Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chapter 17 - The Clarke Family

This chapter is dedicated to our daughter-in-law, Andrea, and it is the story of one branch of her family’s ancestral tree. We have tried wherever possible in the story to point out the instances where our family trees, hers and ours, have touched branches in the course of history. As it turns out our two families share a lot in common with many other American families who claim ancestors who bravely immigrated to ”The New World” in the first half of the 17th century.
It was a warm and sunny Sunday morning in the early spring of the year 1620 and seven year old Joseph Clarke was enjoying his ride in the back of his family’s wagon traveling down the narrow dirt country road. He was dressed in his best and only Sunday church clothes and Joseph knew that his mother would complain once she saw how dusty he had gotten his pants from dangling his legs off the back of the wagon. But he did not care. It was too nice a day. Riding with Joseph were his parents, Thomas and Mary, and his two older brothers, 16 year old Thomas, who was holding the reins of the steer pulling the wagon, and his 13-year old brother, Rowland. His 10-year old sister, Rebecca, sat quietly next to her mother. Joseph knew that once they reached their destination, the small farming village of Banham and St. Mary the Virgin Church, he would have to spend the next two boring hours inside the church. The church was almost always cold and damp and the seats were hard and he knew he would be scolded if he did not sit still. He had long ago given up listening to the old priest who spoke of things he could not understand. Even though he knew he would be bored, he loved Sundays for after the church service his family would visit with the other local families and their children in the churchyard before they returned to their small farm house in the country. He was particularly looking forward to this afternoon for many of his aunts, uncles, and cousins had been invited over for a large family meal. Joseph had spent Sundays in this way for as long as he could remember and he had long ago stopped complaining about having to go to the church. Joseph’s father reminded his young son when he complained that when he was Joseph’s age, his parents had taken him to this same church and he knew how Joseph felt about having to sit still for two hours. Joseph’s father also reminded him that Joseph’s grandparents, his great grandparents, and even his great, great grandparents had attended this same church in Banham and when they died they were buried in the graveyard next to the church. Joseph knew this to be true for he had seen their gravestones. It was hard for him to imagine that his great, great grandfather, John Clarke, had died two hundred years earlier. Although Joseph did not know this, St. Mary the Virgin Church had been constructed in the early part of the fourteenth century, almost three hundred years before Joseph was born. St. Mary the Virgin Church still exists in Banham to this day as shown in the above photograph. It is not known whether any of the old Clarke gravestones have survived to the present time.

There was another reason that Joseph enjoyed his Sundays. For the six days before Sunday, Joseph, even though he was only seven, had to work on the family farm with his father and two older brothers, and the work was hard and the days were long and tiring. While the family farm had orchards of fruit trees that had to be picked and taken to market each spring, most of their summer work consisted of planting, cultivating, and finally cutting, baling, and hauling to the mills, their large crop of hemp, the sale of which was the main source of their family’s income. They also had the farm animals and vegetable gardens that had to be cared for. The growing and particularly the cutting of the hemp was back breaking work and it was a great deal more difficult to produce hemp than wheat, the other main crop in the area. Wheat was grown by some of their neighbors, but hemp production was far more profitable as it was in great demand for its use in making the rope and sails used in England’s ever growing maritime fleet, and in the manufacture of durable textiles used in the making of working clothes and sacking, as well as paper and oil. It was said that hemp was so important that in the 16th century King Henry VIII had passed an Act of Parliament which fined farmers who failed to grow the crop. It is doubtful that Joseph and his father and brothers could have speculated that some of their descendents in the 21st century would consider smoking the hemp “weed” for medicinal purposes. In fact, in most of the United States today it is illegal to grow hemp, or as it is known by its more common name, marijuana.

For the next ten years Joseph lived and worked with his family on the farm and he rarely traveled more than a few miles from his home and from the land that had been in his family for many generations. Banham was a village and civil parish located in the English County of Norfolk situated in the low-lying area on the east coast of southern England known as East Anglia, about hundred miles north of the City of London. The two counties marked in red on the adjacent map of England are Norfolk on the north and Suffolk on the south. Norfolk was first settled by English tribes in pre-Roman times and despite occupation by the Romans in the first century and later by Viking invaders in the ninth century, by the time of the Norman invasion in 1066, the area had become one of the most densely populated lands in the British Isles. By the early 16th century, the City of Norwick, located about twenty miles east of the Village of Banham, had become the second largest city in England following London and the area had highly developed arable agriculture and woolen industries. While the origins of the Clarke family are not known, it is likely that their family ancestors had been in the area since before the Norman Conquest and maybe even earlier than the Roman occupation. It is believed that the derivation of the name Clarke came from the work “Clerk” or “Clericus” in Latin and was first used to describe a person’s occupation or employment probably as a scribe in the church. The first use of the word Clericus in England next to a person’s given name is found in the Doomsday book, the Norman census book that was written following the Norman invasion. It is doubtful that young Joseph Clarke in 1620 knew anything of the origins of his family, his family name, or this history of his country. In all probability, Joseph assumed he would be a farmer in the Banham area for the rest of his life like his father and his ancestors before him. All of that was about to change however, when Joseph met Ralph Wheelock in the year 1630.

