Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Early Life of John F. Capron

When John F. Capron first shows up in the 1860 census of Anson County, newly married to wife Julia Howell, my ggggg-Aunt, and living next to his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Peter and Betsy Floyd Howell, he was not a young man. In his 54th year of life and a skilled mechanic and carriage maker, I knew there had to be a story, or at least a trace of him concerning the first 50 years of his life.

I started with a hint I found in the Western Carolinian from 1833, a newspaper of Salisbury, North Carolina.

Western Carolinian
(Salisbury, North Carolina)
13 January 1834 • Page 4

This placed John F Capron in Davidson County, North Carolina, prior to his arrival in Anson, by a few decades. Capron being a rare name, and extremely rare in North Carolina, the assurance that this was our John F. Capron is pretty certain and complete.

It also appears that he was having goods shipped in to Wilmington and bringing them up through Fayetteville, where he may have encounter the Howell brothers.

So I went to Davidson County to look for traces of this much traveled gentleman from New Hampshire who had married into the family.

He was there but for a brief time, but he had made his mark.

I have not yet had the opportunity to scour through the land records of Davidson County, yet, but I will, as I feel there is more to discover concerning Mr. John F. Capron, but this is what I uncovered in the Circuit Court records:

First appearance: Date: Feb. 19, 1831

John F. Capron vs. William K. Smith  No. 11 Original attachment levied on land. In this case, on motion, it is ordered by the court that publication be made for 3 weeks successively in the Greensboro Patriot published in Greensborough (their spelling, not mine), for the defendant to appear at the next term of this court and plead or replevy (again, their word, not mine),  otherwise an order for the sale of said lands will be made in favor of the plaintiff in this action.
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As this case was dated 1831 and the above ad was dated 1833, Mr. Capron was in pursuit of Mr. Smith, who had left the county, for some time.

By the next year, John F. Capron had apparently established himself in the trusts of the powers that were in Davidson County.

Second mention: "Constables appointed for 1832"

John F. Capron was appointed Constable for the ensuing year. He gave bond with Charles Hoover, William Sullivan and David Huffman, his securities, in $4000. He was approved and he qualified according to the law. 

Of important mention in the this same list was also this entry:

Allen Newsome was appointed Constable for the ensuing year. He gave bond with Wm Varner, Wm Cox, John W. Thomas, James Adderton, Mathew Varner and William Ward. 

Allen Newsome married Charlotte Howell, daughter of Jordan Howell and a first cousin of John F. Capron's future wife Julia. It seems that the two daughters of Jordan Howell, Charlotte and Clarrissa, had came to live with their grandmother, Sarah Winfield Howell Davis, after the death of their father, in Fayetteville, because they both married men from this part of North Carolina, Charlotte marrying Allen Newsome, of Southern Davidson County and Clarrissa marrying Jeremiah Broadaway whose family was Rocky River neighbor of Sarah and Job. Their brother remained in Fayetteville, an apprentice of his fathers business partner, Paris Tillinghast, and removed later with the Tillinghast family to Columbus County, Georgia.

The next entry was a total shock, a young man, John F. Capron had apparently fullfilled his passions.

Thursday morning, November the 15th. 1832

State vs John F. Capron  No. 6 Bastardy  Sally Grimes, prosecutor. In this case on motion, judgement nisi for $24 was awarded against the defendant. The first year's allowance for the maintenance of a baseborn child begotten upon the body of the prosecutor, Sally Grimes of which said child the said John F. Capron stands charged as the reputed father. 

Thursday morning, February 14, 1833 Gotlieb Grimes vs John F. Capron
Pleas general issue, accord and satisfaction....finds all issues in favor of the defendant. 

These two clues led to research on Gotlieb Grimes and Sarah or Sally Grimes. I found them and curious as to whether this child lived or died, discovered she lived, her name being Rosanna E. Grimes and she grew up, married and had her own family. More on her later.

Later in 1833:

John F. Capron vs Benjamin Saunders
3 casas. Jonas Myers, who was bail for the defendant Benjamin Saunders, came into open court and surrendered the said  Saunders in discharge of himself from bail. Saunders ordered into the hands of the sheriff. 

August sessions 1833

John F Capron vs Benjamin Saunders, principal John W. Thomas, Jonas Myers bail. Again a surrender of bail and Saunders posting his own bond.

February 13, 1834

John F. Capron vs William K Smith and Timothy Chamberlain
Original attachment levied on land. It was acknowledged that the advertisement, one of which is seen above, was made. The land was ordered to be sold by the sheriff after the advertisement and sheriff fees paid, the balance to go to John F. Capron.

