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Capp traces his Napa Valley roots to 1845

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Dan Capp, who was born in Napa’s Park Victory Hospital in 1942, can trace his family history in the Napa Valley to 1845, when his great-great-grandfather, David Hudson, spent the winter in what is now Calistoga.

The 66-year-old Capp said he recently delved into his family history and found out much that he didn’t know previously. In fact, Charles Sullivan’s seminal work, “Napa Wine: A History from Mission Days to the Present,” has scant mention of Hudson: “Others moved in the Napa area in these pre-Gold Rush days and planted Mission grapes. David Hudson, John York and Wells Kilburn on Bale land and Charles Hopper, who bought land from Yount, are among the best known.”

David Hudson, born in Missouri, was the son of Julia Ann Catron, whose father, Johann Jacob Kettenring-Catron, fought in the Revolutionary War. In the spring of 1845, at age  25, he left Missouri with his brother, William and sister, Lucinda, who was married to John T. York. They were part of the first wagon train to cross the Sierra Nevada on the Overland Trail.

They arrived in the Napa Valley and spent the winter where Calistoga is now located. The Hudsons joined York in the Bear Flag Revolt in the spring of 1846.

David Hudson returned to Napa Valley a year later and bought land northwest of St. Helena for 50 cents an acre. He married Frances Griffith in December 1847. Hudson planted the first vineyard in St. Helena in 1849 with Spanish mission grapes from Buena Vista Vineyard. He later sold 215 acres to his foreman, Jacob Beringer, in 1875. Hudson sold his grapes to Charles Krug as early as 1861.

David and Frances had six children, including Robert Lee Hudson, who was born in St. Helena in 1865.

Robert Lee Hudson married Annie A. Rose, shortly after David Hudson’s death on June 10, 1888. The two had five children, including Frances, who married Giuseppi Caporicci, an Italian, who changed his name to Joe Capp.

Joe and Frances Capp bought a farm with orchards in the Gordon Valley in 1929. Joe made wine in the basement of the farmhouse as he had in the Abruzzi region of Italy.

Joe and Frances Capp had two sons, Fred and Robert Lee Capp.  Robert Lee Capp was born in Oakland in 1920. Both sons were soldiers in the Pacific Theater in World War II. In 1945, Fred was killed fighting in Okinawa.

After the war, Robert Lee Capp married Naomi Leah Swanson of Oakville. Her father, Emil, built St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Oakville. Their son is Dan Capp.

Robert died in 2004 at the Gordon Valley family farm.

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