Samuel Cupples (September 13, 1831 – January 6, 1912) was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to James and Elizabeth (Bingham) Cupples. His parents were both from County Down, Ireland and came to the United States in 1814. James Cupples was an educator and established a school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he was 15, Samuel moved to Cincinnati and began working for Albert O. Taylor in a woodenware business.
Cupples moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1851 and established his own woodenware business under the name of Samuel Cupples & Company. In 1858, Cupples partnered with Thomas Marston and the business became Cupples & Marston. The business was very successful, but the partnership was dissolved twelve years later. Cupples gained new partners in H.G. and Robert S. Brookings. and A.A. Wallace and the business became known as Samuel Cupples & Company again. With the Brookings brothers, Cupples enlarged his company to enormous proportions. The company was reorganized in 1883 and was again renamed to Samuel Cupples Woodenware Company. Cupples became president of that firm, which was the largest of its kind in the country.
Samuel also built the St. Louis Terminal Cupples Station & Property Company, known as "Cupples Station," a most valuable asset to St. Louis merchants. The Station was a business center created at a junction where almost all railroads in St. Louis intersected. On this land, a system of warehouses was erected and the railroads could traverse it through tracks in the warehouse basements. St. Louis merchants could then receive and reship goods in one place and the expense of handling goods was significantly diminished. The Station was gifted to Washington University by Cupples and Robert S. Brookings. Cupples also established the Samuel Cupples Envelope Company.
In 1900, Cupples, with the agreement of Brookings, turned all company assets totaling $4 million over to Washington University in addition to funds for the construction of three new buildings: this building Cupples I, Cupples II Hall and the Cupples Engineering Building, which was demolished in 1967 to make room for Bryan Hall. Cupples also served on the board of directors at Washington University. Samuel was also a millionaire by thirty.
In 1888, he built his residential home on West Pine Boulevard, Cupples House, the cost totaling $500,000, which now would approximately equal $15 to 20 million dollars. The home is now on the United States National Register of Historic Places and has been made into a museum located on the Saint Louis University Campus, at 3671 West Pine Boulevard. The hours are 11-4pm and Mondays by appointment only.
Samuel Cupples married Margaret Amelia Kells in 1854 and had a child, which died in infancy. Margaret died four years after marrying. Cupples married her sister, Martha Sophia Kells, in 1860. They had three children, all of whom died in infancy. This is why he adopted Amelia, daughter of a third sister, Harriet Kells Lowman.
Cupples and his daughter, Amelia Cupples Scudder, were survivors of the sinking of the British ocean liner RMS Republic in January 1909.