Knapp, Jacob C. "Chick"

1886-1961 | Electrician, Alaskan Engineering Commission

Jacob Clay "Chick" Knapp was born in Mystic, Iowa on May 13, 1886, the third of five children of Alvin and Prudence Knapp. His father was a farmer. He grew up on the family farm in Walnut, Appanoose County, Iowa.[1]

As a young man, Knapp left his native state to find a future in the west. He worked in the coal mines in Montana for a number of years, and there he met Edith A. Griffin.  She was born in Angus, Iowa, on February 20, 1886, the daughter of George and Catherine Griffin.  They were married on December 24, 1905 in Bozeman, Montana.[2] Knapp soon tired of the coal mining business, and he and Edith moved to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, where he obtained work in the shipyards.

Knapp had heard much about the opportunities in Alaska, and so he decided to head north. He sent Edith back to Montana, with the promise that he would send for her as soon as he got established. He first stopped in Juneau, but found nothing of interest there. He proceeded to Anchorage in late 1920, and landed a job with the Alaskan Engineering Commission (AEC), the federal agency in charge of construction of the Alaska Railroad.

Knapp was able to establish permanent employment with the AEC in 1921 as an electrician, and sent for Edith to join him. They first lived at 109 4th Avenue and later bought a log cabin at 8th Avenue and L Street, in Anchorage. After twenty years with the Alaska Railroad, he transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Richardson in 1941 and remained there until he retired in 1949. He was a life member of the Anchorage Elks Lodge and a member of the Anchorage Masonic Lodge.

The Knapps' first son, John F. "Jack," was born in 1924 and second son, Jacob C. "Jake," was born in 1926. Edith kept busy as a housewife and mother of the two boys. She was active with the Pioneers of Alaska and the Eastern Star. Both sons followed in their father's footsteps and worked for the Alaska Railroad. Jack and his wife, who moved to the state of Washington, had no children. Jacob C., Jr. married Mildred Snyder and they had three children; Eric R., Amy C., and Edith Ann.[3]

Edith Knapp died on July 23, 1957 in Josephine, Oregon, and is buried in Angelus Memorial Park in Anchorage.[4] Jacob, Knapp, Sr. died in Grants Pass, Oregon on September 19, 1960, after suffering a heart attack.[5] He is buried in Grants Pass, Oregon.


[1] Jacob C. Knapp, 1900 U.S. Census, Walnut, Appanoose County, Iowa, ED 24, stamped page 168, National Archives Microfilm Publication T623, Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900, Roll 416, 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], (accessed August 4, 2016); and Draft registration card, Jacob Clay Knapp, Local Board for Division No. 5, Seattle, WA, September 12, 1918, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1509, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Roll WA27, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line], (accessed August 4, 2016).

[2] Marriage record, Jacob C. Knapp and Edythe A. Griffins [Edith A. Griffin], Bozeman, Gallatin County, Montana, December 23, 1905, in Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950 [database on-line], (accessed August 4, 2016).

[3] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 197-198.

[4] “Edith Knapp Memorial Set,” Anchorage Daily Times, August 14, 1957, 15.

[5] “Jacob C. Knapp, Former Resident, Dies in Oregon,” Anchorage Daily Times, September 28, 1960, 11; and Jacob C. Knapp, Oregon State Library, Oregon Death Index, 1931-1941, Reel Title: Oregon Death Index, A-Kl, Year Range, 1951-1960, Oregon Death Index, 1898-2008 [database on-line], (accessed August 4, 2016).


This biographical sketch of Jacob C. Knapp is based on an essay which originally appeared in John P. Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage:  Publications Consultants, 2001), 197-198.  See also the Jacob C. Knapp file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 4, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK.  Photographs courtesy of the Knapp family.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited by Bruce Parham, August 4, 2016.

Preferred citation: Mina Jacobs and Bruce Parham, eds., “Knapp, Jacob C.,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940,

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website,