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I've been curious
to know where the CAPELS name came from for as far back as I can remember.
To my ear, it's an unusual name. My grandmother Elizabeth's
thick, lyrical brogue provided no doubt of her Scottish origins--I dearly
remember her referring to me as a "liddle giddle" at a time when I was
preoccupied with the business of childhood and thought she'd be around
click on image for larger view, 70 KB
Lester and Elizabeth Capels, 1916
But what of this CAPELS line--my grandfather? Lester
Henry CAPELS was born in Syracuse, as were his parents. His
mother's parents were from Ireland--or at least Catherine RYAN was; Roger
CARROLL's birthplace is not yet known. Lester's father's lineage
is traced to Oswego and Herkimer Counties of New York State through the
early 1800s. Where from there is not entirely certain.
Questions of Origin
Up until recently,
I had been under the firm assumption that the name CAPELS would be found
rooted in the British Isles, most likely originating in Wales via Ireland,
or vice versa. For some lines of Capels/Caples I believe this is
true. Whatever their origins, many, if not most, of the Capels/Caples
men of our line married Celtic women. As I continue to investigate
the Herkimer County Caples, however, I am convinced that our line of the
name is actually derived from the German name KAPLES. Census records
indicate that our earliest William CAPLES' mother was from Germany, though
his father was listed as born in New York. Historical accounts of
the towns of Columbia and Mohawk indicate that numerous German communities
settled there in the early 1800s.
Records so far indicate that
my grandfather Lester's great-great grandfather William,
and his wife Lucy Jane LOWER, originated in or near the town of Columbia,
Herkimer County (though the 1865 census for the Town of Hastings, Oswego
County notes that she was born in Madison County, NY). They were
married in the Town of Hastings, Oswego County, New York in 1834.
It appears they may have traveled back to Herkimer County for a time,
as census records show that most of her children were born in Herkimer
County. Travel back and forth was quite likely made in boats over
the Oswego Canal, which connected to the Erie Canal in downtown Syracuse
and contined on to the Mohawk Valley. The Erie Canal opened in 1825,
with numerous side canals completed by 1836, and was a driving force in
the growth of industry, jobs, and people in the region. They moved
to West Monre, Oswego County around 1850, just before, while, or soon
after Lucy was pregnant with Lovina. About one year after they moved
to Mallory, New York, Lucy's husband, William Caples, abandoned her and
their family in 1861.
Junction of the Erie and Oswego Canals, 1921.
-- click on image for larger view, 62 KB --
from: Images of America SYRACUSE, Onondaga Historical Association
and Dennis J. Connors, 1998, ISBN 0-7524-0551-9
What prompted the moves to Hastings and Mallory from Herkimer County?
Work opportunity? Family? The building of the Oswego Canal?
William evidently had brothers and other family members still living
in Herkimer County, as he was reported to have visited his brother in
Columbia after abandoning his family in 1861. He would have been over
50 years old by that time and the Civil War had officially begun in April
of that year. Other Caples living in Herkimer County around that
time include Isaac Caples, Ira Caples, Anson Caples, and John Caples--not
particularly Irish names, again, pointing to Germanic origins. Were
these his brothers? Was Anson, who fought in the War of 1812, his father?
Circumstantial evidence is suggesting that Anson Caples may have been
our William's father, though no evidence has been found yet showing that
Anson had a son named William (though a son named Wilhemus is listed among
another researcher's findings; is this the same?). Anson and his
known relations are included in this report knowing that the link to us
is not yet certain, but with the strong suspicion that it is largely correct.
The name CAPLES, CAPLE, KAPLE, CABLE, CAPES, CAPEL and other variations
show up in various Herkimer County records. It's entirely conceivable
that some of these people are, in fact, our relations.
Back in Oswego County, the FIDLER family played an integral role in Caples
family relations. Other names appear whose relationship are not
yet fully understood, such as ALSEVER, RILL, and SMITH. Were the
CABLEs of Oswego County affiliated with our CAPLES? It appears that
before Roger CARROLL (above) moved to Onondaga County, he and his parents
and siblings first settled in West Mallory, where some CARROLLs may still
In Herkimer and Montgomery Counties, the names GETMAN and ORENDORF beckon
for further investigation.
This is where I my research has brought me to date and where my next investigations
will be focused.
Records show that
my grandfather, Lester, abandoned his wife and children in 1928. My
father said that he was too young to remember much about his father, which
was probably true since he would have only been about three years old
at the time. I eventually learned that his father was not a subject
his family talked about. I recall hearing a story when I was young,
though I don't know from where (or did I imgine it?), that one theory
had Lester Capels murdered in a barroom brawl, his body dumped in the
then-Erie Canal and never found. The probable truth was, as a number
of folks believed, that he was alive and well long after World War II.
