purchased this year an historical find that relates to both Dartmouth College and Hanover. It is an account book kept by Daniel Clap, a Hanover resident. The two most interesting parts of the book are the entries Clap made regarding his work for the College and local citizens, and the entries he made regarding one of his activities in the Revolutionary War.

What chiefly caused the vendor to wish to place the account book at Dartmouth are the pages devoted to entries for local men who took part in the 1775-1776 invasion of Canada and the siege of St. Johns, a short distance north of the Vermont border on the Richelieu River. Fredrick Chase's History of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover devotes several pages (341-344) to this expedition. The fort at St. Johns was the first major obstruction on the New Englanders' march to Montreal. Following the 'investment' of St. Johns, some of the Hanover men returned home because of the short term of enlistment, while others continued on to Montreal and thence to Quebec. In the middle of April, due to an outbreak of smallpox during the winter, the remaining Hanover men were sent home. When Chase's history was written only a few of the names of the Hanover troops were known. Undoubtedly this document will add considerably to the known names of the participants. There are ten pages listing nearly forty men, and under each name are entries for payments of service and expenses incurred for clothing and supplies.

Daniel Clap, as was common with other wage earners of his time, performed a variety of jobs, many of which had to do with carpentry, and in the first several pages of his account book one sees what they were. For example, for Israel Curtis, a blacksmith, Clap made a bookcase, twenty window sashes with lights, and a panelled door; for William Winton, a mason, he hewed timbers, made two panelled doors, and a sink, and worked at framing; for George Agar he constructed curbing for a well, made a tongue for a wagon, and sold him a silk handkerchief, thread, pins, and a quire of paper. Other men for whom he worked were Comfort Sever, whose name is mentioned in connection with the construction of 'The College' (later to be known as Dartmouth Hall); Bezaleel Woodward, librarian, treasurer, and professor of mathematics and natural philosophy; and President Eleazar Wheelock. Between December 1774 and December 1776 Clap put in about seventy-five days of work for the College. However, only three descriptions of his jobs are cited: work at mill, work at barn, and mending cart.

According to Dr. Frost's Hanover genealogy Daniel Clap was a second lieutenant in Captain John House's company and in Colonel Joseph Cilley's regiment. He later received the rank of captain in I780, retiring from the army in 1781. In 1787 Clap removed with his family to Royalton, Vermont, where he died in 1817.

Special Collections has over fifty local account books. An article on a selection of these, Professor W. Randall Waterman's 'Old-time Hanover through Tradesmen's Account Books,' appeared in the October 1966 issue of the Dartmouth College Library Bulletin.