Valerie's Family Research Web Page: A Capels Family History
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A Capels Family History
Descendants and Relations of William Caples/Kaples

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Valerie Capels

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Lester and Elizabeth, Wedding Day, 1916
click on image for larger view, 70 KB
Lester and Elizabeth Capels, 1916
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 forever.

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.

Junction of the Erie and Oswego Canals, 1921.
Erie and Oswego Canal, 1921
-- click on image for larger view, 62 KB --
Photo from: Images of America SYRACUSE, Onondaga Historical Association and Dennis J. Connors, 1998, ISBN 0-7524-0551-9
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.

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 remain.

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.

Our Capels/Caples 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 past.

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 [email protected].

WorldConnect Data for Anson Caples
WorldConnect Descendant Register Report for Anson Caples
Descendant Outline for Anson Caples

WorldConnect Data for Roger E. Carroll
WorldConnect Descendant Register Report for Roger E. Carroll
Descendant Outline for Roger E. Carroll

Pedigree Chart for Lester Henry Capels
Descendant Outline for Lester Henry Capels


Pension Records
Civil 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. Calvary/Heavy Artillery.
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.

Civil 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 the rolls.

Civil 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, and FORT.

Civil 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 County, NY
  • Monroe Caples, Herkimer County, NY
Census Records
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.

Family Photos
Mamie & Marialyce Capels
Mary Agnes (Carroll) Capels and Marialyce Capels with pet squirrel, about 1917
Lester and Elizabeth, Wedding Day, 1916
Lester and Elizabeth Capels
Wedding Day, 1916
Catherine Reardon, Bill Capels, Blanche Carroll, boy
Catherine Reardon, Bill Capels, Blanche Carroll, Jack Reardon
abt. 1927
Ed & Blanche Carroll, Butch Capels
Ed & Blanche Carroll,
and Butch Capels,
abt. 1927
Catherine & Mary Ellen Reardon
Catherine and Mary Ellen Reardon,
date unknown
Roger & Butch Capels
Roger F. and Butch Capels
date unknown
Roger F. Capels
Roger F. Capels
date unknown
Mary, Winifred, Butch, & Tippy
Mary, Winifred, Butch,
Tippy the dog,
date unknown
Mr. Powers, Winifred, Butch
Mr. Powers, Winifred, & Butch
date unknown
Thomas Capels
Thomas Capels,
date unknown
Bill Capels, Jack Readron, & Tippy
Bill Capels, Jack Reardon, & Tippy,
date unknown
Winifred Keenan Capels
Winifred Keenan Capels
date unknown
Loren John Capels
Loren John Capels
date unknown
Roger Francis Capels
Roger Francis Capels
date unknown
William Patrick Capels, WW II
William Patrick Capels, WW II
William Patrick Capels, WW II
William P. Capels & dog, WW II
Dorothy (Hajski) & Robert Capels
Dorothy & Robert Capels
date unknown
Capels family gathering
Capels family gathering,
date unknown

Cemetery Photos
Capels, St. Mary's Cemetery
Capels, St. Mary's Cemetery
Grave of Edward Capels, 1979
Edward Capels, 1979
Grave of Laura Capels, 1916
Laura Capels, 1916
Grave of Mary A. (Carroll) Capels, 1935
Mary A. (Carroll) Capels, 1935
Grave of Roger F. Capels, 1967
Roger F. Capels, 1967
Graves of Mary (Capels) & Aloysious Schuh
Mary (Capels) & Aloysious Schuh
Graves of Kimberly & Teddy Smith
Kimberly & Teddy Smith
Grave of Loren J. Capels, 1929
Loren J. Capels, 1929
Graves of Loren & Winfred Capels
Loren "Butch" & Winifred Capels
Graves of Thomas J. & Edward Capels
Thomas J. & Edward Capels
Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Syracuse, New York
Myrtle Hill Cemetery,
Caples plot

Surname Message Boards
  • CAPELS Surname Message Board
  • CAPELS Family Genealogy Forum
        -- may not exist yet
  • Kappel Surname Message Board
  • Kappel Family Genealogy Forum
  • CAPLES Surname Message Board
  • CAPLES Family Genealogy Forum
  • Louer Surname Message Board
  • Louer Family Genealogy Forum
        -- may not exist yet
  • Carroll Surname Message Board
  • Carroll Family Genealogy Forum
  • Lower Surname Message Board
  • Lower Family Genealogy Forum

  • New York State Genealogy Resources
    Canadian Genealogy Resources
    General Genealogy Resources
    • (an affiliate of, connects Internet users to hundreds of millions of fully searchable individual records, about half of which is free and other half available by subscription.
    • Cyndi's, a categorized and crossreferenced index, or "card catalog" to the immense library of genealogical resources on the Internet.
    • LDS Family Search Center, perhaps the world's largest family history library.
    •, 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.
    • National Archives Records Center.
    • (also an affiliate of, is the oldest and largest FREE genealogy Web site, containing numerous interactive guides and research tools, including the WorldConnect project.

    Posted May 2003
    Updated April 21, 2012

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