Clark project

Richard P. Clark (1801-1864) &
Mary Slater (1808-1892)

This version of the story, already quite obsolete, has been rendered more obsolete by additional information from the collection of John Parker Clark (1929-1993), great-grandson of Richard P. & Mary Clark.  In particular, John’s story The Clarks adds tremendously.

Click here to see the collection of John Parker Clark

(Sources for some of the following may be found in our “family sheet” and “records history” for this family.)

If you know anything about the ancestry of Richard P. Clark, or that of his wife Mary Slater, we’d very much like to hear from you.  We’d also be very happy to learn more about Richard and Mary themselves, and their family.  We have no pictures of Richard or Mary (we wish we did), and we have no pictures of any of their children except for son Robert in his old age.

According to his Sherwood Episcopal Church Cemetery tombstone in Cockeysville, MD, Richard P. Clark was born on 14 March 1801.  We know he was born in Maryland, possibly in Baltimore County.  Other than that we know little about his life before 20 April 1837, when he obtained a Baltimore County marriage license.  Presumably he and Mary Slater were married that day or soon thereafter.  Mary, who was born somewhere in Maryland on 3 July 1808, was 28 years old at this time, and Richard was 36.  Perhaps it was not the first marriage for one or the other, or both, but we know of no children (with one possible exception—see below) from before the time of their marriage.  Here’s what we know of the births of their children, all probably born in Baltimore County, possibly near the village of Texas, in the valley a mile south of Cockeysville:

Children of Richard P. Clark & Mary Slater
1. Henry Clark, b. 14 Feb. 1838
2. Elizabeth A. Clark, b. Apr. 1840
3. Benjamin Clark, b. in 1843 or 1844
4. Robert Clark, b. 16 Aug. 1846, in Baltimore Co.
5. Charlotte Clark, b. in 1848 or 1849
6. Ella Bernard (“Nellie”) Clark, b. 30 May 1852

At the time of the 1850 federal census Richard was a laborer, and all the children except Nellie, who wasn’t yet born, were listed in the household.  There were two Richard Clark households in Baltimore County ten years earlier, according to that census, but only one appears acceptable.  In 1840 and earlier, the censuses did not list household members other than the head, but simply provided member counts for gender and various age brackets.  Richard’s given age (30 to 39) in 1840 is good (he was 39), but Mary’s (20 to 29) is off, since she was 31.  This degree of error is not unusual in census records.  There was one male child under five (Henry, 2), and one female child under five (Elizabeth, 2 months).  But there was also a female child of age 5 to 9, who was thus born before Richard and Mary were married.  This girl would have been 15 to 19 in 1850—perhaps married and living elsewhere.  One person in the 1840 household was employed, in agriculture—certainly Richard.

In the 1860 census the Richard Clark family's post office address was Cockeysville, but that was the address for almost the whole of the 8th District of Baltimore County, so that doesn’t tell us much.  We do know more, however, as you will see.  All six children were listed in the 1860 household.  Richard’s age was given as 63, which would put his birth in 1796 or 1797.  The ages of some of the others seem off, but not by quite this far.  Richard, age 63, Henry, 23, and Benjamin, 18, were laborers.  Richard died in February of 1864, a month short of age 63, near Texas, according to his Baltimore Sun death notice.  Son Henry was at this time fighting for the Union in the Civil War, and would lose an arm to amputation in August, after being wounded the day before, the first day of the Second Battle of the Weldon Railroad (now usually referred to as the Battle of Globe Tavern).  This battle was the Union’s first victory in the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign.  The destruction of four miles of railroad track severely cut off supplies to Petersburg.  Henry survived, married five or six years later, and lived to age 70.  In 1900 he was an independent dealer in lime and cement in Baltimore.

Mary survived Richard by twenty-eight years.  In 1870 she, son Benjamin, and daughters Charlotte and Nellie were still living in the 8th district of Baltimore County, with a post office address of “Ellen Gowan.” an alias for the village of Texas, so we can assume that they were probably living just where they were living when Richard died, six years earlier.  Daughter Elizabeth, now married to blacksmith Edward A. Sparks, lived very close by.  In 1880, Mary, Benjamin and Nellie, and granddaughter Mary Clark, 9, were living in Texas.  Texas was well known as an industrial source of high quality limestone and quicklime (calcium oxide, obtained by burning limestone in a kiln, and used as a fertilizer, and in portland cement).  A railroad passing through Texas from the 1830’s enabled widespread distribution of these products.  It seems likely that Richard and his sons were long involved as laborers in this industry.  We know from comparing neighbors in census records that Richard Clark and family lived in about the same place in 1850 as in 1860.  By the same process we know that the Richard Clark family of 1840 lived in about the same place, and that there was a Richard Clark who lived in about the same place in 1830.  The Richard Clark of 1830 was of age 30 to 39 (only slightly high); and in his household was one free colored male of age 24 to 35, two 10 to 23, one male slave 36 to 54, three 24 to 35, two under ten, one female slave 24 to 35, and one under ten.  It seems likely that Richard had a farm.  (By 1840 he had no slaves, and was still farming.)  One good possibility is that Richard inherited the farm from his father, who may have died before 1830.  If so, they must have rented the farm (as many did), since this Richard Clark does not appear in Baltimore County land records.

Mary died in April of 1892 at age 84.  Her residence was near Cockeysville, according to Sherwood Episcopal Church burial records.  She was buried in the cemetery there, next to Richard.  Sherwood Episcopal Church dates from 1836, when it was built as a chapel.  In 1883 it was enlarged and became a Church.