Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A HEADSTONE LOST FOR 256 YEARS – Now Found ~ The story of 9 year old Betty Clark (1752-1761)

Photo used with permission of "Cheshire."

This is such a wonderful story and so unexpected.  That this little girl is a member of our family tree makes it all the more heartfelt.

Her headstone was located underneath a Keene resident’s front steps.  He was replacing a loose step and found this headstone.  Can you imagine his surprise?

How does Betty fit into our family?

Betty Clark is my husband’s 1st cousin 5 times removed.  That makes her the great granddaughter of my husband’s 6th great grandparents.  Make sense?  If not, here’s how Betty Clark fits into our family.

Betty Clark – 1st cousin 5 times removed, daughter of
Deacon Simeon Clark & Betsey “Betty” Hall who was the son of
Benjamin Hall & Betty Blake – husband’s 5th great granduncle & aunt, son of
Benjamin Hall, Sr. & Sarah Fisher – my husband’s 6th great grandparents

Yesterday on a Facebook page that I follow, I saw a story about Betty Clark’s headstone, which made the local Keene, New Hampshire news, and some of the more distant national news outlets.

Due to copyright laws I cannot copy and paste the news articles here.  However, I will give you the following links so that you may watch the video and read the stories for yourself.

Here is the link to the Keene Sentinel newspaper article.
Here is a link to the video from the news station – you do have to sit through a 30 second ad to watch it WMUR video

What did I know about Betty Clark prior to this story?

I knew she was the daughter of Deacon Simeon Clark (1723-1793) & Betsey Hall (1731-1817). I had her listed as the oldest child of 7 known children born to this couple.  I knew that her sister Unity Clark had died at the young age of 19 (probably in child birth) and was buried at Ash Swamp Cemetery.  I also knew that Betty’s father Deacon Simeon Clark was buried at Ash Swamp Cemetery.  

Ron and I took these photos in 2009 when we visited Keene for the specific purpose of finding out more about Ron’s family.

Ron standing at the Ash Swamp sign.  You have to climb the stairs to get to the cemetery
Ron standing inside the small cemetery
Headstone of Deacon Simeon Clark - Betty Clark's father
Headstone of Unity Clark Durant - Betty's sister

I had also located the birth record (in a book) and the death record for little Betty Clark.  I had no idea how she died or where she was buried.  The newspaper articles related to the finding of her headstone have given reference that she may have died in a small pox epidemic that occurred in 1761.  You may visit her findagrave memorial here #185054804

CLARK_Betty_birth record_7 Aug 1752_WrenthamMassachusetts
Birth record of Betty Clark
CLARK_Betty_death record_9 Mar 1761_KeeneCheshireNewHampshire
Death record for Betty Clark

I’ve often wondered what life was like back in those days of early Colonial America.  Of course there are many books, movies and historical documents that give us a window into their lives.  Five of Betty’s siblings lived to adulthood.  It appears that in 1774 her parents had a daughter and named her Betty as well.  I have not been able to determine if she lived to adulthood.  It was very common practice to name a subsequent child after a child who had died.
Here is my Family View from Legacy for this family.  If you are related to, descended from or otherwise connected to them, I’d love to hear from you.
CLARK family view

OTHER POSTS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST (all related to Keene, New Hampshire)

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl
Copyright ©  2010-2017 Diane Gould Hall

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I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.