My Staples Family Of Berwick & North Berwick Maine

The New England ancestral home of my Staples lineage is Berwick & North Berwick, in the county of York, Maine. When I was a child, I visited my grandparents Clarence and Olive Staples during summer vacations in North Berwick. I called them “Papa and Grammie Staples”.  When I was very young, they lived in what they called “the camp” on their property.  My grandfather was in the process of building a new house on the same piece of land.  When the house was finished the camp became my grandfather’s woodshop.

My grandfather was quite the woodworker.  He built all kinds of things including furniture, mostly from knotty pine. Well, yes of course! After all, Maine is “The Pine Tree State”.  I remember being with him in the woodshop.  His entire shop was filled with power tools, hand tools, and pine wood.  I had no idea, at the time, what these tools were for.  But one day, right in front of my very eyes, on his lathe he turned a rectangular piece of pine wood into a baseball bat!  The smell of fresh-cut pine stays with me to this day.  I attribute it to my grandfather that I, too, have the hobby of woodworking. When I cut into a piece of pine or spruce, I always think of Papa Staples.

He had an old Allis-Chalmers tractor, 1960-vintage, to help him in the vegetable garden.  It was orange.  When I got old enough, he taught me how to drive it.  A what?  A clutch!  I had to learn how to use a clutch.  Now that was fun when I was able to drive and shift it myself!  He also had the first riding lawnmower in the family.  I remember cutting the grass for him.

Papa and Grammie Staples had blueberry, blackberry and raspberry bushes behind the house. I was asked to help pick them.  Little did they know they didn’t get all the berries I picked returned in the cup.  Oh, okay, maybe they knew…..

According to the book Doughty Falls – The History of the Town of North Berwick, Maine my grandfather served as one of the North Berwick Selectmen in 1921 and again in 1922.  He was also elected to serve as Constable of North Berwick in 1923 and 1929.  He served as Postmaster at the North Berwick Post Office for 17 years between 1935 and 1952.  In later years, about 1961, he became a US Mail letter carrier for the Post Office.  I remember him taking me to ride along with him in the car to deliver mail.  It seemed my grandfather knew everyone….and in North Berwick there were Staples everywhere!

Clarence M Staples (1895-1965) married my grandmother, Celia Olive Call (1894-1973).

Olive and Clarence Staples, my grandparents c.1965
Headstone. Courtesy of Find A Grave

My grandfather Clarence Malcolm Staples was son of:

Samuel Bert Staples (1863-1947) m. Ida M Ford (1861-1932).  Samuel Bert was son of:

Robert F Staples (1834-1923) m. Sarah E Torrey (1836-1919). Robert was son of:

Deacon Samuel Staples (1798-1864) m. Eleanor “Nellie” Ford


My 3rd great-grandfather, Deacon Samuel Staples, was born 1798 in Berwick, York County, Maine.  It was Berwick since North Berwick was not set off (separated) from Berwick until 1831.  He was the son of Joshua Staple and Elizabeth Staple.   Yes, you’ll notice his mother and father both had the surname: Staple. 

Deacon Samuel was married twice.  His second wife was my 3rd great-grandmother, Eleanor “Nellie” Ford.  Eleanor was likely a sister to Samuel’s first wife Lovina, daughters of Robert Ford and Mary/Molly Abbott.

Deacon Samuel and Eleanor “Nellie” had four sons:

Samuel F Staples (1829-1908)

Robert F Staples (1834-1923)

John F Staples (1836-1923)

Joshua F Staples (1840-1915)

It’s starting to become clear why there were so many Staples in North Berwick when I was a child…and there were even more Staples from other family lines in North Berwick; also, in Kittery, Eliot, York, Berwick, and South Berwick, too!

This leads to so many questions:

  • What is Deacon Samuel’s lineage?
  • Could his parents have been related? It seems likely, but how?
  • Where did he live?
  • What did he do for a living?
  • Was he active in the community?
  • Deacon Samuel Staples – – deacon of what? 
  • Where is he buried?

We do know where Deacon Samuel is buried.  He is buried in a small, private family cemetery known as Staples Cemetery #132. My family and I were able to find this cemetery during a 2002 visit to North Berwick, but it wasn’t easy! We had to walk behind a house, through a field, into the woods and over a stone wall. And there it was!  We took the picture below during our 2002 visit to North Berwick.

I learned much later in life that my grandfather’s property with the house, woodshop and garden were built on land owned by my Staples ancestors for generations, beginning with Deacon Samuel.

Map of North Berwick c. 1872

For more on Deacon Samuel’s land, life and genealogy, CLICK HERE to read our PSHG website’s “Ancestral Accounts” feature!


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.

Find A Grave™

Frank Staples, Jr., February 2019

Side Study: What’s In A Name?

Some of us may recognize the phrase “What’s in a name” from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. 

