For me, July 15 is a day loaded with emotion. It’s the day we drove away from our beloved Massachusetts home to move to California. I’ve shared here before that I’ve struggled incredibly with the move. Part of that is because I left behind the greatest friends I’ve ever known — friends that feel like family — and a job that I loved and the most quaint, history-packed place in the United States.
Having grown up on the West Coast and living in various parts of the country during my lifetime, I truly became New England convert over the past 12 years. There is something about New England… it just has so much character and heart. And I love it with every fiber of my being.
Anyway, fast forward a year and we are back in Massachusetts for a visit. Snickers is at summer camp in Cali, but those of you who have been following us a while know I rarely go anywhere with his replacement, Snickers on a Stick.
Yesterday, I walked in Concord, Mass., one of my favorite small towns. And I found another gem of a story associated with this darling cottage.
Samuel Staples and his second wife Sarah has this home built in 1894, just one year before Samuel died. (Fun fact: They previously rented out Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House for three seasons.)
Samuel was best known as a benevolent jailer. In his younger days as town constable, he offered to pay his friend Henry David Thoreau’s taxes instead of locking him up. Henry had refused to pay taxes as a protest against the Mexican War.
Less widely known is his role as one of the people most responsible for the way the town of Concord developed. A self-made man and extraordinary entrepreneur, he left home at the age of seven, came to Concord in 1820, and worked his way up t o become general manager of the
He served the town not just as jailer and constable, but as tax collector, selectman, highway surveyor and Superintendent of Public Grounds. At the regional and national level, he served two terms as Special County Commissioner, and in 1847 and 1852 was a Representative in the Massachusetts legislatures.
He was for many years the Concord area’s primary auctioneer, and his own speculations inn
real estate shaped two major areas of the town. He developed the lower section of Bedford Street , moving many houses there from Monument Square in the early 1850’s—an extraordinarily early date for this type of real estate activity . Twenty years later
with Reuben Rice, he formed the Hubbard Improvement Company, and developed Hubbard
Street, Concord’s firs t true subdivision, into 37 house lot s as the “Hubbard Estate Improvement.”