Monday, June 14, 2010

Frank & Emily Clarke

Herbert Francis Clarke
Emily Iva Temm-Clarke
(abt 1980)

My mother's parents were Herbert Clarke & Emily Temm-Clarke. 

Herbert Francis Clarke, known to everyone as "Frank", was born in East Haddam, CT, one of ten chidren born to Niles Clark & Lizzie Tooker.  Upon the death of Niles, Lizzie released all five of her boys to orphanages.  Frank and his little brother James were raised on Opportunity Farm in New Gloucester, Maine.  When Frank was released from the orphanage in 1923, he worked on Black Point Road in Scarborough as a farmhand at the Fogg/Bornheimer farm (where, coincidentally, my brother's wife's ancestors lived).  The farm workers used to go down the road to Higgins Beach for lunch and a bit of fun from time to time.  In 1924, Frank met the love of his life on one such trip, when he stopped in to drop off the farm laundry at the Black Point Inn at Prout's Neck, Scarborough, where Emily Iva Temm had been working as a laundress since about 1918 (when it used to be called the Southgate Hotel).

They rented a house on Mussey Road in 1926, which they lived in for 10 years.  It was a very small one room house with a barn, which is still standing, surprisingly (see pictures below):

Emily gave birth to EIGHT of her twelve children in this room...two of whom didn't live a week.  Little John was born in 1930 without a rear end, and there were no doctors to fix it, so he died after nine days (and on his father's birthday).  Little Helen was stillborn in 1932.  John and Helen were buried in Dunstan Cemetery in Scarborough, by the 'old cherry bush' in what is known as the pauper's lot.  My mom wasn't pleased that the bush had been removed.  No plaques were created for them, so it's a guesstimate about where on this patch of pauper's lot F they are buried.


Below are some more pictures of Frank & Emily

They were married 57 years, and had 12 children, 38 grandchildren, 84 great grandchildren, at least 116 great great grandchildren, and at least 10 great great great grandchildren (and counting).  Their living descendants today (2020) number well over 260, mostly living in southern Maine, but many scattered all over New England, New York, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and California.

The 10 children whom survived to adulthood:











On St. Patrick's Day of 1936, Frank and Emily purchased the landlot on Payne Road (which prior to 1928 had been called 'Old Stage Road') from Mae Z. Tupper and built the Clarke Homestead and farm.  They had their four youngest children there.  It took until 1950 for the plumbing to be installed.  Until then, they had an outhouse in the back.

Frank worked as a stonemason for most of his life.  From what I hear of his work ethic, he didn't look for work until he ran out of money from the previous job.  Some of his work can still be seen today down at some of the houses on Prout's Neck.  He was a carefree sort, and also tended the Clarke garden and farm at their house on Payne Road.  He would take the horse and buggy, and later the car, filled with produce and meat, along with his own homemade root beer, and would drive down to Portland harbor, often with his friend Bill Gretz, and sell his wares to the boarding houses down on Fore Street.  He called these inns the "houses of ill repute", and he would also sell bottles of his homemade moonshine, also known as "white lightning", to the sailors down there.  He would tuck these bottles underneath the other produce for the journey, of course!

He also sold the home brew to the St. Regis Hotel on Middle Street in Portland, which was also known as the Windsor and the St. Julian at different times.


The hotel was situated on the same side of Middle Street as the Falmouth Hotel in Portland's Old Port.  Emily would help him store and bottle the moonshine, and it was kept as a family secret, mostly.  I recall being at their house as a boy, and being offered some moonshine by one of my cousins, who apparently drank gallons of the stuff.  Three of Frank's children worked in the liquor business, owning and managing several bars between them in Meridian Mississippi and Boston, Massachusetts.

