JOHN CAPLES. - Brought to the American continent in the arms of his mother when he was but nine months old, and into the United States a few months later, taking his chances in the migratory life his parents were subjected to for years, attending school when he had opportunity and thereby acquiring the best he could of a common school education, and beginning work for his own support at an early age, John Caples, one of the successful and prosperous merchants of Kansas City, Kansas, has made his way from nothing in the way of worldly wealth to a comfortable competency and a position of high standing it, the estimation of the public.
Mr. Caples was born in London, England, on March 27, 1855, a son of Michael and Honorah (Conway) Caples, natives of county Tipperary, Ireland. The father, in 1854, left his young wife and braved, the stormy Atlantic to better his estate and hers, coming to Canada and finding employment in construction work on the Grand Trunk Railroad in that country. In December, 1855, the mother and her baby son John joined him at Mosey in the Dominion, and thus reunited the long separated family under one roof. Soon afterward began the career of usefulness which the father and son have wrought out in different places in this country and the extensive and varied experience which has developed the faculties and business capacity of the latter to their present high state of power and resourcefulness.
In 1856 the head of the house moved his family to Detroit, Michigan, and there he worked at his trade of stone mason one year. He then changed his residence to Dubuque, Iowa, where he remained two years engaged in the same line of endeavor. At the end of that period he found another new home in St. Louis for a short time, and then still another in East St. Louis, Illinois. At that place he worked several years in the round house for the Ohio & Mississippi Company, now a part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad system. He had by the end of that service reached a period in life when a settled home and permanent occupation seemed very desirable to him, and accordingly he bought a farm in Madison county, Illinois, in the spring of 1870, and on that he has ever since had his home and employed his energies. His wife died on July 18, 1897, and his daughter at once became his housekeeper. Five children were born in the family: John, the interesting subject of this brief review; Mary, who conducts the household for her father; James and Michael, who now conduct the operations of the home farm of four hundred acres; and Patrick, who was third in the order of birth and is also a resident of Madison county.
In 1881, when he was nearly twenty-seven years old, John Caples left home after several years of arduous labor in the coal mines, and on the home farm, and came to Kansas City, Kansas. Here he found employment in the repair department of the Wabash Railroad car shops for one year and a half, then transferred his energies to the service of the Union Pacific in the same capacity, remaining with that company also a year and a half. The Missouri Pacific offered him a better job as car inspector, and he took the place and filled it creditably for four years. At the end of that period he was made foreman of car repairers and oilers in the yards at State Line, and later general division foreman in the yards at Cypress, on the Missouri Pacific.
In November, 1905, he left the railroad service and in May, 1906, started a general grocery and meat market at 941 Central avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, which he conducted until 1909. By that time his business had grown to such magnitude that he was obliged to seek enlarged accommodations for it, and moved to his present commodious and attractive location at 1004 Central avenue. His store is large, modern and completely stocked at all times with the best attainable goods in all the lines he handles, and his trade goes on increasing year after year, while his reputation as a progressive and enterprising merchant, fully up to date in all requirements, and as a citizen earnestly and intelligently alive to the beat interests of the community, maintains its high rank and keeps expanding.
On October 1, 1883, in the city which is now the seat of his extensive and profitable mercantile operations, Mr. Caples was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Riordan, who was born in county Limerick, Ireland, and came to this country and the city of her present residence at the age of eighteen years. Ten children have been born to them and all are living. They are: Michael, a traveling salesman for a wholesale grocery at Amarillo, Texas; Bridget, who is a Sister of Charity in Butte, Montana, from the Sisterhood at Leavenworth, Kansas, and is known as Sister Mary Benedict; and Morris, Mary, Margaret, Dorothy, Martha, Rose, Cornelius and Catherine, all of whom are still members of the parental household.
The father obtained his education in the public schools of East St. Louis and in chance attendance at intervals in others. He is a member of St. Benedict's Catholic church and faithful in attendance to his religious duties. In fraternal life he is connected with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, holding membership in the lodge of the order at Wyandotte, and also belongs to the Knights of Father Mathew in the city of his home. In politics he is an independent Democrat, giving a good citizen's attention to public affairs on all occasions, but not subservient to partisan considerations, looking only to the general welfare in all respects.
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