William F. Lappley is one of the firm of Lappley Brothers, of the village of Fitchburg, where they do an extensive business as dealers in lumber, farm implements, hardware, flour and feed, hard and soft coal, and also as buyers of grain, besides following contracting and building to a considerable extent. The father of these enterprising young men is John Lappley, who for years has been one of the leading farmers of Dane county, and it is fitting that herein appropriate mention should be made of the sturdy German ancestry through which our subject is descended. John Lappley, the father, was born in Germany in 1825, and is a son of Lawrence and Heinreika (Shrade) Lappley, natives also of that country. Lawrence Lappley followed the shoemakers’ trade all his life in the Fatherland, and died there on April 28, 1888, at the age of eighty-eight years, his wife also dying there in her seventy-fourth year. They were the parents of fourteen children, four of whom grew to years of maturity, one son and three daughters. The paternal great-grandfather of our subject, Melchoir Lappley, was also a native of Germany, a baker by trade, was twice married and the father of seven sons and five daughters. He lived to the age of eighty years, and at his death left a fine estate. John Lappley, father of him whose name introduces this sketch, received a good education in his native country. From the age of twenty-one to twenty-seven years he was in the employ of the German service, receiving three cents per day, and three cents for rations. During this six years he was three years at home, without pay, a practice that was compulsory under the German law. In the spring of 1852, at the age of twenty-seven years, he sailed from Havre, France, on the St. George, landing in New York after a voyage of thirty-four days, and with eight French dollars in his pocket. He soon found employment at his trade—that of shoemaking—for four dollars per month, but failed to receive his wages, and he afterward began work at nine dollars per month. After spending one year in New York, Mr. Lappley worked in the lumber regions of Tioga county, Pa., three months, was then employed in the pineries fourteen months, at sixteen dollars per month, after which he worked at his trade in New York city for twelve dollars per month. He was a fine workman, and could make one pair of boots a day, often working sixteen hours as a day’s work. In April, 1855, he came to Wisconsin, where he was employed in the construction of a railroad in Madison a short time, farmed on the Indian reservation in the town of Roxbury ten years, erecting a log house, which was destroyed by fire one month afterward, with all the household effects, and no insurance. He then erected another dwelling and purchased eighty acres of land, fifty acres of which were under cultivation. Mr. Lappley then had $200 in money and his stock, and out of this he was obliged to pay $100 court expenses, which he considered a robbing scheme. He next rented sixty acres of land in the town of Berry, one year, and then purchased one hundred acres, for which he paid $1,500, and a few years later added twenty acres more, paying $190 for the latter, and still later bought forty acres more for $450, making him a total of one hundred and sixty acres of land. In 1881 he sold that place and purchased three hundred and forty acres in Springfield, paying for the same $3,500. There he has continued to reside, adding to his landed possessions until he now owns five hundred acres, well stocked and improved, and he successfully carries on the business of general farming. He was married in New York city, June 15, 1854, to Miss Anna M. S. Schmidt, who came from Germany, her native land, to America the same year. They reared ten children, as follows: Louisa, wife of George W. Hall, a miner of California; John, who is mentioned more at length in this review; Henry, a jeweler and watchmaker of Mazomanie; Mary, wife of James H. Froggart, a farmer of Dane county; William F., whose name introduces this sketch; Charles, a contractor and builder of South Milwaukee; Christopher, deceased; Caroline, Frederick and Alice. One daughter, Annie, died May 26, 1873, at the age of eight months. John Lappley, one of the brothers who constitute the business firm mentioned in the beginning of this review, and the eldest son of John Lappley, Sr., was born in the town of Roxbury, Dane county, Sept. 3, 1857, and received his education in the schools of Roxbury and Berry. For the past seven years he has resided in Fitchburg, where he and his brother are meeting with such signal success in the mercantile line. He is a Republican in politics and a member of the Presbyterian church. He was married on April 28, 1892, to Miss Mary Holtcworth, a native of Germany, whose parents—Christian and Mary (Kurtz) Holtcworth—migrated to America when the daughter was but nine months old and settled in the town of Middleton, where the father now lives retired, the mother having died about a year after the arrival of the family in Dane county. Mr. and Mrs. Lappley are the parents of seven children, all living but the eldest, who died at the age of five months. Their names follow: Raymond, Paul, Melva, Herbert, Vera, Melinda, Walder. William F. Lappley, the other member of this progressive business firm, and whose name first appears in the beginning of this family memoir, was born in the town of Roxbury, Dane county, Oct. 2, 1862, and was educated in the schools of the town of Berry. In February, 1899, he and his brother established the business at Fitchburg, in which they have since been successfully engaged, and it may be said in truth that their establishment is the leading mercantile establishment of the place. He was married on July 4, 1898, to Mrs. Frances (DeBower) McChesney, daughter of Fred and Mary (Buffmyer) McChesney, of the town of Vienna. She died on May31, 1899, leaving no children. Mr. Lappley then married, on April 17, 1901, Miss Adelia M. Schwenn, a native of the town of Dane, whose parents—Frank and Susan (Zimmerman) Schwenn—were born in Germany, but now live in the town of Middleton, Dane county. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Lappley—Albert William and Lurene Alice. Mr. Lappley is a Republican in his political affiliations, and is filling very acceptably the positions of justice of the peace and clerk of the village school board, also notary public, and has been postmaster at Fitchburg since 1903. The society relations of both John and William F. Lappley are marked by membership in the I. O. O. F. and the Modern Woodmen of America.
History of Dane County, Madison, Western Historical Association, 1906, Page 541