This phrase “What’s in a name” also has meaning and practical use in genealogical research in the pursuit of ancestor’s names.

Have you ever noticed in your research there are clues to the names given to children by their parents?  If you haven’t yet, you likely will – especially as you go back further in time.  It may not be seen frequently today, but these naming traditions were very common in the past.  Traditions (or patterns) such as these can provide important clues:

First (or given) names:

The first-born son is given the same first name as the father.  Example: John Staples and his wife Mary name their first-born son John.

The first-born son is given the same first name as the father’s father.  Example:  John Staples (son of William Staples) and his wife Mary name their first-born son William.

The first-born son is given the same first name as the mother’s father.  Example:  John Staples and his wife Mary (maiden name Lee, daughter of James and Margaret Lee) name their first-born son James.

The first-born daughter is given the same first name as the mother.  Example: John Staples and his wife Mary name their first-born daughter Mary.

The first-born daughter is given the same first name as the mother’s mother.  Example: John Staples and his wife Mary (maiden name Lee, daughter of James and Margaret Lee) name their first-born daughter Margaret.

A daughter is given the female version of her father’s name.  Example: Johanna (or Joanna) Staples is named after her father John Staples; or Danielle is named after her father Daniel.

Of course, it’s certainly possible children other than the first-born could be named using these traditions.  But it is seen more frequently applied to first-born children.

Have you ever noticed children have been given the first name of a deceased sibling, or a deceased brother or sister of the child’s father or mother?  If the deceased were a sibling, this means that within a single family group, there would be two children with the same name but different birth dates. Typically, the deceased individual died at a very young age, such as at birth or sometime before, say, six years old. This was done to honor the name and memory of the deceased child, and to carry on the name.  This tradition is not common today.

Other traditions include giving first names to children naming them after their mother’s and/or father’s brothers and sisters; or aunts and uncles.  This means first names tend to get “recycled” and used over and over again, generation after generation.  While this tradition may have sentimental significance and be meaningful for the family unit at the time, it can present a challenge to genealogists later in years, trying to sort out who’s who, with so many closely-related family members having the same names.  Birth/marriage/death names, dates and locations become critically important to determine who’s who.

Middle (given) names:

The middle name of a child is given the maiden name of the mother. Example: John Staples and his wife Mary (maiden name Lee) name a male child John Lee Staples.

This tradition could just as easily be applied to a female child as well as a male child.  Example: John Staples and his wife Mary (maiden name Lee) name a female child Mary Lee Staples. It has been observed that this is sometimes done even if the maiden name of the wife has a name that “sounds generally male”.  Example: James Staples and his wife Sarah (maiden name Norman) name a female child Sarah Norman Staples.

The middle name of a male child is given the first name of the father’s father. Example:  John Staples (son of William Staples) and his wife Mary name their child John William Staples.

The middle name of a male child is given the first name of the mother’s father. Example:  John Staples and his wife Mary (maiden name Lee, daughter of James and Margaret Lee) name their child John James Staples.

Other traditions include giving middle names to children naming them after their mother’s and/or father’s brothers and sisters; or aunts and uncles. 

What’s in a name?  Given these traditions and being aware of these to be used as clues in your genealogical research, there could be a lot more in a name than meets the eye!

For further reading on this topic see:

Frank Staples, Jr.

January 2019

Side Study: Where Did I Get That From?!?

Revised 31 Dec 2018

OK, so you’re working on building your family tree.  You’re easily finding new names: ancestors in your direct lineage.  Exciting!!  You’re adding the new names to your family tree rapidly.  Father’s names; mother’s maiden names; children’s names.  New lines to research based on new maiden names.  Even more exciting!  Wow, soon you’ll be able to regenerate your Pedigree Chart and visualize your lineage back even further than before. And all those new distant cousins, too!

And then three months later…………oops, you run into conflicting dates.  Now you have to take time to research and fix it.  You take a look at the birth date of the name with a conflict.  The dates you have don’t make sense.  As one example, perhaps the child’s birth date is only 8 years after her mother’s birth date.  That can’t be – that’s got to be fixed!  Oh no…you didn’t take the time to cite any sources for their birth dates.  Where did I get that from?

Or you find a name which may be a duplicate of someone already in your tree.  The birth and death dates are the same, but the name of their spouse is different between the two.  Is this the same person with two different spouses?  Or do you have the dates wrong?  You take a look at the marriage date and, oh no (again)…no sources cited.  Where did I get that from?

This has happened to all of us, from beginner to expert, in our genealogical research.  Sooner or later we all realize it’s important to take time to find credible sources, verify, and cite sources in your tree for facts, especially for names and vital facts such as birth, death, and marriage dates.  It’s also important to link the fact to the source or to the media item in the gallery on the profile page so it’s clear what fact came from what source.

