The James T. Staples riverboat first set sail in 1908, owned by Captain Norman Staples, the designer of the boat named after his father, James T. Staples. Captain Staples had difficulties owning the boat, however, as a steamboat company wanted to have a monopoly over all Alabaman boats on the river. In December, 1912, creditors took control of the ship, and it was turned over to the captain’s competition.
Captain Norman Staples committed suicide via shotgun to the chest on January 2nd, 1913 in result of the events with his boat. He was buried three days later on January 5th.
The crew members of the steamboat reported seeing the shadowy figure of Staples walking in the ship’s hold. The men were so scared that they all quit, and they were replaced by a new crew with no information on the ghost. All of the rats onboard the boat all swam to shore one day for no apparent reason. The captain has also been seen near the boilers, which were located beneath the decks.
On January 13th, 1913, the ship was docked at Powe’s Landing to take in some wood. When it became the exact hour of Staples’ suicide, one of the boilers blew up, scalding the new captain and twenty-five others to death. A few of the crew members and passengers made it out alive, but severely injured.
The remains of the riverboat floated down the river, and eventually sunk near the shore of Bladon Springs Cemetery, where Captain Norman Staples was buried. Many believe he blew up the ship in anger…beyond the grave.