|Birth: ||Oct. 13, 1825|
|Death: ||Nov. 16, 1870|
St. Landry Parish
James Allen Capps was born on October 13, 1825 in Nashville, TN. He was the son of Benjamin Capps and his second wife Nancy M. Scurlock Capps. His father was probably born in North Carolina and farmed land outside of Nashville. After the death of his father, James and his younger brother Joseph lived with his widowed mother in Nashville. At an early age James worked on riverboats, plying the Cumberland and Mississippi and their tributary rivers. His travels brought him to the bustling bayou port of Washington in St. Landry Parish where he met Mary Esther Gardner, the daughter of Thomas Gardner and Mary "Polly" Norton.
James and Mary were married in Washington, Louisiana on June 20, 1852 when he was twenty-six and she was twenty-one. The couple made their home in Washington, where they raised nine children: Mary Ann Page (b. 1853), John Davis (b. 1855), Lucy (b. 1856), Aline Emily (b. 1858), Orramel Hinckley (b. 1860), James Allen, Jr. (b. 1861), Thomas Gardner (b. 1863), Charles (b. ca. 1866), and Mattie (b. 1867).
Capps was one of five riverboat captains who married the daughters of Thomas Gardner. In the 1850s he entered into business with his brother-in-law Orramel Hinckley and other partners in a boat building and shipping business linking Washington to New Orleans and upriver as far north as Indiana. For several years before the outbreak of the Civil War, Capps captained the steamboat "Anna Perret."
"The Anna Perret, A.J. [sic] Capps Master, will leave Washington every Wednesday at 9 a.m. and leave New Orleans every Saturday at 6 p.m....Passengers and shippers may rely on the punctual time for departure of the steamers." ["Opelousas Courier" (Opelousas, LA), December 17, 1859.]
During the Civil War the "Anna Perret" was outfitted with guns to aid in the supply and the defense of Southern forces along the Mississippi River. Her captain joined the Confederate forces engaged along the Mississippi. In a letter dated Sept. 15, 1863 from Lt. Col. A. L. Rives, Chief of the Engineer Bureau, C.S.A. War Department, a Capt. James Capps of St. Landry was named in the "list of men who, by the wish of the honorable Secretary of the War, are to be employed in your department on the special service of destroying the enemy's property by torpedoes and similar inventions." The letter fell into Union hands and in a letter of March 21, 1864 U.S. Rear Admiral David O. Porter ordered the listed men arrested as "rebels, engaged as agents for the Confederate Government, employed for the purpose of furthering the views of said Government in destroying Union vessels by torpedoes and other inventions." [Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 26 (Washington: 1914), 192.] It is not known if Capps was ever apprehended.
Following the war Capt. Capps resumed piloting steamboats between Washington and New Orleans. Mary Gardner Capps died when she was thirty-eight on February 23, 1869 and her husband survived her by less than two years, dying at the age of forty-five.
November 16th A.D. 1870
Mr. James Allen Capps
The Burial will take place this Afternoon (17th) at three oclock at the family
grave yard of Mr. O. Hinckley where he will be buried with Masonic Honors.
The friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend without further notice on the part of the family.
[Handwritten funeral notice]
Nancy M. Scurlock Capps (____ - 1870)
Mary Esther Gardner Capps (1830 - 1869)*
Mary Ann Page Capps McCullough (1853 - 1933)*
John Davis Capps (1855 - 1855)*
Lucy Capps Mills (1856 - 1933)*
Aline Emily Capps Dezauche (1858 - 1908)*
Orramel Hinckley Capps (1860 - 1878)*
James Allen Capps (1861 - 1944)*
Thomas Gardner Capps (1863 - 1935)*
Mattie Simpson Capps Hamilton (1867 - 1956)*
Gardner-Hinckley Family Cemetery
St. Landry Parish
Created by: John W. Coffey
Record added: Jun 27, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 72076791