July 25, 2014

Baptist Preacher Attempts Murder-Suicide After Wife's Divorce Filing, 1895



This post contains articles regarding three separate but related tragic incidents: 

(1) the attempted murder-suicide of Rev. William G. Capps and his second wife
(2) the fatal shootout involving their respective children, Robert Capps and Jack Adams
(3) the alleged killing of Thomas Capps, another son of W. G. Capps, in Valley City, North Dakota

[May 21, 1895] -


In Rockcastle county, the other day, Rev. W. J. Capps shot his wife four times with a 44-caliber revolver, fatally wounding her. He then shot himself int he breast, and also cut his throat with a razor.  His wife had just sued him for divorce, and notice of suit was served on him when it Mt. Vernon.  He seemed staggered by the blow, went immediately home and then started on the search for his wife, shooting her on sight.  Capps will not die from his wounds, but his neighbors ought to hang him.

Elder Joseph Ballou, who came from Mt. Vernon yesterday, says that Capps is in jail and is in no danger of dying.  The doctors say there is a bare possibility that the woman will live.  The trial is set for Saturday. [1]


[May 21, 1895] -


Rev. Capps Wife Will Die From her Wounds, But He Will Recover.

Danville, Ky., May 19.-- Mrs. J. R. Capps, of near Mt. Vernon, who was on Friday shot four times by her infuriated husband, cannot recover, and her death is expected at any moment.  Her husband, Rev. J. R. Capps, who, after shooting her, made an unsuccessful attempt to cut his throat, is getting much better, and is in jail.  He made an ugly gash in his windpipe with a razor, after trying hard to do the work with a pocket knife.  They quarreled and separated.  She afterward employed lawyers to sue for divorce and alimony.  He went to her home to try and make up the affair, but she refused, when he drew a pistol and shot her, one ball going into her face, another into her breast and the other two into her left shoulder and arm.  Capps is a Baptist preacher an educated, influential man and a large land owner. [2]


[May 23, 1895] -

In Rock Castle county, Rev Capps, a well to do Baptist preacher, quarrelled with his second wife about his children, when she told him that she would sue for a divorce, without uttering another word and without the loss of a moment, he drew a pistol and began firing rapidly at his wife.  Four out of the five bullets struck her.  One entered her forehead directly between the eyes, another penetrated the breast, a third went into her left shoulder, and the fourth into her left arm.  She fell to the floor almost lifeless.  Then he drew a dull pocket knife and attempted to cut his throat with it.  The blade was too dull to more than lacerate the skin.  Throwing the knife away, he went into an adjoining room, procured a razor, and almost served his wind pipe.  This he did in his hard, where he was found shortly afterward by Sheriff Cummings. [3]


[May 24, 1895] -

The examining trial of Rev. Capps, who attempted to murder his wife last week by shooting her four times, was held here Tuesday and he was held in the sum of $3,000 to await the result of the wounds inflicted.  The prisoner could not make bond and was returned to jail.  Owing to the excitement and threats of vengeance a guard has been placed at the jail to protect the prisoner.  The plea of insanity will probably be made.  We are informed that the county attorney has a letter, which was written by Capps before committing the deed, saying he was going to kill his wife and commit suicide.  She had recently filed suit for divorce. [4]


[May 24, 1895] -

You had an account of the attempted murder of his wife by W. G. Capps and his effort at suicide.  The woman is Capps' second wife and had been married something over a year.  They had been getting along very badly and had separated two or three times, but had made up their trouble.  She sued him for divorce and he tried to induce her to withdraw it, without avail.  She said she had seen enough trouble already and that if it was not for her little children that she would rather be dead than alive.  "Well," said he, "I will kill you then," and began his bloody work.  Capps seems to be crazy, but sch a deed would almost make the devil insane. [5]


[May 30, 1895] -

Rev. Capps in Jail.

