Submitted by Arlene Stafford and published in the LCGS newsletter, January, 1999.
Henry Stafford and his wife Mary operated a Grocery and Liquor store in the town of Almonte around the turn of the 20th Century. They were well-liked in the community, attended church, lived in a comfortable home with their children and, to their neighbors in Almonte, probably appeared to be a normal, conventional family of the era.
On a closer examination of this family, however, several mysteries surrounding Henry Stafford‘s children become glaringly apparent.
None of the Children Married
The first, and most obvious, of course is that not even one of the eight children married or had any offspring. The children were all healthy and well-educated. Bill Stafford, the eldest son, was a successful lawyer. Catherine Teresa, Eugenie and Loretto all graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, and established themselves in the nursing profession. Emmett Stafford was also successful in his career. He was the Secretary – Treasurer to the Almonte Knitting Company and was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Rosamond Memorial Hospital.
Hanover Stafford worked in his brother Bill’s law firm where he managed the insurance division as well as the office administration. Eight well-liked, successful people, none of whom chose to marry. This is indeed unusual.
They All Returned to Almonte to Die
Another mystery surrounding these children is that they all returned to Almonte to die, and several died in the family home.
At some point in their lives each of the eight children left Almonte and established their lives in a new location. Emmett Stafford left Almonte and lived for many years in North Bay, ON, where he worked on the Northern Ontario Railway before returning to Almonte. Catherine Teresa, Eugenie, and Loretto, who spent a large portion of their lives in Brooklyn, also returned to Almonte. Hanover left Almonte in his youth and lived and worked in North Bay like his brother Emmett, and later returned to Almonte. Mary Frances Stafford was educated in the Loretto Abbey in Toronto, then later in Ottawa, and then returned to Almonte where she lived for most of her life. Bill Stafford studied law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, and practiced law for several years in Peterborough and then, like all of his siblings, returned to live in Almonte. It seems unusual that again, all eight children, all of whom had been exposed to a variety of people and places would all choose to return to Almonte. Almonte was and still is a picturesque village rich with good neighbors and kind-hearted folks; however, is it not strange that after having lived in cosmopolitan cities like New York or Toronto that not even one of the children would have preferred city life?
They Died in the House
Three of the children — Loretto, Mary Frances, and Eugenie — all died in the family home at 154 Elgin Street. Although this might not have seemed unusual for the early settlers a generation previous to this, it was not that common in the middle half of the twentieth century. Their stately red-brick home, where three of the children had drawn their last breath, was purchased by the Kerry family following the death of the last child, Catherine Teresa, and is now a Funeral Home.
Three Deaths in One Year
Also strange is the fact that three of the children died in 1950. Emmett died in April of 1950, then another sister died in June, followed by their sister Loretto in September. It seems unusual that three of the eight children would all die in the same year of unrelated causes. Were the siblings so emotionally attached that they could not bear the loss of each other? Was this the reason that none of them married? Was the thought of separation too much for them?
Teresa Takes the Answers to Her Grave
Our speculations about the children of Henry Stafford and Mary (Hanover) Stafford remain a mystery, as the last surviving child Catherine Teresa took the answers to her grave in 1959 when she finally joined her siblings in St. Mary’s cemetery in Almonte.
Sadly, because Henry Stafford‘s children had no offspring, the death of Catherine Teresa Stafford on December 31, 1959, at St. Vincent Hospital in Ottawa, marked the end of the Stafford-Hanover line.