Miss Claire Antoinette Knapp




"CONFIDENCE" Litho by Joseph P. Knapp Co. circa 1898

Once again another Knapp Litho turns up that illustrates Knapp Life. Miss Claire Antoinette Knapp would be about the same age as the girl in the painting when her father printed this one.


My very unofficial history and unorthodox look at Clairedale Kennels has been pieced together over the last few years with not much more than dogged persistence, fueled mainly because I believe that this legendary kennel originated at the Knapp Mansion in Mastic Beach about 1922*. And of course readers of this entire website will know that the Knapp Mansion story is what started the fire for everything else that has spun off of it. This page was taken off line for updating and correcting back in June of 2003 and is just now coming back 9 months later...for crying out loud you could have a baby in that amount of time!....

*Although I know Claire and her mother Sylvia (Mrs. Joseph P. Knapp) were raising and showing dogs long before that date, 1922 is the earliest date I have found using the name Clairedale in print.

Well Clairedale was certainly Miss Claire A. Knapp's baby most of her entire life 1889-1959 . But everything I have read seems to vary slightly on just when the name Clairedale was applied to her long affair with dog breeding. Even her two daughters seem to have differed in what they have said in print about Clairedales origins. Since they really do not care to discuss anything about their Mother or their Mothers family with me, I have to rely on what I can find in the public record. Thankfully their Mom was very good at her chosen field and therefore left quite a paper trail about the history of her Top Dog Kennel that is still being written about today.**


**Dogs In Review magazine published a large article by Kerrin Winter-Churchill on the history Of Clairedale in June of 2003. It is from that article that many of the facts on these page have been gleamed. A special tip of my hat and a wag of the tail from Rusty, Red and me to Ms. Barbara Kolk of AKC Library in NYC for helping me find some real gems left behind for all of us by Miss Claire Knapp!







down the Merrick Road & Sunrise Trail and it can be tough on the shocks

Twenty or more years before Mr. Jiggs here got behind the wheel of his roadster, Claire's mom Sylvia Theresa Kepner Knapp was showing her Boston Terriers at the Westminster Kennel Show held at the Madison Square Garden . Back then "The Garden" was actually on Madison Square, just a block from Met Life building. Sylvia's husband , Joseph Palmer Knapp was one of the charter members of the Westminster Kennel Club and there was a Joseph P. Knapp silver cup awarded to the best Boston Terrier.




Westminster was already going for a quarter of century when 11 year old Miss Claire was most likely with her Mom at this show.


Although Claire's parents divorced about 1903 - 04, The Joseph Palmer Knapp Cup for Boston Terriers at Westminster continued. The second Mrs. Joseph Palmer Knapp (Elizabeth McIlwaine) also continued with some involvement in dog shows .


Madison Square Garden 1900

Viewed Looking Southwest From 4th Avenue & 26th St.

3 blocks south is the rear of the Metroplotan Life Building before the decade was out, It was looming over the entire city with the addition of the Met Life Tower

Same view about 1910. The east side of The Flatiron Building is visible between the towers

Claire would also participate in the Horse Shows here in the early 1900's

photos NYPL online collection


Whats In A Name?


As far as I know Claire herself never got too involved with Boston Terriers. In fact in the early 1900's she seemed to have a lot more involvement with horses and horse shows. She also did not seem to have a lot to do with the breed that she eventually would name her kennel for, the noble Airdale... If she did. she did not get much press with them. I am speculating here but hold a reasonable assumption that her involvement with Airedales may of come from her neighbor in Mastic, W. Edgar Baker (the first husband of Ella Dana) William E. Baker was an Airedale expert and author of a book on them, and also the most likely architect that designed the Mastic Knapp mansion and perhaps the first official Clairedale Kennel. He also would figure into Claire's Big Night in The Garden in 1936.

Though I'm sure there are many more, I have only found two photos of Airedales associated with the Clairedale Kennel and both of them appeared much later on. Perhaps this breed was a bit like the Knapps themselves (very photo shy) The one pictured below is of Ch. Weycroft Wyldeboy. The other was Ch River Rogue that Claire's younger daughter Antoinette showed in the late 1960's almost a decade after her mothers passing.


Ch. Weycroft Wyldboy of Clairedale circa 1956



Some early shows outdoors circa 1910 & indoors 1915







want to find out what happened next?