by Robert M. Staley
From "History of the German Settlements and of the Lutheran Church in North and South Carolina" by G. D. Bernheim, 1872:
Wherever the Germans have located themselves they have usually manifested certain traits of character, which are on the whole very commendable. Whilst they are generally retiring and peaceful in their intercourse with man, opposed to riot and contention, and will patiently suffer wrong for a long time, they are nevertheless unwilling to submit to oppression when persistently brought to bear down upon them; they may be led, their minds are open to conviction, but they cannot be driven, and will determinately resist all attempts to deprive them of their inalienable rights.
The Germans are the most industrious settlers that have ever come to America; they are willing to endure any amount of toil to secure a permanent home, or an establishment over which they may have entire control; they never shrink from labor that promises to be remunerative; everything around them must be well and profitably arranged, hence their farms usually present the appearance of order, thrift, and comfort; all work must be well done, ere it can be made satisfactory to them. Besides, they also love home and its comforts, and are usually slow to leave the place they have once secured as their own; there are plantations and farms at the present day that have never passed out of the family, being still held by virtue of the original grant or deed made in colonial times. They generally persevere in all their undertakings, even when the immediate prospects are not encouraging, and manage all their affairs with the strictest economy, often carrying their frugality to such an extreme as to become a fault, when such frugality is no longer needed. Honesty and uprightness are also marked characteristics of the Germans; They shrink from debt, and are unhappy as long as their liabilities are not cancelled, and when once a promise has been made by them, it can generally be relied on, for their word is usually as good as their bond; there are, of course, exceptions to this general trait of character, yet not so many as materially to impair the confidence which is usually reposed in the Germans and their immediate descendants everywhere. They are slow in making changes, and often tenaciously adhere for a long time to the practices and conduct of their forefathers; this has been frequently attributed to them as a fault, inasmuch as they appear so unwilling to make progress and keep pace with modern advancement; yet whilst this may be true, it can also be said that they do not advance so readily in the vices and fraudulent dealings of our progressive age.
The Germans appear to have been specially fitted in all their characteristics to make the wilds of America to blossom and bloom as the rose; their patient toil, together with their excellent and economical management, has made the soil of this country to produce abundantly, thereby enhancing its material prosperity.
Conrad Staley ( 1736-1816 ), along with his younger brothers Jacob Staley and Martin Staley, migrated into central North Carolina in about 1764 from the area around York, Pennsylvania. They were born in Germany, most likely with a surname such as Stahli, Stähli, or Stehle. People have conjectured that they were born in the Palatinate, or Baden-Wurttemburg, or Bavaria, but no one knows for certain where they came from. English speaking officials in the American colonies most likely assigned to them the anglicized version of their surname, i.e. Staley. Strayer's ( Salem ) Lutheran Church records for Dover Township, York County, Pennsylvania show that Conrad Stahli and his wife Barbara had a son by the name of Johan Jacob Stahli on April 24, 1763.
The three brothers and their families then migrated into what was then Orange County, North Carolina, arriving in about 1764. They no doubt traveled by wagon train down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road through the Shenandoah Valley of Maryland and Virginia, crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains somewhere in Virginia, and on down into the Piedmont region of North Carolina. They were part of a mass migration of German speaking people from Pennsylvania into the South, which started in about 1745 and peaked sometime after 1750. The Staleys settled near the Richland Lutheran Church ( founded in 1760 ) in the north east corner of what is now Randolph County, in the area near where the present day town of Liberty is located. This area is very fertile, with stands of tall trees, lush grass, and a great abundance of streams and lakes. ( This area would have been in Orange County from 1753 to 1770, in Guilford County from 1770 to 1779, and in Randolph county after 1779 ). It has been said that a visitor to this area during that time frame would have thought he was back in Pennsylvania, with everyone speaking Pennsylvanisch-Deutsch, a language made up of the dialects used in the ancient Palatinate, Wurttemberg and other countries along the Rhine, intermixed with English words. Even the black slaves of these Germans spoke this language.
