Jefferson County, Missouri Genealogy Trails





Religious Activity in Missouri  1861-1907

Rev. George Steele


            James P. Cape was born November 21, 1825, near Belleview, Washington County, Missouri.  August 21, 1848, he married Miss Laura E. Breckenridge, who after a long and useful life as a Christian wife and mother, preceded him to the Better Land.  The larger part of Bro. Cape’s life was spent on a farm about three miles south of De Soto, near Swashing Baptist Church.  The records of this church, of which he was a member for probably sixty years, show that he was ordained a deacon of that church on the second Saturday in May, 1855.  It is not known with certainty at what time he began to exercise his gifts in the ministry, but the record shows that a call was made for his ordination at the July meeting, 1861.  He had been preaching then for some years and his ministerial career thus lasted for more than half a century.

            Like many of our pioneer preachers he possessed in a large measure the two-fold gifts of pastor and evangelist.  His revival meetings were fruitful in conversions and his pastoral care edified the churches.

            Generally having charge of three or four churches, some of them at long distances from his home, he was faithful in keeping his appointments.  His principal fields of labor were, Lebanon, Sandy, Vineland, Charter, Temperance Mission, Moontown and his own home Church.  In these and other points blessed by his ministry, he has in many cases preached to three successive generations.  His preaching was original, biblical, earnest.  He copied no man and walked in the tracks of no other preacher.  His text book of theology was the New Testament.  The divine blessing rested richly upon his labors and he gathered many sheaves in the harvest fields that he both tilled and reaped.

            He was a successful business man.  Using the same energy and devotion in his private business that he did in his religious work, God blessed him with a good farm, a comfortable home and a loving family.  In his intercourse with his brethren in the ministry, he was fraternal and helpful, but his own ideals of the ministry were so high that any ministerial misconduct pained him exceedingly.  One of the secrets of his success in the ministry was that his hearers all knew that there was a good man behind the sermon, and that he lived the religion which he preached and professed.  A man of singular purity of character, of unblemished integrity and of stern, unyielding principles, he gained and kept up to his fourscore years the abiding respect of all who knew him.

            And so the name of Uncle Jimmy, as he was familiarly known, will be held in long and loving remembrance in the bereaved home circle, in his own home neighborhood, in the churches which he served with self-denying fidelity, in the Jefferson County Association, in which he was a wise and loving counselor, and by all who knew him, and especially by those of them who believe as he did in the old, old story (using one of his own familiar phrases) “of dying love and redeeming grace.”

            He kept up his usual preaching appointments until the Christmas before his death, when increasing infirmities compelled him to relinquish his beloved tasks.  He entered into rest at the home of his son, James E. Cape, three miles south of De Soto, Missouri, on Friday, March 8, 1907.

            His funeral took place at the Swashing Church, Sunday, March 10, the sermon being preached, at his request, by Rev. George Steele.  Two passages of Scripture were used as texts, Acts 11:24, “For he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, and much people was added to the Lord;” and I Peter 4:1, “Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.”  The Word declares that the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned.  Then James P. Cape’s life on earth was a living proof that this end can be reached in faithful, loving obedience to the Master of all, at whose feet, after the burden and heat of the day, he was able to lay his bundle of well-won sheaves.


            In his efforts to spread the Gospel and to build up the churches James P. Cape had an able helper in the person of his brother, John C. Cape, who lived on a farm near him, and who was a leading layman in the Jefferson County Association for many years.  He was moderator for ten years and served faithfully and efficiently on the District Mission Board.

(Source: Missouri Baptist Biography A Series of Life-Sketches Indicating the Growth and Prosperity of the Baptist Churches As Represented in the Lives and Labors of Eminent Men and Women in Missouri Prepared at the Request of the Missouri Baptist Historical Society by J. C. Maple A.M., D.D. and R. P. Rider, A.M. Volume III; Published for The Missouri Baptist Historical Society, Liberty, Missouri by Schooley Stationery and Printing Co, Kansas City, Missouri (1918) transcribed by Mary Saggio)

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