Caplinger’s Pond History

Caplinger’s Pond in section 27 of East Marion Township was a favorite hunting and camping site for the Indians as late as 1828. They came in the fall, did their trapping, and delivered their pelts to Kaskaskia. Their name for the pond that made such good hunting is forgotten.

The pond’s name dates from the time Solomon Caplinger or his father Jacob Caplinger (1773-1824) settled nearby. The older man died in Williamson County, but not until 1839 did Solomon Caplinger make his land entry for parts of sections 27 and 28 on either side of the pond. Its area was much more extensive in those days, and a map of the county in that year shows the pond reaching well down into section 34. Building the railroad necessitated a good deal of drainage.

Solomon Caplinger was a blacksmith, and he once made a ring and staple for Sterling Hill. The work was credited against four gallons of whisky at $1 a gallon on Mr. Hill’s account books for April 17, 1841.

Another blacksmith and son of the first was Barron DeKalb Caplinger (1838-1865) who moved to the village of Canaville to practice his trade. Mr. Caplinger was a namesake of the German major-general in the Continental army, who fell mortally wounded at the battle of Camden, that “glorious defeat.” The name must have been an inspiration to military glory.

B. D. Caplinger enlisted August 12, 1862, was elected sergeant by his fellow soldiers in Company H, 81st infantry. He was promoted first sergeant February 3, 1863, after General Grant’s campaign at LaGrange, Mississippi. He participated in the siege of Vicksburg and the triumphant march of the 81st up the Jackson road to the courthouse where they set their flag waving. But at the battle of Guntown on June 10, 1864, Sergeant Caplinger and a number of his company were captured. Fate ended his enlistment within the dreaded stockade of Andersonville prison. The unbelievable privations of that confinement weakened the soldier’s body fatally, but never touched his spirit. Guards recognized a fellow Mason and offered him his freedom shortly before his death. But Sergeant Caplinger refused any advantage his comrades could not share.

Nearly twenty-five years after his death, some of those comrades recalled his sacrifice by naming post 677 of the Grand Army of the Republic for B. D. Caplinger when it was organized at Creal Springs September 3, 1889. In the days before the war, Mr. Caplinger was financially interested in a livery business there. His son, Calvin DeKalb Caplinger, became a resident of the town.

A son and brother of these two blacksmiths was Wilson J. (“Wilse”) Caplinger who was sheriff from 1876 to 1878, and became a contractor and builder in Marion after his term.

Another member of the family who served Williamson County was Leslie O. Caplinger, circuit clerk three terms. He is a great-grandson of Solomon Caplinger, the blacksmith by the pond.

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)