See biography by K. B. Murdock (1925, repr. 1966); study by R. Middlekauff (1971); bibliography by T. J. Holmes (1931).
Increase Allen Lapham (March 1811 - September 15, 1875) was an author, scientist, and naturalist. Born in Palmyra, New York, his family moved to Pennsylvania, back to New York, to Ohio then to Louisville, Kentucky (1827-1830) then back to Ohio while his father, Seneca Lapham, worked on the canals in various locations. He displayed a talent for scientific observation early on while working on the canals and their locks himself, producing drawings that he could sell at the age of thirteen.
In 1836, Increase Lapham moved to Kilbourntown (which soon incorporated in to the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and worked closely with Byron Kilbourn in his business and development endeavors. The two had worked together previously on the Miami Canal and Lapham considered him a loyal friend and mentor. Before the end of the year, Lapham had published a Catalogue of Plants and Shells, Found in the vicinity of Milwaukee, on the West Side of Lake Michigan, perhaps the first scientific work published west of the Great Lakes.
Many of his works and early maps were used for various civil projects such as canal and railroad development. In 1844 Lapham published the first substantial book on the geography of the Wisconsin Territory. He published many more papers and books through his life, particularly on geology, archaeology and history, and flora and fauna of Wisconsin, including publication by the Smithsonian Institution.
Increase Lapham is considered the "Father of the U.S Weather Service," based upon his lobbying to Congress and the Smithsonian Institution to create such an agency to forecast storms on the Great Lakes and both coasts. When the agency was created through the U.S. Secretary of War, Lapham made the first such accurate Great Lakes storm warning from Chicago.
Increase Lapham is considered to be "Wisconsin's first great scientist." He was buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee. Since his death, numerous landmarks throughout the southeastern Wisconsin area have been named after him, including Lapham Peak, the highest point in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee buildings, and streets. In Madison, Wisconsin, he currently has an elementary school named after him.