Ralph Wheelock came from a completely different background than Joseph Clarke. He was born into a wealthy family; his father was the Earl of Shropshire with a large estate in the English midlands bordering Wales and his family could trace their Norman ancestry back to the tenth century. Joseph’s family were middle class people of Anglo-Saxon heritage and for generations their family had been farmers and tradesmen. Ralph Wheelock was educated and had earned a degree from Cambridge University. Joseph could sign his name but probably he could not read or write at least not to any great extent. Ralph Wheelock was ordained a priest in the Norfolk Diocese on May 6, 1630 only eleven days before he married Joseph’s 20-year old sister, Rebecca. Ralph was thirty at his marriage and Joseph was only seventeen. During the years of the 1620s while Ralph was attending Cambridge, the school was the center of the dissenting new religious movement that later gave rise to Puritanism. It is said that Ralph was disinherited by his father when he became a non-conforming clergyman, dissenting from the Church of England and supporting the unpopular belief of Puritanism. It is not surprising that Ralph chose to serve in a small church in the Village of Eccles, located a few miles to the west of Banham in Norfolk County. The East Anglia area of England which encompasses a six county area including Norfolk County, is said to be the birthplace of Puritanism and it is estimated that 60% of the Puritans who immigrated to America between 1630 and 1642 were from this area of England.

Ralph Wheelock had a strong influence on the Clarke family and Joseph was in awe of his new brother-in-law who was educated, worldly, a leader, and outspoken in his enthusiasm for his religious beliefs. Over the next few years following Ralph’s marriage to Rebecca Clarke, Ralph told the Clarke family stories about the new colony that was being settled in Massachusetts in America where Puritans could worship freely without fear of persecution from the hierarchy of the Church of England and the British Crown. He told the Clarkes that the cost of the passage to America was affordable, that the land in America was free, that families and any skilled craftsmen or tradesmen would not only be welcomed in the new colony but they would prosper. Ralph’s enthusiasm was so infectious that he convinced Joseph and all of his brothers and sisters with the exception of Thomas Clarke, Joseph’s oldest brother, who stood to inherit his father’s land, to make the long journey to the New World that was now being called New England.

The Clarke family consisting of two brothers and three sisters including Rebecca Wheelock, her husband Ralph and their three children departed for America in early spring of 1637. The trip from Banham to London left the family exhausted. While it was only 100 miles by coach, the roads in the spring were muddy and filled with ruts which made the 30 hour bumpy ride very uncomfortable. They knew that once they arrived in London they had only a few days to prepare for the ocean voyage and they would need to hurry to purchase supplies for their voyage and for their new life in America. Everything that they would need had to be purchased from nails, axes, and hatchets to pots and pans and blankets. They also knew that very little would be furnished on board the ship other than minimal food and water and they needed to gather what extras supplies they might need for the voyage. The name and size of the ship that carried the Clarkes and the Wheelocks across the Atlantic has been lost in history but the ship would have been small and without any comforts. It probably was no more than 75’ in length and 25’ in width and built originally as a merchant cargo ship. Most of the ship’s lower decks would be loaded with trade goods to sell to the new colonists as the sale of the cargo would be the primary source of income for the ship’s owners. The return voyage also would be filled with goods to resell back in England which may have included items such as lumber from the northeast colonies, tobacco from Virginia, and sugar from the West Indies. The ship may have carried as many as 60 to 80 passengers with each passenger responsible for a payment of around 5 English pounds sterling, which equates to a cost today of around $600 in US dollars. This was no cruise ship however, as there were few rooms for privacy and no bathrooms. No one bathed and fresh air was at a premium. Only on the few days when weather permitted were passengers allowed on the small deck. The living quarters below were dark, damp, and often stifling. The first ships that crossed the Atlantic from England to reach what would later be called the Jamestown Colony in Virginia, sailed southward out of England to the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Here they gathered fresh supplies for the Atlantic crossing. The prevailing winds at this point blew from the east to the west which made the voyage over to the West Indies rather smooth as the winds were generally blowing into the sails from the stern of the ship. Once the West Indies were reached the ship would be resupplied for the trip northward. The entire voyage took up to four months. Ship-owners however, soon concluded that it was more cost effective to cross the north Atlantic rather than to travel the long southern route. This change cut their travel time down to two months or less with favorable winds. Unfortunately, the voyage for the passengers, while shorter, was far more uncomfortable as the prevailing winds in the north Atlantic blew from west to east. This meant that the ship had to head almost directly into the wind, constantly “tacking” back and forth, in order to maintain their westerly direction. For the most part the ship sailed into the waves which usually resulted in very rough sailing.

