Ohio History Journal

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Increase Allen Lapham, at the time of his death regarded as the

most distinguished scholar of his state, Wisconsin, was for many years

a citizen and state official of Ohio. He was born in Palmyra, N. Y., in

1811, and while as a boy laborer, working on the construction of the

Erie Canal, became interested in the study of nature and her various

phases. The subsequent results of his studies were embodied in forty-

five different volumes and large and valuable collections. Mr. Lapham

was a striking example of the self-educated man. His schooling was

only that of the common rudimentary character. He did not have to

learn, he intuitively knew. At sixteen years of age he wrote his first

scientific paper, illustrated by original plans, geological sections, and a

map published in the American Journal of Science. This production was

highly commended by Prof. Silliman. Before he was of age, Mr. Lap-

ham moved to Portsmouth, Ohio, where he resided several years, and

during which residence, at the age of twenty-two he was appointed Secre-

tary of the State Board of Canal Commissioners and became an active

member of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio.

In 1836, the young man settled in Milwaukee, then a village in

the Territory of Michigan, with but twelve hundred inhabitants. Here

he entered upon a career of great mental activity, in the fields of geology,

geography, topography, mineralogy, botany, agriculture, education and

archaeology. He held many territorial and state offices. As a scientist,

he was, perhaps, better known abroad than at home; at one time it was

said Milwaukee was best known in Europe as the home of Dr. I. A.

Lapham.   In many of the subjects to which he gave his attention he

became a national authority. He was one of the founders of the Wis-

consin Academy of Science, of the American Ethnological Society and

of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, of which for many years

he was president. He was a member of the leading scientific societies of

this country and Europe. For several years he was employed in the

study of the prehistoric earthworks of Wisconsin and was the first to

notice that the mounds of aboriginal people in that state were, as he

wrote, "gigantic basso-relievos of men, beasts, birds and reptiles, all

wrought with persevering labor on the surface of the soil." Knowing

that they would be obliterated in the progress of settlement and cultiva-

tion, he made a systematic and thorough survey of these memorials of

a prehistoric race, the results being published by the Smithsonian Institu-

tion in a quarto volume, with plates and wood engravings from drawings