On July 26, 1764 Conrad Staley bought 125 acres on Stinking Quarter Creek from Wiliam Barton, whose father John had bought a 1000 acre tract from Henry McCulloch et al in 1760. Martin Staley acquired a 165 acre parcel on Stinking Quarter Creek at about this same time, also purchased from William Barton. These two parcels were probably adjoining. Jacob Staley later bought land in this same area. All three of the Staley brothers bought and sold land in this area over a number of years, and all of their land was either on Stinking Quarter Creek, Sandy Creek, or Rocky River. In 1769 Conrad Staley bought 450 acres on Sandy Creek from Herman Husband for 15 pounds. Three years later he sold this same land for 150 pounds. (Herman Husband had to flee the area in 1771 because he had been condemned to die for his part in the Regulator movement and the Battle of Alamance. He went to Pennsylvania, and was later condemned to die again for his part in the Whisky Rebellion of 1794. He was later pardoned by President Washington. ) At one time Conrad Staley owned nearly 600 acres of land in Randolph County. In 1790 Conrad Staley gave 208.5 acres to his eldest son Johan Jacob Staley out of love and affection. Johan Jacob Staley later sold some of this land to his brothers Christian and Peter.
An example of Conrad Staleys signature in old German script, as found on an old Guilford County deed, is shown below:
The sons of Conrad Staley seemed to be involved in brawling on numerous occasions, which led to some legal actions. Conrad Staley was called on to assist his sons in some of these proceedings. The names mentioned in the legal records were Joseph, Christian, Conrad, Martin, Daniel, Peter, and Jacob. One might conjecture that there was a considerable amount of alcohol involved in those early days.
Conrad Staley lies buried in the old Richland Lutheran Church Cemetery north east of Liberty in Randolph County. His tombstone reads: Here lies the body of Conrad Staley a native of Germany who was born 23 of (April) 1736, Came to America as a youth, was married to Barbara Huver the 16 of March 1762 and departed this life the 31 of May 1816. The Conrad and Barbara Staley children are thought to be Johan Jacob, Joseph, Martin, Peter, Christian, Daniel, Elizabeth, George, and Conrad. There was another female child, whose name is unknown, who married Christian Foust.
Three of Conrad Staleys sons later moved out of NC, with Johan Jacob and Martin going to Butler Twp, Montgomery Co., Ohio, and Conrad moving to Grainger Co., Tennessee.
Peter Staley, the son of Conrad Staley and Barbara Hoover, was born in 1771 in Randolph County, North Carolina. He married his wife Mary (a.k.a. Molly) in about 1793, and first appeared in the census records in 1800. The tax lists of 1799 and 1803 showed that he owned 146 acres near Liberty, NC. By 1815 the tax list showed that he owned 246 acres near Liberty. Not much is known about Peter Staley, but Randolph County court records show several run-ins with the law. Several Bills of Complaint were issued against him for assault, including punching a man and knocking him down with his gun, and later for striking a man over the head with a sword. He must have been a wealthy man, because his estate records showed that he owned six slaves at the time of his death on Sept. 13, 1825. The slaves were: a man named Dick, two women named Luce and Jude, two girls named Ibba and Milly, and a boy named Washington. Their relationship is unknown.
The children of Peter and Mary Staley were Eli ( 1794-1862 ), Barbara ( 1795-1884 ), Elizabeth ( 1803-? ), Hiram ( 1805-? ), Margaret ( 1806-? ), Tabitha ( 1808-? ), Molly ( 1814-? ), Hannah ( 1816-Bef. 1860 ), and Lucinda ( 1818-Bef. 1846 ).
After Peter Staley died, his eldest son, Eli Staley, was appointed administrator of the estate, along with John Miller. As part of the estate settlement, Eli Staley and John Miller first rented out the slaves, and then, on Dec. 3, 1827, finally sold them. Eli himself bought Luce and Washington. His mother, Mary, bought Dick. Elis sister Elizabeth and her husband, Jonathan McCollum, bought Milly. Elis sister Tabitha and her husband, David Anderson Curtis, bought Ibba. Only Jude was sold outside the family, to a man named Wellborn.
