Capel Rugs

Troy, NC

1917. In March, A. Leon Capel, Sr., just 17 years of age, formed a company in Troy, NC. He names the new company Gee­Haw Plowlines. For you city­slickers, “Gee and Haw” are right/left commands given to a mule and a plowline is the name of the reins used to control a mule. Just eight months later, with the introduction of the Fordson tractor by Henry Ford and seeing the future for mules diminishing, he decides to go into the braided rug business. He was the first to commercially produce rugs made from braided yarn, as opposed to using the traditional strips of fabric sewn end to end and used for years by home­based craftswomen. The first Capel braided rugs were appropriately named New Departure.

1926. The new rugs were accepted and the business grew. The year 1926 brought another “departure”, so to speak, when young Capel employed chenille yarns to braid rugs. The new line was called Old Homestead.

1930s. The Capel family grows with the birth of three sons.

1936. A small yarn mill is purchased in Capelsie, a few miles south of Troy.

1957. After sons A. Leon, Jr., Jesse and Arron W. E. II finish college, Arron, who graduated from the College of Textiles at NC State, is the first to join his father in the business. Later, Jesse, another State Textiles graduate, joins the company. The company name changes to A. Leon Capel and Sons, Inc.

1960. Capelsie Mills, Inc. established as a separate corporation to manage Capel’s mill operations.

1961. Capel Real Estate and Development Corporation founded to manage the land and buildings occupied by the manufacturing corporations.

1963. To match increasing competition from abroad, Capel and Sons begins selling imported rugs from Finland and Japan where flat as opposed to tufted floor coverings were in fashion.

1976. Capel and Sons buys a second spinning mill, originally built by grandfather Arron W.E. Capel, Sr., in 1898.

1978. The Capel chenille braid “Old Homestead,” introduced in 1926, is selected for the World Floor Covering Association’s Hall of Fame.

2007. The Capel Rug Co. celebrated 90 years in business.



1954 Jesse Smith Capel
1957 Arron W. E. Capel II
1987 Richard T. Capel



  1. Capel main page
  2.  Family and company history through 1997