FACES & PLACES: Clapp among those preserving Maplesville’s historyBy Emily Beckett Published 9:43am Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Editor’s note: This story appeared in The Clanton Advertiser’s annual Faces & Places publication. Copies are still available at the the Advertiser’s office at 1109 Seventh St. N. in Clanton, or you can read the full publication online here.
With a population of nearly 700, the town of Maplesville is much smaller than Clanton to the east with more than 8,000 residents.
But longtime Maplesville residents like Clem Clapp have seen—and helped—the town progress from simply a railroad pass-through to a place where people want to raise their families and retire.
Clapp, 62, and his wife Diane have lived in Maplesville most of their lives.
Diane was from Stanton, and they met in fifth grade at Maplesville and started dating when they were seniors.
Clapp’s mother grew up in Maplesville. Following her graduation from The University of Alabama in the 1930s, she went to work with the WPA and eventually ended up in Monroeville, where she met Clapp’s father.
They married, moved to Maplesville in 1940 and bought the hardware store from Hyman Atcheson.
Clapp’s roots in Maplesville trace back multiple generations.
“I have lived about eight miles from where my great-great-great-grandparents moved into the county,” Clapp said. “I’m not very mobile I guess.”
Over the years, Clapp has been instrumental in promoting and preserving the town’s history.
He and Joel Atchison started the Maplesville Historical Society about five years ago and currently serve as the group’s vice president and president, respectively.
Clapp also spearheads Heritage Day, the group’s largest annual fundraiser occurring in downtown Maplesville in the spring.
“We’ve had four of these Heritage Days,” Clapp said. “I guess we were the instigators of it, and folks kind of got on board with it. It’s been an interesting journey for history stuff.”
Heritage Day gives local and out-of-town guests a chance to peek inside the Maplesville Train Depot and see the town’s history displayed in a pictorial exhibit featuring old photographs, drawings and documents.
Clapp said the first depot was built in the 1850s and was burned by Wilson’s raiders in 1865.
A new depot was built in 1866, but in 1911, a fire in the business district destroyed it and other structures.
The third depot—the one still standing—was built circa 1912 and houses the Maplesville Senior Center.
Local historian Wayne Arnold, also a Maplesville Historical Society member, stands inside the depot during Heritage Day and talks about the Battle of Ebenezer Church and war-related artifacts he has collected in the Maplesville and Stanton areas over the years.
“He’s really a walking treasure for local history,” Clapp said.
Organizers added a 5K to this year’s Heritage Day in an effort to cultivate more interest in the event, proceeds from which the group has dedicated to preserving a town landmark known as the Foshee house, located off Highway 22 in the area considered Maplesville’s historic district.
The house, built by Noah Foshee in the late 1800s, sustained extensive damage in the January 2012 tornados.
Last fall, the town council gave the historical society permission to have the house repaired.
“It was an idea that it was up to the historical group to raise the money to at least get the roof fixed so it will be protected,” Clapp said. “This should complete the outside of it and have it protected from elements. It will make that end of town more attractive.”
Clapp retired from Peachtree Bank, originally named Bank of Maplesville, as executive vice president in July but plans to serve on the board of directors of the bank his grandfather helped start in 1919.
Clapp said he and his wife also plan to stay in Maplesville, “a nice, little rural Alabama town,” in his words.
“You have a small-town atmosphere,” Clapp said. “It kind of has its own character, it’s evolved a lot over the years, but you still have basic folks that still care about the town and want to see it sustain itself anyway. We could always have more, but we’re glad to have what we have.”