If Joseph Clarke thought that the ride from Banham to London was “uncomfortable” he was not at all prepared for the trip across the Atlantic. Within days, perhaps hours, of leaving the coast of England he was sick, seasick, and he was not alone. Seasickness was an experience that none of the passengers who were mostly tradesmen and farmers, had ever experienced and for many, the weeks at sea meant being seasick for weeks on end. To make matters worse, the voyage took longer than expected as the winds were strong and it was impossible to hold the westerly direction. Rather than taking eight weeks to cross, the voyage took twelve weeks. Their food and water supplies ran low; isolated cases of scurvy and dysentery broke out, and many passengers came down with pneumonia as a result of their close, cramped quarters and lack of fresh air. The closeness, the sickness and the constant pounding of the ship in the waves made sleeping difficult to impossible for many. This in turn wreaked havoc with the emotions of the passengers. When land was finally sighted, Joseph, perhaps for the first time in his life without hesitation dropped to his knees, as did the other passengers, to thank the Lord that their passage was almost over.

The ship dropped anchor in the Boston Harbor in late June of 1637. While Boston had been settled only seven years earlier it was already a thriving community of homes, warehouses, shops, taverns, and churches and was it not for the fact that almost all structures were constructed of wood which was readily available in the area, Boston could have been any English town duplicated in America. As the main disembarkation port for the Massachusetts Bay Colony over 10,000 new settlers had passed through the community since the first wave of immigration began in 1630 with the first arrival of Winthrop’s fleet of 11 ships and almost 1,000 settlers.

Joseph and his family were met at the port by friends whom they had known back in England. After gathering their possessions they traveled by dugout canoe up the Charles River to Watertown, a farming community located about six miles to the southwest of Boston where they assumed temporary lodging until a permanent home could be built or located. Unfortunately, while Watertown which was first settled in 1630 and was a thriving community like Boston, most of the good farm land had already been settled and what was available was being sold at prices that the family could not afford. In July of 1637, the Wheelocks and Joseph Clarke participated in a plan to create a new settlement further up the Charles River and in early 1638 the Wheelocks and the Clarkes as well as several hundred other new settlers relocated to the new settlement that was to be called Dedham.

The “Covenant of Dedham” is an interesting historical document that judged by the standards and laws of today would probably be found to be unconstitutional. In 1637, if you wanted your family to be part of the new settlement of Dedham, the male head of each family was required to sign the Covenant of Dedham. The document in effect set out the religious and political rules of the community but what makes it an interesting document is that it required all of the Dedham citizens to accept only the Puritan religion and be subjected to a public inquisition to determine their suitability to join the community. It reads in part “we shall by all means labor to keep off from us all such as are contrary minded, and receive only such unto us as may be probably of one heart with us . .” Considering that the Puritans left England to find religious freedom, the Covenant seems a strange contradiction. Nevertheless, 125 settlers signed the document including Ralph Wheelock, who was the tenth signer, and Joseph Clarke, who was the eighty-first signer.

In September of 1637, Joseph was finally granted about eight acres of free land in Dedham upon which he cleared trees, built a home, and plowed his fields and planted crops. All the skills he had learned working for his family in England were again put to use. In 1640, Joseph fell in love with Alice Pepper, a young girl from London who had immigrated to America with her brother in 1634 following the early death of her parents. Joseph, age 27, and Alice, age 17, were married in late 1640 and they moved into their new home that Joseph had recently constructed. Their first child, Joseph, was born in Dedham on July 27, 1642. Many of the early Dedham public records have been lost in history and in those that have been found, Joseph Clark’s name is seldom mentioned. It is assumed that he was a quiet man, probably very religious, but he kept to himself and rarely it seems, was involved in public affairs. One record that has survived lists the value of the Clarke’s house in Dedham in 1648 as 5 pounds, 4 shillings. This was a modest sum and clearly reflects the fact that he was not a wealthy landowner. In contrast, Joseph’s brother-in-law, Ralph Wheelock, was very active in the community and he is credited with helping to found the first taxpayer-funded public school in America and was its first teacher. Joseph and Alice’s second child, Benjamin, was born in Dedham on December 9, 1644 (This is our daughter-in-law’s 9th great grandfather). In total, Joseph and Alice were to have nine children; their last child was born in the year 1660.