His brother Edward,
who remained a life-long bachelor, was reported to have gone to great
lengths and expense to find runaway Lester, not the least of which included
hiring detectives to conduct a nation-wide search, but turning up nothing.
Victim?--maybe. Scoundrel?--evidently. The truth remains
a tragic but fascinating mystery.
Lester wasn't the first to abandon a wife and children in the Capels/Caples
line. As noted above, William Caples (born about 1807) abandoned
his wife Lucy Jane and their children in 1861, just before the Civil War
broke out. Their youngest son, Leroy, was 8 years old. Their
other son, Lester (my ancestor), had already moved way and had a family
of his own. Abandonment took a different form for their other son,
Loren Caples, who was listed as a deserter from the Civil War, despite
having been shot in the leg at the battle of Gettysburg.
line appears to be descended from farmers, laborers, and blue collar workers--the
class upon whose backs the industries and infrastructure were built that
helped produce the prosperity we know today. Many of the Capels/Caples
men of the 19th and early 20th century were coopers--barrel makers--who
were perhaps associated with the growing salt industries in and around
Syracuse. Others were carpenters, meatcutters, drivers, or combinations
of all. Generally, they worked hard for little reward and hard lives.
The women also worked hard, raising families and some earning income
as seamstresses. Life for many was hand-to-mouth, with few amenities.
In general, their health was very poor. Few in our line owned
property of any measure until Loren Capels bought the house on Avery Avenue
in Syracuse. Some of those that returned after World War I had a
different struggle and were never the same.
Hardship can build character or weaken it. But that is not a hard
and fast line. A person's character can be strengthened by one form
of hardship and diminished in another--and vice versa--and back again.
It is safe to say that many in our line were shaped in one way or
the other by those experiences. Those that were weakened, such as
some that returned from World War I forever changed and unable to find
their way, should not be diminished in our memory.
There is great risk
in reading too much into isolated pieces of information, regardless whether
it's an official document or one person's pieces of memory as a guide--myself
included. Imagine trying to figure out what an elephant looks like
with only a toe, an ear, a flank, or the snout as clues. Available
records, if we're able to find any at all, provide only a momentary glimpse
into a situation, often subject to the interpretation or limitations of
the person recording or recollecting it. Personal stories and recollections
add depth, reveal personalities, and help to illuminate a time that has
I have tried to be diligent in recording the sources of my information
so that it can be judged by myself and others as to its reliability.
Just because a record exists does not mean it was recorded accurately,
whether by the scribe or the original provider. But such records
are helpful in providing us with clues that could help verify our assumptions
or point us in new directions.
Photos help remind
us that this is about more than facts and statistics; these were real
people of flesh, bone, and blood. They experienced the adventures
of youth, the trials and tribulations of raising a family, the struggles
of work and making ends meet, the joys of traditions, and the sorrows
of loss. Some died young; others lived long, fruitful lives.
In some cases, we may even see a reflection of one another.
Any information, corrections,
clippings, suggestions, and/or photos offered that will help weave the
fabric and reveal the texture of our family's history will be greatly
appreciated. All photos or other original documents will be handled with
great care, copied, and promptly returned to their owner, unless instructed
otherwise. While I am eager for ANY information that will help tell our
story, I also want to be respectful of people's privacy and to use discretion
in matters that may be sensitive.
This document is only as complete and accurate as the information available
up to this moment. No doubt it will continue to evolve over time,
as it should. Information to share? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Data for Anson Caples
Descendant Register Report for Anson Caples
Outline for Anson Caples
Data for Roger E. Carroll
Descendant Register Report for Roger E. Carroll
Outline for Roger E. Carroll
Chart for Lester Henry Capels
Outline for Lester Henry Capels
Includes notices and articles for CAPELS, CAPLE, CAPLES, CARROLL, REARDON,
SCHUH, SMITH, SPIES, STOLUSKY, TREPASSO
War Pension Record of Herman Caples
U.S. Civil War Pension File No. 375 855, Herman Caples, Herkimer County,
New York, Company E, 102 New York Volunteers, and Company "L", 2nd N.Y.
These documents--so far--show that Herman Caples, a Civil War veteran
who was wounded at Yorktown, PA, and Petersburg, VA, and his brother,
Walter, sought to increase his pension benefits in later life as his disabilities
increased. The records document the difficulty he encountered from
the fact that, because he could not read nor write, his name was misspelled
on various official documents. They also show that, apparently due
to his paralysis, deafness, muteness, and post-war "slowness", he was
declared to be insane--a label that several disputed on his behalf. He
lived out the rest of his life at his brother, Walter's, in Redwood, Jefferson
County, New York.
This is not a complete representation of all the documents in the file.
The records are still being transcribed; more will be posted when the
transciption and summations are complete.