What is a credible source?  Someone else’s family tree?  Well, maybe…. depending on the sources they used.  But there are more credible sources to search for.  First, let’s discuss the types of sources available for genealogical research.  Using the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) [Reference as a guide, the types of sources include:

Original and Derivative Sources: original sources are considered more reliable and thus preferred.

Primary and Secondary Sources: primary sources are considered more reliable and accurate.

Direct and Indirect Evidence: direct evidence is considered more accurate.

It’s best to seek original, primary and direct evidence sources whenever possible, which are most credible.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Original vital records (VR) available in town, city, or county records, such as birth, marriage and death records. However, keep in mind that for a death record, for example, the name, date, and place of death is considered primary information, but the deceased individual’s birth date and location may not be accurate so is considered secondary information on a death certificate.  Also, for example, the names of the individual’s parents must also be considered secondary information on a death certificate.
  • US Census records, which are available from databases. Census records contain both primary information as well as secondary information. For example, the primary information is the date and location of the Census Record.  But the names, birth dates and birth locations of the individuals are considered secondary information since the person(s) providing the data may not have been physically present at their birth.  Likewise, it is of course unlikely the US Census Recorder was not present for the births for those individuals, either.
  • A Family Bible is considered a primary source if the author of the Bible was a participant or witness to the names, dates and location of all the events recorded. Years later that may be difficult to state with certainty.
  • An autobiography or biography containing facts, events, or family stories/history is a primary source providing the author was a participant or a witness to the events at the time.

Derivative and Secondary sources should also be investigated and may be of value. Some include:

  • Vital record websites, indices, or published books containing vital records taken from town, city or county records.
  • Genealogical and Family Histories, published by recognized organizations, such as the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Reference:
  • American ancestry: giving the name and descent, in the male line, of Americans whose ancestors settled in the United States previous to the Declaration of independence, A.D. 1776; or The Magazine of American Genealogy These sources are timeless collections and remember someone put a lot of time and effort to research and document these.  Keep in mind, however, even these sources have been known to contain errors, so trust but verify!
  • Biographical, historical, genealogical and personal memoirs, written by reputable authors, editors and genealogists, such as William Richard Cutter; Henry Sweetser Burrage and Albert Roscoe Stubbs; Charles Thornton Libby, etc. Once again, even these sources have been known to contain errors, so trust but verify!
  • Sources going back into England’s historical records, including ancestry from royal lineage include Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Collins’s Peerage of England; etc. Once again, even these sources have been known to contain errors, so trust but verify!

Finding Ancestry Sources (searching on and adding them on the ancestor’s Profile page creates a huge advantage since it helps to find and present Hints for you to review and consider. 

Many sources can be found by simply using your favorite search engine for an ancestor’s name or an ancestor couple and reviewing the hits to pick out the most credible ones.  If these aren’t found and added as Ancestry Sources that’s OK.  Add them in the Add Source box on the Profile page.  Below is an example of a source citation for a book found in a Genealogy Department of a county library, then added as an Added Source.

Where Did I Get That From 1

Is it OK to use other people’s family trees?  Yes!  I do recommend taking a look at other’s family trees, including those in, MyHeritage, or others.  It is especially recommended to look at published genealogical books and papers which have been researched and published for a given family name.  However, use these secondary sources as a REFERENCE only, to give you ideas and clues to explore further.  Look at their tree for primary sources which you can use.  If other’s family trees are used as a source, and they cite no sources, cite their tree as a source.  That’s better than nothing!

Don’t let this happen to you (see below)!

Where Did I Get That From 2

Remember: FVC

F – Find – a primary source (or a secondary source, if all else fails)

V – Verify –  the information found against other sources, preferably primary sources

C – Cite – the source and record/link the details in your family tree records

FVC to add sources to look like this:

Where Did I Get That From 3Where Did I Get That From 4

Remember: FVC               Find       Verify   Cite

Your goal should be to NEVER have to again ask:  Where did I get that from?

Frank Staples, Jr.

December 2018


Announcing ‘Side Study’ Blog Category

While this website is primarily focused on the Goals of the Peter Staple Heritage Group, sometimes we get distracted. A necessary component of Genetic Genealogy is of course Genealogy, where it’s easy to spend time diving down the other (non-paternal) branches of the family tree. In fact, many people may get their first interest in genealogy by that commercial or the hand written scroll given to you by your uncle.

Side Study blog posts will serve as general information related to genealogy – not specifically to the study of Y-DNA. They may be personal lessons learned along the way, methods to push us to acting more like professional genealogists, or interesting discoveries.

In the end, genetic genealogy teaches us that it’s all related. There are things to learn in the practice of genealogy that will be helpful when studying genetic genealogy.

Have you come across something interesting that could help others? Want to contribute your own Side Study? Comment below!