Monday, May 9, 2011

Niles Martin Clark

Niles Martin Clark (1866-1911) was my great grandfather.  He was the second youngest of 12 children born to Leonard Sherman Clark and Esther Phelps Martin of East Haddam Connecticut.

At age 19, he very very briefly married a Bertha Watrous, and just after his 21st birthday he married Lizzie Matilda Tooker of Lyme.  He lived in Suffield and Granby, and worked as a blacksmith all his life.

A brief history of Niles & Lizzie's 9 children:

EMMA LEORA CLARK-STOLL


-Emma Leora Clark (1889 – 1947) married Anthony Stoll, born to British immigrants.  They had six children and settled in the Kingston NY area.

LEONARD (BUSHEL) BARTLEY, CLAUDIA CLARK-SMITH-BELL, LEN BELL (CLAUDIA'S HUSBAND), UNKNOWN NEIGHBOR, ANNE (FRANK BARTLEY'S GIRLFRIEND),
FRANK BARTLEY (FATHER TO BUSHEL, AND FORMERLY MARRIED TO CLAUDIA'S DAUGHTER ISABEL),
ANNE'S DAUGHTER (SEATED)
THANKSGIVING 1942
NEWBURGH, NEW YORK
 
-Claudia Cressie Clark (1892 – 1961) married Charles B. Smith, and lived in Beekman, New York, and later Union Vale.  In 1927 she moved to Newburgh, NY (later to Fishkill).  She had four children:  Kenneth, Isabel, Harold (who also went by "Jim") and Ruth.  "Claude" divorced Charles around 1924, yet listed herself as a widow on the subsequent census and address directories (although Charles wasn't dead...she likely wished him so).  Charles was living a few doors down from Claude's brother Leonard, on Lander Street in Newburgh while Claude was claiming to be a widow.  Claude remarried to a well driller named Leonard "Len" Bell a few years later, and remained in Newburgh, on Gardnertown Road, then later on Fostertown Road.  After the divorce, it appears that the kids stayed closer to Charles.  Claude and Len moved to Montgomery NY in 1949, and Claude died a widow in 1961. 

-Niles Carrol Clark (1894 – 1918) (who my uncle Sonny Jim was named after), grew up in a Home for Boys in Hartford, CT, settled in Hartford, but then was drafted to serve in WWI, only to die of pneumonia in France after the war was over.  It took THREE YEARS for Lizzie to get his body shipped back to the USA, and he is now buried next to his mother in Forest City Cemetery, South Portland, Maine.

-Clifford Nordell Clark (1896 – 1963) was put in the Meriden, CT Home for Boys.  He ended up serving as in WWI, and after the war lived in Newburgh near his brother Leonard during the 40s.  He traveled the world as a seaman, lived in Mississippi for a while, and ultimately settled in Galveston, Texas just two years prior to his death, when he was working as a messman for a shipping company.  From what I hear he was quite shellshocked from the War, and according to those who knew him, he would cower on the ground into a combat crawl anytime a loud noise occurred.  His brother Leonard spoke of him as crazy, and that he would always be saying he was just coming from Cleveland, or just about to go to Cleveland, no matter where he was.  Clifford's obituary in the Galveston paper stated that his brother Leonard lived in Corpus Christi, TX, yet Leonard had retired 3 years prior to that to Phoenix, AZ.  Clifford had only one child, Johnny Clark, who was living in Scarborough, Maine at the time of Clifford's death in 1963.  Clifford was drafted into the "Old Man's Draft" of WWII in 1942, at which time he was staying at the Stamford "Sunset Home Town Farm", a poor farm.  But, I've been unable so far to locate any records of his afterwards.  It's also strange that I cannot find any other records of he or Johnny.  One interesting tidbit I found regarding Clifford, on a 1955 ship register from Southampton England to NYC, Clifford had only checked one bag, while the rest of the passengers had checked between 3 and 7 bags.  Clifford died of a heart attack, but had suffered from diabetes for a long time, and it was later told to me by a distant cousin that Clifford had had a leg amputated due to his illness.

JOHNNY CLARK
SAILOR
SON TO CLIFFORD CLARK
My hope is that someone researching the Clarks might know the whereabouts of Johnny, and if he's still alive.

LEONARD SHERMAN "RED" CLARK
ABT 1946


-Leonard Sherman Clark (1899 – 1974) was named after his grandfather Leonard Sherman Clark, yet was nicknamed "Red", due to his red hair.  In his later years, he simply went by "LS Clark".  Red was raised partly in the Temporary Home for Boys in Haddam, CT.  He had five children, lived most of his adulthood in Texas, and retired in Phoenix as an industrial engineer.  He was one of the few Clarks of his time to have ever gone to college, and one of the few who didn't work in blue collar trades.  His very interesting story can be read here.

-Ethel Dorothea Clark (1903 – 1981) lived in Contra Costa, California with her husband Cyril Adams.  No descendants.

FRANK CLARKE

-Herbert Francis Clarke (1905 – 1982) was my grandfather, and was nicknamed "Frank".  He lived most of his life in Scarborough, Maine and worked as a stonemason.  His youth was spent at Opportunity Farm in New Gloucester, Maine.  Like his grandfather, he also had 12 children, and many descendants.

-Geraldine Frances Clark (1908 – 1987) grew up in Granby, CT and Scarborough, ME.  She married Fred Meserve and moved to Rochester, NY, and later married William C. Smith.  At some point between 1965 and 1979, she and William moved to Bailey, Mississippi to be closer to her nephew Bill's family and her niece Florence's family, where they lived in side by side houses on Grissom Road.  No descendants.

GERALDINE CLARK SMITH
WITH HER HUSBAND BILL SMITH
AND HER NEPHEW BILL CLARKE


AUNT GERALDINE'S TRAILER
GRISSOM ROAD
BAILEY, MISSISSIPPI


JAMES RAYMOND CLARKE

-James Raymond Clarke (1910 – 1979) also spent some of his youth in Opportuniy Farm, like his brother Frank.  He moved to western NY and was married with seven children.


Niles had been battling tuberculosis, whether he knew it or not, and died of it at age 45 in the hot summer of 1911 in a barn in North Lyme, with a contributing factor of heat exhaustion.  When he died, Lizzie dispensed of her sons to various orphanages, took the family fortune and remarried three more times.



SITE OF DEATH OF NILES MARTIN CLARK (JULY 1911)

While the above story of Niles' death rings true when reading available records, there was another, much more entertaining story passed down regarding Niles.

According to one account, Niles was a very powerful man; and that he could hold the hind leg of a mule in his hand while someone coaxed the mule to kick and, he was that strong, that he could hold the mule's leg and it could not kick him. At the same time, he was a man who liked to drink and gamble a lot. One night, drunk, someone bet him that he couldn't do it but, being drunk and a bettor, Niles accepted the bet. The mule kicked, his hand slipped, he got kicked in the chest and died under a big tree in the backyard days later of a stove-in chest.
Now given that Niles' death certificate has him dying of tuberculosis, and given that his father, Leonard Sherman Clark was a man with the height of 5' 5 1/2", I'm having trouble believing this entertaining version of old Niles.  Besides, given that Niles' wife, Lizzie, was a controlling and very tough woman, it would stand to reason that she would only marry gentle and easy going, hard working men, which most of the Clark men were.  It's difficult to imagine one of the old Clarks being a 'powerful man' of physique and temperament.

Pedigree Chart for Niles can be found below.  He is of 100% English colonial descent, from all research done to date.


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