Historical Markers
John Summerfield Staples Historical Marker
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John Summerfield Staples

Poconos / Endless Mountains


Marker Location:
Main Street (Business US 209) at Dreher Avenue, Stroudsburg.

Dedication Date:
May 9, 1999

Behind the Marker

Black and white image of a young man in uniform.
John Summerfield Staples, circa 1864.
John Staples had been honorably discharged from the 176th Pa. Volunteers on May 5, 1863 after suffering from a bout with typhoid. Following his release, Staples worked as a carpenter in Washington. According to family tradition, he was strolling down Pennsylvania Avenue with his father when the head of the city's Third Ward draft organization, Noble Larner, approached him. Noble wanted Staples to serve as Lincoln's "representative recruit." This was a new Union recruiting gimmick in 1864, not the same as being a paid substitute, which was also allowed in those days.

Staples agreed and went to the White House with his father, Larner and Provost-Marshal James B. Fry. Local newspapers reported that President Lincoln shook his hand twice and wished that Staples "would be one of the fortunate ones." The young Pennsylvanian probably received a $500 bounty for re-enlisting, but some accounts also claim that the President gave his representative recruit an extra $60 out of his pocket.

Staples was only nineteen years old at the time, and stood 5-feet 3-inches tall. He was assigned to the 2nd District of Columbia Volunteers where he served as a clerk and worked at one of the many regimental hospitals. He mustered out of the service on September 12, 1865.

The young recruit never received much acclaim for his curious role. After the war, he worked as a wheelwright in Stroudsburg and then relocated to Waterloo, New York, where he died in his early forties. A state representative from Stroudsburg once tried to establish a monument in Staples' honor but nothing came of his proposal. There was a bridge named after him, but a flood in 1955 washed it away.

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