By the year 1649, the population of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had grown to over 25,000 and Dedham, once a small community created a little over a decade earlier had now becoming quite populous. By 1647, it had become obvious to some that the original Dedham Covenant was becoming impossible to enforce especially with respect to the requirement that all citizens were to be of one faith. Furthermore, in the beginning it was expected that all [adult male] citizens attend the town meetings and participate in the town governance, however as the town grew especially geographically, this expectation became unrealistic and more and more the control of the town feel into the hands of a few large landowners. In 1649, a few of the Dedham citizens upset with what they were seeing happening to their village appointed Ralph Wheelock leader of a group to form and govern a new village apart from Dedham that was to become the Town of Medfield. Medfield was located about twelve miles southwest of Dedham also on the Charles River. In May of 1651, Ralph Wheelock and his family, Joseph Clarke and his family, and about twelve other families moved their homes to this new settlement. Joseph Clarke and his wife Alice were to spend the remainder of their lives in this new settlement.

Joseph was 38 years-old when he relocated for the final time to his new land in Medfield. While not old by the standards of today, it was still rather late in life for a pioneer in the 1600s to have to start all over again to clear land and build a new home. Besides planting crops (grain primarily), he was also expected to help his neighbors build the new church and the community center and help clear the land for the roads and public square in the new village. Their family in May of 1651 now consisted of four boys, ages 4 through 9, and two girls ages 3 months and 2 years old. The Clarke homestead was equal in size and appearance to the home pictured on the left. The house in the photograph is today called “The Peak House”, due to its steep roof, and it was built around 1680 by Benjamin Clarke, the son of Joseph Clarke. It is said to be an exact reproduction of the original Joseph Clarke house built in 1651. Joseph Clarke’s original home was burned by Indians in 1676 as was his son’s home located nearby . The Peak House is the oldest house in Medfield and is listed on the “National Register of Historic Places”. It is understandably a popular tourist attraction. Today Medfield has a population of around 13,000 and is one of the wealthiest towns in Massachusetts. There is a school in Medfield for 2nd and 3rd graders named Wheelock after Joseph’s brother-in-law whom he had so admired and followed.

Joseph remained a quiet unassuming man for the rest of his life. He served as a “selectman” (like a councilman) in the year 1660. In 1678, he donated “two bushielles Endian Corn” towards the building of the “new collidg at Cambridge [Harvard]”, and he and his wife remained steadfast members of the Old Parish Church in Medfield until his death in 1684 at the age of 71. Alice outlived her husband by 26 years finally passing away in 1710. Life had been hard for Joseph and his wife but their accomplishments are a reflection of the American spirit that helped build our country to the greatness that it is today. Historical note: The donation of grain in lieu of money to support schools was common in Colonial America particularly as hard English currency was in short supply. Joseph’s donation to Harvard was probably made as a result of a request by his brother-in-law, Ralph Wheelock, who was noted as a fund-raiser for Harvard in its early years. It is likely that Ralph Wheelock was personally acquainted with Charles Chauncey, my 9th great grandfather and the 2nd President of Harvard from 1654 until his death in 1671. See Chapter 3 if you wish to read more about Charles Chauncey.

THE SECOND GENERATION: Benjamin Clarke (1644-1724)

Twelve-year old Benjamin turned his head just enough to sneak a look at Dorcas Morse, the pretty, curly-haired, blue eyed girl that was sitting in the front pew next to her mother and her grandmother. He did not want anyone knowing he liked her, particularly Dorcas. Benjamin knew Dorcas from his Uncle Ralph’s school. He knew that she was a year younger than he; he knew that she was popular in school, she was bright and witty, and he knew that her father, who had been a good friend of his father’s, had died when Dorcas was only eight. What Benjamin did not know was that Dorcas’ grandfather, Samuel, her grandmother, Elizabeth (Jasper), and her father, Joseph, had emigrated from England on the ship “Increase” out of London in 1635. He also did not know that Samuel Morse was the 3rd signer of the Covenant of Dedham and her father Joseph was the 28th signer. Her grandfather Samuel, who had died in 1654, only two years earlier, was one of the leading citizens and original settlers of Dedham and later of Medfield where he had relocated in 1651 along with the Clarkes, Wheelocks, and others. Samuel Morse was born in Boxted in Essex County, England on June 12, 1576 and is the 11th great grandfather of our daughter-in-law. He and his family were devoted Puritans and had left England “due to the persecutions of Bishop Lund” and the other “Royalists.”

