Otis Clapp was born on March 3rd of 1806 and he came to Boston in 1823. At that time he was listed as a bookseller and publisher. This was some 17 years before he became a Homeopathic pharmacist in Boston. Founded in 1840, Otis Clapp & Son is one of the oldest pharmaceutical manufacturers.
His first wife Ann Withington Emery Porter married him in 1833, and died in 1843. Otis’ second marriage was to Mary Hadley of Boston in 1844, and their son James Wilkinson Clapp, was born on 22 September 1847.
The firm of “Otis Clapp & Son” was quickly identified as the well-known homeopathic pharmacists, manufacturers and importers of homeopathic goods, located at 3 Beacon Street, Boston. The firm was the second oldest-established homeopathic pharmacy in the United States and its growth mirrored the extensive growth of Homeopathy in New England. Otis commenced with a very limited stock of goods in 1840, at 121 Washington Street, Boston, when there were only three or four homeopathic physicians in Boston. In 1841 the firm moved to School Street and in 1855 to the present location in Beacon Street, where it became one of the largest and most complete pharmacies of its class in the world.
Otis Clapp became a major publisher and distributor of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writings, a strong advocate of Homeopathy and was instrumental in the founding of the Boston Female Medical College. He was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. From 1862-75 Otis served as the Federal Collector of Internal Revenue, and devoted a great deal of his time to the Boston School of Medicine, where he was a Professor of Pharmacy.
In the early 1870’s, Otis brought his son, Dr. James Wilkinson Clapp into the company as a partner. James was a homeopathic emeritus professor of pharmaceutics at the Boston University School of Medicine.
As the decades passed and the company’s reputation and medications became better known, knowledge of its research work, pharmacology and manufacturing excellence spread through the medical community. Many of the original formulations developed by the company, became drug industry standards and are used by a number of leading healthcare manufacturers today.
Appreciation : Special thanks to Dr. Maurice Mishkel for his permission to publish this article and for sharing these photos!