Eli was also appointed as legal guardian of his youngest sisters, Molly, Hannah, and Lucinda. He served in this capacity in 1829, 1830, and 1831. In 1831 Peter Staleys widow, Mary, petitioned her children for dower. A 160 acre tract of land on Sandy Creek was identified for partition between the mother and her children, for the purpose of supporting the mother. ( Dower was a widows share of real estate. During the period 1784-1868 in North Carolina, a wifes right to one-third of her husbands land became effective only at his death. ) Mary Staley lived until January 29, 1858, and in the 1850 census she can be found living with her daughter Margaret (Peggy) and her husband Hiram Curtis. The land was not actually partitioned until 1846, so Mary must not have been in great need of money. Hiram Curtis was named administrator of her estate, along with Abraham York and David Campbell. Mary Staley is buried in Grays Chapel Cemetery, Randolph Co., NC. Eli Staley acquired an 87 acre tract of land from his father's estate in 1825.
Eli Staley, the son of Peter and Mary Staley, was born January 6, 1794 in Randolph County, North Carolina. He married Mary Polly Rhodes ( 1796-1871 ) on Sept. 28, 1813 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Their children were Nancy ( 1815-? ), Peter ( 1817-1858), William ( 1819-1882 ), John B. ( 1821-? ), Margaret E. ( 1823-1898 ), Polly ( 1824-? ), Elizabeth ( 1827-1875 ), Mary Ann ( 1828-1871 ), Lucinda ( 1831-1902 ), Minerva ( 1833-? ), Tabitha ( 1834-1917 ), and Catherine ( 1840-? ). Lucinda was the last child born in North Carolina, and the next three were born in Indiana.
After his fathers estate had been settled in 1831, Eli Staley and his siblings Barbara, Elizabeth, Tabitha, and Hiram all moved to Morgan County, Indiana, leaving behind their mother Mary, and their sisters Margaret, Molly, Hannah, and Lucinda. They were part of a mass migration of North Carolinians into that newly opened territory. They probably moved to Indiana because the land was so much cheaper than in North Carolina. A lot of the Quakers of North Carolina, and there were many in Randolph County, were also moving because they had decided that slavery was inherently evil. Also, North Carolina had become somewhat of an armed camp by this time, and many white people had trouble sleeping for fear of being murdered in their beds in a slave rebellion.
In 1832 Eli transferred the legal guardianship of his two youngest sisters Hannah, and Lucinda to David Campbell , sold his land to John Miller,and left for Indiana with his wife and nine children. The Eli Staley family undoubtedly traveled by covered wagon through the Cumberland Gap, northwest across the State of Kentucky, through Lexington, across the Ohio River at Louisville, and on into Southern Indiana. There is evidence that they spent some time in Orange County Indiana before heading on North. Eli Staley bought his first two parcels from the General Land Office of the United States in Crawfordsville, Indiana in October of 1832. These two 80 acre parcels straddled the border between Adams and Gregg Townships in Morgan County ( south of Indianapolis ). He added adjoining parcels to this first purchase as the years passed, finally ending up with 480 acres by 1853. Elizabeth Staley and her husband Jonathan McCollum, and Tabitha Staley and her husband David Curtis arrived in 1834, and bought land in Adams Township adjoining their brother Elis holdings. Adding up the parcels held by Eli Staley and Elis sisters Elizabeth and Tabitha and their spouses, the Staley compound in Adams and Gregg Townships eventually contained 880 acres, or nearly 1.4 square miles.
Elis sister Barbara Staley and her husband Aaron Kivett settled in Morgan County in about 1837, and bought land in Gregg township near the other Kivetts, not far from Kivett Lake and Kivett Road. Elis brother Hiram arrived sometime between 1840 and 1850, and lived in Mooresville, in Brown Township.
Eli Staley died March 27, 1862, about a year after the Civil War started, at age 68. He was buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery near Hall, Indiana. His wife, Mary Staley, lived until Aug.11, 1871, and she is also buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. She was living with her daughter Lucinda and her husband, Washington West, in Hendricks County, near Clayton, during the last few years of her life. She was an active member of the Christian Church, also known as the Church of Christs Disciples. Eli Staleys religious leanings are unknown, but his son John B. Staley was also affiliated with the Christian Church.
