I loved hearing my Grandpa Caple reminisce about traveling the Oregon trail when he was a boy. He also told stories of his dad’s civil war experiences especially his survival of Andersonville Prison. He said his Dad had enlisted at age 16 at the outbreak of the war. Since he was underage his father had fetched him home. When he turned 18 the war was still going and he enlisted again. Apparently, he soon had second thoughts but this time he had to stay.
He told me his dad was wanderer always thinking the grass was greener somewhere else, never staying in one place long until his wife put her foot down and refused to move again. Stories of how his Dad had worked with the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody and Wyatt Earp in Dodge city fascinated me. He told me we’d be rich if his dad hadn’t somehow lost his claim on most of what is downtown Spokane.
But when I asked where the Caple’s had come from; the only thing he recalled his dad saying was they had come from the south. Once slave owners they had sold the plantation moved north after deciding slavery was wrong.
Now I had his father’s, Samuel Hugh Caple’s, service records along with his and his wife’s pension files. What would they tell me?
First there was a description of Samuel. At 5 ft. 7 inches he wasn’t a tall man but I bet his dark hair, fair complexion and blue eyes turned a few heads on the girls when he was a young.
He had served as a private in the Iowa 5th volunteer Infantry, Company B and later in the Iowa 5th Cavalry. He had enlisted for 3 years on 11 Sept. 1863 in Vicksburgh Mississippi receiving a 100 dollar bounty for enlisting.
His unit had taken part in the Battle of Mission Ridge on Nov 24th and 25th of 1863. They had been furloughed to Davenport, Iowa from April 8th to May 7th 1864.
On Augut 8, 1864 he was transferred to Co. I, Iowa 5th Calvary at Long Pond, Georgia (the reason was the 5th infantry and 5th Calvary had suffered huge losses and thus were combined into the 5th Calvary.)
He was absent on detached service for Dec. of 1864 and January 1865 working as a teamster since 12/64 which meant he was most likely involved in carrying supplies for the troops.
He was mustered out of service on Aug. 11, 1865 in Nashville, TN.
I was told this photo of Samuel Hugh was taken right after the end of the Civil War. Supposedly he had a husky build when he enlisted but as a result of his imprisonment had returned home a much smaller person.
He had applied for pension three times. His wife Margaret applied for a widow’s pension after is death.
He was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio on March 28, 1845 to Jacob Caple and Sarah Ann Garey. At the time of enlistment he had been living in Monroe, Iowa and lived there afterwards until 1876. He had also lived in Dodge City, Kansas, Puyallup, WA and Oklahoma.
His first application for a pension was made in March of 1894. At that time he was living in Caple, Oklahoma. He stated that he was unable to support himself by reason of rheumatism and piles and also heart, spleen and liver complaints. He wrote that he had first aquired spleen and liver complaints March of 1865 in Selma, Alabama, due to exposure. The rheumatism had started in 1873 and he had been troubled by piles or 16 years. This application was witnessed by a W. M. Edwards and Richard B. Quinn. In another document both of these parties swore that they had known Samuel for 25 and 1/3 years as of March 1894.
There was a doctor’s avadavidit stating that he suffered from Rhuematism, Hemorroids and chronic endocarditis and enlarged spleen from June of 1895.
This application for pension was denied. In 1898 he again applied. In this application he stated that he had married Margaret (Maggie Ragsdale) in Brookline, MO, on Sept. 16, 1877 and had previously been married to Polly A. Caple who had died on June 10, 1876 in Monroe, Iowa.
He listed his living children as Milo age 23, Minnie age 30, Samuel age 19, Joe age 14, Roy age 12 and Richard age 8 ( Note: one more child, Lida would be born in 1899). This application was also denied but when reapplied in 1912 it was accepted.
In Dec. of 1920 his widow Margaret applied for a widowers pension. Among the papers in this application was a copy of his death certificate. His address was given as 510 16th st. S. E. in Puyallup, WA. His date of birth was verified as being March 28th 1845. He was age 75 years, 8 months and 8 days. It confirmed his place of birth as Mt. Vernon, Ohio and his parents were listed as Joseph Caple b. in Maryland and his mother as Sarah Gery also born in Maryland. The informant for this information was listed as his wife Margaret M. Caple.
He died on Dec. 6th 1920 at 10 a. m. The cause of death was diabetic gangrene of
the foot and he was buried in the Orting Cemetery, Dec. 8 1820. Margaret also
gave their marriage date and place of marriage as previously stated. She had had
been born, March 31st. 1858 near Brookline, Green County, Missouri. Her
pension request was accepted.
Now that I knew more about Samuel Hugh Caple my appetite to know more was
whetted. He’s said his parents had been born in Maryland. Was Maryland
considered a southern state? A quick look up told me it was. Had this been the
state of the old family plantation? Had there ever been one? Or was the story of
moving north because of opposition to slavery just been told to make the family
And who exactly were his parents? Why had they moved from Ohio to Iowa?
To answer these questions I would need help. The first two thing I did was buy a
book on researching your ancestry, next I talked to my Dad. He didn’t remember
much more. He suggested I call my Aunt Iva he was pretty sure she could tell me
more. I scheduled a time to meet with her as soon as I could spare time to travel
to Bremerton for a day. In the meantime I decided to see what resources my local
library held. While there I made two discoveries. Their collection included a book a
Caple family of Maryland. Were these my ancestors? And I had found a Samuel
Caple who had served in the Revolutionary war. Surely I would have heard about
such an ancestor. But he was named Samuel, could he be an ancestor?
To answer these questions I had a lot of work to do. First I had to start with what
I did know and work my way backwards. Time to do more research on my great
grandfather, Samuel Hugh Caple and his father Jacob.