Photo Courtesy of Bob CarneyClarke Monument at Night 

Close up of Clarke Monument Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Close up of Clarke Monument Mt. Olivet Cemetery

James C. Clarke was a distinguished man and Frederick, Maryland resident. He was one of the most notable railroad men in History.  He was brought into the world by Dr. Gustavus Warfield on March 3, 1824 in Unity, Montgomery County, MD.  Son of Elizabeth (Betsy) Simpson and William Clarke. The Simpsons’ originally came from the South England and his father from Newtownard, County Down, Ireland.  Betsy and William were entered into the estate of matrimony by the Reverend Doctor Jennings on May 4, 1823. William was employed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad when it was extending its line into Frederick County.

Betsy Simpson Clarke was very spoiled and high spirited.  They were aristocratic,descending from Worthington’s and Ridgely’s, and quite wealthy owning many slaves.  Mr. William Clarke was very amiable and endeavored to please her but she would frequently fly into a rage and seeking revenge would set free some of the slaves.  Finally Mr. William Clarke would leave her and the family never to return. 

Betsy in time became poor and at 12 years of age James C. Clarke stopped his schooling at Point of Rocks, MD to seek employment. He called on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal but was refused work due to his young age.  James pressed on telling them he had a mother to support.  They admired his courage and started him as a water boy.  By age 16 he was a  mule driver of a canal boat and held the position for four years eventually rising to the owner of a boat, which was sunk in a collision.

 In 1844,  when he was 20 years of age, he applied for a job on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and was accepted.  His hard work and industrious application soon brought their reward.  For 10 years he labored for the B & O starting in the machine and repair shops advancing to a locomotive fireman and next an engineer.  He was an ambitious young man on the move.  He soon mastered the conductors job, station agent and then  train master. During his term of service he ran the old engine “Arabian.”

December 21, 1852 he married Susan Schaffer (1832-1892), daughter of Peter Schaffer and Elizabeth Brunner.  The Brunner family it should be noted was one of the first families of Frederick. Her great-grandfather, Jacob Bruner, founded a tract of land called “Shiverstadt” now known as Schifferstadt and the home still remains to this day. James and Susan had 5 children.

General James C. ClarkeIn 1854 James C. Clarke was made superintendent of the Central Ohio Railroad where he was when the famous Col. John H. Drone, master of transportation on the B & O ,was selected as General Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railroad.  The only man that he asked to bring with him for the job was James C. Clarke.  James was appointed Assistant Superintendent under Col. Drone.

Col. Drone died in an accident at Hyde Park in 1856 and James Clarke succeeded him as General Superintendent.  While in charge he had the task of safely transporting President Abraham Lincoln from Harrisburg, PA to Washington, DC. A few years before Abraham Lincoln had been an attorney for the Illinois Central Railway and they enjoyed renewing their friendship while traveling together.

 The Clarke family was eager to return to Maryland to engage in farming, milling and merchandising in Frederick County, MD.  He was regularly visited by Federal and Confederate Armies. He once owned the farm that was owned by Governor Frank Thomas.

From 1862-1870 he took charge of the Ashland Iron works in Baltimore County, Maryland at a large salary in the manufacturing of iron.  His success was unparalleled, he soon became an owner of interest in this establishment.

In 1866 after three years residency in Baltimore County, J.C. Clarke was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates.  In 1867 he was elected to the State Senate in Annapolis where he served for two terms at that point he was offered the presidency of the Western Railroad for a handsome salary, but turned it down for his first love the canal.

in 1870 Governor Bowie met with the Board of Public Works in Annapolis and nominated J. C. Clarke as President of the C & O Canal at $10,000.00 dollars per annum.  The highest salary ever paid.

In 1872 General Clarke was made President and General Manager of the Erie Railroad where he remained until 1874.  He was then made an offer to be the General Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railroad, rising to President of the railroad in 1883.  During his 4 year presidency the railroad shared in the general prosperity incidental to the western boom in immigration.Frederick, Md. City Hall

In 1888 Clarke went with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad for a year and a half as its V.P. and General Manager.  He salvaged a flailing railroad and was able to put back the road on a paying basis and when he retired in 1898 left the railroad in a most prosperous condition. Clarke is described as a rough and ready railroader, tall and strong with a can-do attitude. He was a master story teller and loved by all.

James C. Clarke passed away December 9, 1902 of Bright’s Disease.   He is honored in death by a family monument in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.  Buried beside him are his wife, children and family friend Caroline V. Haller.