What Benjamin Clarke did not know in 1656 while he silently admired eleven year old Dorcas Morse in the church near their home in Medfield was that nine years later on November 19, 1665 they would be married in this same church. Their first child, Hannah Clarke, the namesake of Dorcas’s mother, Hannah [Phillips] Morse, was born on October 22, 1666. In 1668, Benjamin was granted land on Main Street in Medfield, across the street from the intersection of Pound Street and Main and here he built their home and his business establishment. On the modern map of Medfield to the left, the location of Joseph and Dorcas’ home can be found at Main and Pound Streets. The Joseph Clarke home can be located on the west side of South Street at the intersection of Oak Street. The original location of the “Peak House” was at Main and Pound although it has since been relocated. In total, Joseph Clarke owned 161 acres of land in Medfield.

Benjamin was by trade a wheelwright. He was also a prominent man in town affairs serving for a period of seventeen years on the Board of Selectmen in Medfield and for a two year period as a deputy to the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

I could not find any documentation to confirm that Benjamin Clarke was a member of the local militia that defended his town of Medfield during the King Philip’s War. Participation in the colonial militia was essentially compulsory for males between the ages of 18 to 50 and the militia had been playing an essential role in the defense of in the Colony since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620. Benjamin was in his early 30s at the time of the King Philip’s War and since Medfield was a battle site during the war, it would therefore be unrealistic to assume that he did not participate. Fortunately, since the time of the landing of the Pilgrims the relationship between the Native Americans and the Colonists had been relatively peaceful. In 1637, there was a short conflict between the combatants called the Pequot War; however it consisted mostly of a few Indian raids followed up with a one-sided attack on an Indian village by the Puritan forces that resulted in the deaths of over 600 Indian men, women, and children.

The King Philip’s War on the other hand was a far larger conflict which resulted in almost the complete annihilation of one tribe of Indians and the death of hundreds of colonists. One historian estimated that 7 out of 8 Indian combatants were killed and 30 out of 65 colonial combatants were killed. If true, this would make the King Philip’s War (named after the Indian leader depicted to the left) proportionately the most costly American war ever fought. The conflict lasted less than two years between 1675 and 1576. For the town of Medfield the war was a terrible loss especially on the day of February 22, 1675. The 200 militia soldiers defending the town did not deter an Indian attack and it did not prevent the Indians from burning close to fifty houses and killing more than a dozen inhabitants. The Joseph Clarke house was burned; the Benjamin Clarke house was burned; the Joseph Morse house (Dorcas’ parents) was burned, and most of their neighbor’s homes were burned. Even more tragic, Benjamin’s brother Daniel was killed and his sister Sarah’s husband, John Bowers, was killed. Fortunately most of the women and children had been able to escape just before the attack. It is impossible to imagine the terror of the day or the feelings felt by the Clarkes when they viewed the burned out shell of their home and their town. But they survived and rebuilt and the photograph of the “Peak House” is proof that they were able to overcome their adversities.

Benjamin and Dorcas Clarke were to have a total of eleven children including our daughter-in law’s 8th great grandfather, Theophilus Clark, who was born on September 25, 1670. Benjamin Clark lived to the year 1724. At the age of 80 he died and he is buried in the town he helped defend against the wilderness. Dorcas survived her husband by one year and she also is buried in Medfield.

THE THIRD GENERATION: Theophilus Clark (1670-1737)

Theophilus was only five years old when the Indians attacked their village and he remembered that terrifying day for the rest of his life. The screams of the townsfolk as they ran for shelter, the sounds of the guns, the smell of smoke, the fear, and the sight of the burned-out shell of their home were memories he could not shake from his mind. Fortunately, the town recovered after the raid and families pulled together to rebuild their homes and their village. When Theophilus was twenty-one years old in 1701 he married Rachel Partridge. Her parents were both born in England and after they immigrated to America they had settled in Medfield to raise their family. Theophilus and Rachel had known each other since they were children. Their marriage lasted sixteen years and Rachel gave birth to twelve children before her early death in 1717 at the age of 48. They had built a home in the new community of Medway located a few miles west of Medfield. Here they owned and farmed on their 110 acres. Theophilus also operated near his home the “Bent Sawmill”. Twice he served as a town Selectman and in both the town records and on his gravestone he is referred to as a Lieutenant, no doubt his rank in the town militia. Shortly after Rachel’s death, Theophilus remarried in 1718 to Elizabeth Underwood. Her first husband had died leaving her a widow with four children. Elizabeth and Theophilus were to have four additional children including our daughter-in-law’s 7th great grandfather, Theophilus Clark (Jr.), who was born in 1722. Elizabeth was 47 when her last child was born. Around 1733, the Clarks moved to Ashford, Connecticut located about 50 miles southwest of Medway. It is hard to imagine why Theophilus at the age of sixty-six years old decided to resettle in a new area that only a few decades earlier had been wilderness. Whatever his motives, he unfortunately died in 1737 only four years after their move to Ashford. Elizabeth lived until she was 82 years old, dying on Christmas Day in the year 1757. She is buried alongside her husband in the “Old Ashford Cemetery”.