There is little left of the NC Staley name in Morgan County, Indiana. Elis son Peter died young, without any children. His son John B. Staley had eleven females and one male, and the lone male died as an infant. Elis son William had six sons, but left the area and ended up living in Iowa. Thus the NC Staley name in Morgan County, Indiana died out at the death of John B. Staley sometime after 1884 (there was another group of Staleys in Morgan County, but they were from Wythe County, VA, and probably unrelated).
William Staley was born in Randolph County, North Carolina on Dec. 4, 1819, and was the second son of Eli Staley and Mary Polly Rhodes. He came to Morgan County, Indiana in a covered wagon with his parents when he was 12 years old. William grew up in that area, and started his first family there. William Staley married (1) Elizabeth Brown ( 1826-? ) of Kentucky on Oct. 26, 1840 in Morgan County, Indiana. His children with Elizabeth were Nancy ( 1841-? ), Mary Mahala ( 1844-? ), James E. ( 1847-1916 ), John Oliver ( 1850-1922 ), Minerva A. ( 1854-? ), Peter Allen ( 1855-? ), and Lucinda C. ( 1859-? ).
William Staley and family moved to Cass County, Missouri (south of Kansas City) sometime between 1855 and 1859, and were listed in the 1860 census for Cass Co. under the name William Staly. It is not certain what happened to his first wife Elizabeth, but William married (2) Ellen M. Wilson ( 1842-1919 ) on August 13, 1863 in Morgan County, Indiana. William Staleys children with Ellen M. Wilson were Henry Sherman ( 1865-1940 ), Emma E. ( 1867-? ), Edward C. ( 1869-1953 ), and Ora A. ( 1873-? ). Ellen M. Wilson had been born Ellen M. Hobbs, but had first married William Henry Wilson. Her first child, William Gibson Wilson, born in Kansas in 1861, was the result of that union. Her first husband died in 1862 from the measles while serving in the Union Army ( Cass County Missouri Home Guards Cavalry ) during the Civil War . After the death of William Staley she applied for a pension from the U.S. government, March 22, 1892, based on the fact that she had been a war widow. That pension was finally granted in 1903, and she received a monthly check until she died in 1919.
It appears that the William Staley family returned to Morgan County, Indiana sometime between 1862 and 1863, and stayed there until sometime between 1865 and 1867.
William Staleys eldest son James E. Staley served as a horn player in the Union Army in the Civil War. He enlisted Sept. 5, 1861 in Band Co., 9th infantry Regiment, Indiana at age 14. He mustered out on Aug. 19, 1862, perhaps because he was found to be underage. James E. Staley gained a measure of celebrity long after his death because his widow, Alice Staley, lived to be nearly 109 years old, and was written up in several newspapers.
By 1867 William Staley and family were in Iowa, and it is known that they initially settled in Decatur Township, Decatur County ( south of Des Moines ). They are listed there in the 1870 census, which shows that William Staley owned $2000 worth of real estate in Decatur County. The railroad reached that area of Iowa in 1867, so they might have arrived by train. William Staley may have moved to this area because his sister Elizabeth Staley and her husband John W. Ratliff (a Quaker) had been living in Clarke County ( next county to the north of Decatur ) since about 1862. By the1870 census Williams first son James E. Staley is listed in a separate household in Franklin Township, Clarke County, near the Ratliffs. Sometime between 1870 and 1880 William Staley also moved to the Clarke County area. By the 1880 census William Staley, age 61, was living in Franklin Twp., Clarke Co., Iowa with his second wife Ellen, his daughter Minerva (from his first wife), and the five children from his second wife. Next door was Williams third son, Peter Allen Staley, and his family. Incidentally, William Staleys daughter Minerva was listed in that census as being insane and idiotic, and unable to read or write. She was the sister of our John Oliver Staley ( see below ), who had moved to Lincoln County, Kansas by that time. William Staley owned a 100 acre farm in Section 8 of Franklin Township in Clarke County, Iowa, but the exact location of that property is not known at this time.
