Monday, December 20, 2010

Sterling Clark (1767-1850)

Sterling Clark was one of a long line of Clark men born in Central Connecticut.  He was born in East Haddam on 18 March 1767 to Samuel and Ruth (Graves or Sterling) Clark

Sterling met and married his wife Sarah Warner, descendant of the Connecticut Warners, founders of East Haddam.  Their wedding took place at the East Haddam Congregational Church, just like many other Clark weddings.

Sterling worked as a blacksmith, as did his father, and also Sarah's father Jabez.  He purchased a lot in 1793 from William Selby at the south end of Ballyback Road (no such road exists in East Haddam today).  He built a small dwelling house and a blacksmithing shop.  The business lasted until 1802, until he sold the property to Nehemiah Tracy.

During the time of his blacksmith shop, the work apparently took its toll on Sterling, as he was a frequent purchaser of the local town cider brandy made by none other than Mr. Nehemiah Tracy.  According to "Parker's History of East Haddam," Sterling was Tracy's biggest customer.  He bought one gallon of cider brandy every day for 18 days straight in January of 1795.  Later that year in March, he bought 13 gallons, and in December, 7 gallons.  All purchases were on credit.  Cider brandy was deemed one of the safest drinks to consume, since late 18th century water and milk was often contaminated.  But maybe Sterling had other reasons to drink so much of it?  In any case, I wonder if the drinking took its toll on the business.

In any case, 1820 he sold the residue of his estate to Peter Martin.  By the 1840 Census, he had moved to Whitestown, New York to live with his son Jabez, who was a podiatrist in the New York Mills district.  Given that Jabez was likely the same Jabez who appears on War of 1812 service records, it's very possible that Jabez was given this land via bounty from the US Gov't for his service.

Sterling was listed as "blind" for Jabez' 1840 census record.  Sterling died in Whitestown sometime after his appearance on the 1850 Census (which also contains his other son Samuel, the fiddle and cabinet maker - more on him below).  As for Sterling's wife Sarah, she doesn't appear on any family census after 1800, but one Ancestry family tree claims she died in 5 Jul 1855.

1874 MAP

2011 MAP

Sterling & Sarah had 5 children:

Mary Clark (1789-1790) - died as an infant

Sterling Clark, Jr. (1790-1813) - apparently served in the Navy during the War of 1812.  He died young, after receiving $40.00 settlement from the Navy.

Jabez Clark (1792-after 1860) - named after his grandfather Jabez Warner.  He became a doctor, and moved to Whitestown New York, 240 miles west of East Haddam.  Whitestown is in Oneida County, where his aunt Sarah Clark-Spencer had moved to.  It's possible he moved to be closer to her.  Jabez married Fedelia Beebe, and had at least two children:  Jabez Jr. and Alvira.

James Clark (1794-after 1821) - my 3rd great grandfather.  He fought in the War of 1812, and received a land patent from President Monroe out near Quincy Illinois.  We aren't sure what happened to him.

Samuel Clark (1798-1874) - named after his grandfather Samuel Clark.  He was a cabinet maker, woodworker, and at one point was a violin and cello maker in Westmoreland, NY.  He lived in the JF Clark house (as noted in the above map), and such house is purportedly still standing, as of July 2016.  One of Samuel's cellos can be seen in the photo below, as found on a vintage auction site:

I know that my ancestor Leonard Sherman Clark, son to Samuel's brother James, was an avid violin player, as was some of his children, including my own grandfather, Frank Clarke.  It's fascinating to see the connection going back to the early 1800s.

Two other children, Joseph and Mehitable, also appear in various censuses with them, but they may not be Sterling's children, but rather, his brother Samuel Jr.'s.  More research needed.


  1. Hi Scott
    here is some more information on Samuel Clark - my great-great grandfather.

    Samuel Clark
    Birth: 1798 in Connecticut, USA
    Death: 26 Nov 1874, Westmoreland, NY
    Married: Lavina Barnes
    Children: Edward Almond Clark 1833, Brainard Clark 1840 (est)
    Appears in 1850 census in Westmoreland, Oneida County, New York, USA listed as a cabinet maker; Household Members: Samuel Clark, 52; Lovena Clark, 52; Brainard J Clark, 10; Harriet M Sampson, 30; Augustine Sampson, 4; Edward Clark, 17 (Sailor)
    Edward A Clark lists him as a mechanic on the certificate to the marriage with Anne Fell, then on Edward’s death certificate Samuel Clark is listed as a Warehouseman.

    Samuel Clark at some stage became Westmoreland’s violin maker and one example is held by the Westmoreland Historical Society. At the time of his death he had some 22 unfinished violins with 8 finished, violin boxes and parts. His total assets at the time of death are listed as having the total value of $167.70 and are given to Amelia Wallace noted as his grand-daughter, yet no evidence of that relationship has been found. Edward is listed as his only child at the time of death in the application for appraisal of his estate.
    His home is still standing as at 5 July 2016 and is clear in the map from 1874 (source Oneida County Atlas, held by the Westmoreland reading Room).

    50. Cello, SAMUEL CLARK, Westmoreland, NY, c.1830, two-piece maple back, non-purfled, reddish brown varnish (back length: 29-5/8"); old repaired & unrepaired table cracks, 1-back corner & 1 top corner gone; occasional back support-pieces but no back liners, integral neck-block; resembles our violin by Waldron (dated 1818; died 1874), completely original including original fruitwood English-style pegs, bone nut & saddle, partial fingerboard, etc.; a good candidate for restoration and use as a Baroque cello; sold with a letter of provenance. Priced as-is needing restoration, (Our #26480) US$2,000 accessed 13/7/2016

    Lavina Barnes
    Also listed variously as Lovena, Levinia
    Birth 14 Jan 1799 in Connecticut
    Death 29 Jan 1850, buried in the old Westmoreland Cemetery on Highway 233. Interestingly she is buried as Lavina Barnes, rather than Clark.

  2. Very interesting read ! Does my heart good to see all these blogs !
    Thank you for that.
    Keep em coming !!!