THE FOURTH GENERATION: Theophilus Clark (Jr.) 1724-Before 1756)

It might be appropriate to call Theophilus Clark (Jr.) the “Mystery Clark” for there is almost no historical information readily available about his life. We know that he was born on April 19, 1722 in Medway, Massachusetts, the second child of the marriage between Theophilus and Elizabeth Clark. At the age of 23 he married 18 year old Bethiah Billings in Ashford, Connecticut where they both lived. They had four children born between the years 1746 and 1752. Theophilus died sometime before his mother’s Will was written in June of 1756 (possibly he died as early as 1754) for in her will she refers to “my son Theophilus Clark deceased. .” and to his four sons, Benjamin, William, Samuel, and Theophilus (III). There are no documents that we could find that describe the cause of his death. He was only in his early 30s when he died. It is possible that he was a casualty in the French and Indian War which had begun in 1754. We know that Theophilus had a cousin also from Medway, who was killed in the war in 1760, therefore it is not such a reach to suggest that Theophilus may have fallen to the same fate in the same cause. After Theophilus’ death, Bethiah remarried at least twice more, outliving both her second and third husbands. When and where Bethiah died could not be determined.

THE FIFTH GENERATION: Benjamin Clark (1750-1834)

Benjamin did not remember his father; his father had died when he was only five years old. When Benjamin was twelve years old his mother remarried a Mr. Walden but Mr. Walden died suddenly after less than four years of marriage. His mother again remarried less than a year following her second husband’s death and this time she moved with her new husband to Norwick, Connecticut leaving behind Benjamin and his brothers in Ashford. Benjamin, then seventeen, went to work and live at his uncle Theophilus’ tavern on Ashford Green in the village of Ashford. Benjamin Clark met his future wife “Nabbe” from the nearby community of Tolland, shortly before his nineteenth birthday. When they married in early 1769 Nabbe was only sixteen and Benjamin had just turned nineteen. [“Nabbe” and Benjamin are our daughter-in-law’s 6th great grandparents. Unfortunately, we know little about the background of Nabbe. It is believed that her proper name was Abigail but her surname is not known. A number of sources give her name as Abigail Hunt which would be very exciting because Abigail Hunt’s great-great grandfather, Thomas Loring, was the sister of Welthean Loring who is our son’s 11th great grandmother. This, if it were true, would mean that our son and his wife, our daughter-in-law, share common ancestors, the parents of Thomas and Welthean Loring. It is also exciting because Abigail Hunt is a descendant of a Mayflower passenger. As is often the case, information found on Ancestry.com is often bogus and after some research I believe that it is unlikely that it was Abigail Hunt who married Benjamin Clark. For one thing she was born and died in a town in Massachusetts that is not located anywhere near where Benjamin lived. Furthermore, the date of her death does not match the known date of Nabbe’s death. New note added December, 2008: Based on reasearch provided by Paula Hart, a distant cousin of my daughter-in-law's and a Clark descendant, she determined that Abigail Hart actually married a cousin of Benjamin Clark's who also was named Benjamin Clark. Their fathers were brothers. This helps explain why some of the genealogists using Ancestry.com confused the names.

In Chapter 8 of our family’s history we write about two of our ancestor families, the Hammonds and the Tubbs. Both families relocated in the early 1770s from New London, Connecticut to the Wyoming Valley (along the Susquehanna River near the present day city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). The background for this move to the Wyoming Valley was described as follows: “In 1753, an association was formed in Connecticut, called the Susquehanna (Land) Company, the object of which was to plant a colony in the Wyoming Valley, a region claimed by Connecticut by virtue of an ancient but somewhat questionable Charter granted to it by the English Crown in the 1600s. . . In February 1769, the Susquehanna Company finally sent its first group of forty Connecticut settlers into the Wyoming Valley. They were followed in the spring of 1769 by another two hundred families . . . .” [More information about this new colony and its history in the Revolutionary War is described in Chapter 8]. The tempting offer of inexpensive and fertile farm land was enough to entice not only my ancestors, the Hammond and Tubbs families, to relocate but also Benjamin and his brother Samuel and their families, who in early 1770 made the long overland trip to this new community in the Wyoming Valley. Despite the fact that hundreds of Connecticut Yankees moved to this new community in northeastern Pennsylvania over the next four or five years, it is likely that the Clarks (our daughter-in-law’s ancestors) and the Hammonds and Tubbs (our son’s ancestors) were neighbors and well acquainted. In fact, in August of 1776 both Benjamin Clark and Samuel Tubbs enlisted together as privates in the Wyoming Company that was formed to join forces with the army of George Washington. Their Company marched to New Jersey and joined with Washington’s Continental Army on January 1, 1777. Nabbe was pregnant when Benjamin left with his regiment.

