Berwick and North Berwick, in York County Maine, are located about 15 and 19 miles respectively north of Kittery, York County, Maine.  The town of Berwick was originally a part of Kittery and was set off from Kittery in June 1713.  Similarly, North Berwick was originally a part of [Kittery, then] Berwick until 22 March 1831 when it was set off from Berwick.

Deacon Samuel Staples Pedigree

Deacon Samuel Staples, son of Joshua Staple and Elizabeth Staple, was born 27 May 1798 in Berwick, York County, Maine.  You’ll notice his mother and father both had the surname: Staple.  Both were born in Berwick.  Interesting story….it turns out Joshua and Elizabeth were 2nd cousins!

Deacon Samuel’s father, Joshua Staple, son of Joshua Staple (1738-1805) and Hephsibah Hanscom, was born about 1768 in Berwick and died about March 1803.  Joshua married Elizabeth Staple on 6 October 1791 in Berwick.  Elizabeth “Betsey” Staple, daughter of Captain Josiah Staple and Eunice Fogg, was born on 6 Nov 1766 in Berwick. Elizabeth “Betsey” died 20 June 1853 in North Berwick.  Their common ancestor was Peter Staple Jr., great-grandfather of both, who was the son of our immigrant ancestor Peter Staple and his wife Elizabeth Beadle.

Deacon Samuel married (1st) at age 18 Lovina Ford (1794-1827) on 15 March 1817 in Berwick.  Together they had four children Josiah Staples (1817-1889), James F Staples (1819-1899), Joshua Staples (1822-1837), and Robert Staples (1827-1827).  Lovina died 24 June 1827 just a few weeks after the birth of her young son Robert.

Deacon Samuel married (2nd) Eleanor “Nellie” Ford, at age 30 on 2 November 1828 in Berwick.  Eleanor Ford, likely a sister to Samuel’s first wife Lovina, was the daughter of Robert Ford and Mary/Molly Abbott. Eleanor was born on 30 October 1800 in Berwick.  It is believed Robert Ford descends from the Widow Martha Ford, who came to America in 1621 on the ship The Fortune. The exact lineage of Mary/Molly Abbott is unknown, although there is little doubt she descends from Walter Abbott (1600-1667), born in England, the immigrant ancestor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and his wife Sarah Stewart.  The sons and grandsons of Walter Abbott removed from Portsmouth NH into Kittery Maine, then Berwick and North Berwick and left many descendants, some of who live in North Berwick today.

Deacon Samuel and Eleanor “Nellie” had four sons: Samuel F Staples (1829-1908), Robert F (1834-1923), John F (1836-1923) and Joshua F (1840-1915). Their son Robert F Staples, born 21 April 1834, married Sarah E Torrey (1836-1919), daughter of Volorius O Torrey and Mary Ann Wilkinson.  The Torrey lineage is deep and well-documented.  Sarah Torrey’s 9th great-grandfather, William Torrey, was born about 1500 in Somerset, England.

Deacon Samuel was a farmer according to the 1850 and 1860 US Census records. He likely farmed from the time he was a boy.  He lived on and farmed the land in the area of North Berwick known as Oak Woods.  Today, the land he owned and lived on is located on the west side of Ford-Quint Road just north of Meeting House Road in North Berwick. Some of the property is still owned by descendants of Deacon Samuel.  This property is known by some as “the old Staples homestead”.

Deacon Samuel Staples – – deacon of what?

The story begins with the gathering of the Baptists in the Oak Woods area of North Berwick in the late 1700s.  In November 1781 a Meeting House was built.  Elder Nathaniel Lord, born in 1754, organized the interests of the Baptists in the area and a church was formed in 1804.  It was initially called the First Predestination Baptist Society.  Elder Lord’s Meeting House, as it came to be known, was also used in Oak Woods as a town hall for community gatherings and elections.  Elder Lord died in 1832.  Elder Lord’s Meeting House was dismantled and rebuilt as part of a local barn.

The Church continued under the leadership of various pastors from 1832 to 1849.  In 1851 a new pastor, Elder William Quint, was elected to lead the church. In 1852, Samuel Staples set off a parcel of land he owned and deeded it to the Church.  A new Oak Woods Meeting House was erected.  Samuel could see the Meeting House from his house at “the old Staples homestead”.  The Oak Woods Meeting House, which still stands at the original location, has been preserved and is today one of the properties overseen and maintained by the North Berwick Historical Society.

Map of North Berwick c. 1872
Oak Woods Meeting House, Meeting House Road, North Berwick, Maine
Courtesy of North Berwick Historical Society

Samuel Staples was a man of God, a family man, active in the community and church, and became one of the Deacons at the Oak Woods Church, as it eventually came to be known.  Deacon Samuel’s son, Robert F Staples, also served at the Oak Woods Church in later years as Clerk.

Deacon Samuel died on 22 Feb 1864 in North Berwick. He is buried in a small, private family cemetery known as Staples Cemetery #132. He is there along with his two wives Lovina and Nellie, his two young sons Joshua and Robert, and other Staples.  The North Berwick [Maine] Record Book, by John Eldridge Frost, shows a listing of those buried there with Deacon Samuel.

The North Berwick [Maine] Record Book, by John Eldridge Frost, page 44
Gravestones of Deacon Samuel Staples and his two wives
Courtesy of Find A Grave(TM)

In 1893 Elder Frederick W. Keene became pastor of the Oak Woods Church. He served there until about 1919.  Elder Keene was a contributor to a Baptist publication titled “Signs of the Times”.  Elder Keene submitted an article to the publication in 1915 which recounts a touching story about Deacon Samuel Staples.  That story is duplicated here.

“Signs of the Times”, Volume 83, No. 4 (1915)


US Census Records for North Berwick, York, Maine: 1850, 1860

Frost, John Eldridge et al., Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick, Maine. Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 1999.

Frost, John Eldridge, The North Berwick [Maine] Record Book. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company, 2000.

Doughty Falls, The History of the Town of North Berwick, Maine 1831-2006.  Portsmouth, NH: Peter E Randall Publisher, 2006.

Waters, Henry F., Genealogical Gleanings in England, Volume I. Boston, MA: NEHGS, 1901.

Elders H.C. Ker and H.H. Lefferts, “Signs of the Times”, Volume 83, No. 4.  Middletown, NY: J.E. Beebe & Company, 1915.

Clayton, W.W., History of York County Maine with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches. Philadelphia, PA: Everts & Peck, 1880.

North Berwick Historical Society

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