War Pension Record of Homer Caples
U.S. Civil War Pension File No. 1.094.803, Homer Caples, Herkimer County,
New York, Company "F", 152nd N.Y. Infantry. The few records in this
file document part of 47-year old Homer's failed effort to obtain a pension
on account of his dishonorable discharge for desertion from the service
less than one month after he enlisted. The file does not contain
the records he would have submitted when applying for an honorable discharge,
which might have offered some explanation for his absences "sick" from
War Pension Record of Lomenzo Caples
U.S. Civil War Pension File No. 1 159 204 , Lomenzo Caples, Oswego County,
New York, Company A, 16th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery. Though he
enlisted while in West Monroe, Oswego County, New York, he lived out the
rest of his life in Syracuse, New York.
This a near complete transcription of all the documents in this file,
which show Lomenzo's efforts to obtain a pension many years after his
service and, after his death, his widow Hannah M. Caples' efforts to receive
his pension benefits. Other surnames include MARKS, MANWARING, POWERS,
War Pension Record of Loren Caples
U.S. Civil War Pension File, Loren Caples, West Monroe, New York, Company
"H", 147th Infantry Regiment N.Y. Volunteers, Dependent Mother's Claim,
No. 270,990, for Lucy Jane Caples Carpenter.
This is a best-effort transcription of the dozens of documents contained
in Pension File 270,990 obtained through the National Archives.
It provides a rich glimpse into the life of Loren's mother, Lucy Jane
Lower Capels Carpenter, and those around her in the course of her unsuccessful
efforts to obtain pension benefits after Loren's death in 1876 at age
36. The records tell parts of a sad story that includes abandonment,
poverty, dishonor, awkward family relations, and disputable facts. Other
surnames strongly represented include: FIDLER, LOWER, CARPENTER, and OSTRANDER.
Revolutionary War Pension Record of John Kaple
Revolutionary War Pension File, S-13593, John Kaple, Decatur, New York.
This is a work-in-progress posting and transcription of documents contained
in Pension File S-13593 obtained through the National Archives. Other
surnames represented include: LANSING, LATHROP, LEWIS, CANDLER.
Other Pension Records soon to be posted:
- Hamilton Caples, Herkimer
and Jefferson Counties, NY
- Ira Caples, Herkimer
and Jefferson Counties, NY
- Lorenzo D. Caples, Yates
- Monroe Caples, Herkimer
This page is
a work in progress and brings together a number of census images Onondaga,
Oswego, and Herkimer Counties, as well as other places. They are
a remarkable resource to glimpse into the households of our ancestors.
Mary Agnes (Carroll)
Capels and Marialyce Capels with pet squirrel, about 1917
Lester and Elizabeth
Wedding Day, 1916
Reardon, Bill Capels, Blanche Carroll, Jack Reardon
Ed & Blanche
and Butch Capels,
and Mary Ellen Reardon,
Roger F. and
Roger F. Capels
Tippy the dog,
Winifred, & Butch
Jack Reardon, & Tippy,
Capels, WW II
Capels & dog, WW II
Mary A. (Carroll)
Roger F. Capels,
& Aloysious Schuh
Loren J. Capels,
& Winifred Capels
& Edward Capels
New York State
York State USGenWeb Site
County, NY, USGenWeb Site
County, NY, USGenWeb Site
County, NY, USGenWeb Site
County, NY, USGenWeb Site
New York, USGenWeb Site
County, NY, USGenWeb Site
County, NY, USGenWeb Site
- New York State Department
of Health, Vital
Records Section, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12237, (518) 474-3077,
(518) 474-3038 Information, Fax: (518) 432-6286
County Clerk historical records
New York Genealogical Society
County Historical Society
Historical Association Research Center
York State Historical Association Research Library
Klock Historic Restoration & Indian Castle Church, a fortified
farm homestead in the Mohawk Valley. This Web site contains A LOT
of historic and genealogical information about people and places in
the Mohawk Valley.
Tree Genealogy Palatines to America genealogy and history.
in the Mohawk Valley, and excellent compilation of Palatine history.
to America, serving researchers of German-speaking ancestors.
(an affiliate of MyFamily.com),
connects Internet users to hundreds of millions of fully searchable
individual records, about half of which is free and other half available
List.com, a categorized and crossreferenced index, or "card catalog"
to the immense library of genealogical resources on the Internet.
Family Search Center, perhaps the world's largest family history
a major genealogy reference library and resource center built and
maintained by professional genealogists to serve the needs of beginning
researchers and experienced family historians.
Archives Records Center.
(also an affiliate of MyFamily.com),
is the oldest and largest FREE genealogy Web site, containing numerous
interactive guides and research tools, including the WorldConnect
Posted May 2003
Updated April 21, 2012