Benjamin and Nabbe Clark’s first son, John Theophilus Clark, was born on July 8, 1770 in their newly built two room log home constructed shortly after their arrival in the Wyoming Valley. In 1772, a second child, a daughter, was born to the couple and in 1774 the couple was blessed with a third child. On March 5, 1777, Nabbe gave birth to twin daughters, however the births of the twins did not go well, and her new babies died. The complications from the births were too much for Nabbe. Her husband was away at the war when she finally surrendered her life on March 12, 1777. She was just 24 years old. Benjamin was devastated when he learned a month later of his young wife’s death.

Benjamin Clark and the Connecticut Regiment from the Wyoming Valley played a very active role in the Revolutionary War. In 1777, they were engaged in actions at Milstone River and Bound Brook in New Jersey [home of another Revolutionary War patriot, our ancestor, Peter Harpending] and in battles at Brandywine and Germantown, before joining Washington’s army at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78. In the spring of 1778, some of their regiment having heard rumors of a threatened attack upon their community in the Wyoming Valley, returned home to assist in the protection of their homes. Benjamin however, elected to stay with the Continental Army and was not present at the Battle of Wyoming on July 3, 1778. [See Chapter 8 for more details]. In June of 1778, Benjamin’s regiment was engaged in the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey. Shortly after the battle his troops were ordered to return to Wyoming however they failed to arrive before the Indian attack and the massacre of so many of their friends. Benjamin was discharged from duty on July 5, 1778. In the summer of 1779, Benjamin joined Sullivan’s expedition against the western Indians which took him as far north as Seneca Lake in Central New York. Further military records indicate that Benjamin served in the army from March 1781 through June 1783. In 1818 at the age of sixty-nine years old, Benjamin Clark then residing in the Township of Ulster in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, applied for and was awarded a pension for his service in the Revolutionary War. In his application for the pension he noted that his discharge papers from the military were lost in February 1793 when “his home was consumed by fire together with all his effects . . “ [Chapter 9 describes Peter Harpending’s involvement in the Battle of Monmouth, Chapter 12 has a section describing the Sullivan Expedition, and Chapter 15 outlines many of our ancestors who fought alongside Benjamin Clark in the American War for Independence. If only we could go back in time to see how often the Clark family and our family crossed paths in the course of our country’s early history. It would be a fascinating adventure.]

Somehow, between the time he was discharged in July of 1778 and the time he re-enlisted in the summer of 1779, Benjamin Clarke managed to get remarried. His new wife was 28 year old Keziah Yarrington. Keziah had lost her first husband, Silas Gore, the previous year at the Battle of Wyoming. Together they had four children born between the years 1781 and 1787. In the late 1780s, the Clark family including Benjamin’s brother and his family, moved north up the Susquehanna River to settle a new community in Ulster in present day Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Joining them was Benjamin’s oldest son, John Theophilus Clark, and John’s future bride, Cynthia Campbell. Benjamin lived to the ripe old age of 87 and he is buried alongside his second wife in Ulster. Their gravesite in Ulster is located about 67 miles south of our cottage on Seneca.

THE SIXTH GENERATION: John Theophilus Clark (1770-1840)

John Theophilus Clark was only eight years old when the Indians and Tories attacked the Wyoming community in July of 1778 in what historians are now referring to as the “Wyoming Massacre.” Fortunately, John was with the other civilian inhabitants who fled into the forest when the militia surrendered the fort where they were living. John was in his late teens when his father and step mother moved to Bradford County further up the Susquehanna River in the late 1780s. Here he married Cynthia Campbell, of Scottish descent, in 1790 and together they parented twelve children between the years 1792 and 1824. He remained in this area as a prominent farmer for the remainder of his life. John died in 1840. Cynthia died in 1864. Cynthia Campbell’s grandfather, David Campbell, immigrated to America from Scotland in 1720. The family first settled near Boston. David’s son, James Campbell (our daughter-in-law’s 6th great grandfather), was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Massachusetts’ militia during the American Revolution. His name is included in the DAR Patriot listing which is a benefit to any of his female descendants who might be interested in joining the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1790, he moved his family including Cynthia to Burlington, Pennsylvania. They are considered to be one of the earliest pioneer families in Burlington.

