Jeanne Stevens is an amateur genealogist. Before retiring this year, she was also an AP US History teacher at Staples High School.
So it was natural that when she learned about the condition of school founder Horace Staples’ grave — it, and those of his wife Charrey Crouch, son Capt. William Cowper Staples and daughter Mary were cracked, broken, knocked over, and overgrown with weeds and brush in Greens Farms Congregational Church’s cemetery — she vowed to help.
The cost for restoration was $10,000. (By comparison, Wilbur Cross — Horace Staples’ 2nd principal — was paid $700 for the year. Of course, that year was 1885.)
With the help of graduating classes and fellow teachers, she raised some of the funds. In August, Horace and Charrey’s stones were reinstalled.
Meanwhile, in retirement, Stevens headed to the Connecticut State Library in Hartford. She had found a reference to the diary of Eliza Ann Hull Staples — Horace’s first wife — and wanted to see it.
Eliza began writing when she was 14. The last entry was on May 5, 1832, 2 days before William was born and a few weeks before her own death.
Stevens calls Horace’s entry underneath Eliza’s final one “heartbreaking.” He wrote: “Thus ends the diary of her whose worth was counted more than all this world by her unworthy partner. [She lived] 28 years, 3 months & 3 days.”
On the next page he added:
3 ½ OClock [sic] A.M. 10 June 1832 an hour never to be forgotten by me being an hour which brought upon me an irretrievable loss in the death of my beloved and affectionate wife. Although she was resigned to her fate & felt sure of entering the gates of Heaven until her last breath yet it seems more than I can bear to say Oh, Father thy will be done. Her disease was of that nature that brot [sic] death gradually upon her in the space of 5 weeks – she has left me 2 small children the eldest 3 years & 7 days old youngest 5 weeks whom I consider as dear pledges of pure and life lasting affection and may God bless them.
A few years later, Horace Staples married Charrey. They enjoyed another half century together.
He became Westport’s wealthiest citizen, running a lumber and hardware business, and general store. He bought sailing vessels, a silk factory, and part of an axe factory. He owned a farm, a thriving pier on the Saugatuck River and helped found a bank.
In 1884 — well into his 80s — he established Staples High School. He lived another 13 years. He died in 1897 in his Riverside Avenue home — age 96 — of pneumonia.
His house still stands. Now — restored once again — so does his grave.