William J. Caps biography

WILLIAM J. CAPS, a farmer and land owner of Cleburne whose prosperity has increased from year to year, making him one of the wealthy citizens and tax payers of the county, now owns about eight hundred acres of valuable farming land beside realty in the city. Since 1882 he has maintained his residence in Cleburne, while prior to that time he lived on the original claim which he secured on his removal to Johnson county in 1870.

Mr. Caps is a native of Davidson county, Tennessee, born January 16, 1833, and his parents were Caleb and Tabitha (Fowler) Caps. The father was born in North Carolina and with his parents came to Tennessee when the state was a new county in which the work of improvement and progress had scarcely been begun. He became a prosperous agriculturist and well known horseman of Davidson county, where he died of typhoid fever during the period of the Civil war. He was known as one of the substantial citizens of that rich portion of the state and his genuine personal worth gained him the regard of all with whom he was associated. His wife was born in Virginia and in early girlhood days was brought to Tennessee. She passed away in her eightieth year at the home of her son, William, in Cleburne, Texas, having for a long period survived her husband.

William J. Caps was reared to farming and stock raising and for fifty years resided upon a farm, handling stock as well as the product of the fields. In 1860 he removed from Davidson to Dickson county, Tennessee, forty miles west of Nashville, where he resided for three years and during the period of the Civil war he served as a constable and for a time was with Ross’ regiment of cavalry.

In 1867 Mr. Caps came to Texas. His family, like hundreds of others on the war-devastated districts of the south, had lost much that they formerly owned and all the property that Mr. Caps possessed at the time of his removal to this state was a wagon and span of mules. He lived for three years at Fort Graham in Hill county on the Brazos river and in 1870 he removed to Johnson county, where he has since made his home. Purchasing a small place on the Nolan river, eight miles south of Cleburne, be began his farming operations here. The rich black soil of that section could then be purchased for three dollars per acre, but the appreciation in land values has now made the same property worth fifty to one hundred dollars per acre. Mr. Caps was successful in his farming operations from the beginning of his residence here and his material prosperity increased from year to year until he is now one of the wealthy citizens and tax payers of the county, his farm lands aggregating about eight hundred acres in addition to his town property. He still owns his original home place, on which he lived until the latter part of 1882, when he established his residence in Cleburne, where he has since resided.

Mr. Caps was first married in Dickson county, Tennessee, to Miss Martha C. Marsh, and they became the parents of three children, all of whom are yet living: Mary A., the wife of Dr. Stratton; Sterling B. Caps; and Mrs. Alma T. Houshour. Following the death of his first wife Mr. Caps was married in Cleburne to Mrs. Arka (Brown) Duckworth, a sister of E. Y. Brown and Hannah Owen Brown, prominent old residents of Johnson county. Mrs. Caps died in Cleburne and Mr. Caps has since married Mrs. Annie (Adams) Major. He is a member of the Methodist church and the Masonic fraternity. He formerly served on the city council of Cleburne as the representative of the third ward. For a time after his removal to this city he engaged in the grocery business and he has been closely identified with the development and substantial improvement of his town and county. His business affairs have been capably and energetically conducted and his keen discrimination and untiring energy have been fruitful factors in his richly merited and desirable success.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 505-506.