May 1834  John F Capron vs Smith and Chamberlain again.

Friday morning February 1835

Clerk's office vs John F. Capron
In this case on motion, it is ordered by the court that the sheriff have leave to make his return on said executions as last term. 

And this is the last court case involving John F. Capron in Davidson County.
Old Church in Sumter County, Alabama

Name:John F. Capron
Marriage Date:30 Sep 1839
Marriage Place:, Sumter, Alabama
Spouse:Matilda C. Johnston

By fall of 1839, John F. Capron is in Sumter, Alabama, perhaps traveling with other Davidson County residents, perhaps alone on business. Here he meets his first wife, Matilda C. Johnston, who I believe was the daughter of a William Johnston.

Oddly though, John shows up alone in the 1840 census. Perhaps his wife was still at home.

Name:John F Capron
Home in 1840 (City, County, State):Sumter, Alabama
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39:1
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:1
Total Free White Persons:1
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:1

In the land records, there are listed 2 transactions involving him. I have not yet recieved these documents. One involves him and a company called Johnson & Tubb. Perhaps this was his father-in-laws business. Another was between him and William Jennings.

Warsaw, Sumter, Alabama

45CapronJohnJohnson & Tubb
45CapronJohn F.JenningsWilliam et alH700

He must have acquired a piece of land in Alabama, as his name, misspelled, shows up in the 1850 tax list. But he was not there.

Name of Parties Assessed, page in volume party appears on

CAPSON, John F., 23:


Assessment of Taxes on Real Estate in the County of Sumter for the year 1850

He does not appear in the 1850 census of Sumter County, Alabama. John has been on the move again. He has became a miner 49er'.

Home in 1850:Yuba, California
Family Number:460
Household Members:
Francis Reed22
James Atwell37
Eliza Jane Flinn12
Mary Ann Flinn10
Nancy Flinn8
Robert Flinner5
Samuel Florie5
John S Capron25
Mardecia McKinley49
Edward Stillward24
J Daniely29
Seth F Sanger21
James H Hopkins21

He shows up in a list of "Miners" in 1850 Yuba, California.

The message boards from genealogy.com are now read only. No more information can be added. However, I found an otherwise anonymous gentleman by the name of "Rick" had posed this question about our John F. Capron that added a little more information about him while in Califorinia. In a City Directory, he was listed as a Carpenter, although the census has him as a miner.

"Can anyone give me some information on this John F Capron, I found him in the 1850 San Francisco, California City directory he was listed as a Carpenter, he could have lived at Green and Stockton, or worked for a Green and Stockton." Posted by "Rick". 

The above is the page from the 1850 San Francisco City Directory. Green and Stockton appeared to be a company that invested in the building of the quickly growing town, rather than in the direct pursuit of gold. 

The death of Matilda Capron cements the fact that John F. Capron in Alabama was the same one in California, despite the fact that Matilda was not listed in the 1850 census with him and that the middle initial was improperly transcribed, that miner John "S" Capron was actually John "F" Capron. Not only is her spouse listed, also that fact that she was born in Alabama. This is our Matilda C. Johnston Capron. 

The Sad History of the Yerba Buena Cemetery in San Francisco

Yerba Buena Cemetery was one of the oldest in the city, established during the Gold Rush boom in 1850 and closed in 1871. It was the first city-sanctioned cemetery in SF, and many bodies from unofficial cemeteries in Russian Hill, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill were moved here after neighbors complained of the unsanitary situation. Located below the original SF Public Library building, all of the bodies were supposedly moved to other cemeteries when it was closed. But when construction began to remodel the library into the Asian Art Museum in 2001, there were some unexpected discoveries - 18 skeletons, 25 feet in from the sidewalk and 13 feet below ground, all dating from the mid to late 1800s
from "http://www.7x7.com/arts-culture/dark-history-san-franciscos-cemeteries#/0"
San Francisco 1849
Not Frisco...Yerba Buena Cemetery

Perhaps it was the death of his wife that brough John F. Capron back to North Carolina. Perhaps he wanted to reconnect with his daughter, Rosanna Grimes Burkhart. Perhaps he had a business opportunity. Or perhaps it was something to do with the death of John W. Howell, an old business partner. For whatever reason, he arrived in North Carolina in time to join his second bride, Julia Howell in the 1860 census. And with her and in North Carolina, he remained.

Next, to explore the families of his children who survived long enough to have their own families: Rosanna E. Grimes Burkhart and Edward O. Capron.

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