Mapes was born on a farm near Kalamo, Michigan, to Selah W. and Sarah Ann (Brooks) Mapes. His father was born in New York and came with his parents at the age of seven to Kalamo Michigan, where he became a county district schoolteacher and held various township offices. He was also president of the Barry and Eaton County Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the Michigan Tornado and Cyclone Insurance Company. Sarah Ann was from Washtenaw County and was married to Selah Mapes on April 12, 1887. Selah and Sarah Ann moved to Olivet in 1887.
Carl Mapes attended the common schools of Olivet and graduated from Olivet College in 1896. He graduated from the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1899, was admitted to the bar that same year and commenced the practice of law in Grand Rapids. In 1901, he became assistant prosecuting attorney of Kent County, serving until January 1, 1905, when he began a term in the Michigan House of Representatives, representing the 1st district in Kent County. He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-nomination in 1906. In 1908, he was elected to the Michigan Senate from the 16th district, and served from 1909 to 1912.
In 1912, Mapes defeated incumbent Democrat U.S. Representative Edwin F. Sweet to be elected as a Republican from Michigan's 5th congressional district to the 63rd United States Congress. He was re-elected to the thirteen succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1913, until his death in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 12, 1939. During the 66th Congress, he served as chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia.
Mapes married Miss Julia Pike, the daughter of Abram and Eliza (Roberts) Pike of Grand Rapids on August 14, 1907. They had four children, Robert W., John Pike, Jane Elizabeth, and Ruth. Mapes belonged to the Park Congregational Church and was a member of the Freemasons, Odd Fellows and Woodmen. He was interred at Oak Hill Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Edwin F. Sweet
| United States Representative for the 5th Congressional District of Michigan
1913 – 1939
Bartel J. Jonkman