At the preliminary trial of Rev. Mr. Capps, at Mt. Vernon, Ky., who brutally attempted the life of his wife a few days since by shooting her four times, bond was allowed in the sum of $3,000 to await the result of his wife's wounds.  The prisoner was unable to make the bond and was remanded to jail. 

On account of open threats at lynching, a guard has been placed at the jail.  The prisoner has been attempting to use the plea of insanity, bu with poor success.  In the presence of officers he talks wildly, but when they are gone he appears as rational as he ever did. [6]


[May 31, 1895] -

Rev. "Dude" Caps, the Baptist preacher who shot his wife so fearfully several weeks ago, is still in jail awaiting the action of the grand jury which is in session.  The jail is not a safe one and a special watch has been put on the reverend gentleman.  In conversation with a gentlemen who has known Capps from his boyhood, I learned that he already has a killing to his credit, and for which he was never tried.  Shortly before the war, Jesse Burton, a young man, asked Capps for a debt he owed him.  He became very much infuriated and struck Burton on the head with a rock, from the effects of which he died in a short while.  Capps then fled and a few months afterwards enlisted in the army.  After the war he continued his wild career and about 12 years ago, while at a distillery near this place, Will Gentry struck him a heavy blow on the head, which sobered him and he immediately turned his attention to preaching, at which he has been quite successful.  His first wife, by whom he had four children, died several years ago and a little over a year ago he married the widow of Dr. Adams, who also had a number of children.  Neither Capps and his wife nor the children got along well and several outbreaks followed, which finally resulted in Mrs. Capps asking for a divorce.  This, it will be remembered, aggravated her husband and was probably the cause of his attempt to kill her. Mrs. Capps is getting on as well as could be expected and will very probably get well.  Mr. Capps has very few sympathizers here. [7]


[June 28, 1895] -

It is reported that W. G. Capps, who is in jail at Mt. Vernon, had a crazy spell last Saturday night and Sunday. He claimed that the jailer had turned his wife into the jail and that she had poisoned him, &c.

On last Saturday the church at Freedom in this county to which Rev. W. G. Capps belonged, took from him his credentials and then excluded him from their fellowship. The church claimed that if Bro. Capps was insane, that they did not need any insane preachers and that they could not afford to live in fellowship with a man who would attempt to kill his wife, and then attempt to take his own life. So Bro. Capps is a thing of the past with the church. [8]


[August 10, 1895] -

Jack Adams killed Robert Capps, his stepbrother, at Mt. Vernon.  They met in the big road, both riding horseback.  Adams raised his shotgun and fired both barrels into Capps' body, who died instantly. [9]


[August 13, 1895] -

Jack Adams killed his stepbrother Robert Capps, near Mt. Vernon.  The tragedy is a sequel of the alleged attempted killing of Adams' mother by her husband Rev. William Capps. [10]


[August 13, 1895] -


Jack Adams shot and instantly killed Robert Capps Friday afternoon in Rockcastle.  They had been on bad terms since the Rev. W. G. Capps, the father of Robert, attempted to murder Adams' mother, to whom he had been married some three years.  Adams and Capps met on the highway, when he opened fire from a double-barreled shotgun.  Adams attempted to shoot the elder Capps, when he was being conducted from the county jail to Masonic Hall by the sheriff to be tried by the Masons, of whose body he was a member. [11]


[August 16, 1895] -

Jack Adams, who killed Robt Capps, his step brother, last week, surrendered the same day and went to jail. His examination was set for Wednesday and continued until Friday. [12]


[September 20, 1895] -

Circuit court convened Monday with Judge J. W. Alcorn judge pro tem.  Adjournment was in order in the afternoon until next Monday on account of the absence of the regular judge, T. Z. Morrow, who had arrangements which prevented his coming before the time mentioned.  The grand jury indicted Jack Adams for the murder of Robt. Capps and Estey Lackey and Madrell for rape. [13]


[October 2, 1895] -

Preacher Sentenced.

