John Clark was born 14 August 1789, according to his St. Mary’s R.C. Church Cemetery tombstone, in Govanstown, Maryland (part of Baltimore City). According to other records, though, we think the year actually may have been 1788 (see the birth date summary near the top of the records history. We do not know his parentage, but we know he was born in St. Marys County, Maryland. We believe he had a brother Augustus who may have been older, a brother Richard P. who was about eight years younger, and a sister Elizabeth about twelve to seventeen years younger. In 1822 Elizabeth married Thomas Galloway (1798-1872), a person who played a significant role in the John Clark story.
We know little of John’s life before 1820—we do not know when his family came to Baltimore County, or why they did so. But by June of 1820 John was the head of a household in what would later become known as Texas, Baltimore County. In his household was a male of age 26 to 44 (John himself, age 31), a male of age 16 to 25 (Richard P., about 23), a female of age 16 to 25 (Elizabeth, 16 to 20), and a female of age 45 or over (their mother). Two persons (John and Richard P.) were engaged in agriculture. Augustus had married in 1818 and was living nearby.
In the early 1820’s John married Eve M. Erhart, who was born in Pennsylvania 6 Mar. (or May) 1800 (according to her tombstone). They may have been married in Eve’s home parish since there is no Baltimore County marriage license record for them. Their son (probably their first child) Henry Parker Clark, who was born 14 August 1825 and died 22 July 1827, was buried in the cemetery of St. John the Evangelist (Saint Johns on the Ridge), the oldest Catholic church in Baltimore County, built in 1822 about nine miles east of Texas on the ridge dividing Long Green and Dulaneys Valleys. For decades St. Johns on the Ridge was a rural mission church (the second) of St. Ignatius, at Hickory, Harford County. 4,5 Thomas and Elizabeth Galloway buried children there in 1829 and 1831, so this appears to have been the family’s church for a number of years. John and Eve’s son John Parker Clark was born 21 Dec. 1829, in what was to become Texas.
The children of John & Eve M. (Erhart) Clark
Henry Parker Clark, b. 14 Aug. 1825, d. 22 Jul. 1827
John Parker Clark, b. 21 Dec. 1829, Texas, Balto. Co., d. 18 Mar. 1912, Baltimore, m. Sarah Jane ___
a daughter, b. between 1826 and 1830
Mary Clark, b. ~1831/2
William H. Clark, b. 19 Feb. 1835, Balto. Co., d. 10 May 1907, Baltimore
Victorine Clark, b. ~1836/7
Selina/Pauline/Selinda Clark, b. ~1837/8, m. William Henry
Louisa Clark, b. ~1839/40
On 28 May 1828 John made his first (as far as we can tell) of many appearances in Baltimore County land records. He signed a deed to farm let (lease) one acre of property on the Baltimore and York Turnpike road from Amon Bosley, for 99 years starting from 25 Jan. 1828, at $20 per year rent. Amon Bosley, a wealthy landowner in Baltimore County, had purchased land in this area from the Cockey heirs in 1824. 1 By June of 1830 John’s household consisted of a male of age less than 5 (John Parker Clark, age 5 months), a male of age 10 to 14, a male of age 40 to 49 (John himself, age 41), a female of age less than 5, a female of age 20 to 29 (Eve, age about 30) and a female of age 60 to 69 (John’s mother, we think). In addition, he owned a male slave of age less than ten, one of age 24 to 35, two of age 36 to 54, and a female slave of age 10 to 23. John was evidently farming, probably growing tobacco. John’s brothers Augustus and Richard P. were apparently doing the same.
In 1832 the tracks of the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad were laid through the area, opening up the possibility of profiting on an abundance of limestone-marble in the area. By 1837 Amon Bosley was operating a quarry on the east side of the railroad. In response to an Act passed by the General Assembly of Maryland in December 1836 he applied for a roadway from his quarry to the railroad tracks, through property owned by Thomas Deye Cockey and his mother, Ann Cockey. Bosley intended to build a spur rail line from his quarry on this road, and was granted that right over the protests of the Cockeys, who wanted much more recompense. A plat of Bosley’s land, showing the planned course of the roadway, also shows the properties of John Clark and Thomas Galloway, just north of the western end of Bosley’s property, bordering the southern side of what would later be called Church Lane (see the plat, JPEG, 911KB). Amon Bosley died in August of 1838, at age 59. It appears that John and Thomas had been leasing these properties for some time before 1837. John had agreed in 1835 to assign and transfer to John Wise for $1800 the one acre he had been farm letting since 1828. He would not have done this unless he had some other place to live, of course. There is no record prior to 1837 of his (and of Thomas Galloway’s) purchase of the properties shown on the Bosley plat; however, on 4 Jun. 1849 John and Thomas purchased these very properties from Cockey heirs Charles A. and Ann L. (nee Ann Lux Cockey) Buchanan. John purchased his 22 acres for $1290.78, and Thomas purchased a total of 443 acres, which included the property shown on the Bosley plat.
John Clark could have played a role in the running of Amon Bosley’s quarry after Amon died, or he may have started a quarry on his own property, and applied for his own spur line (called a “switch”) to the railroad (we haven’t yet found any real record of either). According to Baltimore County historian John McGrain he did have a quarry and a switch. 1 John Clark had to have started this quarry after 1840, or else it was at first a sideline enterprise, since according to that year’s census record his household had three persons involved in agriculture, and none in mining, commerce, or manufacture and trade. He appears to have been growing tobacco, still. He had one male slave of age 10 to 23, one of age 36 to 54, and two female slaves of age less than 10.