William Staley died May 9, 1882 in Clarke Co., Iowa at age 62. He is buried in New Smyrna Cemetery ( Friends Cemetery ), Franklin Township, Clarke County, Iowa next to Ellen M. Staley in lot 19-01. Most of the people buried in this cemetery were Quakers from Indiana and/or North Carolina. The religious leanings of William and Ellen Staley are unknown, but his second son John Oliver Staley married into a Quaker family.
John Oliver Staley
John Oliver Staley, the second son of William Staley and Elizabeth Brown, was born August 8, 1850 in Mooresville, Morgan County, Indiana. He married (1) Jemima Newell Ratliff on June 27, 1872 in Smyrna, Clarke County, Iowa. Jemima Ratliff was only thirteen at the time of the wedding. She was from a devoutly religious Quaker family, and may well have been disowned by her church for marrying outside the church, and for marrying so young. The children of John Oliver Staley and Jemima Newell Ratliff were Sarah Elizabeth ( 1873-1937 ), Ellie R. ( 1875-1876 ), Carrie Eldora ( 1877-1943 ), Frank Bennett ( 1880-1958 ), Daniel Earl ( 1885-1949 ), Royal Edward ( 1888-1913 ), and William Archelaus ( 1896-1953 ). The last child , William Archelaus, was named after his two grandfathers. His Quaker grandfather Archelaus Ratliff, who had arrived in Iowa in 1846, donated the land for the Old Smyrna Church and Cemetery.
John Oliver Staleys first three children were born in Smyrna, Iowa in the 1870s. Around 1880 he and his family moved to Kansas, where his first son Frank Bennett Staley was born in Garden City. The family later moved to Yorktown ( a.k.a. Allamead or Alamede ), Lincoln County, Kansas where they were listed as farmers in the 1880 census. Jemima Ratliffs brothers John B. Ratliff and Jonathan R. Ratliff were also in Yorktown at that time. John Oliver Staleys next two sons were born in Yorktown, Daniel Earl in 1885, and Royal Edward in 1888. Many farms in Kansas failed in the period of 1890-1895 due to a severe drought, and the Staley farm must have been one of them, for they returned to Smyrna, Iowa by 1891. The town of Yorktown, Kansas no longer exists.
On January 15, 1891 John Oliver Staley and his wife Jemima bought a 40 acre parcel of farm land near Smyrna, and six lots in the town of Smyrna. On Dec. 2, 1896 their youngest son William Archelaus Staley was born. On Dec. 21, 1899 John Oliver and Jemima Staley bought another 10 acre parcel, not far from their 40 acre farm. The warranty deed for this purchase is witnessed by John O. Staley, Justice of the Peace.
Jemima Newell Ratliff Staley was postmistress of Smyrna for several years. She also ran a small general store up until the time of her death. She contracted blood poisoning by accidentally running a pin in the palm of her hand, and was ill for about two weeks. On Nov. 16, 1907 Jemima Newell Ratliff Staley died at age 49, and was buried in New Smyrna Cemetery ( Friends Cemetery ) in lot 9-07. She had a very large funeral in the United Brethren Church, just across the road from her residence. Jemima had been caring for her invalid mother, Sarah Collier Ratliff Coppock, who had to be taken to the insane asylum in Clarinda, Iowa after Jemima died.
John Oliver Staley married (2) Lucy Hoffman on Nov. 18, 1908 in Osceola, Clarke County, Iowa. Sometime after this he moved to Des Moines, Iowa and worked as a carpenter. John Oliver Staley died on Jan. 13, 1922 at age 71 in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa. He was buried next to Jemima Staley in New Smyrna Cemetery ( Friends Cemetery ) in lot 9-07.
