Lapham, Moses (1808–1838)

By: Joe B. Frantz

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 2, 2017

Moses Lapham, surveyor and participant in the Texas Revolution, was born in Smithfield, Rhode Island, on October 16, 1808, the fifth of seven children of Amos Lapham. With his father he moved to Mechanicsburg, Ohio. After attending Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, he moved to Texas in 1831 and settled finally at San Felipe, where he worked with Thomas H. Borden as a surveyor. There he also taught school for three months in the winter of 1831. By October 1832 he had returned to Mechanicsburg, where he remained until the eve of the Texas Revolution. Lapham served in the Texas army from February through September 1836. In March 1836 he became a spy for Sam Houston's army and was a member of Erastus (Deaf) Smith's party that destroyed Vince's Bridge. Lapham rejoined the main army in time to participate in the battle of San Jacinto. In October 1836 Lapham helped to lay out the town of Houston. By March 1837 he was living in Fort Bend County and again aiding Borden. In 1838 he was surveying for Samuel A. Maverick near San Antonio when his party of five was attacked by Comanches, who killed him and three others on the afternoon of October 20, 1838. He was buried in San Antonio. A man of genteel rearing and a college background, Lapham complained frequently in his letters of the lack of cultured companionship in Texas; nevertheless he intended to make Texas his permanent home. At the time of his death he owned land on the Colorado River in Fort Bend County and two lots in Richmond. He never married.

Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Joe B. Frantz, ed., "Moses Lapham: His Life and Some Selected Correspondence," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 54 (January, April 1951).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joe B. Frantz, “Lapham, Moses,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

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May 2, 2017

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