In January of 1846 Samuel Griscom, of Berks County, Pennsylvania, purchased 44 acres to the west of the Clark and Bosley property, on both sides of the railroad tracks, from Ann Cockey and Charles A. and Ann L. Buchanan, for $17,000. By 1847 Griscom was operating a quarry, and by 1854 his property included a lot which contained six lime kilns. 1 But Samuel Griscom died in April of 1849, in Pennsylvania. It does not appear likely that John was involved in this quarry operation, or these lime kilns. By June of 1850 John had moved his family to Ward 20 of Baltimore City (Govanstown). He (age 61) and his son John (age 19) were lime dealers.
When the Smithsonian Institution was building its museum in Washington in the late 1840’s, Robert Dale Owen, chairman of the Building Committee, arranged to have his brother, geologist David Dale Owen, make a survey of the marble quarries in the area. In an 1847 letter to the Building Committee Owen wrote, “Extensive quarries of white crystalline marble commence about twelve and a half to thirteen miles from Baltimore, near a small village called Texas, or Clarksville, on the line of the Susquehanna railroad.” The quarries surveyed in Texas were owned by Fell and Robinson, Griscom and Borrough, and Symington. 2 If John Clark owned a quarry in Texas at the time, there was no mention of it. Later references tell us more, though. In a short history of Texas written in 1927 the Very Rev. Albert E. Smith wrote, “Among the early lime burners in and near Texas were the firms of Fell and Robinson, Powell Griscom [a son of Samuel Griscom] and Jacob Burroughs and John Clarke.” 7 More recent newspaper and magazine stories seem less reliable, contending for instance that John Clark was born in 1780, or that he came to Baltimore County in 1801 (when he was about 13) and started a stone removal business.
John Clark may have been the leading provider of housing for quarrymen and lime burners in the village—a good reason for calling it “Clarksville.”. (In addition to Clarksville and Clark’s Switch, Texas was also known as Quarrytown, Goosetown and Ellengowan at various times. 1) A small part of John Clark’s property in Texas is mentioned in an 1856 Baltimore Sun advertisement, when the lessee, Hannah Lappin, an insolvent debtor, was forced to sell at auction. This lot was a tenth acre at the northwestern corner of John’s 22-acre property, on Church Lane, extending to 39 feet back from the street. The improvements on the lot mentioned in the advertisement were two two-story stone dwellings, nearly new, and a log dwelling house. The property was paying rents to the amount of $16 per month while subject to an annual ground rent of $74.50 (so the profit to the lessee was $117.50 per year). 3
Prior to 1850 priests from Baltimore City and Hickory in Harford County visited the area to conduct marriages, baptisms and funerals. Services were held in the home of John Clark, a one-story log house on soon-to-be-called Church Lane. In 1850 the Rev. Philip O’Reilly was assigned to the village as permanent pastor . He had been preaching on alternate Sabbaths at Texas as a missionary, and had previously served for nine years as Vicar General of the church in Ireland. 9 John Clark donated land for a church on the south side of the lane, and supplied the building stone. Building commenced very soon, and St. Joseph’s R. C. Church was dedicated 31 Oct. 1852. 8 Land for the oldest part of the adjacent cemetery was purchased from John in 1860. 1
In June of 1860 the John Clark residence was still in Govanstown (No. 75 Biddle Street). Three daughters, Victorine (22), Pauline (20) and Louisa (17) lived at home with John and Eve. On 13 Dec. 1860 John and Eve conveyed to sons John P. and William H., “in consideration of natural love and affection” (meaning that no money was involved), considerable property in Baltimore County, probably all their property there. John died on the morning of 27 Mar. 1861, at age 72. Eve died on 15 Apr. 1873, in her 73rd year. Both funerals were held at St. Mary’s Church in Govanstown. The remains of John and Eve lie buried in the cemetery there.
1. Maryland Historical Trust, Determination of Eligibility Form, Texas Village (Texas Station Historic District), Baltimore Co., MD, Inventory No. BA-2943, completed by John W. McGrain, 20 May 1985. (Online link, PDF, 435 KB)
2. Smithsonian (Institute) Miscellaneous Collections, vol. XVIII (Washington, D.C.: 1880), Journals of the Board of Regents, Reports of Committees, Statistics, Etc., edited by William J. Rhees.(1879), pp. 604- 610, letter to the Building Committee from Dr. David Dale Owen, 11 Mar. 1847. (PDF, 13.1 MB)
3. Baltimore Sun, 18 Aug. 1856, p. 3, col. 6 (middle), an advertisement signed “John Randolph Quinn, Trustee.” (JPEG, 293 KB)
4. St Ignatius R. C. Church, Hickory, Harford Co., Maryland, history.
5. St John the Evangelist R. C. Church, Hydes, Baltimore Co., Maryland, history. (PDF)
6. St. Mary’s R. C. Church, Govanstown, Baltimore, Maryland, history (broken link by 2021).
7. The Diamond Jubliee of St. Joseph’s Parish, Texas, Maryland, (1852-1927), by the Very Reverend Albert E. Smith, 1927.
8. Baltimore Sun, 26 Jun. 1852, p. 1, col. 4, “Affairs in Baltimore County.” (JPG, 212 KB)
9. Baltimore Sun, 1 Nov. 1852, p.1, col. 6, “Local Matters.” (JPG, 273 KB)