Henry H. Crapo

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Henry H. Crapo
14th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 3, 1865 – January 6, 1869
Lieutenant Ebenezer Grosvenor 1865-67
Dwight May 1867-69
Preceded by Austin Blair
Succeeded by Henry P. Baldwin
5th Mayor of the City of Flint
In office
Preceded by William M. Fenton
Succeeded by Ephraim S. Williams[1]
Personal details
Born Henry Howland Crapo
(1804-05-24)May 24, 1804
Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Died July 23, 1869(1869-07-23) (aged 65)
Flint, Michigan
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary A. Slocum Crapo
Relations William Crapo Durant, grandson
Children Rebecca, Rhoda Crapo[2] William W. Crapo
Residence Grassmoor, Gaines Township
Flint, Michigan
Occupation Lumber, railroad
Profession Businessman
Religion Christian

Henry Howland Crapo (pronounced Cray-poe; May 24, 1804 – July 23, 1869) was the 14th Governor of Michigan during the end of the American Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction.

Early life in Massachusetts[edit]

Crapo was born to Jesse and Phoebe Crapo in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He spent his early years on his father's farm and then as a teacher in Dartmouth before moving to New Bedford, where he became a land surveyor, and occasionally acted as an auctioneer. He was elected town clerk, treasurer, and collector of taxes, which office he held until the municipal government was changed, about fifteen years. Upon the inauguration of the city government, he was elected treasurer and collector of taxes, a position which he held two or three years. He was also justice of the peace for many years. He was elected alderman of New Bedford, and was chairman of the Council Committee on Education, along with involvement in the whaling industry. A barque built at Dartmouth, of which he was part owner, was named the H. H. Crapo in compliment to him. On June 9, 1825, Crapo married Mary Ann Slocum. Together they had nine daughters and a son. Crapo became treasurer of New Bedford when it was incorporated as a city in 1847.

Crapo also took part in the State Militia, and for several years held a commission as colonel of one of the regiments. He was president of the Bristol County Mutual Fire Insurance Co., and secretary of the Bedford Commercial Insurance Company in New Bedford. While an officer of the municipal government he compiled and published, between the years 1836 and 1845, five numbers of the New Bedford Directory, the first work of the kind ever published there.

Life and politics in Michigan[edit]

In 1858 Crapo moved to Flint, Michigan, primarily due to investments in pinelands, and became Flint's mayor in 1860.[3] His family established a lucrative lumbering business in the area, which by the beginning of the Civil War was one of the largest individually owned lumber firms in the state.[4] He was instrumental in the construction of the Flint and Holly Railroad, and was President of that corporation until its consolidation with the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad.

Crapo purchased about 1,000 acres of swampland called "Gaines' Dead Marsh" or "Dead Man's Swamp" in 1860. This swamp, the source of the west branch of the Swartz Creek and its name, was drained. An effective settlement was established there with the Crapo Farm with most structures outside of the current boundaries of the City of Swartz Creek. Crapo Farm even had its own rail depot.[5]

In 1862, he was elected to the Michigan Senate to represent Genesee County, and ranked with the leading men of Michigan in the Civil War Senate.

In 1864, he was nominated on the Republican ticket for Governor of Michigan and was elected by a large majority. He was re-elected in 1866, holding the office two terms and retiring in January 1869. His administration was very efficient and marked particularly by his vetoing railway aid legislation and his firm refusal to pardon convicts, except upon overwhelming proofs of their innocence or excessive sentence. Crapo held office at the Farm's Mansion, Grassmoor.[5]

Retirement and death[edit]

While serving his last term he was attacked with a disease. A successful surgical operation was performed which seemed rapidly to restore him, but he overestimated his strength, and by too much exertion in business matters and State affairs suffered a relapse from which there was no rebound. Crapo died at the age of 65, nearly seven months after leaving office, at his home in Flint, and is interred there at Glenwood Cemetery.[6]

Notable descendants[edit]

His daughter, Rebecca, married William Clark Durant and their only son, William Crapo Durant (Billy Durant), became the leader of Flint's carriage and automobile industry as the founder of General Motors.[7] Current U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is distantly related to Henry Howland Crapo. They are first cousins, four times removed, as Henry's father, Jesse Crapo, and Mike's great-great-great grandfather, Charles Crapo, were brothers. Governor Crapo's other daughter, Henrietta (Etta) Crapo Hyatt, died soon after childbirth in Owego, New York in 1866.


  1. ^ "List of Flint City Mayors". Political Graveyards.com. Lawrence (Larry) Kestenbaum. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  2. ^ "Henry Howland Crapo family papers". Genesee Historical Collections Center. University of Michigan-Flint. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  3. ^ "Genesee Historical Collections Center". Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Hubbell, John T., and Geary, James W. (eds.) (1995). Biographical Dictionary of the Union: Northern Leaders of the Civil War, p. 114. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-20920-0.
  5. ^ a b Hayes, Yutha (1976). Going up the Swartz. Swartz Creek: Bicentennial Commission of Swartz Creek. 
  6. ^ Ashlee, Laura Rose (2005). Traveling Through Time: A Guide to Michigan's Historical Markers, p. 129. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-03066-3.
  7. ^ Rubenstein, James M. (1992). The Changing US Auto Industry: A Geographical Analysis, p. 33. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05544-X.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Austin Blair
Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
Henry P. Baldwin
Preceded by
William M. Fenton
Mayor of Flint
Succeeded by
Ephraim S. Williams