Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stogdell Stokes Staples (1859-1949)

   An obscure 19th Pennsylvania legislator, Stogdell Stokes Staples further distinguished himself in the business community of his home county of Luzerne. He was born in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania on March 7, 1859, the son of Monroe County native Richard S. Staples, who himself served as a state representative from 1872-73. Stogdell received his education at a seminary in Claverack, New York and later studied at the Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pennsylvania.
   While still a young man, Staples is recorded as helping his father publish the Monroe Democrat, and after a year in publishing removed to Trenton, New Jersey. Once settled, Staples found employment at the Trenton China Works, and eventually became the Superintendent of this company for four years. In the mid 1880s he returned to Pennsylvania, where in 1885 he purchased the Luzerne Ochre Manufacturing Company. A portrait and biographical souvenir of the Pennsylvania legislature (published in 1895) notes that Staples was "given immediate management" of the plant, and he later became president of this business, as well as holding "a half interest in its enterprise". This business is also noted as "furnishing material to four-fifths of the oil-cloth manufacturers in the country."
  Staples married in March 1886 to Stroudsburg native Hattie Raubenald, and it is unknown at the time of this writing if any children were born to them.
  While his business exploits are of note, Staples also began seeking local political offices, eventually winning election as Burgess of White Haven, Pennsylvania for two terms. He would later be named as Postmaster of the town of Moosehead, and was still the incumbent in this post at the time of his election to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives.
  Staples was elected as a Democrat to the Pennsylvania State House in November 1894, defeating Republican candidate Ellsworth L. Riley by only fifty-two votes! Two other candidates (representing both the Prohibition and People's parties) also ran for this seat, and the blurb featuring those election results has been posted below.

   Staple's election to the legislature is recorded as a "great triumph in view of the demoralized condition of the Democratic party" and during his one term in the legislature held a seat on the following committees: Rules, Railroads, Iron and Coal, Insurance, and Corporations. His two-year service in the legislature was characterized by the earlier mentioned legislative souvenir as one of "close attention to the details of law making, and displayed to advantage his unusual business qualities".
  After leaving the legislature in January 1897, little else could be found on Staples's life. It is known that he died in 1949, aged either 89 or 90, and it is presumed that he was buried in his home county of Luzerne. The portrait of him shown above was found in the Portraits and Biographies of the members of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, published in 1895.

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