Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
JOHN STANFORD CAPPS was one of
the earliest pioneers of the Pacific coast, coming as he did to California
in 1850. He was born January 16, 1825, in Claiborne county, Tennessee,
the son of John and Elizabeth (Cook) Capps, pioneers of the middle states.
The mother was born in Claiborne county. The father of John Capps
was one of the first to settle in that county, and died there at the age
of nearly one hundred. The father of our subject likewise died there
at an extreme old age. The ancestors of both were originally from
England. John Stanford Capps was the second child of a family of
eight, and is the only one now living. In his native county and in
Pike county, Illinois, where he went in 1844, he attended school and received
a good liberal education. He served as sheriff of the latter named
county before coming west in the spring of 1850. He was married in
1844, to Sarah Baker, who died soon after their emigrating to California,
and Mr. Capps was married a second time, his bride being Elizabeth Morris,
a native of Monitor county, Missouri, born November 17, 1837. Her
father was Richard Morris, a native of Kentucky and of Welsh descent.
Her mother, Polly Isabel, died in the east. Mrs. Capps crossed the
plains with her father to California in 1853. They settled for a
time in the Sacramento valley, the father later coming to the Palouse country
where he died.
Failing health first caused Mr. Capps to take
the long journey with a train of ox teams to California. He regained his
health and worked for a time in the mines on American river, returning
to Illinois in 1851. He took return passage on the ship Union which
was wrecked off the Mexican coast. Upon his return home he began
fitting out with oxen and so forth to take his family to the Golden state,
which he did, in company with a train of other immigrants, the same year.
They consumed six months on the journey finally arriving at Diamond Springs,
California, where the subject and family remained until the following spring
when they removed to the Sacramento valley and engaged in farming.
He was among the first to till the soil in that vicinity, was the first
to import a reaper from the east, which he did in 1853, and owned and operated
one of the first threshing machines there. He served as justice of
the peace in his precinct for a number of years, also as postmaster at
Middletown, California. The latter office he held at Reardan a number
of years after coming here in 1881. Upon coming here he took a homestead
and timber claim, on a part of which the town of Reardan now stands, and
opened the first postoffice, which office was given his name not to be
changed until some years after Reardan was founded. He still owns
his old homestead, all of which is good grain land and well improved.
Capp's addition to the town of Reardan is a part of his original claim.
By his first wife Mr. Capps has been the father
of four children: Mrs. Martha Wammach, Winters, California; Mrs. Mary Deering,
Marion and Amanda, deceased; and by his second marriage eight: William
H., married to Mollie Reynolds, of near Reardan; Alice, wife of Charles
Frazer, The Dalles, Oregon; George, married to Mollie Kirby, near Reardan;
John, married to Rosa Wills, California; Dora, widow of Alfred Dryer; Mrs.
Ella Dodge, California; Mrs. Nellie Mesker, California, and Joseph, who
Mr. Capps, although never having been admitted
to the bar, has a good legal education and has practiced law to some extent
both in this state and California. He has ever been actively identified
with the Republican party, and has done considerable stump speaking during
campaigns. He has for years been recognized as a guiding spirit of
his party in Lincoln county. He is now leading a life of retirement
in his handsome and well-appointed home in Reardan.