The Reverend Father William A. Cappius, 1885 – 1945

thumbs_fr-uncle-william-pic-face-onlyThe Reverend William A. Cappius, Jupp’s uncle, was born in Bochum-Grumme, Germany in 1885.  Both of his parents were German. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on 13 August 1913, and immigrated to the USA in the same year.

Where he went first when he came to the USA we do not know for certain, but in 1927, his permanent residence was in Dodge, NE, where he led St Joseph’s Church. thumbs_st-joseph-3-dodge-ne From a passenger list of the S.S. Hamburg sailing from Hamburg to New York we know that Fr William visited Germany in 1927 (to preside over the marriage of his brother Josef and his second wife) with Fr William’s visa dating 27 April 1927, and he began his return journey to the United States on 30 December 1927.  On said list, his last permanent address was given as Dodge, NE. He stayed there until 1932.

The census data of 1930 shows him as residing on Asher Street West Side, thumbs_ash-street-dodge-neDodge, NE, having immigrated in 1913, both his parents and himself are listed as Germans, and he was able to speak English when he arrived, although his mother tongue is given as German.  His age is given as 45.thumbs_father-uncle-william-in-usa

The Dodge NE History 1886-1986 lists Fr William as the Priest at St Joseph’s Catholic church in Dodge NE from 1915-1919, 1921-1927, and 1928-1932.  We know that he was in Germany in 1927 and returned to his parish at the beginning of 1928 (see above).  The remaining years (1913-1915 and 1919-1921) will need some more research.  The picture on the right shows him (middle) with two colleagues on the veranda of his church.  It also says “Zur Erinnerung am 17. Juni 1920”, and gives two names and addresses (one in Crofton, Knox County, and one in Menominee, Cedar County, both in Nebraska).

From 1932 to 1945, Fr William led St Rose of Lima Church in Crofton, NE.  Said parish writes about him on their website:

thumbs_st-rose-of-lima-crofton-ne-outsideSt. Rose Parish was blessed with another saintly and willing priest in Father William Cappius. Father Cappius, a World War I veteran, came to St. Rose from St. Joseph’s Church at Dodge, Neb., in February 1932. He succeeded in keeping the parish solvent in rough times of drought and the Great Depression. He even managed to pay off some remaining debts and to keep the school in full operation with the help and sacrifices of school families and the School Sisters of St. Francis. It wasn’t easy and there were no thumbs_st-rose-of-lima-crofton-ne-st-francis-windowdoubt, extremely stressful days for Father Cappius, as evidenced in a letter existing in the Archdiocese archives from Father Cappius, requesting a one-year extension on a $550 loan from the Archbishop. Because of the cold winters of the 1930s, in December 1934, Father Cappius requested the Archbishop’s permission to say Mass in the basement of the school, which was easier to heat. In 1940, Father Cappius began what was known as “God’s Acre”, a program designed to develop a building fund through the actions of farmers who were to give the yield from one acre of corn or its equivalent in cash – their “first fruits” – to the church.thumbs_st-rose-cemetery-crofton-ne

(…)  On January 8, 1945, God called Father Cappius home. He was buried in the St. Rose Cemetery.thumbs_fr-uncle-william-pic-cropped

Chances are Fr William was christened “Wilhelm” and Americanized his first name after immigrating to the USA.  Josef Cappius Sr probably Germanized the surname to Kappius before Jupp was born in 1907, following a general political push towards Germanization of surnames.

Fr William and Jupp had good contact to each other and wrote letters.  Fr William spelled Jupp’s name as “Joseph Cappius” on the envelope(s) of the letter(s) he sent to Jupp when he was held at various Internment Camps in Australia from September 1940 to August 1942.

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