This post contains all the information I have collected to date for U-ta-wa-un. I will update the page as new information is gathered, so bookmark this page and check back often.
The man known publicly as U-ta-wa-un appears to have been born W. C. Cappell in New York State, son of Stephen T. Cappell (b.c1804 NY) and his wife Belinda (b.c1814 VT). He spent most of his life playing the part of an Indian Doctor in traveling shows. So far, I have found no clear evidence either of his parents were of Native ancestry.
- c3-Jun-1835 – born in NY, perhaps at or near to Cuba, Cattaraugus Co., NY (1870 US Census, 1900 US Census, 1885 Olean Democrat article, 1904 marriage record, 1889 News Clipping)
- c1843 ±2 – he left the area of Cuba (1885 Olean Democrat article)
- 1850 – his parents, Stephen & Belinda Cappell, are residents of Union, Erie Co., PA with an 11 year old son, William, who may be U-ta-wa-un (1850 US Census)
- bef c1865 – he lost his hand in a fight in Michigan sometime before his first return to Cuba (1885 Olean Democrat article)
- bef Apr-1867 – he visited Cuba with a traveling show featuring a tame bear and snakes (perhaps horse racing as well) and was recognized by local residents. Someone inquired how he lost his hand. (1885 Olean Democrat article)
- Apr-1867 to Nov-1867 – he participates in the Universal Exposition in Paris, France posing as “Chief U-ta-wa-un of the Callapooses Tribe” (1867 Paris Expo series). He is traveling with a woman using the name Wa-no-na. His image clearly shows his right hand is missing. (1867 Image)
- 1870 – found at Rondout, Ulster Co., NY with Marleah listed as his wife (1870 US Census)
- 1877 to 1879 – he appeared at various times and places with “Marleah ‘The Wild Flower’” billed as his sister (various news clippings)
- 1885 – visited Cuba, NY with his traveling show and wrote a letter to the local newspaper identifying himself as a local boy (1885 Olean Democrat article)
- early Sep-1887 – re-married his current wife in the Catholic Church at Janesville, Rock Co., Wisconsin (1887 News Clipping)
- summer 1889 – on tour in Vermont as the “U-ta-wa-un Medician [sic] Co.” with Lee-o-netto as a member of the troupe (1889 News Clipping, 1889 Letter)
- 1891 – his address was “World’s Fair and Palace Pavillion, Millville, Mass.”
- 1894 to 1906 – appears to frequent the town of Bridgeton, CT perhaps having a residence or family in the area (various news clippings)
- 1900 – found in census as “Chief U-ta-wa-un”, single, b.in Illinois, working as a Indian doctor staying at a boarding house in Meyersdale, Somerset Co., PA (1900 US Census)
- 8-Dec-1904 – married Emma Snyder in Reading, Berks Co., PA (1904 Marriage Record)
- 1905 – he appears under the heading of “Patent Medicine” as “Utawaun C., 708 Washington” in Reading, PA (1905 Directory)
- 17-Apr-1907 – died as a result of a fall in a Salvation Army hotel in Newark, NJ (1907 Death Notice)
Discussion & Notes
I have prepared this page based on the assumption that U-ta-wa-un was providing the Patriot with accurate information in June of 1885 concerning his connection to the town of Cuba. This may be fool hearty on my part! The man was a master showman and this may be just one more attempt on his part to pique public interest in his products and services.
On the other hand, I have been able to substantiate some of the details he provided in that news piece and on a later marriage record, so the ground may not be too murky in this direction.
Despite the claim by a Cuba resident that Stephen Cappell “is reported to been a resident of the Allegany reservation” (Seneca Nation), I was unable to find the surname on any Seneca lists or records available online. The surname is found in the region over a period of many decades with nothing to suggest there is Native heritage associated with the surname. There are a number of towns within the Allegany reservation, including the city of Salamanca. Many residents of the reservation are non-Native and do not belong to the Seneca Nation.
In the 1870 Census I found Stephen & Belinda Cappell living in Toledo, Ohio. This is interesting because U-ta-wa-un’s death notice mentions he had a son working as a Doctor in Toledo, Ohio.
I found a news clipping suggesting there was another man using a similar name “U-ta-wa-un-o-din-ok-an-es” and claiming to be Choctaw. I wonder if that could be the son? Or perhaps it was just U-ta-wa-un trying out a new sales pitch ;)
It seems this man had a couple run ins with the law in the 1870s. I found two incidences of claimed rape or “ravages” by young women, but in both cases the charges appear to have been dropped after an inquiry. I will not speculate on what might or might not have transpired between the man and the young females. However, I will point out that if an Indian man had indeed molested a white woman in the 1870s, I doubt the Indian would have walked away from the incident.
At this point, I do not know how or even if this man is directly connected to any member of the Kanistanaux family by blood or marriage. I have been able to document two female members of the Kanistanaux family (Marleah & Lee-o-netto) traveling with him at different times. I suspect the men (Laton & Isaac) may also have traveled with him at an earlier time. I also believe Marleah may have been the woman traveling with him to the 1867 Paris Expo. Therefore I feel it is important to continue researching this man’s early professional life in hopes of finding more pieces of the Kanistanaux puzzle. And, well, I admit it, I’ve grown fond of him and feel he’s too colorful to cast aside ;-) and then there is this “feeling” I have – he is not done with me yet!
Sources & Documents
- 1867 Paris Expo Series
- 1867 Image
- 1867 Photograph
- 1870 US Census
- 1885 Olean Democrat article
- 1887 News Clipping
- 1889 News Clipping w/Lee-o-netto
- 1889 Letter
- 1891 News Clipping
- 1900 US Census
- 1904 Marriage record
- 1905 Directory
- 1907 Death Notice
- Marleah & U-ta-wa-un
- Who is U-ta-wa-un?
- U-ta-wa-un – Who are you?
- List of Names & Products he used
See the Kanistanaux Map at Google.
Do you have any information to add or questions?
Please leave a comment.
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