WHITMAN CLARKE, a prominent farmer of the town of Lebanon, was born June 29, 1838, and is a son of Whipple Clarke, who was born in East Greenwich, Kent County, R.I. He was a son of Silas Clarke, also a native of Rhode Island.
Silas Clarke was a son of James Clarke, of Rhode Island; and James was a son of Cornelius Clarke, who was born in Wales, of which country his father, Wesson Clarke, was also a native, born there toward the latter part of the sixteenth century. Wesson Clarke was one of three brothers who came from Wales to America, landing on the island of Newport. One of them went to Pennsylvania; and at the time of his separation from his brothers they all agreed to add an
e to their
name, thus changing the spelling from Clark to Clarke, in order to distinguish their posterity from others by the same name. Wesson Clarke resided in Rhode Island until his death, as also did his descendants, Cornelius and James.
Silas Clarke was born January 27, 1779, and on March 10, 1800, married Ruth Wightman, of Rhode Island, who died June 19, 1808, leaving two children, Whipple and Major. He then, on August 13, 1809, married Elizabeth Reynolds, by whom he had four children; namely, Henry R., Ruth, James, and Pardon Tillinghast. In 1814 he removed to East Hamilton, where he had brothers and a sister living, the country then being new and wild, the woods full of bears and other wild beasts, and an abundance of wild game. The streams were also full of fish. After residing in East Hamilton until 1834, farming and working at the cooper trade, and a part of the time keeping hotel, he removed to Lebanon, where he built a
house for the purpose of boarding the men who were engaged in constructing the Chenango Canal, which passed through his farm. While he worked at the cooper trade, he had plenty to do making barrels for the numerous distilleries then in existence. At length, however, preferring outdoor life to working under cover, he abandoned the cooper trade, devoting himself altogether to agricultural
pursuits, and thus spent the remainder of his life, dying June 9, 1859.
Whipple Clarke, father of Whitman Clarke, was born in East Greenwich, R.I., March 4, 1801, and was therefore thirteen years old when his parents removed, as above narrated, to Madison County. While his father kept hotel, he assisted him, and afterward on the farm. He continued to live on the farm until his death, which occurred March 28, 1888. He was married December 21, 1836, to Eliza C. Tripp, who was born July 19, 1814, and, was a daughter of Richard Tripp, of Hamilton. Whipple Clarke and his wife had but one child, the subject of this sketch, who remained at home until he reached the age of twenty-four, in the mean time attending the district school and working on the farm. At the age just mentioned he came to Earlville, and has since resided here on a farm of his
own; but much of his time he spends upon his old farm, in order to be near his aged mother. He married Frances E. Hitchcock, of Madison, Madison County, April 16, 1862, and by this union has one son, Millard J., born June 14, 1863, and married to Hattie C. Wilcox, daughter of Charles W. Wilcox, November 28, 1883, by whom he has one daughter, Lulu, born January 27, 1887.
It is at least a tradition, and is probably a fact, that the first house built in the town of Lebanon was built on the home farm of Mr. Clarke by William Smith, an aide-de-camp to General Washington during the Revolutionary War, and who married a daughter of John Adams. This house was erected in June, 1778. It was a white oak frame, with brick and mortar between the studs, so that no rifle-ball could penetrate it. The old stone door-steps used in its construction are still in use. It ought to be noted that the place upon which William Smith settled was selected for him by an Indian chief from Fort Stanwix, by request of Mr. Smith, and was very near a good trout spring of pure water. Afterward he conveyed the title to this valuable farm to his brother, Justus B. Smith.
Mr. Clarke was District Clerk and Clerk of the Board of Education in three different school districts for thirty-six consecutive years. He has been more than ordinarily prominent in different societies, and is at the present time Past Master of Hamilton Lodge, No. 120, A. F. & A. M.; Past High Priest of
Cyrus Chapter, No. 50, R. A. M.; P. E. C. of Norwich Commandery, No. 46, K. T.;
T. I. M. of Chenango Consistory, No. 31, S. P. R. S.; P. C. of Alderbrook Lodge, No. 124, K. P.; D. D. G. C. of 33d District, K. P. of New York; D. D. G. M. of Chenango County, A. 0. U. W.; Smyrna Lodge, No. 116, I. 0. 0. F.; Mokanna Grotto, No. I, V. P. E. R. In all of these societies Mr. Clarke stands well, and his standing in general society and in the community in which he lives is as high as in the fraternities.
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