When John Nelson Schappell was born on 2 December 1903, in Berks, Pennsylvania, United States, his father, Jacob Morris Schappel, was 34 and his mother, Sara Ann Groh, was 31. He had at least 2 sons with Norma Grace Stump. He lived in Windsor Township, Berks, Pennsylvania, United States in 1910 and Longswamp, Longswamp Township, Berks, Pennsylvania, United States in 1920. His occupation is listed as 56 years owner of schappell print shop in Kutztown, Berks, Pennsylvania, United States. He died on 9 October 1995, in Berks, Pennsylvania, United States, at the age of 91.
Altered form of South German Schappel, a metonymic occupational name for a maker of headdresses, from an agent derivative of Middle High German schapel ‘headdress’ (Old French chapel ‘wreath of leaves or flowers’; compare modern French chapeau ‘hat’).