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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.

Henry H. Crapo
14th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 3, 1865 – January 6, 1869
LieutenantEbenezer Grosvenor 1865-67
Dwight May 1867-69
Preceded byAustin Blair
Succeeded byHenry P. Baldwin
5th Mayor of the City of Flint
In office
Preceded byWilliam M. Fenton
Succeeded byEphraim S. Williams[1]
Member of the Michigan Senate from the 24th district
In office
Personal details
Henry Howland Crapo

(1804-05-24)May 24, 1804
Dartmouth, Massachusetts[2]
DiedJuly 23, 1869(1869-07-23) (aged 65)
Flint, Michigan
Political partyRepublican[2]
Spouse(s)Mary A. Slocum Crapo
RelationsWilliam Crapo Durant, grandson
ChildrenRebecca, Rhoda Crapo[3] William W. Crapo
ResidenceGrassmoor, Gaines Township
Flint, Michigan
OccupationLumber, railroad

Early life in MassachusettsEdit

Henry Howland Crapo was born to Jesse and Phoebe (Howland) Crapo in Dartmouth, Massachusetts on May 24, 1804. Jesse was of French descent and a farmer. Crapo took every opportunity to learn especially new words. He self-taught himself how to be a land surveyor from a book. After working as a surveyor, he became a teacher at the village school at Dartmouth. With a new high school, Henry passed the test to be principal of the new school.[4]

He moved to New Bedford in 1832 at the age of 28 years. There, he returned to being a land surveyor, some times an auctioneer and entered the whaling business. He soon was involved in the town's government, being elected to various positions, Town Clerk, Treasurer, and Collector of taxes. He continued as Collector for 15 years until New Bedford became a city, then served the city as Treasurer and Collector of taxes for two or three years.[4]

He was also Justice of the Peace for many years, he was elected Alderman of New Bedford; was Chairman of Council Committee on Education, and as such prepared a report upon which was based the order for the establishment of the free Public Library of New Bedford. On its organization, Mr. Crapo was chosen a member of the Board of Trustees. This was the first free public library in Massachusetts, if not in the world. The Boston Free Library was established, however, soon afterwards. While a resident in New Bedford, he was much interested in horticulture, and to obtain the land necessary for carrying out his ideas he drained and reclaimed several acres of rocky and swampy land adjoining his garden. Here he started a nursery, which he filled with almost every description of fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, etc. In this he was very successful and took great pride. He was a regular contributor to the New England Horticultural journal, a position he filled as long as he lived in Massachusetts. As an indication of the wide reputation he acquired in that field of labor, it may be mentioned that after his death an affecting eulogy to his memory was pronounced by the President of the National Horticultural Society at its meeting in Philadelphia, in 1869. A fine barque built at Dartmouth, of which he was part owner, was named the "H. H. Crapo" in compliment to him.[4]

Life and politics in MichiganEdit

In 1858 Crapo moved to Flint, Michigan, primarily due to investments in pinelands, and became Flint's mayor in 1860.[5] 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.[6] He served as mayor until 1861.[2] He was instrumental in the construction of the Flint and Holly Railroad,[2] and was President of that corporation[citation needed] until its consolidation with the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad.[2]

In 1862, he was elected to the Michigan Senate to represent 24th District from 1863 to 1864.[2]

In 1864, he was nominated on the Republican ticket for Governor of Michigan and won the election. He was re-elected in 1866, holding the office two terms and retiring in January 1869.[2]

Retirement and deathEdit

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.[7]


He married Mary Ann Slocum on June 9, 1825. Their son, William W. Crapo was born on May 16, 1830 in Dartmouth, Bristol County, Massachusetts. He became a lawyer then served Massachusetts as a representative at the state and federal levels.[8] A daughter married James C. Willson, a doctor and mayor of Flint.[8] His daughter, Rebecca, married William Clark Durant and their only son, William Crapo Durant (Billy Durant), became the leader of Flint's carriage and an automobile industry pioneer who founded General Motors.[9] Crapo's granddaughter, Letta Crapo Smith, daughter of Lucy Crapo, was a well known female painter in the Detroit area.[10]


  1. ^ "List of Flint City Mayors". Political Lawrence (Larry) Kestenbaum. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Craney to Cravath: Crapo, Henry Howland". Political Lawrence (Larry) Kestenbaum. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  3. ^ "Henry Howland Crapo family papers". Genesee Historical Collections Center. University of Michigan-Flint. Archived from the original on 2008-09-06. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
  4. ^ a b c Portrait and Biographical Album of Ingham & Livingston Counties, Michigan. Chicago: Chapman Bros. 1891. pp. 149–150. Scanned and republished by MARDOS Memorial Library of On-Line Books & maps
  5. ^ "Genesee Historical Collections Center". Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "Crapo family of Flint, Michigan". Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  9. ^ Rubenstein, James M. (1992). The Changing US Auto Industry: A Geographical Analysis, p. 33. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05544-X.
  10. ^ National Lumberman (Vol LIV No.1 ed.). 1 July 1914. p. 68.

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