Is There A Criminal in Your Family Tree?

Pat Sand

This past summer, Ed Jones mentioned to me his mother and aunt were raised in an orphanage in Oklahoma in the early 1900s. I wondered if they might have been part of an orphan train from the east? He said no, their mother put the girls in this orphanage.

Who does that? I was curious.

In searching for this grandmother, I came across her marriage and the name of her husband and the girl’s father (Ed’s grandfather, whom he never knew).

The grandfather’s name was Thomas Theodore Chester Clapper, he used various bits and parts of that name as he moved west from Missouri and Oklahoma to California to keep ahead of the law. At that time there was no central record keeping of crime within a state or federal record.

“TC” Clapper served hard time in California state penitentiaries where Johnny Cash would later sing Folsom, San Quentin, etc. His crimes were stealing horses, passing bad checks, and non-support of children.