MT. VERNON, Ky., Oct. 2.-- The jury, after forty hours' deliberations, gave Rev. W. G. Capps two years in the penitentiary for shooting his wife five times three months ago.  She had applied for divorce on account of cruel treatment. [14]


[October 3, 1895] -

Rev. W. G. Capps recieved a sentence of twenty years' imprisonment for shooting his wife at Mount Vernon, Ky. [15]


[October 8, 1895] -

Rev. W. G. Capps, of Rockcastle county, was let off with a sentence of two years for trying to murder his wife. [16]


[October 13, 1895] -

Rev. W. G. Capps has been sentenced to two years in the Kentucky Penitentiary for shooting his wife five times.  Some women are so unreasonable that they will not even allow their husbands a little target practice.--Minneapolis Journal. [!!] [17]


[February 14, 1896] -

The case of Adams for killing young Capps is on trial.  At this writing only five jurymen have been accepted.  An additional 100 men were summoned Wednesday and even from this number it may not be completed. [18]


[February 21, 1896] -

The case of Adams for killing young Capps was decided after the jury had been out two days, the sentence being six years.  Jeff McClain, for killing Scott Fish, colored, was given a sentence of four years.  A party was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for kukluxing. [19]


[July 28, 1899] -

A letter from Valley City, N. D., to the Signal, at this place, gives an account of the killing of Thomas Capps, of Rockcastle, in the Wells Hotel, of that place, by John Hedge, a companion, in whose company he had gone to Valley City.  It is alleged that in a game of poker Capps had won the money and Hedge shot him, locked their room door and disappeared.  Thomas Capps is a son of Rev. W. G. Capps, of Brodhead.  A telegram to chief of Police of Valley City, asking if anyone had been killed there during July, was answered by the word "no." [20]


[1] "A Baptist Preacher's Deed." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 21, 1895. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-05-21/ed-1/seq-3/

[2] "A Preacher's Crime." Mt. Sterling Advocate, Mt. Sterling, KY. May 21, 1895. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069675/1895-05-21/ed-1/seq-8/

[3] Excerpt from "The News." Crittenden Press, Marion, KY. May 23, 1895. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069457/1895-05-23/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 24, 1895. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-05-24/ed-1/seq-1/

[5] Excerpt from "Brodhead, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 24, 1895. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-05-24/ed-1/seq-1/

[6] "Rev. Capps in Jail." The Hazel Green Herald, Hazel Green, KY. May 30, 1895. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86063242/1895-05-30/ed-1/seq-2/

[7] Excerpt from "A Few Notes From the Business Manager." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 31, 1895. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-05-31/ed-1/seq-1/

[8] Excerpt from "Brodhead, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 28, 1895. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-06-28/ed-1/seq-1/

[9] Excerpt for "Kentucky Jottings." Kentucky Post, Covington, KY. August 10, 1895. Page 2. Genealogybank.com.

[10] Excerpt from "Around and About." Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. August 13, 1895. Page 5. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069395/1895-08-13/ed-1/seq-5/

[11] "Assassination." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 13, 1895. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-08-13/ed-1/seq-3/

[12] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 16, 1895. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-08-16/ed-1/seq-1/

[13] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 20, 1895. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1895-09-20/ed-1/seq-1/

[14] "Preacher Sentenced." Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. October 2, 1895. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069117/1895-10-02/ed-1/seq-3/

[15] Excerpt from "Otherwise Unnoticed." Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN. October 3, 1895. Page 5. Genealogybank.com.

[16] The Mt. Sterling Advocate, Mt. Sterling, KY. October 8, 1895. Page 7. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069675/1895-10-08/ed-1/seq-7/

[17] Excerpt from "Paragraphic Punches." Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, IL. October 13, 1895. Page 32. Genealogybank.com.

[18] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 14, 1896. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1896-02-14/ed-1/seq-1/

[19] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 21, 1896. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1896-02-21/ed-1/seq-1/

[20] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 28, 1899. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1899-07-28/ed-1/seq-3/


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