Clarke Place, a charming street in Frederick County, Maryland was named for James C. Clarke. The beautiful fountain in front of the old court house (now City Hall) was donated to the City of Frederick in 1862 by the General.  General Clarke had a love affair with the city for which he and his family had resided and he always remained a benefactor.

Photograph of City Hall Courtesy of Bob Carney, all rights reserved.

James C. Clarke Monument

The Central Church Cemetery is located in New Market, The cemetery sits adjacent to the centralchurchCentral United Methodist Chapel.  There are approximately 585 interments in the cemetery.  The cemetery lies in Frederick, County in the Western part of Maryland.  When you first enter the cemetery you will notice, that it is an attractive cemetery that is well-kept with no signs of vandalism.  The Chapel still conducts Sunday services.  The Tombstone Transcription Project has a wonderful website of the graves as well as photo’s.  http://usgwarchives.net/md/frederick/tsimages/umc/central.html.

howardSo yes…I admit that I like to spend my time off wandering cemeteries. While this may sound strange to some, every true genealogist can relate to this obsession.  Today we explored the Fairmount Cemetery in Libertytown, MD.  It is a well-kept cemetery with attractive iron gates at the entrance. 

As we walked around something caught my eye. It was a tombstone carved from a large gray stone.  It marked the grave of Howard S. Thomas, born in Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania in 1860 who passed away in 1943. It is the only stone of its kind in the cemetery; and displays primitive qualities given the year of death.  As you can see in the photo to the left,  the top of the stone has a carved hand with the index finger pointing downward.  The epitaph reads  “RETURNED TO MOTHER EARTH”.  I began wondering who this person was; and why such why he had such an unusual stone. 

I went home and started researching. Through the 1870 census records I verified that he was indeed born in the Hanover Borough of York County, PA.  He was the son of Emanuel and Sarah A.  His father was a carriage maker, his mother keeping house,  and he had three brothers and four sisters.  The 1880 census revealed that  Howard S. Thomas was still residing in Pennsylvania, 20 years of age, and working as an apprentice stonecutter. His father was a retired gentleman, and his brother Jacob’s profession was listed as a dentist and another bother Edward a cigar maker. 

In doing further research I stumbled upon one of his siblings obituary: Miss Cora Ellen Thomas, a dwarf, daughter of Mrs. Sarah A. Thomas, died Thursday evening at 4:30 o’clock, at the home of her mother, on York Street, of a complication of diseases from which she had been suffering for the past few weeks.  She was aged 37 years, 3 months and 13 days. Miss Thomas measured only 37½ inches in height and 30 inches around the waist. When she was three years old, she suffered with blood poisoning, and since that time had not grown.  She usually enjoyed  good health and weighed 44½ pounds.  She retained childish manners all her life, the development of her mind stopping with the end of the growth of her body. She is survived by her mother, three brothers and three sisters, George W. Thomas, of East Middle Street, Dr. J. A. Thomas, of Reading, Howard S. Thomas, of Libertytown, Md., Mrs. William Strayer, of Aaneoka, Minnesota, Mrs. Emory Swartz, of York Street, and Mrs. William H. Melhorn, of McAllister Street.The funeral will take place on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the house.  Rev. M. J. Roth, pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church, officiating, assisted by Rev. G. H. Reeser, of Emmanuel’s Reformed Church.  Interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.Hanover Herald – Saturday, December 02, 1899

While searching  The Frederick News newspaper I found and article from 1895 that stated, Miss Emma Thomas of Liberty is visiting her parents, Mr. & Mrs. James Baltzell of the same place.  In 1900 Howard  and his wife Emma K.  (born 1864 – MD). are residing in Libertytown, MD.  The census records indicate they were married in 1882.  They have two children that are listed as Harrie B. and Frankie.  His occupation is listed as a marble cutter. The 1910 census still find them residing in Libertytown, MD, his sons apparently gone off on their own, but a little surprise. They have a grandson living with them who is two years old and is named, Howard F. Thomas, most likely after his grandfather.   Howard is still working as a stone cutter in a Marble Shop. 

The 1920’s find Howard and Emma living together in Libertytown, no longer is he a stonecutter, he is now listed as a barber!  I began searching the newspapers for an obituary when I found an article that explained everything. Howard Thomas had been preparing for his demise for over thirty years leaving detailed instructions for his funeral.  It states that Howard built his own casket as well as carving his very own tombstone.  He proudly displayed his casket in his barbershop for all patrons to see.  I am not related to this family, but hopefully they will enjoy the article. Another genealogy COLD CASE mystery solved. howard-thomas4

gem1

Genealogical gems…we all know them when we find them and proudly display them in our family tree!  For years I have been researching our family.  I know the ancestors and descendants…that is the easy part, but what I cherish are the finds that actually tell you about the person.  Obituaries can be hit or miss, but boy did we hit the jackpot on this one!

