Wednesday, May 9, 2012
One of the Cyclone Club members that I was unable to identify for the Base Ball Pioneer book was John Lapsley. I knew that Lapsley was living in St. Louis in 1860, living at the Planter's Hotel and working as a salesman for Woods, Christy & Co. However, I was unable to nail down a date of birth or death for Lapsley and didn't feel I had enough to write even the briefest of biographies. There was a reference in the 1860 census for a John Lapsley, who was living in St. Louis and born in 1827, but I was a little uncomfortable with that because it would have made him thirty-something during his time with the Cyclones and that's a bit old for a ballplayer of that era. It's not impossible that Lapsley was born in 1827 but I would have been more comfortable if I had another source confirming the date of birth.
Anyway, I did, just this week, find Lapsley's date of death. It appears that, in 1862, Lapsley joined a Missouri light artillery company, known as Farris' Battery, fighting on the side of the Confederacy. According to the document that I found, Lapsley served as a farrier and "died" sometime "about" December 1, 1864. Now there was a section on the document that gave the option of noting whether Lapsley died, was killed in action or had been discharged so it appears that Lapsley was not killed in action but died while a member of the unit, most likely of disease. Twice as many soldiers died during the Civil War of diseases such as dysentery or measles so this was not uncommon.
The significance of this document is twofold. First, it gives us a date of death. Secondly, it identifies another member of the Cyclone Club who was serving with the Confederate army during the Civil War. Lapsley, like Basil Duke, Ed Bredell and several other of his fellow club members, was a Confederate sympathizer who fought against the Union during the war.
Also, it's interesting to note that the document stated that Lapsley hadn't been paid since August of 1863. This, I imagine, speaks to the financial difficulties that the C.S.A had as the war went along.