There are men who make a community; men of strong character, honest and faithful, not assuming or presuming or seeking office. but they are of those who make things possible for a town or state to become and to endure.
Michael Rapp belonged to his class of good men. He was born in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, Feb. 22, 1815, of German descent. His parents were Michael and Susanna Rapp.
Mr. Rapp, the second Michael, attended schools in his native state, and learned his trade of harness making in Reading, Penn. After which he came out to Indiana, where he remained for one year. He removed to Jacksonville in the fall of 1836.
His first engagement here was with Matthew Stacy, to whom reference has already been made in this series of sketches. the firm of Stacy and Rapp continued until 1843, when Mr. Rapp became sole proprietor of the establishment in the saddle and harness line until 1870 when his son Wm. B. became his successor.
The business was first conducted by Mr. Rapp in the two story brick, fronting west, at the southeast corner of Morgan and Mauvaisterre streets, on the Square just where Hopper's place now shoots its front in various directions. Some years afterward, and for years, Mr. Rapp occupied the storeroom where Lee Alcott now is, on the north half of the east side of the Square. Rapp's last place of business, where he was succeeded by his sons thos. H. and M. Deem was on East Morgan street, south side, one door east of the square; there the sons still carry on their business.
Mr. Rapp's residence was at the northeast corner of South East and East College streets. His son, Thos. H. still resides upon the same lot, on the north side of it; the corner being his birthplace.
Michael Rapp was married October 20, 1839, to Miss Eliza Whitaker, of Wayne county, Illinois. by this wife he had a son Wm. Birch Rapp, and a daughter, Susan J., first wife of Alexander Platt. Mrs. Rapp died in 1845. he again married, this wife being Miss Susan H. Ford. They had four children: Thomas H., born July 14, 1855; Michael Deem, born Jan. 5, 1858; Chas. Edward, born May 3, 1860, died Jan. 22, 1882, and Katherine Otilla.
Mr. Rapp was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church from 1837; first of Centenary, then a charter member of Brooklyn church, in which organization he continued to the last.
He was a town trustee in 1844 and 1850, and a member of the city council from the 3d ward in 1872-3. he had qualified for political honors by belonging to that fire company of 1840.
Mr. Rapp was an early and prominent Odd Fellow. he belonged to Illini lodge No. 4, I.O.O. F., established in July, 1837, before there was any grand lodge in the state. Mr. Rapp was a charter member. This lodge was instituted in the old jail on North Main street, where it was housed for three years.
The Historian, Eames, says: "In Odd Fellowship a "camp" is a higher degree to which only third degree members can be admitted. It is to Odd Fellowship what the Knights Templar are to Masonry. In this city Ridgely Encampment No. 9 was organized Oct. 14, 1857, with Jacob McFarland, E. W. Roberts, G. W. S. Callon, M. Rapp, Jas. H. Lurton, Washington Allen, Lewis Hatfield, Aug. E. Ayers, Mortimer Stout and John Pyatt as charter members. This encampment has always been in flourishing and prosperous condition.
The organization here in 1837, which was "for the purpose of affording relief to the sick and disabled members thereof, and to the widows and orphans of deceased members, and for the promotion of literature, science and the mechanic arts, and for no other purpose whatever", had Mr. Rapp has director.
Mr. Rapp died March 8, 1882.
Mr. Rapp was a member of the Democratic party until 1856, when he became a Republican, being one of the strongest of Union men during the war, to which he gave his oldest son, Wm. Birch Rapp.
A pleasant story, illustrative of the character of the man, was told of Mr. Rapp by one of the veterans of 1861-5. Mr. Rapp enjoyed the confidence of our "boys in blue" to so great an extent that a number of them sent their pay to him, and he was called "the soldiers banker". the old soldier said that the first time he met Mr. Rapp after the war, Mr. Rapp called him by name and asked him if he wanted his money. thereupon he counted out the money, principal and interest and handed it over to the soldier boy. This rivals the story of Lincoln's prompt settlement with the auditor of the post office department of his ("'s) obligation to the department after being postmaster at New Salem.
Mr. Rapp was a very outspoken man, straightforward and clear. He was rather short, and stout in build, so he stood solidly and squarely upon his feet. he stood the same way as to his principles, solidly and squarely.
By his first wife, Miss Whitaker, Mr. Rapp had the daughter, Mrs. Platt, referred to above. The latter was born July 23, 1840, and died Nov. 2, 1903.
Wm. Birch Rapp, son of the same mother, was born July 26, 1843. He was a member of Co. I, 101st Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, and was wounded at the battle of Peach Tree Creek (Atlanta), Georgia, in 1864. His wound was such as to compel his discharge and retirement from the service; and it was finally the cause of his death, Dec. 11, 1875.
He married Miss Amelia Chappell, daughter of Charles Chappell, of this city, who survived him.
Susan H. Ford, who became Mr. Michael Rapp's second wife, was born in Madison county, Kentucky, Nov. 5, 1822. She came to this place with her parents, Thomas and Malinda ford, December 12, 1829, in time to see "the Deep Snow." She died oct. 4, 1901.
As stated above, Mrs. Rapp was the mother of four children:
Thomas Henry married Miss Clara J. Rutledge, daughter of the Rev. George Rutledge, a well known Methodist minister and early settler. The Rutledges were a patriot family of South Carolina in the days of the Revolution and maintained their honored name down through the Civil War, living then in Illinois. Chaplain William J. Rutledge, brother of George, was one of the founders of the Grand Army of the Republic. Mrs. Rapp was a graduate of the Illinois Woman's college. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Rapp have been the parents of Charles E., now in Chicago, and of Misses Grace, Ruth and Katherine of this city. They reside on South East street, near College street. Mr. Thomas H. Rapp was a member of the city board of education in 1900-1902 and an alderman in 1884-5 and 1885-6, the term being then of one year, he serving two terms. He is both a mason and an Odd Fellow in fraternal matters and the family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Michael Deem married Miss Jessie Allen, daughter of Isaac and Julia Allen, of this place. Mrs. Rapp was a graduate of the Young Ladies' Athenaeum here. She was a member of the Presbyterian church, she and Mr. Rapp being members of Westminister church latterly. Their last home was on Caldwell street. Mrs. Rapp passed on Oct. 29, 1909. Mr. M. D. Rapp, with his brother, carries on the business established by their father. Mr. Deem, as has been said of Thomas H., is a member of both the Masonic and Odd Fellow fraternities.
Charles Edward, as previously stated, died young.
Katherine Otilia married Mr. Charles F. Glossop Oct. 17, 1889. They occupy the old Rapp homestead at the northeast corner of East and College streets. Mr. Glossop is the son of Alfred and Sarah, the former being an Englishman and the latter of German descent. Mr. Alfred Glossop served in the Third Missouri Cavalry, being chief bugler. he enlisted from Lousiana, Mo. Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Glossop are members of Centenary church. Mrs. Glossop attended the Illinois Woman's college.