Daniel Earl Staley
Daniel Earl Staley, the second son of John Oliver Staley and Jemima Newell Ratliff, was born on May 26, 1885 in Yorktown, Lincoln County, Kansas. He moved to Clarke County, Iowa with his parents at the age of six, and grew up and started his family there. Daniel was a quiet, studious, and deeply religious man, and the first in our Staley line to leave the farm and join the industrial revolution. He married Margaret Alice Goodhart ( 1885-1964 ) on Sept. 24, 1904 in Osceola, Clarke County, Iowa. Margaret Alice Goodhart, commonly known as Maggie or Madge Goodhart, was an orphan who had been raised by her foster parents. The children of Daniel and Madge Staley were Earl John ( 1905-1949 ), Ruth Newell ( 1906-1978 ), George Franklin ( 1908-1994 ), and Royal ( 1913-2000 ).
Daniel Staley was teaching school by the time he got married in 1904 at age 19. Records show that in 1906 he was teaching at West Concord School in Franklin Township, Clarke County, Iowa. He later began working for the railroad, most likely The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, as a telegrapher. About 1913 Daniel Staley and family moved to Falls Church, Virginia, where he became a station master, probably on the Washington and Old Dominion Railway. The 1920 census records for Fairfax County, Virginia list his occupation as Clerk, Interstate Commerce Commission. About 1922 Daniel Staley and family moved to Waterloo, Iowa where he worked at the Transportation Company, which ran the streetcars in that city.
About 1923 the Daniel Staley family moved to Southern California, staying for 6 months in Los Angeles, and then buying a new home in Whittier at 1041 S. Central Ave. ( in the area now covered by the Whittier Quad Shopping Mall ). In 1923 he was working as Assistant Traffic Manager at Cal National Supply Co. Not long after that Daniel and his sons Earl and George went to work at the Twenty Mule Team Borax mine in the high desert town of Trona, San Bernardino County, CA. Daniel worked in the office and George worked as a supervisor of the miners. Madge stayed in Whittier with daughter Ruth and youngest son Royal. George returned to Whittier High School after about a year in Trona, and still graduated at age 18. Daniel returned to Whittier in about 1927 and started working at Stoody Company, a manufacturer of welding equipment and hard facing materials, which was doing a great business in the booming oil fields of Santa Fe Springs, CA. Daniel eventually became Sales Manager of Stoody Company.
In about 1934, after 30 years of marriage, Daniel and Madge Staley were divorced. The exact cause is unknown, but there were numerous clashes about money. Daniel moved into the Hoover Hotel in uptown Whittier, and Madge kept the house on Central Ave. In 1935 Daniel published a vanity press book entitled New Oil for Old Lamps which seems to be a strange mixture of philosophy, religion, and economics. There is some belief that Daniel had followed his mothers religion and was a Quaker in his early years. He did select a Quaker city to live in, i.e. Whittier, California. He may well have been disowned by The Friends Church after his divorce. He later joined his daughter Ruths church, The Church of Religious Science. At any rate, his book seems to be an attempt to explore his own belief system, at a time which was undoubtedly quite tumultuous for him. Madge Staley married Bob Barnes in about 1941, and lived with him until she died in 1964 in Hemet, CA at age 79. Her ashes are in Rose Hills Cemetery, Whittier, California. Daniel Staley never remarried.
It is not certain when or why Daniel Staley left Stoody Company. In the early 1940s he was working as a traffic manager for Bethlehem Steel Company, in Los Angeles. In 1942 he moved into a house owned by a Japanese friend, who had been placed in an internment camp for the duration of WWII. This large house was on a hill in East Los Angeles which had an expansive Japanese garden, and multiple cellars. Daniels youngest son Royal, and his pregnant wife Mary Ann moved in with Daniel. Their daughter Andrea was born later that year. Royal was working at Douglas Aircraft at the time, building jigs for WWII aircraft production. In early January, 1945 Mary Ann gave birth to twin girls, Sharon and Cheryl.
