Monroe Remembers Abe Lincoln
Reporter in Residence
Two thousand nine - I can’t believe that Abraham Lincoln would be two hundred years old this February.
This brings back memories of his 100th birthday. That occasion certainly brought some national attention to Monroe County. President Lincoln never visited here, but the young man who served as his “representative recruit” in the Civil War was born here and is buried in the Stroudsburg Cemetery. He was J. Summerfield Staples and his father was Reverend John L. Staples. The Staples were wheelwrights. Rev. Staples also served as a supply minister in the area.
J. Summerfield Staples’ Civil War service was recognized at his funeral service in 1888. Not much was publicized about his military service after that until 1909, when a researcher came to Stroudsburg to investigate the Lincoln – Staples connection. The researcher’s findings led to newspapers in Monroe County and major cities recognizing the connection. Many articles cite Staples as Lincoln’s substitute. This is inaccurate because of age and position Lincoln would not have been able to serve. The fact is that President Lincoln personally chose the Stroudsburg native as his “representative personal recruit. “ Staples served in this capacity from October 1864 until September 1865 when he was sent home because of illness.
The original marker on Staples’ grave citing his military service was replaced in 1987 because it had become illegible. The gravestone is now in the basement of the Stroud Mansion where it is noted on tours.
What brings all of this to mind is some conversations I overheard in the Mansion meeting room. It is not that I am eaves-dropping; it is just that I should be informed, since I have lived here for so long. The Stroud Mansion is my home, you know!
The volunteers were setting up an easel for a Newspaper in Education teacher workshop. I did not believe the results they wanted. Participants would take turns filling in an outline of Lincoln’s head using a series of one-brush stokes. Well, was I wrong! The results were amazingly like Lincoln.
Our MCHA Education Committee also discussed a sample of children’s books on Lincoln and primary sources (letters, diaries, and photos) that teachers could use with their students.
Teachers will do the “One-Stroke” project in their schools and selected ones will be exhibited in the capitol in Harrisburg. All Monroe County portraits will be exhibited in the gallery at ESU later this year.
Not one to be left out of a unique activity, I took my turn at the easel after everyone had departed the Mansion. I must say my brush stroke was the perfect last touch.
You can see examples of the “One-Stroke” project on the web at Lincoln Into Art.
Information for Monroe’s article is from “J. Summerfield Staples: The Making of a Civil War Celebrity,” an address delivered by Dr. John C. Appel. May 18, 1987.