Francis Brigham Clark was born on July 22, 1814 at Ingmanthorpe Grange in the parish-town of Kirk Deighton, Yorkshire, England. He was the fourth child and second son of William and Elizabeth (Brigham) Clarke. The record of Francis' christening on July 23, 1814 appears in the Bishop's Transcripts of the Parish Church of Kirk Deighton.
"Francis Clark ... was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, July 22, 1815*, and there acquired his education. Desiring to obtain a thorough equipment for life, at the age of fourteen he hired out as an apprentice to a tanner and currier, and acquired in the course of seven years great proficiency at the trades. After serving his time, in July, 1836, he came to America and being a skilled workman he found no difficulty whatever in securing positions. He first followed his trade in the Fry tannery, Plainfield, Conn., and later he worked at various places in New London county, and finally in the tannery of Earl Warner at Brooklyn, Conn. ... Steady work and thrift enabled Mr. Clark in the course of time to purchase the tannery of Earl Warner and to carry on the business by himself, continuing in this line till the close of his life. His death occurred Nov. 22, 1875. He was highly respected as a consistent Christian and was a member of the Baptist Church."
*This information is obviously in error, because Francis Clark, son of William and Elizabeth (Brigham) Clark, was christened on July 23, 1814 at All Saints Church in the parish-town of Kirk Deighton, north of Leeds.
On March 4, 1841, Francis married Sarah Maria Heath, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Amos and Mary (Chapman) Heath of Ledyard (near Groton), Connecticut. Francis was twenty-six years old. Francis and Sarah's marriage certificate, which I have, reads:
This certifies that Mr. Francis Clark of Brooklyn and
Miss Sarah M. Heath of Ledyard, were duly
joined together in marriage at Ledyard,
March 4th, Anno Domini 1841,
By me, Henry W. Avery, Justice of the Peace.
This is a scan of the original marriage certificate:
Francis and Sarah settled in Brooklyn, Connecticut, where they spent the thirty-four years of their marriage. They had the following children:
- Francis Brigham Clark, b. 04 February 1843, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 14 September 1921, Hyde Park, Los Angeles County, California; m. Elizabeth Leach.
- William Heath Clark, b. 23 March 1845, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 15 September 1875, Napa City, California; m. ____ Chapman.
- George W. Clark, b. 16 February 1847, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 14 December 1847, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut.
- Sarah E. Clark, b. 13 March 1849, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 07 February 1916, Chatman, New York; m. Samuel T. Cooper.
- John Clark, b. 13 March 1852, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 14 March 1852, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut.
- John F. Clark, b. 07 October 1853, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 29 April 1929, Azusa, Los Angeles County, California.
- Benjamin Clark, b. 19 April 1859, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 1927, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; m. Nettie Shepherd, 15 April 1885.
- Levi Nelson Clark, b. 06 September 1863, Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; d. 14 May 1934, Canterbury, Windham County, Connecticut; m. Carrie Estelle Larkham, 11 January 1882.
One of the most poignant reminders of Francis Clark's life was the letter (see transcription, below) that he wrote to his eldest son, Francis, Jr., who was serving in the 21st Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. Francis' younger son, William, had been wounded in the Battle of Drury's (Drewry's) Bluff in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1864 near Richmond, Virginia (the same battle in which Sarah Clark's younger brother, Amos Heath was killed) and Francis ' concern for his son was apparent:
Brooklyn, December 7th 1864
Your Letter stateing that you would get William a Sergeant Major situation in the Regiment that you belong too. If we where willing and if there was any prospect of his being sent to the Front again that he would be as safe with you as he would be in the Regiment he know belongs too I wrote to William on the strength of your Letter and I also enclosed your Letter in the one that I sent to him and I received an answer to mine day before yesterday he states that he has written to you and he also states that he thinks that he shall come to you. I will enclose his Letter that he wrote to me in this. you stated in your Letter that you could or would get him that situation if we had no objections I will state for myself that I have none at all. William is quiet Lame yet He stated in his Letter to me that he is helping to Cook and that he thinks he could get into the Invalid Corps. I think that if he was with you that you would help him along in his Situation. So you must do just as you think best. Poor Edwin Carter is dead. He sickened and died very much in the same way as Palmer Phillips did your mother and myself attended his Funeral last Friday. Mr. Barrows Preached his Funeral Sermon there was a large number of people attended Francis Downing is at home on a Furlough he attended the Funeral and he sit very near the corpse in the Chapel and when the procession proceeded down to the Burying Ground he walked between the Hearse and the Mourners I think that he acts very strange when I first see him he came up to me and got hold of me with both hands and shook away at a great rate. He expects to go back in a few days to his post. I understand that someone called Frank and he replied quickly saying his name was not Frank that it was Mr. Downing. Dec. 9th I have received your Letter to day dated the 4th instant and have sent it to New Haven to William I hope that he as not started on to you. There was an attempt made to Rob the Windham County Bank on Tuesday night the Burglar Pried open the Door and stole about three Dollar worth of Postage stamps, and two gold Pens and they tryed to blow open the Safe but they did not succeed in their enterprise I believe that authorities have got no Clue of the Rogues. Attie Coon is low and it is expected that she cannot live but a very short time. I had a Letter from your uncle Levi last week he stated that he and Family where well. Mr. Edward Allen as not got Home yet He stated in his last Letter to his Wife that he intends starting for Brooklyn on the 13th inst. I am still all alone. I do not Have any one to help me so you may be sure that I shall not accomplish much. The Children all goes to School Sarah goes to the village John and Bennie to Gatnick Hill. I made a mistake when I stated all went to School. Little Levi stays at Home he grows nicely and is as full of mischief as he well can be. know I must conclude Your Mother Joins me in our best Wishes for your Welfare. We are all well Hoping that this may find you enjoying the like Blessing.
I remain Dear Son your Affectionate Father, Francis Clark
[Notes on people mentioned in this letter:
Edwin Carter is buried at South Cemetery in Brooklyn, CT. His inscription from the Hale Collection reads, "Carter 1st Lieut. Edwin E. Co. C., 5th C.V.I., died Nov. 29, 1864, age 24, G.A.R." I believe the cemetery inscription at South Cemetery for Palmer Phillips is "Phillips, Lucius P. [for Palmer], son of Pardon & Mary, died June 30, 1864, age 23, Co. K., 21st C.V., G.A.R.". Edward Allen was apparently a tanner with whom Francis Clark, Sr. worked. His inscription at South Cemetery reads, "Allen, Edward, died Oct. 26, 1877, Co. F., 11th C.V.I., G.A.R.". Attie (Hattie) Coon died 6 days after this letter was written, on December 13, 1864, at the age of 17. She was the daughter of Asa and Ruby Coon and she is buried at South Cemetery in Brooklyn, CT. I wonder if she was a special friend of Francis Jr., age 21 at the time? Francis Downing lived for many years more; he was obviously a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder or shell-shock. He is buried at South Cemetery in Brooklyn, CT. and his listing in the Hale Collection reads, "Downing, Francis P., Co. K., 21st C.V., born 1820, died 1902, G.A.R.".
Francis Clark, Jr. and his brother, William, survived the Civil War. They both married, had children and went west to California, where they spent the rest of their lives. Francis Clark, Jr. died in Hyde Park in Los Angeles. William Clark died in Napa City.]
Francis died on November 22, 1875 at the age of sixty-one. Sarah outlived him by nearly thirty years (she died February 3, 1905, aged of eighty-two years). Francis and Sarah are buried near their infant sons George and John, and near their son Benjamin and his family at "South Cemetery" on Canterbury Road in Brooklyn, Connecticut.
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