After the war, Royal bought a small new tract home in Norwalk, CA, and Daniel moved in with him and his family. About 1948 Royal and his family sold their Norwalk home and moved to Ashland, Oregon to work in the lumber industry. Daniel moved into a small apartment in East Los Angeles, CA. He was suddenly alone after several years of living with his son and grandchildren. At that time Daniel had to ask for financial aid from his son George and his daughter Ruth . On April 4, 1949 his eldest son Earl unexpectedly died of a heart attack, at age 43, leaving a widow and two teen age children. Perhaps the grief and disappointment of that year took their toll, and Daniel Earl Staley died from a stroke on Sept. 6, 1949, at age 64.
According to his son Royal, Daniel Staley was a licensed Chiropractor, had passed the bar exam, and had authored 3 text books and 1 novel. His ashes are in Rose Hills Cemetery, Whittier, California.
George Franklin Staley
George Franklin Staley was born in Osceola, Clarke County, Iowa on June 13, 1908, and was the second son of Daniel Earl Staley and Margaret Alice Goodhart. He was a rather short man, with a deep, resonant voice, and an engaging smile. George was well known for his honesty and his integrity, which carried over into all his business dealings. He was also known for his intelligence, and his hard work. George would usually dominate the conversation in any group setting. He had tremendous energy, and a real zest for life.
George Staley briefly attended kindergarten in Iowa, and could remember being taught German because there were so many German farmers in that area. Even in his seventies he could still count from one to ten in perfect German. In late 1913 his family moved to Falls Church, Virginia, which is very close to Washington, DC. There were still dense woods in the area at that time, and George and his siblings had a marvelous time playing in them. His father once took him to see John Phillip Sousa lead a band in a parade through Washington, DC. He also remembered seeing Woodrow Wilson playing golf on the White House lawn in his knickers. When he was 14 the family moved to Waterloo, Iowa. When George Staley was 15 the family moved to Los Angeles, CA , where they lived on Union Ave. for 6 months; and then to Whittier, CA, where he attended Whittier High School. He later complained bitterly about his family moving so often, and having to change schools so frequently. He seemed to long for some stability in his life. Perhaps that explains why he lived in the same house for 44 years, and worked for the same company for 60 years.
Soon after arriving in Whittier George Staley moved with his father and older brother to the high desert town of Trona, San Bernardino County, CA to work in the Borax mine. The work was hot, dirty, and physically demanding. After about a year there, George returned to Whittier, and finished high school, graduating in 1926. His brother Royal later described George as being so brilliant that he always got straight As without ever opening a book. George was on the track team, and could often be seen running to or from school, something that he loved to do.
After several odd jobs at filling stations, etc., George Staley started working as a day laborer at Stoody Company in 1928, a job undoubtedly arranged by his father, who had started working there in 1927. Except for one brief interlude, George would spend the next 60 years of his life working in some capacity for Stoody Company, a manufacturer of welding equipment and hard facing material. In a Horatio Alger type career, he began as a day laborer in the shop, and worked his way up to Advertising Manager ( 1936 ), Sales Manager ( 1944 ),Vice President of Marketing ( 1963 ), Vice President of International Operations & Special Assistant to the President ( 1971 ), and finally Member of the Stoody Co. Board of Directors ( 1978 ). The Staley Training Center was dedicated in his honor in 1988, when he finally retired for good at age 80 ( after an earlier failed attempt to retire in 1974, at age 66 ). The name "George Stoody" for the character played by Bob Newhart in the sitcom "George and Leo" was coined by Dan Staley, the shows creator and executive producer, as a tribute to his grandfather.
On June 15, 1934 George Staley married Louise Helen Develine, who had started working as a secretary at Stoody Company in 1931. Their children were Robert Michael Staley and his sister ( who wishes to remain anonymous ). Louise, who had been in the same class as Richard M. Nixon at Whittier High School, soon quit Stoody Company to be a full time housewife and mother.
Shortly after the birth of his son in 1935, George quit Stoody Company and took a job in Denver Colorado. After about six months he realized he had made a big mistake, and decided to return to Stoody Company. Upon his return he was promoted to Advertising Manager, and the company always treated him as if he had never left.