Frank was quite the character.  He used to play a harmonica stuck inside half a glass of water, and would occasionally whip out his accordion and make up a silly song on it to entertain his kids and grandkids.  He also had a game he would engage the kids in, called "Fly Soup".  The kids were challenged to kill as many houseflies as possible, to supposedly put in a soup recipe.  Of course, nobody ate the flies, but it would be a way to get the kids to help rid the house of those pests!  He would sit on the stoop and tell us that the beans in the garden were ready to pick. He would say "Look at that I just saw another bean pop up!" Grammy Emily would say "Oh Frank, stop lying to those kids. Them beans ain't ready to come up yet for another few months".  Grampy would say "I'm not lying. I just saw that bean grow right now...and that's a fact!"  He would always end his tall tales with that. He said once "grammy can't make biscuits. Last time she made biscuits i couldn't even cut one. I threw one of them out of the hit a chicken on the head and killed it dead...and that's a fact!"  He would also often claim to have been a "world famous checker champion".  One would agree with him, given that he always won checker games against anyone in the family.  But the truth of the matter was that he used to cheat!  Anytime something happened, a distraction - anything, Grampy Frank would use the opportunity to move his checkers another turn.  Such is the way of a moonshine dealer who got his start during the Great Depression.

Emily worked a number of jobs, including housecleaning, but most of her time she worked as a laundress.  After leaving the Black Point Inn, she and her daughters worked at the New System Laundry on Parris Street in Portland, where she worked during the 40's and 50's.  The old building is still there, as of this 2010 picture:

The pictures at the top of this page show Frank and Emily inside the house on Payne Road.  But below is the only picture I've been able to find of the exterior of the old house.  This one was taken in the early 60's, and features my cousin Patty:

Emily suffered a fall down the stairs at her daughter Laura's house in 1980, and remained wheelchair-bound the rest of her life.  While hospitalized, in January 1981, the house on Payne Road burned down due to a wood stove fire.  The rebuild of the house was a monumental effort, with the help of many neighbors, townspeople, and charities, with special help from Ron Forest & Son, the lumber company next door.



BUILT 1932

Upon return from the hospital, and to her new house, it wasn't long before Frank got sick.  He passed in May 1982 after a long battle with pancreatitis, which along with anemia and gastrointestinal bleeding, contributed to hypoxemia, the ultimate cause of death.

Emily deeded the house to Sonny Jim a month after Frank passed, asking him to deed it to P-Nut when he was done with it.  Sonny Jim passed in 2015, leaving the house to his wife instead, who sold it in 2016.  While I'm saddened that the house and land didn't stay in the Clarke family, I'm pleased that the land wasn't sold to a developer who would seek to raze the lot and continue the spread of box stores down Payne Road.

Emily eventually took turns living with a variety of her children (John, Helen, then Laura), then she stayed for a time at John's daughter P-Nut's house, then Emily's daughter P-Nut.  In 1997, she was placed in the Barron Center.  She spent the last couple years of her life there, finally succumbing to dementia in April of 1999, at 96 years of age. She was otherwise in quite perfect health throughout her entire life.

Frank and Emily are buried together at Brooklawn Cemetery in Portland.

Pedigree charts for Frank & Emily are below.

Frank's heritage is entirely English colonial, with roots in Hertfordshire England.  All of his ancestors sailed to Massachusetts/Connecticut during the colonial era (early 1600s).  His ancestors include founders of various towns in old colonial Connecticut, with several early military fighters.  Of particular interest is John Clarke, one of the settlors of Jamestown Province in Virginia, who also was a steward on the Mayflower (but who had returned to England after the famed journey).

Emily's heritage is 50% English (from her mother, also of colonial stock), and from her father's side, she carries 25% Scottish, and 25% German.  The Scottish roots go back to several Scottish nobles (though none were rulers), and the German roots are of seafaring Catholic Bavarian Germans.

Neither of them had any Irish or Native American blood, contrary to family lore.


  1. Great article Scott! Thanks for alerting me to it!

  2. I like what you have done here, commemorating your family.

  3. I just love looking back at all this info, that you so lovingly built !
    You've put a lot of hard work into it.
    Thank you for that, Scott.