From the New Market Journal – January 12, 1863

(Typed as it appeared) Obituary of Francis Simpson

Departed this life on December 25, 1862, in New London, Frederick County, Md., after a lingering illness FRANCIS SIMPSON, age seventy-one, nine months and eighteen days.

Brother Simpson, the son of Basil and Sarah Worthington Simpson, was born in Johnsville, Frederick County, MD.  He had the misfortune at an early age of seventeen years to lose his eye-sight.  His eyes naturally weak from childhood, were greatly injured as was supposed by efforts made when a school boy was made to gaze long at the sun, and though surgical relief was sought, ultimate total blindness was the result.  His father, removing to  Elkridge in the vicinity of Savage Factory, soon there after died, the subject of this brief memoir the possessor of a handsome patrimony.  But alas! with him the loss of sight was the precursor of the loss of worldly wealth, which was to him the greater misfortune, as a young and comparatively helpless family was thus left wholly to his own necessarily inefficient exertions, for support.

Thus the dishonesty of false friends and a severe attack of illness had the effect for several years to impair his mind.  He joined the Methodist Episcopal Church about the 30th year of his age.  His religious life was also, at times, chequered by occasional periods of coldness, despondency and gloom.  It is probable when wholly himself, he never entirely lost his confidence in the personally availing efficacy of the Redeemer’s blood.  Though often from blindness and other reasons, deprived of the privilege of going to the house of God, yet is is doubtless his desire to be a child of God.  He ever delighted in family worship, and signing the praises of God aloud was especially the solace and comfort of the last twelve months of his life.  His last words were, “my trust is in Jesus.”

His funeral was largely attended at Central Chapelcentral-church11, when a discourse was preached by the writer from the words:

“And I will bring the blind by the way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not know; I will make the darkness light before them, and crokoed things straight.  These things will I do unto them and not forsake them.”  (Isaiah, 42d chapter, 16th verse)

May all of his friends and family meet him in heaven. 

How is that for an obit!!  Rest in Peace Francis Simpson.

francissimpson

central-cemetery-gate2New Market, Maryland is an area rich with lore and history.  In the late 1700’s it emerged as a popular trade route.  It is estimated that over three million people traveled through New Market from 1820-1850.  Today it has been deemed the Antiques Capital of Maryland. Charming Main Street is lined with homes from the Federal period, many of them are antique stores filled with treasures. As you meander the back alley’s and narrow cobble walk ways you almost transcend in time. 
 
Four years ago, I was fortunate enough to move to New Market.  On moving day – we drove past  the Central Church Cemetery –  about a mile from my home.  Dad reminded me that we had relatives buried there one of which included my G-G-G-G Grandmother.    
 
 After driving by the cemetery on a daily basis for two months, I decided to take advantage of the sunny winter day and go grave hunting. 
 My quest was to find Henrietta Gardiner my G-G-G-G Grandmother.  I had my teenage girls in tow, who were already complaining…mind you were were just entering the cemetery gate.  Caitlin said, “How are we going to find her?”  I turned to her, placed my index finger to my lips asking her to shh. 
 

Always looking for humor I said… “Be quiet, they are sleeping.”

   
I methodically worked my way through the cemetery row by row.  My girls opted a more “free-style” search which was more or less just random running.  Caitlin was the first to spot it and called me over…there she was… my G-G-G-G Grandmother. 
 
 Henrietta Simpson Gardiner born 1790 in Maryland.  The daughter of Basil Simpson and Sarah Worthington.  In 1823 Henrietta married William Gardiner in Rockville, Maryland.  William Gardiner according to family lore stowed away on ship setting sail from Ireland arriving in America @1819.  Henrietta Simpson Gardiner is buried beneath the same monument of her brother Francis Simpson, and her sister, Elizabeth Simpson  Clarke.  As we made our way around the monument our mouths dropped open as we read the words on the front of the monument. 
 it reads:

“Open the Gate gently they are not dead but sleeping.” 

Open the Gate

Total coincidence, divine intervention or a clue from my dear Grandmother.  You be the judge. What it was I don’t know or really care. I was thankful to find the grave and think of her everyday as I dive by my heritage, right here in New Market, MD.