George Staley was an avid golfer, card player, fisherman, and sports fan. He was a charter member of Hacienda Country Club in La Habra Heights, joining up in about 1938. He played golf three times a week for many years, until his eyesight became too much of a problem. He was also an expert gin rummy player, and continued with that at Hacienda even after his golfing days were done. George did a lot of trout fishing in his early years in such places as San Gabriel Canyon, Big Bear Lake, and the Kern River. He also loved ocean fishing and deep sea fishing, and took several fishing trips to Mexico, where he caught a sailfish among other things. George held season tickets to the Los Angeles Rams in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He later held season tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers. George traveled to Vero Beach, Florida for Dodger Spring Training every year from 1985 through 1990.
George Staley was also a world traveler, partly because of his job, and partly because he enjoyed it. He started traveling on business in the 1930s, when he largely had to travel by train. George would often times be away from home for a month to six weeks at a time, traveling from city to city by train. Later, he started flying on DC-3s, which could not fly above the storms and often left everyone air-sick. He said he never got sick, and often had to help everyone else on the plane. George loved to drive on his vacations, and twice drove his 1940 six cylinder Chevrolet to Brownsville Texas, across the desert in the summer with no air conditioning, no power steering, and no power brakes. Other driving trips included a trip up the coast to upper Oregon, a trip to Mt. Lassen, a trip to Ketchum, Idaho, a trip to Yellowstone National Park, and two trips to Mexico City. Between his business travel and his vacation travel he visited every state in the union, plus Mexico, Canada, and much of Europe, Asia, and Central America.
George Staley had been a smoker since his teen age years, and had been a moderate drinker. After taking the Sales Manager job he was called upon to do more and more drinking as part of the job, while entertaining clients, etc. In 1949 his brother died of a heart attack at age 43, and five months later his father died of a stroke at age 64. These events caused George to reevaluate his life style, and to make some changes. He decided to give up drinking, smoking, and coffee all at the same time. It is a tribute to his tremendous will power that he was able to successfully make these changes, while holding down a very stressful and demanding job. He never smoked again. He didnt take another drink for over 30 years, until doctors urged him to drink a little wine for the benefit of his cardiovascular system. He did renege on the coffee vow, but kept that in moderation. At about that same, i.e. 1949, he became active in the First Christian Church of Whittier, and brought his family along with him. Later in his life, he renewed his affiliation with that church, and eventually became an Elder.
Louise Staley died in 1981 after a long and painful battle with cancer. Her ashes are in Rose Hills Cemetery, Whittier, California. George Staley lived alone for the next 13 years, except for an occasional care-giver brought in by his children.
George Staley had a mild heart attack in 1968, at age 60, which caused him to once again make some life style changes, such as exercising more, and losing weight. He then developed an obsession with his heart problem that would prove to be his undoing. He suffered from angina, and often had to take nitroglycerine pills to relieve the pain. The high blood pressure that caused the heart attack also led to other problems, such as cataracts and an aortic aneurysm, all of which required surgery. He remained fairly healthy until 1990, when he started having transient ischemic attacks ( TIAs ). He was diagnosed as having a blocked blood vessel in his brain, and treated with a blood thinner. In 1992 he had another heart problem, and received triple bypass heart surgery. During that surgery he suffered a stroke, which led to partial paralysis on one side of his body. After extensive therapy, he was nearly fully recovered by 1994. Ever obsessed with his heart problems, he found a doctor who promised to restore his youthful vigor by some kind of electrical shock treatment to his heart. Despite pleas from his children and his general practitioner, he decided to go ahead with that treatment. During a preliminary treadmill test he collapsed, and was hospitalized again. Still not deterred, he decided to go to other heart shock treatment specialists in Los Angeles. During hospitalization at Good Samaritan Hospital for the heart treatment, he slipped and fell, breaking his hip. He was released from that hospital, and sent to a nursing home in La Habra. There he fell once again, lay unconscious on the floor for many hours, and caught pneumonia. George Franklin Staley died the next day, Feb. 20, 1994, at age 85. Ironically, the last organ in his body to stop working was his heart, hours after he had been declared brain dead . His ashes are in Rose Hills Cemetery, Whittier, California.