A Proud Heritage - A Precious Legacy - A History of Service
The Staples Free School Trust is a precious piece of Easton history linked to the founding of free public education in the United States.
Samuel Staples was a dedicated member of the North Fairfield (Easton) parish in the 1700's at a time when schools were maintained by the churches. According to his gravestone in Easton, he was "...a friend to the liberties of his Country, Both Civil and Sacred...".
Through his bequest, the Staples Free School opened in Easton in 1795 for the purpose of providing education to deserving young people regardless of their ability to pay for it. Staples Free School was the second free private academy opened in the United States, preceded only by Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
In 1895, the Staples Free School closed, but the public school classes continued there until the construction of the old Staples Elementary School in 1930. In 1937, the original free school building was purchased for use by the present Congregational Church of Easton. Meanwhile, during the 1930's, the Superior Court of Connecticut was petitioned to allow the remaining funds from the Staples Free School to become a college scholarship fund - the Staples Free School Trust - for deserving Easton students.
Accordingly, since 1938 annual college scholarships have been granted to Easton young people as the Trust permits. Half of each scholarship is a grant which does not have to be repaid. The other half is an interest-free loan, payable seven years after its granting. Repayment of the loan portion, along with occasional gifts and bequests, help perpetuate the fund for use by future students.
Thus, the Staples Free School idea, created two centuries ago by Samuel Staples, is being perpetuated by Easton citizens of today, and Easton's young people continue to benefit from Samuel Staples' vision of making education available to all.