Caples Family

Caples Family

caplesTwo members of the Caples family were practicing law in Vancouver in the 1860s, and the name has been prominent in and near Clark County since the 1850s.

Among notable members of this clan in recent years have been D. Elwood Caples and his sister, Garnet Phyllis Caples Allen.

Several members of the Caples family reached the Pacific Northwest in the 1850s, and were prominent in the early history of the region.

One of these was Henry L. Caples, who arrived with his wife, Margaret, and two sons in December 1852 and took over land on the Columbia River near Woodland.

Henry Caples was a member of Washington Territorial legislature in the 1850s and ’60s.

During his time in office, the legislature voted to move the capital to Vancouver, but the state Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional.

In 1864, the family moved to Vancouver to be close to better schools.

Henry Caples’ younger brother, John Fletcher Caples, arrived in 1865 after a trip via the Isthmus of Panama. Both were practicing law in Vancouver in the late 1860s, but J.F. Caples left for Portland, where he became a circuit court judge.

H.L. Caples moved to Southeast Washington in 1878, returned in about a decade, and in 1905, he and his wife, Margaret, went to Chewelah to live with a daughter. Both died there in 1910. At various times H.L. Caples was a police judge, justice of the peace, deputy county clerk, deputy county auditor and county Democratic chairman.

A number of the couple’s descendants have lived in Clark County.

One of H.L. Caples’ sons, H.R. Caples, was Clark County clerk in the 1890s, and also served as justice of the peace and school board member.

Among H.L. Caples’ 10 children was Douglas Caples, who married Louella Princess Woolf Miller. Douglas Caples was a contractor, a deputy county clerk and county Democratic chairman.

His son, D. Elwood Caples, a University of Washington graduate, returned to his hometown to practice law. He married Martha Bell Glass of Ione in 1926. D. Elwood Caples served as city attorney for 12 years, was a state Democratic Committee chairman, and first attorney of Clark County PUD. The first PUD board was organized in his office in 1938, and Elwood Caples was the organization’s attorney until 1966.

In 1942, Elwood Caples was named first chairman of Vancouver Housing Authority Board, and served in that position for 35 years. This group was involved in a huge wartime expansion of Vancouver housing, and later was active in urban renewal in the downtown area and redevelopment of McLoughlin Heights.

Elwood Caples also was chairman of the Washington delegation to the Pacific Northwest Interstate Compact Commission in the ’60s, and was an American Legion official.

His wife, a teacher, has been active in a variety of civic groups.

Elwood Caples’ sister, Garnet Phyllis Caples Allen, was married to the late Sidney Allen. She was a teacher in Clark County 45 years, has been a trustee of Western Washington College of Education, president of Vancouver Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and a board member of the Vancouver Seamen’s Center. She is incoming president of Clark County Daughters of the Pioneers and is writing a Centennial history of Clark County schools.

A son of the D. Elwood Caples, William, chose a career in law, at Vancouver and later in other Washington state communities. He died in 1986.

His sister, Barbara C. Peeples, is a public relations counsel in Portland. Her children are also in communications — Douglas Laurence Peeples is a public affairs director for Oregon AAA, and daughter Lizbeth Enbysk is a feature editor for the Bellevue Journal-American. One of William Caples’ children, Chris Holm, is a Vancouver teacher.

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