Sunday, March 11, 2012

Elizabeth Woodward

William's wife, Elizabeth, immigrated to America from England before she met William. Family lore says that the two of them met on the boat on the way to America, but we have no evidence that they were on the same ship crossing the Atlantic. There is a passenger record that records Elizabeth arriving in New York with her mother, Charlotte, on December 21, 1870, and another for William arriving on July 3, 1871. Elizabeth's father, John Woodward, also came to America at some point, and both of her aging parents lived with her when she was a married woman raising a family.

Elizabeth, or "Lissie" as her friends called her, was a hard-working and amiable woman. She didn't turn down a friend in need. She served as a midwife for many in her community and was also the postmistress for the Overbrook post office. She gave birth to and raised nine children on a homestead in the prairie. She kept a clean house, did various chores, kept her family well fed and wearing a good set of clothes, and did whatever she was needed for. As her youngest granddaughter put it, Lissie was "a pillar of maternal strength."

(The quotation above comes from Betsy Clark Bergen's A Century of Family Living in the Flint Hills: The Descendants of William and Elizabeth Clark, 1873-1976. If you would like a copy, contact me.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thomas Clarke

Thomas was christened on June 30, 1850, three years before William. He was William's closest sibling in age and apparently William had a closer relationship with him than with his other siblings. In 1871, not long before William left for America, Thomas and William were living under the same roof.
Thomas married Hannah Illston in about 1874. Hannah was from Aylestone, Leicestershire, about 20 miles from West Haddon. Thomas and Hannah had ten children. Their family is a striking example of the poor health regulations in England in that era, as all of the children but one died by the year 1915. Thomas himself died in 1916, and Hannah in 1920. Two of the older children survived long enough to marry and have one child each, but their children also died at young ages. Thomas and his family wrote to the Clarks in America more often than the rest of William's family in England. The last letter we have from family in England is from Lois Clark Morley in December 1930. Lois was the only surviving child of Thomas Clarke, and her children were the only surviving grandchildren.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mary Clarke Collins

Mary Clarke was John and Temperance Clarke's fifth daughter, and William's closest sister in age. She was christend on September 29, 1844, and married Isaac Collins in about 1865. Isaac was from West Haddon, and he and Mary lived in West Haddon throughout their married lives. Isaac was a farmer and so fit in with the agricultural community.
Isaac and Mary had ten children, seven of whom grew to adulthood: Samuel, Mary, John, Thomas, Alice, Ruth, and Rebecca. Mary died in 1930 at the age of 86 after being a widow for 13 years.

Monday, February 6, 2012

John Clarke, Jr.

John Clarke, Jr., christened on August 8, 1841, was the oldest son of John and Temperance Clarke to grow to adulthood. He married Emma Fellows in 1865 at the age of 31. Emma was born in Thornby, about 5 miles away from John Clarke's home village of West Haddon. The earliest census record available for John and Emma together is from 1871. At the time, they were living in West Haddon and had three children: William H., Harry, and Susan. By the time the 1881 census was taken, they had four more children: Thomas, George, Fred, and Walter J. Apparently all of these children lived to adulthood, although by 1911, according to the census, one of them had died.

John and Emma lived in West Haddon all or most of their married life. John worked as a laborer on farms and then sometime before 1901 opened a Beerhouse and Boardinghouse in West Haddon.

John was about 6 years older than his brother William and married Emma just 6 years before William left for America. Contact between William and John fell off when William left, and we had to learn about John and Emma's family only through research, as we have little record in the family of these cousins.

Friday, January 27, 2012

William's Parents and Siblings

West Haddon burial record 1840; John and Mary Clarke
William Clarke was the son of John Clarke and Temperance Turland. John and Temperance had seven children, whose names were, in order of oldest to youngest: John (christened 22 June 1834), Ann Maria (christened 10 July 1836), Mary (born in 1839), John (christened 8 August 1841), Mary (29 September 1844), William (26 September 1847) and Thomas (30 June 1850). The first John and Mary died in 1840 within a month of each other (the image on the left shows their burial records). Ann Maria survived and Temperance gave birth to another John and Mary, then to William and Thomas, leaving five children out of seven who grew to adulthood.

All seven of the children in this family were born in West Haddon, Northamptonshire, England and christened in the West Haddon All Saints Church, a building which is still standing today. It even has its own website:

Monday, January 16, 2012


In this blog I intend to write a bit about my findings on my ancestors, William Clark and Elizabeth Woodward, and their families in England. There is an entire book written about their homesteading adventures in Kansas and their descendants. This blog will focus on the English side of their history and the progress I make in uncovering it.

I will start by telling briefly the story of William Clark. He was born William Clarke in West Haddon, Northamptonshire, England, in September 1847, the youngest of seven children born to John Clarke and Temperance Turland. He sailed to New York from Liverpool on the Oceanic, arriving on July 3, 1871. William was the only member of his family to emigrate from England. He removed the "e" from his last name upon arriving in America. He married Elizabeth Woodward, also an immigrant from England, in Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, on February 14, 1873. After living in Lawrence for a few years and bearing a couple of children, they packed up their covered wagon and moved to nearby Osage County, becoming some of the first settlers of the town of Overbrook in that county.