"that's why we drink it here"

Several years ago when all the dots of this saga were seemingly light years apart for me, I ran across a news account in the NY Times published 120 years ago in December of 1885. The reason it caught my eye then was it had surfaced under a search I was doing for the name Kepner. Kepner is the maiden name of Sylvia Theresa Knapp, the first wife of Joseph Palmer Knapp and mother to Claire Antoinette Knapp and Joseph Fairchild Knapp. Now this was back in the days when I hardly knew the difference between a Joseph Fairchild, Joseph Palmer or a Joseph Fairchild (the grandson of the first Joseph Fairchild) My family had even bought me a dry erase blackboard as a semi gag gift so I could post a brief Who's Who in The Knapp line in my room and try to keep them straight! I was a total novice to trying to sort the Knapps out and had recently came off of a 6 month dead end streak reasearching at the behest of an internet genealogy contact, the wrong Knapp family. However I had the presence of mind to save the Times piece because I had already learned by then that every tid bit counts when it came to this ultra low profile Knapp family.


The only two Kepner names I had seen in print back then were, Sylvia sometimes spelled Silvia and her mother Sophia who first appeared on the guest list at the wedding of Joseph Palmer Knapp's sister Antoinette in 1885. Sophia showed up in a few more items I would find in regards to Knapp but always alone. I had no idea what Mr. Kepner's first name was or if he was dead or alive at the time Sylvia and Joseph were dating (as early as 1883) or later married (November 1886 - 1904)

But like I said something or perhaps a little voice in my head told me to file it .....


Notice the dateline is Philadelphia, but I did recall there were several guests from Philadelphia at Antoinette's wedding to Edward C. Wallace and so I kept it. And there it stayed "filed" until a month or so ago when a "Knappster" out there in cyber space who prefers to remain anonomous, sent me a copy of this July 1870 census in New York City .....and after a few years, some more dots started to connect very quickly.

Here we have on line 20 Mr. John G. Betz age 72 as head of the house, occupation "Brewer" and his wife Elizabeth age 60 and living with them are Sophia Kepner, 33 years of age and three little Kepner children : Clara 12, Silvia 7, and George 5 . Conclusive? (not quite but VERY,VERY INTERESTING) we have a brewer, a Kepner, a Betz etc. all in one place. If it were to all prove out , I figured the age difference probably means John G. Betz is Sophia's father (the Times piece mentions Sophia was been divorced since 1868 ) and middle intial G shows up again in her youngest son which leads me to believe that John F. Betz in the Sam Kepner story could very well be the brother of Sophia and Uncle John to Sylvia T. Kepner. Sylvia was still 16 years away from becoming Mrs. Joseph P. Knapp (if it was indeed the same family) . It also reveals rather sadly that if Sylvia's father is one Samuel Kepner, Mr. Kepner suffers badly from the disease of alcoholism , which some folks in our supposedly enlightened society today still refuse to believe is a disease. But you can just read how it was reported then and figure out the stigma that must of prevailed.

So armed with this new lead, I started to look into who the Betz and Kepner families in the above census were and lo with the very first item (A Wedding ! I just love weddings) The < ....... > did connect completely!


Clara's wedding was held a Mrs. S. Kepners residence West 58th street. and just look at the guest list! Joseph Knapp among them! and John F. Betz !.... Also it should be noted that Joseph P & Sylvia would be married at the same address three years later and with many of the same guests eg. Barclays, Yuenglings who were at all the Knapp weddings and several other social activities ... so from here on in it was no brainer (sort of as far as no brains will take you)

Well using John F. Betz and Clara's married name Mrs. William Orr Barclay, a whole lot more dots and interesting items appeared. It turns out that Sylvia T. Kepner was the niece of a millionaire beer baron & real estate tycoon. He had breweries in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and homes there too plus his own Island...His yacht The Sybilla was 117 feet long ..... Sylvia may of been as well off as J P Knapp was when they married in November of 1886. Sylvia's big sister Clara it turns out, had a very interesting life as the wife of a chemist in the cosmetics and drug industry. Clara was quite the equesterian just as her future niece, Claire A. Knapp would prove to be and Aunt Clara may of been Claire's intro to the horse show ring. I was able to find Clara's brief obit in 1944. It does not mention any of her family. I believe I read somewhere that her little brother George Kepner moved to Germany. I still do not know much about what happened to Sylvia T. Knapp ( who as mother of Claire & Dodi is my major interest ) after she moved to France. Only that she returned to the US in 1925 to visit her son Joseph F. at his estate in Mastic Beach and her daughter Claire at her home on John's Island, South Carolina.

Man oh Man I Think It's Time To Place Your Betz Down Here ....

Use A Coaster PLEASE!


Let Bert & Harry Here Fire Up Their Stomach Steinways

And Play Us A Tune We Can All Sing Along With (click to hear it)