THE SEVENTH GENERATION: James Clark (1794-1878)

James Clark, the second oldest child of John T. Clark and Cynthia Campbell, was born in Bradford County in 1794. He married Sarah Simmons in 1818 and together they had at least nine children born between the years 1818 and 1835. All of their children were born in Burlington, Pennsylvania. Sometime in late 1837, the family moved westward ultimately arriving in Fairmount Township, Grant County, Indiana in February of 1838. In a history of Fairmount it is written: “The Clark family came in two wagons, one drawn by horses and the other by an ox team.” What motivated James Clark to move his family 600 miles from Burlington, Pennsylvania to Grant County, Indiana can only be assumed. Perhaps it was to seek a better life for himself and his children; perhaps it was just in his genes to migrate. James’ 4th great grandfather, Joseph, had journeyed from England to America in 1637, his 2nd great grandfather, Theophilus, had moved from Massachusetts to Connecticut in 1733, His grandfather, Benjamin, had relocated his family from Connecticut to Pennsylvania in 1770, and now he, James Clark, had crossed 600 miles of wilderness to start over again in Indiana. The Clark family continued to display an incredible pioneer spirit.

THE EIGHTH GENERATION: Gabriella Clark (1820-1923)

Gabrielle Clark, the second child of James and Cynthia, married Jonathan Havens in April of 1842 in Grant County, Indiana. They were to have nine children, including their son, Clark Havens, our daughter-in-laws’ 2nd great grandfather. Gabrielle lived to be 103 years old. In her biography that was included in a history of Fairmount Township, it reported: “Although in her ninety-seventh year, her mind is as keen and active, apparently, as ever, and, barring unforeseen circumstances, she bids fair to live to see her one hundredth anniversary. Mrs. Havens has read the Bible through seventy times . . .” The photograph to the left of Gabrielle was obviously taken in her later years. Frankly, based on her photograph, Gabrielle looks like a woman who would not have failed to hit me over the head with her bible if my mind wandered. More of those Clark genes I suppose.

Clark Havens (1860-1888) married Nora Bright (1863- ?) and they lived out their lives in Grant County, Indiana;

Their daughter, Blanche Havens (1897-1983), married William Russell Hinshaw (1889-1958), and they eventually moved from Indiana to Toledo, Ohio, (Blanche as a young girl is pictured on the right)

Their daughter, Anna Marie Hinshaw (1921-1986), married Ralph Orville Kachenmeister (1912 - ?) in Toledo, Ohio, where they remained throughout their lives. (A young Ralph Kachenmeister is pictured on the left)


Their daughter, Janice Lea Kachenmeister (1943 to present), married Leonard Paul Mientkiewicz (1940 to present). They relocated to Miami, Florida after the birth of their two children.

Their daughter, Andrea Mientkiewicz (1971 to Present) married Geoffrey Stephen Baker (1971 to present) and they currently live in Miami, Florida.




5 comments:

kappclark said...

I am descended from Benjamin's brother Samuel, who died in Wysox

Please email me @ kappclark@gmail.com !!

Paula Hart said...

I am also descended from the Clarkes through Celestia Clark, James' sister. I would love to correspond with you or Andrea. Please, email me at pmrhart@comcast.net .

Bill Clark said...

VERY interesting ... I have found Benjamin's grave, but not Samuel's //there is an account in the Luzerne County Federalist of his accidental death, being shot by a deer hunter..

Please email me at kappclark@yahoo.com

Melanie Reeve said...

Thank you so much for this very detailed story of the Clark/Clarke family. I am descended from John T. and Cynthia (Campbell) Clark by way of their daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth married Abraham Reeve and they were two of the many Bradford County folk to make there way to Grant Count, Indiana. Their son, and my 4th great grandfather, Benjamin Clark Reeve, married Alma Simons, daughter of Anson Simons and Hannah Stratton.

Bill Clark said...

HI Melanie -

Very Interesting ... John T was son of Revolutionary soldier Benjamin. I am descended from Benjamin's brother Samuel. I have not located his grave, though I did locate Benjamin's, in Ulster. Samuel was shot to death accidentally by a neighbor in early 1800's, in Wysox. His son Ebenezer P. Clark is buried in Wyalusing.